TILL DEATH DO US APART
© Benson Mphandika Lungu
Hellen stood in her room by the window watching the maize seedlings that had just germinated that week in her grandparents vast farm. The farm was so large that one couldn’t see the far end of it. A lot of crops were grown on that farm but a large share was for maize. The farm was well stocked as it had most of the necessary equipments for a farm, that is, tractors, planter, shellers and a hammermill. There was also an irrigation system installed which enebled them to have fresh produce throughout the year.
Hellen stood there trying to see the far end of the farm though she knew quite well that what she was trying was an impossibility. She then tried to reduce the way her eyelids opened so as to leave her eyes partially closed. She then started seeing those imaginary patterns which children of her age called ‘hunger patterns’. She felt a bit bored with whatever was going on. She then decided to head outside so as to pass her time.
She got to the door and lazily opened it to the sight welcome of a hot scotching sun as the sky was very clear that day. Without wearing her slippers, she decided to step on the ground barefooted. Her grandmother who was sitted under a thatched shelter which was
“I don’t think you want to come here barefooted” her grandmother said before she could step on the ground.
“Grandma, as if I can die with this” Hellen said.
“Okay, just wait and see what happens to you” her granny said.
Without arguing with her granny, she got her slippers and wore them after which she went to join her grandmother in the shade.
“It’s like you are so bored. Do you miss town?” Asked grandmother.
“Yeah am bored but it’s not that I really miss town.” Hellen said.
“Then what is making you bored? There is a television set with a fully paid decorder. If you want books, you can go to your grandfather’s library and read. There is power amd food is there, so where is the boredomness coming from?”
“Grandma, i just need someone close to me so that we can chat”
“Okay girlfriend, here I am. Let’s chat”
“What about now granny?”
“I don’t know”
“Okay, let’s talk about town life. Tell me somethings you enjoy in town”
“Not that grandma.”
“Mmmmm I tell you a story”
“Later grandma. Stories with this sun! Won’t the Kalulu in your stories get dehydrated?” Hellen said as they both laughed.
“I have an idea which you won’t say no to”
“What?!” Hellen asked.
“Go to my bedroom and bring me the small cardbox that is on the right hand side of the bed.” Granny said.
Hellen quickly went there and brought what she
“What’s in here granny?” Hellen asked.
“Just wait and see” grandmother said as she opened the cardbox.
Inside the cardbox was a photo album.
“This is the album with our wedding photos.” Said granny.
“You have never mentioned it to me” Hellen said as her cute face started glowing with happiness.
“Yes that’s why I have brought it out today. Come sit next to me I show you.”
“But granny this is not fair. You have never shown me this album or mentioned it to me, why?” Hellen falsely complained.
“Unfortunately, i can’t be sorry for not showing you this photo album.”
“Like seriously?! Why?”
“Because I choose who to show and when to show it.”
“Grandma are you even listening to yourself? A mere photo album?”
“My dear, this is not a mere photo album. It’s something more valuable to me than this farm. It has beautiful memories of when I started a special life with your grandfather, my lovely and handsome husband” granny said.
“Yes he is so handsome. Anyway me mind but the truth of the matter is the time you will want to have a wedding hire a good photographer who will help you keep memories of your special day.” Granny said.
“Okay, I get that. Now let me see what is inside that treasured album of yours” said Hellen.
“Okay here see, this was when I was being prepared at my matrons home. I was to look beautiful on that day for my husband.” Said granny as she showed her the pictures in the album.
The went through the pictures until when they got to those showing them in the church.
“So how were you feeling when your father walked down the aisle with you to hand you over to your husband?” Asked Hellen.
“My dear, the anxiety and happiness was so overwhelming that I started shivering. My father could feel the shivers that she told me to calm as everything was going to be fine. It was beautiful though” granny said.
“I see. All those people looking at you only?”
“Yes that’s why the anxiety comes. See here, it was when we were doing our ‘I Dos’. ” Said granny pointing at the picture.
“Yes, it was so nice when he said the last part of the vow to me”
“Which last part?”
“TILL DEATH DO US APART”
“Oh okay. But marriages of these days end anyhow, so these phrase is meaningless” Hellen said.
“I agree with you that these days it has been rendered useless because is easier to get a divorce than to get married. But this vow is supposed to be understood and cherished. The moment people understand that it’s a vow and nt just words, they will respect their marriages.” Grandmother said.
“Yeah. I can’t wait foe my wedding too” Hellen said.
“My dear, at your age admiring a wedding! You have just written your grade seven exams, you are still far from marriage” granny said.
“Yes, i know but Its my target so that nothing comes in my way to stop me from doing a wedding” Hellen said.
“I like that. I will be the main dancer on your wedding then” granny said as they both laughed.
“Now granny, tell me something. How did you meet with grandfather?” Asked Hellen.
“It’s a long story my dear” granny said.
“We have all day, you can still narrate it” said Hellen.
Grandmother gave a deep breath in and out as she looked around the yard which had a lot chicken picking their manna.
“Okay, I will tell you but pay attention” said grandmother
“I will pay more than the usual attention grandma” said Hellen.
“Okay, let me now tell you how I, Dinah met your grandfather, Silas. We were at the University. ” said grandma.
(GRANDMOTHER’S NARRATION FLASHBACK OF EVENTS)
I got to the university not really knowing how my life would be. I had to do a lot changing in order to suit that environment. But with the help of my friends, I easily got absorbed into the system.
That first weekend of us in the university, there was a dance organized to welcome us the freshmen. I didn’t really feel like going there but my roommates who happened to be senior at the campus encouraged me to attend as it was for us. I agreed but the real challenge came when they told me that I would have to dress to kill, that meant me wearing clothes which exposed most of my skin. It was a challenge to me because I grew up molded into wearing clothes that hid atleast 80% of my body. My roommates wanted me to have the 20% of my body covered which was the exact opposite of what I wanted and valued. They then offered me some skimp clothes to wear.
“Thank you but I can’t wear this.” Said.
“Come on. Its not that this is what you be wearing all the time. They are just for tonight.” They coaxed me.
“Mmmm mmmm” I hummed the response as I nodded my head in disagreement.
“You have not yet even tried to wear them but you are refusing. Come on, go and try them on” my two roommates said as they made stand to go and change.
Though I never wanted, I went to the change to do as they wanted. The clothes which I was given by them was a bareback which only had strands behind meaning after wearing it, the whole back would be exposed. I changed into those clothes I was given. The ‘bareback’ was also short that my naval wouldn’t get covered. The skirt was also short which made a much area of my thighs be exposed. When I tried to pull the skirt up to cover my naval, the almost all my thighs went exposed. So I pulled the so back leaving my tummy exposed. I wore the high heeled shoes they gave me too.
“Hurry up girl, we can’t wait to see you!” my roommates shouted to me.
I wasn’t comfortable with the clothes I was wearing at that point. What made it so weird was the fact that I grew up knowing that such clothes are for those people whose moral status was in intensive care Unit.
“I am now a real night club woman” I thought to myself.
I slowly walked out of the change room to where my mates were. The moment they saw me they both went stunned. The reaction they gave made me feel like they didn’t like it.
“I go and change?” I asked not really being sure of what to do.
“No, No, No. Not yet. You are looking so hot. Come and see yourself in the mirror” they said to me.
I stood in front of the mirror and I felt pissed with how I looked. I have had never worn such clothes then.
“Girlfriend tou are so hot. Even the president of the campus will fall for you.” One of them, named Serah told me.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yes of course. Turn around” Serah added.
I turned around at which Serah told me something I didn’t expect.
“Dinah, you can wear a bra in that top.” Serah said.
“Why?!” The shocked me asked.
“Thats the way it is supposed to be worn. Go and remove your bra.” She said.
“Then what’s the whole essence of this top if it doesn’t want a bra.” I asked.
“To be noticed by men” she said.
“I don’t want to be noticed by the way” i said.
“Tonight you don’t need to want to be noticed, its a must that you must be noticed. Come go and remove.” Serah said.
“Or she can remove the bra when going finally” the other suggested.
The evening came and the sound system was playing from the University hall were the dance was to be. A lot of students started heading to the hall while my roommates and I still were in our room.
“Don’t you think we have to go now?” I asked seeing how relaxed amd unprepared they were.
“My dear, we will go when it is at peak. We are not like anybody there.” Serah said.
At their own good time, we started preparing for the dance. They finished getting dressed while I was just sitted doing nothing.
Serah and her friend saw me not prepared.
“Dinah are we not going? Come on let’s go now. See we are ready now” Serah said as she turned around to flaunt her behind was flat like ZESCO electricity pole.
They were both dressed in mini skirts and skimp tops as they applied a good deal of make up.
I went and wore what they gave me. Wearing that top without a bra inside made me feel very uncomfortable. When I looked at the side of my body on that top, I could see a large part of my breasts exposed.
“No way?!” I said to myself.
They then came and dragged me to tue mirror. They then applied make up on my face.
“Just look at how you are glowing my dear.” Serah said.
I stood there looking at myself not really thinking of anything else but the uncomfortability I was in.
“Dinah, I have to confess one thing. You are so beautiful. No man will ever take away his eyes from you. Just look at those well pointed breasts! unlike ours which are small and unconfident. Your behind is well built and your body was immaculately made. My dear, we are giving you the opportunity to really know how worthy you are.” Said Serah.
“Thank you for the complement” i said.
Honestly, I was really well built like Serah described me. This time I was in my youthful stage and early twenties. As a matter of fact I had not yet known who men were due to the strict life of my police mother. It was for that strictness that I came to the university aged twenty one years but still a pure virgin. By this time I had not yet known who and what a man can do to me. It was the pride I had which I promised my mother to never take away foolishly.
We left our room heading to the hall. We walked in the path as they sandwiched me in between then.
“Remember, to smile Dinah” Serah whispered to as we were about to enter the hall.
The moment we entered people cheered at Serah and us. It was evident that Serah and her friend were famous at the campus though I didn’t know for what. They danced as I followed them behind not knowing where they were going. In that scene, a certain gentleman came and held my hand.
“Can i dance with you?” He said.
“Mind how you hold her. If you do anything stupid, we will be on you” Serah warned the guy before I could answer.
“No problem” said the gentleman.
“Dinah, enjoy yourself. We will meet at our room” said Serah as she disappeared into the crowd before I could say anything.
“Come on let’s dance” he said as he drew me near the exit door.
The lights were so dim that you couldn’t clearly see the face of any person. They disco lights installed for that night, made the room sparkle.
“Can we dance now?” He asked again.
I wasn’t sure of what to answer him but when I looked around, I noticed that almost all people were paired as they danced to the tune playing there. At that I nodded to which he held my waist.
I felt some form of electricity enter my body with that touch he gave me. We slowly started dancing to the song playing. The dancing had then reached it’s peak. It was at this moment that the Disco lights were being switched off one after the other making the room get darker. I didn’t know what was the intention of that. Through my hard sight, I saw some people getting very close in their dances and started kissing.
The gentleman I was dancing with Drew me closer to him as well. He slowly started running his hand behind my back which was bare.
“You are beautiful” he whispered to me.
“Aaaah, thank you” i said not knowing what to say.
He continued caressing me and I wasn’t sure whether to stop him or not because the feeling was so good that i didn’t know when my eyes closed. He continued until when he entered his hand in my top and ran his hand over my breast. I immediately opened my eyes and anger was all over me.
“What do you think you are doing?” I asked him pushing his hand away from me.
“I thought we are trying to have a good time.” He said.
“Good with my breast?”
“It’s not that…”
I immediately left him and went outside the hall so annoyed. What really pained me was the fact that a stranger had touched my bare breast. It was like he took my pride away. What I was raised to know it that there are three people who had the authority to touch them, my child, husband and doctor. I went and sat on the bench in the garden as tears ran downy cheeks. The same male student came to where I was.
“I am sorry. Lets go and just dance then.” He said.
“Fuseki. Coka apa” I said. ( Forsake. Get out of here)
He then held me on my hand and he tried to drag me.
“You will dance with me.” He said.
As I struggled to free myself from him, an unknown male student came to where we are.
“Hey stop what you are doing. Do you know you can be expelled with this your behaviour” said the man.
“There is nothing which concerns you here. Just leave us” the man dragging me said.
“She is my cousin that’s why I have come here”
At hearing that, the man let me go and left going into the Hall.
“Am sorry for all this. Are you okay?” He asked me.
I didn’t say anything but nodded being fine.
“Please be careful with those scoundrels. They are after abusing innocent women.” He said as he helped me sit.
He was looking at me which made me feel uncomfortable as I was almost naked in my eyes.
“My name is Silas” he said to me.
“Am Dinah” I said as isniifed clearing my nose due to the tears which made my mucus run waterly.
“Okay Dinah, I feel you need to go to your room now” he said.
“I can’t go alone” i said.
“I will escort you.” He said.
“Okay thank you” i said.
He then gave me the leather jacket he was wearing. He saw how uncomfortable I was. At that I knew that he was a good man who had the interest of others ahead of his. He escorted me to our room. Unfortunately, when we got there I remembered that the keys were with Serah.
“You can’t go there. Let me go there I get the keys for you” Silas said.
“Serah can’t give you” I said.
“Okay since you can’t go there, let us wait for them here. I will keep you compan until when they come.” Silas said.
So we sat on the steps of our room waiting for Serah to come with the keys.
(BACK TO THE PRESENT)
“So grandma, what were you doing as you waited for Serah to come?” Hellen asked to hear more.
“I will tell you everything but first bring me some juice i drink” grandmother Dinah said.
“Okay” Hellen said rushing into the house and coming back bringing what she was sent to get.
“Now continue granny” Hellen said.
“Okay” grandmother said.
Watch out for episode 3.