Mwamba arrived at Tamara’s house a little after 18. He had called earlier to let her know he would be there to see her. Sighing deeply, he knocked at the door.
“Come in.” Tamara sat facing the door. Normally she would receive him from the door. But today was different. The tone of his voice when he had called earlier told her everything the needed know.
“Hi.” Mwamba bent down to kiss her cheek.
Mwamba sat on the only other seat available in the small livingroom. “How has been your day?”
“Its been ok.” She sat watching him intently.
Mwamba felt a bead of sweat from on his brow. He never anticipated how hard it would be to have this conversation. “That’s good.”
“Mwamba stop stalling and get to the point. We both know what you want to say, so just spit it out!”
Mwamba knelt down in front of Tamara and took his hands into hers. “This is hard for me to say. A part of me doesn’t even want to say it.” He looked down at his hands holding hers. She was stiff, holding back any emotion. “You have been an amazing friend. Heck you aren’t amazing woman with such a big heart. It’s hard not to fall in love with you after connecting with you deeply.”
Tamara’s felt her emotions betray her. Tears rolled down her face as she squeezed her eyes closed I’m the hopes of stopping them. “But you cant be with meand are going back to your wife.” She said in a crackled voice. Tamara tried to pull her hands away but Mwamba held on to them firmly.
“Oh Mwamba cut the bull. Just admit that you still love her. Stop trying to use the children as justification.” Tamara managed to pull her hands from him.
Mwamba stood up. “I loved her. I loved her so much that I did everything to make her happy. Even when she did all those things to me I still loved her. Until she broke me. She hurt me so bad that my love for her started to fizzle. I admit I still care for her. But love is not a word I would use to describe my feelings for Naomi.” Mwamba faced the livingroom as Tamara watched him in silence.
“I..” Mwamba sat back down across from Tamara. “I meant what I said when I told you that I had started to fall for you.”
“Please don’t. You knew I had developed feeling for you. And you used that to your advantage.”
“I know you don’t believe that! Tamara you know me! I would never take advantage of you like that.” He said sadly.
“I would like to be alone to wallow in my misery please.”
Mwamba went to her and hugged her. “No. I’m not leaving you alone. Tamara you are my closest friend despite everything. I’m not leaving you.”
Tamara tried to push him away but that only made him hug her tightly. Eventually she broke down sobbing. Mwamba held her until she finally calmed down.
“I’m so sorry.” He whispered to her.
“I still want to be your friend. I’ll be here for you when you are ready to b my friend again.” He kissed her forehead before leaving. He drove to his house where he poured a stiff drink as soon as he arrived. Sitting in the cool breeze of the night, Mwamba watched the stars praying he was making the right decision.
The day to move back in with Naomi and kids finally arrived. Mwamba made sure to get there in the evening. Milda and Peter sat outside waiting for him. The run to him excited as he parked.
“Hi.” Naomi had come out to meet him.
Mwamba took out his bags from the car. Naomi picked up one and carried it inside the house. Mwamba followed behind and met her in the master bedroom.
“It looks different.” Mwamba commented.
“Yeah. I had it painted a different color and changed the layout. I thought a new beginning needed a different look to the house too.”
“So it’s not just the bedroom?”
Naomi shook her head. “Its the living room and the kids bedrooms as well. Eh, dont worry about your bags. I will pack everything properly tomorrow. Why dont you come join us in the living room the kids have been anxiously waiting all day for you.”
“Naomi. We have to get something straight first.” Mwamba sat at the edge if the bed and motioned for her to do the same. “Dont expect for things to go back like they were because that is not possible. I’m here because I listen to all the pleas and I’m willing to try and mend what we lost. I do not trust you right now. And I honestly dont know if things will ever be the same with us. But I’m hoping we can find part of what we have lost.”
“I’m happy you are home.” Naomi sniffed. “I won’t make any promises. But show you instead that I have changed and learnt my lesson. I dont ever want to lose you again Mwamba. I love you and will do what it takes for you to learn to trust me again.”
“Ok. Hug?” Mwamba extended his arms. Naomi went and snuggled between them. “Atleast that removes the awkwardness of first physical contact.”
Naomi smiled. “Yes it does.”
Lwipa sat under a shade watching as LJ played on a nearby mat. LJ loved his monkey doll that played a song each time he shook it. The doll could entertain him the whole day.
“Here you go.” Tomaida handed him a steaming cup of coffee.
“Thank you.” He smiled as he took the cup and sipped on his coffee. “He has grown so much.” Lwipa motioned to LJ.
“Yeah, too much. And too fast.” Tomaida grinned in admiration of her son.
They watched LJ playing, giggling each time a new song started to play from the toy monkey. Lwipa closed his eyes and exhaled deeply.
“Are you ok?” The concern heard in Tomaida’s tone.
“I’m fine. Just happy to be home.” Lwipa opened his eyes to find Tomaida looking at him. She looked very worried. “I promise you I’m fine!”
“Thank you for taking care of me the past month.”
“You’re welcome. Besides I’m your wife. I’ll always be here for you.”
Lwipa held her hand. “Why did you lie about the pregnancy? I just want to know.”
Tomaida hesitated, worried the conversation would bring back his insanity.
“I won’t go loony I swear.” He laughed reading her hesitation.
“I knew how much you wanted a child. And I also knew it was the only way you would leave your wife.” Tomaida admitted. “Even if you didn’t say it, you loved her. That’s why you never let her go despite believing that she was the reason you were not having children.”
“I was so mean to her.” Lwipa said with regret.
“No offense but you are a mean guy naturally.” Tomaida hit his hand playfully, causing Lwipa to smile.
“I need to do something very important. Will you do it with me?”
“What?” Tomaida asked.
“I need to go and see Wezi’s mother.”
Tomaida looked at him like he had just said something crazy. “Are you mad? Why would you want to do that? Besides they won’t want to see you. Her brother made that very clear.”
Lwipa sighed. “I know. But I still need to try.”
A day later Lwipa and Tomaida were standing outside the Chitalu residence. Lwipa lifted his hand up to knock on the door but hesitated mid air. He looked at Tomaida who gave him a nod of encouragement. Closing his eyes, Lwipa tapped the door. It took a few more taps before the door was finally opened.
“Hello?” Nyembezi’s face dropped instantly. He made to shut the door but Lwipa blocked it with his hand.
“Please Bezi, I need to talk to you.”
“Dont you ever call me that!” Nyembezi pushed Lwipa backwards. “How dare you come here, with your whore for that matter.”
Lwipa stumbled back but managed to regain his balance. “I know you hate me. You have every right to be. Please give me a minute. I want to say something to you and mum.”
Nyembezi tried to close the door but Lwipa held it in place again.
“I’m sorry. Im so sorry. Wezi….”
Nyembezi opened the door wide and punched Lwipa in the face throwing him to the ground. “Do not ever mention her name. And do not ever come to this house again. If you do, I will kill you myself.”
Nyembezi punched him again. “Leave and never come back!” He walked back into the house banging the door behind him.
“Let’s go.” Tomaida picked him up and led him out of the yard to where their car.
The next place Lwipa visited was Naomi and Mwamba’s house. Seated in the livingroom Lwipa nervously looked up at Naomi and Mwamba.
“I’m sorry I have to ask Naomi. Please dont take this the wrong way. Eh, are you sure Peter is my son?”
“Excuse me?” Naomi stood up, her hands akimbo.
“Naomi, calm down” Mwamba told her pulling on her hand to get her to sit back down. Naomi sat down fuming. “Lwipa, why would you ask such a question? A year ago you tried to take Peter away from us, but today you come doubting his paternity?”
Lwipa inhaled deeply. “I will be honest with you. I recently learnt that I’m unable to… I .. uh.. I cant have children.”
“What?” Mwamba and Naomi asked at the same time.
“How is that possible? Peter is your child. You were the only boy I ever slept with. You know that!” Naomi responded. “Plus didnt she just have your baby?” Naomi pointed at Tomaida.
Lwipa looked at Tomaida, who in turned faced the floor. “Yeah, eh that’s a long story all together.”
“Oh, I see.” Naomi said. “Lwipa what’s the point of all this?”
“Dont get upset please. I just want to make sure. I dont want to do a paternity test. That’s why I’m asking. I want to be part of his life.”
“Why? Because you have just realised you cant have any more children? You neglected him all year long. Since Wezi died you have not bothered to check on him and cancelled every scheduled visit.”
“Naomi!” Mwamba scolded.
“No, she’s right. I apologize for the way I behaved. I was a jerk thinking I could have my way with disregard to everyone around me. It cost me dearly.” Lwipa looked up at Naomi. “I’m sorry Naomi. For everything. I truly am. From the get go I left you alone when pregnant then came back and tried to bulldoze myself in Peter’s life. I was so eager to be a father without really understanding what it means to be one. Mwamba I’m sorry too man.”
“What are you playing at?” Naomi asked. “No Mwamba I dont trust him. There is something he obviously wants.” She said as Mwamba tried to hold her back.
“I’m not playing at anything.” Lwipa assured. “I just want to have a chance to get to know Peter that’s all. No more tricks. I want to do right by him. By Wezi. She had grown to love him. I could see it each time he would visit.”
“If you can allow me to visit him for now. In time I hope you will allow that he visits my home.”
“That sounds fair.” Mwamba agreed.
“Thank you. I would also like to contribute financially to his upbringing. Allow me to cater for his school fees and requirements.”
Naomi was about to speak when Mwamba motioned her not to. Nodding at Mwamba, she closed her mouth.
“Ok. I’ll avail all the details to you including the account number to deposit in.”
“Thank you Mr Chiti.”
Naomi clicked her tongue. “I hope you are being sincere Lwipa.”
“He is!” Tomaida spoke for the first time since they arrived.
“Can I see him? Peter I mean?”
“He’s not home right now.” Naomi explained. “My husband will call you once we discuss it with Peter.”
“Ok. We’ll be on our way now. Thank you for your time.”