I Am Woman – Episode 18
A Story By Brian Ngoma
“What?” I groaned. “It’s Saturday.”
“Have you forgotten that you have to go to town and see that teacher?”
“But it’s too early mama,” I complained bitterly.
“Get out of bed now,” she said with command in her voice.
I woke up and was pissed that she had to wake me up that early. The weeks that passed, I had been troubling her that I wanted to go back to school. Since the term had already started, she suggested that I talked to a teacher she knew who could be helping me with school materials so that by the time the next term started, she would have figured out something.
“Now I can enjoy the bed to myself,” Kasuli pulled the blanket all to herself.
“Mama, Kasuli has to get out of bed too,” I shouted.
“Leave my baby alone,” Mama answered. “She’s tired, let her rest.”
I left Kasuli in the bedroom and did the house chores. I was done with everything by 10:00 and left for the town. I had gotten used to Kabwe and I knew my way around. Mama gave me directions to the teacher’s house and it wasn’t difficult to find. It was behind a bus station in the town. I found a lot of people at the place. Being behind the station, people flocked the place to ask for water and other things.
Luckily, I found the teacher and we talked. He was a nice man and seemed to be very concerned with girl education. He asked me why I had stopped going to school and I told him that it was because I lacked financial support.
“In the meantime, get this two books and if anything, I will tell your mother,” he told me as he escorted me,
“Thanks Mr. Banda,” I said goodbye.
“Greet your mother for me.”
Having those books in my hands felt like I had gone back to school already. The books made me realize how much I missed school. I walked in town with my head up high. I could feel going back to school in no time. I was determined to teach myself in those two books Mr. Banda gave me. With the excitement, I almost forgot that mama had given me money to buy groceries in town. I went in shop after shop to buy the things I was sent and I managed to get all. Just I was about to leave the last shop, I bumped into Terry.
“Aren’t you Tinashe?” He pointed at me surprised.
“Yes,” I answered nervously.
“What are you doing here?” He asked stepping forward.
“Ah Ah, I am visiting,” I stammered.
“How long have you been in Kabwe?” He probed.
“Not long, I am busy I have to go, sorry,” I hurriedly left him standing.
As I walked in the corridors, I could feel his eyes on my back. All this time, I thought he had left Kabwe and started a new life somewhere but the opposite was true. How was I going to Mama that I saw Terry? I asked myself. We had been happy and I knew the moment I would talk about him, she would be reminded of him and probably feel sad. I got home and found her talking and laughing with Kasuli. Seeing them happy, I decided not to tell her.
“How did you go?” She asked after I sat down.
“What kind of answer is that Tina?” She asked annoyed. “Did you find Mr. Banda?”
“Yes Mama, I found him and he gave me the books.”
“I see,” she scrutinized me.
I sat on the couch in silent. I was replaying meeting Terry and thinking about what would happen if he returned. I was not sure about how mama would react if Terry came back and ask for forgiveness. I thought about the last time I saw him slapping her and not doing anything about it. I dreaded the unknown.
“What’s wrong with you?” Mama’s question brought me back to consciousness.
“Nothing mama,” I lied. “Do you ever consider going back to Lusaka?”
Surprised, she answered, “There is nothing for us in Lusaka, we have each other here,” she looked at the both of us.
Her response gave me little relief but fear overwhelmed me. I went to her bedroom to take some lotion. I put everything in its place. I opened her wardrobe and found some of Terry’s clothes still there. The first time I saw them, she told me she would burn them but she hadn’t. I was becoming more and more scared. I quickly went to my room and laid on the bed to pray.
Days passed and Terry never showed up. My worries and fears disappeared. I was starting to become happy again until he showed up at our doorstep. He found Kasuli writing her homework with the neighbor’s daughter outside. Kasuli didn’t know him and she thought him, lost.
“Kasuli, there’s a man asking for mama outside but I think he’s lost,” she ran back outside.
I got outside and found him waiting. As soon as he saw me, he smiled and touched his head as if in shock.
“Hi Terry,” I said.
“Tinashe, I knew you had come for your mother,” He maintained his smile.
“Is she home?” He asked his smile fading from his face.
“She’s not yet back from work.”
“OH I forgot,” He left without saying a word.
It was now dark and I prepared supper. Mama was late which was strange because she would always come back before supper. I ate with Kasuli. After chatting with her for a while, she went to bed. I stayed up waiting for mama because I was worried something had happened to her. I fell asleep on the couch and was awoken by laughter coming from the door. I identified mama’s laugh and quickly rushed to the door.
“Mama is that you,” I asked placing my ear on the door.
“Yes sweetie, open the door.”
I opened the door and there she was with Terry looking all happy. I stood at the door motionless as I watched them enter the house and walk by me like I was some statue.
“Lock the door Tinashe,” she said as they walked to the bedroom.
I wasn’t surprised but I didn’t expect it to be that fast. He was already in her bed. What must he have said to her? Did he follow her to work when I told him that she was still at work? I locked the door and went to bed.
I heard the door being unlocked at around four in the morning. I knew it was mama but didn’t know why she had woken up so early. I could hear her sing the entire time while she was cleaning up the house. After an hour, she came to our bedroom and woke Kasuli to prepare her for school. By the time it was seven, they had finished and came to say goodbye to me.
I got out of bed and went to check if Terry was still in the house but I didn’t find him. I hoped it was a onetime thing. I spent my day the usual way. Mama came with Kasuli before dusk and we had supper together. After Kasuli went to bed, mama came to the couch I was sitting.
“I know you are scared of Terry,” She looked at me. “You didn’t tell me you met him that Saturday you went into town.”
I looked at her expressionless.
“You shouldn’t be,” she said. “He’s changed.”
“Wait,” she shushed me. “I know you saw him slap me and you found me half dead on the floor. This time around, I can see that he’s changed. He even has a job”
“What about us mama? Aren’t you scared for us?”
“Last night we talked, I told him that he had to mend his ways because I now live with you. He was sincere and said that he won’t do anything to bring harm to you girls or me.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes. Don’t worry about him. Nothing will change. You are still my daughters and your safety is my main priority.”
“When is he returning?”
To be continued
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