I Am Woman – Episode 13
A Story By Brian Ngoma
“We want to leave this house,” I said with my mind made up.
“And go where?” Uncle Richard asked confused.
“What do you mean where? Our house of course,” I shrugged.
My uncle looked at his wife and laughed.
Confused, I asked “what is funny with what I have said?”
“You are telling me that you don’t know?” Uncle Richard asked staring at me.
“Is there something I would like to know?”
“Well this will be a long ride, let me clear the table. Enoch go to your room.” Aunt Tamara stood up.
Whatever was happening, I had no clue. It seems like there was something happening which I didn’t know about. With the way my uncle responded, it was as if I was supposed to know.
“What is it uncle?” I asked getting worried.
Uncle Richard sat upright and looked at us.
“This will hurt the both of you especially you Tinashe. I am glad I didn’t have no part in it.” He said.
“You are scaring me uncle, tell me please,” I begged.
What he said was the last thing I could have expected from my family especially mama. I knew my mother to be all sort of things but not what my uncle told me. Apparently back in 1993, working as a government teacher, my mother got a loan without the consent of my father and put our house as collateral. After getting the money, some months later, she fled with her new boyfriend whom everyone believed to have influenced her into getting the loan. Papa was so blind that he didn’t see what was happening. It was until later that he knew she had gotten the loan when the bank started visiting him at his workplace looking for mama who had disappeared. Papa was kind-hearted, he pledged to pay back the loan but before he could even finish paying it, he was involved in that fateful accident. The bank had no option but to seize our house.
“That’s what happened,” uncle Richard sighed. “The only place you can go if you don’t want to live with us is Chongwe.”
I stood up and ran to the bedroom to cry myself out. My idea was that we get back to our house and start living there. Even though I wasn’t working, I could have figured out something. What I didn’t want was to spend another day in my uncle’s house. As it stood, me and Kasuli had no option but to stay because the farm was worse. The relatives that side hated us. We were the city children they loved to hate.
Kasuli later joined me in the bedroom and we sat in silent for a while without realising that hours had passed. I snapped and checked the time, it was 14:00hrs. There was one more thing I needed to find out. I dressed Kasuli and we left the house without having lunch. When we got outside, we found my aunt and uncle sited on the veranda and were obviously talking about us.
“Where are you going girls?” Aunt Tamara asked.
“Going to see Clara,” I responded.
“Don’t be late,” she said.
An hour later, we reached Papa’s workplace and everyone was happy to see us. They all knew us and seeing us reminded them of Papa and Gary. They welcomed us so well. After catching up with some of Papa’s friends, we later went to the department Papa was working from. We reached an office which I was so accustomed to. Sometimes especially on month ends papa would bring the three of us and we would wait outside while he would enter and come back with a brown envelope or piece of paper smiling. The man in that office was a good friend of Papa and I knew if there was someone who could have helped with information was him.
“Is Mr Lubase in?” I asked the secretary.
Recognizing me and Kasuli, she greeted us and told us to wait because he was busy attending a meeting and would be back in the next ten minutes. Twenty minutes later, Mr Lubase came back and when he saw us, like the others was happy and invited us into his office. After talking for a while, he confirmed the loan thing and said he was sorry that I had to find out that way.
“Despite that, you have people to take care of you. Be glad.” He said.
I just nodded.
“Mr Richard Mulongo seems to be a nice person. Every month he comes, he talks highly of you girls.”
“Every month?” I asked surprised.
“Yes, to come and get something for you girls. The company is aware that Mr Mulongo left two girls. Hence it pays your uncle something to cater for your needs.”
“OH yes,” I hid my shock.
Seven months had passed and I had no idea that my uncle was getting money meant for us and didn’t even mention it to me. I felt betrayed and taken for granted. Every time I would ask for money, he would give me excuses and he was busy chewing Papa’s money. It then occurred to me that that was the reason he wasn’t hesitant in taking the both of us in. He knew he would be fattening himself and his family.
“Can you do me a favour Mr Lubase?” I asked him.
“Anything my dear,” he smiled.
“This month end, can I get the money instead of my uncle?”
“Well you can but you have to come with him so that you sign some papers.”
“Can’t I just come alone?” I asked worriedly.
Mr Lubase noticed something was going on. Being a matured man he was, he told me that he would figure something out and would know what to tell my uncle when he comes. I was grateful that everything had gone as planned. We were treated to lunch by Mr Lubase and he drove us back home. Luckily, no one was outside our house.
A few days later, my life resumed. Aunt Tamara stopped playing nice. I assumed that they now felt safe because we were still living in their house. The niceness was as a result of fearing that I would report them to the authorities but since I hadn’t, they had nothing to be scared of. They had noticed that I had changed. I didn’t talk a lot and when they were scolding me, I would just remain quiet and do whatever they wanted me to do. As long as Kasuli was safe, whatever they did to me, didn’t matter.
It had been days since I last saw Marlon. He came the day after we had gone to Papa’s company but I had a lot on my mind and I couldn’t stay with him longer. I told him everything about what was happening back at my place. After our quarrel about sex, Marlon seemed to have changed. He would listen to me talk and tell me everything will be fine. I was happy I was meeting him later that day.
Unusual of him, he came with no car. It felt nice for a change taking a walk in the street even though I was scared that I might meet my uncle. Marlon seemed low on that day and I wondered what was in his mind.
“What is it Marlon?” I asked him.
He looked at me and nodded his head making me more worried.
“Darlington wants me to go to school abroad.”
My heart felt like it had stopped beating. Whenever Marlon talked about his father, he would refer to him by his first name. Marlon was a b******. That was the reason he lived in the parts we lived. He lived with his single mother together with his other half siblings.
“Where?” I asked forcing back tears.
“Algeria,” he answered. “He said I take things for granted. He even took the car away. That is my mother’s car which he bought for her. He said I drive it a lot so he got the keys.”
“I have heard schools abroad offer the best education.” I said.
Marlon pulled me closer and hugged me. I cried in his arms knowing that he would be leaving soon. He was the only person I had grown to love despite his flaws. I didn’t know how life would be without him by my side. Of course I had friends but they were getting married soon. Even though Diana didn’t say when but I was sure she would be getting married once someone was interested in her.
“To make you feel better, it’s a military school,” he laughed. “Stop crying, I won’t be there forever.”
“For how long will you be there?” I asked wiping tears.
“Until I finish my grade twelve. That’s three years from now.”
To be continued
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