WHEN LOVE HAPPENS PART ONE

“Excuse me ma’am, do you have a second?,” asked a tall, dark, yet handsome man. I did not want to look because I had just shut men out of my life after what Fred, my ex did to me two years ago.There were a lot of people in a queue at ZRA, the headquarters in Lusaka.

“Please i wont take long. Just a minute is all that I ask,” He said. Not wanting to seem rude, I turned around to face him and force-faked a smile.

“Say whatever you want to say. As you can see, the situation around is really stuffy and busy so please make it quick,” I rudely responded, my early attempt of being polite failing me. My voice was so loud the people around started looking at me with frowns because of how rude i responded and eagerly waited for this mysterious man’s response. I expected him to be aggressive but I was wrong.

He spoke in a calm voice.

“Please help me. I need your help.” When he said that, i thought to myself, “why me of all people?” Its not like i was at the far end of the queue. I was somewhere in the middle. Why did he ask me?
He continued. “Can you be my wife for a month?” I couldnt help but grin and laugh at his foolishness. Whoever he thought he was. Who was he to walk right up to a stranger and clown about marriage? I looked away. He still pressed on.

“Pardon my manners.”

“Manners?” I thought. “He called this, manners?” I laughed in my head. Then he dropped the bomb.

“My name is Chalwe. Thing is, my mother is flying in tonight from london and I lied to her that i am already married so she is coming to see you.” By this time, i was attentive and didnt realise that i was actually smiling. Chalwe, as i had learned, continued. “I will pay you a huge amount. Just please. please be my wife?” He begged in a low voice after which, he stood closer to me. It was only then that I actually noticed he was a fine looking man. I liked how tall he was and how fresh his breath was, but wait, “was he insane? who does that? And for that matter, in Zambia, really this Chalwe man, really?” He was obviously watching too many American movies. This was Zambia and at the moment, there was Cholera, not fairy tale love that starts on a ZRA queue.

His face really gave me a reason to smile but i really told myself to be serious and growing up, being rude was my natural undoing.

“Chalwe or whatever you call yourself. With all due respect and to avoid embarrassing yourself, leave me alone. What you’re asking is more than impossible for various obvious reasons.” He frowned. I continued. “Apart from that I do not find you attractive and that im not as cheap as you presume i am, one, you’re not my type. Two, you’ll never be my type. Three, I’m engaged to be married in two months so, sorry, I cant do that. Besides, why me?,”

People were moving as we talked so we moved along with the queue. I wore a very very long black dress and as we moved, he (up to now i do not know if it was accidentally) stepped on my dress and i tripped. He caught me. For the first time, we had a silent eye contact as I panted in His protective arms.

“My bad.” He began apologizing. “I’m so sorry madam. i didnt notice how long your beautiful dress is, my apologies”. His apology sounded so genuine as the people behind made some noise in Nyanja. I felt embarrased but this man shifted all my attention to himself. I told him he was forgiven just before it was my turn to be attended to at the counter. I paid my taxes and headed out. I didn’t find the weirdo where I left him so I headed towards the gate, passed many seemingly expensive cars. He was waiting for me outside.

“I will pay you K5000 per week.” He said without warning and waited for me to respond. “By the way,” He continued. “I didn’t even get your name, what is your name?,” he asked. Surprisingly, I was deep in thought because for a second, in my head, I was like, “damn he’s good. I lied that i was engaged to shove him away but he still persisted and not just that. His deal sounded really legit. I mean K5000 per week, just for play acting? Wait, couldn’t this be witchcraft? Or trafficking? Prostitution maybe? Gosh!” I was confused.

I resolved I wasn’t so cheap but my mouth betrayed me.

“well Ba Chalwe. You got yourself a deal but I am not accepting because of the money.” I lied. “I’m just going to help saving you from your mom. So when do we start anyway?” I asked, trying to run away. “Tonight.” He said. “Just let me have your line. ill come pick you up this evening. Mom will be in Zambia at 22:00 exactly”. After saying that, he handed me his phone and without hesitating, i typed my number. I could have typed a wrong one but i didnt. I gave him back the phone. Then we shook hands and i knew that tonight, i was going to be a wife.

Typing. ….

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ROSETTA KNOWS

My name is Lina, and this is my journey.

There are so many places where I could begin my story. I could start in the town where I grew up, in Lusaka, near the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), in the back of the a taxi, en route to the hospital. I could begin when I was eleven years old, on the day my mother died, or when I was fourteen, on the day my dad and my brother were involved in a terrible road traffic accident. My brother died within the first few hours after impact and three days later my father died as well. These were tragic days that have left permanent scars on my heart. But I think I should begin my story here, at the Copperbelt University, so far away from my home in Lusaka. This is where I lost my innocence. This is where my future got shattered.

It is a January day without clouds, and large black birds soar in a sky that is bluer than I have ever seen. We have closed for a two weeks break. I decide to stay back in school because I want to catch up with my studies. I am so behind that my test results testify for the lagging. I am only a freshman but I am already a failure at school and depression is becoming a lifelong friend. I am scared because I am starting to embrace it. Today dawned like any other normal day. The cloudless clear blue sky and the still cool morning breeze had graced the beginning of the day. I do not expect anything special these days. It is just the same old story, and life taking a downward spiral has become like a sibling to my depression.

However, today is different. I walk out of my room, C151 at the far end of a long, hollow and partially darkened corridor. It is darkened because there are rooms on both sides and the only fluorescent tube installed here needed to be changed a long time ago. Our hostels at C block, short for Chambishi Block, were male hostels in the years before 2015 so the masculinity nature and aftermath effects can still be felt. Our ablution block doors are still stained with a lot of “I was here, no climbing, you are live on ZNBC, john Cena’s you can’t see me, monk data, repent! Jesus is coming,” and many more. Some of the corridors still have potholes and the walls still remain covered in a lot of campaign posters, business adverts and other church messages. Our rooms are prone to cases of theft as we, by nature of us being female, are usually defenceless and have to depend on the guys’ response to save us from thieves. For this reason, there is a security wing right at the centre of C block but of late, we are starting to suspect the security guards as the culprits because they always ask the same irrelevant questions if you report any case of theft. They just write down your details in an old hardcover book and life goes on. You just lost whatever was stolen.

As I walk towards the other end of the corridor, leading to where the sun’s light is, I deeply inhale and hold my breath for what seems like an eternity. My chest heaves up like a balloon filled with hot air. I slowly exhale and my chest slowly heaves down as rushed air is released through my nostrils. I am ready to face the day. I step into the light. The brightness makes my eyes twitch as I look up to the sky. The rising sun looks so beautiful and glorious in its Hydrogen-fusing-to-Helium burning state. I had learnt from school that the sun survives by burning Hydrogen atoms into Helium atoms in its core and that infact, it burns 600million tons of Hydrogen each second. In a nutshell, the result of the fusion is the heat we feel and the beautiful light we see. Daily, the sun depicts all kinds of optimism and hope but that is not something I can relate to. Maybe the case of dark grey and gloomy clouds would make me feel at home because my depression supersedes my hope of happiness. The road I am walking through was once a tarred road but is now potholed with patches of mud and water from the recent heavy downpours of rain. I am careful not to step in mud. From where I am, there are two ways I could follow, each leading to an exit; the right hand side extends past the clinic leaving L and K block towards the exit besides P block. The other path is midway between C and Z block, stretching a path past the New Female Hostels that eventually branches to what we call, the FOUNTAIN road. This is the route I take.

I see a couple, clad arm in arm walking ahead of me. I can not clearly hear what they are saying but from their constant laughter, hugging and movements, I see that they are in love and happy. At times I wish I knew how it feels to be in love but I know that’s not my calling. The two love birds are soaring in my space as they embrace and lightly kiss. “Just How does it feel?” I wonder. I walk past them, now in the fountain road but headed towards the basketball court. This is so unlike me, aimlessly taking a walk to God knows where.

I am almost passing the basketball court when a rather sweaty guy stops me. I can tell from his masculinity that he’s a sportsman who works out. His face is smooth with piercing dark eyes. That darkness that makes you feel evil but still want it. His lips are brown and he has beards. Naturally, I do not like beards because I think they itch but surprisingly I’m still looking at him. He’s smiling, and his chest is heaved up. I am fighting temptations. This is wrong.

He clears his throat. I am still analyzing him. He’s wearing a blue vest-like shirt written COMETS with a blue short and snickers. He’s obviously a regular basketball player. He’s taller than me and somehow, I find myself loving his height. What is happening to me?

“Hi.” I am rather disappointed by the voice. It doesn’t sound as manly as he looks.

“Hi” I reply.

“Are you Natasha?”

“No.” I am looking forward to talking to him but again I am not so I respond with just one word. He persists.

“Abigail?”

I resist the urge to smile.

“No”

He continues.

“Oh wait! You’re Angela, right Lina? I mean Tapiwa Margaret?”

I can’t hold it. His plan worked. I smile and actually chuckle. Does he even know that he’s actually mentioned my name as well as my roomy’s (roommates) name in his guess work? I wonder. I reply,

“No. And I don’t have time for your games. I’m in a hurry”

Having said that, I walk away feeling proud and beautiful. I know he’s followed me so I walk on without turning. I take a quick glance behind, I am disappointed. He didn’t actually follow. He’s gone back to his game. I get furious but I can’t go back. But if I don’t, then where am I going? Gosh! I pick up a fake phone call as I turn. “I am not going back” I tell myself as my legs disobey my mind. What happens next is what leads to the shattering of my dreams.

This is me.

My name is Lina, and this is my journey.

Typing….