I stare at the house that I call home. I know Chinyama is home because his car is parked right next to mine. I click the lights on within my car and look into the rear view mirror reapplying my lipstick that Isaac rubbed off with his lips. I exhale slowly, as if to the let the guilt out. Reality awaits me.
I turn the lights off and get out of the car, slowing down my racing heart beat. In as much as I enjoy being with Isaac, the idea is I do not get caught. Not yet. I’m not ready to deal with the consequences of cheating. What would happen if Chinyama found out the truth? I dread the day. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to leave and walk away happily; but knowing Chinyama he will take the kids from me. Take the children and hand them over to Cynthia. That I will not allow. That nightmare can not come to pass. The very thought of it makes my heart race even faster. I take deep breaths as I walk to the main door. It will be okay I reassure myself.
I find Chinyama in the living room watching cartoons with the twins asleep on either side of him and a glass in his hand. The worst feeling of guilt hits me. This is what I did not want. I should have been home earlier to make sure my children ate and tucked in bed on time; and I wasn’t. I’m becoming the very thing I swore never to turn into – a bad selfish mother.
I push back the tears that threaten to fall. This is my fault. I place my handbag on the closest sofa and walk towards Chinyama and the sleeping twins. Chinyama finally turns and looks at me. He quickly gulps the rest of the fluid in his glass. I stare at the boys with their heads on his laps. I bend and carry Kazhika into my arms. He whimpers in my arms and I gently pat his back.
“Shhh. It’s okay my darling.” I whisper. “Lets take you to bed.”
Kazhika relaxes in my arms instantly. Mummy is home. Time to tuck the twins in. They need to be in their beds.
“He cried for you. He refused to eat.” Chinyama says behind me.
I turn around and look at him. He puts his empty glass on the sofa beside him and stands up with Kakoma in his arms. He walks towards me his eyes looking at me as if looking for answers within them.
“He cried. Kakoma joined him and they both refused to eat. They wanted to wait up for you.” He continues. “And you weren’t there.”
Is he implying I’m not there for my kids? Chinyama? The man who cheated and slept with another woman instead of being home? Men. I shake my head at him. Not now. I don’t want to argue with him. I walk out of the living room heading to the twins bedroom. Chinyama follows closely behind.
We place the kids in their respective beds and I make sure they are covered and warm in their beds before I kiss their tear stained cheeks and whisper a prayer. My babies didn’t deserve my selfishness tonight. Chinyama leaves the bedroom and I sit for a few seconds looking at my children. My special babies. I kiss them goodnight one more time and leave their bedroom. I walk back to the living room and find Chinyama with a fresh glass of his liquid in hand. I grab my handbag, clearly he wants to drink. I’ll let him enjoy it.
“Where did you go?” He asks
I look at him and shrug.
“Met the girls for drinks.” I respond.
“And you saw it fit not tell me a thing?”
“Do you ever tell me what you’re doing when you come home late Chinyama?” I retort
“Don’t make this about me. I asked you a question.”
“And I answered it.”
“And last night?”
“Dinner with the girls.” I respond quickly.
If I hesitate he will pounce on that and use it against me.
“And the night before that?”
“Drinks and dinner.” I respond
“So the girls and you go out every night? You all have so much time to have fun?”
“Are you keeping tabs on me Chinyama?” I ask. “Seriously?”
“I wouldn’t have to if my wife came home on time!” He says aloud. “Shit Mable!”
He’s angry. Very angry.
“So I’m not allowed to come home late. So I’m not allowed to have friends now?” I ask
“I am not saying that. I’m saying come home on time. Simple. What the hell is going on with you? Firstly it’s the drinking. Now this.”
“You are what’s going on with me Chinyama. You. My drinking is your fault.” I respond.
I shake my head and laugh, “What the hell am I saying? It’s you and that Cynthia woman you keep flaunting around like it’s amazing that are making me do this.”
“You’re so fixated on her and me that you seem to have forgotten something.”
“What? That you’re a man and it’s okay to cheat?”
“No. That our children need you. Our three children need you home.
“Maybe it’s your turn to be home.” I respond. “Ever thought about that?”
“We could do that. You can get a job and work for a change. Feed all of us.”
“Maybe we should do just that.” I retort.
“Don’t play with me Mable. I am not in the mood.”
“You started this.”
Really? Then let’s end it.”
What does he mean by that? Let’s end it. Does he want to leave me? The nerve of this man.
“Chinyama…” I start.
“Are you sure that if I call the girls right now that they will tell me the same silly story Mable?”
I keep silent as my shoulders fall. Does he know already? And if he does then is much does he know? If he calls them he will know I’ve not been with them all week. Then he will wonder what I have been up to. He will find out about Isaac. Oh my gosh. Not good at all.
“If I call their partners will they collaborate your story too. Should I call them right now?”
I look at Chinyama, no words form in my mouth. I didn’t think this through. He will catch me as a liar.
“You go off pretty early looking happy. Come home late. Happier. And it is not about the alcohol.” He says slowly. “You dress up everyday. Everyday. I mean look at you now.”
I look down at my silk white top and red flared pants with red stilettos.
“Your maids tell me everything. About you, my ever happy wife.” He says.
He takes a sip of his drink as he looks at me.
“Mable, the beautiful woman.” He says. “Dressing to kill for her girls to see.” He laughs. “Oh my wife.”
I look at him. Our eyes meet. I do not break contact. He wants me to say the truth. I will stick by my drinks with the girls story. I won’t change it. My heart is racing so fast I feel I will skip a beat and just die. I can’t deal with Chinyama knowing about Isaac.
I’m not ready. I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready. He will kill me.
He stands up from the sofa, places the glass on the table and walks towards me. Even when he’s drunk Chinyama still looks smart. Still in his white office shirt and dark pants he does not look any inch he drunk man his eyes reveal. He stands in front of me and looks at me. He lifts his hand, reaching out for my face and I flinch away from him. He places his hand on the back of my neck and pulls me back softly. His eyes look into mine, and I’m afraid he can see everything I’ve done with Isaac. I’m afraid my eyes are revealing my feelings, my fears and everything in between. What if he strangles me right here.
What will happen next?
Instead he pulls me in closer and kisses me. It’s not a sloppy kiss, it’s a kiss from a man who has missed a woman. I would know. I’ve gotten this kiss before, from him, years ago when everything was perfect. The kiss that defies logic and adds in passion. The kiss of a man who loves his woman. He stops, his hands on my face he looks at me. He looks like he’s aged. Stress lines on his face. Our fight is taking its toll on him.
“Sometimes I wish you weren’t so stubborn.” He whispers. “I wish I could sit down with you and explain everything. Maybe then you would understand and not get angry with me. But you won’t hear me out.”
He kisses my cheek.
“Sometimes I wish I had been a better husband, we wouldn’t be in this mess today. And sometimes I wish you noticed that I’m trying to be the best I can be.” He continues. “I really am. Maybe I’m not doing enough. I can be better.”
“I love you Mable, I might not say it enough. But I do. I might have blamed you for a lot of things in the past but it was all me. And maybe it’s too late and I’ve taken your love for granted and it’s gone. But I need you to forgive me. To help me fix us. I want us to stop fighting. I’m tired.” He continues
“You’re my wife. I’ll fight for you.” He says slow. “I miss you so much.”
His words tug the strings of my heart. He pulls me into his arms gently.
“Please think about your family. I want you home. Our children need you. I need you.” He whispers.
He kisses the top of my head, lets go of me and walks out of the living room leaving me guessing as to if he knows the truth or not. It’s the shame that keeps me rooted in the living room minutes after Chinyama is gone. The shame and fear of dealing with Chinyama possibly knowing I’m cheating. I don’t know how long I stand on the same spot looking at nothing yet feeling so much. I know I’ll have to go to bed eventually. I leave the living room and head to the bedroom. Afraid. Scared of what I might find. It takes all I have not to go to the spare bedroom and avoid Chinyama altogether.
What if he’s angry and he loses it.
What if he’s changed his mind.
I find him sitting at the edge of the bed, his head bowed, hands on his laps. He waited for me. I have no words. I don’t know how I feel or what I’m supposed to feel. Guilt? Sadness? Joy that he gets to feel the pain I’ve felt for years? What? What about my Isaac? What happens to him now? What happens to us? Gosh. I didn’t count on this happening so soon. Did I change that much? Does it show that I’m a different woman? Is it that easy? Am I that happy?
I walk to the man I’ve called my husband for so long. Our anniversary will be coming up soon and look at how we have made a mess of things. Is this marriage worth it?
I stand in front of him, touch his smooth shaven head, his arms come up encircling my waist, his face in my abdomen. I pat his back gently. I need to know what he knows. If he knows a thing or he only suspects that I’m a different woman because of another man. I close my eyes and think about the years I’ve spent with the man, loving him being his wife, his friend and his lover. The father of my children needs me. Isn’t this what I wanted before? Isn’t this what I cried for? And now it’s here and I am a different woman again.
I feel tears well up in the back of my eyes. Tears for my marriage. Tears for the heartbreak. Tears for my children. But most of all I cry for Isaac the man that showed me how my life should have been in the first place.
“I’m so sorry Mable.” Chinyama whispers.
And deep down my heart I cry because I know I’ve forgiven him.
Deep down in my heart I know I can’t be with Isaac again if I want to make my family whole and happy again.
Why do you like doing this to me?
Doing what? I’m not touching you.
You know what I mean.
So you’re out? Am I right? I thought we had plans for tonight.
Something came up and I had to go.
You are unfair. Very unfair.
There are always other nights Solomon. Chill with your wife.
Knowing you you’re with another man.
I’m a single woman. So men are bound to find me attractive.
Emphasis on men. lol.
Who are you with? Where are you? Maybe I can pass through and see you. Just for a minute.
I am with my friends. And what if people see you and tell your wife. Be realistic Solomon. You’re the one that said we can’t be seen in public.
Come on Yolanda. I miss you. I sense you’re angry but make an old man’s day. Tell me where you are.
Solomon I will let you know when I get home. Goodnight.
I hate using his name to emphasise my point. He should be happy I am responding to him. He should be grateful I had forgiven him over “his wife problem” and the Monday sex that I missed out on. These old married men always want every single woman to be at their beck and call. Quite sad. Mr Forty surely must not forget that I am a single woman and he is married so he’s lucky I am giving him time off.
I deserve this night out. He deserves the punishment.
After the stunt his wife almost pulled on me in the bathroom, I have had Mr Forty begging for me all week; with my response being the same – brush him off. It’s the only way he will learn how to be honest and not try to be smart and keep me on my toes. A ma can not control my feelings and expect I will roll around waiting for him to show up. I’m not that kind of girl. He will never forget this.
Maybe I am being too harsh on the man even he explained, or at least tried to explain that nothing happened between his wife and him they night. All lies. Every word that came out of his mouth was a lie.
“I love being with you.” He had said when he had pinned between him and the wall in his office.
“You know you have poisoned me against my wife.” He continued.
“Your wife told me everything.” I told him.
“She lied. She probably wanted to get into your head. She suspects I am seeing someone She is not sure if the woman is from the office or somewhere else. That’s why I went home with her.”
“To show her your body parts only work when she’s around?” I scoffed.
“No. To calm her nerves.”
I was right, his wife had a hunch, nothing more, nothing less. I was less than impressed by the thought. What if she knew it was me? What if she was testing me in the bathroom? Then again wouldn’t she have called me out on it? Her blubber mouth would have done that if she knew it was me. She was obviously testing me. To make sure I wasn’t the woman taking her man away from her. Useless.
I place my phone in my clutch and look at myself in the mirror. I brush the short growth of curly hair on my head. I should shave soon. I smile at the image in the mirror. The woman in the mirror smiles back, her white teeth visible in the dimly lit bathroom.
“Sexy.” I whisper and blow a kiss to the mirror.
I walk out of the bathroom heading to where everyone else is. I hear Stanley’s voice before I get to the cubicle. Stanley is definitely the loudest of them all; alcohol really brings the noise in him out to play. I don’t know how his date manages it all. The man seems to be in a world of his own. What a brave woman. Peter, the quieter one of the three men has the other nice girl beside him, probably flirting with her. We all know how this night will end for these two men.
It is then that I notice that Rude Girl is sitting on my spot, right next to Masulani, trying to get his attention by placing her hand on his arm. I watch him face her, talk to her for a minute before he looks away from her and back to Stanley, ignoring her again. It hits me then.
I can be so daft sometimes.
I believe I just figured it out.
I don’t know why I didn’t see it earlier.
Three men. Three women. Four plus me.
Miss Ignoring Me Alone Angry Sandra was supposed to be Masulani’s date. Surprise date? Forced date? Blind date? Let us force you with a random hule* dressed like date more like it; but then Masulani came with another woman – me – and now Ignored Date Sandra is super pissed not only at me but Masulani as well. Her friends too. She’s alone and hurt. It was a fascinating picture having to watch her sulk and pout at nothing in particular for the most part of the night; but now I see it was about a man who technically does not care about her third wheel problems. Masulani was probably having the time of his life with his hand still roaming my back while Dirty Sandra watched.
I almost feel bad for her, but with her attitude I’m happy she is alone and Masulani couldn’t care less about her and her rude mouth. I walk back to the cubicle standing at the opening, I am hoping the woman can move back to the space her ass occupied before I left; I meet Rude Sandra’s eyes, I sense some defiance from her; she does not want to move from the spot she’s on. I feel like laughing at her. What a sad case. Fine. Whatever. I shake my head and move away from the two of them, deciding sitting next to Stanley and his date would be better than beating Rude Sandra to sleep.
Sandra gives me a smug smile; according to her she’s won. What’s with stupid women and smug smiles? I roll my eyes in her direction. She can have him if she can handle him. Poor her. I catch Masulani looking at me. He’s noticed the silent war going on in the cubicle. I am certain if he’s noticed it then so has everyone else. Talk about awkwardness in a restaurant. The horror. I fight for no man and yet this Sandra is making it seem we are fighting for Masulani. Talk about making a man big headed. If Sandra wants to play this game I will make sure she goes home to a very cold bed alone with only her fingers for friends.
I need to smoke.
“I think I need to get married soon.” Stanley says. “Yolanda will you marry me and make a single man very happy.”
“I don’t think you can handle me darling.” I respond.
” You’re right.” He agrees. “But maybe my brother can.”
Things are about to get interesting.
“Do you think we did a good thing?” I ask.
Sampa and Sangu are long gone, it’s just James and I in our house. Some silence at last. James and I are in the kitchen, he’s cleaning the dishes while I stand near him a cup of strawberry tea in my hands. I cook he cleans, a very deal for me. Plus I hate cleaning dishes.
“We did good.” James responds. “Don’t stress about this.”
I can’t stop worrying about Sampa and the responsibilities I have put on her shoulders. What if she never wanted to have anything to do with children because she can’t have her own? What if I made her feel bad? What if she thinks I feel pity for her? What if one day she hates me or resents me for acting like she was begging for a baby?
“Sampa is fine and you’re over worried about nothing.” He responds
I look at James and he gives me a reassuring smile. I did it because of all my friends she seems to be the one who has it together. Stable. Mable has problems in her marriage as is – one more thing and things will tip over; Sonia might not be around much when she gets married and leaves Zambia with Ian; Yolanda well she’s crazy, she loves kids but not ready to be Godmother material. That leaves Sampa. She is perfect.
When James and I discussed it we knew Sampa and Sangu were the perfect choice, not only because they would probably have no children in the future but because they would go through so much and I wanted them to have one thing to look forward to.
“You’re an amazing friend.” James says
I hope I am. I place my half empty mug in the sink and I watch James dry his hands on a towel before he takes my hands into his.
“She is happy with what you’ve done. I’m proud of you Thandiwe.”
“I am happy if she’s happy.”
“And she is. Do not stress about this anymore.”
“Now come on let’s go to bed. Or do you want a bath first.”
“A bath first.”
“Great. Let’s get you that bath and then bed. I have a date with you and that big bed of ours.”
“Gosh you still have energy after everything?” I ask
He smiles at me as he leads me out of the kitchen.
His back against my front, my head on his shoulder, my hand on his chest, we lie in silence. My mind keeps wandering back to Thandiwe and her asking Sangu and I to be Godparents. I’m still in shock she chose us. I still don’t know what to think.
Sangu and I as godparents.
I thought she would have chosen Mable since she has an experience with children, instead of me, the one who might not be able to have children ever. She chose me to be a Godparent. I’m amazed by Thandiwe. Truly amazed. I know she didn’t do it out of pity, she would never do that. It’s not like her. She simply chose me. I might never have children but I know my best friend’s children will always be like my own. Whenever they need me I’ll always be around for them.
What a day. Who would have thought?
Sangu’s hand covers my own over his chest. He lifts my hand to his lips and kisses my palm.
“We are a blessed bunch you know that?” Sangu says
I nod vigorously. We are blessed. The Lord sees it fit to bless us time and time again. Sangu turns and faces me.
“I know Thandiwe gave you the best news ever.” He says. “But Sampa you need to have faith that God will bless us one day with one of our own.”
I love how he has so much faith and hope for us. I love how he goes against fact and simply believes the impossible will happen.
“What Thandiwe did is a sign for us. We will have our desires fulfilled. One day.”
He kisses my palm and I smile at him through my tears. I just hope I never disappoint him one day. Ever. He holds my hands and for the first time in a long time I close my eyes and say a prayer in my heart.
Just maybe this time things will get better now.
I look at Masulani’s outstretched hand and then catch Sandra’s shocked look. I shake my head and roll my eyes. Men no. They will have you thinking you’re on the same path only for him to show you he always was on another path with another woman. Sandra should have expected this. I mean the man didn’t show one bit of interest in her no matter how hard – and touchy -she tried. And try she did. She needs a medal for trying; no matter what she did – touch his arm, play with his shoulder or show off her cleavage it clearly wasn’t enough. Even Stanley had the guts to make a joke about her clinging to Masulani in our presence. Awkward.
And now this…
I could decline his hand and stand up by myself to make her feel like she’s a champ. But no. I’m not in the business of making females with attitudes happy. So to her annoyance I take his hand. Her pout makes an appearance again. Sad. Masulani leads me out of the cubicle with his free hand resting on my back. We stand by the cubicle entrance when Stanley stands up. He shakes Masulani’s hand before he gives me a hug.
“Was a pleasure meeting you Yolanda again. I had fun.” He says
Fun being him flirting with me for most part of the night much to Masulani’s annoyance. No harm done. He made my night. Probably trying to make the situation lighter with the clingy Sandra around.
“As always.” I laugh.
“Take care of my brother.”
“I will try.”
“I hope to see you again.” He says.
“You might. You never know.”
I kiss his cheek and he gives me his charming smile that probably has hearts breaking around Lusaka. Definitely not mine. I wave to a tipsy Peter who has his lady sitting on his laps now. I don’t say a word to Sandra. No need. Not like she will respond anyway. Masulani grabs my elbow and we walk away from the cubicle.
The bar is a little bit more crowded than it was when we came in. Masulani grips my elbow a little bit tighter as we make our way through. I notice women dancing on the little dance floor enticing the weaker men to join them breaking it down for them promising them a good time afterwards. The stronger men don’t leave their tables instead they keep watching all that is on display for them to see. Lusaka night life has just began.
We walk outside into the cool air, sounds from the bar decreasing with each step we take away from the establishment to his car. Masulani’s grip weakens but he doesn’t let go. I smile. He’s marking his territory. No one will want to mess with me tonight. When we get to his car he opens the door for me, holds my my hand and helps me into the car, he does not let go of my hand. Instead he looks at me as if fascinated by something on my face.
“What?” I ask
“I thought that Sandra lady would beat you up to be honest.” He laughs.
I laugh. “So you noticed!”
“I think everyone at the table noticed.”
“You’re horrible Mr Jere.”
He laughs. “I seriously thought she would stand up and slap you.”
“I thought the same too.” I laugh. “She’s clearly wishing me ill right now. I’m sure of it.”
“It’s not your fault.”
“I know. It’s your fault for bringing me here in the first place. You left a woman… hule stranded.”
He laughs, a hearty laugh. It’s attractive. He’s attractive.
“I didn’t know she was going to be around.” He shrugs.
“Your boys brought her for you!” I laugh.
“So they did. Without my consent.”
“So you know her? Very well?”
“She’s a friend. Nothing more.”
“Really. No interest. Zero?”
“Nothing. I don’t know what happened in there.”
“Well.” He starts. “How about I make it up to you? Drinks. Proper drinks. Just us two.”
“You’re on.” I respond.
“Where would you like to go?” He asks
His hand still holding mine, his eyes looking at me I give him my dazzling smile.
I know the perfect place.
A glass of whiskey in my hand. Check
Perfect venue. Check
Enjoyable house music playing. Check
Attractive man sitting next to me. Check
Feeling that level of high. Check
Siting in the corner of the VIP section of my favourite club, Marilyn watching the thriving city of lusaka through the glass wall is Masulani and I. The trendy club which is storeys high in the area of Rhodespark is best place to end the night. The bottom floors make up for the main restaurant, club, the dance area, the overly loud music and crowds that never seem to end while the top floor is the posh VIP section that attracts the over the top guests of Lusaka.
Leather sofas, expensive high chairs, glass tables and an expensive assortment of alcohol makes the floor the best place to be; but for me it’s the glass walls that make it my favourite destination. I get to watch all sorts of people walk into the club. The fights, drama happens all for my viewing pleasure. It’s my favourite section of the club what with the right music different from the main club’s music downtairs. I guess knowing the owner of the club too well means sometimes I get special treatment. Very special treatment even years after the man got married to “the love of his life.” Not angry or jealous about the situation but I believe I got the better end of the stick with this deal.
Heels off, enjoying the leather seats with Masulani who is clearly enjoying the view outside. We probably look like a couple out on a date whispering in each others ears and laughing. In front of us is the “VIP Compliments of the Bar” Bottle of Glen. More like Compliments from the owner of the establishment. I believe the man probably wants me back in his bed.
Masulani and I have been here for at least more than three hours now and I think I am on the point of no return with my drinking. I think we are passed the point of no return. In my defense I can’t help myself, it’s Masulani’s fault that he’s an interesting man. There are things one would never guess about a colleague until they tell you their story; and Masulani opened up about his life quite easily – born and raised in Kitwe by his parents who are are still very alive; the almost thirty-three year old Masulani is second born of three. An older sister, Caroline and his very flirty younger Brother Stanley make up the brood.
We talked about his life in Kitwe and everywhere he lived after that. He didn’t hide anything from me and I was fascinated. He avoided the topic about his relationship status even when I kept pushing him towards it. Clearly the man had something to hide so I stopped probing. He asked about my life and I told him everything, A-Z with a few letters of the alphabet missing that dealt with the men in my life. Masulani turned out to be an awesome listener. And for that moment I had forgotten all about Mr Forty.
Mr Forty who kept calling through the night. Men.
“We need to go.” Masulani says. “We don’t need to black out in this place.”
It seems like the most natural thing in the world to have him hold my hand as I slip my feet into my heels. He holds my arm as we walk out of Marilyn, more like helps me walk out of the club. It is then that I notice Masulani has women turning their heads as we walk by. I stick my tongue out at some of them. He must find it amusing because he laughs.
“What?” I ask
“Women have this inner circle war going on. A war only other women understand.” He says.
“They were staring so I gave them something new to talk about.” I respond. “They were drooling.”
“Is that your way of saying I’m attractive?” He asks
“You’re over thinking this.” I respond
And he laughs again.
Back in his car, him behind the wheel and comfortable that I am secured in my seat the man drives us away from the crowding club.
“Let’s get you home.” He says.
“Am I allowed to smoke in your car?” I ask. “The craving is so bad.”
“I don’t mind.”
“Thank you.” I smile as I reach for my clutch. “That’s why you’re attractive.”
And he laughs.