“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.