Thursday, 20 September 2018

A heart of an Eye (Episode 1)



As I stood in a BC queue at the Unzaversity of Zambia (UNZA), oh yes I said unzaversity because that's what my excited friends and I called the highest learning institution of the land; I saw this gentleman that took my breath away.

The sports hall teemed with students of various studying levels and I was just a fresher, all the way from Makunka village somewhere in Livingstone. I didn't know that guy but he was standing beside a mafosa (fourth year) queue, chatting with some guys in the queue. At first I had thought I was just seeing things but every second that passed proved to me he too had noticed me.

All my life I had wanted to find myself a tall, dark guy like the guys in the romance novels I had read in high school. I had never imagined a brown guy would sweep me off my feet with nothing but just a glance. That guy though!! How could he fall for me of everyone in the hall? I swear the masad (third year) and mafosa queues had girls so fine you would assume they don't visit the 'little girls room'.

I dropped my gaze to the dress I wore. Suddenly, I felt like I was wearing a night dress and yet it was my finest dress. The maliposa I wore made me feel like such a villager. Who am I kidding? I was a villager! How could that cute mafosa (or so I assumed) be head over hills in love with me?

I crawled back in my mental shell at that realisation. 'Stop kidding yourself,' inner me told me. 'That guy is beyond your league. Why do you like humiliating yourself?'

But inner me was wrong, that's the first time I was ever flattering myself about a man. I tried to reason with her but she wouldn't listen so I let her scold me till she had no more derogatory words to issue.

I left the hall feeling stupid and hungry and dizzy. I hadn't had anything to eat all day. UNZA life; it felt a little too fast for a girl like me. I went back to my hostel, TP big flat where I didn't exactly know anybody. Most of those fellow freshers were Lusaka and Copperbelt residents so they were familiar with town life and some of them even knew one another before campus. I was the only total stranger.

I took zigolo and a bun I had arrived with from home. Mitesa and dried chiwawa were to be had for dinner so I took a quick shower and went into the kitchen to prepare supper. Some of the housemates had gone to eat out and others were just around the school, orienting themselves to the university. I started two-plate cooker so as to prepare supper.

Holy Christ! I just heard the monks shooting from the neighbouring hostels:

'Nindani wamene apika nsapato?!!! Moma iwe, wafuma kwi? Abanobe baleipika inama iwe wafika fye watampa nokwipika insapato? Filenunka ifyo!!! (Who is boiling shoes?!!! You girl, where are you from? Your friends are preparing meat and you arrive just to boil dirty shoes? It's stinking!!)'

The housemates who were around laughed at me. I was so terrified I almost quit school to go back to my village and just become a farmer.

But our level rep arrived from wherever with a smile and a pat on my shoulder saying; 'don't  mind them. They're just welcoming you.' I had met her the previous day and I had liked her right away. She was beautiful and kind. I shed a tear in her embrace but lo and behold who had come in with her; that cute guy from the hall!

Oh my God, I felt so small, so humiliated but he had a warm smile on his face that told me: 'don't worry.' God he was even cuter upclose.

Amanda, my level rep introduced him to me as her coursie and me to him as the newest housemate. She was about to go to her room when her phone rang. She picked the call and afterwards told the cute guy to wait in the kitchen while she gets something from someone somewhere within camp.

I could feel my heart throbbing in my chest, ready to pop. How does Amanda leave me alone with ....I realised I didn't even know his name.

'Jeremy,' he introduced himself as though he had heard my thoughts.

I dropped several plates, breaking a few before I could get composed enough to tell him my name was Luyando.

'Nice name,' he said, a broader smile.

My heart melted, standing in front of this handsome young man who looked at me like I was what he lived for. Whatever he saw in me. I was wearing a chitambala (head scarf), chitenge and ma patapata (flip flops) yet just looking at him one could tell he hailed from money. I didn't need to touch his skin to know it was silky or know the actual worth of his watch to know he was wealthy. I didn't let myself get fooled by the simplicity of the t-shirt or the shorts he wore; I know filthy rich people have a tendency of wanting to look simple.

It wasn't his wealth that moved me, it was that such a fine guy would be moved by such a basic girl in a world where being a slay queen was more important than anything to many.

Jeremy helped me pick the plates I had littered on the floor. Actually, he picked them himself. I was smelling mitesa and didn't want to dare get any closer to him. The embarrassment. But he came close as he put them back where they had been.

I was relieved when Amanda called him, announcing she would take longer so he should follow her.  Interestingly, he declined, stating he would just go back to his level.

'You're the lady I saw in the hall, aren't you?'

That brought back my jitters, which had began to depart. So he had really noticed me! That bitch called inner me had looked down on me, shame on her. She's supposed to be the source of my outter confidence but she had betrayed me, leaving me out in the cold. 'Judas Iscariot!' I scolded her back, standing akimbo in the eye of my mind. But outwardly, I was so calm and collected.

'Yes,' I told Jeremy. He requested for my number and for the first time in my life, I gave a man my real phone number with the kind of excitement one would get to know their name is written in the book of life.

A duo of housemates walked in with boxes of pizza as Jeremy was saving my number. They gave me the kind of look that said 'eh! Nanga imwe nichani kunkala ambitious so? (Really? Why would you allow yourself to be so ambitious?)'

In my imagination, I swung at them and stuck my tongue out to spite them back. They greeted Jeremy flirtatiously and greeted me with the reluctance inner me had had towards me getting excited about Jeremy.

I offered them nsima but they laughed at me, saying they don't eat smelly fish and dried chiwawa. I was learning to use the word bitch so soon because I could swear those girls were bitches. They both hailed from one of the shanty compounds in could they call such delicious relish smelly? Mxxxxm, I swore in my heart. Mwabwela pa UNZA two days mwankala kudala ba some of us? Diva-wannabe's!

Whatever, people are so fake these days, I told myself feasting. I refused to partake of their pizza and cowered into my blankets as early as 8PM.

I could hear them talking of the guys who had goldrushed them. I assumed they had bought them the pizza. For a second I thought Jeremy was probably bent on goldrushing me too. My spirit sagged and I began to hate him for taking my heart and leaving me behind.

I was a pure virgin, hadn't even kissed before. And the humour in me began to brew; well what if Jeremy had kissed me tonight? My mouth was mitesa-smell-filled. What an awful kiss could it have been! I burst laughing below the covers when I realised all the beddings smelled like dry fish. Maybe those 'bitches' were right after all; it is smelly fish! But tasty too. Well, whatever!

I kicked the covers and joined in the conversation. Technically, I was just a listener. I learnt that those two had slept with their 'goldrushers' on the first date. They hadn't been virgins so I guess it wasn't such a big deal to them.

I had decided long ago never to break my sacredness before my wedding night so I resigned myself to my decision and tried to fall asleep.

Other girls trickled in excitedly, each sharing how their day had gone but I had so little to tell so I just listened. When everyone was in, we heard a knock at the door.

'Use voice data or bounce!' The most courageous girl in the room shouted. Everyone followed suit.

'It's Jeremy.'

My heart thundered and other insides cringed. Excitement mingled with fear and anxiety, making me a nervous wretch. I swear I was going to faint....

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