30th January 2016
“Ndiwe wo pusa.” Thandiwe exclaims. “Ahh Yolanda. Kuli vaso?”
“Nanga why you so pressed?” I ask.
“So you can’t see what’s wrong with what you’re doing ayi?”
I yawn and smile at her. I seriously don’t why she’s making a big fuss out of me going out for drinks with my supervisor. It’s not as if the man is bad or ugly anyway. I am allowed to. It’s called getting to know the boss better. Much better.
“I seriously don’t know why you are shocked with Yolanda and her stunts Thandiwe.” Mable responds. “Among all of us I seriously think she did the life thing right. I envy her.”
I shrug in agreement. I’m young. Unmarried. And happy.
“Oh come on Mable. You’ve been married for like a decade already so I think we all understand why you would like her life.” Thandiwe retorts.
“Exactly. When you have been married for over ten years, you my friend will end up like me. Wishing for singlehood to force it’s way into your life.” Mable responds.
“Though, look at her she’s so tired because she was out last night with her boss drinking her night away.” Thandiwe says.
Ahh yes. Drinking my night away with Masulani Jere. Gosh, I still have the same smile on my face.
“Thandiwe. No harm done.” I respond. “It was just drinks.”
“I am suprised it was just drinks to be honest.” Mable responds. “Your legs open too fast, too often.”
“Well I don’t care about body count and all those things men hold onto.” I start, “Fun is fun. To be had. To be laid down and done.”
“You’re so dirty.” Mable laughs. “I like it.”
“Hmmm guys. That man… Fun is important.” I groan.
“Iye Yolanda. Have you forgotten you are already dealing with one boss and yet you want to touch the other one too.” Thandiwe says. “How many men are enough for you?”
“All of them except James, Chinyama, Ian and Sangu. The rest are fair game.” I laugh.
Mable laughs, Thandiwe shakes her head. I am super hangovered – the type of hangover that always makes me vow I will never drink again. Waking up was a hustle, almost canceled the ladies plan – to be there for Sonia on one of her epic days – but Sampa convinced me to get out of bed and take a cold bath with a guarantee that she would pick me up and drive – she did not tell me it would be Mable driving all of us to Aunt Leah’s house.
“Mami, don’t you think it’s time you stopped this playing around. I swear if Mutale had not left you this wouldn’t be happening.” Thandiwe says. “It’s all his fault. You never even liked Masulani and now you’re sharing stories?”
“You know that song where do broken hearts go? Mine went to my bosses.” I laugh.
“You’re so childish.” Thandiwe chides.
“You’re keeping the jealousy in hun. Let it go. Anyway, where the hell are Sonia and Sampa?” I ask.
I think it’s time to end this topic. Sometimes I get Thandiwe and other times I swear I do not and I am not in the mood to force this. She can get worried all she wants but it will not change me. Neither will she be able to wipe the smile off my face.
“Lemme go and check the kitchen. Besides, I need to use the bathroom” Thandiwe says.
Thandiwe stands up from the bed and quickly makes her way out of the bedroom. Mable turns and faces me, an ear to ear smile on her face. I know what that smile means. She wants details.
“So what happens to the old man?” Mable asks.
“Who? Solomon? Does anything have to happen to him? He is still around. I will keep him around. Masulani probably wants me to chill with him for drinks, nothing more nothing less.”
“Is he that boring? Or isn’t he getting the hints from you already?”
“Girl what hints?” I smile.
“Don’t play with me. I know you well. Hints are flying all around.”
“Ahh.” I gasp and laugh. “I don’t know. Who knows.”
“So the old man is for what?”
“Sex and things money can buy. I am not trusting another man with my heart and letting him take my eyes off the prize.” I respond.
“The prize being what?”
“I will get back to you on that one.” I laugh
“Are you going to see him again? The supervisor boss man. After office hours that is?” Mable asks.
“Yes.” I whisper. “Gosh Mable. It was amazing. Of course I bumped into a few silly hule chicks but the man himself is like amazing.”
I can’t but smile. Masulani invited me for drinks – and maybe dinner, tonight. Two days in a row. I think he added in dinner when he took me home last night. And I think I said yes before I left his car. I had to. Hanging out with him had turned out to be more fun than I had expected.
“Hule chicks?” Mable asks.
“Yep. Some hule who thought she could get him and lost in the end. Kaya what’s with ladies and desperation. Eh.” I say. “We make these men so big-headed in the name of desperation.”
Mable falls back on the bed and laughs.
“You’re so lucky you’re single mami. Enjoy the moments before you get married one day.” She says wistfully.
I look at her gazing at the ceiling. She should be advocating the importance of marriage and sticking to one partner to me. She should be telling me the dangers of STIs and HIV/AIDS out there plaguing our country. Instead she seems to be regreting it all. Chinyama turned her into this woman today. Men.
“Is everything okay?” I ask
She looks at me and smiles.
“I’m good. Why?” She responds.
“Was just asking. That’s all.”
“Everything is good. I’m good. What could possibly be wrong?”
I can’t help myself. I am jealous.
I watch Sonia talking on the phone, talking to Ian asking him about what time he and his people will be getting here. I can’t help myself. I wish I was in her shoes right now. I wish I was the one getting married and planning the events. I wish I was the one getting the diamond ring and getting excited about my future. I’m happy for Sonia. She deserves everything the world can offer. She has been through a lot and the happiness she is receiving now is because she worked hard and prayed for it.
I have worked for myself. I’ve prayed too, but somehow I’m stuck in a loop.
I’m not certain about my life with Sangu. Actually I’m not certain about my life with anyone. I used to be but I’m not anymore. After finding out having a child would be near to impossible, at the time maybe I had a few regrets about my decision to abort. Maybe I should have kept the baby. Life would have been harder without the baby daddy and there was no way I was going to face my parents and tell them I was pregnant. The man who got me pregnant paid for the abortion pills when I was over two months pregnant. I listened to him and his excuses about the future being great and epic. So I hid the truth from my parents and lost the baby one dark night as I slept. Time went on and so did I until I found out the truth and by that time I wanted a child. And when I met Sangu I realised he wanted children as much as I did I told him the truth and the rest was history and now the future is still uncertain for me. I still don’t know if he will ever propose to me at this rate. I smile at a smiling Sonia as she paces around the kitchen.
“You’re deep in thought.”
I turn and face Thandiwe, breaking a smile to hide the pain in my eyes.
“I was thinking about life. How decisions we make lead us in a particular direction. Like it you had a chance to go back and change your life would you?” I ask.
Thandiwe bites her lip, cocks her head to the side as if in thought.
“Maybe.” She responds.
“Maybe I wouldn’t be married or pregnant.”
I am taken aback by her response. So bluntly honest. Is her predicament that bad that she wishes she wasn’t married or pregnant? Or is James a bad man and she’s hiding stuff from us. She notices the look on my face and laughs.
“Don’t get me wrong sweetie. I am married. James is amazing. But maybe I should have waited before jumping into marriage.”
“Oh.” I respond. “Okay I understand. But you’re okay right? You’re happy?”
“Oh yes. I am. It’s just a feeling. Besides now I am pregnant so I am excited about that.”
I am not convinced that what she saying is true. Is there more to Thandiwe’s story than she’s telling me. Is there another reason why chose me to her Godmother? What if she truly doesn’t want the baby like Yolanda said. What if I am overthinking this.
“Okay!!” Sonia says aloud.
I will have to deal with Thandiwe later. After all this..
“Ian says they will be at twelve-thirty. That’s in less than thirty minutes.” Sonia claps excitedly.
Estelle: Hey are you alright?
Estelle:You’ve been so silent today. Is everything okay?
Estelle: Mable. Hello.
Missed calls: Estelle 6
I want to respond.
I want to pick up. I really do.
Estelle:Call me when you’re free. Miss you
I want to but I can’t pick up. I need to think about Chinyama and my children. And Isaac too. I dare not lie to myself that I will not think about him and decide if I should be with him or not. I don’t know what to do now what with Chinyama told me last night. Do I forget Isaac and simply go back to my sex on a calender life? The life with Chinyama where I couldn’t trust him? Will I ever? It is so hard to stay faithful when you find something better out there. Is that what happened with Chinyama and I? He found something better in Cynthia. Was I a problem that he sort the warmth of another? I was the perfect wife. I loved that stupid man. And he knows it. Gosh it is so confusing. Isaac is confusing me. I want to see him, maybe if I see him I will know my answer. Maybe. But oh my, his lips, his hands. Gosh. Maybe I should stay away. The man is pure sin itself.
No more Isaac I tell myself. It’s done.
Last night was the first time in days, weeks that I slept in Chinyama’s arms. No words passed between us, it was as if the act itself of me going to bed last night gave him the answer he wanted to know, that I chose him and was still committed in making our marriage work. He held me for a while, his arms around me, his breath on the back of neck in silence, and I had slept in his arms.
I woke up in his arms. I woke up to a happy husband, his smiles in the morning the first thing I saw; I woke up to a kissing husband, his lips on mine. A make love in the morning husband who saw it fit to worship my body with his lips and tongue, touch my soul with passion, as if the past years had never happened. And maybe that’s what got me confused. Having to deal with an ideal man who treated me right like Isaac and then having Chinyama humble himself before me and make love to me like it he needed me. I needed it, or maybe I wanted it because I have been holding back on Isaac all this time and I needed a release. Confusing.
The only things that are not confusing in my life are:
One, I am a amazing mother; two I am an awesome friend; three I missed my husband’s lips and touch; four I now miss Isaac’s lips and touch and five, I have no idea where I am going with my life.
I swear I need a drink.
Sonia, Sampa and I head back to Sonia’s bedroom. Ian will be here soon so Sonia needs to be in her bedroom until they call for her. I remember when it was me, mum had been so excited, over the moon knowing James was coming to begin negotiation talks. It was a beautiful day. I sense the excitement from Sonia right now. She cannot wait to see him. She can’t wait to have this over and done with.
We find Yolanda and Mable laughing at something. I swear sometimes I think they are on drugs. Yolanda is sitting in front of the dressing mirror fixing her makeup, I guess she is finally awake and ready to support her best friend. Sampa and I sit on the bed beside Mable while Sonia opens her wardrobe and takes out her handbag.
“I need to change if I am to look appropriate for the future family.” She says happily.
She pulls from her bag a black T-shirt and a colourful red and green chitenge. She quickly takes off her top and wears the dark fitting t-shirt, wraps the chitenge around her hiding her jeans.
“Don’t forget to comb your hair ka. That afro of yours. Use a chitambala maybe. We don’t want Ian’s mother saying we shall pay only if she cuts her hair.” Sampa says
We laugh, all of us in the bedroom. From what Sonia has sad about her, I truly wouldn’t put it passed her to be honest.
“Yolanda, move your kama head.” Sonia tells Yolanda
Yolanda stands up and moves away from the dressing mirror makeup bag in hand.
“I am only doing this because you are the future bride and your boo is coming here to make it serious. Otherwise.” Yolanda responds.
“Ndiwe silu iwe.” Sonia laughs.
“No makeup for you madam.” Sampa says to Sonia. “The more natural you look the better it is for you.”
Sonia sits down in front of the mirror and passes a hand through her hair. Her healthy afro bounces back. She has such beautiful hair.
“I see cars outside the gate.” Mable says loudly. “Is that them?”
We all rush to the window, straining our necks to see through the trees and flowers that surround the house to the gate.
“I can’t see anything.” Yolanda says excited. “What do you see Mable?”
“Three or so cars outside the gate I think. The guard is going to open for the cars. It’s obviously them.”
“I think so too.” Sampa agrees.
I see at least two cars with the third one hidden by the thick tall bush type of flowers.
“Oh my gosh guys.” Sonia says.
We all turn to face an excited Sonia. Her smile is so bright. She jumps up and down around the bedroom in excitement. We join her, holding hands like little girls.
It is time. Oh my I am so happy for my friend.
Best friends forever.
Take a deep breath.
In and out. In and out.
Don’t black out.
Oh my I’ll die. First step. Second step. Am I allowed to freeze? Will they understand if I freeze.
What if I run away?
Will they understand I have cold feet? Why isn’t the process easier?
Deep breath. Don’t forget to breath I tell myself.
A few more steps to the door, and the rest of my life begins. In a way. I can’t believe it’s come to this. This moment. I can’t help but smile.
“Thank you Lord.” I whisper. “Thank you.”
My heart dances with each step I take. Almost there. Finally.
I face Aunt Leah. She gives me a pat on my back. She was sent to call me. To take me to the living room and answer an important question. One that will change the whole meeting for the worst or the better.
“It will be okay.” She continues.
I nod my head slolwy. She knows about this. She’s been through this. Even Mable told me to stay calm when Aunt Leah came to get me. It’s easy she had said when she noticed the fear in my eyes.
“It’s a simple process.” She says. “As soon your grandfather is done asking you questions you will feel better. Don’t worry.” Aunt Leah whispers close to my ear.
She stands at the door leading to the living room and looks at me.
“I am so proud of you.” She says. “And remember what I showed you. Your hands.”
She opens the door and I walk into the living room head bowed behind her. I bite my lip to hide my smile. It is time. I slowly lower myself to my knees, my back against the closed door. I fold my legs and sit on the cold dark tiles my hands on my laps. The silence that follows is deafening; all these people watching me are here to bear witness. I can hear my heart beating faster. Is this how it always is for other women I wonder. If only I could look up and take part in the talks that will continue in a few seconds.
In and out.
Why is it taking so long?
“Sonia.” Grandpa Ben’s deep voice booms in the quiet room.
I curve my palms and sound a deep clap. A sign of respect. A sign that I heard the head of my family. No words needed here. This will be enough. He understands. Everyone here should understand. I dare not look up at him, I keep my head down.
“Nanga izi mbale wasiba kwamene za choka?” (What about these plates do you know where they are from?'”
Mbale. Tumbale. Plates. The plates that start the meetings. I lift my head slightly and I notice the white cloth covering what I assume are the said plates on the table. Yes. I know where they are from. Yes I know where I am going with this. Yes I know what is supposed to happen now. Yes. This is it. My time is here. I shift my gaze and catch sight of a serious Ian. His eyes are glued to the table, his hands in his laps. I notice his mother sitting next to him, her eyes on me. I wonder what she’s thinking. Is she angry? Or is she happy now? Who cares now? It’s my future. Ian and I.
I lift my hands and clap once loudly.