I am guilty. I used to say long distance relationships didn’t work till I found myself in one.
Let’s be honest. They just don’t work. Okay fine mine seems to have worked through time. I’ve heard of other people who have made them work for two years and get married and that’s awesome. But come on long distance relationships rarely work. They are a job, they require constant work and money and the biggest requirement is trust. Which is something I’m always trying to have.
I shift in my seat and look at the dark sky through the window. I wish I had driven to Lusaka but the risk of having an accident are high in the evenings especially on these roads that constantly need fixing. So I opted the bus option and I regret it. The distance from solwezi to Lusaka is too long for my liking and I just can’t wait to be in Lusaka. 10 minutes and I will be in Lusaka, the town of fast money and time, my type of town where my girl lives.
I smile as I think of my girlfriend. I haven’t seen her in months due to work and I figured surprising her would be a great idea. Then again that wasn’t the only reason for the surprise. The first reason was due to the fact that we had argued weeks ago and we were not talking as well as we used to. Our romance was failing and she was just off which is not like her. When I called her in the morning she had sounded off. Indifferent. So I packed a bag and left. I couldn’t wait to make it up to her.
The second reason was the call I got from my friend who had told me something disturbing about my girlfriend; disturbing because it would change everything about us together. The future seemed less bright but firstly, I wanted to find out if it was true or not; rumours always have a way of biting you in the ass if you take them without a pinch of salt. So I had to see her. And of course I don’t believe the rumours but for my peace of mind I have to find out the truth.
The next 10 minutes are the longest. But I see the city lights of Lusaka and I feel excited. The time is 20 hours and all I want to do is rest. I say a small prayer to God, thanking him for protecting me throughout the journey, all in all it was a good journey, uncomfortable but still good and besides I’m alive. But the long hours are not something I want to repeat.
The bus stops at intercity and I quickly get my bagpack and leave the bus. I avoid the noisy do-you-want-a-cab-but-are-thieves men and quickly walk away towards the gate of the bus centre. I know my cousin, Chansa is waiting for me parked across the road as he said he would be. I see his car and quickly head to him.
“Hey Bro.” I say as I approach his car. I quickly put my bag in the back seat and get in beside him.
“Hey. Welcome to Lusaka.” He says happily as he shakes my hand.
“Thanks. I missed the big city of Lusaka. Gosh it’s still ugly and beautiful. How you doing?”
“Great. How was the trip?” He asks as he drives onto the road.
“10 hours plus is not something I wanna face again. I swear I’m gonna book a flight to Ndola then have less hours to get to solwezi.”
“Well it’s great to have you back hey. I’m sure you want to rest. Drive you home?”
“Nah young man. I’m here to see my lady not rest. Gotta see the madam first hey. I’m here for her. She doesn’t know I’m here but I wanna surprise her.”
“That’s cool. But are you sure you wanna do this tonight and not tomorrow? A surprise at this time of night?”
“Yep. Besides I’ve missed her alot.”
We laugh. No need to say what I really mean but that statement.
“Lovebirds I guess. So same place?” He asks
“Yep. In woodlands.”
Maybe I should call her and tell her I’m in and not surprise her. I know how much she hates surprises and she might get angry if I just show up. I get my phone and dial her number. No pick up. I dial again. But still no answer. Well surprise it is then. It’s a sign. No choice. She’s probably bathing as she always does at this time of night. No matter, I would see her soon and we will make up and get back on track with our relationship. We started dating over a two years ago when I realised I was in love with her after a brief friendship, I had been on my annual leave and single and lonely when she literally walked into my life but in a club and we hit it off instantly. One thing led to another and in honesty we worked well together and we agreed to make it work some how, but the long distance was creating more harm to our romance than the I-miss-you-more-when-you-not-here effect. But we tried, and by trying I mean I travelled while she made promises and broke them because of work but that’s the thing about love, it makes you want to make someone happy even if they don’t pull-up their socks. And that’s what the argument was about: her not making the time and she got upset that I wasnt considerate enough to understand she worked hard. And I did what exactly? She knew I worked too and she knew that how? From the bank transfers she got every month. So we both got angry and our relationship got a crack that I needed to fix and I had done 2 things to make the crack fixable; the first being me showing up tonight and second well that was a secret. I had to make it up to her and tell her what I had done to make us work. I was in love with her and I wanted to make it work.
The drive to woodlands is fast and after 20 minutes we are outside her gate. My cousin honks at the gate and the guard opens the gates to which we tell him we are guests of one of the tenants within the yard. Chansa parks the car while I walk to the flat at the back of the yard. I notice the lights are on, I smile happily. I know she is home. Time for the surprise. Wish me luck.
I knock on the door and wait. I knock again and I hear keys being moved in the door and the door opens. Her spectacled brown eyes meet mine and she stands still. Shock? Her braided hair in a bun, still in her makeup as I notice her red lipstick and mascara. She is in a a white vest and flared black polka dotted skirt. Guess she wasn’t bathing when I called her I figure but it’s ok I’m here.
“Hi.” I say as I reach out and hug her.
Her arms wrap around me. She smells sweet. It’s a new scent, I can tell.
“Hey. Oh my gosh Ngosa. What a surprise. What are you doing here?”
I let go of her and look at her.
“I came in today. Minutes ago. I’m tired.” I say happily “But I’m here. I wanted to see you. Surprise!!!”
“That’s awesome. Oh my gosh. Totally surprised. Truly. Though you know how much I hate surprises.”
“Uh huh.” I say. “I know.”
I walk past her and into her livingroom. I don’t need an invitation into her cottage, after all I pay the rent so it’s technically my cottage in some way. She closes the door and I sit down on the sofa.
“Can I offer you anything?” She asks.
“No.. I’m okay.”
“Are you sure? You must be tired.”
She smiles as she sits across me.
“I called you minutes ago and you didn’t pick up.” I say.
“Really. I didn’t hear my phone ring. Busy busy. You know me. Was hoping I could take a quick bath.”
“You look good.” I say
“Thank you. Had so much to do today.”
She’s not herself I figure as I notice her fidgeting hands. Gosh have I made her angry? I know something is on her mind. Must be because of the surprise. I know she hates surprises. But I can make it better.
“I’m sorry I surprised you.” I start, “I just wanted to see you so bad. And I wanted to tell you something in person as opposed to phone calls. I know we argued and we have been in a bad place for weeks. And I haven’t seen you in the past 3 months and I felt bad about how we have been. So I wanted to see you. And make it up to you.”
“You could have told me.” She says. “This morning we talked remember. You could have told me and I would have been prepared for this. Because this is really awkward.”
“How is it awkward? We are talking again. This is more words than we have said in the past one week. This is good. We are good. We can get back to perfect or close to it. We are in a good place. I know we argued over the most stupid thing.”
She looks at me and keeps quiet. This is so unlike her. She looks scared or is it she’s tired from her busy day. Or maybe I am over reading into the situation, looking for a problem. She’s probably not up to talking to me so maybe I should leave and see her tomorrow. She gets up from her seat and heads to the kitchen.
“Are you sure you don’t want anything. Cause I’m cooking supper.”
“Yea. Don’t worry about me. Besides…. Chansa is outside waiting for me.”
“Are you really sure?” She asks. “You must be hungry.”
I smile. She still cares when I don’t eat.
“I don’t want to impose.” I say out loud.
She comes back to the living room.
“It’s not imposing. You can tell Chansa to join us if you want.”
This is the girl I know. The caring girl.
“Nah. Though I can tell him to leave and pick me up later when he’s going home. He left his friends at the bar so I’m sure he’s anxious to get back to them.”
I let the later simmer. Who knows what can happen.
“Okay. Sure. You can tell him to go back and you can stay for supper.”
The promise of more hangs in the air. Maybe I can sleep over but I won’t push it. I get up and head outside and tell Chansa to pick me up in some hours and only if I call him in advanve. He promises to and leaves. I heard back to her cottage. Dinner is beef stew and rice. I missed her cooking. We talk about work and general things that have happened while I’ve been away. It’s like old times. We are trying to getting back on track.
After dinner we sit to watch a movie and it’s almost like we are back to who we really were before the argument. I’m sitting next to her, she’s leaning on me and to be honest I’m not concentrating on the movie. I’m in a good place right now, a place so good that I want to tell her my second surprise. My super secret. I’m so excited but I’ll have to wait for the right time. Besides I figure I’ll sleep over. I can’t wait to get her into my arms.
” I have beer.” She says 30 minutes into the movie. “Do you want one?”
“Sure.” I respond.
She gets up fro the sofa and heads to the kitchen. I see a white light in the corner of the sofa I’m on and I quickly reach out for it. It’s her cellphone, the one I paid for. My girlfriend and I are comfortable with checking each other’s phones, it’s our thing, which we call trust. It all about our honesty policy and its worked so far. I see it’s a whatsapp message on her screen and I read the message.
“So I have Mosi and Castle.” She says from the kitchen. “What do you want?”
I can barely get a word out of my mouth as I keep looking at the screen.
“Hello. Mosi or castle? Popcorn maybe too?” She asks again. “Ngosa………….”
Her words die on her lips as she walks back into the livingroom and finds me looking at her phone. I look up at her and I see it then. The truth. I finally understand why she was fidgeting earlier. I finally understand why she kept our argument going for so long. Why she didn’t want the surprise I had for her. I finally get the answer I wanted to ask but I brushed away because of trust. Long distance relationships suck. She looks afraid and as well she should be because she knows my anger is not to be messed with. The last time I got angry I slapped her and I had promised I wouldn’t do it again; a promise I feel I will break soon.
I look at her face and see the guilt. To think I had changed my life for her. Did she appreciate what I had done for her? I paid her rentals. I sent her a monthly upkeep for everything she needed. I was paying for her school fees. Everything she had I footed the bill. And now I had to deal with this too. I should have listened to what my mother had said about her.
Was she going to say a word or would she look at me with fear in her eyes the whole time. I stand up and I see her move back towards the kitchen. She’s scared of me. I am scared of me right now. I put her phone in my pocket. She’s not keeping this till I go through everything that’s on it or break it. Either way she’s not having it even if she asks for it.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” I ask her
“Why didn’t you tell me!!”
“I came here to suprise you. I had a special suprise for you. Do you know I’m moving to Lusaka? I’m getting transferred to Lusaka so that we can make us work. I did this for us. Did it ever occur to you that maybe I loved you. That I wanted us to be together. To work.”
“Are you gonna say anything?”
I wish I could hit her but I won’t. I won’t touch her. I can’t touch her. Gosh long distance relationships are hard. What was I going to do. I had no option.
“Can you at least tell me why? Or do I have to guess that out of you? I do everything for you. Everything. You can’t even appreciate a good man even when he’s right in front of you. Was I bad? Am I not enough for you? We had one argument, one and I’ve been trying to make us work. Yet you were soooo busy right?”
“I am sorry.” She whispers
Finally she talks. She’s sorry. That should make everything better right.
“Which part?” I ask. “For not telling me the truth? Or for letting me think we were working? Or for not telling me you had another man here in Lusaka while I was in Solwezi working for our future. Which part?
“Or maybe you are sorry for not telling me we were done but you needed my money right.”
“Two years babe. Two!” I shout. Who cares about the neighbors now. “You could have told me!!! Was that hard? Does he know I’m still in the picture?”
“So which part exactly are you sorry for. Or maybe you’re sorry for not telling me the guy who is in my spot, literally even in my bed is the guy you told me not to worry about over and over again. Your own best friend. So tell me please why you are sorry.”
I can’t bear to look at her anymore. I should leave. But I have to call Chansa. No need. What’s even better? I’ll get her car. I paid for that too. Petty? Well I deserve to be petty for once.
“Gimme your car keys. ” I say
” Ngosa wait. I can explain.. Just wait.” She says. “Don’t go. We can talk. I’ll answer your questions now.”
Of course when it comes to the car she can explain the situation. Money is the moving factor, always was.
“I said gimme the car keys. That is final. No need to explain. We are done. The keys now. “
Ungrateful woman. I should have stayed in Solwezi. I told you. Long distance relationships just don’t work.