If the cup of suffering had passed me by, i would have never known the real and actual meaning of pain. Many times we tend to lighten the troubles that others face only when we test our own share of calamities, do we actually understand their situations. An old saying “chili kwa nzako usamangoti tachigwire nyanga” I don’t know an English proverb equivalent to that but the thing is we tend to tell others what they could have done in a difficult situation yet we miserably fail to do better when it finally happens to us. Talk is cheap but action is like moving mountains.
When Emmah told me that she saw Ben with another girl, I had to go through the painful wheel of explanation again. She was so mad that she said if she had known earlier, she could have stopped the car and dragged the man-snatcher out by her Dracula hair. I told her that I would know what to do when I finally met them. Seriously I just said that to shut her up because even if I would have met them, my hands were tied. The fact that I was carrying his baby didn’t mean he married me. It was my entire fault to give him the benefits of a wife before not even paying my bride price then why would he have bothered to marry me? We often swallow without properly savoring the act of chewing.
Going to school pregnant wasn’t a picnic or a thing I would want to be doing every day. My body was undergoing some remarkable changes which I didn’t understand until I chose to accept them. I had underrated my body but then I came to realize how strong I was. The first trimester was the worst, sometimes when morning sickness hit hard, I had to miss classes. Sometimes I would fall asleep during lectures. I was forced to stop working because weekend classes had not been introduced yet. I didn’t know where I got the guts to make such a bold and daring step. I used the money I got for my service to start a business of selling zitumbuwa (banana fritters) it wasn’t much but it was able to put food on my table. Ben was nowhere to be found. When I called him that I needed some money to start attending antenatal classes, he said it wasn’t his fault that I was not working and I should stop bothering him about money. Eventually he came and threw Two thousand five hundred kwacha to my face. I cried to this monster change of a man. Eh things that men do when love has been thrown out of the window are unspeakable. I thought he wasn’t the same man I used to know whose kindness used to melt my heart.
I learnt the whole semester but didn’t write examinations because of the balance I still owed the school. Despite my countless reminders to Ben to pay the fees, he never budged. All Ben’s two phone numbers were not available. I went to his place which was the last thing I wanted to do and was told by his friend who shared the house with him that he had gone to Chitipa close to the border with Tanzania and had no idea when he would be back. Was he running away or what? Why was he doing this to me when I didn’t beg him to pay my fees in the first place? I guess my dream to be a journalist died before it even hatched out of the egg. As if that wasn’t enough, I was three months overdue with my house rentals. I sold most of my possessions but the money was just a drop in the ocean. I tried to talk to my land lady woman to woman but she couldn’t hear any of it.
“Next time you will know when to close your legs to save yourself from that excuse of a man or better still join a convent” I picked my bag with only my clothes in it and left. I headed for Emmah’s place for her to talk to her parents to accommodate me until I got back on my feet because I couldn’t have gone to Norah’s since their two bed roomed house accommodated her parents and six siblings. In my condition, I needed some privacy.
When I arrived at Emmah’s house, there was a crowd gathered outside cheering and jeering as if watching a football match. I made my way through the crowd and was bewildered at the sight before me. Emmah’s father was showering a young man with blows, anger written all over his face, deaf to the young man’s pleas of mercy. Emmah and her mother were trying to get him off the unfortunate young man but he was too powerful for them. People were doing nothing about it as if this was business as usual. They were busy taking pictures and videos. This world is turning into something else, am sure if that man had died, all those people would have feigned ignorance of the whole issue. I asked a certain woman what was happening; she was standing next to me enjoying the spectacle before her. She said the young man impregnated the girl. When they had managed to locate his place, it turned out that he was married with four children. In frustration the father took back his daughter home but swore to teach him a lesson to take to his grave. True to his words, one day the young man came and stood at a few houses way. He sent a kid to go and call the girl. Luck wasn’t on his side, the message landed in the wrong hands of the girl’s father who went and confronted him but they never agreed on a thing he ended up beating him to pulp. So finally this was the goon who had been driving my best friend crazy as if she was a headless chicken. A pity she was blinded with love like the rest of us. It saved him right I almost forgot my own problems when with a smile on my face, I imagined my dad battering Ben blue and black. It could have been a sight I would have savored for the rest of my life. As it was this family already had enough problems on their plate and didn’t need my baggage added to it. I left.
I remembered the angelic Gogo who took care of me after I was raped. I felt bad to be remembering her when I was in trouble. The last time I went there, I heard that she was quite sick and her relatives from her village in Mangochi came to pick her up so that they nurse her properly since Cindy was always on the road. I hoped she was alive, well and kicking. I had to walk from Area 36 to Chilinde and it was fast getting dark. I was so tired I could feel the strain in my swollen feet and groin. When I arrived at Gogo’s, I found two children playing on the verandah and when I talked to them they seem to look at me as if they never understood any word from my mouth. A woman who I later learnt was their mother overheard me from inside the house and she told me to get inside. The house did not bear anything that resembled the presence of my mother figure. I introduced myself and when I asked about her, she went unusually quiet before telling me that they received a message two months ago that she had passed away. My heart sunk and I cried in earnest. Heaven had gained an angel for sure but I had lost one of the few people who loved me wholeheartedly with nothing to gain nor hold back. I used to visit her after I went to work at Aunt Ivy’s place but I dreaded going there often especially when Cindy was around. She would bid her goodbye the moment I arrived. The message that she didn’t like me couldn’t have surpassed that. I felt the cold pangs of loneliness. I was in the middle of nowhere with no place to sleep. I was back to stage one. The only option was to go back to Area 36 to Norah’s place. I didn’t have a cent on me and couldn’t bear to walk that yawning distance again. The woman said she didn’t have any money to give me. I took my leave. I started walking along the main road hoping for a miracle. I was hungry and thirsty. I sat down under a tree and broke down into a prayer.
“God I know many times I have failed you with my countless sins. Thank you because you are a merciful and forgiving God and you will bring me back to your embrace for you remember that I am but dust and like a cool breeze my life will one day pass away. Help me to accept the things I can’t do anything about and to always trust you with my problems but mostly to give thanks to you in whatever situation I am passing through. If you will not be my anchor, I will head for destruction. Please Lord show your power to me and I promise I will be good from now onwards. In Jesus Christ’s name Amen.” I sobbed my heart out and started walking again. It sounded like a deal with God but I was ready to change for good. When I reached Masintha ground corner road, a car stopped for me as if in answer to my prayers.
“Yes mai mwaswera bwanji (how are you madam?)” he greeted me. I answered while wiping away tears with the corner of my wrapper. He was listening to Don Moen’s Healing rain and I kept quite letting all my pain be washed away. He asked me where I was heading to at that time and I told him I was going to a friend’s place. He was a middle aged man with a long beard that covered part of his mouth and it made him look so serious. I felt uncomfortable and rushed to put my hand on my belly and said a silent prayer of protection. We passed Kawale and Biwi then took a turn a left turn at Summit Club. When we reached Falls Baptist Church, he said I should pay for the journey. I was surprised because I thought this was an act of generosity. He said he doesn’t give people free rides. He stopped the car and said if I didn’t have the money then I should bail myself out by sleeping with him right there in the car. He started caressing my thigh. Oh the other side of me rose up in defense; I shoved his hand away and gave him a hot slap across his face. It took him by surprise and he shouted in pain. Lucky enough the door wasn’t locked so I opened it and run for my dear life into the haunting darkness as fast as my legs could carry me.