Kondwani’s Debt of Love – Part 7

“Pay back a debt?” Alicia asked.

The server chose that particular moment to appear with their food.

“Thanks,” they said at once.

“Is there anything-“

“No thanks, we are fine.” Alicia quickly answered, anxious for her to leave so she could hear Dr Chileshe’s explanation.

The twenty something year old server got her cue to leave and immediately left them alone.

“You were saying….” Alicia prompted him again.

Kondwani laughed. “Relax,” he said. “I just meant that I owe you for the way I treated you when you first joined the hospital.”

“Ooh.” She said, her features suddenly relaxing.

“What did you think I meant?” There was still laughter in Kondwani’s voice.

Alicia shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t know,” she said. “I guess I was just curious because of the way you phrased your statement.”

“I see.” Kondwani said. “Can I ask you something though…a personal question?” He was looking at her cautiously, wondering how she was going to take his line of questioning.

Alicia raised an eyebrow at him. “You are not going to talk about rescuing me again are you?”

Kondwani chuckled. “No,” he said. “I think you’ve made your point very clear on that one.”

“Good.” She said. “What did you want to ask me?”

“Have you ever been with anyone else apart from your late boyfriend?” Kondwani asked.

Alicia gawked at him in wonder, a whole lot of questions flashing across her face.

“Did I offend you?” Kondwani asked.

“I am trying to figure out whether it’s mere coincident or not….” Alicia said.

“What?” A confused Kondwani asked.

“You are not the first person to ask me that question today.” She said.

“I’m not?” No sooner had he asked than the answer came to him. “Kayombo?”

Alicia chuckled shyly. “How did you-?”

“I don’t believe that nothing is going on between the two of you.” He said. “I have seen the way he looks at you.”

“I think you and Dr Kayombo should really think about becoming best friends. He said the same thing about you.” Immediately the words came out, Alicia regretted having uttered them without thinking. She put her hand over her mouth but it was already too late.

Kondwani was looking at her suspiciously, a new kind of interest glowing in his eyes. “Dr Kayombo said something like that about me?”

Alicia grabbed her glass of water and gulped down the contents. How did their conversation get to that point? She wondered.

Kondwani was watching her closely. He could tell she was going to try and avoid his question but he had no intention whatsoever of letting her get away with it.

“Do you think these people would tell us if we asked them what sauce they used for the beef?” Alicia had put down her glass of water and was now forking her meat. “It’s very nice, never tasted anything like it before.”

Kondwani said nothing in return, he just kept staring at her and he could tell she could feel his eyes on her because she dared not raise her head or her eyes from whatever was going on on her plate.

Alicia was now fatuously trying to cut a piece off her steak but it appeared neither the meat nor the cutlery were in corporation mood.

“I’m still waiting.” Kondwani said, now knotting his hands together over the table and feigning a look of determined patience on his face.

Feeling cornered, Alicia laid down the knife and fork angrily, dipped the tip of her fingers in the bowl of water and went at her meat with her bare hands. “God put me in charge of the meat and not the other way round.” She said between clenched teeth as she tore a large piece and dropped it into her mouth.

Kondwani watched in amazement as she shameless chewed at her meat. “Are you kidding me?” He asked, looking both shocked and amazed at her behaviour.

Alicia tried to mouth the word ‘what’ at him but her mouth was too full for her to utter anything comprehensible.

“What do you see when you look at me Alicia?” Kondwani asked. He appeared to genuinely be in need of finding out the answer to his question. He was seriously examining his companion’s facial expressions. How could she not even try a play at cuteness around him?

Glad that she had managed to circumvent the other topic, Alicia quickly chewed her meat and swallowed hard. “I see a doctor.” Her answer finally came.

“Is that all you see?” He asked disappointedly.

“Is there something else I’m supposed to see?” She asked.

Kondwani felt a chunk off his pride drop to the floor. “Sometimes I wonder if you are putting on a perfect act of naivety or if you are simply just plain naïve. Isn’t there a part of you that finds me attractive as a man?”

The fork in Alicia’s hand dropped onto her plate causing the few heads in the restaurant to turn in their direction. Some of the sauce from her beef steak went splashing all over the front of her top. The bluntness of Doctor Chileshe’s question had completely caught her off guard and she wasn’t quite sure how she was supposed to respond.

It was a well-known fact that he was a very good looking man. There was no woman that looked at Kondwani Chileshe and failed to silently recognize that fact in her head. However, it was a whole other matter for one to be forced to utter that fact to the man’s face without wishing for the ground to open up and swallow them.

Kondwani appeared completely pleased by her reaction and the proud smirk on his face showed just how flattered he was by Alicia’s admission even though she had not uttered a single word in reply. Her glowing cheeks and blushing eyes were literally screaming her response at him.

“I am going to go to the bathroom!” Alicia’s was suddenly on her feet and off towards the direction of the toilets.

Kondwani literally laughed out loud. “I seriously think she lied about her age.” He said to himself.

The beautiful server that was in charge of their table tried to intercept Alicia along her way to the bathroom but Alicia was too embarrassed to stop and talk to her. She just shook her head and pointed towards the bathroom in urgency. Instead, the server went to Kondwani who was still busking in the aftermath of Alicia’s unintended confession.

It was not as if he was not aware of the fact that women find him good looking so why did he find himself utterly flattered by Alicia’s silent admission? He was a man used to having women throw themselves at him and do everything in their power to get his attention. So why did the silent confession of a simple-looking, naïve but beautiful nurse cause him to feel like he had just won gold at the Olympics?

“Is everything all right sir?” The concerned server asked Kondwani.

Kondwani lifted his head to look up at her, he was grinning from ear to ear. “Everything is absolutely fine!” He was almost shouting the words. “My day had started off on a crappy note but it’s suddenly brightened up. How about you give me the best wine you have in the house? The very best.”

Smiling, “yes sir,” replied the server before leaving for the bar.

By the time Alicia came out of the bathroom, the wine had already been served. She found two empty glasses set on the table and it appeared as if Doctor Chileshe was waiting for her before he could pour it into the glasses.

Kondwani looked at her and immediately realized she had utilized her time out very wisely. The sauce stains on her blouse were completely gone. “Sit,” he pointed to where she had been seated earlier.

“What’s this about?” She pointed to the red wine and the two glasses.

“We are going to celebrate the fact that you like me Alicia.” Kondwani said. Alicia’s eyes immediately went searching across the room to see if anyone had overheard his words. She wanted to reach out from across the table and put her hand over his smirking mouth.

She sat down and leaned towards him to whisper; “I never said I liked you.” She emphasized every word in the sentence. “Just because a woman thinks you are good looking does not mean that she likes you.”

Kondwani grinned some more. “Finally, she actually says the words.”

Right away, Alicia realized she had fallen flat into his trap.

Kondwani opened the bottle of wine and poured half a glass for her before pouring for himself.

“I don’t drink.” Alicia announced just as Kondwani set the glass before her.

He gaped at her. “You gotto be kidding me.” he said disappointedly.

“It’s getting dark outside,” she made a point of actually looking outside. “I still live with my parent’s so I need to get back home on time.”

“Why does a twenty-eight year old woman with a fully-functioning career still live with her parents?” Kondwani asked.

“Because this 28 year old woman needs to save money for something more important than her own life or freedom.”

“You mean your son?”

She nodded.

“What if I find you a good lawyer to help you get your son back?” Kondwani offered.

“Now why would you do that?” Alicia asked.

“I told you, I have a debt to pay.” He answered.

“I can’t afford that kind of lawyer right now and I think I would really feel uncomfortable receiving that kind of help from you. You don’t need to feel like you owe me anything for the way you treated me when we first met.

“You were just doing your job and I understand. You don’t need to do these kinds of things,” she was looking at the table set before them as she said the words. “You really don’t owe me anything…but thank you for offering anyway, it means a lot.”

“I thought you said you would do anything to get your son back.” Kondwani’s tone was suddenly serious. “If getting your son back is your prerogative, then isn’t a little discomfort on your part a small price to pay to achieving your goal?”

“Why are you doing this doctor?” For the first time since they sat down, she was looking directly at him. “Why do you care so much about what goes on in my life? It can’t just be because you feel bad about how rude you were to me. You are rude and smug with everyone at work, it’s not just me so…or do you follow up the others as well and offer to do them favours?”

“Why are you acting like I asked to bed you when all I want to do is help you get your son back?” Kondwani asked. “If you don’t want my help then fine!” He got up and walked over to the bar where their server was standing.

“The bill please.” He said.

She handed it to him., he quickly signed it and returned it to her. When he was done, he headed right out of the building instead of back to the table where Alicia was seated watching him walk out in disbelief.

She quickly got up, waved to the server and ran out after Doctor Chileshe.

She wanted to ask him what was wrong with him but something about his demeanour sent her straight into silence. She waited for him to get into the car and when she noticed he didn’t drive off without her but instead waited for her to get in; she quickly rushed to get in.

“I thought you were going to leave me behind.” She said but Kondwani said nothing in response. All the way to her place, there were no words exchanged between them. Alicia had no idea when it happened, but she found herself being gently shaken by Kondwani and she opened her eyes to find them parked in front of her gate.

“How-“

“I figured you were tired, didn’t want to wake you.” Kondwani said. He was awkwardly avoiding looking at her.

“When did we get here?” Alicia asked, realizing from his words that they hadn’t just arrived.

“Does it matter?” Kondwani said flatly.

Alicia checked her wrist watch for the time and her mouth fell wide open. She went straight for the door so as not to keep him any longer but Kondwani surprised her by grabbing her hand.

“Wait,” he said, his voice soft and controlled.

Alicia’s gaze went straight to where their hands were touching before she sat back. Kondwani immediately released his hold on her.

“You like me, don’t you?” He asked.

“Huh?” Alicia said. Was it his mission to shock her to death with his random questions?

“Let me rephrase,” he said. “I know that you like me.”

“Is this some kind of joke or test?” Alicia asked.

“Maybe, you hate me?” He was now looking straight into her eyes.

“I don’t hate you, but neither do I like you.” Alicia stated matter-of-factly. “Where is all this coming from? I thought I told you-“

“Then why are you refusing my help?” Kondwani asked. “If you have no feelings whatsoever for me, why not just accept my help as something coming from a colleague who wants to be your friend?”

Alicia scoffed. “A friend?” She asked. “You and me?” She scoffed again. “You and I live in two different worlds Doctor Chileshe. You live in a castle and I live in my parent’s spare bedroom.

“We might work in the same hospital but the only reason I exist there is just so I can pass tools to you so you can effectively do your life-changing job. Only a fool would expect more from this kind of relationship. Besides, I almost lost my job because your fiancé misunderstood something between us so the last thing I-“

“So is it because of her?” Kondwani asked. “Is it because you think your job will be threatened that’s why you keep refusing my help?”

Alicia couldn’t believe Doctor Chileshe’s persistence. “I told you-“

“What if I ended my relationship with her?”

“What!?” Alicia couldn’t believe her ears. “Is something wrong with you Doctor?” She was genuinely examining him for symptoms of disorientation.

“Nothing is wrong with me.” He said. “I am perfectly fine so stop looking at me like that. I simply just what to help-“

“Why do you care so much?” Alicia asked.

“Does it really matter?” Kondwani asked. “Can’t you just accept my help, say thank you like a normal person would so that we can both continue with our lives?”

Alicia was glaring at him in disbelief. Why was he getting upset with her? She should be the one getting upset with him. “I told you, I don’t need your help.” She said sternly and stepped down from the vehicle.

Kondwani quickly stepped out as well. “Then you shouldn’t have allowed me to see you cry like a fool everywhere I went!” He shouted at her before she could open the gate.

Alicia turned to look at him in fury. His brutal reminder of those painful moments of vulnerability when she thought no one was watching brought tears straight into her eyes. “What, do I need permission from you to even cry?” She snapped. “I can cry whenever I feel like it but that doesn’t mean I need anyone to rescue me.” As she said the words, the tears streamed down her face, as if to prove a point to him.

“You are not asking to help me because you care,” She added. “You simply want to fulfil some private dark desire just so you can make yourself feel better. Yes, you are a good looking man I will give you that but don’t go around thinking every woman is out to get your heart or attention. I am not one of them.”

With that, she opened the gate, entered and flung it shut behind her with a bang.

“That didn’t go anywhere close to plan.” Kondwani said to himself. He got back into the car and called the person responsible for putting him in that kind of situation.

“Bro,” Chilufya answered his call.

“Meet me by Rhapsody’s in 30.” He said.
“It’s not working.” Kondwani complained to his twenty-five year old sister about an hour later.

“What’s not working?” Chilufya asked.

“What you asked me to do.” He said.

“What I asked you to do?” Chilufya appeared clueless. “I don’t remember-“

“That girl won’t give me the time of day.” Kondwani said. “I have tried everything possible to try and get close to her so I can help to make her life easy but she just won’t give me a chance.”

“What girl-“

“She keeps asking me questions and frankly I have run out of lies. I have never had any problems telling a lie before but somehow…with this woman, nothing seems to work out. Every single time I look at her, the guilt just eats me up and-“

“Ooooh.” Chilufya finally got on the same page as her brother. “You are talking about the nurse, Ms Daka.”

“Of course,” Kondwani said. “Who else could I be talking about? What’s wrong with you today?”

“Hey, hey, don’t take your anger out on me.” Chilufya warned him. “I am not the one responsible for your current state of mind.”

“Do you think I would be feeling this frustrated if you hadn’t ask me that stupid question last time we talked?”

Chilufya laughed. “Since when have you ever listened to me…or to anyone for that matter?”

“This case is different.” Kondwani said.

“So what did you try to do for her?” Chilufya asked.

That question forced Kondwani to revisit his past and recent interaction with Alicia. He couldn’t help wincing in embarrassment.

“What? What happened?” Chilufya had never seen her brother look so abashed.

“Oooh, it’s too embarrassing. I can’t believe I did or said some of those things.” He covered his face with the palm of his hands. “I wish I could just drop dead to save myself from this embarrassment.”

“What did you do?” Chilufya was now dying from curiosity. She had never seen her brother look so mortified.

“Anyway!” Kondwani dropped his hands from his face. “I am done with all this drama.” He said. “I did what I could, I reached out to her, I offered to help and she flat out turned me down.”

“You offered her help? How?” Chilufya asked.

“I asked her if she wanted help getting her son back and she said she didn’t need my help. I even offered to get her the best lawyer in town. She still said no.”

“Oh my God, you didn’t.” Chilufya’s jaw dropped.

“What?” Kondwani asked.

“Are you and that woman friends?” she asked.

“Of course not, I’m her boss. She’s interning at my hospital.”

“Exactly!” Chilufya hit her hand against the table. “How can you offer someone you have no close relationship with that kind of help? Did you expect her to jump up in joy and wrap her arms around you in gratitude?”

“I also offered to be her companion…you know-“

“Her what?” Chilufya hang her head in shock and embarrassment. “You offered to be her what?” She slowly repeated her question.

“She cries quite a lot and very so easily,” Kondwani explained himself. “I thought, obviously it’s because she hasn’t gotten over her boyfriend so…you know….”

For the first time in her life, Chilufya realized just how human her big brother was. She had grown up believing that there was nothing her big brother could not do in the whole world. He was her hero, her mentor and she literally worshiped the ground he walked on. However, in that moment, looking at him and hearing him talk, she realized for the very first time that he was not perfect, and that there were certain things in the world that no amount of money or intelligence could buy.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Kondwani asked his sister. He could read disappointment…and something else…could it be pity he was seeing in her eyes? No way.

And then suddenly, he saw tears.

Shocked by the sudden turn of events, Kondwani grabbed a napkin from the table and passed it to her. “Chilu, what’s wrong with you?” He asked, concern and shock written all over his face.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, his sister started sobbing, loud enough to attract the attention of everyone in the restaurant. And instead of hiding her face for dignity’s sake, Chilufya opened sobbed and sobbed with her mouth wide open.

“Shit.” Kondwani cussed under his breath as he went to sit next to her. “Woman, what’s all this about? Can’t you see everyone is looking at us?”

In response, Chilufya turned her body to fully face her brother. She lifted both her hands and rested them on either side of his face, all the while sobbing and shaking her head at the same time. “What have we done to you?” She cried.

“What do you mean what have you done to me?” He grabbed her hand and laid them down gently. “Here,” he took some more napkins brought to their table by a male server and handed it to her. When the server remained standing there, Kondwani felt the need to explain the situation to him…and everyone else looking at them strangely.

“She’s my baby sister,” he said. “She’s going through some issues so….”

The server nodded his head, apologized and quickly gave them the privacy they needed.

“See now people are looking at me strangely and thinking I have done some injustice to you.” Kondwani told his sister.

Chilufya dried her tears and after calming down, she took her brothers hand and held on to it for the duration of her speech.

“On behalf of mum and my siblings,” she started. “I want to take this opportunity to apologize to you for what we’ve done.” As she spoke, a fresh bolt of tears came streaming down her cheeks.

Kondwani could only stare at her blankly, completely lost from whatever was going on in her head. It was not as if he was not aware of his young sister’s bipolar personality. Chilufya’s moods shifted between night and day in a split second and sometimes it was hard to tell whether she was female or not since she woke up on certain days talking, walking and dressing like a boy and on other days she appeared as immaculate and impeccably dressed as a 15th century European medieval woman.

With Chilufya, there was just no knowing which side of the bed she would wake up on. She had the potential to shock even the most holy of men. Their mother had already gone through all the possible powerful pastors she could afford and all she could do now was wait upon new ones and new churches to be born so she could try them as well.

But as a medical doctor, Kondwani knew for a fact that what his sister needed was not holy water or holy blankets. As long as she continued with her medication and therapy, she would eventually get better. In fact, he was already seeing the change in her…even though she still wasn’t quite there yet.

“You were so busy taking care of us that you missed out on a lot of things.” Chilufya cried.

Kondwani finally understood where the water works were coming from and why. He simply laughed and wrapped his arms around his sister.

“I promise you I’m going to help you find a woman that you will truly truly love.” Chilufya promised, her arms too tightly wrapped around her brother.

“How can I desire any other woman when I have a baby sister that loves me like this?” Kondwani joked.

Chilufya suddenly let go of him. “I’m serious!” She sulked.

Kondwani laughed. “I know, so please, stop crying.” She picked up another napkin and this time around he wiped her tears himself. “Whatever man will win your heart will be the luckiest fella in the whole world, you know that right?”

Chilufya blushed, smiled, and nodded. “And my brother might not be perfect, but he is the best brother and doctor this country has ever seen!” She said.

“And for that, you deserve the best and most expensive meal on this menu.” Kondwani said, standing up to go back to his seat. He handed Chilufya the menu.

“So I can order everything I want here right?” She was beaming with excitement, her finger going over every item on the page she was closely scrutinizing.

Kondwani laughed. “Yes,” he said, silently thanking the heavens that she wasn’t a royal lady of the court that day worried about appearances and her weight. The silent Y chromosome in her was fully in charge for the moment.

He put down his menu and sat watching his sister give the server a list of items she wanted to eat, a bittersweet smile playing on his face as he desperately fought back tears.
***

That evening after Kondwani dropped her off at home, Alicia went straight to bed, turning down her father’s offer to join the family for dinner with the excuse of having eaten already. She had not told a lie but both her parents thought she was still upset over what had happened with her mother during the day.

Alicia’s mind was anywhere but home. Despite her high IQ, at the age of 28, she still had trouble discerning matters of the heart. Why was Doctor Chileshe acting like that with her? She kept asking herself but each time she couldn’t seem to come up with a concrete answer.

It can’t be because he likes me, she reasoned. He had said so himself. It has to be pity…that…that white knight syndrome. But why me? Why does he care so much?

But the time she realized it, it was thirty minutes passed midnight and she had the early morning shift. She switched off her bedside lamp and drowned into her beddings, forcefully willing her mind to focus on sleep only.

The next morning at work, Doctor Chileshe was back to being his old self; cold, rude, dismissive and disrespectful. It was as if the previous day had not happened. In her shelved nature, Alicia did her best to avoid running into him at all cost. She was always an easy target for anyone in a position of power…or just anyone.

Unfortunately, being the assisting surgical nurse, she had no means of completing staying out of Kondwani’s radar. However, she was fortunate enough to realize that he too was committed to ignoring her as much as she was. Except for those conversations that could not be avoided in the OR, the two of them stayed out of each other’s way, religiously.

The situation remained like that for days, until others like Dr Kayombo started to notice.

“So what’s going on between you and Dr Chileshe?” Samuel asked her one day when they were having lunch with two other interning nurses in the cafeteria.

“Are you planning on sitting with us every day?” A very uncomfortable Alicia asked. “Everyone is staring at us like we stole something from them.” She added as she scanned the room.

“That group of female doctors over there looks like they are ready for a fight.” Nurse Evans chipped in. he was one of the three male intern nurses in Alicia’s group.

“I don’t know, but I’m kind of enjoying all the hate and attention.” Nurse Caroline said.

Caroline had the shortest nursing uniform in the group and always got in trouble with Mrs Miti over her make-up and audacious appearance. The 25 year old had not hidden the fact that she only became a nurse in order to meet a rich old dying man so she could inherit his wealth. She was shameless as she was beautiful.

“Aren’t you going to answer my question?” Kayombo asked, completely ignoring her protests.

“I have no idea-“

“Where is that ungrateful murderer who killed my son?” Alicia heard a familiar voice behind her and froze. She didn’t need to turn to know who had rudely stormed into the cafeteria in such a fit of rage. What she didn’t know was what she could have done to arouse that kind of rage in her.

“Aunty?” Doctor Kondwani was already up on his feet.

Alicia quickly got up and turned in the direction of the pending doom. Before she could even stand up straight, Mrs Kabwe slapped her hard across the face and sent her straight to the floor.

“How can you do this to me?” Mary asked. She threw the pile of papers in her hands at her. Shocked and confused, Alicia picked up one of the papers, one word immediately stood out to her; custody.

She quickly read through the whole document.

“You killed my son and now you want to take away my grandchild?” Mary shouted.

“Aunt Mary,” Kayombo went over to the woman’s side to try and calm her down while Evans and Caroline tried to help Alicia up.

Unfortunately, Mary was not in a calming down mood. She flung at Alicia once again and pulled at her hair. “You are never taking him away from me!” She said as she pulled an unprotesting Alicia left, right and centre.

“How dare you threaten me with fancy lawyers?” Mary shouted. Kayombo and Evans tried to pull the woman away from Alicia but she was way too vicious for them.

“What the hell is going on here?” It was Kondwani, in all his angry glory. Kayombo and Evans immediately let go of Mrs Kabwe and for the first time Alicia made a move to escape the woman’s wrath.

“Doctor Chileshe?” Alicia said, fear written all over her face. She could hear her career run down the sewer drain. It was over for her.

“Don’t you have a mouth?” Kondwani asked. “Can’t you talk to defend yourself?”

Alicia appeared lost and confused.

“Who the hell are you?” Mary turned towards the doctor, completely unfazed by his domineering nature.

“I am the owner of this place…and also the person that hired someone to send you those documents.” He was looking at the papers on the floor.

“What?”

It was not just Alicia and Mary that had asked that question, it was everyone else in the cafeteria, including Gwen who was standing right behind Kondwani.

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Kondwani’s Debt of Love – Part 5

“Alicia’s life started to change about six years ago.” Stephen told Mwansa. “She fell pregnant for my cousin Nick. She was very young and naive around that time and wasn’t really ready to face something like that but Nicolas was.

“He was excited by the idea of becoming a father and he proposed marriage to her even when she asked him to wait because she didn’t want to feel like he was marrying her out of guilt or responsibility.”

“Wow,” Mwansa said. “What’s wrong with that lady? Does she know how lucky she is to have a guy propose marriage to her after knocking her up? Just like football, no guy will score and then run to the goalkeeper he’s just ran the ball passed to celebrate. They all run off to celebrate in the arms of others. That’s men for you.”

“But Nicolas was different.” Stephen said. “And where did you even get such an analogy?” He laughed.

“I know a lot of my friends who were crazy in-love with each other but the moment the sperm hit the egg, all that love evaporated into the air. I don’t know why some men are like that. After yanking live inside someone’s daughter, what do they expect to come out, peanut butter?”

Stephen laughed. “You sound pissed; did someone you love let you down? You don’t have a child I am not aware of, do you?”

Mwansa busted out laughing. “Unless God considers me to be as pure as Mary, this womb is still virgin territory.” She was touching her belly for effect. “Weren’t we talking about Alicia a few seconds ago? How did my womb come under fire?”

“Because you interrupted me.” Stephen said.

“So did Alicia turn down your cousin when he proposed?”

“She never even got to give him a response.” Stephen answered. “I was told that they were right outside Nick’s home when he proposed and they ended up fighting over him not considering her feelings. She ran out onto the street and disappeared.

“Naturally, Nicolas went after her and when he couldn’t find her, he went back home to get his car and went looking for her. That was when the accident happened.”

Mwansa gasped in disbelief. “Now it makes sense,” she said. “I remember you told me once on the phone that your aunt is very strict about you guys dating because of something that happened with her son. But still, I don’t think it’s fair for her to blame Alicia for what happened. Couples fight, granted, not all fights lead to death…but c’mon….”

“I know.” Stephen said. “But, it’s easier for a mother who’s lost her son prematurely to find someone to blame. I am not saying that it’s right, but at that time Alicia was the easy scapegoat for everything that happened.”

“And what about the person who caused the accident?” Mwansa asked. “That’s the person who should be held responsible for everything.”

“They placed all the blame on Nicolas.” Stephen said.

“What?” Mwansa asked. “Was it really him at fault?”

“Of course not but it’s always easy to blame the dead person because they can’t defend themselves.”

“He died on the spot?”

“No, but he was severely injured and lost consciousness on the spot. He died the next day at the hospital.”

“But how sure are you that it wasn’t him that caused the accident?” Mwansa asked.

“Because of the circumstances surrounding the accident. When the police checked for the owner of the other vehicle involved in the accident, they discovered that it belonged to the wife of some Minister. Apparently the guy that was driving it was a cousin or something to that official who didn’t appear bruised or injured at all from the accident.

“I found it strange that my cousin ended up dying from his injuries while the other guy looked unscratched.”

“You saw him?”

“No, I heard about it from my cousins.”

“But it’s not surprising,” Mwansa said. “It’s usually the case that the person who causes the accident comes off unscratched while the victim…or victims pay the price for his mistake.”

“Very true,” Stephen said. “As expected, they bought the story that that fella sold to them and you know how our system here works; if you are rich or if you are in power, you are above the law. My cousin didn’t stand a chance. Worse, they found empty bottles of alcohol in his car and they assumed he was drinking and driving.”

“He probably must have gone to drink after being rejected by his girlfriend.” Mwansa remarked.

Stephen hit the palm of his right hand against the steering wheel. “That’s the thing!” He yelled. “Nicolas never took alcohol, let alone that much number of bottles they found in his car.”

“What?”

“Yes, they found about seven empty bottles on the floor of his car. Nicolas avoided beer and places that sold only beer like a plague. He was just not a fan of alcohol. One glass of alcohol and he would be puking all over the place.

“His body and alcohol never saw face to face. I don’t know how those bottles ended up in his car because even if it was his friends drinking, he wouldn’t have allowed them to drink in his car and then leave the bottles hanging around like that.”

“Did the doctors find any alcohol in his system?” Mwansa asked, winning herself a glacial stare from Stephen.

“I just told you, Stephen never drank alcohol.” He said forcefully.

“I know,” Mwansa said. “But people have been known to do strange things after being rejected. You said it yourself, he was deeply in-love with his girlfriend.”

“Do you think it’s possible for someone who never drank alcohol to manage to stop at a store to purchase the beer, get back into his car and drink whilst driving and empty seven whole bottles in just under an hour?”

“An hour?” Mwansa asked disbelievingly. “All that happened within an hour?”

“See, it’s hard for anyone to belief.” Stephen said. “I couldn’t believe it when I heard myself. The accident happened not far from his home. What’s even crazier, the hospital never did any tests and the police never investigated anything.

“The other driver told them that Nicolas was driving like a mad man. It was raining that day and I understand he might have been frantic about finding Alicia since she was pregnant but…. The way I knew Nick, he would have spent,” he added after a pause. “There’s no way he would have stopped somewhere to get himself drunk instead of searching for her.

“It just doesn’t make sense. What convinced me even more that something wasn’t right about the whole accident is why the cops kept on insisting Nick had been drinking and driving. It’s like that sealed the case and they saw no reason to investigate.

“My cousin was at a disadvantage the moment it was discovered who the owner of that vehicle was. Instead of investigating, it was easy for the police to look at the ‘obvious’ evidence and declare my cousin perpetrator.”

Mwansa appeared thoroughly shaken up by the story. “But why didn’t your family conduct its own investigations?” She asked. “I’m sure with a few tests they would have proved your cousin hadn’t been drinking.”

Suddenly, Stephen started laughing. Mwansa kept looking at him quizzically. “What’s wrong with you?”

“I am ashamed to say this but my family, my Aunt Mary to be more specific received a visit from the Minister’s wife who turned out to be the owner of that vehicle and was left a large sum of money as ‘condolences’ money, is what she called it.” He raised one hand to form quotation marks in the air.

“And your aunt accepted the money?” Mwansa asked, shock written all over her face.

“Like I said, I am ashamed.” Stephen said.

“Wooow.” Was all Mwansa could say in return.

“I know.” Stephen said. “My aunt was able to pay the mortgage on that house with that money and also send my cousins and me to some of the best schools in the world.”

“Didn’t she ever wonder why someone would give her such large sums of money if they were not guilty about something?” Mwansa asked.

“I am sure she did.” Stephen answered. “But you have to understand that it had only been about a year since the death of my uncle. She was struggling to raise her children alone and she feared losing the house she had already put so much in.

“So when the Minster’s wife came, Aunt Mary preferred to look at the whole gesture as a miracle from God…some kind of blessing rather than looking at it for what it could have potentially been. And once she did that, she turned all her frustrations and I think her feelings of guilt onto Alicia.”

“So she’s blaming an innocent woman for the death of her own son all so she can ease her own guilty conscious?” Mwansa asked. “That poor woman…I bet she also blames herself for everything. I haven’t met your aunt yet but something about her scares me.”

Stephen chuckled. “She’s not all that bad.” He said.

“And does Alicia know about the money your aunt received?”

“Of course not. No one told her about it. I don’t think my cousins even know about where the money actually came from. We were all told it’s something like a life insurance my uncle had left.”

“So how did you-“

“I overheard my mother and her sister…Aunt Mary talking and of course I haven’t told anyone about it, except you.”

Mwansa’s face turned red from blushing. “Is that a new way of declaring trust to your girlfriend?”

Stephen smiled. “I guess so.”

Mwansa unbuckled her seatbelt, lifted herself from the seat and placed a kiss on his cheek.

“We are at church now you silly girl.” A smiling Stephen said as he waited for the guard to open the gate for them.

***

Kondwani had just entered his house, threw his bag on the couch, undid the buttons of his shirt and started to get rid of the belt around his waist, ready to head upstairs and drown himself in his tub when he heard someone punch keys into his security system from outside. There was only one person who had his pin and only she would show up in his house unannounced.

“Were you following me?” Kondwani asked a smiling Gwen.

She threw her handbag onto one of the sofas and walked over to Kondwani with her arms stretched wide, ready to wrap them around him. However, Kondwani took a step back, a grave expression on his face.

Disappointed, Gwen dropped her arms and walked passed him towards the stairs.

“Where do you think you are going?” Kondwani asked from where he was standing, his face raised to look up at her.

Gwen came to a stop on the fifth step, a mischievous smile playing on her face. “Why would a grown man ask a lady such a question?” She asked as she slowly started to undo the zipper that ran all the way from her cleavage to where the short black dress she was wearing ended. There were more parts of her legs exposed than covered.

“Is Kayombo too busy for you today?” Kondwani asked sarcastically.

Gwen stopped unzipping herself, leaving most parts of her upper body, all the way down to her lower abdomen exposed. She was not wearing anything under her tight dress.

“Is that you being jealous right now?” She asked.

“I’m too tired for anything today, let’s do this some other time.” He started taking steps up the stairs but Gwen grabbed hold of his arm before he could brush passed her. She placed herself in front of and drew her face closer to his.

“I don’t know why but I find the idea of you being jealous such a turn on.” She moved her head slightly to kiss the side of his neck.

Kondwani just stood there motionlessly and looking as emotionless as humanly possible. He had somehow made Gwen’s work easy a few minutes ago when he started reading himself to take his clothes off. With just a white vest covering his chest, Gwen moved her hand inside and started running her hand up and down, deliberately going all the way down and stopping right where his belt was.

She felt him shudder under her touch. It was a power she knew she had over him.

Who the hell did he think he was trying to fight her off?

Sensing no movement on his part to stop her, Gwen expanded her area of conquest, dipping her hand deep into is pants without warning and forcing a reaction from him.

She was smiling triumphantly.

“Gwen!” Kondwani grabbed her attacking hand by the wrist with one hand and used the other to hold her back against the staircase rail. Speaking into her face; “I told you-“

“What?” Gwen cut him off. “You don’t want to be touched by the same hands that were touching another man?” She too spoke straight into his face, their eyes locking in defiance.

Kondwani dropped his hands resignedly and resumed his walk up the stairs.

“You know, he’s in-love with me, Kayombo.” Gwen announced to his back and managed to bring him to an immediate stop.

“He’s loved me unconditionally for years now,” She added smugly. “That’s something I’m never gonna get from you isn’t it?”

Kondwani slowly turned to look at her. “Then why don’t you go to him instead of coming to me?”

Gwen was not the only one surprised by Kondwani’s words. The moment he realized exactly what words had come out of his mouth, he too wondered why all the parts of his body responsible for speech had so quickly worked together and allowed him to vomit out that combination of words in that specific order.

Unfortunately, by the time Kondwani realised what he had just said to his fiancé, she had finished zipping herself up and was running down the stairs, sobbing.

Putting his long legs to good use, Kondwani ran after her and managed to hold her back before she could get to the door.

“I’m sorry baby,” He said as he tried to hold her protesting body into his arms. “I don’t know what came over me, I’m so sorry.”

Kondwani too knew exactly what power he had over her; his arms and the right words at the right time.

In no time, Gwen had stopped trying to fight him off and surrendered herself completely into his arms, sobbing even harder for effect.
Two hours later, Gwen walked into her parent’s home and found her father talking to someone on the phone. Since he had his back to her, she figured she could just walk passed him and head to her bedroom without being noticed but something he said made her stop to listen.

“How many were on his side?” Lloyd asked whoever was on the other end of the line. His back muscles were tensed hard and she could see him breathing heavily.

There was only one person in the whole world capable of making her father’s blood boil like that, Gwen thought. It was the man she was just from sharing a bed with.

“Those ungrateful and disloyal bastards.” Mr Miyoba cussed. “Who do they think put them in the positions they are in right now? Let’s see what will happen to them when I clip off the wings of that fella.”

Gwen felt a chill run down her spine. From where she was standing, she could see her father’s spit hitting against the sheer curtain in front of him from where he stood overlooking the backyard. That was a sheer sign that he had reached boiling point.

“I gave you specific instruction to watch Chileshe’s every move!” Gwen’s father roared. “What have you been doing while he’s been setting up measures for counter-attack? That project should have gained the board’s approval by now.”

Oh Kondwani, what have you done this time around? Gwen thought as she continued to listen in to her father’s one-sided conversation. I warned you dad, you are no match for my man. You should have listened to my advice.

“No! That’s not good enough Phiri!” He yelled. “Are you trying to tell me that he’s smarter than all of you? If that’s the case, then are you are basically telling me that I should fire all your asses and find a whole new team that can take him on like a man?”

There was a long pause as he listened to whatever Mr Phiri was saying. Whatever wa being said, it was obvious Lloyd Miyoba did not agree with it because he kept shaking his head and wanting to interrupt.

Gwen saw her father move slightly and figured he might be turning so she tiptoed her way towards the stairs.

“Gwen!” His voice brought her to a stop in mid step. She turned around with a guilty smile on her face.

“Dad.” She said.

“Let me call you back.” Lloyd Miyoba told Mr Phiri and immediately cut the line. “Where’s Kondwani?” he asked as he walked towards his daughter.

“Dad, just because I am his fiancé doesn’t mean I know where he is every time.” She lied.

“I know you are coming from his place so don’t lie to me young lady.” Miyoba hissed.

“I left him at home. Is something the matter?” Gwen knew better than to tempt her father into pouring all of his wrath at her.

“Haven’t the two of you set a date up to now?” He asked. “What sort of woman can’t even get her man to hurry her down the aisle after a yearlong engagement? It’s because you keep dancing for him that he no longer has anything to look forward to.

“Just look at the way you are dressed.” He pointed his finger up and down her dress. “Why should he marry you when you’ve shown him everything? Just look at you.” He wrinkled his face up like a man smelling something rotten from the kitchen.

“It’s my marriage.” Gwen said from between pouted lips. “I am not worried so why are you bothered like you are the one he will be marrying?

“Are you asking me because you don’t know?” Miyoba asked.

Gwen started to cry. “You made me leave the man I was in-love with, the one who loved me back as much as I loved him to be with someone who loves your money instead of me. I already got him to propose marriage, what more do you want from me dad?”

“Thanks to me you are in-love with Chileshe more than you were with that Kayombo guy.” Her father stated proudly. “You should be happy, why are you complaining?”

“He doesn’t love me back!” Gwen shouted.

“And are you blaming me for that?” He asked. “Was it my job to make him fall in-love with you? I gave you enough money to make him look in your direction, wasn’t that enough?

“Did you want me to also show you directions to his heart? You clearly managed to find your way into his bed without trouble so why are you complaining?”

“Do you honestly think that you will be able to control him if he becomes my husband?” Gwen asked. “You can’t control him now when he’s a free man what more when he marries me and gains direct access to your entire fortune?”

Lloyd snickered. “How did I end up with a daughter who knows nothing about business?” He said. “Your job was just to use your charm to hook him all the way to the end but even that you couldn’t do. You delivered the whole product before the buyer could even sign the cheque. Hasn’t your mother taught you anything?”

“What have I done?” Sandra Miyoba asked her husband from the door. She had two shopping bags in her hands, obviously coming from a trip from the mall. She stepped away from the door to allow the maid to come through with many more shopping bags.

“Doesn’t my happiness count at all to you dad?” Gwen cried and ran upstairs.

Laying down the shopping bags, Mrs Miyoba looked at her husband. “What did you say to her?”

“Sit your daughter down and train her well before she embarrasses you.” Mr Miyoba said.

“When she’s done something unpleasing to you she’s my daughter but when she’s done something good, she’s your daughter.” She muttered and went to sit down in one of the sofas.

“See,” Miyoba pointed at his wife accusingly. “When can she learn when you are talking back to me like that?”

Sandra stood up. “I will bring you your glass of whiskey.” She said to him and started walking towards the kitchen. “Obviously someone put you in a very bad mood today.”

Embarrassed, Lloyd gave up shouting and went to sit down where his wife had been sitting. How well she knew him, he thought as he flipped through the channels.
Alone in her room, Gwen threw herself on the bed and called Kayombo. After four rings, she was about to give up when he finally answered.

“Sam,” she broke down in tears.

“I’m sorry Ms Miyoba, Doctor Kayombo can’t take your call right now.” Gwen sat up. Instead of Kayombo, it was a female’s voice that came through the phone.

“Who’s this?” Gwen asked.

“This is Alicia.” The reply came.

“What are you doing answering Sam’s phone? Where is he? Where are you?”

There was a long pause on the other end of the line.

“Hello?” Gwen screamed into her phone.

“Gwen.” Finally, it was Samuel Kayombo. “What’s up?” He asked nonchalantly.

“What’s up?” Gwen asked, boiling from his calm response. “Where the hell are you and what’s that nurse doing answering your phone?”

“Is there any particular reason you called?” He asked curtly.

“Kayombo?” Gwen said.

“I’m busy right now if there’s nothing-“

“Kayombo, this is me you are talking to.” Gwen said, her voice shaking from the shock of what was happening.

“I know,” Kayombo said. “I will call you later.” And he cut the line.

Devastated, Gwen threw her phone and it hit against the wall, pieces of it scattering across the room.

Her mother opened the door just then. “Gwen?” She said as her eyes went over the pieces on the floor.

Gwen dropped from the bed to the floor, sobbing her heart out. Sandra rushed over to her daughter and held her in her arms.

“It’s okay my love.” The mother comforted her daughter from the floor. “Who’s making my princess cry like this?” she held on to her tightly. “It’s okay…nooo…c’mon baby.”

It took about ten minutes for Gwen to finally calm down.

“Why is love so complicated mum?” Gwen later asked her mother. They were still seated on the carpeted bedroom floor, their backs leaning against the bed.

“Did you have a fight with Kondwani?” Sandra asked.

“Not necessarily,” She answered. “It’s Kayombo.”

Sandra gave her daughter a look. “Don’t tell me that the two of you are still seeing each other. I thought you were in-love with Kondwani now.”

“I am…it’s complicated.” Gwen said.

“What’s complicated?”

“I guess I was too selfish to expect that Kayombo would have eyes only for me even though I was engaged to someone else.”

“Well, it’s a good thing you know you were being selfish.” Her mother said. “Don’t you think he too deserves to be happy?”

“You are saying it as if I am happy in my relationship.” Gwen said. “I have been waiting patiently for Kondwani…but now am beginning to think that he will never fall in-love with me.”

“It’s not like you didn’t know his feelings before you started dating.” Her mother reminded her. “Instead of luring him in with money, perhaps you should have tried to win him over with love.”

“Tell that to dad.”

Sandra laughed. “No way.”

“I thought that he might like me if I offered him the one thing he was in need of at that time.” Gwen said, tears welling up in her eyes again. “Dad somehow had me convinced that any man would love me knowing the things I could offer but it seems the only thing Kondwani cares about is money. I don’t think he even knows what love is.”

“Maybe that’s the problem.” Sandra said.

Gwen sent her a questioning look.

“Think about it,” she explained. “He’s spent most of his adult life building his career. He’s a very ambitious man, that’s no secret. What time did he ever have to fall in-love?”

Gwen’s face lit up from enlightenment. “You know, you could be right.”

Sandra laughed. “I know I’m right.” She said. “So, instead of trying to conquer him, why don’t you try to genuinely love him and win his heart in the process?”

“How do I do that?” Gwen asked.

“First of all, cut off whatever is going on between you and Kayombo and start afresh with Kondwani. You offered him your father’s money when you first approached him so how about offering him your heart this time around?”

“I told you, I am already in-love with him.” Gwen said.

“Not that kind of love.” Mrs Miyoba said. “I’m talking about genuine real love, the selfless kind of love. I know that you are used to people dotting on you and worshiping you Gwen but that’s not how love works.

“If you truly love Kondwani, then you will have to start considering his feelings as well. Don’t go to him with the attitude of ‘you are nothing without me’ and instead show him that you truly care. Who knows, maybe he might get his mind off making money and focus on other things.”

Gwen mulled over her mother’s words for a while. “I don’t know mum,” She said.

“What don’t you know?” Her mother asked.

“I don’t think I’m capable of being that kind of girl.” She confessed. “I have always despised those kinds of girls so how can I pretend to be one?”

Sandra Miyoba chuckled. “You see, that’s the thing.” She said. “If it’s real love, you won’t have to pretend. It will just come natural. Remember, what you want is his heart, not just his body.”

“I have to sleep over it.” Gwen said.

“Good,” her mother said. “You do that.”

“Why did you make me answer your phone?” Alicia asked Doctor Kayombo.

Samuel finished drying his hands and went to sit down next to Alicia on the picnic mat. They stationed themselves in the perfect position where they could keep watch over Buseko who was playing football a few meters away with his new friends.

“My hands were weight, what did you expect me to do?” He said. “Are you that scared of Gwen?” He laughed.

“That woman almost had me fired!” Alicia said.

“Oh yeah, I remember that.”

“So you also heard about it? Is there anyone at the hospital who didn’t?”

“I doubt that.” Samuel answered. “They all think you are a fame fatale.” He joked.

Alicia looked horrified. “Seriously?”

“I’m just joking.” He said. “Relax. I was just pulling your leg. Everyone knows what a drama queen Gwen is.”

“So they do belief that nothing is going on between Doctor Chileshe and me right?” Alicia was looking at him expectantly.

“They know that you didn’t go after him, but we all agree on one thing; the good doctor pays special attention to you.”

“No!” The word just flew out of Alicia’s mouth. “That’s all a misunderstanding. I don’t know why everyone seems to think that but that man doesn’t like me. You saw for yourself this morning when we met him outside. Didn’t you sense his hostility? Why are you looking at me and shaking your head like that?”

“Apart from Nicolas, did you ever date anyone else Alicia?” Kayombo asked, looking at her in both awe and disbelief.

“No.” She answered simply.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, I don’t have time for things like feelings and the like. I’m too busy saving money so I can get my son back. I have no time for such things. Why did you suddenly ask me that?”

Kayombo laughed. “No wonder….” He said, shaking his head again. “You wouldn’t know it even if it was staring you right in the face.”

“Know what?” She asked, taking her eyes away from her son for a moment to look at Samuel. “Know what?” She repeated, her face just a few inches away from his.

Her sudden turn caught Kayombo by surprise. For a few seconds he found himself staring straight into her eyes. Before he knew it, he was choking on his own saliva.

Alicia grabbed a bottle of water from the basket of food she had quickly packed on their short stop at home. She opened the bottle and handed it to Kayombo.

While Kayombo was gulping down the contents from the bottle, Alicia moved closer to him and started to gently massage his back, causing the poor fellow to cough out the water he had just consumed.

 

A Twisted Fate – Part 2

“What the hell are you doing at your boss’ house at this time of the night?” Luyando asked Natasha.

“Obviously nothing close to what you are just from doing…to your brother.” She said with a taunting smile on her face. “Relax Tula,” She said to Tulani, inviting herself into the house and patting him on the shoulder.” I totally understand whatever is going on here; it appears your married sister, is in-love with you.”

“I knew I was going to hate you the moment I laid my eyes on you.” Luyando said curtly.

Natasha laughed. “The feeling is mutual Lu…I can call you Lu now since we are not at the office right? You are after all my ex-boyfriend’s sister.”

“Ex-boyfriend?” Luyando looked to her brother for confirmation.

The proud grin on Tulani’s face confirmed her worst fears.

Tulani had not expected Natasha to be the first one to reveal their romantic past, especially in such a bold manner. He still had nightmares about their last encounter in San Francesco…the cold and unflinching conviction in her eyes when she told him she wouldn’t be seeing him anymore.

Natasha turned to Luyando. “I would like to have a private conversation with your brother. Do you mind leaving us alone?”

Without uttering another word, Luyando grabbed her purse from the couch and stormed out of the house, banging the glass door on her way out.

With his hands in his pockets, Tulani went to position himself in front of Natasha, and looking into her eyes he said;

“Ex-boyfriend? I didn’t think I counted as an ex. I thought I was just some fling you couldn’t wait to get rid of…something to keep you company while you waited for your husband to set himself straight.”

“That’s unfair Tula,” Natasha said, moving away from him so he could not see her reaction.

“I still remember every single detail of that day Tasha.” He said. “I can even recite the words you said in my sleep.”

He was looking at her back while she looked out the window into the darkness outside.

“I am getting back with my husband, I am very sorry Tula.” She had told him whilst crying.

“You can’t be serious!” Tulani had snapped. “That bastard cheated on you for two years and he is as responsible for your daughter’s death as the man that bashed her outside that school.”

“Stop it Tula!” She had shouted at him. “Stop it!”

“You need to hear this Tasha. It doesn’t make sense that you would go back to the man that hurt you like that. He was screwing another woman while his daughter, your daughter was lying dead on some street somewhere. Your daughter died whilst looking for him on that street Tasha but where was he?”

Unable to bear the pain of his words anymore, Natasha slapped him hard across the face before running out of the restaurant.

“It still stings you know, your slap?” Tulani said to Natasha who still had her back to him. He was caressing his cheek where she had slapped him four years ago.

Natasha slowly turned to face him. “You deserved to be slapped that day you know.”

“I know,” he admitted. “I had gone overboard in my anger…I guess I was just too hurt to think rationally…but there’s no excuse for the awful things I said to you. I am sorry Tasha…I know it’s late but, I apologize.”

“It’s all in the past,” she said, moving towards the sofa and tracing her fingers over the edges as she moved about the room. “You have a beautiful home…as expected.”

“What are you doing here Tasha?” He had walked over to her and held her by the sides of her arms to keep her from moving.

“Do you not want me here Tula?” She asked him, looking straight into his eyes.

“I do, of course I do! Gosh, is that even a question?” He drew her closer to him and wrapped his arms around her.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Natasha said, pushing him away to take a seat on the couch.

“You haven’t stopped with your teasing I see.” Tulani went to sit down next to her. “Something tells me you are here for a reason. The Natasha I know wouldn’t have just popped up at my door unannounced the way you did. Is everything okay?”

Natasha laughed. “Of course everything’s fine. How come you never told me you were once married?”

“Oooh,” he said.

“Did you just say ooh?”

“I apologize, again. I didn’t think it mattered. I was married to Cynthia for only about a year when we decided to go our separate ways. I had been single for over two years when I met you in San Francisco.”

“I see.”

Tulani turned to fully look at her. “You came to my house at this hour to ask about my marriage?”

“You know how I am already,” she answered. “If something is bothering me, I can’t sleep till I get it out or solve it.”

“So you were bothered by it?” He asked. “Do you even know the meaning of your words Tasha?” There was a huge grin on his face as he watched the flashed expression on her face.

He lifted her chin up so she could not avoid his gaze. “When are you going to stop fighting your feelings and just admit that you love me too?”

She tried to get away from him again but he tightened his grip on her arms.

“I only came here to ask a question and since you answered it, I better be on my way now.” She tried to get up, again….but she failed, again.

“Ask me anything you are curious about and I will answer it as honestly as possible.” He said.

“Why did you break up with your wife?” She asked.

“You went straight for the big one!” He said and laughed. “I guess I asked for it. Cynthia and I were at two different points in our lives. I was very young when we got married…just like you and your ex-husband.

“She wanted us to start a family right after the wedding but I was only twenty-three then and certainly not ready to start a family yet. But Cynthia was very determined and wouldn’t stop pressuring me throughout our marriage. I snapped one day and asked her for a divorce.”

“And she gave you one just like that?” Natasha asked.

“Of course not,” he replied. “She fought me all the way to court, said she wanted half my property and that’s when I realized she never really loved me. She was too quick to bring up the money the moment I mentioned divorce.

Most women would beg for a second chance to try and work things out but not Cynthia. She looked me in the eye and told me she was gonna get me for every penny I owned.”

“And did she?”

Tulani laughed. “Of course not, I didn’t have anything to my name at that time. Everything I had belonged to my parents; the money, the cars, and the houses. Oooh…she was not pleased.” He broke out in laughter.

“She attacked me at the club once and threatened to chop my manhood into pieces, said I had deceived her into believing I was rich. I did no such thing. She naturally assumed my parent’s money was as good as mine but she was dead wrong.”

“So what are your thoughts on kids now? Do you still feel like you are not ready?” Natasha held her breath as she waited to hear his response.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “I have never really thought about it. Do you want kids Tasha? Because if you do, then I am open to start considering it.”

“Start considering it?”

“You seem dissatisfied with my answer,” he said. “I promised to be as honest as possible with you. Would you have rather I lied?”

“Of course not.” Natasha stood up. “I am happy you answered me honestly.”

“Your tongue is saying something else but your eyes are telling me something else….”

Natasha chuckled nervously. “You are thinking too much Tula. I need to leave now, my parents will be worried if am home late on the first day of work.” she started walking towards the door.

Tulani got up and rushed to the door before she reached it. “I have a feeling I just shot myself in the leg but I am not yet sure why that could be the case.” He was standing against the door to keep her from leaving before he was ready to let her go.

“I told you, you think too much. I guess am just tired. It’s been a while since I worked…two months I think. My brain must be in shock since it was stretched too much today.” And to distract him from asking any more questions, she planted a light kiss on his cheek and said goodnight.

“You know exactly what to do to get your way with me Tasha.” He moved away to allow her to pass. “You are the only woman who has such a power over me you know that?” He said as he walked her to her car.

“There’s really no need for you to escort me, I can take care of myself.” Natasha said.

“Oh yeah, I remember the kick you landed on my balls when I tried to chat you up at my welcome party in SanFran. Gosh, where did you learn to kick like that?”

They had reached her car by now but she stopped to answer his question before opening the door.

“My mother, she made me take martial arts classes and all other types of defensive classes to protect myself. My mother believes that a woman does not need a man to make her feel secure. She says sometimes the very people we trust to protect us are the ones that might end up hurting us.”

“Your mother is a very wise woman…but tell her to lighten up a bit.” Tulani said.

Natasha laughed. “That’s exactly what I always tell her.” She then opened her door and sat behind the wheel.

Rolling down her window, she said, “I forgot to ask you something….”

“What is it?” Tulani said.

“Do your parents know….about your sister’s feelings?”

“Oh no…they have no idea and,” he came to stand closer to her, his body leaning against the car with his head tilted forward into the car. Natasha had to draw her head away to keep his from bumping into her.

“…if you were anyone else,” Tulani continued. “I would ask that you don’t tell anyone about what you heard and saw today.”

Natasha chuckled. “You trust me that much?”

“I do. I guess you’ve already heard the rumours concerning Lu and me….”

“That you are not biologically related?”

“Yes,” he said. “That may be the case but that doesn’t change her position in my family and in our hearts. I love her like I would a blood sister. I don’t care what biology dictates, Luyando will always be my sister.”

“I don’t think the issue has got anything to do with biology Tula. If anything, I think Luyando would like it better if you didn’t love her like that.”

“Luyando isn’t in-love with me,” Tulani said with a sombre expression on his face. “Somewhere along the way she started to confuse my kindness for something else…and who can blame her?

“Before she came into our lives, she had lived a very sorry and bitter life and she had no idea what kind of love or care she could receive from people she considered family since she had been emotionally and physically abused by her father.”

“Her father abused her?” Natasha asked. “What kind of abuse?”

“Everything you can think of, that girl went through.” Tulani answered. “Child abuse, violence, rape….”

“Rape!?” Natasha gasped. “Her own father did that to her?”

“Yes. After my parents officially adopted her, she had to undergo years of counselling because of the nightmares she would have about her father. Up until she was about thirteen years old was when my mother stopped sleeping in her room. She would wake up crying and screaming in the middle of the night.

“I know it sounds crazy now but…there were moments when I thought my parents cared more about her than they did me but I later understood that she needed all the care she could get in the world. So when you see her acting out or being nasty, try to understand her. She’s been through a lot.”

“I really had no idea….” Natasha said.

“No one knows that’s why it’s easy for them to spread rumours. I told you about it because I intend to make you a part of my family, soon.”

“Good night Tula. See you tomorrow at work…and thank you for telling me.”

“Good night my love, see you tomorrow and say hi to your parents for me.”

Natasha made a throaty sound and rolled up the window before driving off.

Tulani remained standing on spot waving at her until her vehicle disappeared from sight. 

“I’m home!” Natasha announced the moment she opened the door and entered the house.

“Mum is home!” shouted the four year old boy as he ran towards his mother. Before Natasha could put down her handbag, her son had wrapped his little arms around her legs in excitement and almost made her lose her balance.

“Oh my God you are soaking wet Sean!” She said, bending down to lift him up into her arms. “What were you doing?”

“I was setting up the laundry in the basement when your mother called me for something upstairs….” Bernard appeared from where Sean had come from. “When I went back, I found this little man here had put his hands where they didn’t belong.”

“That’s because grandpa doesn’t want to teach me how to use the machine so I can do my own laundry,” Sean complained.

“Look at you complaining like someone infringed on your rights,” Natasha laughed and put him back down. Sean was out of the room and back into the basement the moment his feet landed on the ground.

“That boy will be the death of me dad,” she said. “Now look what he’s done to my clothes.” She was pointing at the stains Sean had left on her white blouse.

Bernard laughed. “He is the light of our lives but he can be quite a handful sometimes. How was your first day at work honey?” He sat down on the couch and turned down the volume on the tele so he could have a good conversation with his daughter.

Natasha went to sit down next to him. She grabbed a small cushion from the sofa, laid it on his laps and resting her head there, stretching her long legs forward.

“Look at the two of you,” Martha came down the stairs bearing a huge smile on her face as she looked at her husband and daughter cosying up on the sofa.

“Sit over there mother,” Natasha pointed to the couch across from them. “Dad is mine for now. He’s helping me de-stress, I had such a rough day at work.” Her father was massaging the sides of her forehead.

“Already?” Martha asked, ignoring her daughter’s words and going to take a seat on the same sofa. She lifted her daughter’s legs up, sat down and put them back on her laps, massaging them a little, up and down.

“When I tell my friends that I have the best parents in the world, they think I’m lying. Oooh that feels so good. I think I am going to sleep here tonight.” She closed her eyes to enjoy the massage. “Alex would feel so jealous if he walked in here and saw this. He is such a mama’s boy.”

“And you are such a papa’s girl,” her mother said. “Did you talk to your brother today?”

“Not yet,” Natasha said. “I will call him before going to bed. God knows what he’s up to alone over there. Remind him about using condoms again dad. That boy is too excited for nothing.”

Bernard laughed. “All boys are like that at that age sweetie. He will calm down with time.”

“What if it’s too late?” Natasha asked. “He’s so obsessed with older women that child. At least if they were younger, we wouldn’t have to worry about them ovulating nd turning their eggs into relatives of ours.”

Bernard lightly patted her forehead and forced her to sit up. “Get up and tell us about your day and stop making trouble for your brother.”

Not happy that her relaxation therapy was cut short, Natasha mumbled something under her breath in protest and sat up between her parents. “It wasn’t that bad actually,” she said.

“I thought that it wouldn’t be as busy as it was in San Francisco but its crazy busy as well. I think people in this country care more about political drama than anything else. Eighty-nine percent of the news content is just politics, politics, politics. I am yet to decide if that’s a good thing or not….”

“How about your co-workers, were they friendly?” Her mother asked.

“Yes, everyone was friendly,” She lied. Natasha knew that telling her mother about the antagonistic and villain-like Luyando would only make her have unnecessary worries. “I know it’s just the first day but I think people aren’t as scheming as they were back home.”

“So when are you going on air?” Bernard asked.

“Next week, I still have to get inducted into the system and see how everything works before I can go live.”

“Do you think you will like it here?” Martha asked. “Aren’t you going to regret leaving your life behind?”

Natasha took her mother’s hand and kept holding it until she finished talking. “You worry too much mother. I am going to be just fine. You are the one who always told me that if I had to suffer or die, it was better to be amongst my people…but I am not suffering anymore and I didn’t leave my life behind, I came with it here.

“I have made some wild and childish decisions in the past but I want to give my son the life that he deserves. I am done being a coward.”

“So when do you plan on….”

Natasha stood up and held her hand up to keep her father from finishing his sentence. “I know what you want to ask but, not just yet…but soon.”

“We trust you Tasha,” he said. “We know you are going to do the right thing.”

“We do,” her mother agreed.

“I am hungry now, is there anything to eat?” She started walking towards the kitchen. “I swear I could smell something delicious…something Chinese when I walked into the house.” She started opening pots.

Bernard got up and followed his daughter into the kitchen.

“Dad you didn’t!” She finally spotted an already served dish covered at the far end of the table, removed the cover and carried it to her nose to take in the aroma.

“I thought you deserved a treat of your favourite after your first day at work.” Bernard said, looking with such pride in his eyes at his daughter salivating over the meal he had prepared for her.

“Beef and Black Bean Ho Fun, you rock dad!” She put the plate back down and went to kiss him on the forehead. “I love you, I love you, I love you.”

Smiling, Bernard pulled his daughter away and said, “go upstairs and freshen up while I warm this up for you.”

“What about you guys?” She asked.

“Did you even see what time it is?” Her mother had joined them in the kitchen.

“Oh yeah!” Natasha remembered the unexpected stop she had made to Tulani’s house.

“Go take a shower and I will take care of Sean before he catches a cold.” Martha said.

Natasha went to her mother and repeated the very things she had done to her father. “I love you, I love you, I love you!”

“You are leaving saliva all over me,” Martha protested with a smile on her face as she pushed her daughter away. “Go and take a shower.”

“I think she’s happy,” Bernard commented after Natasha left the room. “Do you think she’s happy?”

Martha was shaking her head slowly. “I think something is bothering her…but you are right, she is a lot happier than she was a few months ago.”

Alone in the bathroom, Natasha was happily humming an old tune and enjoying her shower when she suddenly stopped and stood still. With only the sound of the shower running, Natasha bent down her head under the shower and allowed the water to fall straight onto the centre of her head, sending her hair falling on all side of her face.  

She stood like that for close to five minutes, neither humming nor moving. When she finally lifted her head up, it was to tilt it back, away from the water.

Her tears had become one with the water cascading down her cheeks.

* * *

On her drive to work the next morning, Natasha’s mind went back to the conversation she had had with Tulani about Luyando. She was still thinking about it when she ran into her in the corridor at work.

“Good morning Mrs Liboma,” Natasha greeted the CFO.

“What did you call me?” Luyando came to stand right in front of Natasha, her much taller frame towering over her and her glare raining down on her in bundles of intimidation.

Unfortunately, Natasha appeared unfazed by her boss’ domineering presence. “I don’t know about the culture here in Zambia but where I come from, it’s disrespectful to address a married woman as a Ms especially when it’s common knowledge that she’s married…with a child.”

“You think that just because you grabbed hold of my Achilles heel then you can talk to me whichever way you want?” Luyando asked.

Natasha snickered and raised her head to look up at her. “Between you and me, who do you think is treating the other in the manner you just described?”

“If you want to keep your job here you need to keep your mouth shut and you need to stay away from my brother.”

“If you are referring to the things I heard last night, you don’t have to worry about that. Tulani already explained to me what’s going on and I care a lot about him to dish out his family secrets to the public.

“Secondly, no, I will not stay away from Tulani. No threat is enough to defeat the forces of nature that bind him and I, forever. See you around Mrs Liboma.”

Back in her office, Natasha opened her bag to get the flash drive containing the documents she had been working on at night but she couldn’t find it. She searched through her laptop bag, and every inch of her desk but there was still no sign of it.

“Don’t tell me I left it at home.” She said to herself, picking up the phone to call home.

“Mum, it’s me. Can you do me a favour?”

“What is it honey?” her mother asked.

“Go into my room and check on my desk if I left a blueish flash drive?”

“Okay, hold on.” Natasha waited while her mother walked upstairs.

“Is it the one with the bird key holder attached to it?” Martha asked.

“Yes, yes that’s the one! Oh, thank God, I thought I lost it. Listen mum, can you bring it here for me? I really need those files in there for a very important meeting this afternoon.”

There was a pause on the other end of the line.

“Mum!” Natasha yelled, thinking her mother was not paying attention.

“I’m sorry baby I was thinking.” She said. “You know I have to take Sean to the hospital today before that cold gets worse. Why don’t I ask your dad to bring it for you? He’s busy working on one of his many personal projects in the back yard. He could sure use some fresh air.”

Natasha couldn’t help feeling a little envious of her parents who were both retired and living their lives at ease doing all the things they dreamt about doing when they used to work. Now they no longer had to worry about deadlines and responsibilities.

Martha and Bernard’s dream in Lusaka was to set up a small furniture shop where Bernard would sell the pieces of furniture he made as a hobby and Martha would sell some home decorating items she enjoyed making in her free time….which she had a lot of now.

The two of them planned on having a life different from the hectic one they had had in America when all they cared about was saving enough and giving their children the very best.

After talking to her mother, Natasha remembered the strenuous security procedure she had been subjected to the previous day and called security to inform them of her father’s visit.

She got a call an hour later and took the lift down to meet him by the reception lounge.

On the second floor, another person in the form of Luyando joined her in the lift.

“Which floor?” Natasha asked her.

Luyando looked at the numbers on the lift and noticed that they were headed the same way, and so, she remained quiet.

Natasha pursed her lips in response to the arrogance of her counterpart. There was an awkward glacial silence in the lift during the short trip down that ended up feeling like the longest trip of their lives. When the elevator door finally opened, Natasha ran out and went in search of her father in the lobby.

“Dad!” She shouted the moment she spotted him a few feet away even though he had his back to her.

Bernard turned the moment he heard his daughter’s voice and smiled in her direction, waving the flash drive in his hands.

Curious about the sort of family her nemesis came from, Luyando stopped midway before she could get to the security point on her way out to take a look at the family show taking place on the other side of the lobby.

However, the moment Luyando’s eyes landed on Bernard, she froze in horror for a second before quickly turning around and going to hide behind a wall.

With only the receptionist and the two guards waiting by the entrance in the lobby, Luyando was lucky enough not to have an audience in her moment of weakness. She was shaking and panting, almost out of breath.

“It can’t be,” Luyando kept repeating as she watched the two from behind the wall.

“This is one hell of a building Tasha,” Bernard was saying, his eyes taking in every corner of the place.

“I knew you would love it dad,” Natasha said excitedly. “Only you would understand the beauty of such a place. Don’t you miss this kind of world?”

“Of course I do,” he said. “But I don’t regret retiring.  I enjoyed my work as an architect and I still feel the same way when I see the buildings I designed and helped build still standing firm and beautiful. It’s like I haven’t really left that world.”

“How about you build something even more beautiful than this building here in your homeland dad?” She locked her arm into his and the two of them stood starring at a picture of the building they were standing in plastered on the wall ahead.

“You think so?” Bernard asked, excitement filling his eyes. “Do you think your mother would let me?”

“Of course she will! She always said you looked most dashing and handsome when you were working in your studio.”

“How about I build the home where you can live with your husband and….”

Natasha moved to put her hand over her father’s mouth. “Dad!” She whispered. “What if someone hears you? I haven’t told anyone…you know….”

“Oh yeah,” Bernard said. “My bad, sorry sweetie.”

“I wish I could take you on a tour of the place but I also don’t know the place well enough yet. How about we arrange a date for the future?”

“I’m cool with that,” Bernard said. “Get back to work now.” He placed a kiss on her forehead.

“Do you think you can find your way out?” Natasha was looking at the security point.

Bernard laughed. “That’s nothing,” he said. “I have designed tighter security points than what you have here. Don’t worry about it, go.”

“Thanks for bringing this dad, I love you, bye!” She waved to him and ran back to the elevator. She waved at him again before the doors of the lift closed.

Bernard waved back and turned to leave.

Natasha’s father was walking back to the visitors car park where he had left his car when he felt someone grab his arm and pull him to the side.

“Who are you?” Bernard asked the unruly lady who was glaring at him.“Luyando?” He said, immediately recognizing the icy cold and deadly look in her eyes.

“It’s you my daughter right?” Bernard asked, tears welling up in his eyes.

“Shut the hell up!” Luyando yelled. “Who’s your daughter?”

“It’s you,” Bernard said, pointing at her, unable to believe his eyes and ears. “Do you have any idea how long I have been searching for you? My God, look at you, all grown.”

“Why would you search for me?” Luyando snapped. “What are you even doing here? I thought you had died from alcohol poisoning or something, but instead you got married and you have a family now? Wow, don’t you have any shame?”

“Lulu,”

“Shut up! Don’t call me that. I don’t know who you are and you don’t know me. As far as am concerned you don’t exist. Do not look for me and do not tell a soul, not even your daughter about me. If you even as much as show up in front of me, I will call the police.”

“You don’t need to say all those things Luyando,” Bernard said. “I know that I was a terrible father, I let you down. You have every right to hate me but please, don’t ask me to pretend not to know you when I have found you after so many years. Please, give me a chance to make things right.”

“Are you kidding me?” Luyando yelled. “Make things right? What things do you want to make right? I have my own family, a mother, father and brother who adore me and they think that you are an abusive father who beat and raped me whenever you pleased so you better not show up to me or them because they will have no mercy on you.”

“Abuse you? Did you say rape?”

“What’s the difference?” Luyando asked. “You were never a good father to me. You treated me like I didn’t exist and that’s worse than all the things I told those people you did to me.”

“Luyando, abuse you?” Bernard still couldn’t believe his own daughter would accuse him of such things. “How can you accuse your own father of doing such terrible things?”

“That’s the thing, if you stay away from me, no one will ever know that you are the man who did those things to me. I don’t want you anywhere near me and don’t even think about coming to this place again.

“If you want to meet that precious daughter of yours, meet her elsewhere. I don’t ever want to see you again. You hear me. If you are sorry for how badly you treated me after mum died, then you will leave me the hell alone, pretend I don’t exist.

“Just imagine the kind of shame and embarrassment your new family will be subjected to when it comes out that you used to rape your own daughter? Do you think they will accept you back once they find out about your past?”

“I admit I was a bad father, I should not have allowed the grief to get to me like that, I should have never drunk like that…I should have paid more attention to you, taken care of you…but Luyando, I never touched a single hair on your body.

“How could you say those things about me? If those people really loved you, you could have told them the truth…that I had neglected you and they would have still helped you. You didn’t have to turn your father into such a demon for you to receive love from them.”

“If I told them that then they would have just given me some money and they would have left!” She yelled. “I wanted to have the kind of life they could offer and there was no way I could get that if I stayed with you. I had to get rid of you the best way I could. I swear if I could, I would have killed you.”

“Luyando!” Bernard shouted.

“Yes! I would have killed you. You didn’t care about me so why should I care about you? If you had any sense of shame and guilt, you would walk to the nearest store after this meeting, buy some rat poison and do the world some service for the first time in your life.

“I promise you, if my family finds out about you, I will do to you what I couldn’t bring myself to do twenty years ago. I promise you.”

She then turned her back and walked away from her father, hoping to never see him again.

Luyando’s out-right rejection sent Bernard back into a world he thought he had escaped twenty years ago. It was a cold dark lonely world that held no hope for him. Even though her words were harsh, they were true; he didn’t deserve to be called anyone’s father.

If you had any sense of shame and guilt, you would walk to the nearest store after this meeting, buy some rat poison and do the world some service for the first time in your life.



The words kept ringing in his head as he drove out of the parking lot.

In the other parking lot, Luyando locked herself inside the car and after making sure all the windows were closed, she gripped the steering wheel and yelled with all her might,

“Aaaaarggggggggggh!” She shouted, hitting her head against the steering wheel over and over again.

“What now?” she asked herself, tears streaming down her face. 

Natasha was winding up work in her office when she received a call from her mother.

“Did you meet your father?”

“Yes, around 10, what’s wrong, he isn’t home yet?”

“Yes,” Martha said. “I have been trying to get him on phone but it’s been turned off for hours now. Do you think something happened to him? I just have this bad feeling….”

“Mum, mum, calm yourself down.” Natasha knew her mother to be the kind of person that always considered the worst case scenario in every situation. For her, hope was always the last thing to cross her mind….sometimes it never even did. 

“I am sure his battery died or something, or maybe he lost his phone. Whatever the case I know there’s a good explanation and he will come tell us when he comes back home. Who knows, maybe he bumped into some old friends and lost track of time.

“Stop worrying and try to keep yourself busy. Is Sean still sleeping?”

“Yes, I mean no, he woke up a few minutes ago.” Nothing her daughter said made any sense to her.

“Are you knocking off late today as well?”

“No, am actually parking up right now. I’ll be home soon mum, try to relax. Dad will be home soon.”

Even though she had tried to be as brave as possible with her mother, Natasha couldn’t help wondering what could have happened to her father after he left her place of work. He was not the type of man to just disappear and go off the radar without warning.

If indeed his phone had gone off, he would have found whatever means possible to contact his wife or daughter and he would have told them if he was running late. It was very unlike him to go quite like that.

Natasha tried calling his line but it was still off.

“Where the hell are you dad?” She asked herself.

Cornered: A Blesser after his Dues – Part 2

That evening as I drove back home, I kept replaying that scene I had just witnessed at the lodge over and over again. I was convinced, though with some doubt that Mr Mbulo’s sister in-law was the same woman that had hired me to go after him and his money.

As if she was watching me, her call came the moment I entered my house.

“Is that you I saw at the lodge?” Were the first words I said when I answered the phone.

She was laughing. “I always knew you are one clever girl.” She said. “Yes, that was me.”

I had not expected her to admit it so easily. Truth is, she could have denied it and said I was mistaken and I would have believed her since I had never seen her face before.

Somehow, the ease with which she admitted it made me feel even more suspicious and raised a lot of questions in my head;

Why would a sister in-law go to such lengths to punish her sister’s husband?

Did the two of them perhaps share some dubious secret past?

Or was something still going on between them?

Or, could it be that she was exerting revenge on behalf of her sister? If so, why not just let the sister take care of her own marital issues? Why so much interference from her?

I wanted to ask her all these questions but before I could start gathering the courage to do so, the lady I had come to know as Bana Bupe added;

“And no, I don’t owe you any explanations. Just do what’s remaining to be done and we can all go our separate ways.”

And just like that I was left to plot once again how I was going to get the lady what she needed without having to spread my legs for Mr Mbulo. Unfortunately, whatever plan I needed to come up with required that I be in the same room as the man in question.

How was I to survive that?

Mr Mbulo remained true to his nature and was very determined to have his way with me the moment my periods where done. Instead of the usual three days, the length of my periods increased to one week ever since I met Mr Mbulo and in the two months and 16 days we had known each other, I had attended six times already.

There were days when I would lie to his face and depending on my level of confidence; he would out-rightly believe even the most outrageous lies that fell from my lips. To this day, am still trying to figure out how a gullible man like him managed to build a successful empire for himself.

The mysterious woman’s admission of her relationship to Mr Mbulo ignited something in me that propelled me to want to get as far away from the both of them as possible. Unfortunately, this meant I had to get her all the information about his bank details and any other such related information.

During the short time I had spent with Mr Mbulo, I had learnt that despite having no respect whatsoever for his wife, he had no intentions of leaving her. At one point in one of our many conversations he had referred to her as a ‘mop.’

“She cleans up whatever kind of mess I create and she makes a beautiful home for me. She is necessary for my life, like we all can’t do without a mop. Why would I want to get rid of her? I can bet you that even Bill Gates has used a mop many times in his life.” That had been his response when I asked him why he was not divorcing her if she wasn’t giving him the kind of happiness he was searching for.

I felt like smacking the fool in the face…how he had easily uttered such nonsense like a man paying a compliment to his long suffering wife. He brought a whole new thick meaning to the word disgusting.

“Let’s meet tonight, usual time and place.” I surprised Mr Mbulo by calling him first and suggesting we meet for the night. It was something I had never done before, but I was very desperate and I needed to get things done once and for all.

“Oh yes my baby,” I could hear his blood pressure rising through the phone and I could imagine his little wiener dancing about excitedly in his huge boxers.

“I will definitely be there baby.” He said.

I immediately ended the call and regrettably regurgitated the saliva that had taken part in that conversation. Just the thought of arranging such a meeting with him made my insides turn in protest.

* * *

That particular night I was dressed for the part. Considering the fact that I was dealing with a man who was greatly aroused by visuals, I wore a tight black miniskirt that was only covering the most essential parts of my lower body.

I was not going to be doing any bending that night.

I desperately needed my body to do half the work the moment he laid eyes on me so as to reduce the amount of time my hands would have to be in contact with certain parts of his body.

My plan seemed to be going according to plan; I had him on his back, his pint-size manhood up and erect to its fullest potential, and the look on his face was screaming whatever evil thoughts were dancing on his unrepentant mind.

I immediately put my mouth to work and felt him shift excitedly on the bed. He placed his fat hand on the back of my head and started pulling me forward over and over again. Unfortunately, whereas my mind was determined to move ahead with the task at hand, my body appeared to have other ideas.

My stomach was churning, loudly, and my insides were turned inside out and ready to explode through my mouth. In my efforts to fight back the volcano of vomit threating to erupt, I ended up swallowing products from his body that had no business being anywhere near my mouth.

I was finally able to heave a sigh of relief when I watched and felt him surrender himself to nature.

It had only taken him about 53 seconds.

While he was busy busking in the results of my mouth works, I quickly rushed to the bathroom and reversed all the digestive processes that had taken place in my body for the past five years.

I went back to the room five minutes later and found Mr Mbulo seated on the edge of the bed and grinning at me like a well-paid politician.

“Come here baby.” He held out his arms to me, expecting me to go and sit on his laps. I stood back and looked at him quizzically.

“Why do you still have your clothes on?” He asked, getting up from the bed and walking towards me. I was taking steps back with every step he took forward and soon my back came into contact with the wall.

He yanked my skirt and panties down at the same time before I could mouth any words.

“What do you think you are doing?” I asked him, bending down to pick up the little pieces of my dignity but that move only put me at a greater disadvantage because the next thing I knew, his huge fat hands were around my waist as he spun me around to face away from him, my ass right where he needed it to be.

“Why are you fighting me my darling…when we are just getting started?”

I felt his other hand press hard on my back as he forced me to stay where I was…in that bended position. I knew in that moment what was about to happen and so I desperately tried to fight him off…but I was soon forced to come to terms with the fact that I was no match for a man of his weight and strength.

He was about to plug himself into my most private portal when I managed to raise one leg from the ground and landed it hard against his foot which sent him whimpering away in pain.

“You little….” I saw him come at me so I ran to the door. I was about to open it and run for safety when I realized my own state of nakedness.

I looked over at my skirt which was now lying on the floor a few feet away but I did not have enough time to go over there and pick it up because Mr Mbulo came hard at me, grabbed me by the sides and threw me hard on the bed.

The burning and menacing look in his eyes told me of his hunger and just what he intended to do to me.

“I am sick and tired of you playing me to your tune while you chew my money with impunity. It’s time for me to get what I deserve tonight.” Mr Mbulo’s words as he kept coming at me confirmed my very worst fears.

I tried getting out of bed but he kept pushing me back. In his arms I was nothing but an ant…a tiny little thing he could control with only a flip of one fat finger.

Afraid to attract attention and afraid of the scandal that might erupt if word of my unfortunate predicament got out, I could only beg my attacker to take pity on me, hoping to reach out to his non-existent conscience so as to reconsider his actions.

Neither the stars nor the heavens were in my favour that fateful night.

When it finally sunk into me that there was no hope for me, all I could do was bite down my lip to keep myself from tasting the salty tears coursing down my face. Every thrash he made from on top of me plunged into my body and served as a reminder of just how low I had fallen.

There was no turning back for me. I had been thoroughly raped of whatever little dignity a girl like me could have and in its stead was a deep hollow feeling of emptiness and guilt threatening to devour me into oblivion.

It took a whole three minutes for the ordeal to come to pass.

It was hard not to know the time when there was a huge clock chipping away and staring at me up on the wall ahead. Panting, exhausted and fully satisfied from all the efforts he had put in de-juicing me, Mr Mbulo got off from on top of me and dropped to the side with a thunder.

The blesser had finally collected his dues.

I felt useless and defeated with my back lying on that bed and my legs spread apart like a pleasure machine. I was sobbing and thinking about what had just happened when Mr Mbulo sat up and looking down at me he said;

“If you cared about me as much as you claimed, I wouldn’t have taken things this far.” And in one of his unforgettable signature moves, he tried to wipe at my tears with his hand but I quickly laid both my hands over my face and turned away from him, crying.

I heard him snickering as he got off the bed and headed to the bathroom, whistling the National Anthem to the beat of his flesh hitting against flesh as he walked.

The fact that he had the frame of mind to happily whistle the national anthem after what he had just done irked me to the point of madness. I got up from the bed and followed him into the bathroom.

“Have you come to join daddy in here?” He asked whilst sitting on the toilet pan. There was absolutely no ounce of remorse on his face or even his whole demeanour.

“In your dreams you son of a bitch!” I said as I yanked the keys from the bathroom door, quickly got out, banged it shut and locked it.

Mr Mbulo was laughing from behind the door. “You might have the keys to this bathroom baby but I am the one with the keys to the room.” He proceeded to ring them in the air for my benefit as he cackled his lungs out.

I rushed to the door and tried to open it but it was locked. I searched everywhere for the pair of keys hoping he was just bluffing but they were nowhere in sight.

“Bastard!” I cussed again but instead of admitting defeat, I quickly put my mind to work and went about putting my plan into motion.

And then I remembered the photo of Gerrard and I and the sudden presence of Mr Mbulo’s sister in-law at the lodge last time and figured that there were probably cameras planted in the room. Thus, I went about in search of the hidden cameras.

“Oh my Tiff Tiff….” Mr Mbulo was still calling out to me as I searched every corner of the room. I looked up at the small chandelier were three bulbs hang and climbed on the bed to examine them closely but there was nothing.

And then the shiny two lamps on either side of the bed caught my attention and I quickly went to examine them. For sure I found the cameras carefully placed on each lamp. I yanked them out and continued searching the rest of the room just in case I had missed anything.

It appeared I had them all.

Concluding that I was safe, I set my eyes upon the briefcase neatly placed on the bedside table on the right. I didn’t want to risk being filmed touching it just in case the mysterious lady decided to blackmail me further in future by holding me responsible for whatever money she intended to steal from him.

I went for the briefcase that was always by Mr Mbulo’s side everywhere he went and unlocked it using the passcode I had seen him use for the past two months.

He truly thought he was James Bond, the fool.

It opened at the first try. I celebrated I silence.

“Tiffany honey!” Mr Mbulo sarcastically squeezed out the words at the same time he was squeezing out some other waste products from his behind. There was really no end to the pit that was his soul.

Fortunately for me, that briefcase was exactly what I needed to resurrect my expiring fate. The fool kept all of his bank information in there bringing the centuries old adage to reality; you can take a man out of the jungle but not the jungle out of the man.

Even chimpanzees would cringe at the sight of his uncivilized state.

I wrote down all the information I thought I might need into my small note pad and when I was done, I put everything back in order and locked the case again. The cheating bastard was saying something but I was too busy calculating my next moves to pay attention to whatever noise he was emitting into the air.

After securing my notepad and getting fully dressed, I went to unlock the door for him and he came out wearing the smirkest smirk I had ever seen on any breathing human.

“I knew you would eventually come around.” He said as he walked over to where his briefcase was quietly sitting. He traced his fingers over the security panel and satisfied that it had not been tampered with, he picked up his trousers from the floor and started putting his clothes back on.

“I need some pocket money.” I told him, my arms locked over my chest as I leaned against the wall facing him.

It was the first time I was directly asking him for money and the surprise was written all over his face.

“I knew making love would loosen things between us,” he smugly remarked.

Did he just say making love? My face was drowning in disdain.

“What you did to me is called rape,” I accused him. “You do not have the slightest idea what is involved in love making. You are a rapist.”

“If I am a rapist then you are a prostitute my darling Tiff.” He fired back.

“What did you just call me?” I couldn’t believe what I had just heard.

“That’s what they call a woman who asks for money from the man she just slept with…a man she is not in-love with.”

“Well, now that we have that out of the way, can I have my money?” I asked, without shame.

I had nothing more to lose. I was in no position to report rape considering the kinds of worlds we both came from and I certainly did not want my business plastered all over the papers for everyone to feast on, especially my friends and those at school.

“It’s the least I deserve after what you just did to me.” I told the nefarious nit.

“Don’t you think I have already paid you more than enough?” He asked.

I scoffed. “Paid me more than enough?” I asked. “Are you kidding me? I gave you my time, my company and my body during all this time but what happened today beats any of that.

“You had no right to force yourself on me like that. That’s a crime and as far as I know, there’s no crime in accepting money that’s been voluntarily offered to me. I never asked you for it; you gave it to me out of your own pompousness.”

“How much do you need?” He asked me.

“K30 000,” I stated unflinchingly.

“What!?”

“You heard me. I was going to go for 50 but then I remembered you saying that you always move with at least 30k on you and since I do not wish to have anything to do with you from this point on, I want to get my money and get as far away from you as possible.”

He went to open his briefcase and next thing he said was, “twenty-five, that’s all you are getting, not that you deserve it…but something to keep your mouth shut.”

He opened a compartment I had missed in my raid and counted some bundles of money for me before throwing them on the bed.

“I know you will be coming back to beg me for some more…they always do.” He said.

I went at the money and quickly packed it in my bag. “The door,” I said once I had secured the money.

He threw the keys on the bed as well.

I was out of there faster than the speed of light.
“I want to meet you right now,” I commanded my not so mysterious sponsor as I drove back home, reeling in anger.

“Do you know what time it is young lady?” She asked me.

“Do I sound like I care? I need you at my place in 30 minutes.”

I had never been that rude or stern with her before so am sure her curiosity over my sudden change in attitude is what brought her to my place so late at night.

“Since when do you get off talking to me like that?” She asked upon busting through the doors of my living room.

I had been pacing to and from the whole time I was waiting for her, an empty bottle of wine in my hands. I stopped and turned to face her.

“That man raped me!” I yelled.

“What?” she asked.

The ground kept coming up towards my face and all I could do was hold on tightly to the sofa in front of me to keep my balance.

“He forced himself on me and he was not sorry about it, not even in the slightest because he felt entitled. And who can blame him? You….” I was pointing an accusing figure at her. “You promised me that…that nothing….” I couldn’t speak any more. I was too overwhelmed by my emotions to think straight.

I had thought about all the things I wanted to say to the woman that had put me in such a position but now that I had her standing in front of me, the only thing I could do was cry.

The impact was a little less when he was on top of me because for a moment I had made myself believe that what was happening was not happening to me. It was like an out of body experience…one that had nothing to do with me at all.

But after being alone for a while, all through the drive back home, the images of him on top of me kept replaying through my mind and I wished for nothing but to lose my consciousness. I thought that maybe if I slept and woke up in the morning, it would have all been just a bad dream.

I had already downed a whole bottle of wine during the short time I was at home and I just wanted to drop to the floor and sleep.

I didn’t know how to respond to the shocked expression on her face. She closed the distance between us and tried to touch me but I shoved her away.

“Don’t you dare touch me!” I spat at her.

“I don’t know what to say Tiffany,” she said, looking as apologetic as anyone in her position could be. I didn’t buy her act. Gosh I couldn’t even tell if it was all an act or not. I just needed someone to blame for what had happened to me and for the way I was feeling. She felt that she must have known that something like that was going to eventually happen.

It’s not like the thought had not crossed my mind before. It was a fact I had pushed the man to every possible limit but there was a part of me that believed in his disillusioned love for me…. that part had made me comfortable in the belief that he would not be capable of such an atrocious act against me no matter how unfairly he thought I was treating him.

I had been wrong, dead wrong.

“So what do you want to do, press charges?” the lady asked me.

“Pressing charges would mean that this whole episode will haunt me for the rest of my life. Everyone already suspects I have some mysterious blesser now imagine what they are all going to say if I accuse the man who’s responsible for my current lifestyle for rape?

“They are all going to say I am a gold digger and you know it so don’t try to act like you want me to press charges. My silence over this issue probably means more to you than it does to me.”

The expression on her face told me that I was right in my deductions.

“I have access to his financial affairs,” I announced.

Her eyes added thirty more watts to the lights in the room. “You do?”

“Yes I do but I will not give them to you unless you agree to my terms.”

The smile immediately evaporated from her face. “What do you mean agree to your terms?” She asked.

“You have something over me that you can use to control me for the rest of my life; the pictures of Gerrard and me, and the recordings of all my encounters with your brother in-law…yes, I know that you have been watching us.” I added. “However, I have access to something that you desperately need; Mr Mbulo’s money.”

“And because of that you think you have the right to negotiate with me?” she laughed.

“Yes,” I confidently answered. “As a matter of fact I do. I just so happen to have proof of you blackmailing me into running errands for you. Imagine what I would do with all this information if push comes to shove?”

“You wouldn’t dare!” she thundered.

It was my turn to chuckle. “Would you like to try me?” I said. “Apart from an already bruised reputation, I have nothing more to lose. So what if I have been sleeping with my tutor? I am certainly not the first student and I am sure as hell not ashamed of the things I have done to survive in this cruel world.

“But you…it will be your word against mine. If I tell people that I was blackmailed into servicing some old fat man, that will explain my side of the story nd probably even gain some sympathy…but what about you? Your own brother in-law? What do you think people will say about the things you’ve done?

“That expensive ring on your finger tells me that you are married and the fact that Mr Mbulo called you Bana Bupe tells me that you have a child…or children. So tell me, who stands to lose more in this crazy cycle of ours?”

“What are your terms?”

It seemed I had gotten through to her.

“I need you to tell me why you were doing this to your brother in-law…and, we share 50-50 of the money you plan on stealing from him.”

“I knew I was going to regret picking an intelligent bitch to run my errands,” she said under her breath but it was loud enough for me to pick out every single word. “I should have gone for the dumb one.”

“Well, it’s a little too late for regrets now.” I said. “So are we on?”

The lady sighed heavily and went to sit down on the sofa. I followed suit and sat down on the other side, facing her.

“50-50 is a non-starter. I say 35-65. That money we are getting is not going into my pocket. It belongs to someone else.”

“Who?” I asked.

“My name is Carolyn Chama, might as well get that out of the way.” She said. “Catherine Mbulo, John’s wife is my elder sister…you know that already.”

I nodded.

“I am also known as Mrs Kamanga.” She continued. “For years my family has been begging my sister to leave that disrespectful cheating bastard but Cathy won’t listen because according to her she has sacrificed too much over the years; physically, emotionally and financially to be where she is today.

“Her most vocal argument is that she can’t leave and let another woman enjoy the fruits of her labour. It was last year during an end of year party when I watched in dismay as John shamelessly flirted with almost every beautiful woman in sight despite his wife being in the same room.

“Even if my sister could stomach such levels of disrespect, I couldn’t. I thought, something needed to be done to teach the bastard a lesson. Even though Cathy refuses to leave, she cries night and day because she feels she has become invisible to her husband, a man she had taken care of on her teacher’s salary for over five years when he was jobless.

“I figured that the only way to get Cathy out of that living hell was to give her what was due to her. Mbulo is a very selfish man and now that he has some power, he will do whatever it takes to make sure Cathy leaves with nothing if she sues him for divorce. They only married traditionally and they don’t even have a marriage licence.

“So I had to find a way to get my hands on his money…not everything, just enough to help my sister get back on her feet and start a brand new life with her kids. She deserves to be paid for what she’s had to put up with for all the years and it’s my job as her sister to protect her.”

I had to believe her. I had played numerous scenarios in my head trying to figure out what her deal was and the one she had just given me made a lot of sense.

“How do I know if what you are telling me is the truth?” I didn’t want her thinking I was so gullible. I had to play hardball.

“What if this is just a jealous sister trying to steal from under her sister by using her brother in-law’s weakness?”

She scoffed and proudly raised her shoulders. “Do some research and find out who I really am. When you do, you will discover that Mbulo’s money is only worth a penny in my books.

“Yes I can easily take care of my sister if she divorced the bastard and left with nothing but that wouldn’t be fair. Cathy is entitled to that money as much as he is. It is also her money. So many times I have heard him threaten her that she wouldn’t get a penny if she divorced him and I could tell he meant it. This will teach him a lesson.”

I wanted to applaud her for standing up for her sister but at the same time I was mad that I had been used in such a manner in her scheme. I wanted to make both her and Mr Mbulo pay for what they had put me through.

“What if Mr Mbulo comes after me when he discovers his money is missing?” I asked.

“That’s not something for you to worry about. Did he see you check his briefcase?” She asked.

I shook my head. “He has no idea I had opened it.”

“Then there’s nothing for you to worry about. I will make it look like he made the transaction himself…in this day and age, anything is possible.”

“What if even after doing all this your sister refuses to divorce him?” I asked.

“Then that’s her problem. She can stay until he gives her some deadly disease or until she shoots him. If she refuses my help, at least I can move on with my life knowing I had done my best to get her out of there.”

After the lady I had come to learn was Carolyn…after she and I finished calculating how we were going to go about securing the money and sharing it, she said goodnight and I remained alone to nurse my self-inflicted wounds.
One month later, as per agreement, I received my share of the money through a middleman. It was way more than I had expected. I had not spoken to Carolyn since our conversation that unfortunate night even though she had texted a few times to ask about how I was holding up but I never replied.

I could tell she was feeling guilty for my rape.

* * *

Two years had gone by since I had cut all ties with Mr Mbulo and Carolyn his sister in-law. Because I wanted nothing more to do with them, I did not bother to ask about whether Catherine had divorced her useless husband or if she had accepted the money secured for her by her sister.

I had moved on with my life and vowed to never revisit my past. None of my friends got to learn about the things that had happened to me and even though my financial status had tremendously improved in a very short period of time, they had never seen me with a sugar daddy or blesser.

I simply told everyone that I had inherited some cash from a distant relative and had invested it wisely. I was comfortable in the belief that my past was deeply buried where it belonged and not once did I dream that it would come at me with the kind of vengeance it did that fateful afternoon.

Cuthbert, whom I had been dating for the past one year had invited me to one of his family’s major end of year parties where all of the important family members would be gathered and I was excited and nervous at the same time.

It was the first time a guy had shown that level of seriousness in a relationship and made his intentions towards me so boldly clear.

As fate would have it, Carolyn was the first person I laid my eyes on when I stood by the entrance waiting for Cuthbert to come lead me inside.

Our eyes locked and she walked towards me with a calm that sent chills running down my spine.

“Tiffany?” She was now standing in front of me, half a question mark and half a smile on her face. “Oh my, it really is you. You have matured gracefully and beautifully, as expected.”

“Ms Carolyn,” I said. I was thinking about something else but the words that came out where not the intended.

“You look gorgeous!” She was scanning me from head to toe. “Certainly different from the look you had…is it two years ago?” She whispered.

What are you doing here of all places? I asked her in my head.

“Aunt Carol, I see you’ve met my Tiffany.” Cuthbert had appeared from behind Carolyn.

Aunt Carol? Did he just say what I thought he said?

I should have figured out something the moment I heard his name. Did the whole family have names starting with C? How Kardashian-like of them.

My Tiffany?” Carolyn looked from nephew to me. “Is she the girl you told us about?”

“Yes!” The oblivious and excited Cuthbert came to put his arm around me. “This is the woman I intend to marry.” He proudly announced to his visibly shocked aunt. “Look there’s mum, mum!” He called out to his mother from the crowd.

“Cuthbert,” Carolyn was trying to say something to her nephew but Cuthbert’s excitement could not be contained.

“Come over here mum,” he was motioning at his hand to come closer. The whole time I had been watching Carolyn’s reaction and she too had not taken her eyes off of me.

“Tiff, meet my mother,” I heard Cuthbert say. “Mum, this is the lady I told you about.”

At that moment, I had no choice but to raise my eyes to meet the person who was being introduced to me and Lord behold, it was Catherine Mbulo…the wife to my former blesser.

Had I just been sleeping with the son of my former sugar daddy? I wanted to throw up but the welcoming smile on the face of the woman extending her hand to me froze me on spot.

“You are as beautiful as my son described you.” Cuthbert’s mother said as she shook my shaking hand.

“Oooh, don’t be so nervous,” she added upon noticing my discomfort and placed her other hand over mine. “I see you’ve met my sister,” she was looking at Carolyn. “I am the eldest in the family but she acts like she is the big sister. Come, let me introduce you to the rest of the family.”

Carolyn quickly jumped in and grabbed my hand away from the woman who just a minute ago had been my potential mother in-law.

“Look, they are fighting over you already!” Cuthbert completely misread the whole situation. My heart moaned at the innocence of his heart. How did he end up with someone like me of all female species out there in the world?

“Tiffany told me that she needed to use the bathroom to freshen up a bit. Let me take her there before you start parading her around.”

“Oh, forgive me,” Cuthbert’s mother gave me a knowing smile before taking the hand of her son. “You and I should go and secure some food for our special guest before your cousins devour everything.”

“See you later my love.” Cuthbert planted a kiss on my cheek before walking away with his mother.

Inside the house, Carolyn took me to a room I guessed was the master suite since there was a huge portrait on the wall of her and her husband. She locked the door behind us.

“How is this possible?” Was the first question she asked me. “Aren’t you a little too old for that boy?”

She was right, I was three years older than Cuthbert but biology and nature seemed to be on my side in the physical department. No one could tell I was older…unless they asked to see our passports or other forms of ID.

“I thought your sister only had three kids,” I said. “And they were much younger.”

“That’s because she had Cuthbert before she married Mbulo.” Carolyn explained. “Gosh,” she brushed her hand through her perfectly styled razor cut and plopped herself down on the bed in frustration. “How is this even possible?”

“Is Mr Mbulo here as well?” That was the question raking my brains in that moment. What the hell was I going to do if I bumped into Mr Mbulo?

“Cathy divorced that idiot two years ago.” I was duly informed. “He would not even dream of being anywhere close to where this family is gathered.”

I heaved a sigh of relief.

“What are you going to do now?” Carolyn was watching me closely.

“What else can I do? I have to break up with Cuthbert. How can I get married to the son of the woman whose husband I….” I couldn’t bring myself to finish the sentence.

“You will do no such thing!” Carolyn got up from the bed and came to glare at me closely. “There is no way I am going to let you break the heart of that sweet innocent boy out there. What are you going to tell him? Sorry love but I used to shag your ex-step-father for money?

“Catherine has no idea about the methods I used to secure her money and knowing her, she would give it all to charity and go back to that bastard to beg him for forgiveness the moment she discovers the truth. Over my dead body will I let that happen.”

“I don’t know!” I said, crying and feeling absolutely hopeless. “I don’t know what to do….”

“Pull yourself together.” She grabbed a towel from somewhere and put it in my hands. “Clean yourself up and walk back there with a huge smile on your face like nothing ever happened.

“You and I have never met before and until today you did not know who my sister is. Is that clear?”

I nodded and cleaned myself up right away.

* * *

It’s been three years now since Cuthbert and I got married and we have a two year old son that looks exactly like his father.

I never told Cuthbert about my past since Carolyn made me promise to carry that secret to my grave. I have not met Mr Mbulo since my last encounter with him and I hear he now lives in Kabwe where he remarried.

I live each day to the fullest, hoping that my past is safely locked away where it belongs but even in my happiness, there are moments when I wake up at night sweating in fear from a nightmare threatening to bring my past to surface.

I have thought about coming clean to my husband about my secrets but the idea that I might lose him and the family I have created for myself scares me to death and locks me back in silence.

There are days when I find myself crying just looking at my husband and thinking about what my lies would do to him if he ever discovers the kind of person I was before I met him.

But there are also days when I embrace my happiness without guilt…days when I strongly believe I have been reborn and that the past has no effect on me whatsoever. On such days I glow and my husband feels it too.

He has come to think of my change in behaviour as simply moods and he has adjusted well to them. But still, I keep asking myself;

Would he forgive me if he learnt the truth about my past?

I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I want to believe that his love for me is enough to shoulder the burdens of my past but then I am reminded that he’s only human.
In his heart I am the best woman he has ever come across and in his love I am perfect and flawless.

Every now and then he innocently asks me what did he to deserve someone as good as me and all I can do is drop my gaze and embrace him, hoping he can feel the beat of my heart and understand just how much I love him.

But, what if my sins are beyond human redemption?

What if I come clean to him and he walks away?

My prayer is that I never get to find out.
THE END.

Shaken: A Love by Proxy – Part 3

The way my mother received Susan’s parents and welcomed them into our home made me realize that she had believed me when I told her nothing was going on between Susan and me. I could see the guilt on my mother’s face as she led the two into the house.

I don’t think I would have survived such a meeting with just the unrepentant Chizu by my side. My wife was still acting like a brat and a part of me couldn’t help but wonder if she was enjoying… perhaps a little too much the idea that I might be cheating on her.

I have heard of women that have caught their spouses red handed in bed with other women but just so they can live with themselves, they resolved to believe that what they had witnessed was simply a bad dream…something that never actually happened.

Or they would rather believe that their husband tripped and landed inside the other woman. Anything else was better than facing the reality of betrayal.

But not my wife.

Chizu would have given anything to believe her illusions as facts and I soon begun to feel like doing the things she was accusing me of doing just to spite her and show her what it really means to have a cheating husband.

“We apologize for dropping by announced,” Malambo’s father spoke first.

“This is the first time I am seeing the family of the mistress visit the home of the married man,” Chizu said. Despite pinching her in the back to shut her up, she went on, “Usually, it’s the wife that visits the mistress first but what the heck, there’s always a first time for everything.”

“Please forgive my daughter in-law,” my mother rushed to restore her family’s honour. “She is bipolar so she tends to overreact and act without thinking…most of the time.”

That in itself was an insult to those people with that actually suffered from that condition. My heart reached out to them.

“Mum!” Chizu protested her defamation of character.

Malambo’s parents were just quiet watching with interest as we embarrassed ourselves.

“As I was saying,” Malambo’s father continued. “This is my wife Tina, and I am Enock, parents to Malambo Mubiana and Susan Mulenga.”

The three of us sent him puzzled expressions.

“Susan is the biological daughter of my sister in-law, Tina’s younger sister but we raised her as our own since she was twelve.”

I was giving Chizu the did you hear that look and she just rolled her eyes like she usually did when feeling guilty but trying not to show it.

“There is something I need to know,” Tina finally spoke. While her husband looked a little receptive, Tina was bleeding anger through her eyes. Given a chance, she would have laid my wife on a table, cut her chest in the middle and yanked her heart out so she could feed it to her cat at home.

The woman made me sit at the edge of the sofa.

“What did you see my daughter doing with your husband that made you treat her the way you did?” She asked Chizu.

“I mean, for you to decide that it’s okay to treat a fellow human like that, a woman for that matter,” Tina went on. “Labels like husband snatcher stick with a woman for the rest of her life. It doesn’t matter whether she is innocent or not, people have no time to collect facts. They only care about headlines.”

Tina’s voice was menacingly calm, sending chills down my spine and making the hairs at the back of my head stand.

“So tell me,” she said. “What was the thing that my daughter did that made you think she deserved to be hurt, humiliated, and scarred for life in such a manner?”

For the first time since the whole Susan fiasco started, I felt Chizu shake in fear beside me. I had wanted so badly for her to reach a point when she would realise just what she had done and it appeared she was on her way there.

We all sat quietly and waited for Chizu to speak.

Her lips were quivering and her hands were shaking, but she still said nothing.
Tina was like the Chizu Vaccine or antidote, she had managed to do what my mother and I had failed to do in years; put Chizu on mute.

I wanted to harvest the woman’s spirit and bottle it up for future use, just sprinkle it in the air whenever Chizu opened her mouth.

My wife realized the hard way that there is a huge difference between thinking something in your head then convincing yourself of it and saying it out loud for others to hear.

As everyone waited in silence, my mind went back to that fateful evening where it had all started.

“I don’t see you anywhere,” I was on the phone standing outside the restaurant just a few blocks from home, searching the area for a tall, dark and slim-figured twenty-five year old lady dressed in a yellow dress.

“I am inside, inside the restaurant,” the cheerful girl replied. I turned towards the entrance of the restaurant and I saw her excitedly waving at me from inside. I cut the line and went inside.

“Hi,” I reached out my hand and we shook hands. “Am James, your brother’s workmate.”

She was smiling. “I’m Susan,” she said. “I got so tired moving around in circles that I had to come inside and order a beverage.” She was fanning herself with her hand as she spoke.

“I am so sorry for making you come all the way,” she said. “I swear I am the worst when it comes to directions.” There was something about her tone of voice and her facial expressions that made her sound funny instead of apologetic as she intended.

I couldn’t help laughing.

“If you tell me to turn left, I have to stop and check the hand I use for eating nshima and that’s when I will know.” She continued. She was clearly a chatterbox.

“And once I know which one is my left or right, I will start worrying about whether it is my left or right I have to turn or the one for the person giving the directions. I don’t know how others do it…or,” she paused and drew her face closer to whisper, “could it be that am dumb?”

She was genuinely looking at me with her big brown eyes and expecting me to give her an answer and that made me laugh even more. She had a certain innocence about her despite her age that I had not seen in a very long time. I had not realized it then, but looking back, she had made me feel at ease without even trying.

I had been having a really bad day that day and I was a little taken aback by how easily I found myself laughing in her presence. Any other person, those words wouldn’t have sounded as funny as they did coming from her.

I was laughing so hard that I must have spooked her because she stopped talking, stood back and started watching me, a smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

That was the picture my wife found when she spotted us as she was passing by.

Sitting there in that meeting and hearing Tina’s question, I re-examined Susan’s actions and words and found nothing suggestive about them. If anything, she had done enough in that short period of time to turn off any potential interest in me when she looked at me and asked if she was dumb.

I don’t know how many men out there find dumb women attractive…maybe they are for one time use but never for repeated use. They can suck the soul out of your blood cells. I was married to an intelligent woman that enjoyed acting dumb…I was too dumb’ed out to handle the real deal.

I had been too busy laughing to think about anything else in those five minutes with her. I just did not have enough time to entertain other thoughts that might have crossed my wife’s mind when she saw us together.

There was absolutely nothing wrong that went on between my short exchange with Susan. If anything, everything that was wrong was all external to us; time, location, and Chizu’s crazy mind.

Put those three together and you have a nuclear bomb.

“She said she saw them smiling,” my mother supplied on behalf of Chizu.

I was soaked in embarrassment.

“Smiling?” Tina laughed, well, more like scoffed. “You saw your husband smiling with another woman and went crazy like that? What are you going to do when you find him hugging someone? You do know hugging is also a form of greeting don’t you?”

The sincerity with which she asked that question broke my heart. I think Tina was convinced my wife was a delinquent. And who could blame her.

“How I handle issues in my home is none of your business,” Chizu retorted.

“You see,” Tina said. “That’s where you are wrong. If you thought that your husband was cheating and you confronted him about in the privacy of your home, then that’s your business. But if you go beating other people’s daughters hoping to enforce change in your husband, then that’s society’s problem.

“Unfortunately, this time it was my daughter you attacked so that’s my problem. That poor girl you humiliated is such a kind child that even when you attacked and humiliated her like that, she did not come to me, her father or her brother to complain.”

She paused for a while to compose herself. Her voice was shaking and her eyes were teary.

“She kept it all to herself,” Tina swallowed. “…because she did not want to worry us.” When she could no longer hold back the tears, her husband handed her a napkin.

“Susan couldn’t talk to her brother because she feared he might lose his job if he confronted your husband about it.” Tina continued after composing herself. “Because she is that kind of person, all those things she kept to herself finally eat her up and she did the only thing she thought would give her a peace of mind.”

By now Mrs Mubiana was crying, her frail body rocking so hard her husband had to keep his arm around her the whole time to help calm her down.

“You have to understand,” Mr Mubiana took over from his wife. “Susan is a very fragile girl. She has been through a lot in her life. She had come back home for less than twenty-four hours when that incident happened.

“Everything happened so fast and it was all unexpected. For a girl that thought she had left her past behind, being abused and attacked like that brought back all those memories that had almost ended her life twelve years ago.”

I wanted to ask about what they kept referring to;

She has been through a lot, they kept repeating that phrase. I also picked up that she must have suffered abuse before and that it was not the first time she had made an attempt at her life.

I was reeled in and my curiosity grew the more they talked. But I could not bring myself to ask because they had not come to us to talk about Susan’s past; they simply needed us to realize just how much damage we had caused.

“What are you people going to do to give my daughter back what she’s lost?” Tina suddenly asked us.

My mother immediately came to our rescue. She humbled herself in a way I would have never imagined and if I was not present at that particular time and someone else told the story to me, I would probably have not believed them.

She got down on her knees before the Mubiana’s, bowed her head low and begged for their forgiveness.

That day I heard my mother say words I couldn’t believe where coming out of her mouth even when only her lips were moving in the room.

“It is my fault for not teaching my daughter in-law properly…I should have taught my children well.”

I couldn’t just sit back and watch while my mother took all the blame so I grabbed Chizu by the hand and together we joined my mother on the floor.

I could see that the couple was taken aback by my mother’s sincere apology and it helped soften them up a bit.

“It is not us you need to apologize to,” Tina said to us. “I need this woman,” she was pointing at Chizu. “I need her to kneel before my daughter and beg her for forgiveness.

“You will stay on your knees before my daughter until such a time she decides to forgive you. You will also go back to your bosses and tell them what you did and make sure that they hire her back.

“If that fails, you will have to pay my daughter the equivalent of the salary she was to be paid when she got confirmed at your workplace and you will only stop until she finds another job.

“You will also release a video and make sure it goes as viral as the others did and you will explain to the public that you accused an innocent girl and you will show that you are sorry and regretful. And most importantly, you will not try to negotiate with Susan the terms I have set for you.

“I know my daughter, she has such a forgiving heart but I am her mother and it is my duty to protect my child and ensure nothing like this ever happens again. If you do not comply with any of these things I’ve stated, I will drag this thing to court and take you both for everything you’ve got. Do I make myself clear?”

I knew it; I seriously needed to bottle that woman’s spirit.

Even her own husband was shocked by the conditions she had set for us but he did not dare oppose her or do anything else that might antagonize her.

“We will do it,” my mother announced, still on her knees. Both Chizu and I gave her a look.

“There are consequences for everything we do in life,” my mother said. “Perhaps next time you will think twice before acting or reacting.” She was looking at my wife when she uttered those words.

The Mubiana’s got up, said their final piece and left.

I helped my mother up from the floor and left Chizu there. She deserved the punishment, I just hated that I was equally accountable for her mistakes.
That night I couldn’t sleep, like a man carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders I kept turning and tossing. However, much to my amazement, I couldn’t help noticing how my better half was soundly sleeping beside me. Her body was sprawled all over the bed like a giant octopus.

How could she sleep so easily and so soundly after everything that had happened?

I had two things keeping me awake; the image of my mother down on her knees, crying and begging for forgiveness for something she was not responsible for, and the image of Susan’s lifeless body in Malambo’s arms.

After the visitors left, my mother had not said anything to either of us. She had gone straight to the guest bedroom and locked herself inside. I stood outside the door for close to five minutes and I heard her desperately try to stifle her sobs.

The guilt I was feeling over these two women eat at me and continued to keep me awake for the coming days. Back when I was a kid and my mother would toil alone from 6 to 6 at the market while my father was away furthering his studies, I would brag to her about how I would take care of her and how she would never have to suffer as long as I was alive.

I broke that promise that morning.

Because of my mistakes and because of some stupid decisions I had made in the past, I brought tears to my mother’s eyes and I forced her to set aside her pride and dignity in front of strangers.

Seeing how Chizu appeared unfazed by everything that was happening despite being the root cause of it all made me grow even more resentful towards her. She refused to approach Susan and beg her for forgiveness and she refused to release a video discrediting the previous versions that had ruined her reputation.

Chizu’s excuse was that she had done enough getting Susan her job back, the job that Susan ended up rejecting because she did not want to work in the same environment as her abuser.

“Why would you insist on forcing your own wife to disgrace herself like that?” Chizu had asked me once after my insistence on her giving Susan a sincere apology.

“That woman sad that she wanted me to get down on my knees and beg?” Chizu was saying. “Why should I do something that humiliating? Did I do anything wrong by trying to protect my marriage?

“If that girl really wanted to kill herself, she should have gone to a place where no one would easily find her and save her. She was just trying to buy pity from everyone just because she was exposed as a husband snatcher.”

At times when my wife sounded like that, I found myself questioning the decision I had made six years ago. I could no longer recognize the devil in my own bed.

Because my wife refused to take full responsibility for her actions against Susan, I felt it was my duty to somehow reach out to her and make amends as best as I could. Unfortunately, Susan refused to have anything to do with either me or my wife.

One Saturday morning I was waiting outside Susan’s home, parked by the side of the road when I spotted her coming through the gate. She had a hood over her head and had headsets in her ears. She must have been playing very loud music because she had not spotted or heard me come out of the vehicle and follow her a decent distance behind.

I don’t know what had gotten into me that day but I found myself following her everywhere she went. It didn’t appear as if she was heading anywhere specific. It was more of a stroll around the neighbourhood.

She stopped twenty minutes later to watch a group of men playing soccer in a wire-fenced football pitch. I saw Susan grip the wires of the fence as she intently watched the game progress. It took a moment for me to realize what was really happening;

Susan was crying.

Even though I could not see her face under the hood with her head hanging low, her convulsing body as she held on to the wire fence was enough for any man that was married to a crying machine for the five years to know what was really going on.

I thought about going over to her but I wasn’t sure what I was going to say to her. She had made it clear she wanted nothing to do withus. I looked around the fence for others watching the game hoping to find a friendly and comforting face so I could ask them to check on her. Unfortunately there were only men around the pitch area, Susan was the only woman.

I resolved to just stay back and watch her at a distance. She finally stopped crying about ten minutes later when she resumed her walk. That day she walked as far as Arcades…or should I say we walked as far as Arcades where Susan bought a ticket for an afternoon movie…to watch alone.

My heart was breaking seeing what that girl was going through. I kept wondering what had happened in her life…apart from the obvious we had done to her to make her feel like she was all alone in the whole world.

That day I ended up watching two movies I had not planned on watching because Susan had gone and bought another ticket for another movie right after the first one had finished.

Watching Susan cry all through those movies made me realize just what sort of person I had become around my wife. With Susan, I found myself crying along with her. I could only imagine the things going on in her head and the realization that I had caused some of that hurt broke my heart even more.

Later I realized I was never like that with Chizu. I had become so accustomed to my wife crying that it no longer had any effect on me. Whenever Chizu went into her crying campaign, I would zone out, thinking about the country’s water and electricity problems and how she could be using her supplies for a worthy cause instead of wasting it on a napkin.

It was then that I realized just how far off our marriage had gone. It seemed after all that the giraffe-necked nincompoop that was now Susan’s ex had been right; there was no more love in my marriage to Susan, what we had between us was two people fulfilling their duties to each other because a certain paper somewhere obliged them to.

When I opened the door to the house, feeling emotionally and physically drained, I found Chizu waiting on the other side, her hands on her waist and her lip ammunition ready to fire.

I closed the door and instead of continuing my journey inside the house, I pressed my back against the door and stood back to take a good look at the woman I had called my wife for the past five years.

“Are you drunk?” I heard her ask, coming in closer to have a good look at my face and probably smell my breath.

I am not a drinking man so I never once came home drunk or smelling of alcohol. I did not need alcohol to get high, Chizu’s lip army and all that air from her mouth blowing at me was enough to knock me out and give me a migraine for hangover.

It took me a while to realize that her yelling was the reason behind the receding of my hairline. All that fire in my face sent the front hairs in my head running for cover. Two more years and I will be as bald as Vin Diesel.

Good thing I already have the complexion to go with it.

“I can’t smell any alcohol,” the commander in-chief bellowed, twisting her nostrils in all directions like an animal looking to mate.

I couldn’t blame her for thinking I was drunk. Everything about the way I looked spelt drunk, except for the missing scent.

As I stood there watching my wife examine me while she straightened her oesophagus in readiness for her linguistic army attack, I couldn’t help thinking;

What is this giant creature with wild horns doing in my home?

And the sad truth is, that’s how I felt whenever I looked at my wife. She was no longer than sweet caring woman that had been willing to sacrifice her best friend just to be with me. Of course during the time I was head over heels in-love, I never realised just what a double edged sword the kind of love Chizu gave me was.

I wondered what she saw when she looked at me. I will be the first to admit that I was not a perfect husband. I might have been deluded for a while that me not cheating on her made me an exceptional husband but I later realized a little too late just how lacking I was.

Unfortunately, at that time, it was easier for me to position myself as a victim since I was obviously being accused of something I had not done. And, instead of focusing on my innocence and busking in my victimization, I should have been asking why my own wife would rather believe the worst about me than convince herself otherwise.

I had spent almost the whole day that day looking at a woman that was the total opposite of the creature now standing before me. And it wasn’t that the creature was an intruder, the creature was something I had created with my own hands and now it had turned its back on me and was more than ready to devour me.

I hated myself at that point. I hated the thoughts running through my head and I hated my whole life.

For the thirty minutes that followed, my darling wife Chizu exercised her right to free speech and expression and ended up saving us two months of gym fees. Her adrenaline was running high and her metabolism was busting through the roof from all the yelling.

My silence really irked her to the bone and she had yet to develop a strategy on how to go about this new curve ball I had thrown her.

I was very much aware of how disrespectful my silence in those moments was to her but I reasoned that the amount of disrespect she was feeling in those moments was less than the amount she would feel had I dared to open my mouth.

I only needed her to say thank you to my mother for what she had done for us and apologize for all the hurt she had caused an innocent girl.

But she had done none of that.

That night too I never slept, and the night that followed, and the next…just like that. I would have walked past the set of The Walking Dead and their director would have confused me for a cast member…because that’s how much of a Zombie I had become.

The bitterness I was feeling inside had risen to a record high and there was no stopping the man I had become. Every weekend I found myself following…or stalking Susan, wondering if she was feeling suicidal or not. I ended up paying the gossiping housekeeper to keep checking on her every five minutes whenever she was in her room alone.

Eventually, what had started out as fear grew into pity and then later into something else that I had not seen coming.

“Why do you keep following me?” Was the question Susan asked me once when she caught me hanging around her place.

I had been waiting in my usual spot by the side of the road somewhere close to her home waiting for her to come out when I dozed off and she came knocking on my window.

Suffice to say, I was embarrassed to my toes. I rolled down the rest of the window and gave her a half smile half kill me now look.

“Susan,” was all that my diaphragm could conjure up.

It was the first time I was looking at her at such a close range. The first time I met her I never did much looking because when you are married and meeting the young sister of your friend and colleague, you only care about what comes out of their mouth and not what they look like.

But this time around, I found myself looking…well, others might call it looking…but it was more of an x-ray examination on my part. For the first time in my life I was looking at a woman and imagining what her skeleton must look like. Usually my vision just went passed the layer of clothing and stopped there, but not in Susan’s case.

Susan had lost a noticeable amount of weight from that first time I met her. She was wearing white skinny jeans and an oversized purple sweatshirt that did her tiny frame no justice at all.

“Can we talk?” I asked her.

“I told you,” I could smell the no coming so I quickly jumped in.

“Just five minutes.” I said.

“What if your wife followed you and then she misunderstands again. I don’t want to go through that again. You should leave…and please, stop following me around. I see you everywhere I go these days. What do you want from me?”

I could tell she wasn’t going to go anywhere with me that day so I quickly stepped out of the vehicle and went to her. She backed away from me like I was a virus from Congo.

She had this fear in her eyes that I had never before seen in a woman whose eyes gazed upon my handsome face.

What had I done to this child?

I stopped moving towards her, my hands raised in the air as if to tell her I was not armed. But she kept backing away onto the street and ended up almost getting hit by a guy on a bicycle that had not calculated for her unexpected presence on the road.

While the bicycle guy went spilling off his ride, I managed to catch Susan before she landed her bottom on the pavement, a good move on my part since there was nothing much to cushion her fall had she fallen to the ground.

She pushed me off the moment she was steady on her feet and quickly went to apologize to the bicycle man reeling in anger. She removed a K100 note from her purse and handed it to him.

He smiled, thanked her and left.

Bloody bastard.

And then she turned to scowl at me. “Give me back my money,” she said.

I was lost. “What money?” I asked.

“The money I gave that guy,” she said. “If not for you, that accident wouldn’t have happened.”

At first I was shocked and then I started laughing. I totally had not seen that coming. She was saying the most absurd thing and yet she pulled it off with such a straight face that I started to doubt all those lesson on angles I had learnt in my Grade 10 class.

“How about we split 50-50?” I suggested. “You could have easily given that guy a 10 grand and he would have left. Did you have to give him a 100?”

“I felt bad for him,” she said. “Did you see how he spilled off the bike?” she was now holding her hands over her mouth trying to stifle her chuckles.

I couldn’t help laughing…she had said spilled… I had thought the exact same thing when it happened, except in vernacular, which sounded worse. Most people fell off their bikes, but that guy had spilt off his bike.

Both of us laughing like that reminded me of that first time we had met. That time too, she had easily made me laugh.

Sensing the awkwardness and knowing exactly what was going to come out of her mouth next, I took out my wallet and removed a K100 note.

“I don’t have change,” she said, not taking the money I was offering to her.

“You can keep the change,” I said. “Get a cab or something, since I delayed you wherever you are going.”

“Any other guy I would have played modest and refused, but,” she took the money from me. “Since it’s you, you owe me waaay more than 50 bucks for everything you put me through.”

I laughed, again. She must have thought I was a new version of fool. I don’t know why I found myself laughing at everything that came out of her mouth.

“Go home to your wife now,” she said. “Don’t worry about me. I won’t try to kill myself again. I have matured a little since the last time you saw me.”

“I hope you won’t…do…it…again,” I couldn’t bring myself to say the word suicide in front of her. “But if you ever feel down again, please, call me. I can be your punching bag. You can hit me as much as you like until you feel better. I can even chip in my wife for good measure if you need an extra round.”

She chuckled and said, “Goodbye Mr Kaunda.”

And she was gone.

* * *

I never went out to see Susan for the two weeks that followed. But just because she was out of sight did not mean she was out of mind. God gracious that girl stayed on my mind and refused to leave.

I have no idea when it happened or how it started but I found myself longing for her to the point where I felt I would not be able to breathe freely if I did not set my eyes on her.

I was like a mad man. I could feel myself losing it as a husband and as a human being. I needed divine intervention…and fortunately enough, it came in the form of my neighbour Mr Chanda.

That man had been inviting Chizu and me to his church from the time we moved into our house and we always found good reasons to turn him down. However, there was something about that particular evening when I met him driving out of his yard as I was coming from my evening run when he reluctantly suggested that we go together.

Expecting me to say no as usual, he had started to say goodbye when I said, “why not?”

He froze.

“But do you mind waiting for me while I take a quick shower and change?”

Of course he didn’t mind! The man had been waiting for this day for three years.

“Where are you going?” Chizu asked me when I asked her to prepare some clothes for me as I rushed to the bathroom.

“I’m going to church!” I yelled as I turned on the shower.

She popped up through the door, laughing, and not just any kind of laughing…that deep honest laugh from the belly…like the one Kevin Hart does when he’s laughing at his own joke, right before he tells it. That kind of laugh.

I wasn’t about to go into the truth-lie battle with her at that moment. There was no lie equivalent to the expression I am going to church. I didn’t have enough courage to provide a lie that held the word church in it. I wasn’t yet ready for Gehenna.

“Tell me really, where are you going?” She asked.

“Go outside and ask Mr Chanda. He is waiting for me.” I said.

“You are not serious, are you?” She left and went to check outside.

She appeared five minutes later all sobered out of her laugh. “What’s gotten into you?” She asked me as I changed into fresh clothes.

“What do you mean?” I asked a stupid question.

“Since when did you become a holy freak? Are you suddenly missing your ex?”

There we go again.

I never used to be a fan of churches but Gloria always managed to drag me to one every chance she got whenever I was home. I would spend three quarters of the time re-watching my favourite movies in my head while the pastor preached or I would be mentally and actively correcting his grammar every time he said something.

Chizu too had not escaped Gloria’s church dragging claws during the time they friends.

“At this point in my life,” I told Chizu. “I will do just about anything to regain my sanity.”

“What do you mean by that?” She asked.

Of course she couldn’t understand. That was a husband’s code for; I think I am falling in-love with another woman and if I don’t get help now, I am afraid I am going to rot in hell…and I will drag you down there with me because I would have turned you into a murderer.

“See you later,” I kissed her on the forehead and bolted out of the house.

“Aren’t we late?” I asked Mr Chanda as he drove us to church.

“It will be Praise and Worship time by time we get there. Don’t worry, you will have a good time.”

I think he could sense my nervousness. I hadn’t stepped in a church in a very long time. I bet the devil was mad as hell at my sudden betrayal, he wouldn’t have seen it coming. Well, maybe not mad as hell…since hell is…you know….

Unfortunately for me, it seemed the devil was one foot ahead of me because just two minutes of stepping into church, who but Susan appeared centre stage with a mic in hand ready to sing.

I couldn’t move, Lord I couldn’t even breathe. I was sitting there like a statue and I think I heard Mr Chanda ask if I was okay but I didn’t have the strength to respond. My eyes were fixed on Susan.

All my life I was made to believe that the church was a safe haven. I remember when I was a kid and my parents would drag us all to church…. I would sit there and imagine what would happen if Armageddon decided to happen right there and then.

“You are safe as long as you are in here,” my mother would tell me.

From the moment I heard that, I would postpone all my bad behaviour to an hour right before church and I would deep my hand in the bottle of condensed milk or fill up my mouth with Cowbell Milk meant for school only.

Then I would sit in church and feel saved from eternal damnation.

I was a genius even as a kid. I had discovered the perfect antidote for sin.

But not on that evening.

That evening the devil had followed me into church and stuck to me like latex on Beyonce’s behind.

While everyone around me was crying from being moved by the words sang in the most angelic tone I had ever heard, I was crying at the irony of it all.

Why her? Why did it have to be Susan? I kept asking myself.

I was touched by too many things all at once; my past, my present, my faltering convictions, her voice…Susan’s voice…and the words she was singing.

Two weeks later, I went down on my knees before my wife and cried like the fool I had become.

I could see the past threatening to repeat itself and that was a road I had vowed never to travel again.

“Help me,” I told Chizu as I wrapped my arms around her legs. I don’t know when I had gotten on my knees but there I was in our bedroom, on the floor, holding on to my wife and crying like a child.

“What is wrong honey?” I had never seen Chizu look so scared before. She knelt down in front of me and lifted my head up to look at me.

“Did something happen?” She asked me, great fear shooting through her eyes.

“I think I am in-love with someone else.” I told her after a while.

“I don’t know how it happened…I promise, it wasn’t intentional. Help me…I don’t want to feel like this.”

I felt Chizu’s hands leave my body. She stepped away from me and stood looking down at me. I couldn’t look up at her. I was too ashamed.

And then I felt two warm drops of something hit my hands that were now planted on the floor, a drop on each hand.

That day I felt the pain behind my wife’s tears and I listened to nothing else but her sobs the rest of the night.

She neither yelled nor nagged. That night she only cried…and believed every tear and every sound.

I had just been shaken.

Her Forgotten Daughter – Part 20

“Are you telling me that my mother will never walk again?” Kelvin had followed the doctor to his office after his mother’s operation.

I didn’t say that sir,” the doctor said. “I said that she may not walk again, may not…which means that there’s still a possibility that she might walk.”

Kelvin made no effort to hide his frustrations. “You are a doctor sir, not an English Professor so don’t play semantics with me. That’s not why am sitting here. Just tell me what’s wrong with my mother.”

The doctor pulled the chart behind him to show Kelvin exactly which areas of his mother’s spinal code was affected.

“This is the affected area from the impact of the accident,” he said “As I was explaining to you earlier, the spinal code is made of nerve cells that are responsible for the transfer of sensory data to the brain as well as motor commands from the brain to the peripheral nerve roots, from here to there for sensory and from over there to there for motor commands.”

Kelvin couldn’t sit any longer in the doctor’s Biology class. He got up from the chair and pushed it to the side in anger. “Just tell me, is she paralysed or not and if she is what do I need to do to make sure she walks again?”

Unfazed by Kelvin’s anger, the doctor answered, “Fortunately for her, she didn’t suffer complete damage to the nerves. She’s lost sensation in the lower part of her body…this area here,” he pointed to the chart again. “Her legs, to be precise,” the doctor added. “She will not be able to walk…at least for a while, unless she undergoes intense rehabilitation and….”

“How long will that take?” Kelvin cut him off.

“There’s no definite time,” the doctor answered. “Recovery usually depends on a person’s will to get better. Despite her age, I noticed that your mother is no stranger to physical exercise which is a very good thing in this case. I have a number of recommendations that might help for a quick recovery but some of them are expensive and….”

“Forget about the cost,” Kelvin said. “Just tell me what I need to know and I will take care of the rest. I just need my mother to get better soon.”

Once Kelvin was done in the doctor’s office, he went to see Evelyn who was anxiously waiting for him in her ward.

Without saying a word, the look on her face told Kelvin everything she was thinking.

He walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her.

“Is it bad news?” Evelyn asked.

Kelvin could feel her shaking against him. He released her and held her away from him, looking straight into her eyes.

“She’s alive,” he told her.

Evelyn heaved a huge sigh of relief. “Seriously?” She said. “Oooh, thank God.” She said whilst unconsciously rubbing her stomach.

Kelvin’s eyes went straight to her hands. “Are you…safe?” He asked.

Evelyn could tell he was talking about the baby. “We are,” she said.

There was relief in Kelvin’s eyes. “Thank God,” he said.

“I am so sorry Kelvin,” Evelyn said, the unshed tears making her eyes glow in pain.

Kelvin took both her hands and brought them to his mouth. He too was shaking from the fear of what could have been just a few minutes ago. Because he felt he needed to be a man for both his mother and his woman, he held everything inside.

Evelyn felt the coldness in her husband’s hands and she felt him fight back the pain threatening to rip him into pieces.

“What are you saying sorry for?” Kelvin asked, his head bowed and his chin resting on her hands. “You didn’t do anything wrong, someone else did. I am just glad everyone is fine.” And he kissed her hands, pressing his lips hard and staying like that for a while…with his eyes still shut.

Feeling every bit of the pain he was desperately trying to stifle, Evelyn took his hands instead and squeezed them tightly, as if to tell him, I’m here.

She watched him in silence, two cold streaks of tears rolling down her cheeks.

Evelyn had a lot of questions to ask about Beatrice but she didn’t dare ask Kelvin in that moment. In that moment she hated her fate; how in the world had she found herself in such a position?

Her own mother, the woman that had given birth to her wanted to kill her.

Her mother in law, the woman that wanted her life had just saved her by risking her own life.

And her husband, the man that loved her like no other ever did was stuck between loving the love of his life and hating the woman that had given her life.

Consumed by all these emotions, Evelyn was caught off guard when she felt something warm drop onto her hands;

Her husband’s silent tears.

A few hours later, Thando busted into Evelyn’s room at the hospital. Without saying a word, Thando threw her arms around her best friend and sobbed without restraint.

“Did you break your legs?” She had suddenly stopped crying and was now examining Evelyn’s knees where she was bandaged.

Evelyn laughed. “I had landed on my knees when Mervis pushed me out of the way. I landed hard and bruised myself, made things worse by crawling over to her when I realized I was in too much pain to try and stand.”

“I still can’t believe that woman saved you. Yoh.” Thando said, pulling the chair closer to the bed and sitting down.

“I know,” Evelyn said. “I also still can’t believe it. I am both sorry and grateful at the same time.”

“I can only imagine what your husband is must be going through. Your mother just tried to kill you and his baby but she ended up almost killing his mother. What a world we live in.”

Evelyn’s guilt at being the centre of all this misfortune froze her tongue in silence.

“How I wish that bitch died in that accident,” Thando said. “I feel like walking over to her room right now and pulling out her life support.”

“Are you talking about Beatrice?” Evelyn asked, her eyes lighting up at finally getting some information.

“Yes,” Thando answered. “Who else can I be talking about? I saw her children standing outside her ward. Wanted to grab them and whip them till their buttocks turned red …but they looked so pitiful so I just let them be.”

“Beatrice is on life support?” Evelyn asked.

“Yes, seems her brain has finally caught up with her heart; they are both dead now. I guess when you have such a hard heart, even the grim reaper has a hard time grabbing you into his realm.” Thando said.

“What about the man in the truck?” Evelyn asked.

“He’s fine, just a few broken bones here and there but he will live.”

Evelyn sighed in relief. “What do you think is going to happen to Beatrice?”

“You mean if she lives?” Thando said. “If she lives, she’s going to regret living and she will kill herself right away. And if she dies, which is the most probable case, she is going to regret dying like an animal and wish she had killed herself while she still looked good.”

“I am serious Thando,” Evelyn told her friend.

“So am I,” Thando said, stifling a laugh in the process.

“What did they say her chances are?”

“What are the chances for a brain dead person sweetie?” Thando asked. “Anyway, I’m not sure, I wasn’t paying attention when Kelvin was telling me. I was too busy celebrating in my head when I heard she was on life support. Of course I would have been happier if she didn’t exist any more but….” she shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly.

Evelyn sent her friend a disapproving look. “It’s not good to wish anyone dead no matter how bad they are Thando.”

“That’s why I said existed,” Thando defended herself. “I didn’t say die. There’s a difference.”

Evelyn could only gape at her friend in disbelief. sometimes Thando completely forgot the fact that Beatrice was her friends mother…that no matter how evil she was, she was the woman that gave birth to Evelyn.

 

Three Days Later

Evelyn watched from behind the curtain as Kelvin stood starring at Beatrice for over five minutes, his teary eyes moving back and forth from her face to the machine above her.

She had seen that look in his eyes before; the deep burning and deathly look that had reaped through her and made her blood turn the opposite direction.

And when he reached out his shaking over and placed it over the machine, Evelyn froze, her hand over her mouth.

She knew she needed to stop him from making the kind of mistake that he could not live with but instead, she just stood there, rooted to the floor and unable to move.

If she could, would she stop him from pulling the plug? She wondered.

Did she want to stop him?

Stuck in a dilemma, all Evelyn could do was cry silently as she watched her man struggle with his conflicted emotions.

Consumed by emotions he could not understand, Kelvin finally gave in and broke down in tears. Releasing his hand from the machine and letting it drop to his hand.

With one hand still holding on to the rail of the bed Beatrice was sleeping on, Kelvin’s knees gave in and he sat on the floor, sobbing, his whole body convulsing from all the pain he had been stifling for the past week.

Evelyn ran over to Kelvin’s crouched sobbing body and she wrapped her arms around him.

“I’m so sorry,” Kelvin was clasping on to her arms and shaking from the realization of what he had almost done.

“It’s okay,” Evelyn told him, repeatedly stroking her hand through his hair and drawing his head deep against her.

“It’s okay,” she kept repeating.

Minutes later, Evelyn walked over to Kelvin who was seated on a bench under a shade outside the hospital carrying two canes of Liquifruit. She handed him and sat down next to him.

“Thanks,” he said as he accepted the drink.

Kelvin opened his cane of juice, took a sip from it and turned to look at her. “I really meant to turn off that thing,” he said to her.

“I know,” Evelyn said, avoiding his gaze.

“You know?” Kelvin asked.

“I do,” she answered. “But I also know that you wouldn’t have.”

“What make you think that?” He asked. “I really wanted to do it Eva. I felt it in my blood…I wanted to see her stop breathing…to go quite forever so that she can’t try to hurt my family again. In my head I killed her a hundred times over. In my head she had already died.”

Evelyn put her drink down and fully turned also to look at him. “Thinking about doing something and actually doing it are two different things.” She said. “Do you think that you are the only one who thought about pulling the plug?”

Kelvin threw her a questioning look.

She laughed softly. “Yes,” she said. “I thought about it. Every time I walked passed her room the thought crossed my mind. How can anyone be so cruel?” Evelyn’s cried. “Was I really her daughter? How can you hate me so much? What did I ever do to her?”

Kelvin held his wife in his arms and waited for her pull herself together.

“You don’t need to think about such things,” he told her.

Thirty minutes later when Kelvin and Evelyn walked hand in hand through the corridors of the hospital heading to Mervis’ room, Mark almost bumped into them as he came running and crying from his mother’s room.

Kelvin and Evelyn looked at each other and as if reading each other’s mind, they rushed to Beatrice’s room and found Moola sobbing over her mother’s limb body.

All the machines in the room had been turned off.

Moola looked up at the two intruders and sobbed even harder. She looked over at Evelyn angrily before storming out of the room.

“She just pulled the plug,” the doctor informed them. “It’s the hardest thing anyone can ever do for their loved one.”

Looking over at Beatrice’s body, Evelyn realised that the last thing her mother ever did for her was to try and kill her.

She broke down in tears and fell to the ground, crying for all the love she never received and all the apologies she would never hear.

Evelyn felt her heart burn over the lost hope she had desperately held on to, believing that one day her mother would realize her mistake in holding her responsible for the past and love her like she did her other children.

Pounding the floor over and over again in anger and pain, Evelyn kept asking herself;

Why?

Kelvin knelt down beside his wife and held her tightly in his arms, grabbing her hands so she could stop hitting the cold floor.

* * *

2 Years Later

Evelyn rushed into the supermarket, grabbed a trolley and went about grabbing a few last minute items for the house warming party she and her husband would be hosting that evening.

She had asked Kelvin to get the groceries but as usual, he got some and forgot others.

She was paying on the till when her phone rang.

It was Kelvin.

“How far are you?” He asked. “The guests have already started arriving.”

“I’m coming honey,” she said. “Just give me five minutes. I hope you’ve turned off the oven.”

“Oh yeah, that.” Evelyn heard him running.

“Bashi Mapalo seriously!” She said.

“I’m sorry babe, I was setting up the sound system. There, it’s off now.”

“Haven’t they burnt?”

“No, I don’t see any smoke.”

“Check honey don’t just look for smoke. They could still be burning inside.”

“Okay, but hurry up. I’m losing my head over here.”

“I know. I’m hanging up, I need to pay now.” Evelyn smiled apologetically at the cashier waiting and handed her the money.

Evelyn was shocked to find so many vehicles parked outside their house when she opened the door and drove in.

Did they all decide to come at the same time? She asked herself.

She found a free spot to park and quickly got out of the vehicle with her plastic bags.

She used the back door into the kitchen to avoid meeting everyone when she wasn’t so ready. She opened the kitchen door and was shocked to find the room dark when she clearly remembered leaving the lights on before she left.

“Did something happen to the chandelier?” She asked as she put down her plastic bags.

She was just about to find the switch when the lights suddenly came on and she found her two year old son standing on top of the kitchen Island clad in a suit and bowtie and wearing very shiny shoes holding an iPad in his hands

Evelyn suddenly had an idea why her husband had been acting mysterious the past few days.

“Mapalo,” she said, smiling and walking towards her smiling son. “How did you get up there?” She asked.

“I have something to show you,” the two year old hunk managed to say.

“What? Show me then,” she said.

Mapala clumsily pressed something on the ipad and raised the screen up for his mother to see.

Evelyn gasped in delight when she saw the slide dancing on the screen;

WILL YOU MARRY MY DAD, AGAIN?

IF YES, PICK ME UP

AND TAKE ME TO THE

LIVING ROOM WITH YOU.

“Why are you crying mum?” Mapalo looked concerned over his mother’s reaction.

“Where they bad words?” he asked. “Dad told me they would make you smile.”

Not wasting any more time, Evelyn picked up her son, took the ipad from him and walked with him to the living room.

“Surprise!”

Evelyn laughed when she found all her friends and her husband’s friends all waiting for her in the living room.

She was pointing an accusing finger from Thando to Sibusiswe. “You guys knew about this and couldn’t even hint to your friend?”

Thando shrugged and busted out laughing.

“Well,” Sibu said. “It wouldn’t be a surprise if you knew about it.”

“Says the woman who absolutely hates surprises.” Evelyn fired back.

“But this isn’t my party young lady,” Sibu said and walked over to her to get Mapalo.

A smiling Kelvin walked over to his wife and went down on his knees.

Everyone in the room jeered.

“Why are you doing this?” Evelyn asked as he took her hand.

“Because I never did it right the first time.” He said.

“I told you, I didn’t mind. I meant it when I said I was okay with it.”

“I know you did,” Kelvin said. “But I still I still want you to have the kind of proposal that you deserve…and I wanted to do it with someone blessings as well.”

“Someone’s blessings?” Evelyn asked.

And Mervis appeared from behind everyone.

“Oh no,” Evelyn gasped. “Mum?” She said. “And you are walking!” she added when she saw Mervis walk over to them, dressed in a form-fitting long blue dress and looking ten years younger.

“When did this happen?” Evelyn asked. The last time Evelyn had seen her mother in-law was eight months ago when they had travelled to Dubai where she was undergoing rehabilation so the whole family could spend the holidays together.

She had been using clutces then.

“A few months ago,” Mervis said, her radiant smile warming Evelyn’s nervous heart. The two of them might have gotten closer ever since the accident, but Evelyn still felt some level of responsibility for everything that had gone wrong in the Kangwa family.

Evelyn couldn’t stop the tears from pouring.

She knew that all was forgotten and forgiven, but seeing Mervis smiling brightly at her made her feel a little guilty…wondering if she deserved that kind of happiness.

Seeing the conflicting emotions written all over Evelyn’s face, Mervis reached out and held her hands. “This is a happy moment for you today.” She said. “Forget everything else that’s happened in the past and celebrate this moment. Every woman remembers her wedding day for the rest of her life…so you better be the happiest when you experience it.”

Evelyn threw mother and son a questioning look. “Wedding day?” She asked Kelvin.

Kelvin was shaking his head and smiling. “If you say yes, and with my mother’s blessings, we are getting married today. Everything is all set up. You just need to get into your dress and let the ladies fix your make-up because we will be taking a lot of photos.”

Evelyn looked over at Sibu and Thando and they were both looking suspiciously guilty despite the huge grins on their faces.

“I will deal with you two later,” she told them. And then looking back at her husband. “YES, I will marry you over and over and over again.”

Without saying a word, Kelvin pulled her towards him and kissed her.

Embarrased, Evelyn pulled herself from him. “Mum is right here honey,” she told him, hitting him on the chest.

Kelvin grabbed Evelyn’s hand and together they got down on their knees before Mervis.

“Look kindly on us mother and give us your blessings,” Kelvin said.

Thinking about how far they had all come, Mervis couldn’t help shedding tears.

In her heels and expensive designer gown, Mervis went down on her knees in front of the two and put her arms around them.

“Of course you have my blessings,” she told them.

Mervis’ words were received by applause the friends of the couple.
Two hours later, Evelyn stood in front of the mirror and starred at her reflection, unable to recognize herself in her new goddess form.

“Why pink?” She asked the two who were busy admiring the result of their work.

“We thought about white,” Thando said. “But white is too normal…and we all know that this isn’t any normal union. We settled for pink because you are not such a girly-girl and we wanted you to feel like a girl on your special day.”

“It’s perfect,” Evelyn said. “I absolutely love it.”

“You look like a princess,” Sibu said, moving closer to fix her veil. “Are you ready to walk down the aisle now?” She asked.

“I am,” Evelyn confidently stated. “But wait,” she turned to look at the ladies. “Who’s going to walk me down the aisle?” she asked.

“Me,” Mervis said from the door.

“No, no, no, no….” Thando rushed to hold Evelyn’s head. “No more crying woman, hell no. Make-up is perfect the first time around. I won’t be fixing it again.”

That alone was enough to drive Evelyn’s tears away.

With Mervis by her arm, Evelyn stood by the door and looked at her husband standing at the end of the aisle, looking like an improved version of James Bond. He was smiling and softly tapping his leg, like he always did when he was nervous.

To his side was Mapalo, his son, her son…their son.

That’s my family standing there, Evelyn thought and smiled.

They are mine.

This is my family, she said as she squeezed Mervis’ arm.

“Maybe because you look so different now, I forgot you were my daughter…Nora…. I forgot.” Mervis whispered as she looked deeply into Evelyn’s eyes before walking her down the aisle.

“Mum?” Evelyn was looking at her mother in-law with deep concern. “Are you okay?” She asked, thinking that perhaps the accident had done something to her brain that the doctors had not yet detected.

Mervis laughed. “Relax,” she said. “I know you are not my Nora. I’m just saying…thank you for letting me be your mother.”

Evelyn smiled and blinked back the tears, remembering Thando’s threat early.

Even if I am to be your forgotten daughter, I don’t mind. Evelyn said to herself whilst looking at her mother in-law.

As long as you call me your daughter…I don’t care whether I’m forgotten or not.

“Come on my daughter,” Mervis said, as if she had read her mind. “Let’s take you to your husband now.”

Evelyn looked at Mervis’ arm where hers was locked and then she looked up in front where her husband and son were standing, then she looked at the smiling faces of all their friends seated in their back garden….

Home, she thought. I am home.

Breathing deeply, Evelyn straightened her neck and faced forward. Smiling, she said to Mervis;

“Take me to my family mother.”
THE END.