I Am Woman – Episode 23
A Story By Brian Ngoma
Happiness from a strange place is what me and my sister experienced for the last eleven months we had spent at Fumbani’s place. Shikulu started making plans for Kasuli to go back to school. It was too much and I couldn’t continue accepting his help. I felt like i was taking advantage of his kindness and gratuity. I had been thinking about leaving the farm for months. Fumbani and i had grown closer and i could tell that the closeness we had ignited old feelings. All of this made me guilty and if anything was to develop between me and Fumbani, the workers at the farm would assume that i only wanted him for his wealth. Leaving the farm was the only way to protect myself and everyone around.
“Why leave now Tinashe?” Shikulu asked with a sad face.
“I am grateful for everything you have done for us, I really iam Shikulu. You’re the nicest person have ever met my entire life,” I said wiping tears.
“Then stay,” Shikulu tried to convince me.
“We have to go back Shikulu,” I said.
“Where Tina? No family member has ever looked for you and from the way you explained things some months back about your relatives in Chongwe, i doubt if you even want to go back there.”
Shikulu was right. Chongwe was scary but I couldn’t continue living with people who were’nt my relatives. I was guilty and my conscience kept bothering me.
“Do you know that family isn’t only blood?” Shikulu asked.
I stayed quiet.
“The last months that have stayed with you girls have been one of the greatest in my life,” Shikulu said with hurt in his voice.
That broke my heart but i was determined to leave the farm.
“We will be visiting Shikulu,” I said forcing back tears.
“You will break Fumbani’s heart,” Shikulu sighed.
“What do you mean Shikulu?” I asked surprised.
“Fumbani is in love with you. He told me hes loved you for I don’t know how long.”
I was Tongue tied.
“He’s a good young man you know. That letter that you hold on to.” He stared directly into my eyes and went on. “Is it the reason that’s holding you back?”
How did he know about the letter? I was caught unaware. I had been reading Marlons letters for a while now, specifically one that had promises Marlon made to me. On most occasions, i would sit on the chair outside, read it, place it on my chest, close my eyes and imagine Marlon around. I had missed him so much. Why he had stopped writing back? Still a mystery.
“I don’t know Shikulu,” I responded.
“Well, young ones are always confused.”
I went to check on Fumbani and found him giving directives to the workers. I looked at him from a distance and thought to myself why he hadn’t told me how he felt about me. Back in the days, he was so straightforward with me but this time, it was like he was a different Fumbani. He saw me and gave me a sign to wait for him in his small office on the farm.
“Busy day today?” I asked him after sitting down.
“Busy as always,” He smiled.
My heart felt like it had skipped a beat. Why? I didn’t know. I had stayed with Fumbani for a while now and despite knowing how he felt about me, I didn’t see him as anyone i could be with. I used to tell myself that. Was it because Shikulu told me about how Fumbani felt about me that I suddenly became nervous and feared the unknown? I wondered.
“Are you alright?” He asked wanting to get out of his chair.
“Yes I am fine. Just a little tired.”
I didn’t notice i was sweating and when i was aware of the sweat on my forehead, i even sweated more. Trying to keep my composure i said, “We will be leaving the farm.”
Surprised, he said “I knew this day would come and i dreaded it. Is there something i could do to make you stay?”
“My mind is made up, i am afraid not.”
“You know you’re always welcome here.”
“I know and thanks.”
I got up and went for the door. For some unknown reasons, i wanted him to stop me and tell me what his grandfather had just told me.
“Tinashe wait!” He shouted.
Finally, I thought to myself.
“Yes Fumbani,” I looked at him.
“Where would you go?”
Not the question i expected.
“I am going to Clara’s and then go to Chongwe.”
“Alright,” He went back inside with a sad face.
I said goodbyes to some of the workers i had become close to. It was sad saying goodbye because the farm had become our home. As i was saying my goodbyes, Kasuli was also busy saying her goodbyes to her friends and Shikulu. Everyone we knew was there but Fumbani. After telling him about our departure, I didn’t see him.
“Fumbani said his goodbyes. I am sure you understand why he couldn’t be here,” Shikulu said handling me a brown envelope.
“I cannot accept that Shikulu. You have already done enough.” I said.
“Fumbani said you would say that. That’s the reason he said it’s for Kasuli, now take it.”
I had no option but to take it. We left the farm and went to Clara’s house. I feared i would not find her but fortunately i did. She was still living at her parents house. She told me that the teacher impregnated someone else and they couldn’t marry. She seemed devastated and heartbroken but she said she had gotten over it.
“The time you left, Diana was pregnant and she had a miscarriage. Ever since that time, we haven’t been in contact. I hear she left the town.”
“Tell me about you. You look amazing Tina and so does Kasuli,” Clara looked at kasuli.
“Well, things have been good for us the last few months. Guess whose place we were living at?” I asked her excitedly.
“Fumbani’s.” I said.
Clara was delirious to hear the whole story. I narrated everything to her while she paid attention. It was at this point that i realized that not only did talking about Fumbani made me feel something but it also brought out some strange feelings in me. By the time i was finishing telling her the whole story, my heart was in strange places. I couldn’t make sense of it but i knew what i wanted that moment. Confused as i was, Clara confused me even more when she asked me what I didn’t expect.
“Do you know that Marlon is back from Algeria?”
“Yes, he’s been back for a while now. Rumor has it that he was expelled but no one really knows what happened.”
Marlon was back and he couldn’t even make an effort to find out where i was, that really shook me to the core.
“When was the last time you saw him?”
“Not too long ago. I saw him with his friends driving around the area.”
He must have had his reasons. Perhaps that was the reason he couldnt write me back because the letters didn’t reach him. Despite that, i wanted to find out from him.
“And one more thing Tinashe. Your uncle Richard came some months ago to find out where you were. He seemed to desperately want you.”
“That wicked man,” I said disgusted.
“You have to seem him.”
“Maybe later. I have to see Mr Lubase from Papa’s workplace. I have some business with him.”
What I didn’t tell Clara was that i also wanted to see Marlon. Later that afternoon, After meeting up with Mr Lubase, i went to Marlon’s place. As expected, i found him with his friends. He didn’t even look surprised to see me. He stood up and hugged me. He dismissed his friends and pointed me to a chair. We sat in silence for a while.
“How have you been Tina?” He broke the silence.
“You would know if you had been replying to my letters.”
“I couldn’t because i came back unexpectedly and had no way of telling you.”
“You could have written to me Still,” I said hiding the pain.
“Things were rough Tinashe. My father disowned me and my mother was really upset with me.”
“All the more reasons you should have written to me. I thought i meant more to you Marlon.”
“You did,” he said.
I looked at him blankly.
“You still do.” He added.
I didn’t know what to make of that.
“Can we start again Tina? I still love you and want to be with you.”
“I don’t know about that. You didn’t even dare look for me or just find out where i have been all this while.”
“I am sorry Tina. I can change all that. I admit i was a fool but i can make amends.”
Marlon seemed sincere and i believed him. I agreed to give him a chance. I had missed him and being in his presence somewhat made me feel i needed him. After spending some time with him, he took me back to Clara’s place and found Fumbani’s truck outside. I wondered what Fumbani had come to do. As i got out of Marlons car, Fumbani came out with Kasuli from Clara’s place. Kasuli went back inside after greeting Marlon. Marlon had held my hand. Getting closer to Fumbani, i could see how hurt he was and he tried to conceal the hurt.
“Hey Tinashe,” He said and looked at Marlon. “Hi Marlon.”
I wasn’t surprised that they knew each other because we were at the same school.
“I was in the neighborhood and saw Kasuli outside Clara’s and thought of saying hi,” Fumbani said.
It hadn’t even been a day since we left the farm and there he was.
“Is that so?” I asked.
“Yes Tina. I will be going now take care.” He passed us and walked quickly to his truck.
I felt a surge of sadness pass through my whole body. Looking at him getting into the truck and driving away without even taking a look at me one more time. Why i did i even want him to look at me one more time when i was holding the hand of my long lost love?
“I will be going back now Tina,” Marlons words brought me back to consciousness.
“Alright then, see you tomorrow.”
“Ok Tina.” He smiled and left.
Everything was supposed to be perfect now that i was with Marlon but the opposite was true. The next few days with him were like nothing i had imagined. We were like strangers. Marlon was different and he acted like he had lost a part of himself. I also felt like something was missing.
“What is it Tina?” Clara asked after i had come back from seeing Marlon.
“I don’t know Clara but something is not alright.”
“I can’t seem to figure it out.”
“Is it Marlon?” She asked.
“It’s me. I don’t know but I don’t think i…..”
We were interrupted by the knock. Clara went to check who it was.
“Tinashe its for you.”
“For me?” I asked surprised.
I went to the door and found Clara looking outside while she stood at the door.
“Who is it Clara?” I asked.
“Come see for yourself.”
Lo and behold, Enoch stood outside waiting for me. After seeing me, he smiled and said, “I wont waste any of your time. Your presence he’s required. Dad and the others have been looking all over for you and news reached us that you are in Lusaka. So tomorrow, you must come to the house.”
“I am no longer a child and you just cannot order me around anymore. I will come next month on the 15th. You tell them that,” I went back inside.
Clara came back inside and told me how shocked Enoch was. He tried to tell her to convince me but she denied and insisted that he take the message as put.
“Why the 15th?” She asked curiously.
“It will be Papa and Gary’s third year on the ground.”
“Oh and Tinashe, Enoch also said something.”
“He said they want to marry you off.”
To be continued
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