I Am Woman – Episode 5
A Story By Brian Ngoma

The Pain pierced throu-gh my heart as a sharpened blade pas-sing throu-gh a knight’s heart in battle. I felt as empty as space. My eyes so so-re like I had been bleeding blood. As I felt the little hand in my hand holding me so ti-ghtly as if telling me never to let go, I felt her pain and it excruciated mine. She had not moved from my side from the day papa and Gary’s death was announced. Her silent so cold as the grave. My pain was her pain and her pain mine.

It had been two days’ and our house was filled with strangers. Friends and family had heard about my favourite men’s demise. Funny thing but true was the number of people who claimed to be our relatives. I had only managed to recognise a few and the rest didn’t know where they c@m£ from or what relation they had with papa. Lightly recognised was my uncle Richa-rd who seemed to be in charge of the whole thing. I could see him every after some hours pacing up and down. With his bald head, dark skin, a pot belly, short ugly hands and legs, and a face that seemed to have been battered by a monkey’s hand, he walked around in supreme. By his side was his hvge, bleached skin, mouthful wife. Whenever he would call on her, she would rush to him as a slave running to her master.

“Make sure the plates are all arranged in an orderly manner,” she shouted at two girls who seemed fade up with her orders.

For the past forty-eight hours, I had watched them in total silent. I could not move nor talk. I could only go outside when Kasuli nee-ded to.

“Cousin how are you”” Enoch greeted me when I took Kasuli outside for some air.

Enoch was as dull and dumb as it gets. At his age which was 23, he had not completed his education. He had brou-ght nothing but trouble to his parents. What was sickening was the level of tolerance that his parents had on him. Taking advantage of this, he did what plea-sed him. He could beat up girls and steal property but his parents would deny on his behalf. The only person he was scared of was papa. He knew papa didn’t entertain his foolishness. Hence the reason he was never allowed to visit us.

As he greeted me, He was smiling and smoking a cigarette with two of his friends. I only looked at him and wondered what kind of stupid person would ask someone who had just lost two people how they were doing. I really wanted to share my pain and fears with someone. To cry on someone’s shoulder and hear them say everything will be alright.

“Your aunt talks a lot Huh,” Clara sighed as she sat next to me. “Diana is outside cooking Nshima for some of the men who were left out.”

I could not talk but look at Clara. I knew I was being ha-rd on her but she un-derstood. The state I was in was too much to bear. It felt like a nightmare but one that I couldn’t wake up from.

“I even saw Marlon and some of the guys from school outside. Even Fumbani.” She said looking at me.

Realizing everything she was saying didn’t move me, she held my hand. Feeling her hand in mine brou-ght back the tears I was so ha-rd trying to prevent.

“Let it out Tinashe,” she cried too.

The third day was the burial. Everything was carried out as my uncle intended it to. With the help of papa’s company, it seemed my uncle didn’t have any difficulties in arranging the funeral. On the contrary, he made it seem like he did the whole thing.

“I am sorry for your loss Tinashe,” Papa’s workmate said. “The company s£nds it condolences.”

I really wanted to ask what happened but I couldn’t even manage to let my voice out. Some women had been whispering for the past three nights on what supposedly happened. They were careless with how they spoke. I got one or two things from what they were saying. I heard one woman saying that the company driver had been drinking on duty. While driving the workers back to their homes, he lost control and hit a truck at high speed. The company bus only carried papa, Gary and three other workers. Only Gary, papa and the driver died on the sp©t. The rest were seriously injured.

We left the burial site around two in the afternoon.

We got home and I went straight into the house and sat with the women. Kasuli who was with uncle Richa-rd later joined me.

At dusk, a strange woman walked in the house that she drew everyone’s attention. Many relatives gaped upon seeing her. Some women started whispering and others holding their hands on their mouths. She wore a dark long dress with a red cloth wra-pped around her head to show respect. She looked so pale, thin and starved like she hadn’t eaten in days. From a distance, I could see she had a black eye which she didn’t anyone to notice. She walked towards the corner that me and Kasuli were curled in and knelt before us. Looking clearly at her, it was momma.

“My babies,” she dropped a tear.

Kasuli looked at me in disbelief.

un-der normal circu-mtance, she was supposed to jump for momma but instead she held me ti-ght it hurt. I could see hurt and fear in Kasuli’s eyes. I couldn’t blame her; our mother was dead to us.

“I am sorry it took me this long to come here,” she sat next to us.

Three years. Three whole years and this woman decides to show up on papa and Gary’s funeral.

“Talk to me Tinashe,” she t©uçhed my shoulder.

I glared at her and I could feel she s-en-sed and felt all the hate I had kept for her. She let go of my shoulder and looked away.

“There she is,” My aunt pointed at momma.

“Wicked woman, what are you doing her!” Uncle Richa-rd exclaimed.

“Don’t I have I right to attend my husband’s and son’s funeral?” Momma answered calmly.

“Ex Husband. You left him remember?” Uncle Richa-rd moved forward.

“I have come to mourn him. I was married to him for 16 years. And most importantly, I am here for my daughters”

My uncle defeated. He went back outside and his wife followed him. Was momma’s comeback for good? Did she come to get us? Was she sorry to leave papa in the first place? Hearing her say ‘daughters’ s£nt a s-en-se of belonging to my heart. At least someb©dy wanted us. We were not all alone in this dark twisted world, I thought looking at Kasuli laying her head on my l@ps with a stained face.

To be continued

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