Tuesday, 25 September 2018


A HEART FOR AN EYE #5 Why does love have to hurt so much? Why does it have to be so complicated? Sitting at the Goma lakes, I hurled a small stone into the water and watched as the ripples spread and died out. People say love hurts, I told myself. Why am I agreeing today? I don't think love hurts. Loneliness hurts, disappointment hurts, I must add poverty too. But love heals all ills. I feel so downcast because I don't feel loved right now. Looking across the lake, I saw Mazuba with two other ladies. They were taking photos. Surely she must be a happy person, I thought to myself. Everybody seems to love her. A streak of jealousy crossed my bleeding heart. Was it Alice and one of the Black Muntu boys who sang the song 'Sembe nenze okondewa'? I don't even know if that's the title but it's the song that came to mind and I sang the Chorus along in my heart: 'Sembe nenze okondewa ine sembe nimankala okondwa ine, sembe nenze okondewa ine sembe nimankala okondwa ine...' But I knew there were people that loved me back home. They loved me at my best and also at my lowest; they love me unconditionally. I missed my family so much but I knew I wouldn't see them in the next seven months or so. I phoned my father. He was so glad to hear from me. His glee made me break down. I love my father very much because he was the first man the entire village who believed in women. He had sent my cousin to school at a time when only boys went to school. It's a pity she died in her final year at CBU. I had never told my father I loved him because in my culture it's something that never happens. But that day told him. He knew something was wrong with me and he asked to know. I told him I had just missed home so much. I was crying as I said that. I think my father shed a tear too. He was quiet for a moment then he told me he loved me. He said he was the proudest father alive because he had the best daughter in the world. If he had been near, I could have hugged him. It could have been the first adult hug I give him because in my culture, grown girls don't hug their daddies. I spoke to mum and my four younger sisters afterwards. They filled me in on everything that was happening in the village. We laughed. But Airtel got jealous and warned me I was running low on top-up. We said our goodbyes and dad quickly came back on the line with: 'Whenever you feel low, always remember daddy loves you. Remember mummy loves you and your sisters, look up to you and love you unconditionally.' 'Thanks, dad. You're the world's greatest dad.' The line died as soon as I said that. Mazuba was headed my way alone. She asked if she could join me and I had no objection. 'Are you alright?' She asked me with sisterly concern. 'I feel better now,' I told her accepting her piece of tissue. I had shed a few tears again as I said goobye to daddy. 'I saw you arriving in school last night and I wanted to follow you but I saw Jeremy too.' I told Mazuba what had happened with a few sobs. She was so empathetic. You see, I was my parents oldest child and had never known what it felt like to have an older sister until I met Mazuba. She took me to her level, explaining she would be leaving the following day. Her fiance was coming to pick her. Yes, she was getting married. She invited me to her wedding and I gladly accepted. She explained something to me about Jeremy's mum that made so much sense. 'I think she was tormented by your beauty, Lulu,' Mazuba explained to me during lunch. I had learnt to cook town food so I had prepared the meal and I was glad she loved it. 'Jeremy might never tell you this because regardless of everything, he loves his mother so much. That woman sabotaged her cousin's happiness. She wasn't supposed to marry the MP, her cousin was. She accused her cousin of nasty things which added up because she framed her. They had grown up side by side just like sisters. She was the pretty one while her cousin was the brainy one. They each got complimented for their strength but she wanted all the praise. 'When her cousin met the MP, he wasn't a politician yet. He was just an ambitious young man; she was jealous because while everybody told her she was the beautiful one, her cousin would get married before her. She thwarted the engagement and got married to her cousin's fiance. Her cousin died of depression a few months later. 'But here's why she might have been mean to you. Her cousin had rich dark skin like you and nice natural hair like yours. I don't know if you look alike but she was also short and had an ample behind like you.' 'How did you know all that?' I asked. 'When Jeremy is drunk, he will shock you with what he will do or say. I think that's why he quit drinking. I brought up the topic when he was sober but he refused to venture into it. He knows his mother is a wicked woman but he loves her still. All sons love their mothers after all.' I spent the whole day with Mazuba. We chatted about a lot of things and did a little shopping together. I accompanied her to the salon and then withdrew some money to take her to the movies. Surely, even poor people have something to offer unless they're just 'short-handed'. She invited me to spend the night with her after I moved my things to another hostel where I'd be staying for the vacation. We chatted all night and laughed like we had known each other all our lives. I learnt why we got along so much: we complemented each other. She had no little sister, only brothers whom she called little rascals and she was the big sister I never had. It's funny how I just arrived at UNZA and started mingling with mafosas. I had so few friends who were fellow freshers. But that's life, if you're not intimidated by people who are ahead of you, you will get to dine with them unlike hate them for being ahead. You might find yourself dining with worms. We slept around 03.00 and I stayed in bed longer, still feeling tired. It was 08.00 when I asked Mazuba what time it was. She had already woken up and was making breakfast. She asked me to rest some more when I tried to rise so I lay in bed like a spoilt brut while she sat at the terminal, serving like a big sister looking out for me. I would miss her so much, I thought to myself. Who would I run to in future when I need a big sister? My family was so far away and I hadn't met dad's relatives who lived in Lusaka. People don't pay you attention when you're poor and they're better placed. But again I don't blame them. Some poor people are too much; all over you all the time wanting you to do literally everything for them. But that's not like my family. We are poor but still have some dignity. Besides, the only poor person I know is one that has no dreams and a vision. Jeremy's call interrupted my thoughts. My phone was on the terminal. It's Mazuba who told me the caller. I remembered his mother's words and my hands refused to badge when Mazuba held out the phone to me, urging me to answer. I shed a tear. 'I can't manage dealing with such a mean mother in law. I want to break up with him,' I told Mazuba. 'You'll break his heart, Lulu. He loves you, he will protect you from his mother's fangs. He protects what he loves.' 'He loved you but he never protected you from getting hurt.' 'He was still a rascal those days. I think he's matured.' 'I don't take insults so easily, Mazuba. I won't always run away and I don't want to put him in an awkward place. You told me yourself, he loves his mother.' 'All boys love their mothers. But he's the kind of mama's boy who will raise his voice at his mother if he has to.' Still I refused to speak to him. As soon as the line cut, Mazuba's phone rang. It waa him again. She put him on loudspeaker. 'Hi Mazuba. How are you?' 'I am fine thanks. How are you, Jeremy?' 'Not so fine. Would you happen to know where Lulu is?' 'What did you do to her?' 'I hurt her. Well, I never slept with her best friend if that's what you're thinking.' 'You would be damned if you did. What do you want now?' 'Can I please see her?' 'How d'you know she's with me.' 'You're the only big sister she has that I know.' Mazuba asked me eith her eyes if I wanted to see him. I knew she wanted me to. I wanted to anyway. I nodded. 'Where are you?' She asked him. 'Outside your hostel.' Mazuba chuckled. 'Typical of you. Come on up.' I don't know why but I felt so nervous. After speaking to Mazuba, I think I kind of still wanted the relationship but I realised it wasn't Jeremy's style to keep quiet on me. He had been quiet all day the previous day. What if he was thinking things through? What if he was also tired of the drama? What if he was coming to break up with me?

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