Story: Lumbiwe The Village Star

    Part 1

    "Beauty and a good character are the most attractive virtues of a woman, especially one who has come of age" my grand mother told me as we sat outside her small hut. I enjoyed watching her prepare meals, everything she touched to prepare turned out so delicious.
    " so mbuya.. tell me more about beauty and the other thing you mentioned...."
    " mmmmmmm character you said?"  I asked her excited as I rolled the small stool she had made from a bank of a tree. It was round but she curved it down so that it would sit flat on the ground without rolling over.
    She chuckled.
    " Zelipa my are something.. I said beauty and a good character attract men and people to a woman, but ofcourse one has to be careful because it's not always that a magnet will attract good things you know?"
     I looked at her..
    "mmh I somehow hate it mbuya if you just tell me riddles. Why can't you just tell me straight up what you mean?."
    Hiting my shoulders, she laughed.. "okay Zelipa I will tell you a story, about myself when I was your age.."  she leaned forward and placed more wood to the fire making it improve its lighting and heat. she opened the moulded pot which was placed on the fire and shook it a bit. I wondered if she never got burnt with the heat. how possible is it that a 60 plus year old woman would touch a hot pot on the fire without a wince..?
    Placing back the small plate on the pot, she gazed in the sky. I too looked up to see what she was seeing up there.
    "you hear that?"  She asked me.
    "what mbuya ?" I asked not knowing what she meant, because I could hear insects click on the bushes some dogs barking from a distant village but she said,
    "that bird?"
    " mhuuum"  I agreed hearing the loud sound of the bird singing in the trees, the moon was full and bright...
    "you know what the bird is saying?"  She added her eyes still in the sky.
    I let a laugh..
    "mbuya that's just a bird, how can you tell what it is saying?"
    "yes I can child"  she smilled revealing her countable teeth which were in her mouth.
    " it is saying, 'mwezi uwaaale! tikatenge bongololo..mwezi uwaaale!tikatenge bongololo!" [Let the moon shine..we go and pick millipeds..].
    "oh"  I nodded,  now that she said it, it really sounded that way.
    " wow !" I giggled. Going for the holiday was worthy it. I recall my mom telling me.
    "Zelipa this holiday you should go see your grandmother in the village."  I was a bit hesitant but the idea of being with mbuya become exciting. I have always loved her talking. she made such expressions in her speech that will give you great imaginations. so here I am sitting by the fire place and enjoying her presence.
    "So mbuya tell me about yourself now"  I reminded her.
    " kikiki"  she laughed
    " you and stories... okay where do I begin from?"  she paused getting a small stick pushing it in the fire making it grow red.
    "At your age..that is 13years old, in our time one was considered a woman. You could get married and even bare children. If you were lucky your parents would wait untill you turned at least 15. so I Lumbiwe was one of the few that their parents let go to school until I was grown enough,  my parents were great farmers and my father was a good fisherman too. Everyone in the village knew he always came back from the river with more fish as compared to other fishermen. So you can imagine how much we ate fish.
    I hated it anyway and preferred Bush meat. I would always boast saying
    "I will marry a hunter "
    at 14 I was the envy of many girls my age. They all admired  the flawless skin and long silk hair i had, my teeth were once full in my mouth and whiter too. So my beauty always preceded my reputation and it gave me pride.

    One day, i was coming from fetching water with my friends. Along the path, we met the son of the greatest hunter in the village at the time, his name was Tendeka.. He was a strong man and hard working too and all my friends desired to get married to him.
     He greeted us as we passed and all the girls responded with smiles except me. He then called me back.
    "Lumbiwe! "
    " Yes"  I answered, turning with pride to look at him.
    "why didn't you answer my greeting...?"
    " mmmmmm am I obliged to?"  I asked him holding my waist, he shook his head...
    "you are too proud my dear." he told me
    "one day, I will put you in the way."
     I looked at him, his potruding muscles and chest exposed. He wore a small t-shirt with sleeves cut off. Indeed he was handsome. his face was calm and fearless. I took time to analyse his teeth, for sure he was a hunter's son.. they were perfect... I would confess he was worth admiring.. however, I always aimed higher.. my dream was to marry the Prince..
    "as soon as I matured I would make sure I make him notice me" i thought to myself.
    However,  I didn't mature early. Most of the girls would see their first menses at 13 or 14 years. unfortunately I took longer than usual. Mine didn't come until I was 15 and before that my grand mother would tell me that if I had hidden it from elders my fingers would grow long." mbuya Let a laugh as I listened quitely .
    "So what happened next ?"  I asked her..
    "Well I finally had periods in mid September, the perfect time to be put in the house. I was to be taught by the elderly women about womanhood and how to take care of myself, my husband, in short, they taught you all the traditional things one has to know especially how to take care of a man.
    During the period, they sang songs and taught you dancing as they beat the drums.
    After a month of being locked up for these lessons,  the day finally came when I was to be released to perform some final traditions and then dance on the stage they made out of strong banks and grass. Everyone came to watch me dance, they wanted to witness the beautiful girl come out of age.
    As the women led me out from the small hut I was kept for a month. I was covered in a chitenge, they sung songs. my father had bought meat, chickens  were slaughtered and my mother brewed beer and munkoyo. other women were busy preparing food for all the people who came to the ceremony..
    Time came to be uncovered and they made me stand on the stage we called 'pa musasa'.  everyone clapping and singing joyfully. I stood slowly with my knees bend. with waist fully exposed with some beads tied around it and my pointed breasts exposed. Though i was painted in white and red..people could see my exposed parts..except a small wrapper covering from my waist down to my kness. They tied some things which made a sound as I danced on my feet, placed some things to cover my face which dingled as I danced.  Those who didn't know me wouldn't tell it was the following day..
    I danced gracefully wiggling my waist my hands lifted up as the drums beat..and the women sung. The sound of the drums got my ears making my body more excitedly.  I peeped through the cover on my face and there he was..
    Smart, the village Prince.. he watched me with so much admiration and I was so proud. I saw Tendeka in the audience too..his stern look focused on me...I smilled in my head.
    As the drums went..'click dingi,  click dingiii..dingiii dingiii click dingiii! ' I went wild turning all sides twisting my waist .. lifting my burst and throwing my hands side to side with confidence as my head moved with my body movements.

    Part 2

    After a while of dancing, the people watched with joy and others with admiration.  My male cousin scooped me and ran as fast as he could to the hut as all the people cheered. It was a really great time. My parents were proud and my friends all came to welcome me to womanhood ," you are welcome Lumbiwe " they said.
    "Now that you have grown we all look forward to seeing who is coming to ask for your hand in marriage."
    Funny how every girl dreamed no further than marriage. I had always thought of aiming higher if am to get married. l told myself, It ought to be to an important man or a prince , not just any man in the village.
    So one day,l went fetching wood alone in the woods after my mother insisted l get the wood since all my brothers were busy helping my father in the fields. As l walked, enjoying the feel of the fresh growing grass on my feet, humming to the song l learnt from initiation, I  didn't realise a nyau (masquerade) had followed me. when it cried out letting out a scaring sound l turned to look back and l saw it,  wagging its whip as it's outfit flew around him like it was windy. I ran as fast as l could screaming all the way.
    It was never a good thing to meet a nyau , they had a tendancy of whipping anyone in their way especially women.

    Just when all my strenght was gone and l couldn't go any longer, l fell down to the ground panting and weeping in fear. He stood straight before me and l bow my head to him in respect like he was my master.
    Instead of whipping me as l aniticipated, the nyau leaned forward and tried to touch my face. l looked away , he stood before me for a few more minutes. It was like he was enjoying watching me suffer , lifting me up with his one hand,  l felt his strong hands holding my back. At that moment l almost collapsed , his strong smell filling my nose. He bend  his head to the side watching me carefully his mask scaring me to the core.
    As soon as he let me go. I took off leaving my chitenge caught in the branches of a small tree. I arrived home panting. my mother who sat outside sewing a basket saw me.
    " Lumbiwe what is it ?" she asked when l fell on the mat panting and sweating.. All l could do is point in the woods untill finally, l managed to say  "  nyau... nyau....!"
     she sat back shaking her head.
    " It really must have scared you to death my daughter , you look scared."

    " I hate those people"  l cursed after calming down.

    Two days later, my friend Dolika came to visit me. we sat under the tree as she braided my hair.
    " So tell me Lumbiwe, how is it like being a woman ?"
     I let out a laugh , "what can l say? well, it's good , only that l cannot play my favourite games any more."
     she chuckled ," yeah l miss those too , now its our tradition there`s nothing we can do." She shrugged.
     We laughed as we discussed our experiences in the initiation. Later, l called my young sister ,we used quarrel a lot and were always fighting. However , since the day l came out of the initiation, she had greatly changed. In fact she was now calling me " a Lumbiwe"  , how funny even my father started calling me aa (respectfully)  and it sounded funny coming from him.
     So l called my sister,
     " Maaaa ! "she answered and we laughed with Dolika.
    "How nice"  , she said,
    "now you are respected." I stood and turned around ,
    "just look at me " l skit, "Am a woman"  she clapped her hands as we both laughed out.

    I escorted Dolika and on the way we met Tendeka. when he saw me he started laughing hysterically. We looked at each other with Dolika
    "what ? " she asked shocked and l raised my shoulders in ignorance ,
    "l don't know my friend, maybe we are naked" l teased.
    Dolika went closer to him , "and what is funny this afternoon Tendeka, that you laugh at us like that ?"
    " It's nothing"  he said as he tried to compose himself. Irritated we walked on ignoring him.  On my way back l found him seated on the path like he was waiting for me.
    "Oh no he didn`t just do that " l thought to myself ,
    "who does he think he is ?" I gnarled angrily. I charged forward deciding to give him a piece of my mind.
    "What is it you fool ?" I snapped
    "You laugh at us like we are carrying faeces on our backs and now you sit here knowing am coming this way. What is your problem?"

     He stood up and blocked my way.
    " I thought l warned you about that pride Lumbi " he said , abbreviating my name.
    " you never learn  eeh?" , he said laughing again.
    "You know what?  I don`t have time for idiots like yourself!"  l shouted pushing him out of the way as l walked away raising my bust and buttocks knowing so well he was watching me.
    I hated his guts, there was something about him but I never wanted to look at him any different from what he was, a Hunter's son and therefore not my type at all.
    After walking for a few meters away, I looked back and was surprised to see him watching and grinning.
    " stupid Hunter! " i whispered to myself walking on.

    Part 3

    The following week, we were to gather at the king`s palace as there was a  ceremony... called.. 'gule wamukulu'.  It was an event when different masquareds show cased their various skills and performances. It usually was a ceremony to look forward to especially if you were of age, because all the potential husbands were there." She paused.

    "how?"  i asked mbuya when she paused,
    "do you mean they all went to watch the dance?"  i asked her.. "lets go inside Zelipa..its getting cold here"  she said lifting the pot from the fire. I too got my stool and the one Mbuya sat on and followed her inside.
    "Tell me more now"  i said immediately we sat inside, the faint light of the bottle lamp showing our dark shadows on the wall... i liked the smell of a thatched hut.. it felt so cool and peaceful as well. My baby brother however, hated villages. He said they were ghost in the dark shadows and he hated the sounds of small animals and insects in the night. I was glad he had decided to go, for me it was a great adventure..
    "so what happened next?"  i asked mbuya when she lay on the small mat silent.
    she smiled...
    " well, to answer your question, yes there were a lot of men at the nyau dance but most of them were part of the nyau.. no man above the age of 12 was allowed to go and watch if he wasnt initiated into the nyau.. its only those elders who had retired or the young boys... everyone else was to be a nyau for him to be found at the ceremony... others performed and some where drumming.. the women and children`s own was to sing and clap.
    As the ceremony progressed, I saw the Prince smiling cheerfully on the performers as he sat next to his father. I watched him in admiration and noticed he was stealing glances at me as well.. i smilled proudly knowing i got him... he winked at me and i smiled..
    He was a tall and graceful man.. he had a weakness for women too but i convinced myself i would make him mine alone... i felt someone tap my back and when i turned to face who had touched me i saw a small boy looking up my face.
    "The prince calls for you"  he whispered. I looked at where he had sat.. the seat was empty, "Where is he?"  i asked the boy. he pointed to the back of the palace.
    "okey"  i nodded and  pretended to watch the dances. I was excited i accomplished my mission but i had to pretend i was not so much into him...
    When i was satisfied, he's waited enough i went to meet him..
    "yes?"  i said as i stood before him.. he smiled,
    "Lumbiwe, you had to just make me wait didn`t you?" He shook his head as I stood near him.
    " well Smart .." i answered
    "i was enjoying the dance.. why did you call for me?". He came closer and smiled widely.
    " you are  beautiful and i heard you are now a woman."
     I pushed back a smile...
    " oh i see people can talk aii.."
    Pretending i didnt see him at my ceremony, he chuckled
    "yeah its not people, i saw you myself... "
    "Oh"  i shrugged,
    " guess i have nothing to hide then..."  he pressed his hands in my hair and i moved back.
    "what do you want Smart?"  i asked of course enjoying being so close to him...
    He asked some silly questions not really telling me why he had called me.. i then turned to head back to the front as the noise of cheering and clapping increased. I knew it was my favorite nyau on stage...
    "see me before you go " he added as i was walking...
    " ok"  i said turning on the corner of the house.
    Reaching the crowd, i pushed through back to where i had been standing with Dolika and my other friends...she looked at me with questions ..
    " will explain later"  i indicated to her. After the dance was over it was now the last performance of those masquerades that scared and teased people with long whips. As we all screamed with fear and excitement. I saw the same nyau that had scared me in the woods come my direction. it ran to me at full force and wagged its whip across where I was.. i jumped it and ran backwards. He came closer and made  a loud cry for nyaus as he danced before me and turned back to the stage. some people who were watching laughed at me as I stood covered in dust and i felt so much embarrassed...
    I walked away heading home furious..
    " how dare he? that idiot nyau" i told Dolika who had joined me as i walked fast.
    " this is the second time that fool is getting to me.. i swear next time i will undress him, i dont care what tradition says?" i spat...
    " you cannot do that" Dolika cautioned me...
    "its a taboo.. you can never see a face of a nyau especially that you are a woman."
    "oh then, let him stay away from me or else this village will hear that i too posses some madness..." I cursed.

    Part 4

    Forgetting I made an appointment with the Prince,  I walked home angry..
    "will see you tomorrow" Dolika told me when we reached the crossed path. she took the path to her village and I went on turning left to the path leading to mine.
    Instead of going back straight home I decided to go to my favorite place. I loved siting under the big tree near the fields.  It had a great view of a wide plain, actually when I was still  a kid I used to run there and climb up whenever I did something wrong and my mother was to beat me. I would hide there until it was dark then sneak into our hut when everyone was asleep..
    Now that I was older..I just loved sitting under the big tree and refresh my mind. No one would know I was there so it was my secret place.
    Upon reaching there.. I pulled the rock and pushed it closer to the tree..I sat and admired the sun which was now setting. I loved the beauty of the sun going down , it's rays seemed to speak to "it's not the end..I will reapear tomorrow..." 
    I felt someone behind me but before I could turn to look at who had invaded my privacy, I felt hands  cover my face.
    " Who are you ?" I asked getting upset...
    He leaned down and whispered in my ears.
    " I love sunsets too.. guess we have something in common huh?"

    "Tendeka ! What are you doing here?"  I asked as he let go of my face. surprisingly he was not as harsh as he usually was with me. He smilled showing off his white and strong teeth.
    "well I saw you heading here and I thought of seeing what was here that made the 'star' girl come here.."
    I shook my head in disbelief...
    " So you are not at the ceremony ?"  He let out a laugh.
    "Yes, i was there but it's boring so I left a while ago."
    "Okey" I said nodding my head.. "what is interesting then , hunting girls ?"  I asked throwing little stones....
    "Lumbi you always say the most silly things. I wasn't following you if that's what you mean.. I was just passing and...  "
      "Oh yeah"  I cut him...
    " you saw me coming here and you followed me?  l finished his sentence with sarcasm.
    "You never change"  he responded leaning on the bark of the tree next to me..
    " I don't even know why I just had to like you of all the humble girls in this village."
    "Well Tendeka , maybe it's because no one is as beautiful as I am "
    I said proudly
    "but don't be mistaken am not going to fall for you." I made a face.
    " I know"  he said in a low tone , more like my words hurt him.
    " You only have eyes for that Prince Smart right ? "
    "What do you know about that ?"  I asked bluntly.
    " I know"  he answered
    "rumors travell fast remember but you should know sometimes fame and position in society can not really give you what you want."
    I looked at him and saw something that I had not noticed about him. The gentle spirit and a calm heart , he was actually a good man with a torelant heart.
    "Mmmmmm , you speak so wisely Tendeka"  I mocked him ,
    "only that you cannot change what I want..."
    We both stayed quite for some time and he cleared his throat. I looked at him raising my face up.. "what is it mr Hunter , you are bored already , you might leave me alone now. I have a few minutes before going home , it's almost getting dark."
    "  Don't worry about me Lumbi , you can as well pretend that am not here. I like this place too" he said. I shook my head..
    "well you can have it for today then am going home." I frowned standing up..
    He watched me as I walked away and I didn't bother looking back.

    At home I helped my mother prepare super and she asked me how the ceremony was...
    "It was ok it just finished"  I lied adding some woods to the fire.
    As I lay in my hut... I thought of Tendeka. I wouldn't deny he was a good man. I shook my head as l focused my thoughts on the Prince , Smart was to be mine . It was my childhood dream and fantacy and I liked that it was almost becoming a reality. I just had to scoop the position of my dreams.
    A week later, I woke up early and did the chores at home as everyone else went to the fields. After l was done preparing food. ..I decided to go and fetch water from the stream.
    "Hey there" , someone greeted from behind me. puting down my water can,  l turned to look at the direction of the voice .
    "Hey Smart"  I greeted him.
    "What are you doing here ?"  I asked flirting..
    "mmmn well I came to watch the ladies fetch water and I noticed the most beautiful of all drawing. so I thought of saying hi"  he shrugged..
    "Mmmn I see, watch the ladies uh? " I asked feeling a bit jealousy..
    "Yeah!" he announced proudly.. "Anything wrong ?"  He asked..
    "No , not really"  I shook my head.. "well I got to go now" I lifted my can .
     As l walked away he came in front of me blocking my way,
    " am still talking to you Lumbiwe"  he shouted holding my waist.
    " Let me go Smart!"  l shouted..  I felt rather irritated that he was treating me like that.
    "Isn't this what you wanted ?"  He smilled...
    " I said let go Smart am not your toy." I yelled further.
    "  Let her go"  a voice shouted from the path. I looked in the direction and saw Tendeka coming carrying a small animal in his hands...                Smart laughed ,
    " who are you hunter to tell me what to do?  am the Prince remember ?"
    "  Well"  answered Tendeka ,
    "am a man who knows how to respect a woman and doesn't force her do what she doesn't want.." he responded  calmly.
    Smart let go of me and clapped his hands in mockery.
    "Here comes the hunter and a gentleman "
    I looked at both of them in shock , "you are unbelievable"  l said to Smart and walked away.
    "I  will send someone to call for you this afternoon !" he shouted as I walked. I didn't answer him and just walked on upset. I knew I really wanted a man of position for a husband but I hated being treated cheap. I had to maintain my pride as a woman and earn men's respect.

    That day, I told Dolika what had happened at the stream and at the tree with Tendeka.
    "be careful Lumbiwe.. you cannot manage to create rivaly between those two men... besides Tendeka is a good man he doesn't deserve to be treated badly."
    " Oh Dolika, Tendeka is not what I want. You know that... he might be handsome,gentle and all that but I want more than that" I explained to her. she folded her hands and shook her head at me...
    "careful my friend, you don't want to make a decision that will make your life mesirable just because of your pride and hunger for prestige..."
    "Just hand me  that pistol already"  I smiled, pouding groundnuts in the motor.
    "I need to prepare super for my family.."
    "well here you go"  She handed it to me and shrugged dissmissingly.

    Part 5

    After I was done preparing meals... I sat with my grand mother and sister chatting outside the kitchen, my grand mother was a good story teller. So she narrated a story of how a great fighter in her days married the most beautiful girl in the village. But she was lazy and full of herself. people tried to advice her to work so that she can keep her marriage but she always responded saying, he will never look at another woman because in her village she was the most beautiful of all. Later her husband left her and married a woman from another village and she becme a laughing stock in the village...

    "Oh that was bad"  I had told my grand mother when she was done with her narration.
    she added.. "Lumbiwe my child.. that's what life is about... beauty will not get you a husband but hard work and good character." so I learnt something that day but I didn't really wanted to apply it."

    I chuckled..
    " it seems you were a problem then?"  I asked my grand mother. "oh zelipa" she sighed
    "what can i tell you.. I made some bad choices and wouldn't think in those good lines better than I do now."
    "well, tell me what happened next"  I said as I joined her on the mat. it was getting a bit chilly but I couldn't sleep yet I wanted to hear it all.
    "what happened to Lumbiwe?" I asked again..
    "Oh yeah... let's see.. days passed and I heard nothing from the Prince. I had expected him to send someone to call me but it was quite. No one came for me. I one day thought of deliberately passing by the palace in the hope of seeing the Prince, but I didn't see him. irritated,  I changed course and went to visit my friend Dolika.  Just as her village came into view. I heard a nyau cry from the bushes. "that nyau again?" I thought to myself, as I conteplated running away, he appeared before me but to my surprise,  it wasn't the same nyau. he's outfit was different. I turned to ran back but he was faster.He whiped me on my back and I screamed in pain..the other flog reached in the side of my hand leaving a mark.I felt pain and fell to the ground..
    "what do you want from me?"  i cried trying to draw away from him, his mask scared me and i shivered.
    "who are you?" I snapped.
    "you have no shame!"  I added trying running away.
    "you cannot find anything to do but follow and whip girls in the village... shame on you !" I shouted. He bent his head a bit watching me as I struggled on the ground. He raised his whip ready to flog me again. I covered my my face ready to receive the slash,  then some other nyau came crying louder. he stood between me and the first nyau holding the whip high up preventing it from hitting me.

    I saw the first nyau bow his head and ran back to the bush and the one who rescued me helped me up.
    "thank you"  I said in a low voice. He wiped my tears and lifted my chin, my eyes were fixed on his mask. He bent down and whispered in a horse voice
    " ran back home Lumbi!" and he ran towards the bush.
    "What? " I asked myself
    " Lumbi? That was him.. Tendeka .. so it was him that was scaring me all the while..."  I thought as I ran back home..
    " okay, unless I won't see that fool.. he will hear me out!"  I shouted in my head.
    "how could he do that and even laugh in face, he's so mistaken if  he thinks I will let him go free with this"  I told myself.

    Two days later,  i went to my tree spot sewing  a pair of stockens with wool cotton for my cousins baby. I wanted to have my silent moment. Immediately I settled down,  Tendeka came and stood before me. I first looked at him from head to toe, then slapped him in his face. He didn't see it coming so he steped back a bit.
    "what have I done ?" He asked he's face calm as always.
    "What have you done? You fool think I don't know it was you who scared me in the woods the other day and embarrassed me in front of the whole village at the ceremony... and you have the audacity to follow me around. what do you want from me?  you coward!"  I screamed..
    He took a deep breath and sighed.. "I don't know what you are talking about." he said calmly..
    "oh yeah?  That nyau that rescued me the other day. you deny it wasn't you?"
    He shook his head..
    "how could you tell it was me?"  He teased ..
    "you have no can be anyone even your cousin Jonas."
    I let a laugh shaking my head... "wow! you are a good pretender Tendeka. Tell me who else in this village calls me Lumbi?  Mmmn? " He smiled...
    " maybe some other man who wants you to himself." He answered unconcerned. I raised my hand to slap him and he held it up.. "don't do that again! you can't just slap a man it's not a good virtue for a woman..."
    I pushed away his hand.
    "I hate you...!" I snapped..
    "leave me alone now or I will scream and tell the whole village you have been following me and whiping me hiding in your masks"
    He forced a smile.
    " I cannot leave you alone now, you owe me for slapping me and every one wont believe your story. you cant tell the person in a nyau.. so see. .am not scared of your threats " he mocked.
    "Okay ..since you have nothing to do and decided to disturb my peace I will leave you the tree. it seems you have come to love it more than I do"  I said picking my knitting spooks and cotton which I had put down.
    Before I could walk, he held my hand and looked at my face. I opened my mouth to say something but I closed it back. He pulled me to him and held my face..
    "you have to learn to respect me Lumbi"  he stated with a serious look.
    "you don't deserve it"  I answered carelessly.
    "oh I see... let me show you I deserve it"  he whispered pushing me towards the tree. He placed my back to the tree bank and pushed himself closer to my body, leaving no space between us...
    " what are you doing Tendeka?"   I asked him trying to escape his grip.
    He leaned forward and smilled.
    " I want to show you am a man and I deserve respect"  he smiled, pushed his hand in my dress and let his hand touch inside the soft skin between my thighs. I shivered, the effect of his touch.
    "stop!"  i shouted,  but my voice not sounding so much as I intended it to. He used his other hand to unbutton my dress and touched my nipples, causing me to feel strange emotions that I had never felt my whole life.
    " Tendeka please let me go"  I told him trying to push him away, but his force on me was stronger. He leaned forward and bit my neck gently. I felt my pant get wet like I just peed in it. He looked at me become weaker by the moment and smiled proudly.
    He let me go but I stood there not moving an inch. I really thought I would be happy if he let me loose but I was surprised I stayed there not doing anything. I saw his pride raise enjoying the humiliation he had caused me.
    "what now ... are you going to respect me?"  He asked close to my ears.
    " is this what makes you a man you crazy Hunter ?"  I snapped looking into his eyes.
    "  you are a coward Tendeka"  I added  trying to button my dress with my hands shaking.
    Before I knew it he lashed back at me and pushed down the khaki short he was wearing,  he pressed his manhood on top of my pant and I closed my eyes shut. rubbing his man on me slowly and gently, for a minute, I started panting wanting him to do more, even when my mind reminded me of the warnings from the elderly women about having sex before Marriage. My body disobeyed the warnings and I wanted Tendeka to go ahead and finish what he had started . He however did the most unkind thing,  he stepped back and pulled back his short.
    " you don't deserve it Lumbi"  he teased and ran to the bush,  leaving me panting and desiring him like an idiot.
    I felt so ashamed of myself. I sat down trying to compose myself for an hour...
    " I hate him!"  I said aloud.
    " he's so much full of himself....."

    Part 6

    I walked down the path with a mixture of feelings, upset, excited but the most evident of all mad at Tendeka. He just had to humiliate me. However,now that l felt normal again , l really was glad nothing happened. I wasn't going to worry about loosing my virginity and getting pregnant.
    Reaching home , l found my mother,father and my elder brother talking to an elderly man whom l couldn't recognize. As per tradition l knelt down and greeted him. He smiled widely as he greeted me back looking at my father. I walked to my hut wondering what the meeting was all about.
    Later in the evening my sister came to kneel before me as l chatted with my grandmother.

    "Father calls for you aLumbiwe," she told me.
    "Am coming " l responded immediately standing up. Wondered what it was my father  called me for. As l tied the chitenge tighter on my waist. I knelt before him as soon as I was closer. He sat on his favorite chair, which we had nicknamed 'lazy man`s chair'. My mother sat on the mat next to father, he indicated for me to sit with mom then he cleared his throat before he begun.
    "My daughter, l have called for you, you are now a grown woman and no longer that small girl you were a few years ago."
     I nodded my head following him , usually when father called for a meeting after super we all knew it meant some serious family business. Except l was the only one called that night so l felt a bit nervous not knowing exactly what to expect.
    "So"  he continued, "that man you saw this afternoon is an old friend of mine Mr Zulu, he came all the way from the neighbouring  village. He has a son who is working in the mines on the copperbelt and he came to ask for your hand in marriage on behalf of his son."
    "what ?" I asked in my head.
    "why would a capable man send his father to marry him a wife who he hasn`t seen ?" I wanted to say it aloud but l knew better than answering when my father was still talking so l kept quite and listened on.
    After he finished his statement which to be honesty l never listened to the rest of it. My mind went back to the tree and l was thinking of what had happened with Tendeka. Something in me was triggered that day and for some reason l couldn`t stop thinking about him the whole afternoon. I stattled when my father called my name ,
    "Lumbiwe! have you heard my question ? "

    "Oh pepani(forgive me) " l said sitting up.
     He repeated his question," l asked if you would accept Mr Zulu`s proposal on behalf of his son."
    " well, father am sorry but l cannot accept marriage to a man l know nothing about. You yourself told me that unlike your time it is better to know someone before marrying them. If l may say , l think it's better he comes here himself so he gets to know me and l also see and assess the kind of man he is." I remarked composing my voice.

    "Okey" my father nodded,
    "l think you have a point. Since Zulu promised to come back here in a couple of days l will let him know your response and we hear what his son would say".
     "thank you father" . I got back to where granny sat and narrated what my father just told me.
    "Eeeehe , so what do you think ?" my grandmother asked. I was free with her so it was easy for me to truly express my feelings , "amama" l looked at her,
    "l don't want to marry someone l dont know, besides there are a lot of suitors here in the village l don't need to go to the mines leaving my family behind here." she laughed and said
    "You are still a child dear, Your friends aim at going to live kumigodi ( in the copperbelt) yet you are set on marrying here in the village." She shook her head.
    "Yes amama," l told her, am going to marry a Prince  remember ?" I said proudly.
    "that prince is no good man from what l see and hear, his is to take away innocent girls virginities and then never marries them , what makes you think he will treat you any better?"  she responded.
    "well, amama am not other girls" l told her with confidence. She shook her head.
    "I rest my case then, do what you want Lumbiwe" she said shrugging.

    Two days later,  Mr Zulu came by and and my father explained what l told him. He agreed and promised to write to his son and explain the situation.
     In the afternoon Dolika came to visit me. We  sat in my hut chatting and l told her about the incidence with Tendeka. She laughed so hard at me and making me feel bad.
    "it's not funny"  l scolded.
    "It sure is my friend , that man knows how to put you in your place. "
    We  both laughed.  My mother called me as we went on chatting and l went to her,
    " someone is here for you" she said pointing at one of my friends,
    " helo" l greeted her.
    "The prince told me to come call you"  she whispered
    "walk with me and you will find him by the stream. " I smiled
    "okey just wait for me to call Dolika l cannot leave her alone in the house."
    I told my mother we were going to my friends place and she gave me an errand,
    "pass through Mr Mbewe`s house and see if he has any meat for sale and get some for me"  she said handing me the money.
    I couldn`t say no but l didn't like the fact that she was sending me to Tendeka`s house , his father was the one who sold Bush meat. Dolika saw my facial expression and laughed at me again as we walked away.
    " You are in trouble" she teased,
    "I guess you won't avoid him after all."

    Part 7

    Upon reaching the stream I found Smart, the Prince sitted on a rock beside the stream a little far from where we fetched water.
    "Good afternoon ? " I greeted him trying to hide the smile.
    " I didn't think you would come after what happened the other day,"  he said as he stood from where he was sitting.
    "Hm, I figured you probably want to apologise" l told him my face down as I played with the grass with my fingers.
    "Come we sit together " he called me tapping the side of the stone he was sitting in.
    " I don't feel so comfortable being so close to you after the other day"  I lied looking away.
    " mmmn I see. Okay then sit here then I will stand." He stood shrugging.
     I sat down and after some silence for few seconds , he spoke up.
    "I called you because I like you a lot. I am of the right age to marry and everyone is expecting me to choose a wife." He started
     I danced in my mind , excited that he would choose me.
    "Wow mbuya" ,  I interrupted  the story holding my chin in my palm as I smiled at my grand mother. Her voice was composed in a good way, the true expression of how she probably had felt years past.
    "you really got him?" I added
    She smilled,  though, I couldn't see her face i felt her relax and I knew that memory got to her.
    "Zelipa " she managed to say.
    "I really wish that day the Prince chose me" she remarked sadly.
    "what ? " I asked shocked
    "But how come? Why did he call you then?"  I asked impatiently.
    "Will you let me tell the story or not ?" She let a small sound laughing.
    "Okay continue mbuya,  it's just that I can't wait to hear what the Prince told you"
     She relaxed and sighed.
    "Well, he went on and told me he liked me alright but he was not sure about marrying me. I snapped angry at his lack of courtesy in the way he was directly telling me I was not good enough for him. 
    "Smart if you know you don't want to marry me then why did you call for me ?" I shot an angry eye at him.
    He chuckled , "am a man remember?  and I have needs, so since I like you and I know you like me too we can work out something. Who knows I might choose you as my wife in the end" he said to my face.
    I felt anger remembering what my grandmother told me about him taking advantage of girls , but I was not to loose like those other girls. "I Lumbiwe will have what I want. I will show you I am the one you want " , I shouted in my head.

    "Mmmm"  I spoke up looking down the ground  my eyes set on his shoes now.
    "So what's that something we will have Smart? " I asked looking straight at him.
    He smilled then mentioned my name , "Lumbiwe.."  After a pause he held my hand ,
    "don't you like me ?" He asked staring direct into my eyes. To be honest, I didn't like him as much as I thought I did , at that moment I had started despising him. It was like he was telling me proudly I was not good enough to be his wife but he could make me his mistress. I felt betrayed but I played calm,  for some reason, I let my pride lead me. Am sure the normal thing to do at that moment was to walk away but no I stayed on.
    "Hmmmm , if you were not sure I don't like you Smart you wouldn't have called me,  but am not ready to be someone's mistress. " i responded taking my hands off his hand.
    He smilled.. "wow, i like the way you aim higher. Ok then show me what kind of a wife you can be, just then I would consider making you my very own wife. I mean you are beautiful and smart too so you can perfectly fit as the princess of this kingdom"  he said with a grin.
    "Ok let me think about it"  I told him leaving his side.
    "I have to go now, I have an Errand to run for my mother.
     He smilled back "good girl, Don't take forever then,  I will see you soon" he said rubbing my hand.
    As l walked to Tendeka's house to go buy meat as sent by my mother. I thought of what the Prince had said.  Somehow I really thought he had a point. I had to prove I was worthy being his wife , some inner voice warned me otherwise but my head convinced me to always aim high and achieve what I needed to , facing every challenge that came my way.
    "If you want me to show you"  I said audibly walking alone.
    " then I will prove to you that am worthy more than all those girls you have been with."  I let a smile as I bounced and threw my hands in the air as I walked.

    "Odin...!"  I called out upon reaching Tendeka's house. Tendeka's father answered from behind the small hut.
    " Am here!"  he called out.
    "Good afternoon atate(father) . I knelt down traditionally as l greeted him.
    " Good afternoon" he answered cheerfully. "what brings you to my house?" he asked smilling.
    I saw that he had some resemblance with Tendeka , he called his wife to come give me a seat before I could tell him my mission.
    " No " l declined.
    "Thank you but I don't intend to stay long,  I just came to buy some bush meat "  l explained still kneeling.
    "Oh that's good , by the way how are your parents and brothers and sister?" He  greeted as he went on making the traps.
    " They are well atate"  I responded,
    "mother sent her regards. " I added politely.
    " I appreciate it. Now let this boy get you what you want " he looked up at me.

    "Tendeka ! " He shouted to call his son and my heart started pounding harder. I had not seen him in days and I was not ready to face him after that humilition he had put me through.
    He appeared from the main house and I made sure I continued looking down.
    " Good Afternoon aLumbi" he greeted me with respect.
    "You pretender !" I laughed in my head ,
    "since when do you respect me, idiot."
     I forced a smile.
    "Good afternoon thank you ", l answered audibly  glancing up at him and back down in a flash.
    "Take her to the kitchen she chooses what she wants from the dried meat" the father told him as he continues making the animal traps I found him making.
    "Come with me" Tendeka told me.
    "Zikomo( excuse me) I excused myself from his father and followed Tendeka. His mother was coming out of the kitchen with a small drum of water , she was probably going to fetch water.  As we approached we greeted each other.
    I stood by the door not willing to go inside with Tendeka.
    "Are you coming in to chose the meat or not aLumbi" he said making sure I noticed the respect was fake.
    "You can bring it here"  I told him avoiding his stare.
    "Oh sorry, it's too heavy to lift. Maybe I will go fetch my sister to come help you. it's like you are scared of me"  he said mockingly.
    I looked at his wide opened mouth and shook my head.
    "You are unbelievable"  I said sounding upset as I went in. I pointed at the piece I saw first. "This one,"  I said without hesitation.
    " Are you sure?"  he asked almost whispering.
    'Am sure"  l said loud enough to make sure people outside heard me.
     He smilled and got the meat, wrapped  it in the leaves and handed it to me.
    "Here , thank you for buying."  I turned and walked out without a word and walked towards the back Kneeling down again as I said bye to his father. who told me to pass his regards to my family.
    "Of course"  I smiled before standing right  up. I wiped the sand off my chitenge after walking a few steps away and walked back home wondering why I had suddenly started feeling unease when I was around Tendeka. I would admit I liked seeing him again but pushed the thought back. I had to focus on winning the Prince's heart even when my heart said otherwise.

    I had slept early a week after. Since I came out of age,  my elder brother had built me my own hut. My young sister was still sleeping in the same room with grand mother.
    I loved my hut and always kept it well plastered with black soil on the outside and white inside. we usually used the lime my father got from the city and mixed it with some clay soil to make a whitish soil and paint inside the huts , so l mentained my hut in that manner.
    The truth is that during the past week I had really thought more about Tendeka than l actually hoped to. I recalled seeing him with my cousin two days earlier as I lay in my but.  He didn't bother me like he always did and l felt somewhat hurt. I wanted him to at least pick a fight with me or something that could have made us say more than greetings. when I told Dolika about it she laughed that I too had some feelings for him but wouldn't just accept him because he was not of a high status.

    I shook my heard as I covered myself with a warm Chali blanket. It was a gift from my parents after my initiation and I loved the feel of its silkness on my skin.
    I heard a tap on the small window as l was deep in thoughts. I looked at the window , "who could it be?" l stood and peeped outside to see who it was .
    "it's me."  I heard Smart's voice.
    " What do you want here this time of the night " l asked suprised.
    "Open the door" he whispered
    " please , l have something to tell you." I shook my head as I got my chitenge and wrapped it around myself. I opened the door and he sneaked in.

    Part 8

    He entered my room swiftly,
    "what is it?"  I whispered looking outside for fear that maybe someone had seen him come. I closed back the door and he sat on the small stool in the room panting and his face full of fear like someone who had just seen a ghost.

    "What is it Smart?" I asked him again.
    " Give me some water please"  he managed to say after a couple of minutes. I got a cup and got water from a small calabash and handed it over to him.  I waited for him to gulp the water, sighing and wiping his mouth when he was done.
    " will you explain to me what you are doing in my house this time of the night and why you look like this?"  I asked again.
    " Am um i"he murmured
    "You are what? Smart say it now or leave my house."
    "Am sorry Lumbiwe I didn't intend to come here. it's just that i went to see this girl and then..."  he paused.
    " and then what?" I shouted.
    "shshshsh!"  he sushed me when we heard foot steps of people outside. luckily I didn't turn on the lamp so my hut was still dark. Only the small light entering the door as the moon was raising, shined on Smart's face. He had sat direct towards the door.
    I heard my brother talking to the people whose footstepps we heard earlier,
    "there's a man we just caught with my daughter,"   the person explained
    " but he escaped. Have you not seen anyone pass here? we saw him ran this way." The mam added.
    I looked at Smart who now moved to the corner like a dog which had stolen relish and is hiding from the owner scared of being whipped.
    " no I have not seen anyone" my brother told them.
    " I was inside sleeping just your noise woke me up. every one here is asleep"  he added.
    "  okay"  I heard the men respond.
    "Sorry for disturbing you" they apologised as they walked away their angry voices shouting and cursing.
    I looked at Smart and slapped him hard.
    " you are a dog Smart.! a good for nothing Prince,  how dare you go sleep with a woman in her own village this time of the night and you dare risk my life by running here. You surely have no shame you fool"  I snapped.

    " please its not like that" he said with his voice so calm.
    "just let me explain" 
    "Hm explain uh?  Explain what ? I know everything. I see, so that's how you want to use me eeh? " I asked despising him.
    He tried touching my hand but I threw him out.
    " leave before I scream and everyone will get to see that it's the son of the king that is going round sleeping with women like a dog." I almost yelled loudly.
    He went out silently and i watched him disappear in the woods. I shook my head in disbelief, "how can this be happening to me?"   I cried to myself.
    It's  not like I loved the prince but I cared enough for him to be my husband. That moment he had just destroyed the dream of me being a princess and probably a queen some day and I hated him for that.

    The following morning, news went round about the man and girl who was caught red handed by the parents. unfortunately no one except me knew about the true identity of the man.For  some reason I kept his secret and never told anyone not even Dolika what had happened that night.
    After some time, the rumors started dying but the girl was taken to another village. It was evident  she would never find a husband in our village.

    One day, my cousin Jonas called me. "Lumbiwe, " he said..
    "go with me to the wood,  I want to collect  firewood for your sister-in-law"  meaning his wife, he asked me.
    I got my chitenge and joined him. unknown to me, Tendeka had organised I see him. According to him, Tendeka was afraid i wouldn't  agree  if i was told he wanted to see me.

    "So why did you want to see me?"  i asked after  my cousin left us. He  looked at me and sighed.
    "Lumbi,  Why do you hate me so much?"  he asked seriously this time.
    "I  don't hate you Tendeka" I said looking away.
     "I  think you are the one who hates me, no wonder you scared me in your mask and tease me every time you see me." I responded.
     He  let a laugh, " I tease you because you are stubborn and don't respect me as a man." Came his response with a tone of seriousness.

     I looked at him, shaking my head " there you go again" I said.
    "Do all men in this village ask women to respect them or they are just respected? " I asked with a mock.
    "oh so you mean I don't deserve respect aiii ?"  He responded sounding disapointed.
    " whatever you will conclude"  i added sarcastically
    " you call what you did to me the other day being a man uhh? " I shook my head.
    He smilled and giggled
    " i see so its about that?" he said like he had forgotten.
    " but i thought you enjoyed that"  he teased kicking the leaves of the small tree near him.
    "You are something else then, you undress me in broad day light and you think I enjoyed it. Who do you take me for huh? A prostitute" I questioned him.
    " No" he cut sharply
    " it's not that, I was just trying to ... forget it" he shrugged dismissing his words.

    We talked about nothing in particular for almost an hour and I at last told him I was leaving.
    " why? " He asked his eyes looking straight at me.
    "well it's clear you have nothing sensible to tell me it seems we came here to quarrel and I have chores at home" I explained walking away.
    "Wait.."  he stopped me.
    "what now?" I turned.
    He  stood close and asked
    " is it that you want to marry the Prince no wonder you treat me like a nobody?"
    His question caught me off guard
    "  no..what... No Tendeka.. um I " i stammered not knowing exactly what to tell him.
    Since the night i saw the prince last, my desire to marry him started fading slowly but I still wanted to marry a better person. I infact started contemplating marring Mr Zulu's son and move out of the village.
    I looked at Tendeka, he was still there waiting for me to answer. I didn't realise I had gone mute.
    " No Tendeka " i went on
    "Am not marrying the prince but am marrying someone from kumigodi " i smiled
    "So you see am not as useless and stupid as you consider me to be" I pointed out with pride.
    "Oh" he said looking rather disappointed with himself.
    "that's good Lumbi, I gues you found someone better after all."
    "yeah " I nodded and started walking on.
     He  stopped me again,
    "Am sorry " he sighed
    "I forgot,  I brought you this" he mentioned  handing me a kalulu (hare)
    "thank you " I said, holding it by the trap it was caught in. He slid his hands on mine as he gave it to me and hesitated to let my hand go.

    As I walked, I felt sad, i had told him that. The painful look I saw in his eyes made me feel sad. I almost turned to go back and stay with him longer. But then I stopped myself.
    " he is probably better off without me" I thought to my self.
    " maybe I just hurt his pride as a man  but not that he likes me or something." I argued in my mind looking at the meat in my hand and sighing. The thought of how much he had to put in to bring me that small wild animal made me smile. " trying to be a gentle man hmm" I whispered to myself.

    Part 9

    "Zelipa ! " mbuya shook me, l didn't realize l had fallen asleep.
    "mmmmmh, " l answered murmuring,  feeling sleepy. She giggled,
    " l feel tired too let's sleep and l will continue tomorrow."
    "Yeah good idea"  l smiled pulling the blanket to my shoulders.

    I woke up to the sound of the cock cloaking in the morning. l stood, stretched myself and smiled , l had dreamt of mbuya`s story like l was there. I quickly rushed outside and found her removing a hot pot of sweet potatoes , as steam flowed out making a meander shape above the cover. I went closer and breathed in the aroma
    " Wow , l love kandolo(sweet potatoes)" i told mbuya who was looking at me take in the aroma , her hands akimbo.
    "Yes , now you can continue the story ,"  l spoke with my mouth full of sweet potatoes, luckily l had water near by otherwise the lamp l was feeling almost chocking me could have turned my eyes red.
    "Zelipa take it easy child" mbuya laughed,
    "Kandolo yupaya ka(sweat potatoes can kill you).
    "please continue"  l insisted after we finished eating.
    "Walk with me to the stream " she asked me carrying a small bucket,
    " will tell you as we walk there..."
    "Yes ambuya " , l said excited putting on my canvas.

    "Well," she continued...
    " so l walked back home and as always did some chores and prepared meals. The following day as we walked to the stream with my sister in-law,"

    "Thats Jonas`s wife right? "  I interrupted her. She nodded in agreement before continuing..

     " mlamu tell me,  how did you get married to my cousin? did you love him ?" I questioned her.  she let a laugh and tapped my back,
    "why alamu? (Sister in law),  is someone coming to ask for your hand in marriage ? " she answered with a question.
    "Not really," l told her
    "I just want to know how it feels when you want to marry a person. Must you feel anything special for them or it's just to accept someone who is a better person ?"

    "oh dear'  she sighed,  "your cousin and i met for the first time at the road side where l used to sell vegetables to the people on buses, he was a good and jovial man ,  he made me laugh a lot and l liked him."
    " yeah"  she concluded.
    " I think l felt something l never felt for any other man before so l knew he was special to me."
    "wow !"  l said impressed.
    "I wish l could feel that for someone as well" .
    "I think you have someone in mind"  she pointed out.
    "Maybe you are not just paying attention to your heart."
    I looked at her and laughed.
    "Amlamu you seem so sure of that statement"  l teased,
    "but if l feel it you will be the first to know," l chuckled and we both laughed.
    "What about Tendeka? "she asked catching me unaware.
    "My husband told me he likes you a lot but that you have other priorities ? " she asked seriously.
    " He is a good man"  she added
    "strong and decent too. He has handsome features , l mean he would give you good looking children, " she smiled rolling her eyes.
    "His family is very decent and respected in this village so why dont you like him ? "
    "he`s mean to me amlamu"  l answered her as we reached the stream.
    " He is always making me feel like am not someone worthy. plus l think l want someone higher in the society"  l added giggling.
    "Oh Lumbiwe"  she sighed.
    " A good man is more than gold , he will make you happy as compared to those of high class you are talking about"  she advised as she rolled her nkata (small material to place on her head before putting the water pot.).
    I bent down to lift my own water pot and as l lifted it to my chest. I felt strong hands behind me lifting it and placing it on my head.
    " There you go " , came his voice.
     I looked back and it was Smart. He smiled when l looked at him.
    "Good afternoon Lumbiwe ? "
    " Smart?"  l asked my eyes wide open ,
    "  what are you doing here?"
     my Sister in law looked at us.
    " I will walk along, you will catch up am sure" she indicated giving us space..

     I nodded my eyes still on Smart.
    " I want you to come to the palace there`s someone l want you to meet and l want to come thank you for what you did for me that night and keeping it a secret."
    He explained without letting me say a word. "But Smart"  l started,
    " please"  he pleaded with a spark of sincerity in his eyes, 
    "okey then l will come with you just let me take this water home and tell my sister in law so she can cover for me at home."
    " Sure"  he nodded.
    "you will find me on the way to the palace then"  he added as l walked away.

    As we walked to the palace Smart asked about my family. I looked at him and wondered what was with him, he was more serious and showed concern which he had never done before. upon getting to the palace he took me to a room with nicely curved stools and asked me to wait for him. Later on he came back with a man l had never seen before.

    " Lumbiwe this is mani(Emmanuel) he`s my friend from the city. We went to the same boarding school in Chadiza."
    " Oh l see" , l responded extending my hand to greet him.
    " Mani this is Lumbiwe the girl l told you about " he looked at his friend
    "wow!"  Mani exclaimed
    "the rumors of your beauty are so true but you are even more beautiful in person." He smiled remarkably.
    " Thank you"  l smiled feeling uncomfortable. He was still holding my hand.

    "I will leave you two alone"  Smart said leaving the two of us in the room.
    "Hey so tell me about yourself beautiful woman"  he said flirting.
    "There`s nothing to tell" l spoke looking at the floor. He explained about himself,  that he had completed his form 5 and was now in college.
    " I want to work in the mines and be a boss" he had boasted ,
    "so am just here to see my friend the prince and l asked him to show me the good women in this village and he told me about you."
    " I see " l said at last,
    "so what now that you have seen me ?"  l asked looking at his nicely ironed cream white shirt and a brown cotton trousers. Most of the young men in our village wore shorts at the time so seeing a person in a pair of trousers was an indication they were educated or working in the city  and it was surprisingly amazing that he had chosen to see me of all the village girls.  I marvelled in my head, maybe l dont need the prince after all, l told myself.
    we talked some more and he escorted me home. I would admit he was a gentle man. he spoke to me softly and treated me like l was so much important to him. making jokes and explaining all about city life as we walked.
    "So how long are you around here ? "  I asked him before he returned,
    "mmmm, maybe 2 weeks"  he said holding my hand
    " and l wish to see you more before l go" he smiled.
    "I can tell you more of my city stories and you can tell me about this village."
    " Sure,"  l nodded smiling.  I walked home head high. Hoping that was the moment I waited for to find a better man.

    Part 10

    The rest of the week we met with Mani and talked about lots of things. He in fact declared his interest in marrying me.
    " i will go back and finish my studies first"  he had told me
    " then i will come with my people to see your parents."
    "Really ?" i asked excited.
    "yes Lumbiwe" he smiled
    " or am not good enough  for you uh?" he asked.
    "no,"  i corrected him,
    "i didn`t know someone like you would want to marry an uneducated village girl like me."
    He  let a laugh.
    " a woman doesnt need education to make a good wife Lumbiwe."
    I smiled my hope of settling with a man of status rising higher. I noticed the prince didn`t pay much attention to me all this time. Mani even told me Smart was going to marry some time soon. That his parents had organized a woman from another village for him.
    "Thats good for him"  i said, really not caring what was going on in Smart`s life.

    One day as Mani and i sat by the small hills talking. Tendeka appeared from the bushes carrying his traps. he looked at us and said nothing. I wondered what was with him, he couldnt greet us or anything. So when i met him the following day i asked him about his altitude. According to him,  he had already heard rumors of me and the town boy so he was not surprised seeing us.
    " oh thats nice of you" i teased.
    "i thought you would misbehave and mock me around my visitor."
    " not to worry Lumbi"  he responded in a sad voice.
    "I will never bother you anymore, i respect women and i cannot ever do anything like that to you. I just hope you will be happy with him"  he said walking away.
    For some reason,  his words got to me. I felt like there was more to his sad voice. so i stood blocking his way.
    "Tendeka you look sad,  is something wrong with you?"  i asked looking into his eyes.

    He  responded with a weak smile," am glad you care for me after all"
    "of course you are my friend"  i said seriously.
    " i mean we always quarrel and all but you are a good person and deserve better"  i added.
    " Thank  you " he said touching my hand.
     Someone cleared his throat behind me and i turned just to face Mani.
    " what is going on here ?" he asked jealousy written all over his face.
    "umm Mani," i stammered moving to his side.
    "this is Tendeka a friend of my cousin"  i asnwered avoiding mentioning a friend of mine, of course there was nothing like having a male friend in our time. A man and woman were not to befriend each other. Tendeka greeted him extending his hands and Mani answered without touching him. I saw Tendeka drop his hand and walked away.
    "Greet Jonas for me"  he said looking at me. like confirming what i had said about my cousin.

    "what was that?"  Mani asked furious,
    " nothing, i was just greeting him"  i defended myself.
    " oh no don't  give me that Lumbiwe, i saw him touching you and am a man i can tell that guy wants more from you." He spat angrily.
    "please stop being all jealousy"  I told him holding his hand.
    " you are going to be my husband and i cannot lie to you so lets just go"  i pulled him.
     He took me to the palace into the room he was sleeping in.
    "what are we doing here?"  i asked when we entered.
    He squat before me and sighed.
    "Oh Lumbiwe, you know i like you and i want to marry you so i want to make sure no other man has ever touched you before, i dont like the way that man was looking at you"  he added seriously.
    " why are you saying such things Mani. I told you already i have never been touched before why wont you trust me? "
    "Hm" he shrugged standing up.
    " i cannot be so sure and the truth is am scared i might loose you since am leaving this place anytime soon.. so what assurance do i have i will find you intact waiting for me?"
     I shook my head in disbelief.
    "so you are saying you cannot trust me, because I was greeting a man ?" 
    He  came closer to me lifting me from the chair,
    "Lumbiwe"  he started, his eyes fixed on mine.
    "I love you and i want you for myself. so thats why i want to marry you and i know you feel the same. So now , if you are going to be mine after all why can`t you make me feel like a man right here and give me the pride of being the first with you. Am sure there`s no problem if we are going to end up husband and wife after all."

    I tried to resist him but not hard enough to make him stop. Everything in me screamed 'No!' but i just let him go ahead touching my body. I  didnt even feel the stings i was feeling when Tendeka touched me. He removed my chitenge and blouse and caressed my body. His lips placed to mine and i had no idea what to do with them, he leaked my mouth or whatever that was called but i stayed put like an idiot who couldnt fight her way out of what I didn't want.
     Moving me to the mat, he slowly went inside me as i cried silently. I felt so much pain between my legs and even shed more tears without saying a word. With his every thrust, pain ran through my stomach.
    What pained the most was my heart, i raised this image of Tendeka`s sad look the last time i had seen him, his voice comforting me all through the time.

    " Lumbiwe dont just lay there shake for me or something" Mani whispered in my ears his voice sounding more like a noise gong. I  moved a bit not really applying anything i had learnt in the initiation, my mind still on Tendeka, until he fall on me after pumping faster and moarning loudly. His sweat running down my neck making me want to throw up.

    "wow!"  he sighed after he lay on his back facing up.
    "you were really untouched and sweeter than i  ever imagined"  he smiled to himself.
    I  sat up and touched my private part which felt sore and painful. lifting my finger i saw blood covered on it.
    "Thats what happens the first time" Mani explained with a grinn. I  didnt answer him tears just run down my face as i stood to dress up.
    He  helped me button my blouse and moved the sheets on the mat in a heap to hide the stains of blood.
    "stop crying like a baby Lumbiwe" he whispered hugging me. He  didnt understand i had lost more than my virginity at that moment.
    I realised how much i had hurt myself because of stupid ambitions and ignored what my heart really wanted. But  most of all i had just lost my dignity as a woman and should it turn out he doesnt marry me then who ever will come to marry me will never respect me as a woman.
    I couldnt stop crying even after he assured me he would come back for me. He explained that then he had all the reasons to have me as his wife and finish what he had started.
    "let me go home already " i told him sighing as i removed tears from my face.

    Part 11

    A month later, i was no longer the same cheerful and energetic Lumbiwe. Instead of moving in high spirts like i always did, i was calm in a sad way. I tried to pretend all was well but i just couldn`t, my cousin`s wife called me one day and asked what was bothering me. I  tried leing about not feeling well but she insisted. I ended up telling her  that i was missing Mani. I didnt however, touch the part of him laying with me.
    A week later, i started looking pale and i had lost appetite. My friend Dolika was the one who first mentioned it.
    "maybe you are pregnant"  she had pointed out.  I  sat down the sand besides the stream, my eyes fixed on the moving water. I  had placed my feet in the water.
    Surely, i thought to myself, like they say, tme is like water in the river you cannot touch the same water twice. Each flow  passed never to flow back. I shook my heard in agony. My life was over, i remembered the elders tell me the time i would not see my menses meant i was pregnant. Now that Dolika had said it i just realised  i never had my periods the past month. Hot tears rolled my eyes without saying a word. I could hear Dolika say things but i didnt really get what she was talking about.
    she shook me,
    " hey Lumbiwe say something my friend you are scaring me"
    " what do i tell you Dolika?"  i looked at her  crying.
    "That i was foolish and let myself get used by a man who made me fake promises?, that it hurts cause i have never heard from him since? am finished"  i cried aloud.
    Dolika squeezed my hand,
    "go and talk to the Prince and let him tell his friend what he did. Just maybe he will take responsibility for you and this child."
    "You are right"  i said wiping my tears.
    "am going to see Smart now and tell him about all this."
    Dolika walked me to the palace and we asked the servant to call Smart for us.
    " oh Lumbiwe" Smart sighed after i told him what happened.
    " you didnt have to have sex with him. if you never wanted to you could have refused. It's  all your fault now. That guy is my friend but i dont think he really wants to marry you after all. He hasnt said a thing about you since he left." He remarked calmly.
    "what was that?" I asked feeling powerless all my strenght was drained i couldnt stand anymore. I  sat down and held my head with my hands.
    " so Smart you knew what kind of a person Mani is but you went ahead and pushed Lumbiwe to him"  Dolika asked angry
    " you are a snake and a good for nothing prince"  she spat shaking her head.
    " thank God your elder brother will take up the throne after your father otherwise you could have taken this village into chaos, what a shame"  she added standing up to his face. He  instead smiled,
    " unbelievable!" he mocked
    "you mean your friend isn`t clever enough to tell a good man from a bad one? she needed me to lay out that for her.? please dont involve me in your problems" he added laughing.

    I stood up and slapped him across his face and walked away without a word.
    "Hes engaged to another woman!"  i heard him shout after we left him.I  didnt even look back my mind and thoughts were scattered i couldnt even figure out what to think next. He was right though, it was me who was stupid and naive i had just poured hot pieces of charcoal on my body and the burns were deep reaching my very soul.

    My friend Dolika just walked me to my hut and watched me in silence as tears rolled my face.I  couldnt utter any words.
    she whispered in my ears.
    "its gonna be okey Lumbiwe" with so much calmness.
    " let me go home now, take it easy we will figure something out tomorrow"

    As soon as she left i slowly went out and took the route behind my hut to avoid anyone seeing me. I pulled out the ropes my father used to tie to the chicken shelter and walked slowly to my favorite place, the tree near the valley.

    Sometimes a person can feel their emptiness right through their soul, that's  exactly how i was feeling. I  had lost the will to live, i was certain there was no tomorrow for a person like me, without hope at that moment. i knew i was a falling star, nothing made sense.
    Sitting under my tree i looked at the wide valley before me.
    " Lumbiwe " i spoke to myself.
    "you have no pride anymore, no one will ever remember your beauty or that you are the girl that glittered and shined the whole village. All you have remained is a useless and empty vessel and a disgrace to your parents."  I shook my head.
    "It is better this way than waking up to people`s faces mocking me."
    Hanging the rope around my neck i went up the branch close by and shut my eyes. Thoughts of my family came to my mind and i pushed them back, but ended up bringing Tendeka's face to mind
     "Good bye Tendeka"  i said with a whisper and as i let go of the branch i had tied the rope to, the other part round my neck,  I  felt the air reducing in my lungs as i gulped and struggled to breath, my end had come and i was ready to let go. ..

    Part 12

    Just as darkness covered my mind. I  started chocking and coughing,  wondering whether i was in the after life. I felt someone call my name shaking me.
    " Lumbiwe open your eyes!"  he shouted
     I tried to speak as my eyes opened weakly. Seeing blurred images of Tendeka looking at me.
    " what are you doing to yourself?"  he asked wipping  my face.
    " please wake up"  he shook me his voice panicking.
    "Tendeka?" I stammered " what are you doing here?"  I finally managed to ask?
    "what happened..."
    "That`s what i want to know!" he snapped.
    "why would you think of killing yourself like this. If i hadnt gotten here on time you could have died."
    Coming back to reality,  i started crying.
    " what happened Lumbi ? please tell me"  he asked with concern.
    "whatever it is cannot be enough reason to hang yourself to death. Wasted water does not make flowers grow. It's  better to fetch fresh water and water your flower to make it grow,  you cannot throw away your life like its nothing Lumbiwe please come on."
    His hand went through my long hair as he placed my head on his legs whilst kneeling. The  other hand supporting my back with a strong hold.

    I cried loudly sitting up. feeling so much ashamed of myself. After i calm down he asked again.
    "please trust me and let me help you. what is it that hurt you so much you want to die Lumbi? "
    "i am so ashamed of my self Tendeka"  i cried,
    ,"am not worthy of living any more. a
    Am so wasted i cannot find another way through this."
    "Tell me what hurt you"  he whispered.

    I narrated  the whole story about Mani,
    "so you see Tendeka, i dont want to live anymore. I cannot live to disgrace my family. how am i even going to live in this village and walk in the paths with all this shame i have brought upon myself...? i cant" i shook my head crying.
    "Why did you have to interfere and save me Tendeka i wanted to die you had no right to interfere. why didnt you let me die?"

    "Dont you say that Lumbi" he responded wiping my tears.
    "how would i let you die when all i can think of is you. I love you even if you have always treated me like a nobody and never loved me back. how can i let you die, when all i want to do in my life is hold you and comfort you, to carry your burdens and make you smile. Tell me how i would let you die when i still loved you even after seeing you in the hands of another man?  I cannot Lumbi because for me you have always been my star,  my precious one." 
    I  looked at him express himself and guilty and shame pricked my very soul causing me so much pain.  I couldnt raise my face to see his, i cried tears dropping from my eyes like water. I was so foolish and cruel too,  i hurt the person that had always cared for me.
    "You are a good man Tendeka " i told him
    " and you deserve a good woman, sorry that i made you feel that way. but its best you leave me now i cant even look at your face, go on"  i added
    " find your self a good and decent woman thats what you deserve."

    He pulled me back to himself laying my head on his laps close enough i could feel his heart beat. 
    "I cannot leave you especially like this,  everytime i see a rainbow it reminds me of you,  how do you expect me to leave you when you need me the most? The light sometimes comes through the clouds and this is a pasing cloud, you will have to stand again. " he spoke with so much calmness.
    "How possible is it that you can tell me all this after what i did to you and what i am now? Tendeka please dont do this, go home now."

    " am not leaving you to kill yourself" he replied,
    " dont you get it?  i still love you Lumbi and i still want you for myself."
    I smiled painfully at how serious he seemed.
    "You dont understand Tendeka"  i sat up, am pregnant right now with another man`s child, its over,  there`s no mending my life now."  He  shook his head,
    "That idiot doesnt deserve you Lumbi, he can be educated for all i care but his brain is empty. Now,  listen to me" he continued.
    "am going to stand with you until you give birth to this child."
     I looked at him unbelieving what he was just saying.
    " yes " he nodded..
    " tomorrow  am coming to see your parents with my father and ask for your hand in marriage, before the pregnance starts showing. Am going to take care of you and the baby as if he was my own. Because i love you..."

    "No"  i stood shaking my head,
    " Tendeka you cannot do that,  its not fair, no,  i wont destroy your life by putting this on you, am not "
      He held my hands,
    "Lumbi i want to know one thing only, "
    "what? " i asked looking at him.
    " do you have any feelings for me? I  mean,  do you care for me even a little bit.?" he asked seriously.
    "Hm, please it doesn`t matter now."
    " yes it does"  he insisted.
    "yes Tendeka, i like you, a lot actually. in fact, do you know what? i cried for you and thought of you as that man lay on top of me. Thoughts of you gave me comfort as i experienced pain my whole body,"  i let a sad  laugh tears running my face.
    "i like you and thought of you more than i ever imagined i would" i smiled looking at him.
    "thats it then " he smiled back,
    " accept my proposal and marry me, let me help you cover this shame and make you happy. Should that idiot show his face here.. I  swear i will kill him and throw his body in the stream." He snarled.
    "I couldnt stop shaking my heard.
    "please it hurts me am doing this to you, please stop."
    "No,"  he responded firmly.
    " what will kill me is seeing your body lowered to the ground. I cannot survive that Lumbi,  i love you"  he said hugging me as i cried in his strong arms, his pounding heart connecting to my broken heart, making me feel like i was going to burst with so much pain.

    "thank you"  i said at last hugging him back.

    Part 13

    I looked at mbuya, she looked sad and tears formed in her eyes as she narrated the story. I too was shedding tears .  She  was quite for some time as we watched water flow by the stream. We had finished plucking vegetables from the garden and we sat down by the stream.
    looking  at the other side of the stream, i admired the smooth green glass. It was plain for a distance and then tress beyond it. I remembered grand ma had told me that beyond the tress was a grave yard. She said she loved siting by the stream and watch that direction, in that way she felt like connecting to her dead parents and relatives, most of all her beloved husband.
    I cleared my throat after some minutes.
    Mbuya seemed to be deep in thoughts her smooth pale skin looking a bit lighter under her eyes.  She was 74 years old but one would tell she really was a beautiful woman as a youth and younger woman. Her silk big strands of hair were still black instead  of grey like other old people her age.
     Her mouth shape could be perfect but for some missing teeth it was a bit slanty. I moved my eyes down and looked at her feet. Wow!  I couldnt help admire her legs, her body was still light toned, in fact lighter than her a bit wrinkled face. I could imagine her legs at my age.
    " mbuya " I finally called her bringing her back to the present.
    " tell me what followed,  did Tendeka keep his promise? And is uncle Tendeka your first born son the son of Mani? " I asked
     She chuckled.."oh my Zelipa you really have made me travel back to the most painful and happy memories too,  let me continued then"  she said placing her feet into the clean flowing water.

    "Well,  My saviour Tendeka kept his promise. He  came home with his father and his aphungu (a man to do the negotiations of dowerly and also teach him about marriage.) all was done accordingly, i was called to be asked if I wanted to marry him when they came to see my parents.
    At that point I stayed quite for a minute, contemplating what we had talked about. I looked at Tendeka and he gave me an assurance look. He   flashed his eyes and I knew he was telling me "am sure I will be with you." I accepted and as the elderly clapped their hands.They  went on to make arrangements for our marriage in 2 weeks time, according to the aphungu the man, meaning Tendeka didn't want to waste any more time, he wanted to marry his woman even in days.
     But my father insisted that we needed more time to prepare a deserving marriage ceremony for his daughter.
    In my mind I shook my head,  if only he knew I was not as deserving as he put it.

    After a happy and wonderful marriage ceremony I was taken to Tendeka's home,  he had even built a new house to prepare for my coming.
    After the alangizi did their thing with us that night, we were finally left alone.  funny thing a woman was taken to her husband with nothing but a wrapper around the body tied from the under arms. so, I sat shyly  my head bowed down. I didn't know what to expect,  the truth was that I didn't have as much excitment as I should have been under normal circumstances. I was still filled with guity and shame.  even when I told my friend Dolika about Tendeka,  she insisted marrying Tendeka was a good thing. "he is a good and honourable man he will make you happy " she said in response when i told her everything.
    She  even insisted she had a talk with the prince before he spoiled things for me. So she came later on to tell me she had faced him and told him I was not pregnant that I wanted to see how serious his friend was.
     I loved her even more, she was a good friend who had vowed to die with the secret.
    " I told him to go and tell him he's not man enough and she has found a real man. I told that idiot off!" explained Dolika.
    I was gone in thoughts didn't hear Tendeka calling my name.
    " Lumbi " he called again.
     I stattled.. "sorry " I apolgised
    "I didn't hear you"
    He came and sat in front of me.
    " please can you be happy at least for me. I know you have a lot of doubts and probably regrets but try to forget what happened and give us a chance will you?"  I smilled at him.
    "you are not a man Tendeka" I told him.,  "because no man can do what you just did for me. You are beyond every man I have heard and seen in my life. I don't know how am going to repay you for this.' I whispered honestly.

    He smilled,
    " oh my beautiful Lumbi, you who is always praised like your name!  the only way for you to repay me is by loving me. It's  all i want,  your love." I touched his handsome face and he held my hand on top of it.
    "it might be hard for you to believe because of how I treated you in the past, but the truth is you are special to me. You  really punished me that day by the tree." he laughed before I could go on
    " and here I was thinking you hated me for that..." he let a laugh
    " on the contrary,"  I said shly , "since that day I couldn't stop thinking about you"  i told him sincerely.
    He shook his head, "so you just wanted to purnish me right?" He sighed shaking his head.
    " what can i tell you Tendeka, am just."
    ".shshshshs " he held my mouth,
    "don't say any more, we have the rest of our lives for you and me to talk about this, now I want to make you mine." He remarked closing in the gap between us.
    I felt a grip in my stomac,  the experience with Mani had left a negative impact on me. I was scared and nervous. Luckily he saw my fear,
     "come here,"  he said lifting me to a springed bed with a small matress he told me he bought from the meat sales.  He  lay me on the bed and I quickly pulled back the chitenge that had moved up my thighs revealing my soft skin.
    He  let a laugh,
    " you need to lossen up" he spoke removing it once again.
    "you are mine now and we are going to see each others nakedness for the rest of our lives."
    I smiled avoiding looking into his eyes fixed on me. He took his time touching and caressing my body, asking if I was okey all the way.
    " stop treating  me like I will break Tendeka" I winced when I couldn't take it any longer. The  craziness I was feeling was going to kill me. He raised my chin.
    "look at me"  he ordered.
    I looked up his eyes,  they looked strange like they were tearly or something.
    "are you sure?" he asked finally. "mmmmmmhm"  I nodded.
    With so much passion and tendernes he made love to me. It  was like my first time ever,  for a moment  I forgot my Pain, forgot that there was Mani, the prince or any other man in the world. It  was just him and me and I felt belonging in his strong and muscline  arms. I found comfort, love, passion and so much pleasure than I ever imagined I would feel. Being married to a man oloba(one initiated in the nyau) had its benefits too. Well, I was home. With the man that  loved me unconditionally and without measure.
    With all the skill i learnt from the initiation I drove him to the world he deserved to be. It  was his right, he had earned it and I vowed right that moment to make him the happiest man in the entire village. He was my hunter, one who not only danced well as a nyau or caught lots of animals but one who managed to hunt my heart until it got trapped in his trap.
      He looked at me still inside me and smilled;
    "you were worth the hunt." he said
    "This meat I will eat every day, hunt more when it finishes until I have no more teeth to chew." I smiled.
    "thank you my hunter."

    Days then weeks passed and I would say I was getting better, Tendeka made every thing easy.He  would go with me to the stream to fetch water, he would ask me to go with him in the forest to hunt. We where together almost every where, to the extent some villagers started saying I had bewitched him with charms.
    "Let them bark" he would tell me.
    " if only they were in my shoes they would understand."

    One day as we walked back from the stream I felt sharp pains in my abdomen. I crenched down holding my stomac as the pain increased .Tendeka ran to get the water pot from my head and I cried in pain.
    "what is it?"  He asked panicking
    "I feel sharp pains here" i answered holding my abdomen. I felt some warm staff running my legs, looking down, it was blood.
    " am bleeding" i told Tendeka.
    " oh no !" he shouted lifting me up.
    "I have to get you home immediately."

    At home the bleeding continued,
    "am losing the baby Tendeka"  i cried.
    "please no"  he hold my stomach. He  ran to call his mother and when she came she looked at me and ran to go call the elderly woman from the neigbour. She inspected me and shook her head too.
    "you have miscarried." She announced.
    "Oh no! It cannot be." I screamed painfully.
    Tendeka came closer and held my hand.
    "take it easy Lumbi, it's gonna be okay."he looked sad and concerned as he watched me cry.
    Believe me I loved that baby, despite the way I conceive him I felt connected to the child in my womb and it was almost showing. loosing the baby really broke my heart, even when everyone thought it was just weeks old looking at the Time i married Tendeka. they didnt know that the pregnancy was almost 3 months.
    Afterwards the elders performed their traditional cleansing and gave me some herbal  medicine to be taking for some time. Tendeka stood by me and comforted me all the more until I was completely healed.
    "God will give us more children in future"  he had told me.

    Part 14(Final)

    I was fully recovered by the end of the month. Tendeka was reluctant for us to try having another child, he asked the old woman that had treated me to give me some medicines that i avoid getting pregnant for some time. All went well and i was happy, my friends were saying i was glowing.

    Tendeka was always buying clothes and new chitenge materials. he had gained much respect amongst his friends,  they told him he had changed so much in months. I definitely made it my mission to make him happy as much as he made me..
    I remember one day,  i went with my friends for the nyau ceremony, as we clapped and sung, Tendeka in his mask came in with another nyau and dance before us. As he raised the whip every one ran in all directions but i stood in the same position smiling. He raised the whip to scare me away but i smiled and shook my head as he looked at me from behind the mask and shook his head too, dancing and wagging his mask he raised dust and ran back leaving me covered in dirty.

    Dolika who now was married too came and she burst out laughing.. "Lumbiwe"  she said,
    " you know better than standing up to a nyau.. you are a woman."
    " well, he will be punished for that tonight"  i giggled. she looked at me laughing
    "you know he will never agree that it was him? " she giggled too.
    "i know,  but today he will have to...." i said proudly..
    I walked home with my friends chatting and laughing on the way.. with all the women complimenting me for marrying a good man.. In my heart i was over joyed, he really was a good man and i didnt deserve him.

    later that evening he came home laughing..
    "what is it ?"  i acted surprised.. "you are crazy"  he told me.
    " oh so you agree it was you uh?" i asked laughing.
    "i should have whiped you"  he laughed holding my waist..
    "and now you could have lost the chance of ever holding me like that"  i let a laugh..
    " i love the smell of dust on you"  i teased him and he giggled walking away to take his bath. Well, we were happy....

    "wow"  i sighed,
    "Ambuya i feel happy for you, at least you were finally happy. but what about Mani did he ever come looking for you? what happened to him mbuya?" i asked her watching her every move.
    she had not removed her feet from the water all this time they even looked pale from the water. I too joined and placed my feet in  the water and understood why she was enjoying. It was getting hot and the cold water felt good on the feet.

    "mmmmmmh, am waiting"  i reminded her..
    "what do you want to know now Zelipa?" she chuckled looking at me...
    "everything until today"  i smiled..
    'Okey then"
     she sighed..
    " i got pregnant 6 months later and gave birth to your uncle Tendeka.. he was an exact  copy of your grand father and we named him after him. Let me just say he brought so much joy in our home and good lucky too.
    One day Tendeka's uncle from the city called him and helped him find a job in the construction company.... after working for 2 months he found a house and came for me and your uncle that is how we all moved to the city. As always his hard work earned him favors with the white people who were running the company and after a year he was promoted to a position of a foreman. Everything had changed and in less than 3 years i had given him two more kids , your mother and your other uncle James who your father named after his good friend a white man.
    Latter on i gave birth to another child your uncle Dalitso,  we named him that because we just considered our lives as a blessing.." she smiled widely.
    "but ambuya you have not said anything about Mani.. does it mean you never saw him again?"  i asked her..

    "oh Mani"  she frowned
    " i never saw him for years until one day i met him on the copper belt where your grand father was working after quitting the construction company job. His friend James helped him get a job in the mines and God blessed us even more. He was promoted to supervise some workers due to his hard work. surprisingly Mani was one of the people that were  reporting under his supervision.

    Tendeka didn`t tell me until one day as we drove to town we meet him and he introduced him to me. i was surprised to see him. He looked at me and i could see he was dying with jealousy.
    "you are looking good"  is all he said and Tendeka held my hand as we walked back to the car were we had left our two kids by then. your uncle and your mother.
    "Tendeka why didn`t you tell me hes here?' i asked him when we were inside the car. He smilled and looked at me..
    "what for?  i just pretend he doesnt exist"  ye shrugged,
    "otherwise, i could have made his life hell in the mines..."
     I let a laugh and sighed..
    " you are unbelievable and i love you.."
    " i know now." he said holding my hand as he drove his Toyota Cresta.

    After he retired years later... we came back to settle here in the village and by then he had educated all his children up to university and college levels. Mani unfortunately never had any kids... I heard the woman he had married had 4 miscarriages until they gave up trying.
    Since then,  i never heard of him... the Prince is still here in the village but he is now ruled by one of his nephews. He still benefits somehow from being royalty,  but his status is not what i had thought would turn out to be.
    We lived here with my beloved Tendeka until he got ill and died at 82 years old 3 years ago.  He died still loving me,  i still love him and i know where ever he is he`s looking at me now and smiling."

    I looked at mbuya,  she shed tears. I held her back..
    "its okey" i whispered feeling sad that she was crying. she sighed sadly,
    "i miss him a lot and i feel lonely. i wish he was here to hear me tell this story and understand how much i loved him and how special he was and still is to me."
    "Am sure he would say that to you too" i told her..
    "i remember him though i saw him last when i was ten, he was very jovial and cheerful..."
    " yeah"  she nodded.
    " that was my Tendeka.. the love of my life and father of my children, a proud father and husband,  he died in peace and with a smile." she added smiling...

    "so you see my Child Zelipa life taught me big lessons, one is that beauty does  not always attract good, especially if its not from the inside... and that pride and ambition can blind a person from what truly matters in their lives,  it most of the times lead to destruction.
     Good men are out there, but it takes a wise woman with a diligent heart to find one. it was pure luck and blessing from God that i came out of my horror happy. Otherwise mine was to end in doom and shame.
    A true and real man is not defined by status or wealthy, but his genuine heart, honesty, hard work, tolerance and patience..."     she explained as we reached home.

    "wow.. you mbuya was Lumbiwe the village Star.!"  i teased loudly and she laughed...
    "thank you for the beautiful story"  i hugged her.
    "my holiday was well spent and have learnt lots of lessons,  hoping to live and make better choices in my own life...." I added honelsty

    ...........THE END...........

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