“Are you okay Monde? You seem to be out of sorts.”
I look at Noah and smile. Ahh yes I am out of sorts. He can tell. How hard can it be to fake a smile and pretend all is well. Simple right. How do other women do it though. They are brave to be honest. Pretending to the man I’ve been with for years should be easy right. After all I know him so well. But no. It’s not. It’s the hardest thing ever. I hate being a pretender.
“Of course I’m fine. I’m just a little tired.” I respond.
“Mum told me you came home early. That you looked sick.”
“Mom is always over thinking things.” I start. “I just needed rest. The day’s events got to me. You know me and my emotions.” I say slowly
“You sure? Maybe we should go to the clinic and get you checked.”
“No. No need to worry. Just tired.” I reassure him.
He does not look reassured. He looks at me for a few seconds before he touches my cheek. I know he wants to push the topic further and I’m really not in the mood to talk about how I’m feeling right now. I might end up saying the truth and putting myself in unnecessary drama.
“I’ll be fine. I can’t wait to see my girls. Then all will be perfect.”
“I’m sure they will be here soon.” He says. “And you can gossip all night.”
He kisses my cheek and he walks away. He mentions something about getting me fresh juice and a lager for himself. Damn it. Back on the juice train for the next seven months. Misery to be honest. Where the hell are his friends? Where aware my friends? We are slightly early for the engagement party. All my fault. I had woken up on time, taken a bath and picked out our clothes for the evening all on time and when Noah came home from work, he found me in the bedroom dressing up. I didn’t bring up the issue about the phone, in fact I had put the phone back where I found it – on the damn headboard – and he didn’t seem to notice or care about the silly gadget so I didn’t bother myself about it. But I didn’t want to sit in the bedroom with him while he went to bath with the phone in full view because it would make me question him and I didn’t want to argue with him; so instead I went to sit with Mum and Suwilanji, watching cartoons in the sitting room till he came out and announced he was ready. He looked dashing of course in his dark blue suit, white shirt and dark loafers. Talk about anger and love at odds. I ignored him. I quickly wore my heels and told him we could leave. I didn’t want us to sit and talk about my pregnancy with mum because I had not told her yet. Too soon. But knowing mum she probably knew what was up. We made the usual small talk during the drive to Manchinchi gardens; he was excited about the pregnancy, he never noticed I was so zoned out of the conversation as he kept giving me random baby names. I just smiled and agreed with whatever he came up with.
The venue had some guests already drinking at the open bar. I knew a few of them and I greeted a few of them and that was it. I needed time to push my bad thoughts away. I sat at the long table while I waited for Noah to come back.
Where the hell are my girls?
Damn it. I can’t be with Noah alone right now.
I wish they kept up with time.
The man is an overly romantic man. He is so romantic I think it annoys me. He holds my hand as we walk through the opening. Is he scared of something? People probably. Now everyone will know I’m with him. Why do people have to show it to the world that you are theirs. You never see me holding onto a man ever.. Well unless sheets are involved then yes. Give me your shoulders cause my hands need to grip something or maybe my knees need that…. Ohhh Even better let my legs wrap around your hips. I smile to myself. My thoughts betray me. His hand grips mine a little harder and I sigh. It’s romantic and cute. But gosh this has got to stop. I see Monde sitting with Noah at a long table – long enough to feed a multitude – and I say a prayer of thanks and quickly let his hand go and literally almost run to her. She sees me and she stands up. Count on Monde to look beautiful in her white wrap dress and gold heels while her hair is all curled up around her face. I don’t know how she does it, look beautiful, keep a husband and her job while being a mother. Strong one she is. I sort of envy her. I’m still deciding on whether a good man is better than an undecided man. I push the thought away and concentrate on her look. Monde looks beautiful but I can’t help but notice she looks tired. I must be seeing things. Monde is always fine. I wish I wore a dress too. Well at least I still stuck to the color theme of the party as the bride had requested of her bridesmaids; so I opted for an above knee length white flared skirt and a white vest and white heels, something I call simple and smart but then my short light brown dyed hair changes the whole picture. We hug and I greet Noah. I quickly introduce Tawanda to Noah and make up an excuse to take Monde away so that the men can talk, more like dump him onto someone else. Maybe Noah will comfort him better than I can, I’ve failed to do my job. The saying never keep a dog if you think hunger is a solution comea to mind. Monde and I head to the open bar and I finally start to relax.
“So Tawanda huh?” Monde asks. “You finally showing him off? Introducing him to the men.”
“Like I have a choice. I had to do it. It’s time I think.” I respond.
“Holding hands too. I’m impressed.” Monde laughs. “Are you okay love? Are you dying? I know you don’t like PDA.”
“I’m suffering. Can you believe he wanted to hold my hand forever. That man would have followed me here if I hadn’t asked for you only.”
“Why did you bring him then?”
“I wish I didn’t. But I’m trying to make it work you know. Oh my gosh he’s irritating.” I say. “How do other women do it. They are so brave.”
“But why are you still with him?”
“Monde he is a nice man. He really is nice.”
“You’re silly. That’s not a reason. Pick a better one.”
“It is. But oh my… He’s irritating.”
“In what way?”
“He’s too romantic. He’s too much. I’m sick of it.”
“Ah.. The over calling. The I love you. Let’s do this together. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Imwe. I didn’t say I want to change.”
“I swear you are allergic to romance madam. You forget it’s these same romantic men who will marry you Salome.”
“Who said I want to get married?”
“Uhhh every woman.”
“Maybe I don’t wanna get married. Maybe I want to play forever.”
“Madam we all want companionship on a ring. You can’t be alone forever.”
“I think I can manage that. Good alcohol. Good sex. Lots of money. Clothes. That should help me along.”
Monde smiles and pats my back. Ever the motherly one.
“How are you though?” I ask her.
Now that I’m standing near her I can tell she looks tired and worried about something.
“I’ve been okay. Stressed. Tired the usual crap but I’m okay.”
“The usual. I’m so tired ayi.”
I tell the bar man I want a glass of whiskey and Monde orders for a glass of fresh juice. So unlike her. I know how she loves her sweet red wine. Is she that tired? Or is she the designated driver?
“Work keeping you busy. Is Suwi okay?”
“She’s much better. Thank God and mum is around to help us so it’s all good I guess.”
I take a sip of my drink and close my eyes to savour the taste of it.
“So how is Mukuka?” Monde asks.
“I’m choosing to not answer that question. You will see him when he comes.”
“He’s coming here? Here for the party? I thought he would be busy with work or something.”
“Yes he’s busy. But I think he’s coming. Besides he is Kachiza’s friend. He wouldn’t miss it for the world. But then again Mukuka is tricky. He might tell me he’s coming and never show up. So I’ll say I’m not sure if he will come but he said he would, so you will see him.”
“When did you last see him?”
“This morning. Early morning.”
Monde raises her eyebrow at me and I laugh. She knows what’s happening between Mukuka and I. I told my girls everything and it’s not awkward. I don’t know about the guys but I’m sure they know too. Now that’s awkward.
“What?” I ask. “That look.”
“Gosh Salome. What if he does something? Tawanda is here.”
“It will be okay. He should be used to this. Mukuka won’t make a scene. Believe me. Plus he knows about Tawanda.”
“You complicate things.”
“What’s life without a little complications. But I know Kuka. He will behave.”
“Right. I know Mukuka very well love. Too impulsive. Just like Noah sometimes.”
“Noah is smooth and takes his time in making decisions. But I understand what you mean about Mukuka. It will be okay.”
“I hope so. Oh Chibwe is here.”
I turn to see Chibwe standing near the opening. Ever the conservative one in her white office pants and white jacket and her hair in a top bun. I wave and she notices me and walks over to us. She hugs us each and quickly orders for a glass of red wine. I can tell she’s super stressed and upset.
“Oh my love, you look beautiful.” She tells Monde
She takes a sip of her wine and smiles at us. Ahhh see the first sip is always the best. She will be fine as soon as she has enough alcohol in her system.
“I see you came straight from the office.” I respond
“Busy day. Stressful day. Work” She says slowly.
“Love work is always stressful. Nothing new there.” I tell her
“True. But today was extra special. Imagine this… Patrick.” She says
“Patrick? Which one?” I ask.
“Baby daddy, Patrick decided he wants us to talk tomorrow.”
“Patrick? Thee Patrick?” I ask. “You lie. Patrick?”
“Yes. Samuel’s father Patrick. Who else is baby daddy? Piece of shit that man is.”
“Wow. That’s a shocker.” I say.
No wonder she’s angry. Men. They irritate and infuriate.
“Anyway I’m not going to think about it until tomorrow when I meet him.” Chibwe says sadly. “I hope it’s sensible or I swear I’ll hit him.”
“With what?” I ask.
“Anything.” Chinese responds.
I smile at her and she smiles back. I know Chibwe is the violent type bit her temper is something else.
“Aww I hope it goes well for you love.” Monde says.
“I hope it does.” Chibwe says
“We should drink to this” I say.
“To what?” Chibwe asks.
“Well Patrick making up an appearance. And him calling you. Wow.” I respond.
“You do know we are at our bestfriend’s engagement party right.” Monde says
“You think we should wait for the bride herself to show up and then drink to this too. What’s best?” I ask
“Wait for the bride.” Monde and Chibwe say in unison.
Looks like I’ll be the only one drinking a lot of this I think as I order for another glass of whiskey.
“Did I tell you, you are beautiful?”
“Did I tell you we are late. Gosh Kachiza. Timing is everything. We were supposed to be here an hour ago.” I say
He takes my hand and he kisses it.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. And I know it doesn’t fix anything but I’m sorry. I’ll tell the guests to eat quickly so that we can go home.”
I look at him ready to give him my retort and I see him smiling. It’s so hard to stay angry with him. That’s why I love him I guess. I look at the car clock and see the time, nineteen thirty. We are late. I’m sure all the guests are there by now waiting on us to arrive. And it’s his fault for coming to my house late claiming he had been busy with stuff. Why are men so slow. Prioritize your life please. He parks the car and he leaves his car and opens my door for me. He takes my hand in his and we walk towards the venue.
I can hear the music and voices of people. I know the guests should be less than thirty, consisting of our close friends, siblings and cousins. I am so nervous, just like I was at my kitchen party months ago. He kisses my hand as we walk through the main opening and I hear claps from everyone.
“The couple themselves finally show up.” Someone says aloud.
We stand at the entrance for a few minutes as the guests keep clapping. We walk through the doorway and into the lit up event. Trust Muzinga to make a venue look beautiful. I should get her a gift for her hard work as I look at the decorated gardens; lights in the trees, one long table in the middle of the garden, flowers everywhere. It is more than what I imagined. I feel tears in my eyes and I feel Kachiza’s hand on my back. He knows how I feel. I’m so overwhelmed. This is my dream engagement party.
We greet our guests; one by one – leaving the best for last – and they congratulate us on the upcoming wedding. And of course I’m grateful that they made the time to show up for a little get together before I am officially a Mrs. But nothing beats the feeling I get when I see my girls at the open bar standing there looking out for me. I rush to them and we have one big group hug.
“Hello my ladies.” I say happily. “Oh my. Ya’ll look beautiful. I love. I so love.”
“We love your ensemble.” Salome says.
I turn around to give them the 360 degree view of my dress. Perfect for a night like this one.
“Plus the venue looks beautiful. I should say our money was put to good use.” Salome adds.
Monde pokes Salome and we laugh.
“Well you better thank Muzinga for all this. She did it all.” I say happily.
I’m so proud of my sister.
“Gemima. Don’t mind this girl. Regretting decisions.” Monde says
“As always.” Chibwe adds.
“What did you do Salome?” I ask
“Oh she decided putting Tawanda and Mukuka in the same spot would be wise. Daredevil she is.” Chibwe says
“Are you okay?” I ask Salome “Two men? Do you think you will get caught? Should we protect you?”
Salome smiles at me and we laugh.
“Excuse me? I’m dating Tawanda. Mukuka is Mukuka. Nothing there.” She argues
“Right. Mukuka? Who you are uhhhhhhh hmmm.” I say. “How should I put it?”
“It’s over.” Salome says
“Uh huh. So you decided to test the waters by putting them in the same venue?”
“No. Tawanda deserved to come.”
“So that he can see the sparks between you and Mukuka?” Chibwe asks
“I’m done with that.”
“Right.” We all say. “We shall see about that.” I add.
“I’m telling you.” Salome says.
“And Kuka hasn’t made a scene yet?” I ask.
“The man knows how to behave. Excuse me.” Salome responds.
“But you’ve never brought Tawanda to any of our functions. Why now? Showing Mukuka something?” I ask.
“Been dating the guy long enough. I thought well this is good. Better now than never.” Salome responds.
“Dare devil.” Chibwe says.
“He will behave. I just know it.” Salome says.
“Did you promise him some some?” Chibwe asks.
We laugh and Salome shakes her head.
“Nothing. Let it go.” She responds. “Now Gemima. That dress.”
Changing topics I notice. I’m sure Salome is worried about Mukuka and Tawanda enough right now. I’ll let her be.
“Gemima, Muzinga did an amazing job with this place. You look absolutely beautiful too.” Monde says. “I should say the tailor made your dress beautiful. Gosh it’s hot. Your make up in on point. How was Kachiza able to keep his hands off you?”
I am blushing from the compliment. I designed the dress I’m wearing and I agree that it looks hot; made from a thick white lace and material, it is a body hugging knee length dress but what makes it beautiful is the v shaped exposed back. Kachiza stared for minutes before he was able to compliment me; tempting to touch kind of thing.
“Thank you.” I say. “And he manages that very well. Very very well.” I add.
“Where is Muzinga by the way?” Monde asks
“Mingling with cousins. You know Muzinga. As the creator of all this she should mingle.” I respond.
“I seriously need to get her contacts for future events you know. Or have her plan them.” Monde says
“What future events?” I ask
“You never know ladies.”
“We should take shots!!” Salome says
The girls and I laugh. I get a glass of wine and so does Chibwe while Monde holds a glass of juice. Monde does not love juice as much as her wine. She must be having a hard time with Noah. And I never called her back. Our eyes meet and she smiles at me. Strong one woman she has always been. I’ll talk to her when we are free. I look at the people mingling at the party and I smile. A small party was exactly what I needed tonight before I face the over hundred guests of my wedding.
“You know what. Here is to joyous occasions and special moments.” I say as I raise my glass to my girls.
“To better moments than this after you get married. Don’t disappear on us.” Salome says
“The playful ones are always afraid.” Chibwe says
“Cheers ladies.” Monde says and we all toast to that.
“I swear we need shots.” Salome says
“No Salome. No shots.” I laugh.
“This is a party. We need shots.” Salome cries
I turn ans see Kachiza standing next to Noah, Mukuka and Tawanda. Oh my. I’m surprised they are getting along. Shocking Mukuka isn’t creating a scene with Tawanda around. They are actually laughing at something. Men will always be men. But that’s not what gets my attention.
I see her walking towards them, her long light brown weave shining even at this hour, her dark brown dress hugs her body – she looks fit like she, the gym and the instructor sleep on the same bed – and her gold sandals bring out the colour of her light skin. She stops and stands with the men and I can tell they like what they see. I watch Kachiza smile at her as she offers her hand to the men one by one except Kachiza. I watch as she hugs him and kisses him on the cheek and then cleans her lipstick off his cheek. She holds his hand and as he leans towards her as she says something to him, he laughs with her with her hand in his. He looks at her like he’s mesmerised by her, like he’s seeing her for the first time and he can’t believe his luck. Or maybe it’s my eyes that are mesmerised by the sight of Kachiza being so happy with her in my presence. She whispers something in his ear and he turns around looking for something or someone. His eyes meet mine and I see him wave at me and he says something to her and she turns around and sees me. She waves at me too.
Well well well.
This is a shocker.
Monde must have seen what I saw because I hear her voice ask “Is that Samantha?”
“Where?” Salome asks.
“There. Gemima is that her? Or my eyes that bad?” Monde asks.
I have no words. No answer. My voice seems to have disappeared. What am I supposed to say?
“That little ugly idiot of a woman.” Salome says aloud. “Gemima did you know about this?”
I don’t think I have an answer to her question.
People always come in to ruin special moments. Always. I see him wave at me again and I wave back with a smile that could kill. Why is he doing this to me? I hate him right now. I’m sure my eyes are blazing red flames right now. How is it possible he is happy to see her? Why is he so relaxed around her? Why is he smiling at her? Samantha of all people. Or is he pretending because of our guests? What the hell is going on tonight?
After everything she has done?
Besides, how did Samantha know we were having our engagement party tonight?
Who the hell told her?
Juliet? Didn’t she say she was coming to the party. She is the one who mentioned it to me earlier. Or did Kachiza tell her in their “supposed” chat. Who the hell would want to ruin my engagement? Probably Juliet. I thought she had been joking with me. The girl has always been a big mouth to be honest. How dare she do this to me. What else did the gossip lady know?
Kachiza looks at me and I cock my head to the side, sending him questions with my eyes. He wants me to go to him and ask him while she’s here? He waves again and I watch her smile. Is he serious? Am I supposed to pretend I’m okay with her being here? I don’t want to go to him right now. Why tonight. Why now. Shit. He’s still calling out for me and I look at him hoping the look on my face tells him I dont want to do this. But he obviously doesn’t see that. Shit, I have to go to them.
Maybe I will get the real story behind this mess. Maybe someone will tell me the truth.
I need answers to this blunder.
What the hell is Kachiza’s ex girlfriend doing at my engagement party?
To be continued…