Echoes of the Heart – Part 4

Final image - Echoes of the Heart

 

 I loved my life before I was made aware of things I lacked.
I looked forward to each day knowing I was drawing closer to the end.
I lived only for her forgiveness
And I vowed to do everything in my power to earn it
Day after day, I wished…no, I hoped the price of life I owed was reducing
But perhaps that was my sin….

I should have been content with just breathing.
I thought I was content…and I believed it too.
However, how was I to know that the one time…
The very first time I found myself in a cloudy storm that I lose my way?
They told me that love was a good thing
Yet all it did for me was push me to the brink of death.

The moment I tasted it, I wanted more…and more…and more.
I developed expectations…
I discovered feelings in certain parts of my body I never knew existed
And before I knew it,
All the debt I had paid before went obsolete.
Suddenly, there were two things I longed to have;
Her forgiveness…and my freedom.

Was I asking for too much?

*         *         *

 

Summer 2004

“So where’s Junior taking you tomorrow?” Sibeso had just arrived from work. After banging through the door like a thief on the run, she dropped her handbag on the floor of their tiny living room and rushed to the kitchen where she could hear Sibusiswe preparing supper.

Sibu who was trying to thoroughly mix mealie-meal with the slightly heated water in a small pot rolled her eyes in consternation and sarcastically answered, “Oh yeah, my day has been gre-a-t thank you for asking dear friend of mine. How was yours?”

Sibeso waved her hand in the air dismissively as she sat down on the one of the two chairs by their small kitchen table that also served as a dining table. “Yeah yeah yeah whatever…. If you truly cared about me you wouldn’t have called me in the middle of the day, tell me that one of the coolest guys in the country asked you out on a date and then ask me to wait for the rest of the details…now that’s just wicked, it’s pure evil Sibu and you ought to be ashamed of yourself! Can’t you see how much weight I have lost in just these few hours trying to keep myself from going insane? My metabolism is having a field day!”

Sibu laughed so hard she had to hold her hand to her stomach as she tried to get her breath in order. “You are such a drama queen Sibe. Calm down,” she said, putting a lid over the pot and resting the cooking stick on top before joining her friend at the table.

“I am sorry I left you hanging like that but I had to attend to some clients that came during lunch so I couldn’t stay on the phone.”

Sibeso was frantically nodding her head, urging her to get straight to the point. “Umhu, yeah, yeah, so what happened with Martin, what did you tell him when he asked you out? How did he even ask you out?”

Sibu grinned, “You know that guy,” she said. “He is so full of himself so he just shamelessly came over to the table where Peggy and I were having lunch and asked if I had any plans for the long weekend. I told him I did of course and….”
“Hold up,” Sibeso held her hand out and gawked at her friend. “You told him what?”

“I told him I already have plans. You and I both know what he wants from me and I am never gonna give it to him. You think I am the only girl he’s asked out in that company…and outside? He has slept with almost everything that gets wet between the legs and he thinks he can add me to his long list. No way.”

Sibeso’s incredulity at her best friend’s words could not be hidden from her face. “What if he is serious this time?” She asked.

Sibu scoffed. “Can you hear yourself? You should really stop watching those dramas, they are messing up your reality Sibeso.”

Sibeso turned her chair around so she could look at her friend directly. “Tell me, from the time he started asking you out or showing interest in you, have you seen him with any other girl?”

Sibu thought for a moment. “Well…now that you mention it….”

“Exactly!” Sibeso hit her hand on the table causing Sibu to almost jump from her chair.

Sibu was shaking her head slowly. “You are really bent on dating Junior vicariously through me, aren’t you?”

Sibeso nodded unabashedly. “You dating him is as close to reality for me as it will ever be and I won’t allow you to take this away from me!”

Sibu laughed and shaking her head she said, “You truly have no shame my friend…no shame. But if you must know, Martin didn’t buy that I have plans….”

There was a glimmer of hope radiating through Sibeso’s eyes.

“After I told him I already have plans, he blatantly told me to cancel them,” Sibu continued, “Can you imagine that? …said I still owed him for last week when he took me for a drive after that Aunt Tafadzwa incident.”

“He is right you know,” Sibeso opined. “Last week was the first time I saw you come back home smiling after such an episode with your aunt. You should have seen yourself Sibu, you were glowing. You can keep denying it for all I care but I think you have already fallen for Martin.”

“I haven’t fallen for him at all,” Sibu countered. “That day I was just feeling a little grateful because of what he did…there is nothing more to it. It wouldn’t have mattered whether it was Martin or someone else, I would feel the same kind of gratitude.”

Sibeso jeered at her friend, shaking her head and letting her tongue hang out. “Keep lying to yourself and let those cobwebs from between your legs multiply till they keep you from walking. Just go out on one date with the guy even if it’s just to say thank you…and let’s see how thing go from there. The problem with you is, you will say no now but then keep beating yourself up about it whilst wallowing in self-pity…it’s like you take pleasure in being miserable. You and my mother must have been sisters in your previous lives…you are both allergic to good things.”

That night, Martin was all Sibusiswe could think about as she kept pondering what to do about his offer…or rather, his demand for a date.

 

“I didn’t bath today and even though I brushed my teeth, I chewed a lot of garlic so don’t even think about doing something funny with me,” Sibu warned Martin when he came to pick her up at the flats the next morning.

Martin snickered as he held the door open for her to get in. “You are something else Sibu, you know that?” He had leaned in to address her before closing the door. “I guess I should have warned you that I love the smell of garlic on a woman…” he smirked, pulled back and closed the door while Sibu reeled in her seat, her face hanging like that of someone about to cry.

Outside, Martin grinned in delectation as he walked back to the driver’s seat.

Martin had just gotten back on the highway when he turned to Sibu and saw the manner in which she was seated. He couldn’t help laughing.

“You need to relax Sibu,” he said.

Sibu had her legs closed tied together and her handbag deliberately positioned on her laps, with her hands resting on top.

“You do know that it’s hard for me to try and do something to you whilst I’m driving and keep us both alive, right? Although…” his eyes went to where her bag was resting. “…although I have been told that I work perfectly well even with one hand….” he playfully stretched his hand out in her direction and thus sent Sibu wailing in protest as she rolled her body into a ball, fear written all over her face.

Martin bust out laughing, taking his hand back onto the steering wheel.

“I will scream and jump out of this vehicle if you continue acting like this Martin.” Sibu warned.

“C’mon Sibu, seat back down comfortably…you are making me feel bad now. What kind of monster do you think I am?” Martin’s face suddenly turned grim and sober.

Sibu was looking over at him contritely…had she perhaps overreacted?

She sat back down properly.

“Do you really think that I am sort of sex maniac or something?” Martin asked.

“Well, you haven’t really done much to reprobate the rumours,” she answered.

“Up until now,” Martin said. “I didn’t mind such rumours…actually thought they made me look cool. Such rumours saved me from having to explain myself to girls about why I never bothered to call them the next day…but when I see you constantly push me away, there’s a pang in my chest I just can’t explain…and there you go again,” he pointed at her. “I can literally see your thoughts on your face! You are thinking I bet he tells all girl’s that…aren’t you?”

Sibu’s face flashed red. “You caught me,” she admitted and smiled shyly.

“Wow, I will never be able to win your trust will I?” There was something about that realization that tore at Martin.

When Sibu looked over at Martin, she felt the disappointment radiating from every part of his body. For a moment she entertained the idea of getting to know him on her own terms instead of what she had heard about him. What could be wrong with getting to know a friend better? She silently reasoned.

“So where are you taking me today?” Sibu asked after they had been driving for a while, with Usher’s Confessions playing in the background.

“We are going to Livingstone….”

Sibu jolted in her seat in astonishment. “What?” she asked. “You are kidding, right?”

Martin shook his head. “No chance,” he replied. “I knew that if I told you in advance, you would refuse to come along…and don’t bother about the doors, they won’t open even if you try.”

Sibu sat back in exasperation. “It is foolishness on my part to have trusted you,” she said curtly. “I am coming back today whether you like it or not, with or without you…I will find my way back. Don’t even dream about us spending the night there.”

“I was actually hoping to spend the long weekend there,” Martin said nonchalantly.

Sibu looked at him peevishly. “You can stick to your plans; I will stick to mine too.”

“What scares you the most about spending time with me Sibu,” Martin asked. “That I might be using you for my own selfish reasons or that you might actually end up falling for me?”

“You really don’t expect me to answer that do you?” Sibu asked.

“It’s a rhetoric question…but I wouldn’t mind getting an answer.”

“Well you won’t. I just wish for once you could stop being so self-centred and think about other people’s feelings as well.”

“I did think about your feelings Sibu, I did,” Martin asserted. “But during these few months I’ve known you, I have learnt that you are not in the slightest interested in dating anyone, not me, not anyone else. You will do anything to avoid getting attached to anyone. If I told you what my plans were, you wouldn’t have even given it any thought. I like you, a lot…and I intend to do everything possible to make you start considering me.”

“Considering you for what Martin, us dating? Do you even think that’s possible? You only have a few more days left till you go back to the UK and you expect me to believe that your intentions with me are honourable?”

“I won’t go back to the UK if you don’t want me to…or we could go back together. I will do anything you want.” Martin announced.

Sibu gapped at him in disbelief. “You are really going all out in your mission aren’t you? Is this how hard you work to get women in bed…or is it just me that’s thrown you off your game?”

“I am not playing games with you,” Martin said. “If you like, you can just agree to be my girl…we don’t have to sleep together…although I wish we could kiss or something…” Sibu threw him a disdainful look before he continued, “…and when the time comes for me to leave, let’s see if I will go or not…and if you are impressed, then you can think about whether to go with me or continue being my girl while I finish school right here. What do you say?”

Martin’s words seemed to move Sibu into slight perturbation. “Why would you make such radical decisions just to be with someone you hardly know? Would you believe yourself if the tables were turned?” She asked.

Martin laughed softly and shaking his head he said, “I too wouldn’t believe…I can’t even believe that I just said those words to you but they just came out. That’s how desperate my heart is to have you. Ever since I met you there hasn’t been a moment that has gone by that you haven’t crossed my mind. Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy…like I am losing my mind. Many times I have talked myself out of it thinking it’s just an obsession because you’ve been rejecting me…which could be true because it’s the first time I have been so out-rightly rejected by anyone. You broke my pride…so at the beginning I guess it was a matter of restoring my injured pride but after that day at work…with you and your aunt…it became something else…something more…and I feel like I am going to lose my mind if I don’t possess you.”

“Possess me?” Sibu asked. “Do you even hear yourself? Who uses such words to win over a woman? Do you think I am some kind of property?”

“I am trying to be honest with you, that’s how I feel and I know it doesn’t sound nice but that’s the most overpowering feeling I keep having. I can’t tell you its love or that I have fallen head over heels in-love with you…I have never been in-love before and I don’t plan to. All I know is that I feel for you more than I have ever felt for anyone, ever. I have never used flowery words before and if I tried now, you definitely wouldn’t believe any of it.”

Sibu was at a loss for words and wondered what to say or feel in response.

Should I be upset?

Should I feel insulted?

What would I have preferred to hear?

And just why do I feel so confused?

She could barely do any form of thinking since her mind was running out of control. She could not tell whether Martin was being honest or just playing his cards well. She had no way of knowing unless she threw caution to the wind and dared to try. Up until then, she had not even considered being in a relationship with Martin. She was not looking for a relationship and she did not want or need one.

But what was that feeling in her heart threatening to crush her to pieces if she didn’t stop to listen?

Sibu hit her hand over her chest as if to force her heart to do her bidding.

She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she did not hear her phone ring from her bag.

“Check your phone,” Martin tagged her.

Sibu immediately recovered and removed her phone from the bag. When she flipped it open, she found it was Ted calling.

“Hi Ted,” she said the moment she had the phone to her ear.

Martin tensed up in his seat, gripping the steering wheel angrily.

“Hi Sibu,” Ted said from the other end of the line. “What are you up to?” he asked.

Sibu looked at Martin before responding. “I am heading out of town right now. What’s up?”

There was a pause on the other end of the line. “I see,” sounded the resignation in Ted’s voice. “Are you with Martin?” He finally asked.

After a pause, “yes,” was all Sibu could manage for a reply.

“I see,” came Ted’s response. “How long will you be gone for?”

Another pause, then, “hopefully today,” Sibu said winning herself a look of excoriation from Martin.

“Is that Ted?” Martin asked and without waiting for confirmation, he grabbed the phone from Sibu and held it to his ear. “Hi Ted,” he said.

“Martin,” Ted said between clenched teeth.

“Sorry I couldn’t hang with you guys this long weekend,” Martin said. “I am desperately trying to win the heart of the owner of this phone so I’m pulling all the stops necessary. Wish me luck buddy!”

There was a long silence from the other end.

“Ted, are you still there?” Martin asked.

All along, Sibu was staring at him in incredulity.

“Yeah, I’m here,” came Ted’s snippy reply. “You guys have fun,” he sounded unconvincing. “I have to go now.” And he ended the call before Martin could give a response.

With a smirk on his face, he handed the phone back to Sibu.

“That was very childish,” Sibu immediately chastised him after getting her phone back. “Did you have to do that?”

Martin’s features suddenly hardened. “I know it was childish, but I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t stand you talking to another man while I am right next to you.”

“Ted is not another man; he is your friend…and also my friend. You deliberately made it so that he can have some sort of misunderstanding, I don’t appreciate that Martin.”

Martin glared at her. “Why do you care what Ted thinks is going on between us?”

Sibu didn’t answer immediately, but when she eventually did, it was to say, “I happen to like Ted…I just don’t want him misunderstanding me or thinking I am some type of woman.”

“So being with me makes you some type of woman?” Martin queried her.

Sibu  shook her head. “That’s not what I meant,” she tried to redeem herself.

“Then why do you openly lead Ted on while you shut me out completely any opportunity you get?”

Sibu couldn’t provide an immediate response.

“I guess because it’s easy for me to trust Ted….” She finally managed.

“I will make it so I earn your trust Sibu…I promise,” Martin declared with such conviction it gave Sibu pause.

*         *         *

Two months had gone by since Sibusiswe had last seen Martin.

The mood at home between Sibeso and Sibusiswe one Sunday afternoon had gone sour after the two girls had engaged in a heated argument about Sibu’s choices concerning Martin.

Sibu was seated on the railing of the balcony, her back resting against the wall and her feet hanging from either side of the railing as she sulked in the aftermath of the exchange. Sibeso on the other hand was lying down on mat, her legs raised and her feet resting against the outside wall of their living room.

For Sibu and Sibeso, the balcony was the best part of the house. The girls had been excited when they discovered that their apartment had access to one of the four balconies in the building.

Five minutes had gone by without a word being shared between the two. For a moment Sibu focused her gaze on the activities happening down below while Sibeso kept tapping one foot against the wall, du du du pa pa pa as if sounding off whatever melody was playing in her head.

Frustrated from the unending silence, Sibeso suddenly dropped her feet to the floor and jolted her back up, glaring at Sibu who had also turned to look at her.

“Are you seriously going to keep avoiding the topic like this?” Sibeso finally snapped.

“I don’t like how you rate every decision I make childish,” Sibu fired back. “Just because you are a few years older than me doesn’t make you wise. I think I am old enough to know what is best for myself.”

Sibeso got up from the mat and went to sit on the other end of the balcony railing, and after mimicking Sibu’s sitting position she said, “I did not say all those things because I thought I was wiser than you Sibu,” Sibeso tried reasoning with her visibly agitated friend.

“I am just trying to look out for you,” she continued. “You are just too young to raise this child on your own. You need to let Martin know and I am sure he will gladly take responsibility for the both of you. Had you not insisted that he leave for the country, he would have stayed here with you.”

Sibu pulled her head back against the wall, brought her hand to her forehead and sighed heavily as she mulled over Sibeso’s words. “What if he thinks I am trying to trap him or something?” Sibu’s tone was riddled with emotion. “That night in Livingstone…” she shut her eyes and curled her face all up wishing to drive the past into oblivion. “I don’t know what happened…or how it happened…and ever since, I have wanted nothing but to kill myself except…except, I can’t even afford such luxury. I guess this pregnancy is the punishment I get for throwing caution to the wind and giving in to urges I had absolutely no idea I was capable of feeling.”

Sibeso dragged herself forward and reduced the distance between them. She reached out and took Sibu’s hands into hers. “So what if you made a mistake?” Sibeso said. “The problem with you Sibu is that you always only focus the negative. You are assuming Martin won’t want the baby, but….”

With her arms still locked into Sibeso’s, Sibu shook her head, two heavy drops of tears slid down her cheeks. “He knew all along that I would give in and I did…he got what he wanted and I know Martin…I can bet he has already forgotten I exist so…how do you expect me to drop him a bomb as big as this one? What I’m I even supposed to say, hey Martin, remember that night…that one night you had your way with me…well, now I am pregnant! Does that sound as melodic to you as I does to me?” Sibu asked sarcastically.

Sibeso reached out her hand and used the back of it to wipe the tears from Sibu’s face, one hand still holding on to the other hand.

“You are pregnant for Martin?” A voice came from the entrance leading to the balcony and sent both girls scampering to their feet.

They didn’t need to ask to know who the overly dressed woman in a royal blue suit with a matching fedora hat so huge it threatened to swallow up the whole place she was standing in was. Her pink spool heels felt right at home with the pink blouse peeping through the jacket and the pick feathers on top of her blue hat.

The girls could easily picture bees having a jolly good time inside her pink and blue designer handbag. She was glowing in pollination bliss.

“Mrs Mwewa…” Sibu and Sibeso said at once.

“Did you just say that you were pregnant for my son?” The woman asked sternly.

“Wait,” Sibeso suddenly regained her composure. “How did you get in here? Did you just enter someone’s house without permission?”

Sibu tried to nudge her friend but Sibeso wouldn’t have any of it. She could tell from the woman’s demeanour that she wasn’t there for a friendly visit and she certainly didn’t look like a Jehovah’s Witness coming to deliver good news to them.  The loud stench of her overpriced costume was enough to announce her intentions without having her open her mouth.

“I kept knocking but there was no response and when I tried to open the door, it actually opened and so….” Mrs Mwewa shamelessly tried to explain her presence at the balcony.

“What are you doing here ma’am?” A very nervous Sibu asked.

“You must be our dear heroine,” Mrs Mwewa said scathingly. “So your pregnancy is the reason my son has been insisting on coming back to this god-forsaken country to finish his studies?”

Sibu was shaking her head frantically. “No…no…Martin doesn’t know….”

“Why are you here Mrs Mwewa?” Sibeso asked curtly.

Mrs Mwewa glared in Sibeso’s direction, unimpressed by the girl’s rudeness. “Who are you by the way?” she aimed her sharp edged eyebrows at her.

“I am Sibu’s elder sister and I am the owner of this little house you just broke into.” Sibeso retorted.

Mrs Mwewa scoffed. “Broke into?” Her vampire flamed lips gashed. “Anyway, apologies for entering your fortress in such a manner but the only reason I came here today was to speak to the young lady here who happens to be your sister.” She turned to Sibu. “Is what I heard correct; are you pregnant for my son?”

Sibu kept her mouth shut, not sure if telling the truth was the right thing to do in that situation.

“Yes she is but your son doesn’t know yet,” Sibeso had no time to think.

“Then that’s great,” the over-groomed woman surprised both girls with her response. Unfortunately, the feeling was immediately brought to a murderous end by the woman’s next words, “we will get rid of that baby today and Martin is never to find out about it, do you understand me?”

Instinctively, Sibeso moved to stand in front of Sibu, shielding her from Martin’s mother as if her presence in itself was a danger to the unborn child. “How typical,” Sibeso said. “And just what makes you think you can throw a few words around and we would do your bidding just like that?”

“Because there is no way in hell I’m letting my son have a child with a Tonga woman and dent the whole Mwewa clan. I did not raise my son just so he can be the reason I fail to hold my head up in public. No grandchild of mine will have Tonga blood and whatever other strange blood flows through this girl. Your aunt told me that your father knocked up your mother and then ran away from his responsibilities,” Mrs Mwewa deliberately raised her voice for the sake of Sibu who was still hidden behind Sibeso. “Don’t you think that if she had done the right thing and gotten rid of such a man’s child then we all wouldn’t be here having this kind of conversation?”

Sibeso could feel Sibusiswe tense up behind her. That breathing told her that her friend was about to lose control.

If one wanted to see Sibu reach the peak of her anger, all they had to do was say something bad about her parents, especially her mother. Although Sibu rarely shared information about her parents, Sibeso knew enough to know that they were a forbidden topic and only one looking to receive her wrath would dare provoke her in such deliberate fashion.

Mrs Mwewa was fishing for trouble.

“I think you should leave,” Sibeso warned the woman.

Mrs Mwewa sneered, busking in the effects of her verbal diarrhoea. “Did I say anything wrong?” She raised her shoulders. “Perhaps if the mother was not so dumb and the father so stupid, the daughter wouldn’t have a hard time making obvious decisions.”

“I think you should leave my parents out of this,” Sibu appeared from behind Sibeso, her face beaming with furry. “There is nothing you can say that’s going to make me get rid of this pregnancy so you can just leave,” she showed her soon-to-be nemesis the door.

Mrs Mwewa scoffed once again. “There is a reason I am known as the iron lady around town. If you think I am leaving this place without making sure that baby doesn’t exist anymore, then you are about to have a very long day,” she said and moved back into the living room where she offered herself a seat.

Sibu and Sibeso remained behind gaping at each other in total disbelief.

Sibu rushed into the house and Sibeso followed her closely behind. “If you are staying, then I will be the one leaving,” Sibu announced to the woman comfortably siting on their red cushioned straw armchair as she headed towards the door. She slipped into Sibeso’s slippers that were by the door and quickly bolted out of the house.

The sudden announcement brought Mrs Mwewa up on her feet. “Where do you think you are going young lady?” She followed Sibu who was now rushing through the corridor leading to the staircase at the far end.

“Stop right there Ms Hangaala,” Martin’s mother shouted as she gave chase, her slim frame playing to her advantage. “I am not yet done talking here.”

“Sibu!” Sibeso had followed the two women outside, angst written all over her face.

Standing at the top of the stairs, Sibu waited for a group of boys and girls that lived in one of the apartments on their floor to pass before she could rush down.

Unfortunately, Mrs Mwewa took this opportunity to catch up to her. She grabbed Sibu by the hand to keep her from running. In her haste to free herself and run down the stairs the moment the staircase was free, Sibu twisted her left leg and missed the top step, her slipper slid off her leg and it was at that moment Mrs Mwewa decided to let go of her hand, sending her tumbling down the stairs like a ball.

“What have you done?” Sibeso pushed a very shaken Mrs Mwewa aside and ran down the stairs to check on her friend who lay lifeless at the bottom, her whole body facing down.

The first thing Sibeso saw was a deep cut at the corner of Sibu’s forehead where blood was coming out.

“Sibu! Sibu! Can you hear me?” Sibeso held Sibu by the head and tentatively checked if she was breathing all the while shouting for help. “Call an ambulance or something. She is pregnant for God’s sake!” Sibeso shouted at the group of teenagers who were coming down the stairs after hearing her screams.

Mrs Mwewa remained rooted to the spot at the top of the stairs as she hugged her handbag like a box of Oxygen, looking down at the scene below as if from another dimension. She started shaking her head in horror as reality of what had just happened slowly begun to dawn on her.

Sibeso was looking up at Mrs Mwewa with eyes filled with so much abhorrence that the latter’s knees turned into jelly and before she knew it, her legs gave way.

 

“No!!” A tear stained  Sibusiswe struggled with Sibeso to get the phone from her. “I am begging you Sibeso don’t tell him a thing, please….” Feeling the effects of the surgery, Sibu gave up the fight, dropped her hands to her sides, and slid back into bed, her hand clutching her stomach as she grimaced in pain.

“Fighting with me in your condition is not a good idea Sibu,” Sibeso said as she helped her friend get comfortable in bed. She dropped the phone on the bedside table and sat down in her chair in resignation. “I won’t call him now, but I will call him later no matter what you say. There is no way in hell I’m letting his mother get away with this!” Sibeso roared.

“But it wasn’t her fault,” Sibu argued, her voice weak from pain.

“Are you kidding me!” Sibeso snapped. “I saw that woman push you down the stairs. I saw it with my two eyes.”

Sibu was frantically shaking her head. “No she didn’t,” she insisted. “I was the one trying to free my hand from her grasp…just that she let it go right at the moment when I needed her to keep holding on.”

“And you think that wasn’t deliberate?” Sibeso countered. “That woman was chasing after you to get you to abort and you think she would let an opportunity to get her way pass just like that?”

“I don’t care anymore Sibeso,” Sibu said as tears welled up her eyes. “I don’t care…all of this…everything that’s happening…it’s all happening because I broke a promise. This is my punishment. I don’t know what the hell I was thinking…it’s just that…for a while, I thought that maybe…just maybe….”

Her phone rang just then and both girls turned to look at it. Sibeso quickly flipped it to see who was calling while Sibu looked on wide-eyed.

“It’s Martin,” Sibeso announced.

Sibu immediately started shaking her head. “No…no, don’t answer it Sibe,” she desperately pleaded. “Why is he calling right now? Did you….” She threw her friend a suspicious look.

“I swear, I haven’t called him yet!” Sibeso raised her hand to pledge her innocence.

“I am the one that called him,” said a voice from behind them. “You don’t know me…but I know you,” the young girl announced, her hands in the pockets of her jumper and a smile playing on her face.

“My name is Mwiche, I am Martin’s sister.” The school girl candidly announced.

 

*         *         *

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Echoes of the Heart – Part 3

Final image - Echoes of the Heart

Pain.

If you had the power to keep yourself from feeling it, would you embrace it?

They say that pain is a mechanism our brain employs to protect us from impending danger; that despite its unpleasantness, its aim is a positive one. But what happens when you become so accustomed to pain that you become immune to it?

Living in my self-imposed prison, pain to me had become a familiarity, a feeling I desperately clung to and pined for as if for dear life. While others existed for the ultimate goal of attaining happiness, for me, such a thought in itself was a sentence to eternal damnation.

I was so engrossed in my pursuit of penance and delusion of safety promised to me by the haven I had created for myself behind the walls of my prison that I was completely unaware of the power of love and what it could do to this hell I had perfectly crafted for myself.

Thus, when the walls came tumbling down, I was neither prepared nor willing to accept the changes that came with this thing called love. But as you might already know, when love comes, it does not knock and it does not seek permission.

But how was I to know that?

 

*         *         *

 

After running her errands in preparation for her upcoming trip, Sibusiswe decided to pass through Sibeso’s home in Chelstone, off Palm Drive. It was the only place she could think of where she could get the thoughts that had been troubling her the whole day out of her mind.

“Is your husband home?” Sibusiswe asked as Sibeso ushered her into the house.

The pile of mens and children’s shoes by the side of the passageway leading to the living room reminded Sibu of a time when such a scene spelled home for her. The loud aroma of freshly cooked Okra that filled the air seduced Sibu’s senses and made her stomach growl in expectation.

“Whenever you ask about my hubby’s presence, I know that you have some pent up awful things to say about your former mother in-law,” Sibeso remarked as she sat on the arm of the red leather sofa that Sibusiswe had just thrown herself on.

“Fortunately for you, he isn’t home.” Sibeso said. “He left with the kids just after having supper, said he’s going to get some ice cream for them since we ran out…but I know he has other plans in mind.” And whilst standing up she added, “I have some food that remained from dinner, want me to warm it up for you? I know how much you love okra.”

Sibusiswe shook her head. “If I let you get to the kitchen then you and I won’t get to talk before your husband and the kids get back. Just get me a glass of juice, the usual.” She then reached forward and grabbed the remote control from the table and switched from Disney Junior to Discovery ID.

“How is Maleficent?” Sibeso shouted from the dining room.

Maleficent was the nickname the two women had secretly given Martin’s mother thanks to her make-up style and mannerisms that mirrored those of Angelina Jolie in her iconic role as the villain in the Disney film.

“How did you know that I had seen her today?” Sibu shouted back.

Sibeso appeared just then with a glass on juice on a small tray and laid it before her friend. “Because I am your best friend and I know that she is the only species capable of draining the life out of you…apart from Martin of course,” she said and went to seat on the single seater couch adjacent to the one Sibu was seated on.

“You said something about your hubby having other plans,” Sibu said, fully turning her body around to look at her friend as she sipped from her glass of juice. “He is not cheating on you, is he?”

Sibeso cackled. “Of course not silly,” she said. “At least to the best of my knowledge, he isn’t. But, even if he was, taking Mapalo with him would be a dumb move on his part.” She chuckled some more. “That girl is a parrot and a human PVR, even DSTV has nothing on her. She will come and offload everything she sees and hears before I even ask.”

The two women enjoyed a hearty laugh as Sibeso went on to gush about her adventures as a house wife and mother to a five year old girl and four year old boy.

“So what happened with Maleficent today?” Sibeso finally asked. “She didn’t come to pressure you about Jacob’s custody issue did she?”

“Not today,” Sibu replied.

“One of these days you should tell her off or I will. If not for you she would have no precious son to boast about. I would love to see the look on her naturally pissed off face when she learns the truth. That should shut her up for the next fifteen years.

“I know right,” Sibu snickered. “But still, that’s the one thing about my life I like to remain private. So, about my day today…the most unbelievable thing happened that made my blood turn black.”

Sibeso looked at Sibu expectantly. “What happened?” she asked.

“I had just finished declaring war with my aunt and was ready to bounce back to my car when right outside the shop, I bumped into Maleficent.”

Sibeso gasped. “What the hell?”

“I am telling you!” Sibu answered. “What could the two women who hate me the most in this world be possibly plotting…suddenly acting like the best of friends hugging and laughing as if they were never at logger heads before. That whole episode today made me really nervous. I feel like there is a war being plotted out there and I am the only one unarmed. Do you think I’m being paranoid?”

Sibeso shook her head. “I don’t think you are being paranoid sweetie; I also think something is off with those two. They hated each other so why are they suddenly being Twilight with each other?!”

“How can I find out what’s going on before it’s too late?” Sibu asked. “Knowing my aunt, she must be the reason behind this kind of development.”

“How about asking Mwiche?” Sibeso suggested. “You two still talk, right?”

“Yes we do, I don’t know why I didn’t think of that.” Sibu answered. “She had called me last night just to check up on me…and I even made a blunder, imagine.”

“What kind of blunder?” A wide-eyed Sibeso asked.

“I accidently mentioned my trip to SA while we were talking…thing is, I have not yet told Martin about it. She must have called him the moment she got off the phone with me because he has been calling me incessantly since.”

“And why haven’t you told him yet?” Sibeso asked.

“Because I kind of feel bad about taking away his son even if it’s only for a short while,” Sibu replied.

Sibeso scoffed. “You think two years without seeing your son in a short while?”

Sibu was momentarily at a loss for words. “Now that you’ve put it like that…” Sibu raised her shoulders. “But this is an opportunity I can’t afford to miss Sibe. You know very well how the past years have been for me in terms of career advancements. I really need to do this.”

“Pass me that remote,” Sibeso asked Sibusiswe.

Sibu was about to hand it over when she changed her mind. “What do you want to do? It better not be because you want to change the channel.”

“I don’t know why you are so addicted to these crime channels,” Sibeso remarked. “Only people that want to commit the perfect crime get hooked on such shows. If it’s Maleficent you are plotting to kill, please count me in,” she joked.

Sibu grabbed a cushion and playfully threw it at Sibeso who caught it in time to avoid being hit.

“Will you tell Martin who you will be staying with in South Africa?” Sibeso asked, a mischievous grin playing on her face.

“Whatever evil thoughts are going through that head of yours, stop,” Sibu warned. “There is nothing going on between Ted and I. We’ve always been good friends and Martin knows it…not that I care about what he thinks. We are way passed the point of interfering in each other’s lives.”

“Do you think Ted feels the same way?” Sibeso asked.

“What do you mean?” Sibu asked.

Sibeso sat up straight to drive her point across. “Tell me Sibu, why would a guy that good-looking, rich, well educated, smart, a great career, and has everything going well for him still be single up to now?” She asked.

“What has that got to do with me?” Sibu retorted dismissively. “Maybe he just hasn’t found the right woman yet but that doesn’t mean that woman is me. Ted and I sorted out our issues a long time ago. He made it very clear what his feeling were…are towards me so stop trying to dress up an innocent friendship into something perverse and unfitting.”

“If you say so,” Sibeso shrugged her shoulders, not convinced in the slightest by her friends monologue.

As Sibusiswe drove back to her place that evening, her mind wondered back to the past, to the moment in time when her world had slowly started spinning out of control.

If she could go back in time, would she be able to see the signs and stick to her resolve to safely guard the walls around her? If she had that chance, would she still make the same decisions?

 

 

“You look like shit,” Conrad noted the moment Martin joined them at the bar.

For a man who cared about appearances as much as the air he breathed, Martin was looking a little worse for wear in his ill-fitting grey t-shirt and suit pants which he must have obviously forgotten to take off after knocking off from work. He never ever wore anything casual on a suit pant. Being an extremist in most areas of his life, Martin’s wardrobe consisted of full on office wear which were mostly suits and full on casual wear which comprised mostly jeans and t-shirts …and these two categories never ever crossed borders, until that Friday evening at the bar.

“I think he killed someone and kept the t-shirt as a trophy,” Nelson Chanda teased his boss. Nelson had joined M&M just two years ago and managed to successfully ingratiate himself into Martin’s social cycle.

“I am kind of forced to agree…” Kondwani Musaba chipped in. Being the only one in the group not a lawyer, Kondwani was the least outspoken of the four friends.

Martin rolled his eyes dismissively at his three friends. “Go on, take jabs at your boss now. This is the only time you get to have your revenge.”

Conrad handed Martin an already opened bottle of Castle Lite. “But serious man, what happened to you?” He asked, looking down at Martin’s muddy slippers.

Martin ran his hand through his head and sighed heavily. “My ex-wife happened,” he said and took a sip of his beer before laying the bottle back on the counter with a thud.

“What happened with Sibu? Did she finally ask for child support? Knowing her, it should be a tag so high even you wouldn’t afford it.” Nelson joked and won himself disapproving looks from everyone. “My bad,” he raised his hands in the air. “What did she do?”

“It would be nice if she asked for some money, any amount that way I would feel less guilty towards her.” Martin was saying. “But Sibu being Sibu, she still refuses to accept any form of financial assistance from me, even for my own son. But that’s not why I am upset….”

“The Sibu- effect,” Conrad said before Martin could finish what he was saying.

“Sibu-effect?” Kondwani asked, looking from one friend to the other. From all their expressions, it was obvious he was the only one in the dark.

Conrad and Nelson were now laughing to their hearts content, much to Martin’s chagrin.

“Can you two behave?” Martin warned.

“Sorry man,” Conrad patted his friend on the shoulder as he tried to control himself. “You must be the only guy at the office who doesn’t know about the Sibu effect,” Conrad had turned his attention to Kondwani.

“Is that a good or a bad thing?” The innocent looking and soft spoken Accountant asked.

“It depends,” Nelson laughed but immediately froze the moment Martin threw a stern look in his direction.

“Let me tell you about the Sibu-effect my dear friend,” Conrad said to Kondwani, excitement written all over his face.

 

*         *         *

  

February, 2010

Sibusiswe felt the world spin around her as she came out of the doctor’s office. The distance from the office to the waiting area seemed very long. She struggled to get her bearings correct, her head throbbing from the news she had just received.

Holding on to the nearest wall, Sibusiswe shut her eyes and waited for the world to stop spinning.

“Are you alright Mrs Mwewa?” Doctor Sanjay had come out of her office and found her patient in that position.

Holding her by the shoulders to steady her, the doctor said, “This is the first time I have informed a married woman that she’s pregnant and seen her react in such a manner.” She slowly helped Sibu walk through the waiting area filled with people and led her outside to where her car was parked.

“I think I am fine now,” Sibusiswe rubbed her hand over her eyes and was more than glad to regain her stable relationship with gravity.

“Is this something you need me to keep from your husband?” The doctor gave Sibu a knowing look. “I have been a family doctor for the Mwewa’s for over seven years now and….”

For a moment, Sibu wondered about the meaning of the doctor’s words until she caught on. “Oh no doctor,” she started shaking her head but stopped when the dizziness threatened to return.

“It’s not what you are thinking,” she quickly corrected whatever conclusions the doctor might have arrived at. “This is definitely my husband’s child, definitely,” she repeated. “It’s just that…apart from some personal issues….I am currently a student…and I was kind of hoping to wait a little before starting a family.”

I actually don’t want a child right now…not right now. This will complicate everything. Sibu lamented.

As Sibusiswe drove back home, she wondered about the next step to take and settled on talking to her husband first before making any decision…although she already knew what his reaction would be.

She parked to the side of the road and picked up her phone to call Martin. However, upon looking at her call logs, she changed her mind. “Isn’t it better to tell him in person?” She said to herself. Throwing her phone on the passenger seat and getting back on the road, a mischievous grin playing on her face.

By the time Sibusiswe was arriving in Kitwe to see her husband who for the past two weeks had been living in their Kitwe vacation home whilst overseeing their latest building projects, it was already past midnight.

Martin’s car parked in the car park just in front of the two story house told her that he was at home. She would have not been surprised if she didn’t find him home since he was a man that loved the night scenery of any town he visited.

She grabbed her phone and bag and headed to the house. Opening the door with her spare key, she encoutered a half awake – half asleep fifteen year old Charles. Charles was Martin’s cousin from his father’s side.

Martin had asked the boy’s father to take care of the house when there was no one visiting from Lusaka. They had built the house as a cheaper alternative to constantly living in hotels and lodges since the family was constantly travelling to Kitwe to take care of the many businesses they had there.

Charles was petrified to see Sibu standing there before him that for close to a minute, he just stood there gaping at her.

“What’s wrong with you?” Sibu looked bemused. “You look like you have just seen a ghost.”

Unconsciously, the fifteen year old looked at Sibu and then towards the stairs leading to the master bedroom where Martin was supposed to be sleeping. Then he slowly started shaking his head in horror.

Sibu didn’t need to ask to know. “It’s fine Charles,” she reassured him, keeping her voice steady. “Where’s uncle?” She asked the boy who was now sweating profusely despite the cool weather from the showers outside.

“He…he…he is..in…Ndola,” Charles stuttered. “He…went to see mum,” he gushed the words out.

“Okay, you can go back to bed now.” Sibu placed a hand on his shoulder to let him know he wasn’t the one in trouble. “Sorry I disturbed your sleep. I will take care of everything here.” She forced a smile as she headed upstairs, leaving a petrified Charles rooted on the spot.

Sibusiswe took a deep breath before opening the door, bracing herself for whatever awaited her on the other side.

She carefully opened the door and was immediately greeted by two completely naked bodies sleeping soundly on the bed she had once lain in.

Because Martin liked sleeping with the lights on, the room was properly lit to reveal everything in sight. She could see two used condoms posing on the floor in their wrinkled glory. The bed was surrounded by littered pieces of his and her clothes, a pile of beddings was tossed at the foot of the bed, with Martin’s shoes on one side, and the woman’s on the other.

The scene before her was a portrait of sordid Babylonian encounters brought to life. It was a milieu of quenched lust and lasciviousness, the ambiance of which lashed at Sibu’s insides with ferocious vengeance.

She didn’t need to check to confirm if it was her husband lying there and snoring like there was no tomorrow. The body language of the two screamed of diddled romance as each lay on further ends of the bed facing away from each other, a pillow deliberately placed on the woman’s face. She was just another addition to his long list of flavours.

Sibusiswe moved closer to the bed and slowly lifted the pillow off the woman’s face. It wasn’t anyone she knew. The woman appeared to be in her early thirties, beautiful with intelligent looking features, just his usual style.

She does look like me ten years from now, Sibusiswe thought as she put the pillow back over the woman’s face and walked to the side of her husband.

Martin, oh Martin, she slowly shook her head whilst taking in her husband’s naked frame.

Pushing back the tears, Sibusiswe walked over to the wardrobe, opened it and took out a duvet.

She walked to the other side of the room where a huge white two-sitter couch lay in front of a 32 inch smart TV. She removed the three layered colourful cushions from the sofa,  and posing herself as if for body viewing, she closed her eyes to sleep.

A hot tear came out of the side of her closed left eye.

 

When Martin woke up the next morning, it was to the smell of familiar scents and aromas. He slowly sat up and found his partner from the previous night enjoying some breakfast on a well laid out tray.

“Did you just make yourself breakfast in my house?” Martin glared at her disdainfully. “You needed to be out of here before my cousin wakes up.” He grabbed his wrist watch from the side of the bed and checked the time.

“It’s now 8 o’clock and you are still seated here acting like a madam. I told you I am a married man.” He got out of bed and and was about to reach for his clothes on the floor when he found nothing.

only then did he notice the changes in the room.

Apart from the bed, everything else in the room was in immaculate order, way better than it had been for the past two weeks.

“Did you clean this room?” Martin asked before spotting a pile of fresh clothes laid out on the arm of the sofa on the other side of the room.

He scoffed. “If you are campaigning for marriage, you are barking at the wrong guy…what did you say your name was again?”

“Gloria,” the woman answered as Martin went to put on the fresh clothes anyway.

“I think you are being rude and making a lot of wrong assumptions,” Gloria said from the other side of the room. She put her tray down on the bed and glared at Martin. “I didn’t make this breakfast and I didn’t touch anything in this room apart from my clothes,” she said. “When I woke up I found a lady cleaning the room, she told me she was your cousin or something. I was about to leave but she insisted that I have breakfast first because she would be in trouble if you discovered that she let a guest leave without eating.”

With one leg into his pant and the other half-way through, Martin paused and turned around. “A lady?” he threw a questioning look at Gloria. “There are no women that live in this house, only my uncle and his son. What lady are you talking about?”

It was Gloria’s turn to look puzzled. “She looked young, tall, and very beautiful with very long hair. At first I thought she was one of your women but she was very kind to me.”

“Oh shit!” Martin forgot about his state of undress and tried to move but went crushing down to the floor, face first.

“Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit,” he repeated as he struggled to put his leg back into his trousers. “You need to get out of here right now if you want to live.”

He finally succeeded with the trousers and was now rushing towards the door.

“What’s going on here?” A very confused Gloria asked from behind him.

Martin paused for a second at the door. “That kind woman that served you breakfast is my wife.” He said between clenched teeth as the woman responded in frightened countenance.

“If I were you, I would be rushing to the nearest hospital to get an antidote for whatever you just eat. You need to leave, now!” he said and bolted out of the door, taking the stairs two at a time.

He found a bamboozled Charles down the stairs. “Where’s my wife?” Martin asked.

Charles pointed towards the kitchen where sounds of plates clicking against each other could be heard.  “I thought you were dead,” He was visibly shaken by how things had turned out.

“Why do you think I am in shock right now?” Martin said as he ran towards the kitchen. For the first time ever, he was frustrated by the size of the house.

Charles went weak at the knees when he saw the woman his cousin had brought home when he thought he was fast asleep. She was carefully walking  down the stairs so as not to be heard, her shoes in her hands. “You are still here?” Charles whispered at the woman.

“Is it safe?” Gloria mouthed the words as she looked around the house.

Charles nodded and she quickly took the rest of the stairs down.

Martin’s cousin  helped her to the door and quickly closed it behind her, taking a deep breath and rested his back against the very door in relief.

What the hell was going on? He thought as he tip-toed back to his room, making sure to lock his door behind him.

“Sibu,” Martin nervously called his wife’s name from the entrance of the kitchen. He needed an early exit in case something came flying in his direction.

Sibusiswe put down the plate she was washing and turned off the water in the sink before turning around to face her husband. “Martin,” was all she managed as a response.

She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back against the sink, waiting to hear whatever Martin had to say. She certainly wasn’t going to make it easy for him.

This is not how I expected things to go, Martin lamented to himself. What the hell I’m I supposed to say? Why isn’t she saying anything? Why isn’t she throwing things? What I’m I supposed to do?

Next thing he knew, he was down on his knees, and with his hands raised above his head as if in prayer, he begged her forgiveness. “I am sorry Sibu…I am sorry babe…I will never do it again….” He went on like that for close to two minutes while Sibu remained rooted to her spot, watching his performance with a blank expression on her face.

She was indeed a tough audience to impress.

“Don’t even think about giving that oh the devil made me do it kind of nonsense.” Sibu finally snapped. “This time I can vouch for the devil because while you were busy dejuicing someone’s daughter, I had engaged the devil in a  little tete-a-tete. I needed to know why he’s so bent on messing me up all the time…” her voice started to shake a bit from stifling her tears.

“…otherwise, why would I be six weeks pregnant for someone like you?” Saying those words out was like a trigger that opened the floodgates she had been desperately tying to keep shut. How many more tears did she have to waste on him?

Never before had Martin been so conflicted.

The stellar announcement made him pause with his hands in the air as he starred at his wife in both anguish and euphoria. Not sure which emotion to settle for and still on his knees, Martin lowered his head further down as he begged his wife for forgiveness in absolute obeisance.

But Sibu was not fazed in the slightest. She was looking down at him like a bundle of poop that she needed to get away from as fast as possible. “Clean up your shit before you even think of talking to me,” she commanded in clear cut vociferation. “You reek of condoms and recycled vagina.”

She then grabbed a towel from the rack, dried her hands and threw it down to the floor before walking away, deliberately bumping into Martin and sending him falling off to the side as she squeezed herself out of the kitchen.

It was then that Martin realized he had forgotten to put on a shirt.

Martin managed to get up from the floor with some difficult but by the time he was outside, Sibusiswe had already driven off.

 

*         *         *

 

“And that my friend is what is known as the Sibu-effect,” Conrad proudly announced. He was now on his feet, standing next to an astound Kondwani with his arm resting over his shoulder.

“It is a phenomenon or a type of reactivity that occurs when a man has been caught naked in bed with another woman by his wife and the said wife then proceeds to make the two breakfast in bed, thus putting the man in a state of confusion and trepidation…with a slight hint of pee on his pants as he grovels in despair begging for retribution.” Conrad drollery summarized for his mates as Martin looked on in disquietude.

Kondwani gasped. “You peed on yourself?” he asked Martin.

Martin stretched his hand and smacked the back of Conrad’s head. After his friendship with Ted had faltered years back, Conrad had somehow taken over the spot as Martin’s close friend, a development that did neither of the former friends imagined possible.

“Of course I didn’t!” Martin defended his honor. “Yes, maybe I did think about it but it never happened. However, to this day, thinking about that incident makes the hairs at the back of my neck stand.”

“Whatever happened to the woman she caught you in bed with?” Nelson inquired. “I have always wondered about that.”

“Oh yeah, me too,” Conrad too chipped in.

“She lived, if that’s what you are all insinuating with your questions.” Martin retorted. “But I had to ask my secretary to anonymously keep calling the woman just to check if she was still alive before I could finally start eating food from home.”

“And she never divorced you even after finding you like that?” Kondwani asked, looking a little overwhelmed by all the information he had just heard.

“Before I could even commerce project beg until no shred of pride is left in you when I reached home, she looked me in the eye and told me that she was only staying because she needed my money and she wanted to give our child a proper family so there was no need for me to grovel before her. She was curt and brutal…up to now I still don’t know what i was most sorry about; that I had done something like that to my wife and let her catch me in such a state, or that I had put her through so much pain that she no longer gave a dame about my indiscretions. either way, it hurts like hell,” he hit his hand against his chest repeatedly as a somber expression materialized on his face.

“I don’t know whether I should give your wife…ex-wife a medal or get a restraining order against her just so I can protect myself from ever meeting her.” Kondwani the accountant lamented. “I respect her a lot…but at the same time I am very afraid of her.”

“Me too my friend,” Martin said with a far-off expression on his face. “Me too,” he repeated.

“Your ex-wife is hard core,” Nelson remarked. “She got a self-proclaimed bachelor to marry her in the shortest space of time and then she went ahead and dumped him at a time when he least expected it. There should be a superhero named after her somewhere in the world or even a word should be added in the dictionary in her honour,” and after pausing for a bit he added, “Sibu: the act of not giving a dame when a man repeatedly cheats on you; when used in a sentence, Martin was Sibu’d by his ex-wife…or, Most women of the 21’st century practice sibulity.”

Three men gaped at Nelson as they shook their heads in shared incredulity.

“You know what has always bothered me,” Conrad brushed Nelson off. “How is it that a woman that claimed to have married you for your money refused to take even a single penny of your money in alimony?”

“You think I have never asked myself that?” Martin said. “That’s what pisses me off the most, that despite being married to her for five years, I know nothing about her. I know without doubt that something is going on with her but I have no idea what it is. Last night Mwiche told me that she spoke to Sibu and that she accidentally let on that she will be leaving the country in a few days. We have a child together yet she hasn’t even bothered to inform me. I have been trying to call her since last night but she won’t take my calls.”

“Is that why you left the house looking like that?” Nelson asked.

“I got home and found my mother waiting for me,” Martin replied. “As usual she wanted to start talking trash about Sibu but I just wasn’t in the mood. I grabbed the nearest thing I could find and bolted out of there.”

“Why does your mother hate your ex-wife so much?” Kondwani asked.

The three of them looked at him snippily.

“His mother hates any woman that gets close to her son,” Conrad supplied. “But it was worse for Sibu because of two reason; one, she was Tonga, and two, Martin was crazy in-love with her.”

“Oh,” was all Kondwani could say in response. He knew someone exactly like that.

“So where is Sibu going? Are you going to let her go with your son?” Nelson asked.

“She is going to SA…and yes, if she is going then I will have no choice but to let her go with him…that was the agreement we made. She has full custody…because it was my way of thanking her and apologizing for everything I did to her…and of course because I trusted her to know she would let me see Jacob whenever I wanted. Both her parents are late, so she is a sucker for family. I had to give her full custody to protect her from my mother…just in case of any eventualities.”

“But what were you thanking her for…you said something about thanking her? We all know why you needed to apologize…but thanking her…” Nelson quipped. “…for allowing your sorry ass to cheat on her while you were still married to her?

Nelson once again won himself disconcerting looks from his buddies.

Martin looked at Nelson in indignation. “You do know I stopped carrying a gun around with me the day after you joined the company, right?” He said. “Don’t tempt me right now,” he cautioned him.

Kondwani and Conrad enjoyed a hearty laugh at the expense of their friend.

“Isn’t Ted also in South Africa?” Conrad later asked as realization dawned on him. “That’s why you are this worked up, isn’t it?” He starred at his friend in apprehension.

The look of trepidation on Martin’s face confirmed Conrad’s suspicions.

“Are you talking about Ted, the one whose father is…” Kondwani was saying.

“Yes, that same one,” Nelson cut in. “When I joined the company I heard rumors about you guys fighting over Sibusiswe. Apparently you betrayed him and stole her from him.”

Martin starred lividly at the imprudent Nelson. “You know, for a lawyer you lack tact Nelson, sometimes I wonder if you are a friend or foe.” He said.

Nelson snickered. “I just say it as it is,” he said without the slightest hint of mortification. “So it is true about what went down between the two of you?” He pressed on unashamedly, again winning himself austere countenance  from everyone.

“I don’t know about what you heard and frankly I don’t give a dame. However, if you must know; yes it is a fact that both Ted and I were in-love with Sibu but it is also a fact that she was always in-love with me and never with him.”

“So why are you nervous about the possibility of the two of them meeting in SA?” Nelson persisted.

Martin glared at him, completely befuddled by his lack of  savoir faire, “I never said I was nervous,” Martin lied. “This is the first time I am going to be very far from my son and that worries me, a lot. Is that information enough for you Mr Nasty?”

Nelson only chuckled in response, pleased with the fact that he had managed to get under Martin’s skin.

“You know, sometimes you talk as if you only have one child. I wonder what Veronica feels about that.” Conrad said.

Martin scoffed. “Veronica is an opportunistic bitch who thinks that just because her parents forced her on me then that makes her my wife. There is no woman on the face of this earth that will ever take Sibu’s place in my heart.I have made that point clear to her every single day but she still ain’t leaving.”

Kondwani thought about asking Martin an obvious question but reasoned that he needed some liquid courage first before daring to ask his boss such a bold question. He knew everyone else was dying to know as well and so he put his trust in the bottle.

“If you loved your wife that much,” Kondwani started after gulping down the contents of his bottle. “If you loved her so much, why did you treat her like that?”

Conrad and Nelson shared a knowing looks, both impressed by Kondwani’s courage despite it’s liquid nature to ask the question they had all dared not ask.

As his friends waited for his response, Martin starred at the contents of the bottle in front of him, his mind taking him back to the time when all the plans he had laid out for himself started falling to the ground…a time when his heart had developed a mind of its own and forced him to acknowledge some truths he was not yet ready to confront.

If he could go back in time, would he do things differently?

“I’m just not into you….”

broken heart.jpg

Do you know someone who’s just so clueless when it comes to relationships you literally have to bite your tongue to keep from constantly screaming at them to wake up and smell the coffee?

Have you ever been in a relationship where you wanted to break up with someone but you just couldn’t get yourself to do it because they were such a good person and they didn’t deserve to be hurt like that…but you just weren’t ‘feelin’ them no more?

When you are in a relationship where you feel you don’t love the person any more or that much, the obvious solution is a break-up. Unfortunately, breaking up with someone isn’t always easy. And so, some people opt to send hints (some subtle and others not so subtle) to get their feelings across. It is a cowardly way of handling things but unfortunately, it happens quite a lot!

For long term relationships, there’s a lot that has to be considered before a decision to end the relationship can be made. So I will only focus on those relationships that are just starting or about to start.

So what are some of the hints that say, “I am just not into you…?”
Phone calls and Texts
If you have been seeing someone for just a few weeks or months and a day or more goes by without hearing from them, that is the first sign right there for you to pause and re-evaluate things. Although there is no manual on how every relationship should function, there are certain phases that most relationships go through. One of those phases is right at the beginning when two people attracted to each other decide to start dating and get to know each other better. This is the butterflies in your stomach stage, you get nervous when experiencing certain things with that person for the first time, you anxiously wait for a call or text from them, you want to be with them 24/7 even when you know it’s impossible, you take six hours deciding what to wear on a date, and so on and so forth.

For me this is the most defining phase of a relationship. The pain and excitement that comes from experiencing such conflicting emotions is something that will last with you forever; it will be a constant point of reference throughout your relationship and it will determine what sort of phases your relationship will be subjected to. Unfortunately, sometimes someone might be so in-love with somebody that they forget the fact that they too need to be loved back either the same way or even better, not less. They get so absorbed into loving someone that they fail to notice the signs screaming at them for attention.

You are always the one calling, texting, checking up on someone, asking when you will get to see them, suggesting dates and so on. You excitedly plan your relationship while the other person makes no effort to contribute to the excitement. And so you say, who cares if loving him/her like this makes me happy? You say, I can love him/her enough for the both of us. I say, bullshit!

I don’t know if I’m normal and I don’t expect people to do what I do but I believe that whether a relationship is new or old, there is no way a day should go by without talking to someone you claim to love unless they are in some place where such communication is impossible. The problem with some people is that they get too comfortable and stop caring as much. If in just two weeks or in those few months someone has stopped being curious or caring about you…what do you think will happen in one, two, three or four years?
Sense of Familiarity
Ever been in a relationship where you had to ask someone for permission to put their picture as your profile picture on social media or phone screen? Or you ask them why they’ve never put your picture as theirs? If you’ve been dating for only a few days or couple of months, it’s understandable to ask for permission…but I think that the moment a couple decides to go steady, then such questions shouldn’t even be asked. I know that some people might argue, ‘why do you need to publicize our relationship like that?…I like to keep my private life private…blah blah blah.’

Thing is, there is a huge difference between keeping your relationship private and keeping it a secret.

There is something I have come to learn about human nature and people in-love; that when you are crazy about someone, no matter how old or mature you think you are, there is a part of you that just wants to shout it to the world even if it makes you look like a fool. I don’t know how other people love, but that’s the kind of love I want and deserve. Of course this doesn’t mean you have to constantly bombard people on social media about your relationship woes and adventures…just do enough to show you are off the market because that will save you a lot of potential problems. Do you think that engagement ring or wedding band is only a formality? It has numerous functions!

Making it work
Many times I have heard people say that change is the only constant thing in life. I am inclined to believe that. People change, people should change, people are expected to change….and feelings change too. Eventually, the butterflies in your stomach will go away or will not be as much as they used to, the anxiety will subside, you will get a little more comfortable with each other, you will learn to explore together, your communication will get better – or worse, etc. buw while everything else might be changing in all directions, the only direction the change that occurs in love should take is one for the better; care some more, love some more, communicate better, become a better listener, etc.

Personally, I believe that what two people have been through together is what makes relationships last longer or causes them to end. Therefore, if you are going to commit yourself to somebody, take responsibility all the way. The grass is always greener where it’s watered…and it don’t water itself.

If you are the one constantly trying to make your relationship work, then something is wrong. When there’s a fight or misunderstanding, you are always apologizing but you never hear a sorry from them. When you are in a bad mood they don’t ask you what’s wrong but you are always checking up on them. They feel like they don’t owe you an explanation for decisions they’ve made that affect both your lives. They really don’t care about your feelings and when you argue, they will go quite on you until you take the initiative to communicate even if they were the one in the wrong. I could go on and on here.

My point is, in as much as you might be in-love with someone, it is important to look out for yourself; are you being loved enough? Are you being treated right? Are you getting the attention you deserve? And most importantly, what is this person trying to tell you with their actions? Not everyone can stand in front of you and tell you that they don’t love you or that they don’t have feelings for you anymore. There are others that might tell you straight to your face without caring about your feelings…and there are others courageous enough to subtly tell you what you deserve to know instead of leading you on.

Why should you settle for less? Why should you insist on holding on to somebody who doesn’t love you as much? If you were married, there would be so many variables to consider but if you are just starting a relationship, there is no need for you to compromise on how you should be treated. If you think they will change once you get married, you are kidding yourself.

What man invests in a courtship is what he will bring into a marriage.

The beginning of a relationship is a time when someone should prove to you why they deserve to be with you in the long term and if they are not doing enough to convince you, why are you even wasting your time? Take a hint and move on.

Echoes of the Heart – Part 1

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Final image - Echoes of the Heart

 

There was a sudden chill in the air.

Something must have moved from behind her. Sibusiswe nervously searched around her for the source of the noise. The only movements around her were that of leaves trembling against the July cold wind.

The uniformly clear blue sky with hints of the sun setting in the distance made the evening feel even chillier than was supposed to be. Apart from the hundreds or thousands of sleeping souls surrounding her, there was no one else in sight that evening in Memorial Park…at least to the best of her knowledge. Ever since she was a little girl, there was something about grave yards that made Sibusiswe’s heart pound faster than usual.

“It must have been lonely for you all this while mother,” Sibusiswe greeted her mother. A year had passed since she had last visited her.

 

She began dusting the dirt off her mother’s tomb, removing a few weeds around the stone here and there. “On days like this Ma, you are the only person I can talk that understands this feeling I have deep inside me.” She had rolled her hand into a fist and was hitting her it against her chest. There was something heart breaking about her voice, it was heavy, weary, tired and reluctant as if something was forcing her to speak.

“I know I have no right to be here, but….” She held her head up to stop the tears from coming.

Clearing her throat, she bent down and continued removing the weeds. “I just dropped off Jacob at his fathers….” She continued her chat with her mother.

“I am trying…I am doing my best to keep my sanity but nothing seems to be going the way I want it to.” Her voice was starting to shake. “It’s been four years already…but.it’s.still.so.dame.hard ma….”

She took a deep breath and held it in for a few more seconds before finally letting it out, two thick drops of tears hitting either side of her cheeks.

And very suddenly, she let out a soft laugh. “But I am not complaining!” she mussed. “You must be shocked…what has happened to your usually strong daughter?” the more she wiped at her tears, the more they came pouring.

“I am not even mad at him any more Ma,” Sibu mourned. “I don’t even know why these dame tears keep bothering me…it doesn’t make sense.” She grabbed a piece of the poncho she had wrapped around her and used it to dry her eyes and face.

“I have become such a cry baby since you left…I guess it can’t be helped eh.” Her lips were literally shuddering from trying to keep herself from crying.

“I am not crying because I miss him, what is really there to miss? I was never hurt by the fact that he had other women in his life…but his smile mother…that smile…I can’t stop thinking about it to this day. It hurts my pride and it keeps tearing me apart even though there are no more pieces left in me to break. To this day I still see his face and how he looked at her. I cannot remember the last time he had looked at me like that Ma. That first time I lost it…when I silently cried my heart out in the bathroom at home…I cried not because I had seen him kiss another woman…I always knew there were other women. I cried…I cried because I couldn’t take having to look my son in the eye and pretend that everything was alright…when my heart was breaking into countless pieces. When I saw him and that woman today, leaving my son with them…everything just kept coming back. Everything just came back, my pain, you, him, my son…. I have fought hard these past four years to move on and not let anything get to me…I have really tried mother.”

Sibusiswe paused and let the tears pour uninterrupted, a faraway look gracing her eyes as she thought;

Long before even he knew it, I had already seen it coming.

Long before he even said the words, I knew I had already lost him.

I left, not because he broke my heart when he cheated…but because I had enabled him to do to me all the things he thought he could get away with.

I left, not because I was hurt…but because that sort of happiness wasn’t mine to begin with.

 

*      *    *

 

 

Summer of 2004

“And how old did you say you are Miss…” the handsome looking guy who had introduced himself as Martin Mwewa and appeared to be in his early or mid-twenties asked, scanning the document up and down in search of a name. It was hard for anyone to not look at him in his well-fitting suit and painfully handsome face.

“Miss Hangaala, Sibusiswe Hangaala,” the very confident young girl seated in front of the interviewing panel of three volunteered the information enthusiastically.

Martin looked up at her, loving the confident sound of her voice. There was no need to ask who the boss in the room was. Sibusiswe took the opportunity to look him in the eye and smiled. Despite his arrogant demeanour, the man smiled back at her. She had him hooked.

“How old are you Miss Hangaala?” He asked.

“I am eighteen years old.”

“You look eighteen quite alright…but there’s a certain maturity…and elegance about you that I like,” the handsome one said. “However, we need someone with experience for this kind of position.”

“Aren’t you straight from high school young lady?” Asked the elderly woman who had earlier introduced herself as Mrs Silungwe, head of HR. She appeared to be in her early fifties, had a calm and collected demeanour that allowed Sibu to feel a little less nervous.

Sibusiswe nodded, “Yes, I graduated about six months ago. However, I do have experience for this position,” she quickly added. “For the past three years, I have been working as a receptionist at NemKa Dental clinic. It’s all there in my CV,” she said, pointing at the documents in front of them. “When I was still in school, I would only work during holidays and weekends but since graduating, I have been working normal hours and days.”

“Do you think the kind of environment you worked under over there is enough for you to manage a large and busy organization like this one?” asked the other man in the room seated on the far left dressed in purple shirt with a matching tie. He had introduced himself as Ted Zulu. He looked slightly older and mature than the guy in the blue suit. He too was good looking, but did not exude the same amount of sexiness as his colleague seated on the other end of the table. While the one was deliberately splashing his charisma to every corner of the room, the other seemed content with just sitting there and letting his personality do all the work for him.

“I’m going to be honest with you,” Sibu replied. “I don’t think the two environments can even be compared. But,” she raised her finger for emphasis. “I believe that the basic experience I gained over there is enough to help me to quickly grasp the responsibilities that come with this position. On top of that, I am a fast learner! I pick up things pretty easily and I can work under minimum supervision. You can ask my boss at the Dental Clinic.”

“You seem too confident for someone your age,” the middle-aged woman commented. “I take it this isn’t your first interview?”

Sibusiwe grinned from ear to ear. “This is actually my very first interview. I am just taking in things as they come. I have no idea if I am saying or doing the right things,” she laughed, and so did the panel.

“And you have a great sense of humour,” the man in the suit added.

“You need someone like me to be manning your front desk and taking care of everyone around the office.” Sibusiswe excitedly tried to persuade the panel.

“I think I like you already,” the man named Ted said. “You have a great energy about you…we just need to see if you are the right person to manage the front desk for such a large organization.”

“I agree with you Ted,” the head of HR said. “I am a little bit sceptical about her age….”

“This is a law office and the kind of clientele we receive is somewhere waaay up there.” Martin added, raising his hand in the air. “They have huge egos with matching bank accounts and with an attitude to go with it all.”

Much like you, you mean? Sibu silently said to herself.

“On top of that,” he continued. “The scope of the job is quite demanding. I think you are too young to handle that kind of pressure.”

Sibusiswe sat right up, making sure her shoulders were high enough to match the argument she was trying to put across. “You are assuming that my age has something to do with my capability to handle the pressure that comes with the job yet,…yet you have no idea how much I have had to deal with in my life to get where I am today.” Sibu laid her case. “I cannot get into the details of all that obviously and in as much as I understand your scepticism, I wish you can put aside your prejudice over my age and give me a chance to prove myself. I am not the type of person to shy away from a challenge simply because I feel I am too young. That’s not a good enough reason in my books.”

“I wonder who the lawyers in this room are,” said Ted, looking at his colleague at the other end of the table.

“It is not just your age that concerns me,” Mrs Silungwe said. “We need someone to work on a long term basis and you seem like a very ambitious girl to me…obviously, you have plans of going to college soon, don’t you?”

That question knocked Sibu out. “To be honest,” she swallowed hard. “Yes, I have plans of going to university,” she admitted. “But I was thinking that I could work for like a year or so to raise money before applying because…even if I qualify for a bursary, the money will not be enough for me to survive my undergrad years.”

“You mean to tell me that you intend to take care of your own school bills?” The fifty-something year old woman asked, her motherly instincts quickly jumping in.

Sibu nodded. “You don’t need to look at me like that,” she assured her. “It’s been three years now since I lost my mother and I am doing just fine. If you are going to hire me, I would like it to be on the basis of merit and not pity. There are people out there is far worse situations than I.”

“I can tell you this for sure Miss Hangaala, it’s going to be very hard for all of us here to overlook that bit of information you just let loose.” Martin said.

“I see,” Sibu said resignedly, dropping her shoulders in the process.

“Most people would be glad to have a pity card to use in such situations,” Mrs Silungwe looked surprised. “Why do you look disappointed?”

“I am curious about that as well,” Martin seconded her.

“Me too,” Ted also chipped in.

“Because I don’t deserve your pity,” Sibu stated matter-of-factly. “I don’t know how this is going to make me sound,” she straightened her back, “…and I am begging that you don’t make me lose whatever little points I might have already scored; however, I feel that this is a very personal issue and I would like it if you didn’t ask me any more questions about it.”

Looking at the group of people seated in front of her, her eyes moving from one to the other, Sibu knew that the damage had already been done. Without meaning to, she had opened the door to something she would have rather kept hidden for the rest of her life. The idea that she might benefit from such a disclosure made her feel even more uneasy.

 

Sibusiswe was not surprised when she received a call a few days later informing her that she had passed the interviews and was to be hired as a Receptionist for one of the largest Law Firms in the country.

Mrs Silungwe was taken aback by Sibu’s lack of enthusiasm upon receiving such wonderful news and she wasted no time in finding out.

“It’s not that Mrs Silungwe,” Sibu had said over the phone. “I am very grateful for such an opportunity…I guess I am just in shock that’s all.” She lied. “Thank you so much for giving me a chance.”

“It’s okay dear, I understand,” the soft spoken woman said. “You are expected to report for work on Monday next week. Will you be available?”

“Yes I will,” Sibu answered. “My boss at the Dental clinic already knows that I applied for this job. She is even the one that showed me the advertisement in the paper. Don’t worry; I will be there on time on Monday.”

“Great.”

 

*        *       *

 

“There is something about the night that makes women glow and look extra special, don’t you think so Ted?” Martin Mwewa said as he scanned the room at Times Arcades for potential mates for the night.

“Is it the night or the beer that makes them appear like that?” The ever objective Ted Zulu asked.

Martin laughed, “both I guess!” he said, taking a long time from his Castle Lite.

Martin and Ted had been buddies since junior high school. Both coming from very well-to-do families, it was only natural that they move in the same circles. Whether they liked it or not, the two of them were going to keep bumping into each other everywhere they went. Thus, despite the obvious rivalry that existed between them when it came to academics, ambitions as well as women, Martin and Ted were by all standards the best of buddies.

“So when are you two going back to the UK?” Conrad Manda asked. Conrad had met Martin through Ted whom he had met during a JETS competition back in senior high school.

“In a month’s time,” Martin replied. “Our break is almost coming to an end.”

“I really envy you guys,” Conrad said. It was no secret that his circumstances were a far cry from those of his two rich friends. “Even though we went into Law school at the same time, you guys will be done with yours way before I even go to ZIALE,” he lamented. “With the constant riots and closures at UNZA, I will be forty by the time I graduate.”

“Don’t exaggerate like that man,” Ted laughed. “Lately there hasn’t been any drama going on so you are safe…for now at least.”

“For now I guess,” Conrad agreed. “How’s the interning going at your father’s firm?”

Martin and Ted shared a knowing and smiled mischievously at each other.

“Don’t even think about it, I had dibs on her first.” Martin warned his friend and colleague.

“What do you mean you had dibs on her first?” Ted protested.

“What are the two of you talking about?” Conrad was starting to feel like a third wheel, something that was  constant occurrence whenever he was in the company of the two.

“We hired this cute new receptionist,” Ted explained.

“Cute?” Martin glared at his friend? “Is that the best you can do my friend?”

Ted smiled, “Okay, she is fucking beautiful! She is very hot…the kind of sexy that makes you feel guilty just looking at her…because she is very young.” He was shaking his head, his eyes closed as if to awaken the image he had safely saved in his head.

“She might be young but she is very legal for the taking,” Martin quickly corrected his friend.

“I guess there are perks to being the son of the owner of a company.” Conrad was forced to admit. “Despite being interns, you guys are allowed to sit on the recruitment panel….”

“That’s why we told you to join us but your stubborn ass insisted on working for a rival law firm,” Martin said.

“Your offer came a little late,” Conrad replied. “I had already committed myself there. I am not in any position to make enemies with such a big law firm.”

“You made the right decision Conrad,” Ted said. “Unfortunately for me, I have been put in the same boat as this fool here,” he was looking at Martin. “Just over two weeks there and everyone already hates his arrogant ass…well, everyone except the ladies.”

Martin grinned proudly. “I am taking down all their names,” he said. “Once I take over the firm, there will be hell to pay for those that have been giving me attitude.”

“So what’s this about the cute receptionist?” Conrad quickly changed the subject, not wanting to listen any more to any of Martin’s pompous ramblings. “How old is she?”

“Eighteen,” they both supplied.

“She just graduated high school so she is very fresh like that,” Martin added.

“That’s the thing, she is too young and innocent for your likes,” Ted said.

“What do you mean for my likes?”

“You very well know what I mean.”

“Just because I am popular with the female folk doesn’t mean I am a playa,” Martin defended his virtue. “On my own I do just fine…it’s the women themselves that keep throwing themselves at me.”

“Ever heard of something called self-restraint?” Ted asked sarcastically.

“If the Lord called me to this earth to please women, who am I to disobey him?” Martin said smugly.

Both Ted and Conrad looked unimpressed by their friend’s attitude.

“I am just saying…don’t play with this one if you are not going to be serious about her. You heard her for yourself; she already has a lot of shit going on in her life. She doesn’t need you adding more stress to it. If anything, she is more pitiful than sexy.”

“Exactly why I should make her mine,” Martin countered. “Can you imagine how better her life would become if she was my girl?”

“I don’t doubt you can make her life better but for how long? You will date her for a couple of weeks and then threw her aside once you are done, leaving her heartbroken and alone when she could have been better if you had left her alone in the first place.” Ted had no time for jokes. He meant every word he spoke and Martin never missed a point.

“You hardly know this girl yet you are coming off so strongly,” Martin said. “Don’t tell me you’ve already fallen hard for her?”

Ted remained silent.

“You have, haven’t you?” Martin was obviously having a good time. He was laughing at pointing at his visibly embarrassed friend.

“Stop it man,” Ted pushed away his hand from his face. “You need to grow up.” He admonished his friend.

“I am not even going to get offended by that remark,” Martin lowered his hand and took another sip from his beer. “You are just mad because you know she is gonna pick me over you. They always do. Your father might be a popular government official but my father is one of the richest men in this country. No woman on the face of this earth hates money.”

“Don’t bring my father into this,” Ted said sternly. “And not every woman is so vain. If Sibusiswe is that kind of woman, then I will gladly step back and leave you two alone. I happen to have a higher standard when it comes to women I date.”

“Her name is Sibusiswe?” Conrad asked. “What tribe is that? It doesn’t sound Zambian.”

“Have no idea,” Martin answered. “…although her last name is very Zambian – Hangaala.” He provided.

“Ah, she’s Tonga,” Conrad said. “Could be her mother is the one who isn’t Zambian.”

“Her mother is late,” Ted said, gulping down the rest of his Heineken.

“She hasn’t even started work yet and you already know all that about her?” Conrad commented.

“It came up during the interview,” Martin explained. “She didn’t mean to share but you know how interviews go sometimes….”

“I can imagine,” Conrad said. “What are you thinking about looking like that?” He was looking at Ted who had a very serious expression on his face, appearing to be deep in thought.

Ted awakened from his reverie. “There was something the girl said about her mother that keeps bothering me….”

“Problem with you is that you think too much,” Martin said, opening a new bottle of Heineken and placing it in front of his friend.

“Thanks,” Ted said, taking the beer and drinking from it.

“You are always overanalysing stuff that’s why you’ve been single for such a bloody long time.” Martin pointed an accusing finger at his buddy.

“I have been single because I have no time to date. Unlike some people, I like committing myself 100% in relationships and right now school won’t allow me such luxury. I might just end up breaking the heart of someone’s daughter.”

“Always the upright man,” Martin teased. “Cheers to all upright men in the world!” He raised his bottle and the three friends toasted.

 

When Monday finally came, Sibusiswe had woken up two hours earlier than usual to prepare for her first day at the law firm. Her housemate Sibeso Mubiana was up too excitedly helping her friend get ready.

“Should I just tie my hair in a puff or I wear that wig that makes me look ten years older?” Sibu asked as she stared at her reflection in the dressing mirror.

Sibeso got up from the bed and went to stand behind her friend. “I really hate you people with long hair,” she said, looking at Sibu through the mirror. “You have so many options on how to style your hair but you always go for the boring ones. Do this,” she grabbed the comb from Sibu’s hands and started styling her hair. “Is that thing on?” She gestured towards the hair toning machine sitting on the other side of the dressing table.

“Not yet,” Sibu reached out her hand and switched it on. “What do you want to do?”

“Just sit still my friend and watch me turn you into a professional,” her housemate assured her. “I am going to do one of your usual boring styles, but with a twist. You don’t want to stand out with some over styled girly hairstyle and you also don’t want to look too plain…although I doubt if there’s any part of your body that looks plain.”

“Okay, I trust you.” Sibusiswe relaxed back and let her friend do as she pleased.

“I still can’t believe you get to see the infamous Junior every day of the week,” Sibeso kept the conversation going whilst attending to the hair. “I have been stalking that guy for such a long time but he always sticks to a certain type…has no time for the likes of us. You should really take this opportunity and make him yours sweeties. Who knows, maybe I too can find myself a billions son whilst chilling with that crowd.”

“Stop getting all worked up, you are pulling my hair you crazy freak,” Sibisiswe nudged her roommate into behaving. “You know I am not a fan of popular boys. I didn’t even know who he was until you mentioned it to me. I didn’t like his looks very much. He looked arrogant and smug…like he knows he’s good looking. I hate guys that are so sure of themselves.”

“So you want him to pretend he’s not good looking when the fact is clear for everyone to see?”

“That’s not what I mean. I just mean he’s too arrogant and looks like the type that thinks he’s God’s answer to every woman’s prayer. He behaves as if he takes in Nitrogen and breathes out Oxygen while the rest of humanity is piped down on Carbon Monoxide.”

Sibeso laughed. “I guess that’s what men also think when they look at you.”

“What do you mean?” Sibu was genuinely puzzled.

“You are also ridiculously beautiful and yet you carry yourself like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. You need to start getting laid or cobwebs will fill up all over down there.” Sibeso was rubbing against the body part in question, deliberately spreading her legs for emphasis.

Sibusiswe didn’t find the joke that amusing. The look in her eye was enough of a warning to Sibeso.

“Just style my hair Sibe and stop talking.”

 

Sibusiswe loved the feel and every inch of the new office building. She finally felt like a real professional in her four inch stiletto heels and her black bodycon midi dress. If there was something she was sure of, it was that nothing about her body spelled teenager; every inch and curve on her was a vision of a woman to every naked eye that looked upon her.

The plump looking but incredibly pretty temporary receptionist directed Sibusiswe to the Human Resources offices on the second floor of the three story luxurious building. Sibusiswe couldn’t help stealing glances at the woman who seemed to be in her mid-twenties. Her very light complexion and flawless skin had a glow that made any woman glare at her with envy.

Of course it didn’t help that the top part of her chest was literally screaming for attention. If the pretty receptionist dared accelerate her soft deliberate steps in those six inch heels by just a few more inches, Sibusiswe suspected her boobs might come flying off of her tiny tight blouse which was exposing three quarters of her cleavage.

According to the research Sibusiswe had done, M & M was one of the largest law firms in the country and was specialized in all forms of law. Controlled by one of the richest families in the country, the law firm boasted of having the crème de la crème of lawyers trained both locally and around the world.

After a few hours of training and induction, Sibusiswe had joined the pretty receptionist she had come to know as Peggy from Admin who had temporarily been assigned to the front desk. Sibu was instructed to observe Peggy as she went about the job but only for a day as she would have to take over the very next day.

Although she had initially started out nervous, as the day progressed whilst observing Peggy, Sibu gained more confidence upon realising that she could handle her new responsibilities. Unlike the reception at the Dental clinic, the new reception proved busier proved more demanding.

 

 

After having lunch at the company cafeteria, Peggy took Sibu outside for a tour of the premises and a more dig into the internal politics and gossip.

“So you should be very careful of the Alpha around here,” Peggy continued their conversation from inside as they headed towards the back of the building where the parking lot was situated.

“Could you ladies by any chance be talking about me?” Came a voice from right behind them, causing them to almost jump in surprise.

It was Martin, attacking them with his mighty beautiful smile. “I already know what people around here call me,” he taunted them, watching and busking in their nervous guilty reactions. They had just been busted.

“Either you are too self-absorbed and think everything is all about you or you are just poking your nose where it doesn’t belong, Sir.” Sibu added the last part for caution’s sake. She was very well aware of her tongue’s ability to land her in trouble.

“You should really become a lawyer Sibusiswe,” Martin said, taking in every inch of her from head to toe while Peggy watched from the side in disbelief. “You are really quick on the tongue and you seem to have an answer to everything.”

How could a man so shameless make his intentions toward a woman known just by the way he looked at her? He really had no limits, Sibu thought.

If he wasn’t the son of M&M, a string of women would have by now sued him for sexual harassment. It seemed the same thought had crossed Peggy’s mind.

Martin Mwewa had a way of completely undressing a woman with just a look in his eyes.

“Don’t assume you know me just because you looked at a couple of pages about my life and asked me a few questions during the interview.” Sibu curtly replied.

“I sense some hostility,” Martin went on unashamedly. “I guess people have already filled you in about some garbage rumours about me.” He was looking at Peggy accusingly.

“I am not one to be easily influenced by the masses or heresy,” Sibu quipped. “So far, you have not given me any reason to be hostile to you, Sir…and it would certainly be considered poor judgement on my part to antagonize you without reason when I am yet to secure my position in your firm.” She deliberately placed emphasis on the pronoun.

Martin was shaking his head in astonishment. “When you graduate from UNZA, you should come work for me Sibusiswe. I think I am in-love with how your brain works. You girls continue your gossip, sorry for the rude interruption.” And with a smirk on his face, off he went in the direction where his car was parked; An E-class red Mercedes-Benz.

“I think it’s safe to say that you have been marked Sibu,” Peggy said once they were alone, watching as Martin arrogantly sped off past them.

“And I can safely say that he will regret setting me as the target of his lustful endeavours. Who the hell does he think he is?” Sibu curled her lips in anger as she watched the red car disappear into the distance.

 

 

When time to knock off came, Sibu couldn’t help breathe a sigh of relief. The torturous day had finally ended and she couldn’t wait to go and throw herself on her bed till the next day. Her mind could not be at peace knowing she had somehow found herself a target for one man’s ego. She had been forced to constantly keep looking towards the entrance of the building for the rest of that day expecting Martin to arrogantly waltz in. He never did.

“Do you need a ride?” A voice came through the slightly opened window of the car that stopped in front of Sibu as she made her way to the nearest bus stop. It wasn’t a red Mercedes this time, but a grey 3-series BMW. Could he have actually gone to change cars? It was definitely something she couldn’t put past his ego.

Sibusiswe continued walking like she had neither heard nor seen anything. Noticing he was about to be totally ignored, the driver completely let down the window to reveal himself.

It was Ted.

Sibu liked Ted. Despite exuding a rich son’s persona, there was something humble and inviting about the good looking intern.

“Mr Zulu,” Sibu came to a sudden stop. “I am sorry, I thought you were someone else,” the words came out before she could stop them.

“Who did you think it was?” Ted asked, looking curious and amused.

“Just someone,” Sibu answered.

“Which direction are you going?”

“Northmead,”

“Get in, I live in Kalundi. You are right along the way.” He offered, moving to open the front passenger door before even hearing her response.

Sibu hesitated. They were still close to the office. The last thing she needed was people gossiping about her just after a day at work.

As if he had read her mind, Ted said, “whether you get it or not, I am sure by now there are quite a number of people who have seen my car right next to you. You have two choices; let them talk about you for no reason or give them an actual reason to talk about you…either way, you will still be the topic of gossip around the firm in the coming days.”

“You still stopped your car despite knowing all that?” She looked at him accusingly.

“I only had one intention for stopping, to offer you a ride. I am not responsible for what people think about and I certainly don’t give a dame especially when I know my intentions are honourable. I do not owe them an explanation. They can think whatever they want. I would hope you too would feel like that.”

“You have the luxury of taking such a stance meanwhile…I am just some teenage receptionist whose image is likely to be tarnished by rumours that could have easily been avoided. But since the damage has already been done, what the heck….” She shrugged her shoulders and went around the vehicle to seat in the front passenger seat.

“Good decision,” Ted said, waiting for her to finish strapping her seat belt before taking off.

“Who do you live with in Northmead?” Ted asked once they were on the road.

“I have a housemate,” she answered. “We are renting a one bedroomed flat…it’s cheaper to share the cost, not that you would know.”

“Why wouldn’t I know?” Ted asked.

“Is that a rhetoric question or you actually expect me to answer?” Sibusiswe asked.

“I am actually asking,” Ted laughed.

“I refuse to answer that question,” Sibu replied. “I will not contribute to inflating your ego this evening.”

Ted laughed, “you caught me,” he admitted. “I know exactly what you mean. I was just pulling your leg.”

“I heard you guys…you and your friend are studying law. When are you graduating?” She deliberately changed the topic.

Ted looked over at her surreptitiously as he mulled over her statement. “We have about a little over a year till we are done. Why do I get the feeling that you don’t like Martin very much?”

Sibusiswe held her hand to her mouth. Had she been busted again? “No, it’s not like I hate him,” she said. “I barely even know him.”

“You can be honest with me you know. You don’t need to watch your words just because I am Martin’s friend. I have heard worse things about him before. And you know what they say; there is a thin line between love and hate.” This time, he really looked at her to catch her reaction.

“I love this song!” Sibu changed the subject once again, moving her body forward to turn the volume up.

For what felt like forever, the two of them drove in silence with only the sound of the DJ and the music from the radio station filling the car. Sensing that he might never have another opportunity to ask, Ted braced himself to ask the question that had been bothering him since that first meeting.

Slowly turning down the volume, he place both hands on the steering wheel, cleared his throat and asked, “You had mentioned something about your mother during the interview…you said you couldn’t talk about it then, is it something you can talk about with me now?” He deliberately avoided looking at her, keeping his eyes on the road ahead despite the car barely moving from the heavy evening traffic.

With a deeply puzzled expression on her face, Sibusiswe turned to look at him. “Why do you want to know about my personal life when we are not even that close?”

“I am trying to get close to you right now,” he said, still not looking at her. “I think that’s why I am trying to get to know you a little better…it’s just that I had gotten curious about something you said during the interview. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be taking care of yourself when you are so young. Don’t you have siblings, relatives?”

“Like I told you last time, I don’t need your pity Sir,” she retorted.

Ted bit his lower lip in frustration. He hadn’t meant to say that. The words all came out wrong. “You don’t need to call me Sir you know,” he tried to take another route. “I am just an intern, together with Martin. Us interviewing you that day was part of some exercise for when we eventually join the firm.”

“I see,” she reluctantly replied.

“Your mood has suddenly changed, did I cause that?” Ted appeared concerned.

“Not really,” she lied, “I was just thinking about something. How is it like studying abroad? I have always envied people who can afford something like that.”

“You have superb grades. Why don’t you try applying for a scholarship to study abroad? I could help you with that….”

And just like that, the topic had completely shifted and by the time Ted was dropping her off outside the flats, he had come to learn one fact about Sibusiswe; she did not like talking about her life or her past.

However, for some reason he couldn’t seem to understand, Ted’s curiosity about Sibusiswe grew even further. There was something about her that kept gnawing at him and forcing him to want to get closer to her. It was the first time he was having such complicated feelings towards a woman.

I know what you are curious about, Sibusiswe thought as she watched Ted’s vehicle disappear from the premises. But what good will it do you if you knew the truth?

 

 

Martin Mwewa’s red Benz pulled into one of the empty spots on the top level parking lot at Manda Hill. A few seconds later, he was joined in the car by a mysterious looking man in a large cap covering half his face.

Despite the weather, the strange man was dressed in a huge brown coat on top of his regular fitting blue jeans and red t-shirt. He removed a brown envelop from the inside pocket of his coat and handed it to Martin, taking caution not to have the exchange witnessed by anyone.

“Is everything I need in here?” Martin asked, not once turning to look at the man.

“Yes boss,” replied the strange man. “There wasn’t much to collect in the first place, just the usual info.”

“Open that,” Martin pointed to the compartment by the passenger’s seat.

“Thanks boss,” the man said, taking the small envelop he found in the compartment. “Later boss,” he said and without waiting for a response got out of the vehicle, closed the door and left.

“Now let’s see what you are all about my little miss vixen,” Martin said as he opened the envelop, a smirk playing on his face.

 

*      *     *

 

 “Was that my sin mother?” Sibusiswe placed her hand on her mother’s head stone which had the inscription;

In Loving Memory of

Miriam Nc’ube

1958 – 2001

If my tears were the price,

Will I have cried enough

in this lifetime?

What if I could turn back time,

Would you still call me your daughter?

 

“If I had not taken a step in that direction… if I had done the right thing like I had promised you…would I have been happy? Is that why these tears won’t stop?” the twenty-nine year old Sibu cried whilst leaning her head against the head stone.

“You think I deserve all this too, don’t you? But for how long will I keep feeling this pain? Till when will you stop torturing me mother?

“I just want to breath Ma…let me live…just once…only once… please make it all go away. I am so sorry….”

With her legs spread apart under her long skirt, Sibusiswe lowered her head and buried her face in her hands, crying her heart out into the night.

Chola’s Love Storm: A Tale of Unforgotten Love – Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Final Instalment

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

lovers

“Hello…” Racheal had to unglue the phone from my shaking hands.

“Hi Rachael, it’s me Patricia,” came a female’s voice from the other end of the line.

Of course at this point I had no idea what the conversation was about so my imagination was running wild…and off it went!

It was only later when Rachael filled in the blanks that I found out what was being said on the other end of the line.
“Oh Patricia!”

Forget having peed earlier…I was shaking so hard I could feel the enzymes having a tough time discussing how best to handle the lunch I was just from eating.

Did Rachael just say Oh Patricia…and is that a smile I’m seeing on her face???

Um um…something ain’t right here.

What the hell is going on?

“I am so sorry,” Rachael was saying. “I had forgotten to save your number from the last time we met; I had a lot going on that day.”

“Its fine dear, I understand,” Patricia replied.

“Is everything alright? You sound a bit….”

“Ah, you can tell….”

“Of course I can!” Rachael said rather too enthusiastically. “Occupational hazard I guess. Is it something you can share with me…I could come and….”

“No, it’s fine,” Patricia quickly replied. “I am actually on a cab right now heading to Intercity…that’s why I called….”

“What?” Rachael quipped.

“Something came up suddenly,” Patricia said. “You remember I told you about my husband and I….” her voice was getting shaky by now.

“Yes,” said Rachael, a serious expression enveloping her face as she went to sit by the dinner table on the other side of the living room.

I mentally braced myself for the worst case scenario.

“Well, he finally signed the divorce papers,” Patricia announced.

“Oh no, he didn’t!” Rachael was almost jumping from the chair.

I had frozen on the spot with only my facial features moving in reaction to whatever words came out of Rachael’s mouth.

There was something paradoxical yet comical about the whole situation playing before me. I was literally wrinkling in my fear like an uncircumcised adolescent boy after taking a long cold shower.
It was the first time in my life that I found myself at a loss for what to do.

“Yes,” Patricia went on with her conversation absolutely oblivious to my physical and mental state.

It was as if she was mocking me…carrying on her conversation without throwing hints at me as to whether I was in hot soup or not.

A man needs a strategy before going into battle you know.

“I am afraid I really messed up big this time around.” Patricia cried.

“Calm down sweetie,” Rachael said soothingly.

Calm down sweetie?? Heh.

I wasn’t sure whether to like or hate the direction the conversation seemed to be going. It left me utterly confused and miserable. It looked like the devil had come to collect his dues.

I just had to sit down this time, my hand rubbing my head into near baldness. I couldn’t take the suspense any more and falling down to the floor while my fiancé was having a conversation with someone that sounded like a friend wasn’t going to go down well for my sorry and sinful ass.

“I can only imagine what you must be going through. But, isn’t there a way you can get him to change his mind?” Rachael asked.

Did she already know what had happened? Change whose mind?

Gosh, I hated the suspense! I was dying there…

I am finished…I am ruined.

Those were the thoughts going through my head as I kept listening to one side of the conversation.

“I wish I knew how but I think this time he is really done with me. He found George and me making out on the dance floor at a club and he completely lost it.”

“Oh my gosh!” Rachael exclaimed. “You were making out at a club? Are you insane! You are a married woman for crying out loud.”

Tata Lesa nafwa ine….oy oy…aaaah

I got up from the sofa and started pacing back and forth, pretending to be doing something on my phone when both my antennas were fixed on her.

What about the club? I didn’t make out with her at the club…it was at Nchimunya’s place….

What the hell is wrong with me? Is the venue the issue right now?

This is what happens when you use your balls to make decisions.

And then I was brought to a sudden and very sad realisation;

I had made out with my fiancé’s friend!

Oh dear. Oh Lord.

I am so screeeewed. Mayooo….

As I stood there watching Rachael’s expression turn from sober to grim, a picture of my obituary in the Post Newspaper flashed before my eyes.

Suddenly, there was this strange taste on my tongue…like the kind you get when your teeth suddenly collide with a nasty rotten groundnut after enjoying a steady supply of proteins.

“I understand,” Racheal was nodding.

What did she understand?

“Just pray over it and let’s wait for a miracle. You never know what happens. And don’t worry about missing the wedding; I am sure you will get to meet my husband in the near future. Travel safely and do take care of yourself, okay.”

“Thanks Rachael, you too.”

“Bye.”

* * *

“Who um…was…that?”

I asked the moment the call ended, trying to come off as unconcerned as possible and painfully failing.

I hoped my usually alert fiancé would not notice.

“You are sweating like hell!” She went in for the kill.

I am in hell right now if you must know my lovely woman. What the hell is going on?

Rachael went into the bedroom and came back with a towel which she threw at me.
“I told you to get an AC for this room. One day I will find you boiling in here.”

Boiling, you think? I am getting roasted right now…tsk tsk tsk.

Was she playing games with me?

“Who was that you were talking to?” I asked again.

“That was Patricia….” she let out a heavy sigh after saying the name.

That didn’t sound promising, for me at least.

“We were roomies back at UNZA,” she had come to sit next to me. “She was three years ahead of me but we still got along well…although she used to be in her own little world back then.”

“Did something happen with her?” I was desperately trying to not sound desperate.

“Her husband signed divorce papers.”

Boom.

This time I was the one almost jumping out of the sofa. “Did she tell you why?” I can swear that that phrase came out more like a whisper than anything else.

Half of me was anxious to hear the reason while the other half was wishing for the whole thing to just go away silently…like it had never ever happened.

“She didn’t tell me why…but I think I can guess why,” my overly confident and unperturbed warden said.

“And what could that be?” I said, feigning disinterest at the same time.

“She cheated on him,”

I think something had cracked inside my head.

Definitely, something had cracked.

Dear bladder, please calm down. If you can hold yourself right at this moment, I promise to listen attentively to your every demand in the future.

“I met her just a few days ago,” Rachael went on. “I had bumped into her by accident while I was getting some groceries at Manda Hill. She was just from having her hair done. We decided to stop by Steers and catch up a little bit. I was so excited to bump into her like that and was busy telling her about the wedding when I noticed she didn’t seem as enthusiastic as I would have liked her to be. I asked her what was going on…at first she kept saying nothing really but when I probed her further, she finally divulged everything to me!”

Oh dear…here we go….

Tata Lesa…Lord Jesus, please take the wheel from this point on and steer it in any other direction away from the direction that will burn me. I promise to increase my tithes and do more volunteer work. I promise.

“Back at Uni,” the warden continued, “Patricia was known for her adventures with men…older men to be more specific. She used to be a hard core playa, stringing along a bunch of rich men both married and single…she didn’t care.”

The more I listened to Rachael, the deeper my heart sunk.

Without knowing it, she was throwing information at me that I would have rather not know. Within such a short space of time, everything I had ever felt, thought, or imagined had come crumbling before my very eyes…or ears in this case.

A part of me wanted to ask Rachael to stop talking…to tell her I had heard enough…but I had no grounds to utter such words when she so desperately and excitedly wanted to share some gossip about an old friend to her man.

On that day, I could have paid the grim reaper thousands of dollars to have his way with me if it meant putting a stop to the oncoming revelations.

Still, there was a part of me that wanted to know…needed to know.

What exactly or who exactly had I fallen in-love with for all those years?

The protagonist in Rachael’s story didn’t sound like anyone I knew. That was not the mysterious yet alluring girl or woman I had pined for ever since my body had awakened to the secrets of manhood.

The woman I knew…my very first love…she had the most beautiful yet innocent smile that could send any mortal man on a journey to unlimited ecstasy. She had a way of looking at someone and making them feel as if they were the only thing that mattered at that moment in the whole world.

She had looked at me like that only a few days ago.

I had believed her.

The revelations that Rachael was heaping unto me made me weak at my knees and broke my heart into pieces over and over again.

The irony of it all struck me to the very core; it just had to be Rachael.

Why couldn’t any other person have enlightened me to such gruesome truths? Why did it have to be my fiancé?

When exactly did I piss off my ancestors for them to hail down on me in vengeance like this?

Is it because I knocked up my girlfriend first before marrying her?

I always knew my weaknesses would one day land me in shit.

Well, congratulations, you have finally succeeded.
You have screwed me up so hard I can barely hear my own thoughts from all this confusion.

If this is some part of an elaborate scheme to engrave on my heart the fact that I needed to leave my past behind and start a brand new beginning as this messenger’s husband, then dear ancestors, point taken. I thought as I braced myself for the onslaught.

“…she would make them buy her whatever she needed,” Rachael continued tormenting me. “We were all shocked when she announced in her fourth year that she was getting married. It turned out that one of her lovers had really fallen in-love with her and couldn’t wait till she graduated to make her his wife. He is a very rich man and owns a number of businesses around the country. I met him only once, a huge looking fella like that. We called him Mr Banks…because you know…he’s loaded.”

I think I met him too, I said in my head.

“What we didn’t know at that time and only got to find out later was that Patricia was already married to someone else!” Rachael reported excitedly.

She was basically taking a selfie in front of a burning house.

Rachael had no idea the hell she had lit in me which was threatening to drive away all my sanity.

“Didn’t Mr Banks know that she was already married?” I asked.

“He obviously knew,” Rachael answered. “He is a well-connected man and he looks like the type that would send private investigators on your tail. We all suspected that he knew all about Patricia’s misadventures…that was probably why he insisted on marrying her that fast. Patricia’s ex-husband wasn’t really that well to do and rumours where that he accepted money from the giant to quietly divorce Patricia. But I don’t know how true that is. It could be a lie…people love a good story.”

I could not believe what I was hearing. I just didn’t want to believe that any of it could be true. Unfortunately, the vessel in which the message came made it even harder for me to simply brush everything away.

“We all hoped that her second marriage would work out since the guy had everything she wanted in a man; money, money, and more money.”

“But what happened?” I asked, nonchalantly rubbing my eyes like a fatigued man when in actual sense I was trying to wipe away whatever feelings in me where threatening to reveal themselves through the windows of my soul.

“According to what Patricia told me a few days ago, she isn’t really in-love with Mr Banks,” Rachael reported. “She was in-love with the financial security he provided which she’s never had since she comes from a very poor family. Unfortunately…or fortunately, she met someone six months ago whom she believes she’s in-love with. As expected, he is jobless and poor thus making it almost impossible for her to leave her millionaire husband for him. So she settled for having an affair with him. The two of them had a rendezvous here in Lusaka but her husband got wind of it and followed her. He found them dirty dancing and kissing on some dance floor at one of the night clubs and he went ballistic! He almost hit her and he’s never hit her before. The next day he left her divorce papers and left. I had really hoped she could come to the wedding but she is on her way back to Kitwe now to see if she can make her husband change his mind…that poor man.”

That poor man indeed.

Would that have been me instead of him?

That thought was the first thing that came to my mind the moment Rachael had finished telling the story.

All along I had been so engrossed in imagining myself as Patricia’s man that I never bothered to get to know her a little better. Everything I knew about her was either a figment of my own imagination or something I had just witnessed from afar and put into a context that I found pleasing.

I had seen Patricia change boyfriends more times than Rachael changes her wardrobe but I had never bothered to ask why. I simply concluded that they were never good enough for her and only I could satisfy her.

Back then, that kind of reasoning is what I needed to gain confidence before I could finally get the courage to tell her how I felt.

This was not how I wanted my first love to end.

Not like this.

“You’ve been too quite my love,” Rachael jolted me from my reverie. “You don’t look so good, are you feeling okay?” she had placed her hand on my forehead to feel my temperature and she started shaking her head. “You are burning Chola,” she sufficed. “Should we see a Doctor? You really don’t look so well.”

I got up and moved to stand by the window for some fresh air. “I guess I have just been too stressed lately working and running around trying to get things ready for our big day.”

Rachael had joined me by the window, closely examining my face with just her eyes. “Maybe we should pass through the clinic baby.” She insisted.

“Just get me a glass of cold water love…and I will go out for some fresh air just to cool off.”

“Need me to come along?” Rachael offered.

“No need babe,” I said. “I just need to clear my head for a little bit. I will be back in no time.”

I was gone for more than five hours, crying and getting drunk at Mubita’s bachelor pad like an absolute fool.

“Calm your ovaries down man,” was Mubita’s way of soothing me.

He unceremoniously threw a roll of tissue at me.

He did not need to tell me that I looked pathetic sitting on the floor and bawling my eyes out like a teenage diva that had just lost her favourite lipstick.

I felt foolish and in that moment, you could have looked up the noun in the dictionary and seen a picture of me crouched on the floor surrounded by used up tissues right next to the word.

“So why exactly are you acting like this?” Mubita asked the billion dollar question.

“My lost youth,” I flashed my nose into the tissue causing Mubita to flinch in reaction, a disgusting look glowing on his face. “I am mourning all those bloody years I spent loving a woman a barely even knew.”

“At the rate you are going, even your child in Rachael’s womb will start crying because he can’t believe he will be under your responsibility once he comes into this world. Stop embarrassing me before my godchild man,” Mubita roasted me.

Mubita is the king of unsubtlety.

He is the type to walk right over to a woman and with a straight face tell her that she had messed up her skirt from her period without so much as blushing from sheer embarrassment. “I would recommend getting an app to keep up with your flow,” he would shamelessly add whilst taking his phone out to show the poor woman what the app looked like. “I have this so I can keep up with my girlfriend…I need to know which days she’s likely to be grumpy so I can stay out of her way.”

I guess his personality was the reason I had chosen to go to his place instead of Nchimunya’s who had more maturity than both of us put together. Dating a woman older than him had forced Nchimunya to grow up faster than all of us.

I needed Mubita to grill into me how foolish I was to be feeling like that. I knew everything, but I just couldn’t stop myself from feeling like that. Nchimunya would have tried to make my feelings justifiable in his effort to comfort me but not Mubita.

If this guy was to trace his ancestry, he would discover that he was some fourth or sixth cousin to Lucifer himself.

“I was happy and content with the picture I had of her so why did I have to find out the truth now? Is this God’s way of punishing me for the sin I almost committed a few days ago?”

“Of course,” Mubita vomited the words with such impunity I had to fight the urge to mentally kill him. “Only a dickhead would cheat on a woman like Rachael,” he continued unleashing his purge unto me. “If my girlfriend was even half as good as Rachael, I would have married her already.”

“You think I don’t know that already?” I asked.

Mubita glared at me, “are you saying that you also think my girlfriend is not good enough?” He was daring me to agree. Even in my foolish disposition, I could smell the trap.
How Mubita-like of him.

“I think her boobs are bigger than Rachael’s,” I said.

A proud grin immediately appeared on his face. “So you noticed.”

“Even Jesus would notice if she walked to him for spiritual healing. Those things are a force to be reckoned with.”

“I guess my work here is done,” Mubita said, catching me off-guard.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“If an image of my girl’s boobs can pop through your head at a moment when you thought your world was crushing to an end, then obviously there are more pressing issues in this world to worry about…such as your wedding in the next couple of days.”

I had been right to stop by Mubita’s place. The guy had the brutality of Shaka but he always had a solution to everything…well, almost everything.

I was more than ready to face the facts.

 

* * *

If I didn’t know it before, I know it now.

If I had any doubts before, I am now convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the woman walking down the aisle towards me is the love of my life.

Forget the raging hormones that threaten to turn me into a dark Lord whenever they attack…but this woman is carrying in her my very first child…the fruit of my…okay, let me not think about that right now.

And just why are these pants so dame tight anyway? I ordered a slim fit suit for my big day, not a skin tight.

Just look at Rachael glowing like that.

She is the most beautiful when she’s smiling. That smile is probably the reason I lost control of my ammunition and fired…calm down…calm down Chola.

Just think about the future from now on.

I don’t care about the sex of the child…but dear Lord let it be a boy, ah.

“I give you this ring as a symbol of my love and faithfulness….”

From this point on, I promise to be more than just Chola to you my wife.

I hereby leave my past and all my indiscretions behind….

My name is Chola.

I am Rachael’s husband.

I am the father of her unborn child.

And as long as my wife is not moody from pregnancy or facing the woes of biology and nature, I intend to have an absolutely happy marriage life!

THE END.

 

Coming Next Week:

Snippet from Echoes of the Heart

***

Everything around her had come to a standstill and only Veronica’s high pitched voice echoed though the four walls of the now empty restaurant.

“If your mission was to come here and insult me, you could have at least gotten your wardrobe choice right.” The woman’s bloody lips taking up half of her face and the long fake lashes threatening to drown the rest of it made it even harder for Sibusiswe to look at her.

Was that the kind of beauty they kept talking about these days?

“All those pearls and fancy clothes make you look pathetic and ridiculous.” Veronica continued.

Sibusiswe could only shake her heard as she took in the insults. There was something about Veronica’s face that made her look as if she had been born naturally drunk and upset.

“I find it hard to get offended when classy looking people attack me,” the ghetto born diva continued her attack on Sibusiswe.

“I didn’t ask to meet you so I could attack you,” Sibusiswe said, still maintaining her poise – much to Veronica’s chagrin.

“There you go again,” Veronica was close to snapping now, her long reptile-like nails digging into the beautiful expensive furniture of the high class restaurant. She hated everything about the restaurant her nemesis had picked just to reel her in. “That tone of voice,” her venom-like tongue hissed, “how the hell am I supposed to feel offended when you sound so melodic and corny?”

Sibusiswe couldn’t help laughing. “You seem to be under the impression that I came here for an attack,” she said. “I don’t think I have ever given you any reason to feel like that. If anything, I have been more than civil during all our interactions. You on the other hand have done nothing but antagonize me every step of the way. If anyone was looking at us, they would think I was the other woman.”

Veronica rolled her big round eyes, forcing Sibusiswe to move her drink away lest one of her gigantic eye lashes decided to take a dive in protest. It can’t be easy for the pair to try to make a woman like Veronica look beautiful.

Those poor lashes… she silently sympathized.

Perhaps she would have felt a little less offended if her husband had left her for a better woman. She didn’t even have to be good looking. She just had to be easy on the eye and clean. Just how many layers of make-up did the eye have to beat to get to the woman’s actual skin? The make-up was literally wearing her, she wasn’t wearing it.

“I can hear you thinking awful things about me,” Veronica put her arms across her chest defensively. “It must hurt your pride knowing your husband left you for a woman like me, er?”

Sibusiswe scoffed. “As a matter of fact it does, I won’t lie.”

Veronica looked confused, not sure whether to get offended or not. Why did her already tiny IQ shrink every time she was faced with this woman?

“Having said that,” Sibusiswe continued, “I don’t regret the divorce. I only feel bad for….”

Veronica raised her hand to shut her nemesis up. “I am really not a fan of yours Sibu and I would pay any amount of money just to get you to shut up so I can leave. The only reason I agreed to this meeting is because you and I need to come to a conclusion about Jacob. I am not comfortable with this arrangement of my husband constantly having to meet you whenever he is picking up or dropping off Jacob.”

“When are you going to get over your insecurities Veronica?” Sibu asked. “Martin and I have been divorced for over four years now. Apart from Jacob, I have no other business whatsoever with him. Unlike some women, I don’t find married men attractive. They reek of another woman whenever I am talking to them.”

“You might think that but Martin is a very kind man,” Veronica was saying. “He might still have lingering feelings…you are the mother of his child after all.”

“You’ve been with Jacob’s father for eight years now, four of which were during the time he was still married to me…and you are telling me you still don’t know him that well?” Sibu asked.

Veronica shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “What do you mean?” She flapped her lashes at her rival.

“Martin is not a kind man. You can call him anything else…but kind isn’t one of them.” Sibisiswe replied. “Anyway, I didn’t ask to have this meeting with you so we could talk about your husband. I want us to talk about something you might actually find pleasing.”

“And what is that?”

“From now onwards, I would like it if you were the one responsible for Jacobs welfare…and by that I mean bringing him back to my place after his visits to you. I do not wish to have any more contact with Martin.”

Veronica took a moment to mull over what she had just heard. Again, she wasn’t sure whether to be happy or sad about such a development. Isn’t that what she had always hoped for? She had been on Martin’s neck the past years trying to get him to let her take charge of that situation but he never relented.

What was really going on here? Something didn’t seem right.

If you even knew half of it, you would be using your fake lashes to hang yourself woman, Sibusiswe thought as she watched Veronica battle her demons.

“Is this what they call in the movies psychology reverse?” Veronica asked.

Sibusiswe had to hold her hand to her mouth to keep herself from laughing out loud. “It’s actually….forget it,” she gave up teaching the vixen. It wasn’t her job anyway. “I am being sincere with you Veronica,” Sibu said.

“Martin might still have a soft spot for you but he would never leave me for you. i am not the kind of woman to get her husband stolen by another woman. I always protect what’s mine.”

Sibusiswe scoffed once again. “You know what’s funny,” she said in a very calm yet menacing tone. “That Martin will not be coming back to me by my own doing. With your own tongue, you will beg him to get back with me.”

“Keep on dreaming,” Veronica hissed. “Over my dead body, you get it? Over my dead body.” She got up to leave.

“If you say so,” Sibusiswe replied nonchalantly, looking out the window towards the blue Jaguar still parked in the same spot.

Was this war ever going to end?

Or should she put an end to it right there and then?

This would not be the first time she was getting blood on her hands. Only this time, she would make it worth her while.
Look out for Part One of Echoes of the Heart coming Next Week!

Chola’s Love Storm: A Tale of Unforgotten Love – Chapter Two

Chapter Two

A storm is brewing in Chola’s direction. Can he seek shelter in the arms of the woman he loves or will he succumb to his desires and drown in a pool of unwarrantable pleasure?  

Disclaimer:

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

lovers

“Bev told me about the childhood friend you met over the weekend,” her majesty said, trying to play it cool as she carefully set her trap for me.

Dame that Beverly….

There should be a law against fiancé’s having such friends. If she knew the number of times I had to rush into confession at church just to cleanse myself of all the evil thoughts I plotted against her in my head every time she snitched on me to Rachael, she would have steered off my lane, forever.

Rachael was busy pretending to be concentrating hard on the clothes she was ironing for me but I could see her eyeballs from under getting thicker and thicker from surreptitiously peeking at me, searching my face for a reaction.

Eeeey…I was on the frying pan, again.

Despite the windows in my living room being closed, I could feel and hear the wind blow over my face and shwiiiiiii, it went passed my ears.

Noticing my hesitation, Rachael had completely given up on playing cool. I could see smoke coming from her ears.

It also didn’t help that my face was literally confessing my sins to her. Instead of giving me a handsome face, sometimes I wished God had given me a poker face because I suck at lying and Rachael knows it. The women could smell my lies even before I opened my mouth.

She had stopped whatever she was doing and was glaring at me so hard that I could feel my white blood cells running for cover.

“What did you do?” she asked, piercingly glaring at me.

I silently thanked the heavens for giving me the insight to pee just a few minutes before the trial had started. “I was going to tell you about it… it’s just that…”

I was really trying to go for the nonchalant and suave kind of delivery but it seemed my tongue had decided to take a chill on this day.

“It’s just that what?” Rachael cut me off, her arms crossed over her chest with her whole body exuding a Gangnam style kind of attitude.

“Yes I did meet Patricia,” I started my testimony, this time mentally grabbing hold of my balls and stealthily reminding them of who was in charge.

“At first I didn’t think it was all that important to tell you about it,” I mumbled, “….but since she had asked that we invite her to the wedding, I thought I should talk to you about it first…. Unfortunately, Beverly beat me to it.”

“I don’t think that is the reason why you are acting like that,” Rachael countered. “Obviously something happened that you are not telling me about, spill it,” she said in a very menacing tone.

At that point, I would have done anything she wanted me to do. She would have asked me to stop breathing and I would have straight away held my hand to my nose and mouth.

Rachael would have asked me to jump and croak Coming to America style and I would have done so because…because of the guilt that had been weighing down on me.

I had two options; to either tell her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, or to take the kufwa na No (die saying No) road. Either way, I was doomed.

“Yes, I met Patricia again after that meeting at Mercury Couriers.” I could literally feel a certain part of my body shrink.

“Um,” was all that Rachael managed for a response.

I understood that response clearly; she was not going to speak another word until I finished hanging myself.

I had already started; there was only one direction this ship was going.

 

*                             *                             *

 

It was 2 in the morning….

There I was, desperately trying to win the war against gravity, dragging my feet from the club to the car park. The God that normally gave me the power to drive like a sober man even when I was higher than the Kilimanjaro must have taken a chill pill on that particular day because he allowed it that I be a witness to something I would have rather not been a part of….

A whole week had gone by and I had successfully managed to not get in touch with Patricia.

Sigh of relief….

I had tossed her card some place I wouldn’t dare go back to look for it in case I lost my marbles in future. I had gone to and back from hell fighting the urge to not search for her on social media and I had kept myself so busy working and running errands for the wedding which was only a week away now.

I had no business trying to covet another man’s wife like I didn’t have a good woman by my side already. I should have known better from the get-go. Besides, it’s not like there was ever a possibility of Patricia and I dating. She obviously still thought of me as a boy.

While a part of me…my ego mostly, wanted to prove her otherwise, I price tag that came with letting my ego get the better of me was too grand for me to afford.

I am telling you, I did everything humanly possible to stay away from temptation.

I did.

As fate would have it, I was just about to get into my car when boom! I heard something hit the ground.

I turned in that direction. Just a few feet from where I was standing was a man and a woman, they were talking…no, arguing to be precise although I could not make out what the argument was about.

But what I could make out clearly was the well-lit car park and the man’s face which was turned in my direction. He was a huge looking fella with the kind of face only his mother would love. He was saying something to the woman which obviously wasn’t well received by her ears because she was slowly backing away from him while he barked at her.

I could not see the woman’s face since she was facing the other direction but I could see half of her back from over the car she was now leaning against. I could tell she was tall…except the giant towering over her made her look like a dwarf.

I kept telling myself to just look away, get into my car and drive off. It was none of my business.

Next thing I heard was another bang, the giant had landed his fist into the car the woman was leaning against, right next to her head.

“Don’t you even dare!” The giant’s masculine voice drawled and echoed through the car park. His face was just inches away from her. She was visibly shaken from the imposing threat before her.

One of my legs was already in the car; technically I was more than ready to bounce. But I stayed like that for a moment, contemplating about interfering or looking away. I had gotten into the car and was just about to start the engine when my moral faculties got the better of me.

Bana Chola had taught me better than that.

There was no way I was just going to ignore what I had just witnessed. What if that man killed the poor woman? What would I have done if that was Rachael, my mother, or my baby sister?

“Patricia!” I screamed when I realised who the woman I had just yanked from under the giant was.

It was Patricia.

It. Just. Had. To. Be. Patricia.

Someone somewhere was really having a good time messing around with me. Just why did it have to be Patricia of all women in the world?

She was just as shocked as I was. “Chola….” She called out my name. I sufficed from her big teary eyes that she had just been crying.

“You better let go of my wife’s hand before something bad happens to you mate,”

If I had thought before that the man’s gigantic frame was menacing, he had managed to awaken me to another fact; his voice had the power to make my blood flow in the opposite direction.

I dropped Patricia’s hand like a lamp of hot nshima.

“You know this guy?” The giant asked his wife.

Patricia nodded. “He’s a childhood friend of mine.”

“I see,” her husband hissed, shaking his head as if he had just proved an old theory correct. “Even better,” he added.

Patricia was shaking her head profusely. “Can we go home and….”

“How about I just leave you two to continue whatever you were doing,” I was more than ready to jolt out. That man looked like he would whoop my ass into a memory.

“I thought it was some random person trying to take advantage of a helpless woman…and so I…I’m gonna go now. Take care of yourself Patricia.”

I quickly turned to leave but his deep voice brought me to a halt. “If she is your friend, I suggest you take her with you before I do something to her I might regret.” And with that, the man got into the car his fist had earlier bruised and drove off, completely ignoring the distraught Patricia chasing after him.

For a while I just stood back and watched the drama unfold before me. How the hell did I end up in such a mess?

 

Next thing I remember is looking up and seeing Patricia sprawled on the ground in her fancy little dress and heels looking like the perfect portrait of a damsel in distress.

Being this woman’s hero meant that I was setting myself up to be a villain in another woman’s world…the woman I was scheduled to marry in just a few days.

But I couldn’t get myself to turn a blind eye.

I walked up to her and helped her to her feet. She was sobbing uncontrollably by now. After so many years of trying to get this woman’s attention, years of staying up late at night thinking and thinking about her, and years of constantly nursing my bruised ego and pride every time I had an encounter with her…I had finally become the shoulder for her to cry on, literally.

And suddenly, I had completely sobered up.

I spoke a few soothing words to her, trying to calm her down…still in that position if I must add.

How many times in my head had I pictured myself playing hero to her? The gods must be crazy. Out of nowhere, and without even trying, she had landed right into my arms.

It’s 2 in the morning, there is a very vulnerable yet attractive woman in my arms and there’s an empty bed somewhere calling out to me…. Do you see where I am going with this?

Anyway, Patricia finally sobered up and I slowly released her from my arms. I couldn’t help breathing a sigh of relief. I was treading on dangerous territory and the bells were getting louder and louder in my head.

“Can I drop you off somewhere?” I asked.

She shook her head, one hand wiping away the tears that had engulfed her face. “I only know one person here and that’s where my husband is going.”

Oh dear.

“My purse and everything else is in the car so I can’t even go to a lodge,” Patricia was saying. “I know I am being shameless…but can you lend me some money…I promise to give it back tomorrow.” She was clearly someone not used to being at such a disadvantage.

I didn’t have any more cash on me. I had danced on it back in the club and Rachael had the rest of my cards. The one time I had not forgotten to tell her where I was going, she had relieved me of my ATM cards because she never liked how my generosity levels always seemed to spike whenever I was in front of a bar. Thus, she had given me some cash and let me off the hook for the night.

“I don’t like carrying so much money with me when I go out with the boys,” I lied to Patricia, touching my pockets here and there as if by some miracle some cash might pop out.

“Oh,” there was no missing the sunken look on her face. It was one of defeat. “How about your….”

I knew what she was going to suggest but her pride must have gotten the better of her because she let the sentence hang just like that.

 

Two of the friends I had been hanging with at the club were married and had already left the club just before midnight. The other two still inside though not married had girlfriends. Of those two, Nchimunya was the most likely to have some money to spare since Mubita was broke most of the time, even on the day after payday.

And so I called Nchimunya and asked him to meet me in the car park.

Nchimunya had this look on his face when he saw that I had a woman by my side…he was grinning from ear to ear like a fool.

“This is Patricia,” I went straight into the introductions.

Nchimunya threw me a knowing look. “The Patricia, Patricia?” he asked excitedly, extending his hand to her. “My name is Nchimunya, I’m one of his very close buddies. I’ve heard a lot about you….”

Was he really going to go there? I wanted to smack him in the head. “Nchimunya is a good friend of mine and for a man, he talks a lot.” I jumped in to save my pride.

Fortunately, my buddy got the cue and changed course. “He told me you guys grew up together. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

As the two shook hands, Patricia had this blank look on her face. She was probably thinking about what had happened with her husband instead of listening to the rumblings of some drunken guy.

“It’s nice to meet you,” Patricia said, giving my buddy a fleeting smile.

“Instead of a lodge, she can spend the night at my place,” Nchimunya offered after I brought him up to speed with the situation at hand.

“I can spend the night at Mubita’s,” he was saying, “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if it’s just for one night. I will call Thembi, but you should also call her…just in case, you know.”

“Sure,” I replied.

Thembi was Nchimunya’s girlfriend of seven years. I should probably mention that my friend had a vintage taste in women. He had been seeing a divorcee who was fifteen years older than him, and because of her past, she was very sceptical about jumping into the marriage wagon a second time.  Despite Nchimunya’s campaigns in the past to get them to at least live together, Thembi would not budge.

“Don’t worry too much,” Nchimunya had turned to Patricia. “My girlfriend is very understanding. As long as I talk to her about it, she won’t mind at all.”

After sorting out the logistics, I dropped Patricia off at Nchimunya’s place in Chelstone since it was right along the way to my place.

My mission was to just drop her off, make sure she was safely inside the house and drive off. Unfortunately, the reality played itself out differently.

I was standing outside the door, saying goodbye to Patricia – from a distance… waiting for her to close the door behind her when she paused.

She had this look in her eyes, like she was about to cry. I felt a deep pang in my heart, it was heavy and piercing.

“Are you going to be okay?” I asked.

I probably shouldn’t have asked. 

“Um,” she was nodding yes but her eyes where saying something else.

“Patricia….” I started to say.

She ran back to where I was and threw her arms around me, pulling me in so tightly I could barely breathe.

“Patricia…” I said, sticking my head up and trying desperately to unglue her from my body. “What’s going on?” I asked.

She was now crying. “Thank you,” she said. “Thank you for everything Chola.”

She had loosened her hold on me and I finally managed to put some distance between us, tilting her upper body away from me with my hands on her shoulders.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said, my voice coming out a little too throaty for my liking.

I did not like the look in Patricia’s eyes. It was the kind that took up that little breathing space in men’s pants and made it hard for them to walk or think straight.

Sensing the danger, I released my hands from her shoulders, quickly stepping back to put some reasonable distance between us.

However, Patricia wasn’t going to let me off that easy. Before I could even blink, she had her arms around my neck and her tongue in my mouth.

My first instinct was flight, and so I tried to pull her off of me, again.

I succeeded.

 

Patricia stood back and looked up at me. Like a wet stray puppy, her eyes begging me to rescue her.

My mind was begging me to look away. “I’m very sorry Tricia,” I said, quickly turning around to go back to my car.

“Please, don’t leave me like this.” Her voice hit me from behind.

Those six little words echoed through my brain until I could not hear anything else.

I was petrified not only by her careless utterances but also by my own thoughts.

“Please….” I heard her say again.

How many times had I prayed to hear those words from her? I felt like I could die that very second and enjoy a very peaceful afterlife.

Her words had enveloped me into some kind of spell. At that moment, I only had one thing on my mind…only Patricia and no one and nothing else.

When I turned around, I found her standing right behind me. I thought back to all those years I had craved and pined for her…all those years I had wanted to physically and emotionally make her mine.

Even if it be just for a night, she wanted me and that’s all that mattered.

Patricia finally needed me.

Her lips were screaming at me, inviting me to draw closer and taste them…and taste them I did.

Like a man starved of love for years, I went at her for my pleasure. Every breath she took in my arms was like a force igniting the frustrations I felt all those years she thought of me as nothing but a boy.

I wanted her to learn.

I wanted her to remember me.

I wanted her to beg for more.

 

I was holding her so tight in my arms, afraid she might slip away like she did in the past. I could feel myself losing control, panting like a dog on heat. I ran one hand through her long hair while the other caressed her cheek. When I felt her thrust her body against mine, I knew she was exactly where I wanted her to be.

I teased her lips for a little longer. I could hear her moan from both frustration and pleasure. Unable to stand the pressure any more, she moved her hands from cupping the back of my neck and held me by my head, pulling me in and kissing me like her life depended on it.

Patricia was so wrapped up in having her way with my lips that it took a moment for her to realise what was going on.

I was not kissing her back.

I had dropped my arms to my sides and just let them hang there limply, silently commanding them to not dare reach out and touch anything.

Patricia paused, searching my face for an explanation.

She still had her arms around my neck but then I placed my hands on them and slowly dropped them to her sides.

“Why did you stop?” She asked in a painfully calm voice.

“Because if I didn’t, we were both going to regret it,” I said, wiping my lips with the back of my hand just in case she had left her mark on me.

“The why did you let me kiss you when you obviously wanted me to stop?” she quizzed me.

I took a moment to think before responding because she would have definitely taken offence if I had laid it out to her thick and straight. “Because I wanted to test myself,” I finally said.

Patricia looked even more puzzled.

“All these years I thought I was in-love with you,” I started my monologue. “And maybe to some extent I really was in-love with you, but not once…not once did you act like you even considered me, until today. This past week, I have done nothing but kill myself over thinking about you and wondering, what if? Tonight I was willing to throw away everything I have just to have you…but then I felt your body move against mine and for some reason that brought me back to my senses. Tonight I committed a crime against you and a very wonderful woman out there….

“I know I’m going to sound like a jerk… but, I am glad this happened. I finally know the difference between what I want and what I need. Yes I want you, but that’s it. Fortunately, there’s a woman I want as well as need in my life. I am sorry I was such a jerk to you tonight. You were not in your right mind but I had the frame of mind to know better. I don’t know what problems you and your husband are going through but I hope you manage to work them out soon. And I am sorry that I can’t invite you to the wedding…for obvious reasons.”

Patricia was smiling wryly at me, obviously embarrassed by the turn of events. “I am also at fought,” she said apologetically. “I shouldn’t have come at you like that.”

“How about we just forget this ever happened?” I suggested.

“I think that’s better,” she agreed.

 

*                             *                             *

 

“So you just dropped her off and nothing happened?” Rachael pounded me for answers, not completely convinced by the edited version of the truth I had chosen to present to her.

Of course I never told her about the kiss! What do you take me for, a fool?

Rachael is not the kind of woman you can tell that it took kissing another woman for you realise how much you loved her. She would have killed me and dumped my ass without even batting an eye! She is brutal like that when it comes to betrayal.

“Yes, that’s it,” I insisted. Knowing what was really at stake, even I believed my own lies.

She kept staring at me for a few more seconds, searching my face for clues of deception. I was busy smiling at her reassuringly. I don’t think I would have managed a straight innocent face at that point. She would have seen right through that one.

“Well, whatever happened at least I know you did not sleep with her…that much I can tell.” She was delivering her verdict. “But if anything else happened, then you have to show me just how sorry you are that you let it happen and make sure it never happens again, ever.” She declared.

“I am sorry for everything Rachael…for not telling you…for….”

“I know,” she said, not letting me finish. It was as if she knew exactly what had happened and deliberately avoided hearing it.

I felt chills run down my spine as I watched her disappear into the bedroom.

I was stuck between doing a dance and rushing to church for confession.

Rachael had been gone for about three minutes, sorting out my clothes in the bedroom like she always did after ironing them when her cell phone rang.

“Your phone honey!” I called out to her.

I had just picked it up to take it to her when the number on the screen caught my eye. I knew that number. I had seen that number somewhere before….

“Who is it baby?” Rachael appeared from the bedroom holding in one hand a pair of the boxers she had been threatening to burn for the past one year and in another a pair of scissors.

I could only mumble a few inaudible things in response as I looked back and forth from the phone screen to the woman who might never be my wife after all.

In retrospect, that image of Rachael in front of me holding whatever she was holding in her hands was somewhat a foretelling of the precarious position I would find myself in amidst the events that unfolded thenceforth.

How did Patricia get Rachael’s number?

And most importantly, what was she doing calling my fiancé?

 

My name is Chola…and there’s a storm is brewing in my direction.

 

Look out for Chapter Three to be published soon!!