Promise in the Dark


I begged and begged Juliet to tell me the truth but she refused.
“Why can’t you just say thank you like normal people do and forget about it? It’s all in the past
now.” She told me for the hundredth time, her wh0le face covered in tears.
“What do you take me for?” I asked her, growing agitated by the second. I was her best friend; I
didn’t understand why she hadn’t spoken to me about the abuse she was going through. She
knew every little dirty detail about me and my family and there I was feeling like I knew nothing
about her struggles.
“Do you think I’m the type of friend to just use your money and turn a blind eye when I know for a
fact what you went through…and possibly are still going through as a consequence?” I asked. I
didn’t mean to add to her list of problems but right then I could read the guilt in her eyes.
She resignedly sat down on the grass and I sat right next to her. “Please Julie, just tell me. I
promise I won’t get angry or do something stupid. I promise.”
“I know you Jack,” she said, her face scanning me for the usual indicators she was familiar with. I
had no intentions whatsoever of keeping my word because I somehow already knew what she
was going to say even though every part of me kept wishing I was wrong.
“You are going to get upset and then make everything worse for me.” Juliet said.
Her words forced me to re-evaluate my next course of action and so I promised to behave myself
and I really meant it this time around.
“He isn’t my biological father, you already know that.” Juliet started.
I nodded, not trusting my mouth to utter anything that would help the situation, that or I was just
simply at a loss for words.
“He is Alice’s real dad and I have no idea who my father is but I always considered Dominic as my
father too at least that’s what my mother told me to.”
“Dominic?” I asked.
“That’s his name,” she said. “Dominic Mwansa. He is a very rich man and my mother loves him
because of that, he knows it too and he takes advantage of that.”
“Does your mother know about…the…aarhhh…abuse?” I couldn’t wait any longer. My anger was
getting the better of me.
“I never said anything about abuse Jack.” Juliet said, her voice a little bit in control now. Her tears
where slowly drying too.
“Juliet?” I threw her a reprobative glance.
“Yes,” she finally capitulated. “He’s been molesting me since I was three years old. It first started
as a joke. I didn’t think it was a big deal at first…I was very young then but I remember everything
vividly because even as it was happening, I knew that something was wrong with what he was
doing to me.
“At first it was the usual petting, rubbing here and there until he finally went all out when mum left
me alone with him one night. He told me that he would stop taking care of us if I said anything, that
my mother would kill herself if that happened because she loves money too much. He asked me if
I wanted my mother’s blood on my hands and I said no. The rest is history.”
Suffice to say, I was livid, I could not believe what I was hearing. The funny thing however was,
more than being angry at Juliet’s step father, I was angry at myself…for not seeing her pain all
along. How many times had she said to me that she was not a little girl and how many times had
she made promises to take care of me and Happy? She was just a little girl who had no business
uttering such words or let alone making such promises. Every time she said something in those
lines, I would quickly brush off her words as childish talk or simply her pity talking. How was I to
know that she meant every word of it?
Juliet was a girl who thought she was responsible for the happiness and well-being of her family. A
very stupid man had made her believe that she grew up believing she was responsible for
everyone. She had put me and my sister in that bracket as well. And that made me feel sick to my
Unable to contain the repugnant feelings filling up my system, my mouth finally gave way and
turned to the side to throw up everything I had eaten in the past three days.
“Are you okay?” Juliet was softly running her hand over my back as I leaned forward and without
meaning to I pushed her aside. She simply stood to the side and watched as I finished throwing
“Does your mother know?” I asked her after a little while, one hand cleaning my mouth.
I don’t even know why I asked when I already knew the answer. Mrs Mwansa was the type of
woman capable of telling her daughter to keep quiet and behave while her boyfriend molested her
own daughter right in front of her.
“She knows, Alice too.” Juliet said.
“Alice knows?” what had I expected really?
Juliet nodded. “Sometimes the two of them would deliberately leave me alone at home just so
Dominic can could come and do…whatever he wanted.”
“And you just stay and let him do whatever he wants to you!?” I didn’t mean to be ma
d at her but I
still didn’t understand why an intelligent girl like her would not fight to protect herself from such
“I live right next door to you Julie!” I shouted. “How come you never came to me to-“
“To do what Jackson?” She was glaring me down. “What can you do to protect me against such a
powerful man? Do you have any idea what he might do to you and your family if you ever
interfered? Don’t you think I have thought about confiding in you? So many time, so so many times
I wanted to tell you….” she was crying again.
I understood her line of reasoning. There was nothing I could say to dispute that. She was right,
what really could I do to protect her? I could hærdly protect my own sister and family and every
single day we seemed to be drowning deeper and deeper in problems. Interfering would only
make things worse for Juliet and for everyone else involved.
But still, something had to be done because there was no way I was going to let that man continue
abusing her since now I knew what was going on.
Three days later I came back home from the market and found my father dead in his couch in the
living room. He had overdosed on pills and drunk his life away. the scene I walked onto that late
night was a scene I had imagined one too many times in my head before but still, the excruciating
pain I felt of seeing that imagination turn to life is something I cannot explain. I dropped on my
knees before my father and cried my heart out. I knew that Happy was sleeping in her bedroom
and I didn’t want her to come and see dad in that shape so I quickly toned down but I still could not
get myself to stop crying.
My mother came home a week later and found we had already buried dad. I never saw her cry. To
this day I remember the loo of relief on her face when I gave her the news. She was finally free.
That night I knew I could not continue living with her without wanting to kill her and I started
preparing myself to walk out of her life and take Happy away from such a destructive environment.
The moment I got my results for my grade 12 exams, I started applying for scholarsh¡ps abroad.
“But you can’t go with your sister or Julie to America.” Makasa said to me once when we sat
chatting at his new home. He had gotten married a few months ago and his new bride was
expecting their first child.
“I know,” I said. “That’s why I wanted to talk to you.” before I could even voice my thoughts, the
look in his eyes told me he already knew what I was about to say.
“No way man!” He exclaimed, almost falling off his stool. “You know my situation very well.”
“Yes I know and I wouldn’t ask something like this of you if I wasn’t so desperate and didn’t have a plan .”
“I don’t think Violet will like this.” He was shaking his head. Violet was his wife.
“I know but Makasa, you are the only one I can count on. I have done some research and
someone told me that they give some kind of salary for scholarsh¡p students for their upkeep every
semester and I want to use that money to take care of Juliet and Happy’s school and upkeep. You
won’t have to spend a penny on them I promise you. I will get a job once am there and I will keep
sending money to you. the only thing you have to do is protect them for me and give them a roof
over their heads, please.”
He was quiet for a while, obviously thinking about my offer.
“What if you don’t get any scholarsh¡p?” He asked me.
“Mr Hibajene, the science teacher who always helped me out with my JETS projects has been
helping me apply for the past five months. He says he’s very hopeful at least one or two
universities will accept me. He has a friend at social work who has contacts abroad…so, am
hopeful. Something just has to pen out. It just has to.”
“But how do you plan on getting Juliet away from her mother?” Makasa asked. “You know she will
never allow you to do something that crazy. That girl is like their meal ticket and you taking her
means the end of the good life for all of them you know that right? No way in hell will she let you
get away with taking her daughter from her.”
I had already thought long and hærd about everything Makasa was pointing out. It was not going to
be easy to carry out my plans given the enemies I was fighting.
“I just need to make sure the scholarsh¡p is secured and my visa is ready then I will report
everything that that man has done to Juliet.” I said. “Mrs Mwansa or whatever her name is doesn’t
care about Juliet. Once the truth is out, she will no longer have any use for Juliet and her
disappearing from her life would be good riddance.”
“Have you forgotten the man you are dealing with has authority over the police?” Makasa
reminded me.
How could I possibly forget? Didn’t he use that very power to get me out of jail that time?
“I know,” I said. “But who said anything about reporting him to the police?”
I got the exact look I was expecting from Makasa. I laughed. “I am going to use the media to
expose him. I discovered that he is the head of one of the big banks in the country and he is the
main financier of the ruling party. He likes to keep his life under the radar due to his many shady
dealings but a scandal like this one will bring him right onto the front pages and who better than
the public to render judgement on him when the police are in no position to do so?”
“If he really is who you say he is, then I think you have more issues to worry about than just getting
Juliet out of her bad situation.” Maksa said. “This is the government you are ta
lking about, and the
man is a billionaire. These people control the media and they will twist everything to suit
themselves. What’s worse is, you won’t even be here to protect Juliet when everything starts going
down. I don’t think you’ve thought through this correctly. You need another plan.”
“Haven’t you read the news lately Makasa?” I asked my worried friend.
“What’s there to read?” He asked. “They’re always writing about the same things; politics, politics
every single day.”
“Exactly my point!” I said enthusiastically. “Zambians are frustrated right now with the government
and the opposition is gaining momentum by the day. If this story is given to the right people,
imagine what they can do with it? Mwansa right now is the backbone of the ruling party, the only
thing the opposition needs to do is get him out of the way and paint the government black and
their fate is sealed. Who doesn’t know that everyone wants to see change in this country?”
Makasa was looking at me like he would a stranger. “Why are you looking at me like that?” I
He laughed. “Since when did you become so ambitious?”
“Poverty has a way of bringing out the best and worst in all of us.” I said.
“So who’s back are you planning to climb to get on to push your agenda?” Makasa asked.
“It’s best you don’t know.” I said. “I have no plans whatsoever of getting you involved in this?”
He was giving me the are-you-kidding-me look.
I laughed. “I mean not all the way.” I said.
Four months later, despite everything sort of going my way, the unexpected happened. The
people I was dealing with on the political end where so excited to get the news out that they sent a
group of journalist to Juliet’s place to film her without talking to me about it or giving me enough
time to warn her. In as much as she was aware her story was going to be out, she was still very
young and wanted by all means to keep her identity protected. I had hoped that her interview
would be done privately, away from her home and it was scheduled to take place in two weeks
time and yet the reporters showed up the very next day after I delivered the actual identities of the
people involved to my political attaché.
Juliet’s mother locked her away and refused to address the journalists. That meant I too would not
have access to her. I was only left with four days before leaving for America and I couldn’t leave
when everything was so messed up. Three days went by and still Juliet had not come out of the
house and since the wall fence was fully raised now, there was no way I could see what was going
on on the other side of the fence. I was completely in the dark.
On the day before I was to travel, around 5 o’clock I heard a commotion and went outside to find it
was coming from Juliet’s house. I ran to the gate and I found Mrs Mwansa, Alice and Juliet being
dragged out of their house into a white Mitsubishi parked right in front of their house. I needed to
talk to Juliet, by all means but all the windows were closed and they were heavily tinted. I had
seen which side Juliet was seated and so I quickly picked up a stone and ran to the vehicle just as
the driver was driving off.
“Juliet move your head!” I shouted, not caring whether she head me or not. I jumped on Juliet’s
side and hit the stone against the window. The driver hit the brakes suddenly and the car almost
threw me off but I was now holding on to the door through the broken glass. I didn’t care about the
blood on my hands. I just needed to talk to Juliet. I was desperately trying to get the door unlocked
when the other man on the front passenger seat came for me and started pulling me off.
“Juliet!” I was scre-ming like a mad boy.
“You are bleeding!” Juliet cried. Somehow I was still holding on to the door.
“Where are they taking you?” I asked.
“I don’t know.” Juliet sobbed.
“This is all your fault you know that!?” Mrs Mwansa hissed.
“Who the hell do you think you are?” Alice asked, the look in her eyes made the hairs at the back
of my head stand up.
By now the driver had come out as well and together they peeled me off the car and threw me
hærd on the ground.
I saw Juliet’s head pop out through the broken window. “I will be okay Jack. You are leaving for
school tomorrow so please leave before these men hurt you.” she begged me.
I was pumped with adrenaline so I ran back to the car but the driver was too fast this time I
couldn’t jump on it on time.
“I will wait for you Jack!” Juliet shouted through the window. “I Promise. Take care of yourself!”
I chased that car for what felt like forever until it finally got onto the highway and I lost sight of it.
Almost nine years would have to pass before Juliet and I reunited.
To be continued…. 
NEXT (episode 7)                                                                                      PREVIOUS (episode 5)

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