October 11th, 2019. 3:05PM 08
I relax my body on the chair, I don’t know how but Mulife has managed to convince his parents that we need to take a trip and so here we are traveling the broken road from Shangombo to Senanga where mum is.
I look out the window and there is only dry grass, so sign of life. Thoughts of the first time I came here flashing back.
‘Hey, she is going to be fine.’ Mulife says touching my hand
I smile at him without a word. I appreciate that he is here with me, that he has decided to go to these lengths just to help me.
‘You know I wasn’t always close to mum hey.’ I begin still looking out the window
‘Want to talk about it?’ he asks but I don’t respond
‘Well for me dad was everything, there was absolutely no wrong in each and everything that he did plus he spoilt me rotten.’ I say with a smile that doesn’t reach my eyes
‘Am sure he loved you.’
‘I never doubted that, I don’t right now.’ ‘But what happened?’
‘I just don’t understand how a man can hurt the woman who gave him a child so bad, Mulife you should have seen the state in which I found her in. time and again I asked myself how come I never saw the signs.’
‘Maybe she was good at hiding it from you.’
‘I wish that wasn’t the case, I wish she had been a little open with me.’
‘Maybe it was my fault, I didn’t make it easy for her.’ He stops the car, in the middle of nowhere.
‘Look at me.’ He demands
I sigh before I face him.
‘I know you probably don’t want to hear this but how your father behaved is all on him, you should never blame anyone for his behavior except him. And about your mother, any woman in her shoes would have done the same. She had to protect your innocence, your view on the kind of man he was.’
‘It shouldn’t be that way, no woman should stick with a toxic man just because of the children she has with him.’
‘No man either.’ I add
He looks at me before he starts the car. ‘I heard that.’
‘Am glad you did.’ I say before rolling my eyes ‘Thelma I am no fool.’
‘I never called you one.’ ‘Then stop insinuating I am.’
‘Why are you with Olipa anyway?’ I ask ‘Please don’t start.’
‘You are handsome, intelligent, down to earth. And she is…’ I pause seeing the grin on his face
‘And why are you smiling like a fool?’ ‘You think I am handsome?’
‘Out of everything I said?’ I ask shaking my head ‘Selective hearing.’
I laugh, he is such a fool.
‘I am not with Olipa because I want to.’ ‘Then why don’t you leave her.’
‘Thelma I have a responsibility and I have to live up to it.’ ‘What responsibility?’
He sighs, I can see am asking for too much information but we are going to beon this broken road for eight hours and one of us has to keep the conversations flowing.
‘My parents are not bad people.’ ‘I never said they were.’
‘I didn’t say you did, but I can see how people look at them. I know what people say about them, it’s not something any child can be proud of hearing worse off they have never tried to clear their names.’
‘Maybe because people are right.’
He shakes his head
‘My mother is the strongest woman you will ever meet, she doesn’t let anyone or anything intimidate her. She genuinely loves and is raw most of the times.’
‘And your dad?’
‘My father is a hero.’ He says lifting his left hand I can’t help but laugh so hard
‘What was that for?’ I ask
‘The atmosphere was becoming serious, I had to lighten it.’
‘He is the most hardworking person I know, the most flawed too. But he is my father and I love him regardless.’
He eyes me
‘You must hate my parents that much right?’
‘I don’t hate your parents, but I must say I hate how they treat me.’ ‘I will talk to them.’
I hold his hand.
‘Don’t, their attitude makes me stronger and trust me I don’t want to be a weakling.’
‘You continue to surprise me hey.’ I smile and lay back.
The rest of the journey I doze off from time to time, my mind has gone back to thinking about mum and how bad how condition has gotten. From the way she spoke on the phone I know she is not okay but I am too afraid to think of the lengths in which her health has deteriorated.
We arrive in Senanga just after 5PM, I am tired yes but I just want to get home and see mum. I direct Mulife where home is and he drives us there.
‘Do you want some space maybe?’
‘You didn’t come all the way just to give me space right?’ I ask getting off the vehicle
We walk in together and the house looks dead.
‘Make yourself comfortable.’ I say going to the bedroom
I stand there in shook looking at my father as he stands tall looking at my mother’s frail body, the anger builds up but I know I need to control myself.
‘Antoinette.’ My mother says, I can hear it in her voice that she is struggling to speak.
‘Mother.’ I say totally ignoring my father as I rush to her side
He skin is pale, her lips are peeling off. She has dark veins on her hands and her hair has all fallen off, kneeling before her I am not looking at my mother but a shoulder of everything she used to be. Of everything she once was.
‘Ma.’ I say blinking back the tears
‘You didn’t have to come.’ She says between coughs ‘I had to and I am not going anywhere.’
She shakes her head as tears freely fall from her eyes
‘I lived my life to the fullest baby, I did. I don’t want you getting stuck here with me when you have a life ahead of you. What sort of a mother would that make me?’
‘No what sort of a daughter would that make me?’ I ask now allowing the tears to fall
‘I shouldn’t have left.’ ‘You had to.’
‘I need the both of you to leave the room and allow her to rest.’ Says a woman who I didn’t see in the room all along
I look at her, she looks like a nurse.
‘I will be in the living room in case you need anything.’ I say wiping the tears as I get up
‘Okay baby.’ She responds
I walk to the living room and find Mulife sitting there, he stands up and pulls me into an embrace when he sees me.
‘You need to be strong now more than ever.’ He whispers in my ears ‘How can I?’
‘And what in God’s name is happening here?’ my father rolls
Mulife lets go of me and looks at dad then at me, his obviously wondering why the Minister is here.
‘Young man leave my house this minute.’ I hold Mulife’s hand.
‘You are not going anywhere, this is my house.’ I say looking at my father
‘Antoinette you will not disrespect me like this, I am your father and I deserve to be respected!’
‘Daddy dearest respect is earned and you have not earned any as far as I am concerned.’
‘You will not speak like that to me!’ ‘Or else what?’
‘I asked a question father, or else what?’ my tears are now threatening to fall
‘All my life I worshipped the ground you walked on, I kissed your feet like you were the messiah. There is nothing that you wanted of me that I didn’t do, I loved you eternally and there is nothing that you could have asked of me that I wouldn’t have done.’
‘You are my daughter and that was expected of me.’ I shake my head.
‘You disgust me.’
He holds out his hand to slap me but Mulife holds it. I stand there still as the two men square each other. Winnie