The teachers called us to the staffroom were they congratulated us and told us that we’d made it to St Marcellin’s Secondary school which was believed to be the best school of excellency in town and we didn’t know how to celebrate, Austin being him took a teacher’s water bottle and began throwing it in the air until I indicated for him to stop and he grinned at me in excitement then I told him that we could leave and the teachers asked us to visit the school frequently. I got home and found mom cooking then I took over and asked her to rest, she threw herself on a couch and exhaled loudly then began breathing heavily like she’d just ran a race which got me worried sometime back but I had gotten used to it
Mom: how did it go?
Me: I’ve passed and I’ve been selected to go to St Marcellin’s Secondary School
***She froze upon hearing that***
Me: are you okay mom?
Mom: yes my daughter, ummm…I..am..okay…and congratulations you’ve made me proud
***She smiled widely after saying the last part***
Me: I can’t wait to tell dad
Mom: he’ll be more than glad
I went to sit next to her and grabbed her hands in mine, I really loved that woman with my all
Me: why don’t you call him so that he can at least buy me a little present?
Mom: I wish I could but I’ve
I interrupted her
Me: it’s okay, don’t worry
I was a bit disappointed but I couldn’t show it coz stressing her out was the last thing I had on my mind so I faked a smile to hide it and went to finish with the cooking and Monica walked in all dusty which made mom annoyed and started scolding her. We had our lunch and I did the house chores with a little help from Monica then I took out a reed mat and placed it under a tree which was our favourite spot when we were outdoors and I started plating mom’s hair while she taught me a few things I didn’t know of, Monica and I were mom’s best friends so my family was what mattered to me the most I treated my sister like she was my own and my parents as precious jewels especially mom and the love we all had for each other made me feel complete. I was braiding mom’s last cornrow when dad walked in the yard looking very exhausted and Monica ran to him upon seeing him then he picked her up and spun her around, he came to where we were seated and mom greeted him
Me: welcome back daddy, how was your day?
Dad: it was fine my baby, how’re you?
Me: I’m blessed daddy because I’ve made it to Grade 8 at St Marcellin’s Secondary
I was quite disappointed by his reaction because I expected him to be over the moon since he
Dad: oh! That’s great news my baby and congratulations
He tried faking a smile but I’d already read his facial expression, he went in the house and we joined him after I was done with mom’s hair. I prepared his supper since we’d only remained with enough to feed one and it had to be dad coz he didn’t have his lunch and we sat quietly while he ate and told Monica and I to join him but I’d lost my appetite. The atmosphere in the living room felt like we’d just received a funeral
***He seemed lost in thoughts so I called him again and he looked up at me***
Me: did I do a bad thing by passing?
Dad: not at all my baby, it’s just that if you could have told me earlier I would have at least bought you something instead of paying for electricity bills
Me: it’s fine don’t worry about that all you should worry about is raising money to pay for my tuition fees and the rest
He nodded his head and stopped eating then I cleared the table and took Monica with me to bed
BACK IN THE LIVING ROOM
Mrs Mulenga: you need to calm down Bashi Lucy
Mr Mulenga: just look at my life, it’s been thirteen years since Lucy was born and I still can’t do anything sensible with my life. She’s done a great job at school but I can’t even celebrate that because I’m worried about where I’ll find money to pay for her tuition fees and these part time jobs of clearing people’s houses I do aren’t something one can count on especially now that there are more workers so income is less
Mrs Mulenga: don’t worry God will see us through
Mr Mulenga: you’ve been telling me that all my life Angela, what have I done wrong to encounter all this suffering? I have a degree in Banking and Finance and I’ve been seeking employment for so long to no avail. My mother in law who happens to be your mother isn’t feeling well back in the village and is looking up to you as her only surviving child to take care of her but there’s nothing I can do to help, you have severe attacks and the doctor said you need a heart transplant and it all comes back to me, I have no money. This life is just useless
Mrs Mulenga: don’t say that my husband please, life is very precious and others are even in hospitals fighting for it. I’ll help out too
Mr Mulenga: how?
Mrs Mulenga: I’ll look for a job as a house help and I can help pay for mom’s medical bills and…..
Mr Mulenga: No, you’re not doing that in your condition. Let’s leave it and go to bed
They stood up and went to bed both lost in their own thoughts……
I wasn’t in a good mood one afternoon and I yelled unnecessarily taking out my frustration on almost everyone and I had just finished bathing Monica when I heard a loud knock on the door “who in their right sense knocks on someone’s door like that? I won’t open up,” I said to myself then started choosing clothes for Monica to wear and the person was persistent which got me angry and I went to open the door only to find Mrs Mutale, the neighbour who was known to be very aggressive by the whole community and she was breathing fire and I also couldn’t hide the fact the I was annoyed by her action
Mrs Mutale: is that how you speak to elderly people?
***I just looked at her like I didn’t hear what she said***
Mrs Mutale: I’M TALKING TO YOU ARE YOU DEAF OR D…..
Me: hold it right there, I was busy with something before you came knocking and I have to get back to what I was doing
***I attempted to walk away but she grabbed my hand and I could see that I provoked her but she was trying to compose herself***
Mrs Mutale: iwe, ba noko balikwisa? (you, where’s your mother?)
Me: she’s gone for bible study
Mrs Mutale: when she returns remind her that she still hasn’t paid the balance for the packet of rice she took from my shop
Me: alright, I’ll let her know when she’s back
Mrs Mutale: ngwe ngwe ngwe (she mimicked my voice) I’ll come and slap the hell out of you if you dare forget coz I’m not taking any rubbish from her this time around
“what’s wrong with this woman?” I asked myself as I rolled my eyes irritated by her presence
Me: I’ve heard you and you don’t need to go any further
Mrs Mutale: HOW DARE YOU T…….
I got in the house and banged the door while she was still standing there and I heard her shouting at the top of her voice while she left
Mrs Mutale: WHY DOES SHE BOTHER OWING PEOPLE IF SHE KNOWS THAT SHE WON’T BE ABLE TO PAY BACK? AND THEY’RE SAYING THAT THEIR DAUGHTER IS GOING TO ST MARCELLIN’S SECONDARY, WHERE WILL THESE POVERTY STRICKEN FOOLS GET THE MONEY TO PAY FOR HER FEES? USELESS PEOPLE EVEN SATAN HAS REJECTED THEM AND THEIR POVERTY WILL NEVER COME TO AN END. THEY’RE SPOILING THE IMAGE OF THIS COMMUNITY AND SHOULD JUST GO AND SQUAT SOMEWHERE ELSE
I felt my anger brewing inside of me and something told me to go out and answer her back but I decided to keep calm because one thing I knew was that she was going to pay for what she said. I went to the bedroom and found Monica already dressed so I asked her to do her homework while I also took a bath and watched TV…. mom came back and asked her usual question “did anyone come looking for me?” then I smirked and shook my head indicating that no one did. I took the plastic bag of vegetables she had come with and I cooked them quickly then asked for permission to visit Austin which I was granted, his house was not very far from ours so I quickly walked there and found him outdoors reading a newspaper “so much for killing time” I shook my head while entering their yard and he stood up when he saw me
Austin: my besty
Me: the one and only
Austin: how’s she doing?
Me: she’s been badly provoked
Austin: and who dare did that to her?
***I was almost laughing at that point because the look on his face was clumsy***
Me: the community’s devil
Austin: I guess that’s Mrs Mutale
Austin: that woman never ceases to amaze me, I mean I wonder what a married woman with so many children would have against a 13 year old girl
***I explained everything that happened to him and he had a serious look on his face***
Austin was two years older than me but how he’d be silly at times would make one think that I was the older one so I looked at him scratching his head roughly wondering what he was thinking
Austin: I really hate that she spoke to you that way coz you’re like the sister I never had so her telling aunt that rubbish feels like she told mom the same and she’s going to pay so dearly
***I nodded excitedly because I knew that whatever he’d come up with would make her suffer***
Austin: take this
***He handed me a K5 note***
Me: what is it for?
He whispered something in my ear and I was dead laughing while he was serious so we left the yard and went to Mrs Mutale’s shop while he stood at a distance waiting for me, I wore a serious face and got in the shop then handed her the money saying mom had settled her debt but she didn’t pay any attention to me as she was watching a wrestling match with a disgusted look on her face and I went out of the shop excited walking to where Austin was
Austin: you got it?
***I said handing him Mrs Mutale’s shop keys which she carelessly left on the counter some days***
Austin: don’t worry, I’ve been thinking of this idea for some time now and she won’t suspect you coz she usually keeps them in her house and for them to still be found on the counter by this time means she thinks they’re in the house so she’ll turn her house upside down tomorrow morning in search for them
Me: I’ll be up early tomorrow just to watch the show
Austin: I can’t miss it too and that will teach her to know who to mess with
We parted ways and I got home where I found mom cooking then I immediately took over, I told her that I’d settled her debt using the money I was given by Austin’s mother.
I got up early the following morning and started with the dishes then later heard Mrs Mutale yelling at her children to find the keys and Austin arrived shortly then sat on a rock watching what was happening and couldn’t stop laughing then I joined him. She turned her house upside down and insulted all she wanted, all the neighbours never went to find out what was wrong coz they all feared her aggressiveness then she started insulting everyone which got me scared and asked Austin to return the keys which he plainly refused saying he’d return them the after two days……….