The sun was high up in the sky, and the day was hot, as merciless as hell. With an empty bucket that had once occupied fritters, I trekked home from town. I was only 13 years old by then. I arrived home and sat on one of the Morris chairs. My stepmother from hell appeared.
“Have you sold all my fritters?”
No ‘hello’? I noted.
“Yeah,” I groaned.
She clicked her tongue as was her habit and extended her right palm. “Money, please.”
I wanted to say, ‘as if I don’t know that’s why I’m still here. To act as your errand boy.’ but that would earn me forced fasting for at least two days so I kept my mouth shut and just handed my stepmother Bester her money.
She counted it as if her life depended on the counting. “A K2’s missing.”
“I was thirsty, ma’am, so I bought water.”
She glared down at me. “The next time you spend my money without asking for my permission, you’ll curse the day you were born, stupid boy.” with that, she scuffled out of the living room.
Sometimes I developed thoughts of maybe hitting her but I felt sorry for her especially now that she was pregnant.
I shook my head in dismay and went to my tiny excuse for a bedroom where I sat on my worn out mattress and got a notebook where I began scribbling stuff. I always wrote down my emotions whenever I was feeling low and it kind of helped so I developed a habit of jotting down my feelings in a notebook. See I was an only child of a late woman who had died seconds after giving birth to me. For the first six years of my life, I lived with my dad who worked as a part time mechanic in town. Dad wasn’t the best dad in the world but I wasn’t complaining. And now things just had to get sour when he married the Bester woman. At first, she played a kind mum but became as wicked as Jezebel a few months later. She’d been mean for the next six years or so and now that she was finally pregnant, she became as mean as hell.
At 13, I was luckily in grade 8 and at least dad made certain I attended classes and I’d be forever grateful to him for that.
Well to cut a long story short, Bester gave birth to a baby boy and she continued treating me like trash for the next two years but I endured all that she was throwing at me because complaining to dad about her mistreatment had proved futile.
“Be a man, Curtis. Men don’t whine!” he would chastise whenever I tried to pour my heart out to him so yeah, I had no option but to endure Bester’s wicked ways.
I was 15 years old and in grade 10 when an accident occured at the garage where dad worked. He had been under a truck working on God knows what when the truck collapsed on him, killing him instantly.
I was hurt to realize that I was now a double orphan but Dad’s death didn’t hurt me much because him and I had never been close anyway. But hell, I was going to miss the old man, he was my father after all.
“I don’t care what you have to say. All I know is that this Curtis child is leaving this house, period. He’s not related to me so don’t expect me to take care of a dead woman’s child aini,” it was the one and only Bester speaking. We’d just buried Dad and now there was a meeting between Bester and Dad’s only surviving relative that I knew, his brother uncle Albert.
Uncle Albert said, “As if I’d even leave him in your care, you Jezebel. Heaven knows how bad you’ve treated this boy but I can assure you God will punish you one day.”
“Whatever,” Bester snapped. “You can take your precious nephew and get the hell out of my house. And by the way, your brother was as poor as a retard so there’s nothing Curtis nor you is getting from this house. Everything in this house belongs to my son and I.”
“Yeah, you can keep all the little assets, madam.”
“Thank you. Now get out of my house, please.”
That’s how uncle Albert took me in. He lived in a three bedroomed house in Luangwa with his 10-year-old daughter. Uncle Albert was kind enough to continue sponsoring my education.
Since it was mostly only Diana, that’s his daughter’s name, and me at home, she and I bonded pretty quick and we became more friends than cousins. Well uncle Afred’s career required him to leave town a lot so he was out of town when something tragic happened one night. I had gone out to buy some stuff at the market and had left Diana preparing supper at home. Yeah, she already knew how to cook in spite of her tender age.
So whilst at the market, I met a friend of mine and as him and I were catching up, I lost track of time. It was past 21:00hrs when I finally went home and I was shocked to find Diana lying in a pool of blood on the living room floor, writhing and crying out in pain.
“What.. What happened here?” I even dreaded asking the question as I rushed to pick Diana from the floor.
“It was uncle Chanda,” she sobbed. “He.. He forced.. himself on me.”
I felt my world come crushing down on me. How could her late mother’s cousin do this to Diana? I rushed outside with Diana in my arms and hailed for a taxi. I then asked the driver to drive us to Kabwe Central Police Station where I lodged a complaint and then Diana was rushed to the hospital after that.
When uncle Albert retained, he was furious!
“I am utterly disappointed in you, Curtis. I left my daughter in your care and you let such a horrendous thing happen to her? I’ll never forgive you for this. In fact, I want you to leave my house as soon as possible as seeing your face everyday might push me to do something to you that I might later regret.”
“But daddy, it wasn’t his fault.” defended Diana.
“Dee,” uncle took her hand in his. “It was his fault. So was it that Chanda’s. I promise Chanda will pay for this even if that’s the last thing I have to do in my life!”
I left uncle’s house with no money nor any plans of where to go. The next many months found me doing all sorts of piece work and I managed to rent a one roomed house and pay for my school fees. By the time I completed my grade twelve with satisfactory points, Diana had physically and mentally healed from the ordeal that she’d gone through two years back thanks to a psychiatrist she’d been seeing. Chanda was still missing in action and uncle Albert was still mad at me so he wanted to have nothing to do with me.
A few months after I’d completed school, I heard they were hiring people to work in the mines in Mufulira so I grabbed the opportunity and went to Mufulira where I began staying. For the next 8 years, I worked in the mines and sustained a decent living. But in these eight years, I was no longer jotting down my emotions but writing a novel. I had a dream that I would one day publish it. Even though I didn’t know how I’d do that.
Even though I wrote about romance and mystery in the novel, my romantic life was pathetic as I changed girls like clothes. My good looks came as an added bonus. Speaking of changing girls like clothes, I met a girl named Lisa at a friend’s party and she and I had a one night stand.
Three months down the line, she informed me she was carrying my child.
“Lisa,” I said to her. “I’m sorry but I think the best option is to get rid of the child. I mean, you and I literally know nothing about one another, we are practically strangers! How are we going to raise a kid together? Besides, I’m not ready to become a father.”
“And I’m not ready to become a mother either, Curtis. So I guess abortion’s the best option.”
My happiness was short lived as Lisa gave me a phone call to say she had decided to keep the pregnancy.
“That’s great, honey,” I sarcastically told her. “But please count me out. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not having any baby so you’ll act as both the baby’s mother and father I guess.”
“I can do that.”
That was the last time I had heard from Lisa. A week after that phone call, I ran into Diana in town. She had grown so much that I hadn’t recognized her not until she’d done so me.
We ended up at my house. Diana told me that a lot of stuff had happened in the years that I had been away. That is, Chanda had been caught a year back and had been sentenced to 18 years in prison with hard labour and uncle Albert had died a few months after the sentence. I was sad on the uncle Albert part.
“So who are you staying with?” I asked Diana.
“My fiancée. I know that sounds weird seeing as I’m only 21 but hey, he’s a white man and he’s filthy rich. Plus, he’s taking me with him to Britain. Aha, Curtis, I think you should come with me rather than working in the mines.”
Diana, her fiancée Wilson Rhodes and I left for Britain two months later. Life in Britain was fun and Diana and I lived it to the fullest. She began going to Cambridge to study psychology whilst I was hesitant to pick a course so I stayed home full time for the first year in Britain. Diana and Wilson got married two years after we’d gone to Britain. It was after they’d come back from their honeymoon in Rio De Jeneiro, Brazil, that Wilson came across my unpublished novel.
“Are you sure you wrote this?”
“Yeah,” I cautiously nodded.
We were all seated at the dining table having breakfast. “Why?” I asked.
“This work is superb, Curtis. You’d make loads of money out of this.”
“Oh please, Wilson. That’s just fluff, I suggest you just hand me back the notebook and forget you read anything written by me.”
“I’d like to read the book,” Diana piped up. “You people know how much I love reading novels.”
Without my consent, Wilson went ahead and got my novel published. It was an instant hit. That’s how I became an author of over 50 books in the next 10 years and oh boy were the books successful.
In the 7th year of our stay in Britain, Wilson had succumbed to lung cancer and passed on, leaving Diana with literally nothing. He had been rich but had surprisingly left everything in his sister’s name.
“It’s fine,” Diana had said. “I never loved him anyway. Guess the bastard figured I was only using him. Screw that old son of b—h!”
Three years later, Dee and I decided to relocate to our home country as I was now loaded with cash and with the research I always did, my novels would always be hits so we had no worries of running bankrupt. Besides, Dee had plans to start working as a psychiatrist as soon as possible.
So a day after arriving in Zambia, I had a book opening. It was on that night that I discovered that Lisa had died a few hours after giving birth to my child ten years ago and no one knew the whereabouts of the child. Seeing as I so much wanted to correct my past mistakes, learning about Lisa’s death left me so agitated that I ended up being rude to a fan just because she’d accidentally gotten my suit soaked with liqour.
Now driving to only God knows where with Alicia beside me, I had plans of narrating my life history to her. To be honest, I was beginning to develop feelings for her and seeing her push me away each time hurt me to the core so I needed to tell her my tale maybe just maybe, she might understand I wasn’t the rude jerk she perceived me to be.