Some people are so full of themselves that I can’t help but wonder what they think of others. Can you believe Curtis’ audacity to drive my own car to only God knows where and order me to shut my mouth and listen to him tell whatever story he was brewing up in his cunning mind.
Curtis hit the brakes upon hearing my shriek. “Alicia, didn’t I ask you to shut the hell up?”
“And who are you to order me around? You’ve been driving in circles for over thirty minutes so you’ll tell me what you have to say or I’ll use force and get back my car, trust me to do exactly that.”
“Okay,” Curtis nodded as he slowly drove to a deserted playground. “We’ll talk here.”
“Thank you. And you better make it quick cause the time’s past 19:00hrs so my daughter Faides will start getting worried as to why I’m not home yet.”
Curtis just took a deep breath. “I wasn’t born rich.”
“If you could be kind enough to shut up and listen to my story, I’d appreciate that.”
I rolled my eyes at him and clicked my tongue. “Cool, I’m giving you exactly ten minutes.”
“That’s okay with me. So as I was saying, I wasn’t born rich. I was…….”
Seconds turned into minutes which turned into an hour as Curtis told his story in detail. I was so speechless all along wondering how someone could endure all that he had gone through and still manage to forge ahead.
Curtis was saying, “So the girl I had a one night stand with came to me three months later and informed me she was carrying my child. I told her to abort the baby and she agreed. Well, I don’t know what changed but the Lisa girl gave me-”
“Did you say her name was Lisa?” I blurted out, interrupting Curtis.
“Yeah,” brow furrowed, he said. “Why, do you know her?”
Do I know her? I thought. The story you’re telling is so connected to my late sister. No, this can’t be. You can’t be Faides’ father. No way!
“Know Lisa? Um, no. I thought I knew someone by that name but I’m mistaken. The Lisa I knew doesn’t fit your description as she was happily married with four kids,” I lied.
“No. She ain’t the one then. My Lisa wasn’t married neither did she have kids. So as I was saying, Lisa gave me a phone call and informed me she was keeping the pregnancy. I was shocked and as I wasn’t ready to become a father, I told her that was her baby to nurse and she said she was fine with playing both the baby’s mother and father….”
He went on and told me how Diana and him left Zambia for Britain. I was quiet all along as Curtis’ story sank in. He told it so perfectly that before I knew it, he was giving a reason for his rudeness on the first night I had met him.
“Ali, it shattered me to learn Lisa had succumbed to death a few hours after giving birth to my child. Do you know the irony of it all?”
“No.” I shook my head as tears welled in my eyes. I could see tears form in his too.
“Ali, I never got the chance to know my mother as she had died seconds after bringing me into this world. But I at least had a father to look after me. How about my child, does he or she have a father figure? What sort of life does he or she lead? Is he or she happy? Is he or she still alive? All these questions almost send me insane, Ali. I think I can do anything just to get the chance to know my child. I want to make up for the lost 10 years, I really do.”
Never in my life had I thought I would find myself in such a complicated situation. Here was Curtis longing for his daughter when she was actually living with me. And all along I’d been wondering what to tell Faides regarding who her father was and now here he was, on a silver platter. But the question was, was I ready to tell Curtis that his daughter was with me or tell Faides that Curtis was her father? I don’t think I was ready for such.
“Curtis,” I patted his hand. “I’m truly sorry for everything you’ve gone through.”
“So you can actually say my name?”
“You just called me ‘Curtis’.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle. “I like your sense of humour, Curtis. I can’t believe you can find the time to joke around when you’ve got such pressing matters at hand. I don’t know what to say to comfort you but trust me when I say I know the feeling of not knowing your child’s whereabouts. My only son has been gone for 11 years and I’ve never set my eyes on him neither do I know where he is.”
“That’s sad, Ali. Do you want to talk about it?”
“Maybe later,” I said, wiping the single tear that had escaped my eyes.
“Wow, guess we have something in common, neh?” Curtis said, starting the engine.
Something in common? We have a lot in common! “Guess so.”
The drive to my place was awfully quiet. Curtis parked my car behind his once we arrived.
“Alicia, do you still see me as a jerk?”
“Not anymore, no.”
“Does this mean we’re now friends?”
“I’ll think about it,” I shyly replied, playing with my fingers.
“My God, Ali. That’s a line for teenagers. Anyway, I’ll give you enough time to ponder things through.”
“That’s so thoughtful of you.”
Once Curtis was gone, I drove into the yard and parked my car at it’s usual spot.
I then went into the house.
“Mummy!” it was Faides rushing to hug me. “I missed you so much!”
“I missed you too, baby. We’ll talk later, huh? Let mummy take a bath first.”
“Good evening madam,” Mule greeted upon seeing me.
I bypassed her and went straight to the bathroom where I soaked myself in hot and soothing water. I always did this whenever I wanted to think things through. But tonight my mind seemed clogged. So Curtis was literally my brother in-law? And he was also my daughter’s father? Wow, what a small world we live in.
After thinking for over thirty minutes, I finally came to a conclusion. I wouldn’t just run to Curtis and blurt out Faides was his daughter. I didn’t even know the guy one bit so there’s no way I was including him in my daughter’s life that easily. Yes I accept Lisa had carried Faides in her womb for nine months and endured labour pains for seven hours before bringing Faides into this world but I’d taken care of Faides for 10 years so she was my daughter. Mine and only mine, at least for now.
I then also made up my mind to become friends with Curtis so that I could at least get to know him better.
It was morning and Faides was cuddled beside me. She had insisted on sleeping in my room and I couldn’t help but feel touched by how much she loved and adored me.
“Wake up, sleepy head,” I nibbled at her ear. “You’ll run late for school.”
“I don’t want to go to school, mummy.”
“How will you become the pilot that you so aspire to be if you skip school, huh?”
Faides groaned, yawning while stretching herself. She sat up in bed. “I had a dream.”
I sat up too. “Tell me about it.”
“I saw my daddy, but his back was what was facing me so I couldn’t make out his face.”
I sighed upon recalling I now knew who her father was.
Faides said, “Who and where is my daddy, mummy?”
I wrapped a hand round her shoulders and pulled her closer to me. “What if I told you your father’s abroad but he’ll sooner rather than later come back?”
“Are you telling the truth?”
“Have I ever lied to you?”
“No. That’s why I love you. You’re the best mummy in the world.”
“And you’re the best daughter in the world now get up, go brush your teeth and prepare yourself for school.”
Later that day, Baison and I were at work as we were working during the day. Him and I were now back to being the best friends that we had always been now that he was smiling almost all the time.
“How are your sessions with Diana coming along?” I asked him as I painted my fingernails.
“They are coming along just fine. But I’m dreading the day they come to an end cause I’m growing fond of Diana.”
“That’s nice to know. But you can always hang out with her even when you’re done with the sessions, can’t you?”
“I guess so,” said Baison nonchalantly. And then he muttered, “Speak of the devil…”
I was forced to glance up just to see Diana walk into the police station with a carrier bag in her hands. She was all smiles and she looked dazzling in the pink floral knee length dress that she was wearing.
“Hey, I brought you guys lunch. Hope you’ve not had it yet though.”
“You’ve got perfect timing,” said Baison charmingly. “I’m starving!”
“That’s great then,” Diana placed the food on the reception desk. “Hope you enjoy my home cooked meal.”
“Are you sure I’m meant to eat the food, Dee?” I teased her.
“Whatever that is supposed to mean,” she giggled. “You’re safe to eat it.”
After we’d eaten and Diana was gone, Baison brought up a serious discussion.
“I’ve been meaning to tell you something.”
“Okay, I’m listening.”
“Diana’s made me realize something,” he cleared his throat. “I’m not in love with you, Ali. What I felt for you was sheer infatuation. You can rest assured I’m past it now.”
“This is wonderful news, Baison. I pray you find a lady who’ll appreciate your love. I pray you find true happiness cause you deserve more than that.”
“Amen and thanks,” he displayed his boyish smile. “Let’s get back to work now cause I can see clients headed our way.”
His sarcasm had me stifling raucous laughter as a woman with a battered face walked into the police station with a young boy in her wake.
Three days later, I was home alone as Mule had gone to Mufulira to pay her mother and son a visit. Monde was hosting a sleepover for her daughter and that’s where Faides was spending the night so 21:00hrs found me alone at home watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
My phone rang and the caller ID depicted a private line. Skeptical, I still picked the call.
“Alicia, it’s Curtis. Dee gave me your line. So I just wanna know if you home.”
“I’m outside, come open the gate for me.”
“Okay,” I said as I got up and slid into my slippers. “I’ll be right there in a minute.”
I was frowning as I adjusted my robe and opened the gate. Curtis drove right in and I closed the gate.
“What are you doing here at this hour?” I asked Curtis as politely as I could as we went into the house.
“You said you’d think about my proposal,” he said. “I’m here to get my answer.”
I ushered him into the living room. He was about to sit but remained standing. I was about to ask him what was wrong when I saw him approach the small round table beside the T.V stand where I kept a photo of Lisa. OMG, had he seen it? Oh boy, shit just got real!