Story: Tears Of A Helpless Woman


    CHAPTER 1

    My name is Mwansa Yande, I am an orphan who was raised by my uncle and his wife. My parents passed on in a terrible car accident when I was 3 and I joined my grandmother in the village. I remember the village so well although I left when I was 12, my uncle picked me saying I had to go to school.

    My uncle works for the mines as a geologist while my aunt is a housewife. She is nothing like my mother, yes I do remember my mother so well. She was light skinned and beautiful, with hair that fell over her shoulders. I hear my parents were so rich and they were the bread winners of the family, I can imagine what that means because if they were better than my uncle then they should have been stinking rich.

    My uncle has a beautiful house, it has 7bedrooms and I don’t know how many bathrooms. You should be thinking for people who are so rich, I must at least be a middle child. Well I’m far from that , I’m not even a maid. I’m simply an outcast.

    At the back of this mansion is a chicken run and in the next room is a neglected storeroom. Its neither painted nor vanished its simply another room that should have equally been a chicken run. Well to cut the long story short, that is my room.

    Its very accommodating to all my needs and I guess i am happy. For me, happiness is a choice. Like you choose to be sad, I have chosen to be happy in all situations. You see for a girl like me you don’t really have much choices, for example none of the things that have happened to me are my choice. So when given an opportunity to choose, I choose happiness.

    My aunty and uncle have two children together, they are twins. I call them my sisters from another planet, not in their faces of course. But that’s how I often refer to them. They are sisters from another planet because they are blessed with hate that I can not explain, very bitter beings.

    My uncle is in a world of his own and in his world I barely exist, talk of being invisible.

    I only have one thing I boast of and that’s my writing talent, I write everything and I document everything about my life. I remained with a couple of books that my father left, that’s all my grandmother kept and she didn’t explain much about where my parents property went.

    I don’t consider what my aunty does to me as “mistreating” I call it tough love. She loves me but in a very tough way. Her children, the twins…
    She calls them miracle babies because she struggled in labor. Well, they go by the names…. Joy And Faith. Faith is really dark while Joy is quite light, that’s the only way I can tell them apart. Other than that, they look so much alike. They are 18years of age, very beautiful and very spoilt.

    My uncle promised that I would be starting first grade again on my 21st birthday. I did learn from 1st grade to 7th in the village, hence I can write and read fluently.

    Anyway my birthday is in two weeks and I am so excited. I was supposed to be in night school with other adults but my aunty said no. She wants me to be in day school a class filled with kids that will probably laugh at me, I know it’s a plot to get me frustrated so I stop school but against all odds.. I am a survivor.

    I survived this life, I survived everything my aunt threw at me. I will survive this one too, I just want to learn more how to read and write. I Like to read and write a lot but my English is basic. I guess that’s all I can do. I have absolutely no interest in arithmetic or any other subjects. One day I hope to be a writer. I believe I will sale a lot of books. I’m so excited about school because I get to move a step closer to my dream of becoming a writer. I’m not sure how that will play out but I believe all will go well in Gods time.

    The first thing I would like to buy when I become successful is a house, because this steel roof above my head steals every inch of sleep I have. It makes serious noise when it rains and I often wake up in tears staring at the mansion and wondering how life turned out this way for me.

    Another thing I would like is a beautiful bed bought from a furniture shop. I want so many things but firstly I want school.

    CHAPTER 2

    In life there will always be someone you can lean on, well what do I know about life? . Anyway, I do have someone I lean on everyday, he always encourages me and guides me through my day to day struggles. His name is Jesus, a friend of mine (Sandra) introduced me to this man in 6th grade in the village. My grandmother didn’t oppose my belief in him but she didn’t seem interested.

    At first it was very weird because Sandra talked about him a lot, he seemed like this super natural being .. Something I can’t explain.. Someone so great ….. so great but he wanted to be my friend. She also mentioned that he has a father and he and the father love me. It was more complicated than I explain it but overall he has been my friend.

    I took it this way, she may actually have been lying about this man but the more I listened to her, the more I believed in his existence. She actually gave me a book, in that book there so many wonderful stories about him and his father. Its amazing how much power he has, she mentioned that he lived on earth and then went back to heaven and one day will join him there. I believe my parents are there to. Anyway theirs more I can tell you about him but let me tell you more about my life.

    My aunty is not Christian neither is my uncle, but they go to church every Sunday. They do, actually they dress very well for Sunday service. and I believe they really make a great statement at church.

    The twins are in what is called “praise”, from what I know that should be a choir or something. Anyway as far as am concerned, they sing in church.

    I do not at all call them Christians because from what I know, reading through the bible… there character and behaviour do not match that of Christians.

    Theirs a man called “papa” well that’s as much as I know about his name. Papa is the leader of the church. The church that my family attends. I have been there once or twice, on those few occasions I had to ride at the back of my uncles truck. At least it was a fancy truck, so when we got to the church I was less embarrassed.

    Let me tell you about “Papa”. He comes home very often and that makes all of us really busy. We have to prepare a buffet for him and his disciples, he has a very extravagant lifestyle and he preaches wealth and prosperity all the time. He has a deep annoying voice and I have no idea if that’s the ” kingdom thing” but then again my Bible tells me a lot of different things about these self proclaimed men of “god” or “gold” if you may. My aunty invests so much in this man, the offertory they give him to perform some magic tricks is huge. I know it’s magic because I saw a lot of those in the village. It all seems like a whole bunch of hypocrisy. I’m not in support of that and I often sound bitter when I talk about it.

    Anyway, the mansion has 4maids in total, I’m the Fourth.

    Working like a maid in my own uncles house is humiliating, I don’t get paid to work so you can imagine the other maids look better than myself. My own pay is the roof over my head and the old pots and pans that my aunty donated to me. She equally allowed me keep the boxes of books I carried from the village which is fair enough for me.

    The food I eat is usually what the maids eat, usually…. not always. Because sometimes a well wisher brings me food through the gateman. That well wisher is a person I met on my way to the market one day, in fact we met again a couple of days after. That well wisher became my very good friend despite her age.

    Mama Patricia is heaven sent, she is a chef at a nearby restaurant in town and she took keen interest in knowing my story.

    When she felt pity and offered me a hand, i was embarrassed. I thought she was suggesting that my situation was very bad.

    Mama Patricia donates a couple of things that help with my upkeep and the gateman helps out a lot in getting those items to me without the knowledge of my aunty.

    “Yande! Yande! Yande come here you fool before I kill you with my bare hands.” Mrs Yande yelled.

    “That’s my aunty calling, I need to run. If I don’t get to where she is in 3minutes I will definitely die.. Yes she has hit me a couple of times and I have scars to show for it. By the way she addresses me by my sir name and not my first. She says Yande suits me more. From what I hear, my name Yande is an expression of surprise. I don’t know if that is true.

    Anyway according to her, I am a surprise……. a very unpleasant surprise.

    ################################

    ” Yande I need you to pick my dresses from the laundry, you will be going with the driver.” Mrs Yande said.

    I nodded my head in agreement and waited for her to finish talking.

    “We are having a party tonight just here at home and I hope you can dress your best because you are invited.. And not as a maid this time” Mrs Yande said before walking out.

    “Dress my best?” I thought.

    I don’t own any nice clothes and I don’t see why this event is so important that I should be invited.

    By mid day the driver and I were back from the laundry and I went straight to look for an outfit.

    Well I already knew that I don’t own any nice clothes so i went to shower before i could figure out what to wear. As i was showering i noticed it was that time of the month. The most painful thing about being a poor young lady was when i had my monthly call, my aunty would never give me money to buy sanitary towels so I either rolled a lot of tissue or recycled some pieces of cloth. Anyway that’s exactly what I did before I dressed for the party.

    Ms Chileshe, one of the maids from the mansion came running to my cottage in the evenings as I sat reading a book.

    “Mwansa! Mwansa!” The event is about to start, people from church are here you need to step out.

    When she said those words a cold breeze hit me.

    After tying my long natural hair, I got up and looked at my floral dress, even the mirror couldn’t hide the imperfections on my dress.

    It was an old fashioned dress with huge shoulder pads and buttons in the front that started from my cleavage all the way down to the end of the dress. It certainly didn’t look like what girls my age wore but it was my best. Joy and faith usually donated their old school shoes to me and that’s all I ever got from them. So to finish off my look was an old pair of Bata school shoes.

    I was embarrassed and uncomfortable but that’s all I had.

    “You look good” ms Chileshe comforted me.

    “I know I don’t… you don’t have to say anything” I said as I walked past her.

    “You have a beautiful face and your hair is long and beautiful. You’re the most beautiful girl I know” Ms Chileshe said.

    My eyes were teary but I walked to the mansion with confidence.

    “Oh you are finally here…” My aunt said as I walked into the kitchen.

    She seemed to have been directing the maids before I walked in.

    “Yande please get the tray over there and serve those drinks to the guests” my aunt said.

    I quickly picked the drinks and went to the front of the house where everyone was.

    I saw a lot of familiar faces in the crowd so I quickly gave the drinks to strangers and I sat in the corner waiting for the party to be over.

    “We are here to celebrate a great milestone in the twins lives” my aunt said through microphone.

    I couldn’t see her from where I sat but I heard her loud and clear.

    “Well as you know my twin daughters have left high school, so basically we are celebrating their trip to the USA. They have Been great kids and they deserve it.. So this is a farewell to them and hopefully they have a lot of fun” Ms Chileshe said.

    At that time my heart sunk and I shed tears. Surely this life had to be fair. I was living in a chicken run, I could barely afford anything and now my aunty and uncle were throwing a party for my cousins to go to America?. That explains why my aunty wanted me at the party, she could never miss an opportunity to humiliate me.

    I got up from my sit and decided to walk to my cottage but i was making a very big mistake because the back of my dress was messed up. Nearly everyone noticed and they pointed at me and laughed.

    It was the most embarrassing day of my life and like my life wasn’t hard enough. I cried bitterly that night and questioned the existence of my God. Was he really there or was he just a myth. Could my life get any worse?

    CHAPTER 3

    I cried myself to sleep that night. My heart was torn in pieces and I questioned God several times.

    The following morning I woke very early from the knock on my door. When I opened it was one of the maids from the mansion

    “Wake up dear your aunty wants you” she said.

    I quickly changed and went to the mansion. My aunty was sitted on a sleeper couch and she asked me to sit on the floor.

    She was taking a glass of red wine and she was in a in a pink bathrobe and pink socks.

    “Are you a fool?” My aunty said.

    I was looking at the beautiful pattern of the floor when she said that and I wondered if she was talking to me. I raised my head in surprise.

    “Are you surprised? Is there another fool around!!” She yelled.

    I shook my head suggesting that the only fool was myself.

    “As old as you are, you can not take care of yourself? What was the meaning of that embarrassment last night? Don’t you know how to prevent such!!!” She yelled.

    My heart crushed and tears rolled down my cheeks.

    “I’m sorry aunty I did not have sanitary towels.. So I used a …”

    “Oh shut up!!! Shut up now” my aunty yelled.

    “Next Time do not embarrass me in front of my guests! Useless child!!! She yelled.

    I was facing down while my tears soon rolled to my neck. Before I knew it I got a splash of wine on my body.

    She poured a glass full of wine on me and asked me to leave her presence.

    I rushed to my room and threw myself on the concrete floor and I cried out to God.

    ” Jesus!!!! Jesus!!! You said you were my friend where are you!!! Even your book assures me that those who trust in you shall never lack a thing.. God why am I suffering!!!! I mourned.

    I beat my hands on the dusty concrete and cried bitterly until I couldn’t cry no more.

    When I got up my dress was messed with dust and the heavy flow of my menses penetrated again and stained my dress.

    I quickly changed my clothes and washed the dirty things with the remaining beats of the washing powder I got from madam Patricia.

    I couldn’t hang my clothes on the same line they used for the mansion so I would usually hang them over the fence or on one side of the roof as it was near, it was a poorly built chicken run so the roof wasn’t far from reach.

    During the day it was a little uncomfortable because the garden boy would usually be around and he would be in the chicken run often making it hard for me to use the bathroom as it only had a curtain and the ventilation holes from my room were big. So who ever was in the chicken run would have a glimpse of what would be happening in my room.

    After washing I rushed to the gate to talk to the gateman Mr ngoma.

    “Sir have you seen mama Patricia of Kate? I asked.

    Mr Ngoma denied seeing her and I got worried, it was unlike her not to check up on me. I was in desperate need of sanitary towels and she’s the only one who could provide.

    “I will make sure I call you when I see her” he said.

    I went to the mansion and started my chores, the chickens were ready for dressing so for the rest of the day that was my duty

    At least I enjoyed that part of work because the maids and I would share the chicken intestines and livers.

    We dressed 100 chickens in the morning and shared the intestines and livers as usual. The maids would usually cook food from the kitchen and we would share. I was not allowed to use the stove to cook my own food only during lunch when the maids and I would cook our lunch.

    At night I had a brazzier which I made use of, I would get some charcoal for the chickens as there was usually charcoal for warming the chicken run at night.

    That day when work was done I knocked off and went to my room but my aunty called for me. It was very unusual for my aunty to allow me in the mansion at night so I wondered what this was about.

    Aunty and uncle were chatting in the living room when I entered.

    When uncle was around I would sit on the couch however this time I chose to sit on the floor.

    “Am sure you heard that the twins are going to America” uncle said.

    I nodded my head in agreement.

    “First thing tomorrow morning come and help them pack they leave at 14hrs” my uncle said.

    I looked at him with a lot of bitterness, surely my dads own brother would do this to me? I thought.

    I got up and left there sight. That night all I wanted was to read a book so I got a funny novel that I enjoyed reading.

    I laughed to myself as I read and finally fell asleep. However I woke up angry because of the dream I had. Why would I have such a mocking dream?

    In my dream I saw myself going to America instead of the twins and I was excited, I had been sponsored to go and study literature.

    “God why mock me in such a way” I thought to myself.

    I sat fantasising before I fell asleep again.

    Because of my disturbed sleep I ended up oversleeping and was woken up by a sudden cold breeze.

    “Wake up you useless child, u don’t know why you are still here I’ve warned your uncle to send you back to the village but he won’t just listen!!” My aunty. Yelled.

    My body was dripping wet from the water my aunt had splashed on me.

    “Let me meet you here in the next minutes.. I will kill you ! She warned before walking out.

    I quickly changed and kept telling myself not to cry although a huge lump settled on my throat.

    I brushed my teeth outside quickly and u ran to the mansion.

    The twins were very upset and they took turns yelling at me and asking as to why I did not go there on time to help them pack. It was only 6:40 according to the clock on the wall so I wondered why they were so upset.

    Seeing how much clothes they had made me jealous but I just looked on helplessly.

    They all dumped there clothes on the floor and and I folded then neatly in their cases. As I packed their clothes, they bragged about the United states and how they wanted to see the statue of liberty and everything they watched in movies.

    ” do you know what a statue of liberty is? Faith asked.

    “Yes I do, its a lady with a crown holding something up on one hand” I responded without looking at her as I sat packing.

    The twins both turned and looked at me.

    “How did you know that?, you’ve never been to America” Joy asked.

    “I have in my imagination and through the books I’ve read” I responded.

    The twins burst out laughing and called me a village girl whos never been on a plane. I was offended especially when Faith said the closest I will get to flying is on a broom since uneducated people like myself can only be witches.

    The twins left in the afternoon and I cleared there bedroom before I went back to my room.

    I was so bitter and I cried terribly. I didn’t even feel like eating so I slept on some raw peaches I had plucked from the garden. They actually made my tummy hurt but for a poor girl like myself, pain was normal.

    That night it rained heavily and I sang different songs that I had learnt from the village as a child. I couldn’t sleep as the steel roof made a lot of noise and the chicken too made a terrible noise.

    When all the songs were done I stared at the plunks above that supported the roof as tears rolled down my cheeks.

    “For how long would my life be like this? Answer me Lord ” I said as I cried terribly

    CHAPTER 4

    The following day my eyes were swollen and the maids kept asking what the matter was but I couldn’t answer.

    All I wanted was to work that day without responding to anyone. My aunty gave me laundry to do and I went into the laundry room to wash. The mansion had two washing machines so all I had to do was hang the clothes after they left the machine.

    while I was searching the clothes before putting them in the machine I found K300 in my uncles trousers. A part of me wanted me to keep it because i thought of everything I needed but my heart couldn’t find peace so I decided to keep the money for my uncle.

    He was not around at that time and I waited for him to come home for lunch.

    Around 13hours I heard a hoot at the gate, it was my uncle who had just come home. So I rushed to the front and as soon as he pulled over I greeted him.

    “What do i owe the greetings?” He responded as he left the car.

    “Uncle I found this money in your pocket as I was doing laundry” I said as I extended my hands to hand him the money.

    My uncle stopped and looked at me from head to toe and then got the money, after counting through it he looked at me again.

    “Where did you say you got this money from again ?” He asked.

    “Your grey trousers, the one you wore yesterday” I responded.

    “I did not put any money in that trousers and in fact my wallet equally didn’t have money” he responded.

    I was shocked and wondered what was going on. My uncle returned the money to me and told me to keep it instead.

    “But don’t you think you should ask aunty first? Maybe it’s hers” I suggested.

    Before my uncle could answer my aunt came out.

    “Ask aunty what? What do you want him to ask me? Honey see what I meant when I said this child is the devils advocate?” My aunt said angrily.

    I was shocked and I started shaking wondering what she was talking about.

    “I lost a K300 in the house and she denied it, I asked her and even demanded that she would leave this house if she does not return it… Now foolishly she decides to play this trick. She is a pathetic liar!!! My aunty yelled

    Those words echoed through my ears like a very loud trumpet and I already knew that i would not exculpate myself.

    “Did you do it? Answer me you devil!!! Yelled my uncle.

    I looked at him with no strength to respond, I just shook my head.

    Tears were already washing my cheeks and my feet became numb.

    I thank God that neither of them laid hands on me but I was asked to leave immediately.

    My whole world was crushing but in between the crying and the state of confusion I managed to smile at my aunty and uncle.
    My uncle asked me to use that money to go to the village, a place last saw when I was 12.

    Where would I even start from?anyway, according to many tales I heard.. It was impossible to get lost in the village as everyone knew the other.

    With the sack bag that I used to keep my clothes, I left the mansion around 14hours to go and start my life afresh. I was numb to everything at that hour. I couldn’t feel any pain, i was in a state of shock.
    All I could remember was saying to my uncle

    ” I did not choose anything in this world, I only chose happiness. Because everything was decided for me”.

    I don’t know what I was thinking but I communicated all my feelings through that statement.

    My fellow maids cried bitterly and they said they envied me. I didn’t understand why because they had everything better than I did. But they assured me the God I trusted in would help me.

    My sack was heavy because I packed all my novels and only two dresses and a small blanket.
    I thought of the journey to the village and how long it would be. How my life would turn out there. Maybe I would be married off the moment I got there, maybe my grandmother would no longer be alive.

    As i walked with the huge sack bag on my head I thought of aunty Patricia, the woman who had always wished me well. I had to see her somehow but I didn’t want to bother her anymore than I already did.

    A thousand thoughts rushed through my head at the same time and I sang my school hymns again.

    A picture of my mother crossed my head and she was smiling at me, she was still as beautiful as I could remember

    A car stopped in front of me and one angry looking lady came out yelling.

    “Have you lost your mind?? do you want to die!!! Why are you walking in the centre of the road and not moving when I hooted!” She yelled.

    “Calm down!!” A voice shouted from the car.

    I didn’t see the person but it was a male voice.

    “Am sorry I did not hear you” I responded calmly.

    I was frustrated but that woman looked more frustrated than I was. The car drove off in full speed leaving dust particles everywhere.

    I kept on walking down the road until I couldn’t walk no more. I had walked for 3hours and now my neck was aching from the heavy load.

    I put the sack bag down and sat on it, evening was approaching and I had to find a place to sleep. Town was nearer to the mansion but for some reason I had taken the opposite direction and I was now in an area filled with many plots , some places had houses while others had unfinished buildings or just bare land.

    I guess my intentions were to find some unfinished building were I could pass the night.

    I knew the area but the furthest I went was the first phase where we usually bought charcoal for the mansion.

    I was under an oak tree looking at the sky and wondering where I would go from there. Many cars passed along the gravel road and no one bothered to stop or to lower the window just to look at me. I guess a person like me would never be noticed.

    I turned the sack bag upright and got my bible which I had placed on top so I could easily reach it. After closing the sack bag I turned it over again and I sat on it.
    Just after saying a short prayer I opened my Bible randomly.

    Deuteronomy 31:8
    “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed”

    It’s like heaven was smiling on me upon reading that scripture, I did not have a place to go or anyone I could lean on but those words alone were my source of comfort. I smiled to myself as I closed the bible.

    “Life you can’t do anymore harm to me” I said to myself.

    “Are you looking for a job” a man said to me as he parked just before me.

    A black Mercedes Benz just like my uncles had parked before me and here I was staring at the man who had uttered those words.

    “Sir are you talking to me?” I asked as my eyes focussed on him.

    CHAPTER 5

     “Yes I am” he responded without hesitating.

    “Yes I am looking for employment. Are you hiring? I asked patiently

    “Well are you strong enough to work on a farm?” He said with a smile.

    His smile could brighten many days.

    “Yes I guess I can” i said.

    “That’s great then, hop in” he replied

    I hesitated a little and my stomach turned.

    Can I trust this man? I thought to myself.

    “Are you having second thoughts?” He asked me.

    “Sir what is your name?” I asked as if his name alone was enough to make me comfortable to go with him

    “My name isn’t a problem but I am harmless. Very harmless” he said

    “Is it your farm?” I asked.

    As I asked all these questions, I was seated comfortably on my sack bag and did not care to move a muscle.

    “Its not a farm actually, its a house and you could say its mine, a relative of mine is staying there” he said.

    I was about to ask why on earth he thought I was looking for a job but I just ignored and stood up.

    “Does that mean you will come with me?” The gentleman asked.

    “Yes….. I will” I responded hesitantly.

    He quickly came to lift my sack bag and I walked to the car.

    “Lord I don’t know but I trust you” I muttered.

    The road was so bumpy and dusty and the gentleman kept apologising each time we hit a pothole.

    Finally the car stopped at a beautiful house. It wasn’t big like my uncles mansion but it was equally big and neatly built.

    “This is where you will be working” The man said as he pulled over.

    I looked at him without a word as my mind went wondering in thought.

    He opened the door for me and I came out of the car.

    A pregnant woman walked out of the house and she smiled.

    “Is that her?” The woman asked with a lot of joy.

    “Does she know me” I thought.

    “Yes this is your new house help” the gentleman replied.

    I was led into the beautiful house. Everything in the house looked great and you could tell everything had great sentimental value.

    I quickly sat on the floor but the woman stopped me.

    “Young Lady sit on the couch and tell me about yourself” the woman said.

    “My name is mwansa madam I am 21years of age..well I will be 21 in two days” I said.

    “Wow that’s great.. But where do you stay?” She asked

    “Well I used to stay with my aunty and uncle but they could no longer afford to take care of me so I decided to start looking for a job”. I responded.

    Meanwhile the gentleman who took me there was somewhere in the house probably in their master bedroom.

    ” so how long ago was that? She asked me

    “It’s just today mum and I thank God your husband met me and gave me a hand” I replied.

    “My husband? Oh no no. He isn’t my husband. Did he not introduce himself at least?” She asked

    “Oh no madam, I’m sorry I thought he is your husband” I responded.

    “No not to worry dear” she said.

    “Atu! Atusaye!” She called out.

    “I’m coming” the gentleman replied.

    “Atusaye is my youngest brother, he is the last born in my family” the woman said.

    “Oh OK” I responded.

    The gentleman or Atusaye like the woman called him finally came before us.

    “Atusaye you couldn’t even introduce yourself, she thought you are my husband” the woman said.

    Atusaye had an apple and took a big bite off it.

    “Young lady my name is Atusaye and this my older sister” he said as he chewed.

    “By the way I don’t introduce myself to beautiful women because I’m taken” he added.

    His sister immediately burst into laughter.

    “He is crazy don’t mind him, he is engaged and will be wedding soon. His fiancée will be coming for dinner tonight. Actually you came at the perfect time. Do you know how to cook?” The woman asked me.

    “Yes I try mum” I responded.

    “OK great then, let’s go to the kitchen” she said.

    Atusaye sat and enjoyed watching TV while we started cooking.

    “You can call me Mrs. Martins” she said.

    “Is her husband white? It made sense because she had a fine taste of things in the house
    ” I thought.

    “I’m not always alone I have two house helps but I need someone to work at night and I have two sisters. They are out for the weekend” she said.

    I nodded my head with a slight grin to show I was listening.

    She did all the cooking while I helped with chopping things up, like meet, onions, tomatoes, vegetables and some other things I did not even know existed. I also washed the dishes.

    “My husband is in Scotland on a short visit. ” she added.

    Now I was more positive that he is white.

    ” do you have siblings?” she asked me.

    “No mum I’m an only child” I said.

    “Oh OK.. Must be boring being an only child” she said.

    “Yes.. It often is” I responded.

    “We’ll discuss the terms of employment after a week meanwhile I want to see how you will do, if you impress me then I guess we’ll be together for long” she said

    “OK mum” I responded calmly

    Dinner was ready and we set the table.

    “My dear let’s go I show you your quarters” she said.

    The small apartment had a nice bed a well tiled floor a nice built kitchen and my own shower and toilet.

    I was so blown away. It was like a small Paradise.

    “This is where you will be staying” she said.

    I thanked God inside and I thanked her too.

    “I won’t disappoint you mum” I said.

    “My dear call me Mrs. Martins, mum sounds old” she said with a smile.

    “OK Mrs. Martins” I responded.

    “Take a shower and join us for dinner there’s no food here for now” she said.

    I quickly showered and wore my other dress which was very old fashioned. As I sat combing my hair I heard a knock on the door. It was Mrs. Martins.

    “I brought you some lotion, do you have some?” She asked.

    “No I don’t… thank you”. I responded

    ” is that the dress you’re going to put on? She asked me.

    “Yes…” I responded shyly.

    “Claudine and her family can be rather impossible let me get you something different ” she said

    I wondered who Claudine was but I figured it was Atusaye’s fiancée.

    After a little while I heard a knock again.

    “Come in please”. I said.

    Atusaye quickly burged in with a big plastic bag.

    ” she said you can have these” he said before quickly walking out.

    I offloaded the plastic on the bed and it had very good quality clothes. Clothes that I would never have imagined myself wearing

    As I excitedly searched the clothes I heard a loud bang on the door

    “Don’t be long the guests will be here shortly”. Atusaye shouted .

    ” OK sir!” I responded.

    I quickly picked a beautiful peach peplum dress. I loved my body in the dress. I never knew I could ever look that beautiful.

    My natural hair was tied up in a pony and i wore pink slippers which were also in the plastic bag.

    “You look very nice” Mrs. Martin’s said as I entered the house.

    “Thank you” I responded shyly.

    We went to sit at the dining table while we waited for the guests.

    Shortly i heard the gate open as car drove in and a little while later the group of three walked in. Atusaye and Mrs. Martin’s stood up in what seemed like a sign of respect to welcome the visitors so I followed suit.

    The guests sat down after exchanging greetings and we equally sat.

    I was still feeling lost and wondering what God was doing. He brought me here and now I was going to be eating with total strangers.

    As I studied the visitors faces I spotted a Lady who looked very familiar. The lady came with her mum and dad. My head went spinning wondering who she was when suddenly the words hit me.

    “Have you lost your mind?? do you want to die!!! Why are you walking in the centre of the road and not moving when I hooted!”

    The Lady i was looking at was the same lady that shouted at me on the road as I was walking from uncles house.Suddenly it hit me.. The voice of the man who I did not see.. The voice that shouted..
    “Calm down!!” matched Atusayes voice exactly.

    I was now wondering what was going on but clearly the lady could not recognise me.

    CHAPTER 6

     “Mr and Mrs Mwale meet my niece Mwansa and Mwansa these are our in-laws to be.. Of course Claudine over there is Atusaye’s fiancée” Mrs. Martins said.

    “Of course the one and only” Claudine responded as her eyes flirted with Atusaye.

    I was honoured to be called a niece, not even my uncle and aunt addressed me as such.

    “This food is so nice” Mrs. Mwale said.

    “Yes sis in-law this is great” Claudine added.

    Mrs. Martins smiled and appreciated the comments. Dinner was indeed great but what baffled me was the fact that Atusaye was too serious. He never participated in the conversations and he didn’t seem interested at all. Perhaps its because his in-laws were around.

    Claudine’s family was very modest, they were quiet particular about a lot of things and from the look of things they were rich.

    After dinner the guests went to the living room to have a conversation while I picked the plates to take them to the kitchen.

    Atusaye helped with taking the dishes to the kitchen.

    “On which side of the family are you from? Is it from Mrs. Martins or???” Claudine asked as she sat by the kitchen counter.

    “Am actually from…”

    “She’s mums cousins daughter” Atusaye interrupted.

    I took in a deep breath and continued doing the dishes.

    “So where are you from?” Claudine asked.

    “She’s from within.. Honey let’s take a walk outside” Atusaye interrupted again.

    From the look of things I already knew Claudine and I would not get along.

    I quickly cleared the kitchen and walked to my apartment. I overheard Claudine asking Atu where I was going but I didn’t turn around to look at them neither did I bother to hear Atusaye’s response.

    I changed into my old dress so I could sleep in it, its funny how my favourite dress was now my night gown. God surely works wonders.

    I quickly fell asleep guess the walking for 3hours had made me really tired.

    The following morning I was up by 5 and I cleared my apartment. Mrs. Martins came to the apartment just before 7 and she asked me to join her in the house.

    “I was impressed with how you left the kitchen” she said as we walked.

    “Oh thanks madam”..

    ” Mrs. Martins” She interrupted

    “Sure.. Mrs. Martins” I responded.

    Mrs. Martin’s gave me food and she ran me through a couple of rules. Everything sounded fair and manageable, all she wanted was for me to do my best.

    The maids came in a little while later and she introduced me to them, they seemed just as nice as the ones from the mansion and I felt welcome.

    “Do you know how to pound groundnuts?” Mrs. Martin’s asked me.

    “Yes I do Mrs. Martins” I responded.

    She gave me about a kg of groundnuts and led me to the back where I could pound from. It wasn’t a difficult task for me at all, so I sorted the nuts, put half in and I started pounding.

    “Someone is working hard, a lot of strength you’ve got there” teased Atusaye.

    “Good morning sir”. I greeted him as I continued pounding.

    Atusaye bended over about to get a handful of nuts when Mrs. Martins walked out.

    ” Atu what are you doing? Mrs. Martins asked.

    “Oh sis.. Just the person I was looking for” Atusaye said before walking away with Mrs. Martins.

    They disappeared into the house and I continued pounding until I finished. Mrs. Martins was in the living room with Atusaye when I walked in.

    “You’re done? That was quick” she said.

    “OK you give it to the maids to prepare lumanda or are you able to do that?” Mrs. Martins asked me.

    I didn’t expect Mrs. Martins to eat such traditional food but I guess the pregnancy had a mind of its own.

    “Yes I do” I responded calmly.

    “OK then you can prepare..” She said.

    I quickly cooked the traditional vegetable and nshima. The maids had cooked the other food to complete the meal.

    After setting the table I sat with the maids in the kitchen and we enjoyed the food, it was just like the mansion except I was welcome.

    As I went to pick the dishes from the table Mrs. Martin’s teased Atusaye.

    “Can your soon to be wife prepare such a meal?” She asked.

    “In my house we’ll be modern, such won’t be there … We’ll be having hotel kind of food” Atusaye responded as he giggled.

    “Oh please.. Its your favourite food.. Are you just ashamed to admit that you enjoyed?” She teased again.

    Atusaye just giggled as he played with with the toothpick in his mouth.

    “Mwansa dear the food was great, I’m holding you responsible for getting me so full” Mrs. Martins said.

    “Oh thanks madam” I responded.

    ” Atusaye aren’t you going for work?” Mrs. Martins asked.

    “No I’m off today..” He responded.

    “You’re off how many times in a row? If I were you, I would be happy to be working with the love of my life” Mrs. Martins said.

    “Jeez…… Working with Claudine? then please take my place by all means” Atusaye said as he laid back in his seat.

    I quickly cleared my mind and lifted the last plates from the table.

    When I was done Mrs. Martin’s asked me to go and rest before I could come and prepare dinner. She asked me to leave the work for the maids.

    CHAPTER 7

    I sat reading a novel on my bed and being grateful for all I had, a part of me wondered whether my uncle was regretting his decision. Why would my own family neglect me?

    Suddenly, I heard a loud knock on my door.

    “Come in” I said before put my booking down.

    “Mr. Atusaye.. Hai..” I said wondering what he was looking for.

    “Hi Mwansa.. Is this a novel?” He asked as he sat on my bed.

    “Yes it is sir, can I offer you anything?” I asked.

    “Oh no.. Just came to see how you are settling in that’s all” he said.

    “OK thank you..” I responded and I went back to reading my book.

    Mr. Atusaye was still on my bed and he started pressing his phone. I was very uncomfortable as I did not want Mrs Martins to start doubting me so I excused myself to go outside.

    “Don’t worry she won’t know, its your boss you’re afraid of right?” He asked me.

    “Yes I’m a lady and you know she might take it the wrong way” I quickly responded

    I was still standing ready to go outside when suddenly I heard a knock on the door.

    My heart was racing and I had no idea what to do at that point. Atusaye quickly rushed to the bathroom and I opened the door.

    “Hi… You can come and prepare supper now as we are about to leave” one of the maids said.

    “OK I’m coming soon..” I responded calmly.

    “I saw Atusaye come this side have you seen him by any chance? Madam is looking for him” she said.

    My body froze but I managed to shake my head in disagreement.

    “No.. He has not been here” I said.

    She did not look very convinced and I was now more nervous.

    “OK dear in case you see him tell him Mrs. Martins is calling” she said before walking away. I quickly shut the door and took a sigh of relief.

    Atusaye walked out of the bathroom and found me sitting on the bed looking very worried.

    “Relax she won’t say anything” he said.

    “That was scary.. Sir please you need to leave now” I said.

    “Oh you think she has gone? … She knows I will be out any minute so she’s waiting to see me” he said.

    “But I thought you said she will not tell anyone” I argued

    “That’s still no reason to feed her suspicions..” He responded.

    “OK sir please lock up I’m going madam has called for me” I said before walking out.

    When I got to the kitchen everything I needed to cook was on the table so I picked the apron and straight away got busy. At the back of my mind I was worried that Atusaye may be seen whilst leaving the apartment.

    “Oh you here..” Mrs. Martins said as she walked into the kitchen.

    “Yes I’m here” I responded shyly.

    “OK you will have dinner with us but tomorrow you can stock up your house, I will give you some money” she said.

    “Thank you madam.. I mean Mrs. Martins” I said.

    “About your uncle..what does he do?” She asked.

    “He is a geologist” I responded as I continued cooking.

    “Really that’s very surprising” she said.

    “Why?” I asked.

    “Well because I do not know a geologist who becomes broke..” She said.

    “Some do” I responded calmly as the pain hit me. My uncle wasn’t broke but he just didn’t want me.

    “My husband works for the mines..” She said.

    “So what is for your birthday tomorrow?” She asked me.

    “Just being alive is enough for me” I responded.

    “Oh come on.. you should celebrate.. It’s your day and it comes once in a year” she said

    I just smiled without a word.

    “You know Mwansa I like you a lot from the moment I met you .. You are so humble” she said.

    “Life is humbling madam..” I said.

    “Oh what do you know about life young lady” she teased.

    “Little.. Very little” I responded.

    “Did you finish school? Actually I wanted to ask.. Why do you just want yo be a maid? I mean if you’ve been to school you should be able to do something more decent” she said.

    When Mrs. Martins noticed that I had suddenly gone quiet she apologised.

    “I’m sorry dear, hope I wasn’t offending” she said.

    “No you weren’t, I only went up to 7th grade” I responded

    Mrs. Martin’s did not ask any further questions until I was done with supper. After setting the table she asked me to join her so we could eat together.

    “Atusaye is a nomad heaven only knows where he is..” She said

    Immediately my heart skipped when I realised he probably hadn’t left my apartment.

    Mrs. Martins said grace and we got digging into the food.

    “Would you like to go back to school?” Mrs Martins asked.

    I wasn’t expecting that question but I quickly replied.

    “I would love to but I’m already too old” I said

    “Too old? No dear you’re never too old to go back to school” she said.

    “Anyway.. I have decided you can have the job and for a start you will be getting k800” she said.

    “Oh thank you so much madam”. I said as tears rolled down my cheeks.

    “No don’t cry dear, just do your best and will be together for a very long time” she said

    I was so emotional that I even failed to finish my food, Mrs. Martin’s couldn’t understand because she had no idea what I had been through.

    After dinner I cleared the kitchen making sure it was spotless clean and I said goodnight to Mrs Martins.

    “Goodnight dear” she responded as she remained lying on the couch.

    I went to the apartment very excited and thanking God. He is indeed a miracle working God. Who ever thought I would be getting paid? To my surprise Mr. Atusaye was fast asleep on my bed when I returned.

    “Sir.. Sir” I said as I shook him.

    “You’re back dear” he said as he stretched himself.

    Mr Atusaye got up and then came close to me. I was very uncomfortable but he quickly pecked my forehead before i could stop him.

    I rubbed my forehead and moved away from him.

    “Relax that’s how white people say goodnight” he said.

    “I’m not white” I responded bluntly.

    “Well you will soon begin to behave like one. Loosen up and get settled into this environment” he said.

    “Sir you can’t come here again, this job here is my life I have no where to go after this”

    “Oh no no no.. ” he interrupted.

    “You have many places to go, this is just the beginning and yes.. You’re right… I shouldn’t be here. I promise not to come in here again” he said before walking out.

    I took a deep sigh of relief and got on my knees to thank God for this new chapter in my life.

    CHAPTER 8

    Life is full of ups and downs but just like the storm passes away, so does every dark patch in ones life.

    I did not realise how Mr. Atusaye’s behaviour had bothered me until I tacked into bed. Many questions crossed my mind.

    “Why would he do that?”

    It baffled me and I just couldn’t get answers.

    The following morning Mrs. Martin’s asked me to shower saying we would be going to the mall together.

    I quickly bathed and wore a beautiful hand me down dress from Mrs. Martins before going to the main house.

    “Are you ready?” She asked me.

    “Yes I am” I responded.

    “OK please call Atusaye in the house, he needs to drive us there” she said.

    “Where’s Mr. Atusaye? I asked the maids in the kitchen.

    ” he should be in his room” one of them replied.

    I walked down the passage and knocked on His bedroom door.

    “Who’s there?” A reluctant voice replied.

    “Sir its me. Madam says we need to go now”

    “Mwansa come in” he said.

    “Sir I just came to deliver the message” I replied before quickly heading back outside.

    Mr. Atusaye emerged a little while later, he was looking very fine.

    “Did this man escape from a magazine cover or what?” I thought to myself.

    He was in a white polo shirt, a nice blue jean and Nike sneakers. I also spotted the the Rolex on his left hand.

    “Mwansa dear sit in front, I’m pregnant so its quite uncomfortable for me to sit in front” Mrs. Martins said.

    Its the first time ever that I got to sit in front, I was so blown away and wished I could document that day in my diary as soon as possible.

    Before we could start off, Mr. Atusaye leaned over and fastened my sit belt.

    “You will need that” he said.

    Mrs. Martins was busy reading through her small diary, perhaps going through the shopping list that she did even notice.

    The drive was very smooth, I mean the car was very comfortable. I had never been on a plane but I imagined it would be just as comfortable.

    We pulled over at the mall and off we went to shop.

    “Jesus how much money do these people have?”

    I had my own cart where Mrs. Martins kept directing me to put cleaning supplies while Mr. Atusaye’s cart had all the food and other groceries.

    Mrs. Martin’s stopped to greet a friend and Mr. Atusaye used the opportunity to talk to me.

    “Have you been to protea hotel?” He asked me.

    “Sir who would take me there?” I asked shyly.

    “OK we need to go there tonight for your birthday” he whispered as Mrs. Martins was approaching.

    As we continued with the shopping I wondered how his suggestion would be possible. We checked out of shoprite and went to Debonair’s to have pizza. Mrs Martin’s said it was my treat for my birthday and you can’t guess how blessed I felt.

    We also bought a cake from vasili’s that I shared with the maids at home.

    ################################

    When we got home Mrs. Martins separated some items which she asked me to take to my apartment as my supplies. I couldn’t believe it. After that I went to help with packing up what we got from the store.

    “Is Mrs. Martins always this nice?” I asked Stella one of the maids.

    “Oh yes she has a heart of gold, we all experience such treatment on our birthdays” Stella said.

    “Eh… Such people exist” I whispered.

    Stella heard me and laughed.

    “I thought the same thing when I came here” she responded.

    “I wouldn’t want to mess up, she is a good woman”. I said.

    ” how’s Mr. Atusaye?” I asked.

    “Oh him?? He is also very nice and very funny.. but he is reserved” she said.

    “Reserved?..” I asked with a lot of interest.

    “Yes he is very reserved, he does interact once in a while but he often minds his own business. No one amongst the maids really knows him at a personal level” Stella replied.

    That sounded totally different from the man I had seen in Mr. Atusaye.

    “What are the other two sisters like?” I asked

    “Well they are both very nice, Clara and joy.. Those are their names” she said

    ” Joy? I have a cousin by that name. She is something” I replied.

    “No the Joy here is very nice in fact they both are. They can just be a little lazy sometimes..” she giggled

    Stella and I finished packing all the things we bought and I went to my apartment.

    Shortly I heard a knock on my door and I quickly jumped up to answer the door.

    “You promised not to come here” I said to Mr. Atusaye who was standing with a plastic in his hands

    “I said I won’t be in.. But I’m simply standing outside” he said.

    “I just brought this for you” he said as he handed me the plastic.

    “Sir what is this?” I asked nervously.

    “It’s yours.. I have to go now” he said before walking out. I quickly shut the door and opened the bag.

    “Oh …..my….. Jesus!..” I stammered

    The bag had a beautiful mermaid dress, black in colour with some crystal details on it. When I unfolded the dress a paper fell out. It had some writings on it.

    “I tipped the security guard already. At exactly 7pm walk out the gate and you will find a car outside. You will find me there”

    My knees suddenly became weak.

    “Dear Lord what is this now?” I thought to myself.

    My thoughts were disturbed by another knock on my door. Everything stopped for a minute and I felt like trouble was knocking on my door. Quickly I picked the dress and the note and stuffed them in the bag, it was then that I noticed a black pair of heels in the bag.

    After throwing the bag under my bed I quickly opened the door.

    “Dear am going to see mum, I wont be here until later in the night. You won’t need to come to the house.. I will have dinner from there” she said.

    I felt like I was keeping a bomb in the house and I felt insecure, i guess that’s why Mrs. Martins asked if I was OK.

    “Yes I’m fine” I responded.

    “OK the guard is around and this place is very safe anyway so you don’t have to worry. I will go with Atusaye” she said.

    ” OK..” I responded calmly.

    “Do you own a phone?” She asked me.

    “no madam I don’t ” I responded.

    ” OK use this phone whenever you need to communicate, my number is saved in the contacts, its a simple phone you will easily get your way around it” she said as she handed me the airtel phone.

    “Thank you Mrs. Martins” I replied.

    “I will also be calling you if anything so please have it with you. Here’s the charger too” she said.

    I peeped through the window and saw them drive out. My heart was still racing and I sat on the floor.

    “I can’t say no he’s just like my boss” I thought.

    When they were gone, I pulled the plastic bag from under the bed and offloaded everything. The shoes were beautiful with a very simple heel nothing, exaggerated. I wore the shoes and tried to walk, to my surprise they were so comfortable.

    Its was 6:20pm and I quickly went to shower.

    For the first time I was going to be removing tags from clothes, that had never happened before. I always wore hand me downs. I loved the smell of perfume on my body and my dress looked very beautiful.

    So I actually had curves??? The dress accentuated my figure perfectly and that made me even more excited. When I was done dressing my stomach suddenly felt strange and I knew I was nervous.

    “Why was he being so nice to me?” I asked myself.

    I looked at the time on the wall clock and it was 6:58pm, So I locked up and walked to the gate steadily. A part of me wanted to walk right back but I felt I owed Mr Atusaye for getting me this job.

    I was embarrassed when I reached the gate but the gateman went about his business even though I knew he had noticed me. Just like the note said, I found a car outside and I walked towards it.

    “Lord what am I doing?” I asked myself.

    After taking in a deep breath I opened the back door and entered.

    “I thought you wouldn’t make it” Mr. Atusaye said from the front.

    My heart pounced really hard and i noticed how handsome he looked.

    “God this night better end soon” I muttered.

    “I heard that” he said with a smile.

    “Relax its a birthday dinner that’s all, I’m engaged remember?. This is just for you” he said.

    “Mrs. Martins.. What if she comes back?” I asked.

    “I’m her driver for now, so she will call me. Let’s get going” he said before starting the engine.

    CHAPTER 9

    I tried to look as comfortable as possible but I was panicking so much inside.

    Mr. Atusaye played a couple of love songs and that made me even more nervous.

    We arrived at the beautiful protea hotel and he looked at me with a smile as he pulled over.

    “Relax dear, you’re too tense. Its just dinner” he said.

    He held my hand as we walked in and it felt just like we were a couple. Except we weren’t.

    “Don’t be nervous.. I don’t bite” he said as he held on to my hand.

    This felt like a dream, me? entering a hotel? There’s got to be a God in heaven.

    “Dear have you been in an elevator?” He asked me.

    “Elevator? No.. I’ve never been” I responded

    “You say it so well almost like you not what it is” he teased.

    “Of course I do. Its a lift” I responded.

    He giggled as he led me into the elevator.

    The moment we stepped out of the elevator, my phone started ringing. I was so nervous that I had to stop walking.

    “Just be calm and don’t let her think you are panicking. If she asks about me tell her he went to see Claudine.. No tell her we didn’t speak”. He said in panic.

    “Halo”..

    ” hai Mwansa dear how is everything? ” Mrs. Martins asked

    “Everything is fine madam” I responded calmly.

    “Would you know if Atu is home?” She asked

    “Yes he came though he’s left and he didn’t mention where he was going” I said

    “OK dear take care, was just checking on you” she said.

    When Mrs. Martins hang up I looked at Mr. Atusaye as he extended his hand to me.

    “You don’t have to make me lie like that” i said

    ” I promise” Mr Atusaye said as we walked.

    “I thought it will be nice if we sit by the pool area” he said.

    I cared less about that, to me everything was just amazing. I was shocked when i got to our table, it was specifically reserved for us.

    “You made the reservation?” I asked.

    “Yes I had to, i think this is the perfect spot for us” he said.

    “I never thought I would ever step into a hotel.. Thank you sir” I said.

    “Actually on that note I have a few rules I would like to bring to the table” he said.

    I looked at him attentively wondering what he was going to say.

    “Well firstly I am not Mr. Atusaye .. I am Atusaye or simply Atu” he said.

    “Sir why are you being nice to me? I asked.

    ” good question.. Let’s answer it after dinner” he said.

    The food was great and we talked about a lot of things.

    After the main meal the desert was brought and it was a rich carrot cake with a candle on top. It was funny hearing Mr. Atusaye sing me a birthday song as I cut through the cake..

    “Please let me have the honour of feeding you the cake” he said.

    “Feeding me?”

    “Yes that’s what happens at birthdays or have you never seen it before? The birthday girl or boy gets fed” he said.

    “OK then” I said as I opened my mouth.

    I watched Mr. Atusaye cut a piece of the cake and he slowly placed it in my mouth, it was simply heavenly if you ask me.

    “Why are you so shy?” He asked as I chewed my cake.

    “Why wouldn’t I be? I’m not used to this kind of thing. I’m a maid..” I responded.

    “I don’t see you that way” he said.

    “Thank you but I’m not complaining. I am blessed to meet your sister. She is amazing” i said.

    “She is… To everybody” he added.

    “So tell me about yourself. Who are you really? Mr. Atusaye asked as he looked straight into my eyes.

    “There’s nothing interesting about me” I responded shyly.

    “I still want to hear it all” he insisted.

    I narrated my entire story up to the time I met him and he couldn’t believe it.

    “You mean your own blood relatives did that to you?” He asked in shock.

    “Yes .. My own relatives” I said as tears filled my eyes.

    “Hey look at me, no one has power over your destiny. I believe better is coming your way” he assured me.

    The beautiful evening finally ended and we left the hotel. Mr Atusaye told me there was one more place he wanted to show me before we went home.

    When we got to the car park he opened the door for me and I entered. When I was I settled he closed the door and he equally got in.

    “Is that what they do in town? Opening the door for the lady?” I asked

    He looked at me and smiled.

    “No dear that one is just a special treat” he said.

    Mr. Atusaye started the engine and he drove to a beautiful looking house.

    ” what are we doing here?” I asked him.

    “This is my home. I’m not moving in just yet but I just wanted you to see it” he said.

    “Why?” I asked in shock.

    “You ask too many questions. Come on let’s go in I want to have your input on a few things concerning the decor” he said.

    “What will I honestly know about that?” I asked him.

    “Did you not hear anything I told you about my life? I asked again

    “Of course I did but you’re a woman such things come natural” he said.

    “I think miss Claudine will do a better job, besides she will be living here with you” I said.

    Mr Atusaye giggled as he started the engine.

    “What? Did I say anything wrong?” I asked him.

    “No you didn’t. Actually you’re right. She’s my wife to be after all isn’t she?” He said while maintaining the smile.

    As he drove home he held on to my right hand with his left. I was quite uncomfortable but he seemed happy about it.

    “Are you driving OK with one?” I asked him.

    “Is that a polite way of asking me to let go of you?” He responded.

    I felt embarrassed that he figured me out and I smiled.

    “Don’t worry I’m driving just fine” he said.

    When we got home a lot of things went through my mind especially the way he fed me the cake.

    I felt very strange, something strange I had never felt before. I wanted Mr. Atusaye to be that nice to me all the time, I wanted him to do those special things always.

    He finally pulled over and he turned to look at me.

    “We are here.. I don’t eat after all” he said.

    I smiled and nodded my head.

    “I got you this” he said as he handed me a medium sized paper bag which had a box inside.

    “What is this?” I asked as I opened it.

    “Wow.. This perfume…. my aunty uses it” I said as I looked at the fantasy by Britney Spears perfume.

    “Thank you Mr. Atusaye..” I said.

    “No dear let’s practice my name again. Its Atusaye not Mr. Bla bla.” He said.

    “It sounds very disrespectful” I opposed.

    Mr Atusaye ran his hand through my hair as he got closer to me and I was afraid he would reach for my lips.

    “Sir I should be going now” I said before quickly walking out of the car.

    “Lord what was that????” I thought as shivers went through my spine.

    ################

    The following morning Atusaye was dressed formal ready to go for work. I was in the kitchen making breakfast for Mrs. Martins when he greeted me.

    “Good morning beautiful” he said.

    “Morning Atu” I responded.

    “Wow someone lost her respect” he teased.

    “don’t worry I’m joking” he added.

    After I took the food to Mrs Martins bedroom, I came back and Atusaye gave me a K100 note saying I should get airtime.

    “You still didn’t tell me why you are being nice to me” I said.

    “Because I would be a fool not to be” he responded.

    I didn’t know what that meant but I did myself a big favour by cutting the conversation short before Mrs. Martins could find us.

    Stella had already reported for work and she was cleaning the dinning room when Atu and i had our mini chat.

    “Please make breakfast for me too ” he said.

    I quickly prepared him tea and he sat to eat in the kitchen as I cleared around.

    Before he could go, he asked for my phone and he used it to give himself a missed call.

    “I will call you” he said.

    ##########*#*****##

    Atusaye had just left when Stella pulled me aside.

    “Mwansa what on earth was that?” Stella questioned me.

    “What?He was just being nice.” I responded.

    “Yes typical of him.. Now be careful because you will be the next victim” she said.

    “Victim? Victim of what?” I asked.

    “Mr Atusaye is a collector of good things. You are beautiful my dear so obviously he just wants to use you” she said.

    “Stella… Is that how he really is?” I asked in shock.

    “Of course or did you think he was just being nice to you? I hope nothing serious has happened between you two.”

    “No.. No why would I allow such a thing? I asked her.

    ” great then from now onwards avoid him. I’ve warned you” Stella said.

    I went back to work but still couldn’t get the lovely night off my mind, the more I thought about it the more I felt butterflies in my stomach.

    I was upset with myself for allowing such thoughts to cross my mind. Anyway Stella was right, I had to wake up from my slumber and face reality.

    Reality was that God had blessed me with a good job and i would do my best to keep it.

    CHAPTER 10

    The rest of the day was smooth with Stella, she took every opportunity to tip me about Atusaye. I was shocked how much she knew about him but it was obvious. She had worked for them for a long time after all.

    The older maid was busy with laundry the rest of the day so it was Stella and I chatting as we did our duties.

    Mrs. Martins did not wake up very well so I attended to most of her needs. As usual she reminded me that I needed to rest for the afternoon before I could go and prepare dinner so I took off to go to my apartment.

    However, I suddenly realised I had not seen my phone in a while and I remembered that I had left it in the kitchen so I hurried back to get it.

    To my surprise the phone wasn’t in the kitchen where I left it but I found it in the living room. Another part convinced me that I probably left it there.

    The moment I got to my apartment i fell asleep and only woke up to a loud bang.

    “I’m coming” I responded as I got up from my bed.

    I quickly opened the door and Atusaye walked in.

    “Atu what’s the problem?” I asked as I let him in.

    “What’s the problem really?” He responded angrily.

    “I actually thought highly of you, guess I was very wrong” he said.

    “Atusaye what do you mean by that?” I asked anxiously

    “Actually I would prefer you call me Mr. Atusaye and let’s cut this whole pretense short” he said before walking out.

    He quickly drove out of the yard and I rushed to the main house.

    “Stella I need to talk to you right away” I said as I pulled her outside.

    “Did you get my phone to make a call or send a Message? I asked her.

    ” of course not, did you lose talk time? She asked me.

    “That’s not even an issue, Mr. Atusaye stormed into my apartment very angry and he yelled at me. He actually mentioned that he was disappointed in me” I narrated as I panicked.

    Stella laughed and clapped her hands.

    “Relax.. Is that why you are panicking? Can’t believe you thought I’m behind it. She said

    I didn’t understand her joy so I stared at her in shock.

    ” what are you talking about? I Asked

    ” I’m laughing at everything you are narrating because it all sounds familiar” she said.

    “Wait Stella you mean you know Atusaye so well and you couldn’t warn me beforehand?” I complained.

    “Well dear be grateful that you did not end up like I did” she said.

    “What did he do?” I asked attentively.

    “He robbed me of my pride and dignity then turned around and blamed it on me. Just like he’s doing with you” she said

    “Your pride and dignity?” I asked looking very confused.

    “Yes my virginity!” She emphasised.

    My stomach suddenly turned when she said that and I felt disgusted.

    I was so disappointed, why would he behave like that and to make matters worse he did not even explain himself neither did he wait for me to explain myself.

    The following days that followed were awkward. Every time Atusaye was home I had to avoid him or he would avoid me, we were just a spark. I had no intentions of dating him but his behaviour made me feel rejected.

    How could a night that went so good turn out that bad. Even though I should have been grateful that he did not use me, I was still angry that things turned out the way they did.

    The following day Mrs. Martins sent me to buy airtime but Atusaye was going out at the same time so she asked him to give me a lift.

    Atusaye was quiet the whole way until we got to the airtime booth. After I purchased the airtime he drove me to the house and parked outside the gate.

    Before I could walk out of the car he pulled my hand. I turned to face him as my other hand held on to the door.

    I could tell he had something to say but he just looked at me and then slowly let go of my hand.

    I came out of the car feeling very bad. For a moment this man Actually made me feel special and now he had just turned around and showed his true colours. Guess Stella was right.

    Anyway guess I was foolish to think that he would actually like a person like me.

    This awkwardness went on for weeks and finally a month, it was almost two months and I was used to how things were so formal between Mr. Atusaye and I. In fact we rarely made contact

    ################

    That evening Mr. Martins was coming back home and I was finally going to meet the much talked about wonderful man.

    I remained busy preparing supper while Atusaye went with Mrs. Martins to pick up Mr. Martins.

    Stella was asked to stay behind and help me prepare dinner. So that night she was going to share the bed with me.

    We prepared dinner as we talked. It was interesting having a friend around and Stella was that one friend I could tell anything.

    Stella also mentioned how Mr. Martin’s was such a wonderful man and how he would obviously treat me like a daughter.

    She was right, Mr. Martin’s was a very happy white man. He wasn’t old at all like i had imagined and he was so excited to see me, I assumed Mrs. Martin’s had told him a lot of things about me.

    Mr Martins suggested that we have dinner together, so the whole family including Stella and myself ate together.

    After dinner we started clearing the plates while Atusaye sat and worked on his laptop in the kitchen. The kitchen was very big so he wasn’t disturbing at all but what baffled me was why he was there in the first place, it’s not like the other rooms were occupied and Mr and Mrs. Martins had gone to bed.

    When Stella had told me about Atusaye she sounded very bitter but around him she was very different. It’s like a certain calmness had reached touched her.

    The two kept conversation and most of it was initiated by Stella while I went on working. In fact I hardly heard anything they said except when the conversation just started.

    When I was done packing the dishes I excused myself to go and sleep but Stella wanted to remain although she joined me a little while later.

    “Can you imagine he was insisting that I kiss him? He’s such a womaniser” she said as she sat on my bed.

    I didn’t respond but I just continued putting some cream on my washed face and tacked into bed.

    “Why do you look angry?” She asked me.

    “No I’m not angry mama I’m just tired and Atusaye is the last person I want to discuss before I sleep.” I responded.

    “Do you want to pray with me before you sleep or are you going to be talking about Atusaye all night?” I asked her.

    “OK you lead in prayer” she said.

    We prayed and I quickly fell asleep afterwards.

    In the morning Mrs. Martin’s called me and told me to be ready as i would be going shopping with Atusaye.

    I quickly bathed and dressed up while Atusaye waited in the car for me. Stella seemed to be the one with the mood in the morning as she seemed angry about my going shopping with Atusaye.

    When I got in the car I fastened the sit belt and Atusaye started the engine in silence. We did not even exchange greetings.

    We parked at a beautiful house and there came Claudine walking like the world belonged to her.

    She came and rudely opened the door for me.

    “I have to sit in front go to the back” she said.

    Atusaye looked on in silence as I quickly stepped out to go to the back.

    She didn’t greet me either but I cared less about that too.

    As we went from aisle to aisle in the store Atusaye kept telling me what I needed to pick while Claudine kept talking carelessly, I wonder how he managed to keep up with her.

    Suddenly I heard a very familiar voice as I picked chocolate from the shelf

    “Is that Mwansa?” The voice said

    “Come on Mwansa can’t look that good” another voice replied.

    There they were, my twin cousins Joy and Faith.

    “Hai, how are you?” I said.

    The twins came closer to say hai while Atusaye and Claudine looked on.

    “You know them?” Atusaye asked.

    “Of course she knows us, she worked for us” Joy replied.

    That statement alone shuttered me.

    “Atusaye how do you know her?” Faith asked.

    I was shocked to realise that my uncle and Mr. Martins worked together in the mines and that’s how Atusaye knew them.

    “They’ve been to our home a couple of times.” he responded

    “Wow its a small world” I said.

    ‘Its really a small world so you said she worked for you? As what exactly!?” Claudine interfered

    I could tell Atusaye tried to come to my rescue by destructing the twins but it was too late. Faith had already shouted out that I was a maid.

    “But why work as a maid when she has such a relative like Mrs. Martins who is wealthy?” Asked Claudine.

    “Who? Mrs. Martins is Mwansa’s relative?” Joy asked before they burst into laughter

    “What? Why are you ladies laughing” Claudine asked.

    “I can bet on everything pure that she isn’t related to Mrs. Martins. She is simply a maid and she has poverty running through her veins” Joy responded.

    Tears had accumulated in my eyes and I was seconds away from crying.

    “No you ladies just don’t know otherwise Atusaye would have told me” Claudine said.

    “Or maybe, he actually lied to you” faith interrupted.

    “I don’t want to talk about this… Great seeing you ladies” Atusaye said before asking me to move on.

    “I had a feeling something wasn’t right” Claudine continued.

    “Enough Claudine i said I don’t want to talk about this anymore! Atusaye yelled.

    Tears had rolled down my face and people were suddenly wondering what was wrong with me.

    Mwansa go to the car park will find you there” Atusaye said.

    I walked out quickly and stood waiting for them to check out. I cried terribly, i cried so bad that nothing could explain the embarrassment I felt.

    They finally came out and I quickly sat in the car when Atusaye unlocked the doors.

    “Come out you fool who do you think will pack these things! you’re the maid after all!!” Yelled Claudine.

    “Stop it!!! Don’t talk to her like that ever again!” Atusaye yelled.

    “Or what? Tell me Atusaye or what??” She yelled back.

    I finished packing the boot and we started off. Atusaye was very quiet until we dropped Claudine.

    “Look am very sorry about what happened” Atusaye said as he parked near home.

    “Please say something at least before we get home” he begged.

    Tears rolled down my cheeks even more.

    “Let’s just go, everything that happened there isn’t your fault” I said…

    “At least let me make you feel better” he said.

    “And then turn around and give me a mood again? What happened the last time you made me feel better? Please let’s just go I’m not complaining” I said in tears.

    “Aren’t you the one who told me that I was bothering you and you would report me for sexual harassment?” He asked me.

    “I don’t know what you are talking about please let’s just go I don’t want to discuss this any more” I said.

    “Mwansa listen to me.. I want to be sure I got your message correctly”

    “What message? are you still maintaining that lie? Do you still want to blame me for nothing????

    ” me blame you? Exactly why would i do that!!?? He yelled

    “I’m a maid for crying out loud, a simple maid what makes you think anything you offer me today will change that status? And besides its all for your personal again. Atusaye just stop!” I cried.

    “My personal gain? OK that’s going a little too far. Mwansa tell me that you don’t appreciate my friendship and I will let you go” he said.

    “Appreciate your friendship? There’s not been a friendship for the past two months, it lasted a few days before you ..”

    “Before i did what? Why can’t you just take the blame!” Atusaye yelled.

    I burst into a loud cry as I covered my face with my palms.

    “OK fine stop crying. I get your point. I won’t bother you again” he said calmly.

    “Please dry your tears.. I’m really sorry” he said before starting the engine.

    CHAPTER 11

    When we got home I helped take the items in the house while Stella talked to Atusaye.

    Mrs. Martin’s was in the living room and she asked me to join her as soon as I finished packing.

    I quickly packed up and joined Mrs. Martins in the living room.

    “How are you dear?” She greeted me.

    “Am well thank you” I responded as I settled on the couch.

    “Dear I called you here to let you know that my sisters will be coming back this evening. They have some big personalities but they are very nice. One of them is your age mate actually and the other one is slightly older” she said.

    “Well I just wanted to tell you that” she said.

    “Oh OK.. Thank you Mrs. Martins” she said.

    I was ready for another chapter with the ladies around, maybe that would help me forget about Atusaye

    When I stepped outside Stella and Atusaye were still talking so I bypassed them to go to my apartment.

    “When people are talking you join in the conversation” Stella said teasingly.

    “No I’m good” I responded as I passed.

    “You promised to take me for a drink” Stella said to Atusaye.

    I did not bother to hear Atusaye’s response as I walked on, it was really none of my business.

    Stella came to get her few items saying she was going for a drink with Atusaye. She had just knocked off so I figured she was telling the truth.

    Reading was my comfort so every time I had a lot on my mind I chose to read. However, I was feeling something different. I didn’t want to read or document my life anymore. I still wanted to write but this time I had a different view. I wanted to write how i was feeling because I was feeling something. Something I couldn’t explain.

    I got a pen and a new book which I had not yet scribbled in. Thoughts went through my mind but I couldn’t come up with a title except “to whom it may concern” . slowly inspiration came and I jotted down my feelings:

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN.

    I don’t know how I feel but I know I feel something. A lonely girl shuttered inside, I wish i could escape my reality even just for a moment and go back to that moment when he asked me to join him for dinner.

    I wish I could go back to the time he met me and change my route. Maybe if I got a bus to the village I wouldn’t be feeling this way.

    Am I ungrateful? How can I describe this feeling?. Its a feeling that over powers me. I could give up on everything i have just to live that night once More. Oh life! How selfish can you be?. One moment you wave happiness in my face and the next minute I am breathing pain.

    I long for that day and night, for when he fed me that cake the whole world stopped and when he held my hand its like heaven was clapping for me.

    I hate to admit my feelings and in fact I hate to even have these feelings. Lonely be no my heart or my body will grow weary. I’m not ungrateful.. I’m just a girl who doesn’t understand her feelings.

    ################

    As I prepared dinner in the main house my heart ached as I counted the hours that Atusaye had been out. What was wrong with me? Atusaye was engaged and very much taken.

    I had never felt this way for anybody and I was worried this feeling would hurt me eventually.

    Just went I was getting done with dinner Atusaye came home with Clara and Joy. The ladies were beautiful and very friendly.

    They were excited to be home and they quickly introduced themselves.

    “My name is Clara I come after Atusaye” Clara said

    “And am Joy, I’m the baby of the family” she giggled.

    “I am Mwansa the house maid…”

    “No no you don’t use that word, you are family” Joy interrupted.

    “We don’t have maids here” Joy added.

    Atusaye had gone straight to the bedroom when they arrived.

    I started setting the table and the ladies offered to help making my job easier. I was impressed at how good the girls were to me.

    Mr and Mrs Martin’s had not left there room until it was time for supper.

    Mr. Martin’s asked me to stay behind for supper and i joined everyone one on the dinner table.

    It was very weird sitting opposite Atusaye as we both tried to ignore each other. Everyone kept conversation except Atusaye and I.

    “Atu it’s very unusual for you to be quiet.. What’s happening?” Clara teased.

    “I’m enjoying my food” he responded without looking at her.

    After dinner the ladies offered to do the dishes and I went to my apartment.

    I was just about to tack in when my phone rang.

    “Hello”..

    ” hai please come outside ” Atusaye said.

    “Outside where?” I asked.

    Outside the gate. I’m parked outside the gate. I want us to talk somewhere will be back shortly” he said.

    “But where are we going it’s late and Mrs. Martins might..’

    ” she is sleeping” he interrupted.

    “No.. I can’t.. I’m sorry” I responded before hanging up.

    My heart raced and every part of me wanted to go but I couldn’t. After saying a short quick prayer I turned my phone off and covered my face.

    Suddenly I heard a loud bang almost like someone was trying to break down my door.

    I quickly opened the door and there he was, my weakness.

    ‘Mwansa if you don’t want to come with me then you and I will talk from here” he said.

    “Its not safe here we might give the security guard unnecessary ideas” I opposed.

    “Then you know what to do” he said.

    “OK let me change I’m coming” I responded.

    Atusaye sat and waited on my door step as I changed

    12

    “Are you done?” He asked me.

    “Yes im almost done.. give me two minutes” I responded.

    “I will go before you and you can follow me slowly” he said.

    When Atusaye was out of sight, I tip toed to the gate and pretended to be busy on my phone when I reached security

    Atusaye was already in the car and off we drove to a secluded place where he found a spot to park.

    ###############

    “Mwansa do you think I’m after your body?” He asked as he turned off the engine.

    I didn’t know what to say so my head hang low as my eyes focussed on my lap

    Atusaye grabbed my right hand and changed his sitting position to face me.

    “Look at me” he said.

    I wasn’t ready so I ignored him and kept staring on my lap.

    “My love look at me” he said calmly.

    My mind went crazy and my stomach became hot just by hearing his voice utter those words.

    Did I hear him correctly or was I imagining things. Was he playing with me?

    “Mwansa my love” he said as he played with my hand..

    ” I’m not going to beat about the bush. I can’t stand it anymore. I think am in love” Atusaye said.

    I was so shocked to hear him say those words and it was then that I lifted my head to look at him.

    “Please stop.. You can’t be telling me that Atusaye you are engaged”.. I responded.

    ” yes I am but so what?. Is it my fault?” He responded.

    Oh dear Lord this wasn’t funny.. Everything in me was jiggling.

    “Am waiting for your response” he said.

    “I have nothing to say. I just want to go home” I said while still hoping he doesn’t take me home.

    Atusaye got his phone from the pocket and opened a message which was sent from my phone.

    ” I know you didn’t write this message” he said.

    When I read through the message I was truly shocked.

    “Why would she do this?” I said.

    “Oh… So you already have an idea who it is” he said.

    “It should be Stella . yes it just has to be Stella” I said to convince myself.

    “That’s right.. I thought about it and I noticed her behaviour today” he said.

    “When you went clubbing? How was it by the way?” I asked

    “Who went clubbing?” Atusaye asked me calmly

    “Did she lie about that too?” I asked.

    Atusaye laughed and clapped his hands.

    “Stella never ceases to amuse me” he said.

    “I want to hear everything she’s ever told you about me”

    “No .. Its not important it won’t change anything” I responded.

    “Please am begging you. I’m just trying to clear my name so you know how genuine I am ” he said

    “And then?” I asked.

    “Your eyes are the window to your heart Mwansa and even though you can’t admit it, I know how you feel” he said.

    I looked down and again afraid of admitting my feelings.

    “Why did you leave her after using her?” I asked.

    “Is that what you will do to me too? I’m an orphan. I’ve got no where to go” I said.

    “Did you listen to what you just said? Do you even believe what you are saying?” He asked me.

    “I don’t know. I don’t even want to know” I responded.

    “Why? Because you are afraid that it might actually hurt you?”

    “Atusaye what do you want from me? Please just tell me” I said.

    “Can you at least look at me while you ask that question” he responded.

    “No I can’t..” I responded shyly.

    ” you’re so naive and innocent. I just love it” He said in a soft voice.

    “You already said it.. My eyes are the window to my heart” I responded

    Atusaye lifted my chin up and without even thinking I allowed him to kiss me. I couldn’t even stop him or even pull away.

    If I had to describe the feeling I would say…. No i really can’t describe the feeling but it was almost like I owned the world.

    “I’m sorry” Atusaye said as he pulled away.

    “Please take me home” I said.

    ” Mwansa.. There’s hope. There’s really hope for you and i.” He said.

    My eyes failed me and tears quickly rolled down my cheeks.

    “I hate to see you cry Mwansa, what did I do wrong?. Please forgive Me. You have to stop shedding tears”

    ” I don’t know what this feeling is but it over powers me. I have no strength to fight it but neither can I escape it” I said.

    “Well then fight for it” he said.

    “How?”

    “Believe in me And hold my hand” he said.

    “I can’t believe you Atusaye.. You are engaged to be married and…”

    “Of course I am engaged to the most arrogant woman on earth!” He interrupted.

    “OH and did you just realise that? You must have known well before today but no… you’re telling me you didn’t know until I showed up in your life?” I said as cried. I could hear myself shouting but a lot of things were going through my mind.

    “She was my first love.. She had basically showed me the world of dating and yes I didn’t know things would get to this between you and i. If I knew I would have not brought you to my sisters house in the first place” he said

    “Oh.. So you would have left me on the streets looking for a place to live” I asked in shock

    “No we would be telling a different story today. Yes it was mare attraction at first but slowly turned out serious. After that birthday dinner I knew something had to be there, something more than just mare attraction” he said.

    Atusaye pecked my forehead and later wiped my tears with his hands.

    “Atusaye please what we are doing isn’t right. Let’s go home and let’s forget about everything. You know we come from two different worlds and the last thing I needed is this kind of assurance… It will take me nowhere” he said.

    “My mother always told me that In the abundance of water, a fool is thirsty. He responded.

    ” what does that mean?” I asked

    “I can’t let this opportunity pass me by.. The opportunity of being with a wonderful lady like yourself. If I end up miserable after this it will be my choice” he said

    “Atusaye don’t make promises you can’t keep, please let’s just forget this and let’s go home” I interrupted.

    “Come on let’s take a walk outside” he insisted.

    “No that’s not necessary. I think its time to go home” I opposed.

    “Please I just want you to see something, I promise we won’t be long” he said.

    I opened the door and came out, he locked up before holding my hand and we started walking

    Atusaye tapped his phone and said he had a dedication for me. So I waited and finally the song started playing. It was a track by Israel “hold on”.

    He specifically recited the words ” fili oko tuleya ni gwililile chabe babe”

    “You remind me of myself Mwansa” Atusaye said.

    “How?” I asked

    “Well we weren’t always comfortable, I lost my dad when I was quite young and mum became a maid.” He said.

    “Really? I would have never imagined” I responded.

    I was filled with shock because Atusaye
    looked like a man who had it all from birth.

    “Yes Mwansa my mum worked for Mr. Martins dad, by then Mr. Martins was a child up until he grew up. Mr Martins fell in love with my sister and that’s how our lives changed” he said.

    “No .. That’s not true. It sounds too good to be true..” I said.

    “That was exactly my reaction when I heard that he was going to sponsor my education. He educated us all. I have great respect for that man. He is my second father” he said.

    “Wow this God is amazing” I said as I looked up.

    “Yes he is….. so you see why this arrangement isn’t strange for me?” He asked

    I looked at him and smiled.

    “You’re blessed” is all I said.

    “And so are you” he responded

    “I’m scared Atusaye”

    Atusaye stopped and he hugged me tight.

    “I know.. But you don’t have to be. Just lean on me” he said.

    “I’m confused Atusaye.. I’m so confused” I said as I rested my head on his chest

    “You have every right to be because I am too but I want to be more than your friend. I want to give this friendship a chance. Please give me this chance” Atusaye whispered

    “And Claudine?” I asked.

    Before Atusaye could even answer me his phone started ringing.

    “Honey hold on a second let me just pick this call” Atusaye said as he moved away from me.

    His face suddenly changed when he looked at his phone. His facial expression was worrying and I saw he was panicking.

    “My sister is calling.. She rarely calls when I’m out.” Atusaye said.

    ” Could she be aware that am with you?” I asked in panic.

    Atusaye didn’t respond but we rushed to the car. I had left my phone in the car and when I got there my phone started ringing. It was Mrs. Martins who was now calling my line.

    “Oh Lord I am finished!!!”

    CHAPTER 12

    “Are you done?” He asked me.

    “Yes im almost done.. give me two minutes” I responded.

    “I will go before you and you can follow me slowly” he said.

    When Atusaye was out of sight, I tip toed to the gate and pretended to be busy on my phone when I reached security

    Atusaye was already in the car and off we drove to a secluded place where he found a spot to park.

    ###############

    “Mwansa do you think I’m after your body?” He asked as he turned off the engine.

    I didn’t know what to say so my head hang low as my eyes focussed on my lap

    Atusaye grabbed my right hand and changed his sitting position to face me.

    “Look at me” he said.

    I wasn’t ready so I ignored him and kept staring on my lap.

    “My love look at me” he said calmly.

    My mind went crazy and my stomach became hot just by hearing his voice utter those words.

    Did I hear him correctly or was I imagining things. Was he playing with me?

    “Mwansa my love” he said as he played with my hand..

    ” I’m not going to beat about the bush. I can’t stand it anymore. I think am in love” Atusaye said.

    I was so shocked to hear him say those words and it was then that I lifted my head to look at him.

    “Please stop.. You can’t be telling me that Atusaye you are engaged”.. I responded.

    ” yes I am but so what?. Is it my fault?” He responded.

    Oh dear Lord this wasn’t funny.. Everything in me was jiggling.

    “Am waiting for your response” he said.

    “I have nothing to say. I just want to go home” I said while still hoping he doesn’t take me home.

    Atusaye got his phone from the pocket and opened a message which was sent from my phone.

    ” I know you didn’t write this message” he said.

    When I read through the message I was truly shocked.

    “Why would she do this?” I said.

    “Oh… So you already have an idea who it is” he said.

    “It should be Stella . yes it just has to be Stella” I said to convince myself.

    “That’s right.. I thought about it and I noticed her behaviour today” he said.

    “When you went clubbing? How was it by the way?” I asked

    “Who went clubbing?” Atusaye asked me calmly

    “Did she lie about that too?” I asked.

    Atusaye laughed and clapped his hands.

    “Stella never ceases to amuse me” he said.

    “I want to hear everything she’s ever told you about me”

    “No .. Its not important it won’t change anything” I responded.

    “Please am begging you. I’m just trying to clear my name so you know how genuine I am ” he said

    “And then?” I asked.

    “Your eyes are the window to your heart Mwansa and even though you can’t admit it, I know how you feel” he said.

    I looked down and again afraid of admitting my feelings.

    “Why did you leave her after using her?” I asked.

    “Is that what you will do to me too? I’m an orphan. I’ve got no where to go” I said.

    “Did you listen to what you just said? Do you even believe what you are saying?” He asked me.

    “I don’t know. I don’t even want to know” I responded.

    “Why? Because you are afraid that it might actually hurt you?”

    “Atusaye what do you want from me? Please just tell me” I said.

    “Can you at least look at me while you ask that question” he responded.

    “No I can’t..” I responded shyly.

    ” you’re so naive and innocent. I just love it” He said in a soft voice.

    “You already said it.. My eyes are the window to my heart” I responded

    Atusaye lifted my chin up and without even thinking I allowed him to kiss me. I couldn’t even stop him or even pull away.

    If I had to describe the feeling I would say…. No i really can’t describe the feeling but it was almost like I owned the world.

    “I’m sorry” Atusaye said as he pulled away.

    “Please take me home” I said.

    ” Mwansa.. There’s hope. There’s really hope for you and i.” He said.

    My eyes failed me and tears quickly rolled down my cheeks.

    “I hate to see you cry Mwansa, what did I do wrong?. Please forgive Me. You have to stop shedding tears”

    ” I don’t know what this feeling is but it over powers me. I have no strength to fight it but neither can I escape it” I said.

    “Well then fight for it” he said.

    “How?”

    “Believe in me And hold my hand” he said.

    “I can’t believe you Atusaye.. You are engaged to be married and…”

    “Of course I am engaged to the most arrogant woman on earth!” He interrupted.

    “OH and did you just realise that? You must have known well before today but no… you’re telling me you didn’t know until I showed up in your life?” I said as cried. I could hear myself shouting but a lot of things were going through my mind.

    “She was my first love.. She had basically showed me the world of dating and yes I didn’t know things would get to this between you and i. If I knew I would have not brought you to my sisters house in the first place” he said

    “Oh.. So you would have left me on the streets looking for a place to live” I asked in shock

    “No we would be telling a different story today. Yes it was mare attraction at first but slowly turned out serious. After that birthday dinner I knew something had to be there, something more than just mare attraction” he said.

    Atusaye pecked my forehead and later wiped my tears with his hands.

    “Atusaye please what we are doing isn’t right. Let’s go home and let’s forget about everything. You know we come from two different worlds and the last thing I needed is this kind of assurance… It will take me nowhere” he said.

    “My mother always told me that In the abundance of water, a fool is thirsty. He responded.

    ” what does that mean?” I asked

    “I can’t let this opportunity pass me by.. The opportunity of being with a wonderful lady like yourself. If I end up miserable after this it will be my choice” he said

    “Atusaye don’t make promises you can’t keep, please let’s just forget this and let’s go home” I interrupted.

    “Come on let’s take a walk outside” he insisted.

    “No that’s not necessary. I think its time to go home” I opposed.

    “Please I just want you to see something, I promise we won’t be long” he said.

    I opened the door and came out, he locked up before holding my hand and we started walking

    Atusaye tapped his phone and said he had a dedication for me. So I waited and finally the song started playing. It was a track by Israel “hold on”.

    He specifically recited the words ” fili oko tuleya ni gwililile chabe babe”

    “You remind me of myself Mwansa” Atusaye said.

    “How?” I asked

    “Well we weren’t always comfortable, I lost my dad when I was quite young and mum became a maid.” He said.

    “Really? I would have never imagined” I responded.

    I was filled with shock because Atusaye
    looked like a man who had it all from birth.

    “Yes Mwansa my mum worked for Mr. Martins dad, by then Mr. Martins was a child up until he grew up. Mr Martins fell in love with my sister and that’s how our lives changed” he said.

    “No .. That’s not true. It sounds too good to be true..” I said.

    “That was exactly my reaction when I heard that he was going to sponsor my education. He educated us all. I have great respect for that man. He is my second father” he said.

    “Wow this God is amazing” I said as I looked up.

    “Yes he is….. so you see why this arrangement isn’t strange for me?” He asked

    I looked at him and smiled.

    “You’re blessed” is all I said.

    “And so are you” he responded

    “I’m scared Atusaye”

    Atusaye stopped and he hugged me tight.

    “I know.. But you don’t have to be. Just lean on me” he said.

    “I’m confused Atusaye.. I’m so confused” I said as I rested my head on his chest

    “You have every right to be because I am too but I want to be more than your friend. I want to give this friendship a chance. Please give me this chance” Atusaye whispered

    “And Claudine?” I asked.

    Before Atusaye could even answer me his phone started ringing.

    “Honey hold on a second let me just pick this call” Atusaye said as he moved away from me.

    His face suddenly changed when he looked at his phone. His facial expression was worrying and I saw he was panicking.

    “My sister is calling.. She rarely calls when I’m out.” Atusaye said.

    ” Could she be aware that am with you?” I asked in panic.

    Atusaye didn’t respond but we rushed to the car. I had left my phone in the car and when I got there my phone started ringing. It was Mrs. Martins who was now calling my line.

    “Oh Lord I am finished!!!”

    CHAPTER 13

     “Relax and just hope for the best” Atusaye said.

    Atusaye gave me a kiss and he asked me to calm down again before starting the engine

    As we approached we suddenly saw smoke escaping the yard.

    “Oh my God what is happening..” Atusaye said as he looked in shock.

    He pulled over houses away and we both rushed to the house as there was a crowd and fire men were trying to stop the fire.

    I was confused and so many thoughts ran through my mind. Atusaye managed to ran before me and he pushed himself through the crowd.

    I overhead people saying someone had died and I was shuttered. What did we do? Perhaps if we were home this wouldn’t have happened.

    I was hysterical and I knew I was in trouble. I was bad luck on the family. Who had died? Why did I allow myself to get into his car?..

    As thoughts ran through my head something was clear, if I stayed behind the wrath I would face would be too much. I had to go.

    Without even thinking about it, I started running. I ran so fast as I cried. I ran just as I was with nothing in my hands.

    “Lord please forgive me…. Forgive me dear Lord” I cried as I ran.

    I passed through thorny bushes and I noticed some bleeding on my legs but I kept running through the plots.

    My legs were now feeling pain and I finally stopped running.

    I was far away from the house but I could see the smoke escape into the sky.

    I had no idea what time it was or where I was going.

    As I walked on I came across some unfinished building which had a roof on one side. I wondered who lived there or if someone actually lived there.

    “I need a place to lay my head” I thought.

    I slowly walked into the building and noticed it was empty. It was quite dark but I had no choice, I sat in the corner and quickly fell asleep.

    #################

    The sun hit my face from the large window opening and I stretched myself. It was morning and I had no where to go and no food to eat. I couldn’t face my life or my problems, I had to start afresh.

    My legs had many tiny bruises but luckily the blood had clotted

    When I stepped outside I couldn’t even recognise where I was or which route I had taken. A lot of farms surrounded the area and people were few.

    I saw a bicycle coming from a distance with a man who was singing out loud.

    “Excuse me sir I need directions to the main road” I said.

    The man and I could not understand each other as he spoke a very strange language.

    A few cars by passed me and none of them stopped to ask where I was going.

    I saw a very nice mansion that was on a huge farm. The mansion looked like it was owned by a wealthy person, the first thought that crossed my mind was to go and ask for a job.

    After hitting the gate many times I finally gave up and sat on the pavement near the gate. Almost an hour passed and suddenly a van came and parked at the gate, a white old woman was driving the van.

    “Excuse me dear how can I help you?” She said.

    I quickly got up and looked at her.

    “I am looking for a job” I said.

    “A job? Where are you from?” She asked me.

    I decide to give her my uncles address and explained everything concerning my uncle while omitting Mrs. Martins.

    “Dear kindly open the gate for me and come in too” she said

    She drove in and I closed the gate before I walked to the house.

    I was welcomed by a man who was about Atusaye’s age. He was also white.

    “This is my son his name is Shane” she said.

    Shane and I shook hands and we entered in the house together. I was led into the sitting room of the beautiful mansion and I sat next to the woman who was still unknown.

    She offered me food and we sat talking as she encouraged me. The woman who I now knew as aunty Bertha offered me a room where I could spend a night and she left the house to do some grocery shopping.

    As I sat in the room I thought of my Darling Atusaye, he must have been wondering where I was and why I had decided to run away. Tears rolled my cheeks and I wiped them quickly, maybe he would marry Claudine after all… I thought

    ################

    I had been at aunty Bertha’s house for a week, even though she told me that she had no job for me, she did not chase me. She was also kind enough to buy me a couple of clothes.

    Aunty Bertha was a wonderful woman, she lost her husband to a young Zambian girl who he eloped with and now she was staying with her 5 children. Although Shane was the only one at home the time I spent with her.

    Shane was nice and funny, he loved to cook a lot and he liked to get me involved when he was cooking.

    One afternoon aunty Bertha called me to the living room after she returned home.

    “Dear I’m not sure if I have anything for you concerning work but I ran an orphanage, its not around this place its quite a distance from here” she said.

    I listened attentively as she spoke.

    “My orphanage is in an area called 15miles, you mentioned that you ended in 7th grade right?. She asked me.

    ” yes mum” i responded.

    “What can I offer you?….” She said as she looked up to think for a moment.

    “Madam I can read and write very well. I just don’t have qualifications” I responded.

    “Is it? Are you Christian?” She asked me.

    “I know and love the Lord so much but I don’t belong to a church and I am not baptised. I never had the chance to” I responded.

    “Would you like to be?” She asked me.

    “Yes I would love to move my faith further, I believe God has truly been there for me” I said.

    “That’s good. I really like you.” She said

    “I will give you a few short novels that you can read through for now and they have questions at the end. I will assess you based on those books” she said.

    “You can sit in the living room over there and let me know when you are done” she said.

    I went to the living room and aunty Bertha gave me the two books to read.

    The books were very interesting and I quickly started answering the questions.

    When aunty Bertha saw my answers she was so impressed. She even asked me to read a chapter and she said my pronunciations were perfect.

    “My dear you have really impressed me with your work” she said.

    “We have a literacy class which we introduced and we have been looking for people that could take up this class. Your job will be reading stories to them and making sure they can also read and understand. The children will move from one book at a time depending on how well they do” aunty Bertha said

    “Do you think you can manage that?” She asked me

    I smiled and nodded my head. .

    “Madam it will be my pleasure” I responded.

    ” that’s wonderful then you can start tomorrow” she said

    I was so excited and I thanked her a lot.

    “The orphanage has houses for members of staff so you can occupy one there, I would however encourage you to start furthering your studies. Most teachers there are doing so” she said.

    “Madam i would love to go back to school” I responded.

    Shane, aunty Bertha’s son drove me to the orphanage in the afternoon.

    He was very jovial and narrated a lot of things about the orphanage to me.

    When we arrived he went to the staff room to get the keys for my new house while I waited in the car.

    Shane came back with a set of keys and he unlocked my house. The house had three bedrooms, nicely built and well furnished too. I was shocked.

    “You will get your free dstv subscription this month but starting next month you take care of the bill” Shane said with a smile.

    “Oh thanks sir,” I said.

    “Most of the houses are occupied so you should have company. I will be leaving now. Take care” he said.

    When Shane left I went round the apartment and I still couldn’t believe my eyes.

    A lot of things were running through my mind and I thanked God that this was a new step further to realise my dreams.

    I still mourned Atusaye so badly but i was comforted by the fact that he had declared his love for me and that will be the memory I would live with forever. I wished I had stayed but then again I knew my route with Atusaye was dangerous and if the Lord wanted me back there he wouldn’t have made provision for me through aunty Bertha.

    “Stop crying Mwansa, it is well. Where ever the Lord leads us.. It is well” I said to myself.

    14

    Shane and I had bought some food before he dropped me home so I prepared some of it for supper.

    I showered and sat in the living room to eat as I watched television. The Martin’s family were on my mind but sometimes you’ve got to make choices and I knew running away was the best decision I made. It was right for me and if it wasn’t, God would not have allowed aunty Bertha into my life.

    I still wanted to know who had died in the Martin’s home but deep inside I felt OK. I knew they were better off without me. How was I going to face Mrs. Martins and tell her that I was in love with Atusaye? What would be her reaction if she realised how ungrateful I had been to start dating her brother knowing fully well that he was engaged.

    I didn’t expect anyone to understand but I knew fully well that this was right for me.

    The following morning I bathed early and got ready to meet aunty Bertha by the school. As I walked on I met a couple of teachers who were pleased to see me.

    One of them was Salifyanji, a beautiful lady who was a grade one teacher. She took me round the school before classes could commence.

    Aunty Bertha came in around 9 and she gave me a contract to sign. I couldn’t believe it. She was offering me a K3,500 pay. Indeed everything was changing for good.

    I had one class where children came in at different periods for reading. It had a huge plasma TV on the was were children watched cartoons to aid the learning process, Shane was my instructor that day and I was told he would be coming until I was up to date with the teaching system.

    I met with the teachers at mid day in the staff room and they all seemed very fine.

    Salifyanji introduced me to the other members of staff and she also showed me the nearby market.

    I was tired on the first day but by the end of the week I was now familiar with how the system operated.

    ################

    Salifyanji had come to visit me Saturday afternoon and we had a long conversation.

    “So its been a week how has it been so far?” Salifyanji asked me.

    “Well its been great and I’m happy” I responded with a smile.

    “Actually aunty Bertha mentioned that I could enroll into school if I wanted, I really do want to write my grade 7 examinations” I said.

    “Oh.. The system here is Cambridge and we have a lot of material if you are able to study hard you could even write in 6months time.. besides its not difficult” she said.

    “Ha.. Really? I asked with excitement.

    ” yes and we have other teachers doing the same. I’m in 12th grade myself and I’ve specialised in mathematics and sciences ” she said

    “I want to register as soon as possible” I said.

    “We can do that on monday and am sure you will catch up” she said .

    “Are you married?” She asked me

    I burst into laughter immediately.

    “Would I honestly leave my husband behind?” I responded as I giggled.

    “With this kind of economy dear.. Everything is possible” she said.

    “But you do have a boyfriend right?” She asked.

    “No dear I love someone I cannot be with” I said.

    “I want to hear all the details” she said.

    I narrated my whole story to her and she looked at me in shock.

    “You went through all that?” She asked

    “Yes dear but I count it all joy” I said.

    “You are strong I don’t know if I would survive” she said.

    “I have forgiven my relatives… It’s all good” I said

    “No I’m not talking about your relatives.. You are strong in the sense that you are far away from your true love and you don’t even want to look back” she said.

    “Please don’t remind me about my past. I have moved on” I responded.

    I must say it was hard to sleep that night especially because I had talked about my one true love.

    All I did was study whenever I was home and sometimes even at school when I was free.

    The tuitions were great and I was catching up really fast.

    Time flew by really fast and I was now a week away from my final examinations. The past months had been hard but I had become stronger

    That day The driver was going into town so asked for a lift as I was going to buy some house supplies and what I needed for the exam.

    I had just been paid that months allowance so I made time to pass through a boutique to get a few clothes. I must say i was doing well for myself and could afford nice clothes, perfumes and food.

    I was trying on a beautiful dress in the changing room when I suddenly heard a familiar female voice. It sounded like Mrs. Martin’s voice.

    I quickly changed and rushed out. On my way out I saw the two ladies Joy and Clara. I also overheard Clara ask for bridesmaids dresses.

    Outside I saw a car parked and Mr. Martins was inside while holding a beautiful baby girl. I was so blown away and touched by the child’s beauty, she was a photocopy of Mrs. Martin’s.. I rushed away quickly hoping not to see anybody else familiar.

    A part of me wished I had at least seen a glimpse of my love but I didn’t.

    When I got home my heart wasn’t at peace, I just couldn’t imagine who was getting married. It had to be him. It had to be Atusaye. I thanked God in my heart although it hurt so bad.

    If it was meant to be it sure would have worked one way or another. My life was falling into place and I guess Atusaye’s had to as well.

    The exam was great and I straight away enrolled for my next exam which I gave myself only 4months to prepare for. I sacrificed a lot of sleep but I had to. My life was never certain and life had taught me to never take anything for granted.

    15

    One afternoon as I was hanging my clothes Shane came to my house looking very excited.

    I was wondering what was going on so I looked at him in surprise hoping he would break the news to me.

    “Mwansa guess what!” He said excitedly.

    “No I don’t want to guess just tell me” I responded reluctantly.

    Shane quickly pulled a paper from his pocket and stretched it out to me.

    “My hands are wet Shane please just read it out” I said.

    “Its you exam transcript” he said.

    I quickly wiped my hands and grabbed the transcript.

    “Ahhhhhh!!!!!” I screamed as I jumped up and down.

    “You did it!” Shane shouted with Joy. I was so excited and Shane lifted me and spun me around.

    Shane hugged me tightly and I felt uncomfortable suddenly.

    “Uhmm Shane” I whispered as I pat his back so he could let go of me.

    “Oh I’m sorry” he said as he pulled away.

    “Its ok.. Oh Jesus! I just can’t believe I did it” I sighed

    “We need to celebrate this great achievement” Shane said.

    “For sure and I will make sure I study really hard for the next exam and I will make it in Jesus name!”

    “Amen!” Shane shouted

    I quickly hang the clothes on the line and changed as Shane waited for me.

    Its only after I was in the car with him that my mind actually opened. This could actually be a date and here I was following him foolishly. Another part rebuked me, there’s no way it would be a date.

    When we approached town he asked me where he wanted us to go and I was blank.

    The first place that came to my mind was protea hotel, its the only place I had been to.

    “Where ever you would like us to go” I responded.

    I was busy on my phone uploading some photos on Instagram when Shane informed me that we had arrived.

    “Protea hotel…” I said slowly as i looked up.

    “Yes dear am sure you will like it here..” He said.

    I unfastened my seatbelt before walking out. Atusaye was on my mind the whole time and the night he took me there.

    Shane locked the door and held my hand just like Atusaye did and off we walked inside. I can’t describe the pain I felt at that moment. My heart longed for my true love and he was nowhere close.

    As we went up the elevator I was very quiet until we got up, Shane equally picked the pool area for us to sit.

    “Why are you so quiet?” He asked me.

    All I could see was Atusaye but he wasn’t there, I imagined him very well and that hurt me a lot.

    “Do you always come here?” I asked him.

    “No I like Radisson blu hotel but I chose this place for a change. You don’t like it?” He asked me

    “No of course I do its beautiful” I said.

    We ate dinner and discussed the school as well as how I was coping with my fellow employees. It was quite a wonderful evening.

    At one point I excused myself and asked to use the bathroom, but all I wanted was to peep around to see if my love was anywhere near. Just a glimpse of him was all I needed

    Shane was very funny and he soon took away my sad mood.

    By the time we decided to go it was already past 10pm and we couldn’t believe how time had flown

    “Will you manage to drive me?” I asked.

    “Its quite late. Let me book you here and I will go home” he said.

    “But is that place safe as well?” I asked.

    “Not really you know the farms are not safe” he said.

    “I think will book myself a room here too” he said

    “Do you take cocktails?” He asked me.

    “No but I would like to try” I responded

    “Waiter!” Shane called out.

    “Can I have your drinks menu” he said.

    The waiter quickly came and handed us two menus.

    “You can pick your choice” he said.

    I read through the menu and I was kind of shocked.

    “Why do these cocktails have weird names? Who names a drink ” o----m?” I asked out loud.

    Shane burst into laughter.

    “You are really funny.. OK I will pick for you. Try” Long island” he said.

    “OK then.. Waiter I will have a long island” I said.

    “Hope its not too strong maybe this man wants to trap me” I said to the waiter.

    “You are too funny” he said.

    I drank my first cocktail and it tasted really good so I went for the next one and another one and another one.

    “No you’ve had enough” I heard Shane say as he grabbed the glass from my hands.

    “I can’t get you another one, you are drunk” he said.

    “OK let’s dance” I said.

    Shane didn’t hesitate to get up and he held me close. A beautiful song started playing and we took to the dance floor.

    CHAPTER 14

    Shane and I had bought some food before he dropped me home so I prepared some of it for supper.

    I showered and sat in the living room to eat as I watched television. The Martin’s family were on my mind but sometimes you’ve got to make choices and I knew running away was the best decision I made. It was right for me and if it wasn’t, God would not have allowed aunty Bertha into my life.

    I still wanted to know who had died in the Martin’s home but deep inside I felt OK. I knew they were better off without me. How was I going to face Mrs. Martins and tell her that I was in love with Atusaye? What would be her reaction if she realised how ungrateful I had been to start dating her brother knowing fully well that he was engaged.

    I didn’t expect anyone to understand but I knew fully well that this was right for me.

    The following morning I bathed early and got ready to meet aunty Bertha by the school. As I walked on I met a couple of teachers who were pleased to see me.

    One of them was Salifyanji, a beautiful lady who was a grade one teacher. She took me round the school before classes could commence.

    Aunty Bertha came in around 9 and she gave me a contract to sign. I couldn’t believe it. She was offering me a K3,500 pay. Indeed everything was changing for good.

    I had one class where children came in at different periods for reading. It had a huge plasma TV on the was were children watched cartoons to aid the learning process, Shane was my instructor that day and I was told he would be coming until I was up to date with the teaching system.

    I met with the teachers at mid day in the staff room and they all seemed very fine.

    Salifyanji introduced me to the other members of staff and she also showed me the nearby market.

    I was tired on the first day but by the end of the week I was now familiar with how the system operated.

    ################

    Salifyanji had come to visit me Saturday afternoon and we had a long conversation.

    “So its been a week how has it been so far?” Salifyanji asked me.

    “Well its been great and I’m happy” I responded with a smile.

    “Actually aunty Bertha mentioned that I could enroll into school if I wanted, I really do want to write my grade 7 examinations” I said.

    “Oh.. The system here is Cambridge and we have a lot of material if you are able to study hard you could even write in 6months time.. besides its not difficult” she said.

    “Ha.. Really? I asked with excitement.

    ” yes and we have other teachers doing the same. I’m in 12th grade myself and I’ve specialised in mathematics and sciences ” she said

    “I want to register as soon as possible” I said.

    “We can do that on monday and am sure you will catch up” she said .

    “Are you married?” She asked me

    I burst into laughter immediately.

    “Would I honestly leave my husband behind?” I responded as I giggled.

    “With this kind of economy dear.. Everything is possible” she said.

    “But you do have a boyfriend right?” She asked.

    “No dear I love someone I cannot be with” I said.

    “I want to hear all the details” she said.

    I narrated my whole story to her and she looked at me in shock.

    “You went through all that?” She asked

    “Yes dear but I count it all joy” I said.

    “You are strong I don’t know if I would survive” she said.

    “I have forgiven my relatives… It’s all good” I said

    “No I’m not talking about your relatives.. You are strong in the sense that you are far away from your true love and you don’t even want to look back” she said.

    “Please don’t remind me about my past. I have moved on” I responded.

    I must say it was hard to sleep that night especially because I had talked about my one true love.

    All I did was study whenever I was home and sometimes even at school when I was free.

    The tuitions were great and I was catching up really fast.

    Time flew by really fast and I was now a week away from my final examinations. The past months had been hard but I had become stronger

    That day The driver was going into town so asked for a lift as I was going to buy some house supplies and what I needed for the exam.

    I had just been paid that months allowance so I made time to pass through a boutique to get a few clothes. I must say i was doing well for myself and could afford nice clothes, perfumes and food.

    I was trying on a beautiful dress in the changing room when I suddenly heard a familiar female voice. It sounded like Mrs. Martin’s voice.

    I quickly changed and rushed out. On my way out I saw the two ladies Joy and Clara. I also overheard Clara ask for bridesmaids dresses.

    Outside I saw a car parked and Mr. Martins was inside while holding a beautiful baby girl. I was so blown away and touched by the child’s beauty, she was a photocopy of Mrs. Martin’s.. I rushed away quickly hoping not to see anybody else familiar.

    A part of me wished I had at least seen a glimpse of my love but I didn’t.

    When I got home my heart wasn’t at peace, I just couldn’t imagine who was getting married. It had to be him. It had to be Atusaye. I thanked God in my heart although it hurt so bad.

    If it was meant to be it sure would have worked one way or another. My life was falling into place and I guess Atusaye’s had to as well.

    The exam was great and I straight away enrolled for my next exam which I gave myself only 4months to prepare for. I sacrificed a lot of sleep but I had to. My life was never certain and life had taught me to never take anything for granted.

    CHAPTER 15

    One afternoon as I was hanging my clothes Shane came to my house looking very excited.

    I was wondering what was going on so I looked at him in surprise hoping he would break the news to me.

    “Mwansa guess what!” He said excitedly.

    “No I don’t want to guess just tell me” I responded reluctantly.

    Shane quickly pulled a paper from his pocket and stretched it out to me.

    “My hands are wet Shane please just read it out” I said.

    “Its you exam transcript” he said.

    I quickly wiped my hands and grabbed the transcript.

    “Ahhhhhh!!!!!” I screamed as I jumped up and down.

    “You did it!” Shane shouted with Joy. I was so excited and Shane lifted me and spun me around.

    Shane hugged me tightly and I felt uncomfortable suddenly.

    “Uhmm Shane” I whispered as I pat his back so he could let go of me.

    “Oh I’m sorry” he said as he pulled away.

    “Its ok.. Oh Jesus! I just can’t believe I did it” I sighed

    “We need to celebrate this great achievement” Shane said.

    “For sure and I will make sure I study really hard for the next exam and I will make it in Jesus name!”

    “Amen!” Shane shouted

    I quickly hang the clothes on the line and changed as Shane waited for me.

    Its only after I was in the car with him that my mind actually opened. This could actually be a date and here I was following him foolishly. Another part rebuked me, there’s no way it would be a date.

    When we approached town he asked me where he wanted us to go and I was blank.

    The first place that came to my mind was protea hotel, its the only place I had been to.

    “Where ever you would like us to go” I responded.

    I was busy on my phone uploading some photos on Instagram when Shane informed me that we had arrived.

    “Protea hotel…” I said slowly as i looked up.

    “Yes dear am sure you will like it here..” He said.

    I unfastened my seatbelt before walking out. Atusaye was on my mind the whole time and the night he took me there.

    Shane locked the door and held my hand just like Atusaye did and off we walked inside. I can’t describe the pain I felt at that moment. My heart longed for my true love and he was nowhere close.

    As we went up the elevator I was very quiet until we got up, Shane equally picked the pool area for us to sit.

    “Why are you so quiet?” He asked me.

    All I could see was Atusaye but he wasn’t there, I imagined him very well and that hurt me a lot.

    “Do you always come here?” I asked him.

    “No I like Radisson blu hotel but I chose this place for a change. You don’t like it?” He asked me

    “No of course I do its beautiful” I said.

    We ate dinner and discussed the school as well as how I was coping with my fellow employees. It was quite a wonderful evening.

    At one point I excused myself and asked to use the bathroom, but all I wanted was to peep around to see if my love was anywhere near. Just a glimpse of him was all I needed

    Shane was very funny and he soon took away my sad mood.

    By the time we decided to go it was already past 10pm and we couldn’t believe how time had flown

    “Will you manage to drive me?” I asked.

    “Its quite late. Let me book you here and I will go home” he said.

    “But is that place safe as well?” I asked.

    “Not really you know the farms are not safe” he said.

    “I think will book myself a room here too” he said

    “Do you take cocktails?” He asked me.

    “No but I would like to try” I responded

    “Waiter!” Shane called out.

    “Can I have your drinks menu” he said.

    The waiter quickly came and handed us two menus.

    “You can pick your choice” he said.

    I read through the menu and I was kind of shocked.

    “Why do these cocktails have weird names? Who names a drink ” o----m?” I asked out loud.

    Shane burst into laughter.

    “You are really funny.. OK I will pick for you. Try” Long island” he said.

    “OK then.. Waiter I will have a long island” I said.

    “Hope its not too strong maybe this man wants to trap me” I said to the waiter.

    “You are too funny” he said.

    I drank my first cocktail and it tasted really good so I went for the next one and another one and another one.

    “No you’ve had enough” I heard Shane say as he grabbed the glass from my hands.

    “I can’t get you another one, you are drunk” he said.

    “OK let’s dance” I said.

    Shane didn’t hesitate to get up and he held me close. A beautiful song started playing and we took to the dance floor.

    CHAPTER 16

    A breeze of calmness overwhelmed me and I laid my head on Shane’s chest as we danced to the rhythm.

    ################

    It was 10 o’clock according to the time on my phone when I woke up.

    “Mwansa you have embarrassed yourself” I said to myself.

    When I turned I discovered a plastic bag from foschini on the bed.

    “What is in here” I thought to myself as I opened it.

    “Oh my God.!!!” I exclaimed.

    “This man spent a thousand on a top and bottom. Is he out of his mind!.I exclaimed.

    “No I am not” I heard Shane respond from the bathroom.

    Shane walked in with a towel at the bottom while shirtless.

    I quickly covered my face at the sight of his wonderful chest

    “Nothing is too expensive for you and you can uncover your face I have a shirt on now” he said.

    “Did you sleep………..”

    “Yes I slept here but I did nothing to you if that’s your worry” Shane interrupted.

    I took a sigh of relief as I touched my dress to make sure it was intact

    “But why did you sleep here?” I asked.

    “Point of correction … I actually didn’t sleep thanks to your snoring” he said

    ” I don’t snore”.. I interrupted.

    “I want to shower ….” I said as I stood up.

    Shane picked a small plastic from the floor and handed it to me. Inside was 4sets of lingerie.

    “This is very uncomfortable for me” I said.

    “I know but I knew you would want to change” he said.

    ” I will finish dressing and get some breakfast” he added.

    I entered the beautiful bathroom and sat by the edge of the jacuzzi.

    “What is all this?” I asked myself.

    As I sat there thinking my eyes noticed the beautiful bathroom and i imagined just how I would want my house to look. My own house that is.

    I quickly showered and changed into the nice pair of Jeans and top that Shane was kind enough to buy for me.

    After breakfast we packed up and Shane drove me home .

    ###############

    The coming months were busy as I had to prepare for my exam. Shane was a constant visitor and he had taken me to many beautiful places .

    I cleared my second exams and with the help of aunty Bertha I enrolled to study literature online.

    I still hoped that Atusaye and I would meet someday when I was done with school and no longer a dependant.

    My second birthday since I joined aunty Bertha was fast approaching. Shane mentioned that he had a surprise for me but I wasn’t so excited as I was used to his many surprises. I had grown to trust him as he had proven to be a good person.

    It was just two days to my birthday and i needed an outfit so I asked Shane to take me into town.

    After shopping we stopped over at an Indian restaurant to get some food.

    We had just ordered our food when I received a call from a friend.

    “Shane excuse me I need to pick this” I said.

    “Sure go ahead” he replied

    I was just about to answer the call when i saw Claudine. She was looking very beautiful as always but she had put on some weight. Claudine was with a baby in front and I could see the baby’s hands and legs.

    My S7 fell from my hands as I stood looking in shock. Meanwhile Claudine didn’t recognise me as she bypassed me to enter the restaurant.

    I felt hurt inside and tears gathered in my eyes. Using every strength in me I tried to fight back the tears as I wondered in thought.

    After picking my phone which had luckily survived the fall, I rushed in the restaurant and told Shane we had to leave.

    “But why? We just made our order?” Shane said.

    “I don’t care let’s go!” I said.

    Shane gave me the car keys while he went to get a refund. As I sat in the car I shed tears, I had lost him for good and this was now a sign for me to move on.

    “I’m not going to ask why you are crying or why you behaved like that” Shane said as he started the engine.

    “Shane are you going to hurt me?” I asked.

    Shane stopped the engine and turned to look at me.

    “Where is this coming from?” He asked me.

    “Why would I hurt you?Is this about Atusaye again?” He asked

    “I don’t know I just don’t know anymore. Its been over a year and I just can’t forget him. Please help me forget him” I cried.

    “Mwansa f you love him why don’t you go back. Go and look for him” he said.

    “No I can’t. I want to be with you now” I said.

    “Do you mean that?” Shane asked me.

    “Yes.. I have no business with my past” I said.

    Shane leaned over and pecked my forehead.

    “Promise me you will allow me love you and treat you right” he said.

    “I promise” I responded.

    Shane wiped my tears and held my hand.

    “Let’s go and tell mum this good news” he said.

    “Yes let’s go” I said as I nodded my head.

    CHAPTER 17

    As we headed to the farm house a lot played on my mind.

    “If aunty Bertha knows that means breaking up will be hard” I thought.

    We went on with the journey until we arrived. Shane was very excited I could tell and to my surprise the whole family was home. I met Shane’s siblings who had come to visit from California after a while.

    We sat to have lunch together and I knew Shane would pick this opportunity to say something. I was very uncomfortable and I had to find a way out.

    “Honey I don’t feel OK, I need to lie down” i whispered to Shane who was seated next to me.

    “Let me just make the announcement and you can excuse yourself” he begged.

    ” oh no I can’t wait that long honey please let’s go.” I begged.

    “OK if you say so.” He whispered angrily

    ################

    “What was the meaning of that?” Shane asked as we drove home.

    “What? I’m not well I just need to rest” I said.

    “Oh please Mwansa we both know that you OK” he said.

    I kept quiet to avoid any further discussion and he turned on the stereo.

    When we arrived home I apologised to Shane but he still didn’t seem very pleased.

    “OK I’m not entering the house I will see you soon” he said.

    “Honey i said am sorry”

    “Its fine I will see you soon” he said as he pecked my forehead.

    After Shane left I turned on my laptop and started working on a school assignment.

    Obviously I didn’t forget about Claudine and the baby. The more I tried to concentrate the more she crossed my mind.

    ################

    It was the morning of my birthday and i was getting my nails done by a lady near home. Shane had mentioned that we would meet for lunch so I did some pampering to look more presentable, not that I looked bad natural. He wanted the lunch to be very intimate just the two of us but with Shane you could never just be sure. The man knew how to impress.

    I didn’t know the location or any other details associated to the lunch.

    By 10 I had bathed and was in my new outfit while I lightly covered my face in some makeup.

    Shane called me around 11 just to make sure I was ready of which I agreed and he picked me just before 12.

    I was excited about the lunch with Shane and we would also be putting our previous argument behind us. When the vehicle made a turn where a poster read “Protea safari” I knew this would be no ordinary lunch.

    We first of went game viewing for about 30minutes before we could have lunch. Shane had a lot to say and we successfully put everything behind us.

    As we came back from the park we walked into the diner only to hear people scream “SURPRISE!!!!!” oh my God I was so blown away especially when aunty Bertha led the crowd into a birthday song. What did I do to deserve the wonderful things that were happening to me?

    We ate lunch together with my workmates as well as Shane’s family who were actually so nice.

    As we ate Shane stood up with a wine glass on his left hand and a fork on his right.

    “Attention. Attention” he said as he tapped the wine glass with the fork.

    “We are here to celebrate the birthday of a very special woman in my life. Ladies and gentlemen I will use this opportunity to formally introduce my girlfriend to you.. Mwansa Honey please stand up”

    I slowly stood up just like a princess and Shane held on to my hand as people cheered.

    “Let Mwansa say something” aunty Bertha said.

    I wasn’t ready but I had to speak, it was unfair for me to even think about Atusaye at this point as I had put an end to this chapter for good. Accepting Shane meant leaving Atusaye in my past.

    “I just wanted to say that I am grateful to God for according me the chance of knowing such a wonderful man and I thank you for this birthday surprise” I said.

    Everyone cheered as Shane and I hugged and shared a peck on our lips.

    I cut into the gorgeous 3 tier birthday cake with the help of Shane and a toast was made in honour of my contribution to the orphanage. People gave me the gifts they brought and i was blown away by the thought they all attached in picking out the gifts for me.

    Aunty Bertha’s gift was the most shocking as she simply handed me an envelope. I wandered what was inside and when I opened it. I found two plane tickets to California. I was so shocked.

    “I got you the tickets so you could visit the place where Shane was born and brought up” she said.

    “Mum you didn’t have to.. I had that in mind” Shane said with a smile.

    “Oh come off it, I did it for the two of you besides you both need to rest you’ve worked a lot.” she said

    I was so excited and hugged aunty Bertha, my joy was unexplainable. So I would finally get to fly and I would eventually prove my family wrong. They thought I would die poor but God surely had a plan for me. He always has a plan for his own.

    When the gift exchange was done Shane asked everyone to go outside to participate in a game he had planned out for everyone.

    Little did I know there was a surprise waiting for me outside.

    A white Mercedes Benz with a large red ribbon on top was parked outside waiting for me.

    At first when we stepped outside I was wondering what was happening as Shane disappeared from no where only to see him walk out of the car with a key in his hand.
    He stretched out his hand to give me the key..

    “Happy birthday baby” he said.

    I covered my mouth in shock as tears quickly rolled down my face… These weren’t tears of sadness but of joy.
    “Oh God I own a brand new car?” I thought to myself as tears followed.

    ################

    A lot had happened after my birthday, firstly Shane took me to driving school and I passed the test. So I now had a license and I could drive myself around.

    Shane had helped me work on my first novel which was due to be published in California. We had to delay Our flight tickets a little longer so I could get some school work out of the way.

    It was finally just 3days before our flight, Shane and I had just checked in at Radisson blu hotel where we would spend a good time before our flight.

    I decided to drive to town as I needed to get a few cosmetics. As i stepped out of the car I suddenly heard a voice near me although i couldn’t spot where it came from.

    “I had no doubt you would make it” the voice said

    Next to me was a white Jeep with a window slightly opened. As I tried to peep inside the window closed and the door opened.

    There he was….. Atusaye my long lost love stepping out of the vehicle.

    I immediately dropped my hand bag and quickly removed my sunglasses.

    “Atusaye is this you????”..

    18

    “Yes its me” Atusaye said as he rushed to hug me.

    Tears had filled my eyes but I tried hard to fight them back.

    “Where have you been?” Atusaye asked with a shaky voice, I could tell the hurt in his voice.

    At this point I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore and my face was now wet.

    “Can we sit somewhere and talk?” he said

    We walked to the business park hand in hand before settling down to talk.

    “Can I get you anything?” He asked me.

    “Just water” I responded.

    “You look so beautiful, I can’t believe how life has turned out for you” he said.

    I looked at his finger to spot a ring but there was nothing and not even a sign to show that he has one. He was still very handsome and even more now.

    “Mwansa I am not mad at you but I just want to know what was going through your mind when you left me like that. How could you?” he asked.

    I could sense the pain in his eyes as he questioned me and I knew how much I had hurt him. My heart crushed hearing him say those words and tears flowed even more.

    “Mwansa are you married, engaged or seeing someone? I really don’t want to keep you here against your wish” he said.

    “How’s Mrs. Martin’s? Hasn’t she been mad at me?” I asked.

    “No, on the contrary she was so relieved that you did not die in the fire. The zesco pole behind your apartment caught fire which led to the burning of your house. She thinks you were afraid of being blamed and that’s why you ran away. She looked for you tirelessly”

    “I met her with your sisters and I was so relieved to know that she was OK. But I hid away from her” I said.

    “Clara is now married and she too has never stopped asking about you” he said.

    I immediately connected with the time I met them shopping for a wedding.

    “Where is Claudine?” I asked him as tears rolled down even more.

    “She is married now… To Mr. Martins friend. She really did it to hurt me..” he said.

    “To hurt you?” I asked asked him as I took in a deep sigh of relief and stretched my hands across the table, Atusaye held on to my hands and looked into my eyes.

    “Who was the lucky man who stole your heart?” He asked.

    I was quite uncomfortable and I think he noticed.

    “Its fine just talk to me, I am ready to hear everything” he said.

    “A wonderful woman took me in…” I started.

    “Go ahead dear and tell me everything…” He encouraged me.

    My heart was heavy but he had to know the truth, so slowly but surely I narrated everything without leaving out any detail.

    Atusaye listened attentively without showing any form of emotion, I didn’t know what was going through his mind.

    “Mwansa this is your life we are talking about. He has done a lot for you and I just can’t come and snatch you away from him. I can’t.. He has been everything you needed” Atusaye said.

    “But I don’t want you to ever think I stopped loving you” I said as i cried bitterly.. I put my head on the table and buried my face in my arms while I wept.

    “Please calm down Mwansa, I believe everything happens for a reason. I wish you never went away but then again I cant forget to appreciate what this guy has done for you… Perhaps you may never have been what you are today if you stayed with me. I was in a lot of confusion and I know that’s not what you needed ” Atusaye said.

    “Atusaye.. I was afraid I didn’t know what to do..”

    “I know Mwansa and I can’t hold that against you.. It had to be fate. I gave myself time after Claudine and I split, I didn’t want to rush into anything. Truthfully speaking I kept hoping you would walk through the gate and return to your job” he said before posing. I saw the pain in his eyes. Now I really knew he meant what he said, now he sounded more genuine more than the time I knew him.

    “I waited for you.. I prayed for you. Claudine left because I couldn’t hide it anymore.. My heart needed you. My sisters knew and though they were shocked at first, they eventually accepted.” He said as tears lingered in his eyes.

    “Am a man, I shouldn’t cry” he giggled as he tried to lighten the mood

    “I love you Mwansa and I still do. Everyday and every night I think of you. The only thing I managed to rescue from your house was the perfume bottom I gave you on your birthday and it’s been with me” he said

    “I use that perfume to date. It reminds me of you” I replied.

    “I’m sorry but I can’t just let go of you Atusaye. I want to be with you…” I said.

    Atusaye quickly shook his head

    “No dear. Listen to me, that man has sacrificed everything for you. Maybe my role was just to bring you closer to where you are today. We can’t fight destiny at least I know that it will be a curse upon my life if I take you away from him. You will be ok, just try to love him it wont be hard.”

    “Are you sure you loved me? if you did then you will fight for me.” I said.

    “No Mwansa its different, he has done so much for you. You can’t give up on that. At least now I know and I can have closure. If it makes you feel any better then please replay my dedication to you again. Do you remember it?” He asked me.

    “Yes I do..” I responded reluctantly.

    Atusaye was talking about Israel’s track “hold on”.

    I was crushed and torn but he was right. I didn’t want to accept it but he was very right. How could I leave Shane and walk out on everything Aunty Bertha did for me?

    Atusaye and I hugged before walking back to the car park.

    “Can I at least have your number so I can be in touch” I whispered as we hugged.

    “If you promise me that it won’t disturb your relationship” he said

    Atusaye and I exchanged numbers before we said our goodbyes. I could tell he acted really brave for my sake, but he was broken inside. I really didn’t know he loved me that much.

    I drove back to the hotel without even getting what I needed in town.

    Shane had arranged a special dinner for us and I showered before going out to join him.I was very sad inside but I had to put up a brave face as I remembered Atusaye’s words. He wanted me to be happy so I had no choice but to be. Nothing hurts more than being away from your true love.

    CHAPTER 18

    “Yes its me” Atusaye said as he rushed to hug me.

    Tears had filled my eyes but I tried hard to fight them back.

    “Where have you been?” Atusaye asked with a shaky voice, I could tell the hurt in his voice.

    At this point I couldn’t hold back my tears anymore and my face was now wet.

    “Can we sit somewhere and talk?” he said

    We walked to the business park hand in hand before settling down to talk.

    “Can I get you anything?” He asked me.

    “Just water” I responded.

    “You look so beautiful, I can’t believe how life has turned out for you” he said.

    I looked at his finger to spot a ring but there was nothing and not even a sign to show that he has one. He was still very handsome and even more now.

    “Mwansa I am not mad at you but I just want to know what was going through your mind when you left me like that. How could you?” he asked.

    I could sense the pain in his eyes as he questioned me and I knew how much I had hurt him. My heart crushed hearing him say those words and tears flowed even more.

    “Mwansa are you married, engaged or seeing someone? I really don’t want to keep you here against your wish” he said.

    “How’s Mrs. Martin’s? Hasn’t she been mad at me?” I asked.

    “No, on the contrary she was so relieved that you did not die in the fire. The zesco pole behind your apartment caught fire which led to the burning of your house. She thinks you were afraid of being blamed and that’s why you ran away. She looked for you tirelessly”

    “I met her with your sisters and I was so relieved to know that she was OK. But I hid away from her” I said.

    “Clara is now married and she too has never stopped asking about you” he said.

    I immediately connected with the time I met them shopping for a wedding.

    “Where is Claudine?” I asked him as tears rolled down even more.

    “She is married now… To Mr. Martins friend. She really did it to hurt me..” he said.

    “To hurt you?” I asked asked him as I took in a deep sigh of relief and stretched my hands across the table, Atusaye held on to my hands and looked into my eyes.

    “Who was the lucky man who stole your heart?” He asked.

    I was quite uncomfortable and I think he noticed.

    “Its fine just talk to me, I am ready to hear everything” he said.

    “A wonderful woman took me in…” I started.

    “Go ahead dear and tell me everything…” He encouraged me.

    My heart was heavy but he had to know the truth, so slowly but surely I narrated everything without leaving out any detail.

    Atusaye listened attentively without showing any form of emotion, I didn’t know what was going through his mind.

    “Mwansa this is your life we are talking about. He has done a lot for you and I just can’t come and snatch you away from him. I can’t.. He has been everything you needed” Atusaye said.

    “But I don’t want you to ever think I stopped loving you” I said as i cried bitterly.. I put my head on the table and buried my face in my arms while I wept.

    “Please calm down Mwansa, I believe everything happens for a reason. I wish you never went away but then again I cant forget to appreciate what this guy has done for you… Perhaps you may never have been what you are today if you stayed with me. I was in a lot of confusion and I know that’s not what you needed ” Atusaye said.

    “Atusaye.. I was afraid I didn’t know what to do..”

    “I know Mwansa and I can’t hold that against you.. It had to be fate. I gave myself time after Claudine and I split, I didn’t want to rush into anything. Truthfully speaking I kept hoping you would walk through the gate and return to your job” he said before posing. I saw the pain in his eyes. Now I really knew he meant what he said, now he sounded more genuine more than the time I knew him.

    “I waited for you.. I prayed for you. Claudine left because I couldn’t hide it anymore.. My heart needed you. My sisters knew and though they were shocked at first, they eventually accepted.” He said as tears lingered in his eyes.

    “Am a man, I shouldn’t cry” he giggled as he tried to lighten the mood

    “I love you Mwansa and I still do. Everyday and every night I think of you. The only thing I managed to rescue from your house was the perfume bottom I gave you on your birthday and it’s been with me” he said

    “I use that perfume to date. It reminds me of you” I replied.

    “I’m sorry but I can’t just let go of you Atusaye. I want to be with you…” I said.

    Atusaye quickly shook his head

    “No dear. Listen to me, that man has sacrificed everything for you. Maybe my role was just to bring you closer to where you are today. We can’t fight destiny at least I know that it will be a curse upon my life if I take you away from him. You will be ok, just try to love him it wont be hard.”

    “Are you sure you loved me? if you did then you will fight for me.” I said.

    “No Mwansa its different, he has done so much for you. You can’t give up on that. At least now I know and I can have closure. If it makes you feel any better then please replay my dedication to you again. Do you remember it?” He asked me.

    “Yes I do..” I responded reluctantly.

    Atusaye was talking about Israel’s track “hold on”.

    I was crushed and torn but he was right. I didn’t want to accept it but he was very right. How could I leave Shane and walk out on everything Aunty Bertha did for me?

    Atusaye and I hugged before walking back to the car park.

    “Can I at least have your number so I can be in touch” I whispered as we hugged.

    “If you promise me that it won’t disturb your relationship” he said

    Atusaye and I exchanged numbers before we said our goodbyes. I could tell he acted really brave for my sake, but he was broken inside. I really didn’t know he loved me that much.

    I drove back to the hotel without even getting what I needed in town.

    Shane had arranged a special dinner for us and I showered before going out to join him.I was very sad inside but I had to put up a brave face as I remembered Atusaye’s words. He wanted me to be happy so I had no choice but to be. Nothing hurts more than being away from your true love.

    CHAPTER 19

     “Honey are you OK?” Shane asked me.

    “I’m ok honey. I’m just tired” I responded.

    “You’ve barely touched your food” he said.

    I just lost it and tears ran down my face.

    “Honey what’s wrong?” He asked me again.

    My heart bled to think that he was suffering for what he didn’t know. I was crying for someone else and here he was comforting me.

    “I just can’t believe how life has changed.. God has been too good to me” I lied.

    “Awwwww dry your tears. I love you honey and I promise to spoil you in California” he said

    ################

    Shane and I checked into first class in readiness for my flight on a Saturday morning. I was so happy and I couldn’t wait to be in a different world. All through the flight Shane told me about his place and showed me a lot of pictures.

    Flying was something else and to think that I had to be on the plane for hours was just crazy.

    When we landed it was dark but the lighting alone was clear that I was in a different world. It was just unbelievable stepping into the white mans land.

    “God you have allowed my eyes see the beauty of your creation.. I Mwansa a simple house help” I said as tears flowed.

    We checked into a beautiful hotel although we had separate rooms. Shane and I had no intentions of being intimate.

    The following day I was very tired and I continued sleeping until afternoon when we went to view some places. I was very happy to meet Shane’s friends and knowing his side of life made me feel special.

    I got embarrassed a couple of times as things were just so different but thanks to Shane who was supportive, I was never out of place

    ################

    Going to Vegas wasn’t part of the plan but as usual Shane is full of surprises. By the time we clocked 3weeks I had been to Hollywood, Vegas and to top it all we made a flight to Italy just to visit within the holiday before going back to California.

    I really thought I had it all … I actually almost had it all but through all this I was broken inside. I couldn’t just forget Atusaye.

    Even though Shane got me so much, my heart longed for that one man who gave me love. Atusaye showed me love before I knew any other

    One morning as I was just from my morning work out Shane told me we had a trip to make. I wasn’t sure what else to expect as I had seen it all. I had shopped from the best stores and even dined in the best restaurants. So what could be better?.

    “Honey just tell me where we are going I can’t guess anymore” I said.

    “Trust me my love, have I ever disappointed you?” He asked me.

    So once again I was packing and this time I had 7 bags of clothes and shoes. We flew on a private plane to a city that was still unknown to me until we landed.

    “Welcome to Paris? Are we in Paris? I asked Shane with excitement.

    ” yes honey we are” he said.

    I screamed and jumped on his masculine body.
    Everyone at the airpot must have thought I was out of my mind.

    “Honey our holiday will end here before we go back home” he said.

    We checked in to a
    lovely hotel and as usual maintained our separate rooms.

    Shane told me he had a surprise for me but I wondered what it was. Being in Paris was a surprise on its on. Really what could top that?.

    I was in my room watching TV and updating shots on Instagram when I got a delivery.

    I didn’t order anything but the delivery lady was positive that it was mine.

    “OK mum let me at least check it before I sign.” I responded.

    The parcel was in a big box and inside was s black laundry bag and it looked like an expensive dress.

    “Am I going to meet the Queen?” I asked as I giggled.

    I just finished unzipping the bag and my mouth was now jaw drop.

    “Its a wedding dress” I muttered.

    “Yes it is madam and if you check the other box must have jewellery” she said.

    I quickly opened it and just like she said i found the expensive jewellery.

    I couldn’t believe what was happening and I quickly rushed to his room only to find his bed decorated in petals with the words “will you marry me?”

    As usual tears rushed down as Shane appeared from the bathroom and knelt down before me.

    Shane pulled out a box from his pocket and said to me.

    “Honey.. If you accept this ring on your finger I will be the happiest man on the planet. Will you marry me Mwansa?. He said.

    I wanted to stage a funeral to mourn Atusaye and I really wanted to escape but I once escaped and what happened?

    I shut my eyes as tears fell down my eyes.

    ” yes I will marry you” I said slowly.

    Shane slipped the ring on my finger and he hugged me really tight.

    “I love you” he whispered.

    I couldn’t lie to God or myself so I avoided saying those words back to him.

    “I thank God for you” I said.

    “I wanted us to have a surprise wedding here and everything was underway but mum wasn’t pleased so I guess we will wed home in zambia” he said.

    I was so relived I think if Shane threw a surprise wedding I would have just died.

    “But I promise to give you a Paris wedding afterwards” he said.

    I took a deep sigh.. Not of relief but of thought. It’s funny how freedom is not really free.

    I was now carrying a ring equivalent to two mansions on my finger and the thought of Atusaye had to fade. I had to accept fate.

    I had to give up. Shane was too much. He was just too much. Atusaye did not have a chance. Or was I wrong?..

    See you on my wedding day. Zambian here we come…

    CHAPTER 20

    The night before our flight to Zambia a white lady named Linda who happened to be Shane’s old classmate came to visit and we had dinner together. Linda Pitt was not only an old classmate but also Shane’s first cousin according to him. She wasn’t friendly at all, I tried to keep conversation but I could tell she didn’t like me. It was very awkward when I tried to talk to Shane as i noticed she interrupted and started another topic and surprisingly Shane responded to her not me.

    After we landed home Shane made another huge purchase and this time it was a beautiful house where we would start a family. Shane moved in immediately and I would be joining him after the wedding as per agreement. He also rented me an apartment in salama where I would stay before the wedding.

    ##############

    I wasn’t sure if getting married was the best decision I was making but ever since we landed in Zambia, I was under pressure by aunty Bertha to give my input on the wedding plans.

    Shane wanted us to wed in a few days but I at least needed time so I pushed it further, although I only got two
    weeks to prepare.
    One thing I was excited about though was my book which Shane successfully published.

    Just two days after hitting the markets, my book was best seller on amazon and my account quickly started hitting large sums of money. Shane and I had talked about opening a joint bank account and we agreed that I would do it before the wedding. That meant all my savings including money for the book sale would go into the same account.

    One morning just 5days before my wedding i decided to go and organise the house especially the room that would be our bedroom where Shane used to sleep. Shane was working and he wasn’t expecting me.

    As I was cleaning the closet I saw a pile of documents in envelopes and wondered what they were. Shane had not yet settled as he had just moved in so things were all over the place.

    As i went through the documents i came across my car white book which was in Shane’s closet and it was in Linda’s name not mine. My stomach suddenly turned.

    And like that wasn’t enough the house he bought for us was equally in Linda’s name.

    “What is going on here?” I thought again.

    I straight away went into checking things and I found many things in joint ownership between Shane and Linda his cousin.

    So Shane really didn’t trust me and now Linda was helping him by putting everything under her name.

    Why would he do that?

    I thought that had hurt me but not when I saw prenuptial agreement papers. Shane typed out papers that I would sign to approve that everything he owned before our wedding would remain his after the wedding and that I would have no say over everything he owned. In short I was basically walking into this marriage broke and I would probably stay broke

    ###############

    I told aunty Bertha that I would take care of the marriage ceremony while she could handle the reception. She wasn’t happy but eventually she agreed and she gave me some money.

    Shane on the other hand was excited about the marriage and he kept blowing the bank with extravagant spending.

    The following night, aunty Bertha and the rest of the family came to have dinner with us at Shane’s house, it was my treat for aunty Berthas birthday and I did the cooking.

    After dinner while Shane interacted with his siblings, I took the time to share about my trip with aunty Bertha and equally showed her some pictures. I noticed something unusual as we flipped through the Album.

    Linda’s pictures that we had taken together when she came for dinner were missing. I was eagerly waiting to hear what aunty Bertha would say about her but how could I even ask? I hoped the photos would make it easier.

    This was a shocker and a complete surprise if you ask me. Why would he remove her pictures?

    That night I decided to spend a night over at the house as I was too tired to drive. I wanted to ask Shane a lot of questions but I decided to take my time.

    I arranged one of the spare bedrooms for myself and I showered before tacking into bed.

    Shane did not sleep immediately as he was downstairs skyping with some friend. God knows who.

    I was sleeping peacefully and I suddenly had a terrible nightmare. I was terrified when I woke up and immediately got down on my knees in prayer.

    I broke into serious prayers and burst into unknown tongues. I don’t know what was going on but I prayed so much until I heard a loud voice in the midst of my prayer.

    “Oh shut up will you!!!!” Shane yelled as he pushed the bedroom door open.

    It was the very first time I saw him that angry.

    I was so speechless and my body trembled.

    “What was that for? I’m trying to sleep and you break into those annoying sounds!” He yelled.

    “Honey I’m sorry.. I was just praying” I said.

    “Praying???? Are you possessed? Who prays like that?” He asked again angrily.

    I was so shocked and my mouth went dry.

    As I went back to bed thoughts ran through my head.

    “Why on earth was I yelling in tongues that I had never spoken before? Maybe I was really possessed like Shane told me. I mean that’s the only reason he would be angry.

    I remembered his angry face and I was crippled with fear. I knew aunty Bertha, she was nice and she was Christian from what I knew. She actually asked me to get baptised if I wanted to. But why would she raise a son who hates to hear prayer?. I knew something was frustrating Shane and it had nothing to do with the prayers.

    The following morning I went to check on the florist and the cake just to make sure everything was according to my specifications.

    The thoughts of what happened the previous night did not escape my mind and I was torn apart. What was happening and why did he behave like that? Why was Linda so special?

    When I got back home Shane had bought me a beautiful cake, roses and a gorgeous dress to say sorry for how he reacted.

    I was blown away and indeed I believed he was sorry. To be with someone you needed to adjust so I convinced myself that praying loudly would not settle well with him so I had to change.

    “Honey I wanted to talk to you about something” Shane started.

    “Yes honey am listening” I responded as we were watching a movie.

    “The wedding is two days away and I thought I explain something to you” he said.

    Shane opened his briefcase and removed a pink envelope.

    The envelope had the prenuptial papers and I listened attentively as he started to speak.

    “Honey these papers are for us to sign. By signing you are simply protecting your property in case our marriage fails. That is everything you own before this marriage like your car and the house we jointly own” he said

    I looked at Shane and I just couldn’t believe he had the audacity to lie to me.

    “OK honey, does that mean I can now gave my white book?” I asked.

    “Ahhh.. Yes I will give it to you. Just sign here” he said.

    I did not hesitate at all and I decided to sign and he signed too and we together presented the paper to a lawyer the following morning.

    We had just presented the papers to the lawyer and I decided to block my account so he could not have access to it and I diverted all my funds to another separate account.

    A lot of media companies had been contacting me trying to interview me concerning my book which was now famous but I had to get the wedding out of the way first.

    ################

    The man i got to officiate our wedding was a not so well known pastor who seemed to just be interested in the fee I was paying him. I had managed to convince Shane that our court wedding would take place when we returned from Paris.

    He didn’t seem happy at all but I had to make a few of my own demands and they were quite strict. For instance I chose this pastor simply because he was not so well known to avoid making a big fuss.

    I asked Shane’s youngest sister who was also a bridesmaids to escort me to the salon to get my hair done in readiness for the wedding which was the following day. She was very friendly so I decided to ask her about Linda.

    “Linda Pitt? You know her? She asked in shock.

    ” yes we met. She seemed very nice” I said.

    “Oh no don’t mistake her kindness for anything genuine” she said.

    “But why do you say that?” I asked.

    “That lady and Shane dated for a very long time and I believe she still has eyes for him. Guard your man jealously or she will take him” she said.

    My stomach immediately rumbled and its like the earth shook.

    “No…I know Shane … Do you have any idea why they broke up?” I asked.

    “Distance I guess. We moved here and she visited a few times but she finally gave up. She was actually really stubborn but Shane loved her a lot. He gave her all he could but she still played with his emotions. We never thought he would love again but you stole his heart and once again his back to himself” she said.

    That made a lot of sense and I remembered how he looked at her and just how she was so rude to me. He also responded to her before he responded to me. That really made a lot of sense. But then why did he want to marry me? Its not like I was pressuring him. He had someone who he loved and who loved him too so why me?

    I had a lot of unanswered questions.
    Was he using me to get her jealous? But to even go as far as marriage?

    ################

    That Evening before my wedding I called the money loving pastor to meet me in a secluded place. I call him that because despite knowing I wasn’t baptised he was willing to wed me off so long as I paid.

    He wasn’t sure whether to meet me at first but I assured him it was safe to meet me at the location and he finally agreed.

    “Good evening man of god” I said as he approached.

    I had been waiting for him for a while

    “Good evening madam” he responded.

    “OK this will be very short” I said as I handed him an envelope.

    Sir in that envelope is a certificate. It looks just like the original marriage certificate but it isn’t. I need you to hand it to us tomorrow and we will sign it instead” I said.

    “But madam that means the marriage will be…”

    “Fake!” I interrupted

    “But I thought you loved him” he said.

    “And I thought you didn’t love money…..so we both were wrong.” I responded

    “How much????” He asked me.

    “I will add a K10, 000 more to your bill” I said.

    “You can trust me..” I added as I handed him K5 000 cash.

    I didn’t ever see myself getting to such measures but life had laughed in my face for way too long. I couldn’t take chances. Even if I would never be with Atusaye, I still wouldn’t be fooled into settling for a liar like Shane. What else was he capable of?. Well I will not say much, at least he got me educated and travelling first class.

    I drove to my hotel room where i would spend a night before the wedding….. The fake wedding to be precise

    CHAPTER 21

    It was the morning of the wedding and I couldn’t be much happier, all I wanted was to get it over and done with. I was sure that Shane wouldn’t go down without a fight so I prepared myself for anything. Perhaps our marriage would last 3months or maybe a few weeks before he realises it was all fake. I had to fake the marriage too other wise he would pull the rag from right under my feet.

    I still wanted to know what he was up to.

    My hair was done and the makeup too was great. All I needed now was to walk down the aisle and meet the man who should have been my husband.

    The matron who happened to be Shane’s sister in-law whispered some words of encouragement in my ear and aunty Bertha held my hand. It was unlike tradition for the grooms mother to escort the bride but I had no family. So I let her take the slot. It wasn’t real anyway so the less people i had the better.

    “He is a good man. Just understand him” she whispered in my ear.

    I had spent a night at the same hotel where the marriage ceremony would take place So I just had to walk to the front with my mother in law. That was it.

    As the elevator went down, my stomach rambled. I was going to have a fake wedding but it all seemed real. I was now a famous author and it would eventually go down history that I faked a marriage.

    “Did I want that kind of name for myself?” I thought.

    Aunty Bertha held me tight and she smiled, as the elevator opened.

    “This is it dear” she said.

    “Are you ready?” She asked.

    “Yes .. As ready as I could ever be” I said.

    What a gorgeous dress I wore, it was so expensive and the veil swept the floor.

    “All this for a fake wedding” I muttered.

    Aunty Bertha was all smiles and she held me tight as we walked down the hallway that led to the gardens.

    As soon as the doors opened, the song started to play.

    “Here comes the bride all dressed in white”.

    I could careless about the music or the invited guests. I wore a wide smile on my face and someone could easily have mistaken my smile for happiness. I was smiling at Shane, he really thought I was foolish.

    Shane on the other hand was clad in a white suit with gold buttons. My bridesmaids were in beautiful peach dresses while the groomsmen wore grey suits. The venue was beautiful, the floral arrangements everywhere looked heavenly. Everything was pure except the hearts of the two people who mattered most at this event….. Shane and myself.

    As Shane got my hand from his mother I remembered Atusaye, I wished he was there holding me close

    The pastor looked at me and smiled, he smiled so wide that I almost slapped him. How could he be so careless smiling like that? I hadn’t even executed my plan and he was already looking excited.

    ” Dearly beloved we are gathered here to witness the wedding of Shane and Mwansa. Today the two will be declaring their love……”

    “Oh no they won’t!!!” A female voice interrupted from the back.

    Its like everything went into slow motion as we all turned around to see what was happening.

    There she was…. Linda Pitt dressed in a gorgeous white wedding dress and holding a bouquet of roses. She was standing at the end of the red carpet ready to make her grand entrance to the front.

    “Ehey!!!” I said in a Nigerian accent as I clapped my hands.

    CHAPTER 22

     “Pastor please please continue” Shane said.

    ” no no he won’t, Shane mind explaining to me what all this is about???” I asked.

    “I am his woman and I have been for many years now!” Linda yelled as she came walking to the front.

    “Mwansa .. Listen to me” Shane started.

    “Just tell her the truth!!!!” Another voice shouted from the crowd.

    I immediately pulled out my veil and threw it on the ground together with my bouquet.

    I was ready to walk away but Aunty Bertha came running to me before I could take my first step.

    “Hold on my dear, Shane you better sort this mess before I….”

    “Before you what mum!” Shane yelled.

    I had never seen him so angry his veins looked like they would pop out..

    “Am tired of making you happy! It’s my turn to be happy and my happiness lies with Linda not Mwansa” Shane yelled again.

    “Aunty Bertha you knew about this?” I asked in shock

    “Who on earth did you think funded the trips????” Shane interrupted.

    “I need to sit before I pass out” I said as I held my head.

    Someone came with a chair and I sat down listening to mother and son like I was conducting an interview.

    “Am sorry my daughter. Am so sorry. I just hoped he would forget her, she caused him enough pain” aunty Bertha said.

    “And you chose me of all people?” I asked her.

    “You too had someone you needed to forget… Yes he told me everything and I really hoped the both of you would fall in love. I really tried and for a moment I believed it was happening” she said.

    “Lord this family!!!! What else should I know????” I said.

    “That am pregnant!” Linda yelled

    “Wow… Shane… You are so good at what you do” I said in shock.

    Aunty Bertha immediately pulled out a cheque book from her bag and she wrote something on it.

    “Here dear, for all your troubles. Am so sorry for this embarrassment” she said.

    “Just like that? So you will just pay her off like that?” Linda interrupted.

    “Well you came to fight for your man he is here enjoy him and by the way congrats you own a car and a mansion too” I said before bending down to pick the veil and the bouquet. I wasn’t going to leave them behind, they were mine after all.

    “Mwansa am so sorry” Shane said.

    “No you don’t have to be, you two deserve each other actually”. I said.

    I walked to the front and pulled the marriage certificate from the altar.

    “By the way I will need this too” i said as I got the certificate.

    “You might need an original if they’ll actually be a wedding taking place” I added.

    “It was a fake certificate????” Shane asked in shock.

    “So you actually get surprised too?” I asked him as I smiled.

    I immediately made my way out with the veil, bouquet of roses, cheque and certificate in my hands. There was a lot of silence, almost like someone died.

    “K50, 000 wow… Not bad” I said as I read the cheque.

    I got to my hotel room and quickly changed, after packing all my belongings from the room I dragged my cases to the elevator.

    When the elevator opened, an elderly man fairly huge and light in complexion greeted me. Just by appearance you could tell he had so much wisdom.

    “Dear it is you I followed, I’ve been looking for you and found out it was your wedding so I showed up uninvited. Am sorry about the turn of events” he said.

    “Sir who are you?” I asked him.

    “Can we talk from somewhere” he said.

    “Certainly not from this hotel as you can see am rushing out” I said.

    “OK meet me at Radisson blu hotel by the pool area tonight around 7” he said.

    “Sir.. I don’t want riddles. If you like my book and this is a business meeting tell me already so I know” I said.

    “I love your book yes but I’m not here to sign you up for anything just be there. Please” he said as he he pat my shoulder.

    I got into the elevator and it closed while he remained standing.

    I didn’t have where to go but I rushed to the bank to cash in the cheque before finding a secluded lodge to stay in.

    My mind was still confused I needed to know what this man wanted so I prepared myself and went to meet him.

    I found him seated and looking very smart, in my head I was convinced this man was just trying to discuss my book.

    “Hi dear glad you made it” he said.

    “Did you think I wouldn’t come?” I asked.

    “Even if you didn’t I would have found a way to see you but thank you for making this very easy for me” he said.

    The man then placed an envelope on the table and asked me to open it.

    “I’m proud of the braveness you portrayed at your wedding today, you are strong. Just like your father was” he said.

    The moment I heard him mention my father, my heart bounced and I put the envelope down.

    “Sir who are you?” I asked.

    “OK let me open that for you” he said as he got the envelope.

    The man then handed me papers from the envelope. The papers had a lot of property under my name. And I looked at him in shock.

    “Sir what is this? I’m sorry I can’t accept it.” I said.

    “Wait a minute this mansion listed here is the one my uncle is living in”.. I said.

    ” yes dear let me break the ice…. Your dad used to be my best friend. He owned shares in a mine and your uncle was an employee there. He was very wicked and misused company resources. I often told your father to fire him but I guess he loved his brother” the man said.

    “What happened to my parents?” I asked

    “Your parents died from food poisoning. No one really knows how it happened but I’m sure you can guess who would be capable of such” he said.

    Tears washed out my makeup and I felt serious bitterness and rage. I just couldn’t stand the pain I felt inside.

    “Dear dry your tears.. Unfortunately your uncle already sold your father’s shares and he got away with the money” he said.

    “Where is he!!!!! I’m going to strangle him with my bare hands when I find him!!!!” I yelled.

    “I’ve been working on this case for sometime and planning my move very well while I was away in the states. Your uncle was arrested and your aunty and the children have already vacated the mansion as we speak. He will probably not stay there for long because the courts can’t link him to the murder and the case has been long overdue” he said

    “So he will be out freely roaming the streets?” I asked him.

    “Well that will have to surrender to God but these documents have all the property your father left. That’s 3 flats a mansion and a business complex on the copper belt”. He said.

    “Sir thank you so much and may God richly bless you. What I can say? You are indeed a blessing” I said.

    “So where are you going from here? Do you have family?” He asked.

    “Yes I do actually, but first they need to forgive me. I disappointed them badly” I said.

    “OK i will leave now but this is my card. My family and I will receive you with open arms whenever you need to visit us. I’m leaving for the States in two days. My mission here is done and am sure my friends soul is now resting in peace.” He said.

    “Thank you sir, go well” I said.

    I immediately left after him and went back to the lodge.

    I said a long prayer of praise, worship and thanks giving. It was just unbelievable how everything unfolded. I could hardly sleep as the documents scared me. Its like I was keeping billions of money in the house. I needed a place to save them properly.

    This day had unfolded so much. What else could happen?… It was just the beginning of better to come. Indeed the tears I shed for so long were not in vain.

    CHAPTER 23

    The following morning, I was a woman on a mission. I had to secure all my property although I was blank on what to do. The first thought that crossed my mind was to approach lawyers. Thanks to my love for reading, I had learnt a lot through books .

    A google search helped me find a number of lawyers within Lusaka and I picked on the most recommended. My account had some money which I used partly to pay the lawyers.

    After much discussion the lawyers helped me secure my title deeds with the bank and now I had to inspect the property.

    I missed Atusaye so much but my life needed a lot of organisation. I just couldn’t run after him with so much at stake and I still had no idea when my uncle would be a free man. The sooner I sorted my life out the better.

    ###############$

    When I arrived at the mansion, the first person I saw was the security officer Mr. Mwale who had been so good to me when I lived there.

    “Mr mwale!!.. You’re around?” I screamed as a taxi dropped me at the gate.

    “Mwansa!!!! ” Mr mwale shouted as he ran to me.

    “Am so happy to see you Mr. Mwale” I said as we shook hands.

    A lot of thoughts went through my head and I remembered all that I went thorough, the memories were so clear.

    “So happy to see you too dear” he said.

    “my dear a lot has happened” he started.

    “Please Mr. Mwale don’t. I heard it all. I’m just relieved that it is all over” I said.

    “Yes my dear its all over. That man is really good… He has saved you. He actually paid me to stay when everyone left..” He said.

    I knew he was referring to dads friend.

    ” You look like you’ve not been doing bad at all, how is everything with you? He asked.

    ” I will tell you everything first let’s have a tour of the house.” I said.

    Mr Mwale and I talked as we went round the mansion, thank God it was still under perfect condition and ready to be occupied.

    The next move I had to make was to check on the 3 flats, they too were well maintained so I did not have work to do. The flats were all occupied so I had to get a pass to view them. That same week i scheduled a meeting with the tenants and they signed fresh agreements.

    The cheque I received from aunty Bertha successfully cleared and i used the money to purchase a good second hand car just to help me run around and I occupied a small flat.

    The lawyers had initially advised me to get a good agent for all my property and the agents would help me find good tenants. Since the mansion was still empty I needed someone there but I new they may let Mr. Mwale go. He had worked for us for a long time and I just couldn’t stand the thought of him being on the streets.

    Mr. Mwale still needed his job so part of the tenancy agreement on the mansion was that security would be provided, the tenants just had to pay. This went great and I decided to do the same for the flats. Since Mr. Mwale was very trust worthy, I removed him from the position of security guard and promoted him to be in charge of the security company. He now had 8 security guards under him and we eventually added maintenance workers under the security company.

    With the help of Mr. Mwale I managed to find the maids who worked for the mansion and I paid them settlement to start there lives afresh.

    It had been 2 months and I still hadn’t managed to visit the Martin’s but I had now fully healed from my past, everything to do with my property was in place and I was ready to visit the Martin’s house.

    The morning of my visit was really scary, I didn’t know if I would be welcomed or chased. I just had no idea.

    ################

    As I parked at the gate of the martins residents my heart skipped.

    “God I have to do this” I said to myself.

    I knew I had spent too much time but I needed to heal and reflect as I put my life in order. I didn’t want to jump from one mess into another.

    I still didn’t hoot but instead I started talking to myself.

    “OK Mwansa you’ll be OK. Just apologise and everything else will fall into place. Oh no! What if he’s taken! .. Jesus I just can’t stand all these thoughts!”

    I hit the steering to clear my thoughts but ended up hooting accidentally and the gate opened.

    “Oh my God here we are” I said to myself as the gate slid open.

    I couldn’t escape now, it was time to see the Martin’s and possibly receive forgiveness. If I turn out lucky, I may even get the love of my life back.

    CHAPTER 24

     “Yes madam how can I help you?” The gate man asked as I pulled over. He was new and It was my first time seeing him.

    “Halo.. I would like to see the Martin’s” I said.

    “Oh sorry madam they moved out” the man said.

    “Moved out? When and how?.. Any details about their whereabouts?” I asked.

    “No unfortunately mum I have absolutely no idea” he said.

    I wasn’t sure if the house belonged to the Martins, so I asked to see the people occupying the house. I truly hoped it belonged to the Martin’s then they would definitely know and assist me

    After knocking, a fine looking lady stepped out and she introduced herself as Monica.

    “My name is Mwansa, I am looking for Mr and Mrs Martin’s but I hear they moved out. Would you know their whereabouts?” I asked.

    “Let me call my sister, she is the owner of the house”. The lady said.

    A woman came out shortly holding a baby.

    ” how are you dear? I’m told you want to know about the Martins. She said.

    “Yes madam” I replied.

    “Unfortunately mum the Martins travelled to the United states. They sold us this house” the woman said.

    “How long ago was that?” I asked.

    “Almost a year ago, about 11months” she said.

    I knew Atusaye must have remained because I saw him about 4months earlier. But where was he?” I thought.

    When I drove home I was devastated. How come Atusaye did not mention that the Martins had shifted when I saw him?. It really didn’t make sense.

    Unfortunately I had lost his number, but why didn’t he ever call me when I had also given him my number. Many thoughts crossed my mind but I refused to make any more conclusions like in the past. I didn’t want to think he had moved on. He had to be there waiting for me somewhere.

    I didn’t know where he would go in his free time or who he was found with.

    ################

    It had been a week and two days since I visited the Martins former home. The devastation I had was too much especially knowing that there’s nothing I could do. I searched for him on Facebook and Instagram to no avail. My heart felt pained. I had been pending the book launch for a while until I finally decided to do it. There was nothing I was waiting for.

    I hoped the book launch would accord me the chance to see him, maybe he would hear about it and decide to show up.

    I had planned really well for the launch and I made sure a lot off publicity was done.

    The day of the book launch was amazing with a number of stores showing interest in stocking my book, I managed to schedule a lot of meetings and also got the chance to speak to a lot of people. Media companies showed keen interest in turning the novel in to a movie.

    Everything seemed promising except the one thing I wanted the most, Atusaye.

    ################

    It had been a lonely one month without seeing Atusaye, I managed to sign a good contract to create a film out of my novel and I got working on that. It kept me busy as i was ever on set. The director felt there was no better person than myself to play the main character.

    With so much achievement I still longed for my Atu day in and day out. Nothing and no one could replace him. At least even if i would never be with him all I needed was closure for me to move on.

    ##############

    One day as I was leaving the movie set to go home, I saw Stella. I hooted and gave her signs to come to the car park where I was going to park.

    “Stella how are you?” I asked

    Stella was intimated by my appearance but she equally didn’t look bad.

    “I’m fine boyi I can see a lot has gone right with you, I’m driving too. I just parked somewhere so I could move around” she said.

    “Oh we thank God for that”. I said

    “The Martin’s.. How are they?” I asked while pretending like I did not know a thing

    “You’re not aware?. They left for the States. Joy equally joined them but Clara is married” she said.

    “Oh that’s nice…” I responded.

    I was waiting for her to mention Atusaye because if I went ahead and asked she wouldn’t help me.

    “By the way Atusaye and I have been going strong, put us in your prayers I’m sure will soon tie the knot”. She said.

    ” wow really?.. Awwww am so happy for you” I said as I hugged her.

    That was a clear sign of hypocrisy, I would never be happy to hear such news. But I knew she was lying, it was funny how even after so long Stella viewed me as a threat when it came to Atusaye

    “A lot of good things have happened to me too, I’m actually engaged and will be wedding this month end” I lied.

    “Really??? Wow…” She said in excitement.

    “Give me your number. You guys should come for lunch at my house.” I said.

    Quickly a thought crossed my mind and I hoped this plan would work as I bit my tongue

    “Boyi you’ve actually done well ala my battery has drained I need to make a call” I said.

    “Oh no problem sure you can” she said as she handed me the phone.

    I pretended to be typing a number when I quickly did a search and I found Atusaye’s number. My mind was quick at mastering and it quickly picked the number. I got my handbag and removed a note pad where I wrote the number and shortly wrote down my number.

    “Its not going through but here mama you can call me on this line” I said as I handed her the small piece of paper that had my number.

    “Thanks love will be in touch” she said before walking away.

    I quickly got my phone and dialed Atusaye’s number, it wasn’t long before the call was picked up.

    “Atusaye on the line who am I speaking to?” The voice said.

    “Its…..me…..
    mwansa” I stammered.

    “Mwansa… Where are you?” He asked me.

    “Are you married?” I asked blankly.

    “Mwansa where are you?” He asked again.

    “Am at central park in town” I replied.

    “Am 10minutes away… Wait for me right now am coming. He said.

    I didn’t know whether it was good or bad but I waited patiently and I saw his range Rover pull over.

    ” I quickly ran to his car as he walked out. His eyes looking very emotional

    “A friend told me, is it true?” He asked me.

    “Mwansa is it true you did not get married”

    Tears quickly ran down my face as as I looked at him helplessly.

    “If you have someone already its fine I will understand” I said as I cried.

    “Oh look at you.. My heart has and will always have one woman. I love you Mwansa and I have failed to move on.”

    Atusaye hugged me really tight as tears fell down my cheeks.

    “I never stopped believing Mwansa, I never did. I knew if its meant to be it would be” he said as he held me tight.

    I cried so bad and now Atusaye also started shedding tears.

    “My love finally.. Mwansa my love finally” he said calmly as he rubbed my back

    See not even California, Paris, Vegas or Italy can stop real love

    CHAPTER 25

     “Stop crying honey let’s go to my house we need to talk” he said.

    I wiped my tears and let go of him. Atusaye pecked my forehead before escorting me to my car.

    “Please just drive behind me” he said.

    Atusaye took off and I followed him behind steadily until we reached at a beautiful house. I was amazed but i kept my cool. The house was beautiful inside, he had great choice. The interior decor was superb.

    “Honey take a sit. Can I get you anything?” He asked me.

    “Yes … Water…” I said.

    “OK I will be right back” he said.

    I sat waiting patiently and he brought water on a tray with some juice and snacks.

    “This is your house too.. Feel free” he said.

    Those words got my heart dancing.

    “Thank you..” I responded.

    “My sister and her husband moved, I should have mentioned” he said.

    “Oh… Actually I was wondering why you didn’t mention” I responded.

    “A lot was going on through my mind at that point… Where do we start from?” He asked.

    “anywhere am listening..” I said.

    “Mwansa I know I was too fast and I may be even now… Please stop me if I start rushing you. I had just never felt so complete, Claudine used to drive me crazy and meeting you just felt like an answered prayer” he said.

    “Talk to me honey…” He said.

    “I don’t know what to say. I’m just overwhelmed” I responded.

    “Mwansa do you believe in the power of love? He asked me.

    “Why do you ask?” I responded

    “Do you believe love can make one do crazy things?” He asked.

    “I do believe in love am just not sure about the riddles” I said

    “I truly loved you Mwansa and I still do” he said

    “I know but I was so scared. I had always been an outcast and here I was being loved by someone like you, it scared me” I said.

    “Mwansa you’ve never been an outcast to me, I’ve always loved you. God didn’t see you as an outcast either, that’s why you are now a great writer.

    ” you know about my book?” I asked in shock

    “Who doesn’t?.. Its really good” he responded before going to get his copy of my book.

    “God has been great….. Every step of the way” I said.

    “Just give me a minute, am coming” he said before getting up again. I was wondering what he was going to get this time

    Atusaye showed up a little while later and he asked me to get up as we would be going somewhere. All attempts to get him to say where we were going failed so I watched him patiently.

    Atusaye had been driving for almost an hour and I still had no idea where we were going.

    Finally we got to a house where he pulled over.

    “Let’s go in honey” he said.

    “What are we doing here?” I asked him.

    “Honey lets go in” he said again.

    I slightly opened the door before I changed my mind.

    “I don’t feel comfortable, please go-ahead” I said

    “OK I will be back” he said.

    It wasn’t long before he went in that Clara came out. My heart skipped, I didn’t know what to do as she approached the vehicle. Clara had a child on her back and I figured she was now a mother.
    How would I explain my running away?

    Clara came straight to open my door.

    “Mulamu tuleyeni mu nganda. (Sister in-law let’s go in the house)” she said with a smile.

    “How are you?” She added.

    “Am fine…” I responded as I came out of the car.

    Clara hugged me like a sister and I felt welcome. She didn’t treat me like a maid neither did she act surprised that Atusaye had brought me to her.

    “Its been long… We missed you dearly. You couldn’t even call??? We only heard about you through Atusaye when he complained” she said.

    “Anyway let’s go inside.. Will talk more.” She said.

    Before we could make our first step she stopped me and asked if I had a chitenge (zambian wrapper).

    “No I don’t, “.. I responded.

    For a moment I wondered why she asked me that. Maybe she didn’t want me to meet her husband dressed in jeans.

    ” OK here have mine, you know being the first time you are visiting your mother in-law …. ” she said.

    “Mother in-law? She’s here?” I asked in panic as I quickly tied the chitenge.

    “Yes dear, this is her home. Wait.. Did he not tell you that you are coming to see her?. I’m just visiting here myself” she said.

    The look on my face said it all. I was so nervous.

    “Don’t worry dear, Atusaye is crazy how can he scare you like this?” She asked me as we walked.

    “My aunties are also visiting. But don’t worry my mums family is very nice. Atusaye is probably just excited about you meeting mum.. Mum has tirelessly heard about you.. In fact we have have all heard about you tirelessly” Clara said.

    “I don’t know what to do” I said nervously.

    “Listen dear when we get to the door just kneel and when we walk a few steps again kneel” she said.

    “Oh Lord… Can you at least first call Atusaye I need to talk to him” I said

    “Oh come on.. I know those are your nerves talking, just do as I say” she said with an assuring smile

    I was so upset with Atusaye, what a way of welcoming me back into his life. If I did not love him so much I would have slapped him. The very first day and I was already going through such stress of meeting in-laws.

    Clara and i reached the door and i knelt down with my head facing down.

    I heard women ululating and money was dropped in front of me, Clara whispered that we had to walk and I got up. We walked a few steps and Clara said we kneel again. I followed the procedure until we got into the living room where she asked me to kneel before the chair and money was put on it before I sat.

    “Mwansa water will be brought before you, don’t drink before money is put. And just take a sip” Clara whispered.

    Just like she said a glass of water was put on a table before me and some money was put on the side. It was then that I took a sip of the water.

    Some words were uttered basically to welcome me and some praises were said. All this is tradition carried out when a bride to be meets her in-laws.

    “Dear we can go, don’t kneel just walk slowly outside” Clara whispered.

    I left the house and straight away got in the car .

    “You can talk now” Clara said as she burst out laughing.

    I was still stiff and just smiled.

    “Your brother is something else” I said with a smile.

    “He really is, don’t worry I will shout at him on your behalf.” She said.

    Atusaye stepped out of the house counting some money in his hands, obviously the money I made.

    “Huh baby we are rich he said as he entered the car.

    I felt like I could slap his face black and blue right there and then.

    ” if I did not love you so much I would have slapped you” I said.

    He obviously found it funny because he burst into laughter and Clara laughed too.

    “If I didn’t know better I would think you are not the Mwansa I saw in there. You were so humble” he giggled.

    I gave Clara her wrapper and she invited me to visit her house during the week for lunch which I agreed.

    “Please let’s go.. I’m starving” i said to Atusaye.

    ” i finally get to spoil my woman, .. What do you want for lunch honey?” He asked.

    I looked at him with a frown before responding “nshima!”

    “By the way let me have my money before you use it” I said.

    “OK my African queen… Nshima it is” he said

    “My money…” I reminded him again.

    “Pull it from the pocket” he said as he reversed the car.

    “Ah… Its fine then you can have it” I responded.

    “You are principled ayi? Your friends would have grabbed it with everything else in the trousers” he giggled.

    We both burst into laughter before waving at Clara.

    ” here you go bakashi bandi (my wife). You worked for it” he said as he handed me the money.

    And off we went for our first official date. Yes to have nshima on our first official date by a mini restaurant in town. I chose the location and he agreed.

    The restaurant wasn’t fancy at all but we enjoyed every moment of it as we had nshima with boiled chicken and okra. We had both experienced the good life but this was better than it all. Its that simplicity that made it even extra special.

    “Honey if we are ever broke.. I know I will forever trust you to be by my side” Atusaye said as we ate.

    “In poverty and wealth.. I will certainly be” I said….

    What can I say?.. I just love this man ????????????

    CHAPTER 26

    God had been amazing the last one month, aside reconciling with my true love I managed to sign a number of contracts for my book and I released the first movie.

    The Martin’s invited us to visit and Atusaye promised that we would travel as soon as he managed to sign off some property. Atusaye was in real estate and he was really good at selling houses, even property you would least expect to go.

    I was so glad that Atusaye involved me in his passion and I gladly took part. I would dress smartly to attend the board meetings and would advise him on how to upgrade property in case there was need to. I guess a man needs a woman like that by his side, we didn’t agree on everything but in the end it all worked out. I trusted Atusaye so much because he showed me love like no other and in fact I guess that’s why our enemies failed to target him, instead I was the target.

    #########

    Atusaye’s birthday was coming up and I was planning on surprising my right hand man. It was my first opportunity to do something great for him but I had no idea how to do so as Atusaye was really smart. It was hard to plan a surprise for him.

    I managed to get a planner, his name is Terry and he came in highly recommended as the best in the business. I was assured of nothing but the best. Terry and I met after work or during lunch and we would run through the birthday plans. We had no fixed schedule as I was very busy so he worked with my time.

    Terry was very jovial and even though I had a hard time understanding him, we got along really well.

    One evening after work Terry called me for the final touches and I met up with him at Intercontinental hotel where I planned on having the party. It was the day before the party and he was running me through the final touches.

    “So madam as I was saying…. the decor will look like that but we are going to add another touch of blue… Like you wanted. Do you like it?” He asked me as we moved around the hall.

    Terry came with two other men who helped set up the place just so I could have a clear view.

    “Yes of course I love it… In fact I want him to be blown away…” I said.

    As I was taken in the moment, the devil let hell loose and suddenly everything came crushing when Atusaye walked in yelling on top of his voice.

    I couldn’t understand what he was saying as I was shocked. I did not expect him to be there.

    “Honey what is going on?”.. I asked.

    “are you sure you want to know what is going on??????? Answer me!!!!!” He yelled.

    I burst into laughter because I really thought it was a joke.

    “Mwansa you dare laugh at such a situation????.. After all we’ve been through to together?” He said as his eyes teared up.

    “You dare plan a wedding behind my back????” He said angrily

    “A wedding?.. No no honey.. Please calm down I’m not sure you now what you saying” I interrupted

    Terry was quiet and I thank God because I wasn’t prepared for what would have happened if he spoke a word.

    Atusaye pulled out an envelop from his pocket and removed photos from it. He threw the photos at me and they went scattering in all directions.

    Every meeting I had with Terry was captured and I knew at this point it would be hard to convince Atusaye that it was all for him.

    Atusaye left us there as we picked the photos in shock.

    I felt a pain I had never felt before. It felt like hot flames where burning in my chest and I could almost smell the smoke escape through my mouth.

    Terry tried to comfort me and assured me he would talk to Atusaye but I cried bitterly, there I was standing and feeling very hopeless. A surprise for my man got me into trouble.

    I followed Atusaye but discovered that he wasn’t home, I waited for hours but he still did not show up. Perhaps he knew I would be there so he chose not to go home.

    I didn’t know who to blame for this, was it Stella or another enemy? Maybe Shane… I was so lost.

    I thought I had seen it all but no I hadn’t. The following morning I woke up to buzzes on my phone and I thought it was my fans. I had gained fame and prestige overnight but it wasn’t long before it came crushing.

    When I logged on to my Facebook account people had tagged me in a post where I was trending. The post read

    “Famous actress and book writer disappoints second man”

    It was a devastating article that had me questioning God why?

    The article went on describing how it was my second time abandoning a man on my way to the top and to top it all, the pictures were equally shared on social media.

    Surely life had to give me a break. What was it that I owed the world to the extent that I deserved this humiliation. Funny part is by the end of the day my post had a thousand likes, shares and comments. People surely do know how to hate.

    I drove to Clara’s house the following day just so I could explain myself. I also carried with me receipts of the payment I gave Terry for the surprise party.

    Clara let me in but it was as good as not visiting because she too did not believe me.

    There’s a famous saying “responding to rumours simply gives them life”. Well I wish i knew that before because I made another mistake by trying to exculpate myself and I only worsened the situation.

    ################

    It had been a week and I had decided to leave it all to God. Yes I was very sure that it was the best way to handle it, so I stepped aside of the problem and left it to God despite the fact that my face was recognised everywhere.

    The rumours still hadn’t gone down but I received good news, my manager informed me that our movie was nominated and I had to travel to Lagos Nigeria in two days.

    I missed my flight by 20 minutes and my manager was so angry as he had to leave me behind. Luckily, I could catch another flight in 4hours so I chose not to leave the airport.

    The wait was unbearable as I flipped through magazines. I never liked to be alone as it reminded me of what I was going through. Atusaye had asked for space so I was basically alone. I had cried myself to sleep nearly every other night and It was now tradition. My manager was my only source of comfort. When I thought he would end the contract with me like most people did, he told me I was just being prepared for better to come.

    ##############

    It was almost time for checking in at the airport and I got up to clear my luggage. As I stood in the queue I heard a couple giggling in the back and they sounded like love birds. They made me miss Atusaye a lot. I was filled with envy as i turned around slowly to look at them..

    Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to see………

    At the the end of the line was Stella standing hand in hand with Shane giggling like the perfect couple.

    This world is full of surprises…. but this was the biggest of them all.

    CHAPTER 27

    I was ready the to approach them but time wasn’t on my side, either I chose to fight and miss my flight or ignore it and chase after something that was still in my favour.

    I thank God we were not on the same flight.

    Lagos promised better things and a lot more. My manager picked me up from the Airport and I checked into a beautiful hotel. The first place I wanted to visit was Banana island.. The much talked about place.

    As I relaxed and reflected in my hotel suite Atusaye was on my mind and not because I missed him… Well of course I did. But really what I wanted was to move on. For good this time. Maybe love wasn’t for me… Perhaps I had to start afresh and focus on my life, without Atusaye.

    Amidst all the thoughts was the pressure of getting the award. What if I wasn’t good enough?.. No of course not. I was good enough. I just didn’t know about the rumours, they had circulated really fast like wild fire and I stood to lose this award based on those grounds.

    ###############

    “We need to get your outfit ready” my manager said as we had lunch.

    “Yes… I know. Do you think I will get it… I mean the award?” I said hesitantly.

    “Whether we get it or we don’t.. You have to stand with your head high..” He responded.

    “I really like your courage” I said.

    “No I like yours… You still chose to come out here even when you had every reason not to”. He said as he rubbed my shoulder

    ” thank you Ben.. Can we go now…” I said as I got up.

    The afternoon was spent preparing for the following days event. I had no time to get a designer so I had to pick out a dress from the store.

    Social media is a place I completely avoided, in fact I deactivate all my social media accounts to wait for the situation to normalise.

    The day of the awards was extremely busy. I travelled in complete chaos.. No makeup artist and didn’t even bother hiring one.

    ###############

    “We need to go..” My manger said as he waited on my door.

    “Just two more minutes and we’ll be there” I said.

    I had managed to dress myself for the event and was more than ready to walk the red carpet in style, if Atusaye was around… I wouldn’t be showing up alone. I thought.

    The flash flights and the fame couldn’t fill the void inside. I was a star but inside I was barely shining.

    “You need to put a smile on your face.. Remember everyone wants to see you and this is your chance to make the best of the mess. You hear me…?” My manager warned as we drove to the event.

    “Yes.. I do .. I hear you”.. I said.

    As I sat in the car viewing the beautiful lights of the city of Lagos I could hardly breath… A big lump chocked my throat and I was ready to cry but my manger noticed.

    ” Mwansa.. This is part of being at the top.. I wish I could say it is easy but no it isn’t. To achieve your goals isn’t easy… Many people wish they were you right now and as funny as it sounds even this mess….. others are envying you for it. Mwansa look at me… If you walk out there and face the crowd with courage… I can assure you the devil has failed”.. He said.

    Ben was right.. Despite knowing I had to answer many questions, I took the courage and stepped out of the car.

    Its like everyone was waiting to see me and hear from me.

    Cameras were in my face and microphones waiting to hear my explanation but I smiled and gave a short response each time.

    #############

    It wasn’t bad after all. I managed to get past the questions and I was now settled waiting for the awards to start.

    Finally after waiting for so long, the nominees were announced for the category where my movie was featuring… It was a tense moment waiting for the final announcement as Ben and I held our hands tight

    “Lord please let me scoop this, at least for all the humiliation I’ve been through. I deserve this my Jesus.” I said in my heart.

    For a moment I was numb and everything stopped as Ben shook me with excitement.

    “What? Did we get it?” I asked with extreme joy.

    “Of course we did! Let’s go… Let’s go” he screamed with joy.

    I stood up and we walked to the front.. It was the best day of my life and yes of course the tears were there. Plenty of them. God had given me much more than I could have asked for.

    Ben stepped aside as I walked up to the microphone.

    “I don’t know what to say…” I started..

    “Well first of all I want to thank the Almighty God because his grace…… Am sorry….. Give me a minute” I said as I stopped to cry for a moment

    “Get it together” I heard Ben whisper from the background.

    I cleared my thought and started afresh.

    “Yes as I was saying…. The Almighty God alone deserves the glory and praise because if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here…. Humiliation has been a plate I’ve eaten from everyday of my life.. But standing on this platform is proof that I serve a Mighty God. I serve a Mighty God…” I shouted.

    People cheered and gave me a standing ovation and I felt comforted. I didn’t see Atusaye coming to the front but I just realised he was on stage standing next to me and held my shoulder before taking the opportunity to say something.

    “Ladies and gentlemen I just wanted to officially clear the rumours. I am here and I am going nowhere” he said.

    While the crowd cheered Atusaye and i held hands as I wore a fake smile. Surely they had to be a reason for him to be there after his unexpected silence.

    ################

    My manager was extremely mad at me for even allowing Atusaye be close to me and we met to discuss it over breakfast the following day.

    “He said he was sorry for believing everything” I convincingly told Ben

    “Oh and you believed him!!!! What’s wrong with you? Are you that desperate to be in a relationship??!!” He yelled.

    “Ben calm down we are in a public place… He is still the man I love and I understand the place he was coming from when he fell for the lies” I said trying to convince him.

    “No please don’t even give me that excuse!!!! Your boyfriend is just after your money and fame!” Ben yelled.

    We were in a five star restaurant and he was yelling like he was talking to a child.

    “Listen my dear… You had the one time opportunity… Only one opportunity to get this man out of your life for good and you instead chose to welcome him back the moment he crawled back. This is your career, in the entertainment world relationships come and go. So put yourself together and forget about him” Ben said.

    I didn’t believe everything he said except one thing…

    Maybe he was right, maybe Atusaye was just after my money. But he had never asked me for a cent ever since we had been together. Was he waiting to marry me before he could have it all?

    Yes it made sense…. If the rumours had been going on for so long why then did he choose to forgive me now?..

    I mean now of all times?. It’s obviously because he knew I was now climbing to the top.

    Yes it made sense.

    What Ben didn’t know was that Atusaye had just dropped me at the hotel room the previous night and we didn’t even talk. However. We had agreed to meet over lunch to discuss our relationship.

    ############################

    “You look really look good Mwansa” Atusaye complimented as we arrived at the restaurant.

    “Thank you… I really appreciate.” I responded.

    We settled and ordered our food as we began to discuss.

    “Am sorry for believing everything I heard… I guess I was too fast” he said.

    “I understand….” I responded as I cleared my thoughts.

    “Does that mean you forgive me?” He asked.

    I cleared my throat and put the fork on the table.

    “Atusaye what do you take me for?” I asked bluntly as I stared into his eyes.

    “What do you mean by that Mwansa?… He asked me.

    “Look Atusaye I guess I would like to speak first..” I said

    “Yes honey you go first am listening” he said.

    “I know you think am foolish… But your games are too small for me I’ve been through a lot in life…”

    ” and I completely understand that” he interrupted.

    “Speak please what is it?” He asked me.

    “Atusaye… I just can’t. I mean … I know we love each other and everything but I can’t… Today its this, God knows what it will be tomorrow” I said as I became emotional.

    “I want to be with you … I really do but my suffering will never end if I choose you.. Can’t you see it?. Our enemies will keep showing up.. Anything to do with you is a risk Atusaye.. Its always been and I can’t do that anymore I deserve to be happy” I cried.

    Atusaye was shocked and he came close to me…

    Mwansa please listen to I’ve not been sleeping….

    “And you think I have?… You think I have Atusaye!!!!” I screamed in tears.

    We had to leave the restaurant because things were getting tense. I was angry and so was Atusaye.

    Atusaye took me to the hotel but he also wanted to stay over and talk. But i refused. I guess the only way I could truly be happy is to accept that my happiness was dependant on myself and not on other people. Especially not Atusaye.

    He however insisted on taking me to the airport the following morning and I agreed. We agreed to remain friends

    CHAPTER 28

    That night I hardly slept, Atusaye was out of my life but my heart was far from being at peace. I felt a grief inside and I couldn’t explain what it was. What surprised me was that i felt calm about Atusaye but something else felt strange inside. Maybe my mind was playing tricks on me.

    It was too much and slowly started becoming unbearable.

    I forced myself to sleep that night but I couldn’t and calling Atusaye was the last thing I wanted to do. I was going to see him the following morning anyway so I didn’t have to bother him.

    I kept tossing and turning in my bed and I finally decide to start browsing through old pictures in my phone. Most of my pictures were take with Atusaye and now I felt worse

    Luckily when it was almost 2am I managed to dose off and slept

    **********************************************

    I rushed to shower the moment I got up, it was only 40minutes before Atusaye could arrive and I didn’t want to delay him.

    After getting ready and making sure everything was packed, I checked out of the hotel and waited in the lounge while i had some coffee.

    It was time for him to come and he did not show up. I waited for an hour to no avail.

    It was unlike Atusaye to behave like that, he never disappointed me like that. Atusaye was one smart man with time and he always teased me when I was late.

    The worst part was that I did not have the line he was using in Nigeria. However, he had mentioned the hotel he was booked in so I took a taxi that took me there.

    Panicking and not knowing what to do I rushed to the reception and asked what room he was in.

    The receptionist mentioned that Atusaye was a resident at that hotel but didn’t come back the previous night.

    After begging the receptionist, she gave me the number he was using and I decided to call him.

    The phone rang the first time with no answer. I called again and on the fourth attempt someone picked up.

    “Halo.. How are you related to the owner of the phone?” A female voice answered.

    I was annoyed and ready to yell. Was atusaye having an affair in Nigeria? Or did he come with another woman?.

    If this was his other woman, I was ready to stage a show in Nigeria and I would be deported back to Zambia in no time. How could he move on so soon…

    “I’m his wife and you are?” I asked rudely.

    “Well madam you need rush to the main hospital right now. Your husband was in an accident last night..” The woman said.

    My heart crushed and I suddenly became weak.

    “Madam can i talk to him please” I begged.

    “He is in too much pain and he can’t talk right now, just be here as fast as you can”.. The lady said before hanging up.

    With the help of the receptionist, I rushed to Atusaye’s room and I picked his bag before dashing out to the hospital.

    ################################

    My heart bled seeing the man I love so dearly lying down speechless and in so much pain. He made no movement or expression to show that he had seen me. His eyes just stared in my direction.

    I became so weak and tears rolled down my cheeks. I cried bitterly until the nurse moved me outside.

    ” you are not supposed to cry like that. Pray for him. You have the power as his wife to stand in the gap for him. Don’t mourn in front of him.. He may not be able to move or talk to you but he can clearly hear you. If you know his favourite song sing it to him gently but most importantly pray for him” the nurse said.

    “What is wrong with him nurse? Is he going to be OK? I mourned.

    ” my dear look at me.. Do you believe in God?” She asked me.

    “Yes I do with all of my heart” I responded.

    “Do you trust that he can do exelceedinhly and abundantly above all that you can ever ask?”

    “Yes… I do…” I cried.

    “Then wipe those tears and ask for Gods strength.. Go in there and be strong for your spouse. Pray my dear pray” she said.

    When the nurse walked away I said a short panicking prayer and called Clara.

    Clara couldn’t hold herself and she burst into tears. She assured me that they would take the first plane to Nigeria.

    I went back to check on Atusaye and as I looked at him I regretted asking him to be my friend. How could I do that?

    I sat by the bedside and held his hand.

    “Honey.. I give up.. I give up on all life has thrown at me… I admit today that you are the man God has destined for me and if you can hear me Atusaye I want you to know that I love you. I love you with all of my heart. I love you so much that I am willing to take your place in this bed and bear the pain for you”.. I said calmly as tears rolled down my cheeks.

    ” my love, my husband to be.. Get well soon .. How will we have a wedding with you in this state..” I cried.

    Without even realising it, I calmly started singing Israel’s song “hold on” . The song Atusaye had dedicated to me when we first fell in love.

    “Fili eko tuleya nigwililile chabe baby… Ma pressure ni normal basiye chabe batiseke..”

    My eyes were closed and as I sang tears rolled down my cheeks… all the way down to my neck.

    What more pain could surpass this?. You really never know how strong you are until being strong is your only option.

    I felt a slight movement as I was still holding Atusaye, it felt like he moved his finger. But I continued singing in disbelief.

    “Suddenly I felt him grip my hand really tight and I opened my eyes.

    ” nurse! Nurse!” I called out.

    The nurse came running with the doctor.

    “He’s moving.. His moving..” I shouted.

    The doctor commanded the nurse to take me outside while he started working on Atusaye. I could see Atusaye struggling to breath and I mourned terribly as the nurse led me outside.

    I threw myself on the lawn as I cried our to God in prayer.

    “Jesus!!! Jesus!!!.. Save him please!. Save the man I love so much or take me too. Why did you give him to me if you knew you would never allow us the chance to be happy??? Answer me Lord!!!!!” I mourned.

    I said so many things as I begged God to save Atusaye’s

    A woman ran to me and she comforted me. I couldn’t hear everything she was saying as she wasn’t very fluent in English but she was asking me to be strong.

    When I was no longer crying the woman asked to leave as she needed to get back to work, she was a cleaner at the hospital.

    Thoughts remained flashing on my mind of Atusaye in our happiest moments and even the saddest moments.

    I was holding Atusaye’s jacket in my hands that he wore the night of the accident and it was ripped badly. I threw it over my legs that were getting cold and I was astonished to see something fall out of the jacket.

    It was a small red box.

    When I opened it inside was a silver and diamond ring. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I pulled it out and noticed it had engravings inside that read “I love you Mwansa”.

    This man loved me so much and I had been so blind to see. Why was our love tested so much?.

    Pain filled my heart again and tears started falling. I slipped the ring on my finger and kissed it.

    “Madam… Madam… Please come with me” I heard the nurse call out.

    I quickly wiped my tears, got up and rushed after her.

    CHAPTER 29

    As I rushed behind the nurse, fear paralysed my mind.

    Was I rushing for good news or bad news? Along the corridor I saw a woman mourning and asking God for an explanation. She had just lost a loved one, was I going to be in the same situation soon?.

    The thought of it all frightened me so badly that I started reciting PSALMS 23. Davids confidence in God through that prayer calmed my spirit.

    The walk along the hallway felt like the longest walk. Atusaye was on my mind and I was praying with every fibre in my veins that he survives this accident.

    Finally the nurse made a turn, it wasn’t the ward I hard earlier left Atusaye in but it was another private ward.

    Wondering whether to question the nurse what was happening, I bit my lips and folded my arms. I was feeling very cold. It wasn’t cold but the fear brought a very unpleasant breeze.

    I hated the sight of hospitals, they all seemed like death traps to me and this one was no different.

    “Madam sit over there am coming” the nurse said as she pointed towards a bench that was near the ward. She entered the ward alone and as soon as she was in, a doctor walked out. Now this frightened me more.

    “Doctor… Doctor wait.. How’s the patient?” I asked as I ran after him.

    “Take a sit madam you will be informed soon” he responded as he continued walking.

    Did this man know how I was feeling?. Soon sounded like forever. Besides he knew so I don’t understand why he wouldn’t just tell me.

    “Madam.. You can come and see the patient” the nurse said.

    I couldn’t read her face, but she called me to see the patient. Meaning he had to be alive at least.

    I entered quickly and walked to the beside. It was a private room so he was alone.

    Atusaye’s eyes were closed but I could tell he was breathing, his face expressionless. He looked like he was really tired and so I avoided waking him up.
    Gently, I dragged a chair and sat by the bedside. I began to recite prayers in silence while I looked at him.

    **********************************************

    It had been 4hours and Atusaye was still in deep sleep, the nurses told me he was on strong medication to ease the pain. He needed to do an operation but first he needed to feel better otherwise it would be too unbearable for him.

    I didn’t want to leave his side, even just to use the toilet. The nurses advised me to rest as it was now night time but I didn’t want to sleep. How could I when the love of my life was in that condition?.

    I watched the day turn into night and the night turn into day but my dear Atusaye was still in deep sleep. He neither winked nor move a muscle, not even smile at me or even frown. At this point I preferred the arguments to seeing him in that state. Every minute was critical, I couldn’t shut my eyes. I concentrated a lot on his chest as his shirt gently vibrated. It made me aware that he was still breathing, still holding on to me.

    The nurse and doctor came in for their morning round, I was asked to step outside. I didn’t want to but I obeyed and slowly walked outside. My body was fatigued, and I felt weak.

    The hunger had now hit me so i went to the hospital canteen and bought some soup. After taking 3 hipped tablespoons of the hot chicken soup my throat blocked. I couldn’t swallow any further.. I couldn’t eat knowing Atusaye was hungry, he had been lying in that bed undergoing treatment yet unable to eat or drink. What was the medicine Working on? An empty stomach?.

    Tears clouded my eyes and in one blink my face was wet. I cried profoundly, questioning God in my heart when this suffering would end.

    I got up leaving the soup ball on the bench and took a tour of the hospital, praying and hoping things could get better. I was in a foreign land where I went to get my recognition but it came with a lot of stress.

    As I decided to go back to the hospital ward my phone rang. I couldn’t recognise the number but I could tell it was Nigerian.

    “Halo…” I answered calmly.

    “Halo my dear its Clara. How do we get to the hospital?” She asked.

    I gave them directions and went to check on Atusaye as I waited for them to come.

    The nurse cornered me before I could reach the ward.

    “He is awake, don’t stress him with conversation.. Make sure he rests” the nurse said.

    Atusaye’s eyes where closed but I could tell he noticed the presence of a person by his bedside as he slowly opened his eyes.

    I moved the chair closer to his bedside and I noticed his face become bright and the left corner of his lips bended into a gentle smile.

    He was restless but he still smiled at me.

    “I love you honey” I whispered.

    Atusaye’s smile widened and he nodded his head before closing his eyes again.

    I held on to his hand and leaned my head on his bed as I too fell asleep.

    **********************************************

    I was woken up by a loud mourning voice and my heart skipped. Clara was in the room with Atusaye’s mother who was screaming on top of her voice.

    I looked at Atusaye and he was still sleeping peacefully so I gently left his hand as I tried to advice Clara to take mum outside.

    “What are you saying!!!!!” Atusaye’s mother yelled.

    “You are a witch and if my son listened to me, we wouldn’t be here!!!!!” she mourned.

    Those words echoed in me and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I was hurt but Atusaye was my biggest concern at that point.

    The nurse came in and Atusaye’s mother was taken outside.

    Atusaye started coughing uncontrollably and the nurse called the doctor. They said he was frightened and that increased his breathing causing him to cough badly. They managed to stabilise him and I finally heard him say a word….. it was my name.

    He called out my name.

    The nurse asked me to hold his hand so he could be aware of my presence which I did and he looked at me with a smile.

    Clara was indifferent towards me and as we sat by Atusaye’s bedside together, I could tell she did not want me there.

    I rested my head on Atusaye’s bed again as I held on to him and dosed off.

    Suddenly a rough tap on my shoulder woke me up.

    “Mum wants to see her son but you have to leave first, she doesn’t want you here” I heard Clara say.

    I couldn’t believe what I heard so I looked clearly at Clara who was seated next to me by the bedside.

    “I said mum wants to come and see her only son. Can you please excuse us?” Clara said rudely.

    I smiled gently trying to brush the anger away.

    “If mum wants to see him let her come in, Atusaye does not want me to leave his side so I can’t go anywhere” I responded calmly.

    “You have managed to make a fool out of everyone in this family but not me and certainly not my mother, maybe Mrs. Martins who welcomed you into her house after picking you from God knows where”.. She said angrily.

    I did not respond but just took in a deep sigh and turned around to look at Atusaye.

    After a moment of silence Clara left the ward.

    A lot of pain stirred up inside but I let it go with a short prayer.

    Suddenly Clara bulged in this time with her mother and the nurse.

    The nurse came to me and politely asked me to follow her outside.

    I opposed as I didn’t want to leave Atusaye’s side.

    “madam I know how you feel, you’re the wife but she is the mother. Please give her a chance to see her son” the nurse said.

    “Wife???? No! Make no mistake she is not the wife but a maid who has made a living by reaping off men. ” Atusaye’s mother shouted.

    “Its OK madam keep your voice down” the nurse interrupted.

    “This woman here actually has another man” Clara yelled in the background.

    As all this chaos was taking place Atusaye was asleep peacefully while I shed tears

    “Clara you know that’s not true” I cried.

    Clara looked at me disgustingly from head to toe, you could tell my plea meant nothing to her.

    “Dear let’s go…” The nurse said as she held my hand.

    Despite trying to resist, the nurse insisted i go.

    I cried bitterly as I let go of Atusaye’s hand and followed the nurse outside.

    CHAPTER 30

    I sat on the bench for an hour shedding tears and wishing I did not find myself in this predicament.

    The nurse came and sat next to me as I wept.

    “Dear I’ve seen you crying for hours. Don’t you get tired?.. I’m sorry I don’t mean to be rude but I have never seen a woman so emotional. Instead of praying for your partner and keeping the faith, why are you crying?” She asked me.

    “I have been through too much” you would never understand..” I said.

    “I need you to tell me every single thing but first the patients bill has to be settled. Who is responsible for thar?” She asked.

    “I will settle it how much is the bill?” I asked.

    “You have to go to the accounts office. I can take you there” she said.

    With the help of the nurse I went to the Accounts office.

    The nurse explained that if all went well Atusaye may not need an operation, however, if their suspicions were right then he might have a dislocated knee.

    After I settled the bill I sat outside and got a pen to draft all that I had been through, starting from life alone up until I met Atusaye. It was a painful story to write.

    ################################

    The nurse who spoke to me had just signed out of her shift and she asked me to take a walk with her around the hospital while we discussed.

    As I narrated my story to her, I noticed she was fighting back tears but she assured me that all would be well.

    Although she insisted that I go and pass a night at her house, I still wanted to be with Atusaye so I passed on the offer.

    The nurse directed me to a chapel within the hospital and I went there to pray. The whole night I offered Atusaye’s life into Gods hands and I asked for the grace of God to rest upon our lives.

    I constantly reminded myself of Jeremiah 33v3 and I called God holding him by his word and sincerely trusting that he would not fail me.

    After praying for so long and losing every strength I had left, I lay on the floor facing the altar as I went on singing praises.

    I heard someone walk into the chapel but I maintained my position.

    “I knew I would find you here” I heard the voice say.

    It was the kind nurse.

    “How are you madam and why are you back?” I asked her as I stretched myself.

    “Dear its morning, I have a morning shift” she said.

    “Is it?” I asked in shock.

    “Yes I knew you lost track of time, you look fatigued. Did you sleep?” She asked me.

    “No…” I calmly responded.

    “Dear I have good news for you but first sit here with me you look tired” she said as she sat on a bench.

    When I was settled she looked at me and smiled.

    “Your husband.. I mean your partner…”

    “Nurse you can call him my husband its fine” I corrected her.

    “Yes…. Your husband will not under go an operation. You must have really prayed because even I was in a state of shock when the doctor said that.” she said.

    “Huh?? Are you telling the truth??” I said with excitement as my eyes became teary.

    “There you go again dear… Why? Why are you crying?” She asked me as she put her hand on my shoulder.

    “I’m so sorry I don’t mean to… I’m just happy.. Please can I see him?” I asked in tears.

    “I will make a plan so your mother in-law does not see you. Now wipe your tears.. I will be right back” she said.

    The nurse hurriedly left and I waited patiently.

    She came in after a while and asked me to follow her.

    Atusaye was seated upright and I couldn’t believe it. He was still a little weak but was so happy to see me.

    I hugged him really tight and he cried on my shoulder, I couldn’t help but cry too.

    “Why did you leave my side? Even when I was weak, I could feel your presence and I was comforted by your presence” He said

    “Honey I may have left your side but i carried you with me. I have been in the hospital chapel praying for you.” I said..

    Atusaye and I were still in a hugging position.

    “Baby I’m weak but I will be OK, I promise you. I won’t leave your side” I heard him say.

    I helped him lay back in bed and I covered him half way. We held hands and talked. He was very happy although he was still weak.

    The nurse came in and said his mother wanted to come back in but Atusaye insisted that if she wanted to come in, she had to be OK with me being around.

    The nurse went and communicated this with her but she refused to come in unless I left.

    “Honey I think let me go outside. I will be back later let mum see you first” I said to Atusaye.

    “No honey don’t leave my side” he insisted as he held onto my hand.

    After close to an hour his mother and sister decided to join in and they sat. None of them said a word to me but Atusaye talked to me when he could.

    Often occasions his mother interrupted and asked me to shut up so Atusaye could rest but eventually Atusaye started another conversation and we got talking again.

    It was almost time for lunch and Atusaye asked me to go and get him food. He wanted okra and chicken just like the meal we had on our first official date.

    Luckily, the nurse offered her kitchen and she asked her brother to pick me up.

    I showered And changed at her house and quickly prepared the food.

    **********************

    “Honey you’re back. I was waiting for you” Atusaye said with a smile.

    He looked much stronger and happy.

    The stares I was getting from his family made me nervous but I stayed strong for my dear Atusaye.

    After dishing the food Atusaye insisted that we eat together and I joined him on the bed as we ate.

    “Mum.. This is my wife” Atusaye said to his mother as ate.

    “Elo efyo cakulisha icipuba ici fikali” his mum said
    (Whatever charm this fool has fed you is really strong)

    I could see she was very angry but I did what I had to do and ignored her.

    “Honey can I give you some water?” I asked him.

    Atusaye’s sister rolled her eyes as I gave him water to drink and she got up leaving the ward angrily. I wish she understood that I was innocent in all this matter.

    Atusaye insisted that I go and rest at home that night and I went to sleep back at his hotel room. Things were looking good and I talked to him before i fell asleep. He insisted I go early in the morning so we have breakfast together.

    The following morning just like I promised, I was there on time and I got some breakfast from the canteen which Atu and I ate together.

    The doctor then suggested that Atu starts physiotherapy for at least 2weeks before he could be discharged.

    CHAPTER 31

    The week that followed I witnessed Gods grace, indeed we serve a mighty God.

    I had prayed without ceasing calling on God everyday. Indeed prayer without ceasing is the only solution to move stubborn mountains.

    Atusaye’s physiotherapy sessions went well and he was due for discharge. He was fine but the doctor suggested he does not return to doing strenuous exercise quickly. The wonderful nurse I met gave me her number and she promised to stand with me in prayer all the time. I found a mother in her that I never had. On the day of our flight I packed up everything and together with Atusaye’s family, we checked in at the airport.

    Atusaye’s mother and sister had become more polite after they saw the sacrifices I made. I paid off his hospital bill and I even hired the most recommended physiotherapist while we were in Nigeria. I believe all this change was as a result of the war I created in prayer. I prayed so hard even for our return to Zambia to be the beginning of new things.

    Our flight landed just in time to catch up with one of my enemies, just like God had planned it.

    That same day Stella was returning from the united states as a convict. Yes… A convict and police were ready to receive her at the airport. As we waited for our vehicle to come I heard a voice call my name. To my surprise it was Stella, she was between two police officers.

    She begged the officers to let her talk to me and she came where we were seated. Stella had been used by Shane to set me up. Well I can’t say “used” because they had something in common. They both wanted to see me suffer.

    Well as they landed in America Shane did not keep his word of giving Stella a better life hence she resorted to drug trafficking until she was finally caught on her way to Cameroon. All this happened within a period of one month. Karma is quick when you pray.

    Shane did not go unpunished either, his own punishment was being swindled by Linda Pitt. The clever Linda Pitt got away with everything. As they arranged to marry in America and live happily ever after, Shane sold the house and his belongings in Zambia including the Benz that was once mine. The money was forwarded to Lindas account in America before Shane could join her. Stella was the fool who followed Shane blindly not knowing he had planned to dump her there. Well they both had another thing coming because Shane damped Stella and Linda swindled Shane. All this news was narrated to me by Stella who begged the cops to give her a few minutes to talk to me. I was totally shocked. I just couldn’t believe my ears.

    I should have been angry but I truly felt pity so did Atusaye but Stella’s fate was no longer in our hands but the law.

    Atusaye’s mother knelt before me at the airport crying and asking for forgiveness when she learnt what Stella had done to me. Clara was very sorry too and she failed to forgive herself but I forgave her. I knew those crocodile tears were only because they knew Atusaye would not give up on me and either they accepted me or risked their relationship with him.

    I hadn’t talked to Ben my manager for almost a month so I decided to call him as soon as we arrived at Atusaye’s house. I wanted to let him know I was in town so he could make me available for upcoming projects. To my surprise Ben was not answering. I called everyone I knew who could link me to him and all I was told was that he had not returned from Nigeria. That came as a shock as he left Nigeria just after the awards.

    Atusaye advised me to put in a missing report and we did that together. The cops in Nigeria immediately started looking for Ben.

    The month that followed Atusaye and I usually went for walks together just to help him get better. Day by day he improved and he soon went back to his usual sports.

    *********************

    ONE BEAUTIFUL FRIDAY EVENING

    I was just getting ready to go for my morning prayer walk, A habit I had adopted all through Atusaye’s illness. As i got ready, I received a call.

    “Halo honey are you home?” Atusaye asked me.

    “Yes I am actually..” I responded.

    “OK great.. I sent my driver to pick you up” he said.

    “I was just about to have my prayer walk can he come an hour from now?” I asked.

    “OK my praying woman. Make sure you pray for us” he said.

    I was a bit shocked because Atusaye had mentioned that he would be busy so I didn’t think he would call.

    I got my bottle of water and set off on my walk. That day I prayed for a lot of things but most importantly for Ben. I really hoped he was OK and would soon be back home. I felt responsible for his missing.

    After the prayer walk, I went home and got ready to be picked up. At the back of my kind I was imagining dinner because Atusaye liked to have lunch with me whenever he was free.

    I hurried to the gate just about the time Atusaye had mentioned. To my surprise Mr and Mrs Martin’s were in the car outside and I was so shocked.

    “Dear don’t be afraid..” Mrs martins said as she came to hug me.

    I was so happy, I loved that woman so much. I owed her a lot for saving me from my life. Mr Martin’s hugged me too and I got in the car. They were both happy and we talked all the way. I was still wondering what this was about though.

    “Atusaye will join us at the mall. There’s a new movie showing we thought you might be interested ” Mrs Martin’s said.

    I agreed but still wondered why we would be going to the cinema, was the movie so important? I just wanted to talk to them all night.

    “Mwansa we are here” I heard Mrs martins say to me as my eyes focussed on my phone

    “Oh ok” I said with a smile before packing my phone away.

    It was a bit chilly outside but the whether was just perfect. We got some corn at the entrance and then walked to the cinema which was already dark. People were settled inside and we found a slot on top where we could sit. I quickly got my phone to text Atusaye when we settled, I was so excited and I couldn’t wait to talk to him.

    “Mwansa the movie is about to begin” I heard Mrs Martin’s whisper to me.

    “OK mum”.. I responded.

    ” Mwansa.. I’m your sister ” she corrected me.

    At least that about her didn’t change. She was still as nice as I could remember. However, everything had changed. If i didn’t know better I would have thought she was American. What shocked me though was Israel’s song that started playing through the loud speakers of the cinema. The song “hold on” . This song always spoke to my heart.

    “What a coincidence” I thought as I softly sang along to the song and focussed on the screen that was just white.

    Suddenly some words came on the screen and they read:

    “I will still choose her… Any day, any time”

    “Is that the title of the movie?” My blonde self thought.

    The song was still playing on replay and I continued silently singing along. The large screen suddenly showed my picture while I was eating nshima. It was a photo taken by Atusaye on our first date.

    At this point, I couldn’t understand what was happening and I looked at Mrs Martin’s but she was very focussed looking at the screen and maintaining a smile. The next picture was me standing holding my award, it was taken in Nigeria. Then followed by photos I took with Atusaye in hospital and Many more photos followed that I took with Atusaye. I was an emotional wreck, tears ran down my cheeks like the victorial falls. It certainly wasn’t my birthday so what was this surprise for?

    I felt Mrs martins touch my hand as it rested on my lap.

    “Brace yourself” she whispered.

    As the last photo came to a pose I heard a voice through the speakers say”ladies join me in asking the most beautiful woman on earth to marry me”..

    It was still dark as Atusaye’s words echoed through the speakers.

    “Mwansa Yande my Queen… Make me the happiest man alive by officially accepting that ring on your finger. Please be my wife…..” Atusaye said through the speakers.

    Suddenly the lights went on and I saw Atusaye standing in front with a bunch of roses and he slowly knelt down. I walked to the front very nervous, shaking and crying. All attention on me in the cinema.

    I couldn’t utter the words but I just nodded my head and he removed the ring and asked me again before he slipped the ring back on my finger. The people cheered so loud almost like it was a football match.

    We hugged really tight and kissed right there in front of the crowd. My Atusaye finally asked me to marry him.

    Atusaye held the microphone and said…

    ” thank you fresh view cinemas for making this possible and thank you everyone present here for accepting to take part in my engagement. Thank you so much and goodnight”

    When we stepped outside, I saw Clara and Joy and they came to hug me.

    “Congratulations” they screamed.

    I couldn’t believe it, seeing Joy again felt so good. That wasn’t the end of the surprises. Atusaye presented me keys as we walked to the top car park from the cinema.

    Yes, keys to a brand new Jeep white in colour with a red ribbon on top.

    I was jumping up and down like crazy and thankfully Atusaye had hired a professional camera to capture the moment. l

    And to think that I was almost giving up. Oh what a mighty God. WHAT A MIGHTY GOD.. !!!!

    CHAPTER 32

    kindly ignore mistakes”
    Atusaye and I travelled to the united States with the Martin’s to celebrate our engagement but most importantly, I wanted to get a princes wedding gown by Pinina and I found the perfect dress.

    I didn’t know what to put together when planning for the special day, all along i knew I wanted a fairytale wedding but the time finally came and I was blank.

    Clara suggested she knew a planner who could help and she was right. The man knew what he was doing.

    I was so calm through the planning process, no stress whatsoever. I was just glad that i was getting married to the man of my dreams.

    Despite everything I went through, I really wanted to have my uncle walk me down the aisle. Unfortunately he was still in prison so Mr. Martins took that gap and filled in for the father I never had.

    **********************************************

    The morning of the wedding was so peaceful, I woke up feeling very emotional. I couldn’t believe I was finally going to be with the love of my life, i had really suffered and now I was a few hours away from being a wife.

    Atusaye was just that gift I needed from above and he came at the perfect time.

    The matron who happened to be Mrs. Martin’s was very helpful. She made sure I was dressed on time and she kept me calm. She also made sure everything was sorted.

    We spent a night at Clara’s house, she hosted us and took care of our sleeping and food arrangement. I was marrying into a wonderful family that was so selfless and this was comforting, despite what the devil ploted in Nigeria, I managed to reconcile with Clara and my mother in-law.

    Joy and faith were in charge of makeup and they worked their magic on our faces while keeping mindful of time as they too were on the lineup. My bridesmaids included Clara, Joy, Faith and Joy (Atusaye’s sister)

    ***********************
    When we were all ready I gathered all my bridal party in one place because i had something important to say.

    “I would like to thank you all for being a part of my life, each one of you has had a very important part to play in my life. As you know my life has been a roller coaster, I’ve had so many ups and downs.. The downs being many but all in all I thank God. Today I want to thank God because he has shown his mercy. I know marriage is not easy but with God at the centre i know i will enjoy every moment. I want us to pray.. Please pray for me as I take this journey” I said emotionally.

    “I agree my dear and I think we should pray now and for your husband too. I know my brother and I have no doubt he will make you a happy wife.” Mrs Martin’s said as she rubbed my shoulder.

    Clara spread a mat in the bedroom and I knelt down there while my bridesmaids surrounded me as they held hands. Mrs. Martin’s led into a strong prayer and everyone joined in, it was strong, powerful and touched every area including our unborn children.

    When Mrs. Martin’s concluded the prayer a breath of fresh air filled the room and I was calm and peaceful. It was finally happening… I was going to get married in less than an hour.

    Mrs Martin’s dropped my veil and handed me my bouquet, the most emotional part of my morning was being covered under the veil.

    As I slowly walked out my bridesmaids ululated. My heart was overjoyed. This was me… Mwansa Yande finally getting married, leaving behind the horrible life I had led. Each step reminded me of the small chicken run I grew up in. The smell of chicken feed and chicken manure came back.. The faith and hope I had in having a better life clouded my mind, the sleepless nights, tears and hungry days. If this God isn’t to be praised then I don’t know who deserves the praise.

    I was a maid in ripped clothes without anything to my name but now I was not only independent but also getting married to a wonderful man. I was an outcast but God still saw it fit that I be called his own.

    Who wouldn’t want to serve a God like that?.

    **********************

    As the vehicle moved all I could think about was Atusaye, I couldn’t wait to see his face and his look. Mrs Martin’s sat next to and she kept reminding me to breathe and take in the moment.

    The vehicle finally pulled over at the venue of the marriage blessing ceremony.

    When I was informed the bridesmaids had settled inside my heart suddenly started racing but I had to be calm.

    Mr. Martins came to open the door and he held my hand . We slowly walked to the chapel entrance.

    “You’re nervous relax” Mr Marin’s whispered as we stood at the entrance. The bridesmaids had just made their way in and it was almost our turn to enter.

    As I stared at the chapel door and imagined just how Atusaye was smiling it made me feel better and calm.

    The doors slowly opened and the celebrant asked everyone to stand up to welcome the bride…… The bride who happened to be myself. Mwansa Yande was finally going to be a wife.

    The keyboard finally started to play “here comes the bride”

    While holding on to Mr Martin’s we walked slowly into the beautifully decorated chapel. Just how I imagined it, the ceremony was peach and white. Material hang from the ceiling and it looked beautiful.

    My princess Pinina wedding gown was glowing with the crystals flashing as people admired. The neck piece and tiara were all shipped from the USA….. just simply amazing.

    I looked up to peep and Atusaye was facing the front, he clearly heard not to look behind until he was asked to. I could see his hands make fists as if he was nervous.

    “Awwww he must be anxious” I thought

    *********************

    “Who gives this Lady away in marriage?” The celebrant asked.

    “I do” Mr martins replied.

    When Atusaye got my hand from Mr. Martin’s I got so emotional but I contained the tears.

    “You look gorgeous honey” he whispered

    I smiled hearing those wonderful words coming from my husband to be.

    It was a beautiful service, the preaching touched my heart. Atusaye kept stealing glances at me and we smiled at each other often all through the service.

    ***********************
    THE VOWS

    ATUSAYE:: One boring afternoon I took a drive to relax my mind and refresh my thoughts. Little did I know that drive was going to be the beginning of something beautiful. That day i met a young lady, She looked very tired and frustrated with life. To me she was a diamond in the rough and I believed it the first time I set my eyes on her. From that moment I knew she was no ordinary girl and I told God if I drove back and found her there then I would be taking her home with me. I quickly informed my sister of this young lady I had finally found to help her with the chores. She agreed without hesitating and just like God had planned it…. I found her there. Mwansa my love no amount of pain that life has thrown at me has or can succeed in changing my feelings for you. Today I’m joining myself to you accepting that you are the only woman destined for me. I promise to love and always stand by you, through hard times and good times. I can’t afford to be away from you any longer my love. My promise to you is eternity of togetherness through the the laughter and the tears.

    ********

    I was emotional hearing Atusaye recite those words, knowing they came straight from his heart made it even extra special.

    The celebrant extended the mic towards me.

    “I wouldn’t want to be you right now … The pressure is on” the celebrant teased.

    The congregation laughed and ululated. Indeed the pressure was on, how could I ever top the beautiful vows Atusaye made.

    I cleared my throat and smiled. I knew Atusaye could see the smile from my veil because he smiled too.

    MY VOWS:: My love Atusaye.. you showed me a new side of life.

    # The emotions were too many so i stopped a little to gather myself #

    “Breath honey” I heard Atusaye whisper.

    Its like his words triggered the emotions more and tears trailed down.

    I smiled trying to block the tears but it was too late.

    “Atusaye you got me my first brand new dress as opposed to the hand me downs I grew up wearing. The first time I ever smelt good, you were behind it. You washed the dirt out of me and gave me courage to pursue my dreams… Just that alone gave me drive to work hard and one day be able to afford my own clothes and perfume. Today.. I can testify that God is indeed able. He really is faithful and because of him today I am getting married to my best friend, my motivator, my confidant and the most courageous man I know. He is my rock loving and shielding me through every storm. This man standing opposite me has taught me to love and trust again”

    At this time tears had already flooded my face and I was shaking.

    Atusaye equally broke down and the celebrant asked for a moment of silence to allow us calm down. It was very emotional.

    “God if I had to do this over again I would choose this path again” Atusaye whispered in between the tears

    The celebrant was amazed at the love we expressed for each other and he challenged the guests to believe in love. He said::

    “True love is patient and overcomes every storm”

    “What can I say? Who am I not to bless this union?” The celebrant added

    The rings were brought forward by Joy (Atusaye’s sister) who was my maid of honour. Having blessed the rings the celebrant handed one ring to Atusaye and asked him to repeat the vows of commitment.

    As Atusaye held the ring towards my finger I could tell he was still very emotional.

    “Mwansa take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity, in the name of the father and of the of the holy spirit”

    The crowd cheered really loud and now it was my turn. I kept reminding myself that it was really true and that it was really happening.

    Holding the ring toward his finger I repeated the words::

    “Atusaye take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity, in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy spirit. Amen”

    The ululating was loud as people clapped and congratulated us.

    The certificate was presented before us and we signed it with Mr and Mrs Martin’s standing as witness.

    The moment everyone was waiting for finally came.

    The celebrant cracked a few jokes before asking Atusaye to unveil his bride.

    “Atusaye as you unveil you bride say these words after me….”

    “Bone of my bone, flesh of my flash.. Her name is Mwansa Ruhai” Atusaye recited as he unwrapped my veil.

    “Ladies and gentleman by the power invested in me, I now introduce to you for the first time Mr and Mrs Ruhai!!!”

    The crowd rolled with cheers and laughter as Atusaye and i kissed.

    Well I must say that kiss was one of a kind.

    We both burst into laughter after the kiss because Atusaye wore all my lipstick.

    And just like that I was officially Atusaye’s wife.

    **********************************************

    We had just finished having lunch at Clara’s house after the studio photoshoot, it was almost time for the reception.

    Atusaye and i had a table set out for us privately where we had our lunch and the rest of the bridal ate in the dinning room.

    “Honey I need to change into my second dress” I said to Atusaye.

    “Oh that’s great then let me escort you” he responded.

    “Honey??” I responded shyly.

    “What? I am your husband..” he insisted as he winked at me.

    He had a silly smile on his face and he kept winking.

    “Oh honey stop it…. Can I at least worry about that after the wedding.. Please let me go alone” I insisted.

    Atusaye was clearly amazed by my persistence and it just made him more eager to escort me but he finally let me have my way.

    “You better get used to this arrangement” he giggled.

    The thought of just sharing a bed with Atusaye that night killed me and I wished the reception could last forever. I was so nervous

    *********************

    I had just finished changing into my second dress in readiness for the wedding reception when I walked out to meet Atusaye, he was blown away and kept reminding me how beautiful I was.

    “Honey I hope you are ready to dance because am ready to jive” he teased.

    “I got two left feet but we got this” I giggled.

    ****************

    We finally arrived at the beautiful Ananda lodge where our wedding reception would take place. Outside we could tell the guest were aware of our arrival from the loud screams and ululating

    The grand entrance into the reception got everyone on their feet, Little had I known Atusaye’s feet had great rhythm.

    The audience was taken by surprise seeing how my husband and I killed it on the dancefloor.
    It was a day to definitely remember and we gave the media something to talk about.

    The favourite part of the reception was cutting into the gorgeous 15tier velvet wedding cake, the kiss and finally our dance to the theme track of our relationship “hold on by Israel”.

    That wasn’t the best part yet.

    The master of ceremony surprised the crowd including my self when he asked me to stand and sit on a chair that was place at the centre of the hall.

    The lights went off for a few minutes and when they went back on, Atusaye and his groomsmen were standing in front of me, they had removed their jackets but had put on hats.

    ” what’s going on?” I whispered to Atusaye.

    Suddenly a track by Runtown “mad over you” started playing and the men started their routine.

    Awwww…….. it was so romantic seeing Atusaye slide from one direction to the other in
    what seemed like a Michael Jackson inspired dance.

    The wedding sealed off with our send off track “unajaila” the danceable version by Tiye p featuring Kekero.
    I am just a blessed girl. Blessed beyond mans understanding.

    CHAPTER 33 (Final)

    We stood outside greeting guests as they congratulated us on our nuptials. Indeed people were impressed with our beautiful love and romantic wedding.

    As we cheerfully spoke to everyone, my mind kept dreading the thought of going to our room. If only I could delay things.

    We couldn’t greet everyone but managed to greet a few and finally got into our car. A beautiful room was waiting for us at protea hotel.

    As the car headed to the hotel, i suddenly went quiet and Atusaye noticed I was nervous.

    “Honey… Are you OK?” He whispered.

    “Yes my love I’m fine… I can’t believe we’re married” I said.

    “You’re nervous aren’t you?”. Atusaye said as he put his hand over my shoulder.

    I smiled at him without a word.

    The vehicle finally pulled over at protea hotel and it was time to go to our room. Goodness me, my tummy was boiling and my heart was racing. Was I going to be clumsy? Would I irritate him?. Many thoughts rushed my mind.

    We got into the elevator ready to go up and I could notice Atusaye was already getting too comfortable and it made me more nervous.

    ” baby I’m your husband.. ” he said as he pulled me closer to him.

    I smiled nervously and waited patiently for the elevator to open.

    “You are so nervous” he said again.

    I quietly lay my head on his chest until the elevator opened.We walked hand in hand to the hotel room and I was blown away by what I saw. The petals on the floor, chocolate, cake and some champagne.

    The room was beautifully set and Atusaye had actually got me a a few clothes.

    “We’re here” Atusaye said as if trying to remind me of what had to happen.

    “Honey I want to shower” I quickly said.

    Atusaye giggled, he knew I was just trying to buy time.

    “OK so do I” he responded.

    “Huh… Honey I said it first” I opposed him.

    “Well we shall shower together… As a couple” he emphasised.

    “Oh dear Lord should I be regretting my decision to stay a virgin, maybe things would not have been so awkward” I thought.

    “Honey I’m waiting for you to change so we go and shower” Atusaye said.

    My heart raced but after some convincing and some sweet words I gave in.

    **********************************************

    It was the morning after the wedding and I had just opened my eyes, still feeling very tired and finally getting used to the idea of being married.

    “Good morning” my husband said as he turned to look at me.

    “Morning” I shyly responded.

    “Your innocence amuses me” he teased.

    “Honey don’t start…”

    “What??? I’m just saying.. You look beautiful this morning Bana mpundu (mother of twins)” he teased.

    “What?? No way” I opposed as I covered myself.

    “Well will see about that” he giggled.

    “Do you already feel like throwing up?, loss of appetite??” He teased..

    “So soon?” I asked as I uncovered myself.

    “Well then I should discredit myself.. I’m not a man”

    We both burst into laughter and continued chatting and cuddling all through the day.

    **********************************************

    We had to go home and prepare for our honeymoon which was in two day’s time. We still had to pack up a lot of things in the house too.
    Luckily, Joy and Clara came in handy and they helped with packing up all our items. Merging everything we separately owned wasn’t easy but we had to meet half way on many things.

    I was so tired on the morning of our flight, the past two days had been hectic and I hardly rested. We travelled first class to Dubai and we both actually spent most of our flight sleeping.

    What better way to put this ………

    Our honeymoon was great, Atusaye and I made the best of every moment and made sure we captured every moment.We visited many places and did quite some shopping. It was just amazing.

    Going back home to finally kick start our marriage was something I looked forward to, I really wanted to be domestic for my husband. You know?

    Each day I spent with the love of my life was filled with so much joy and laughter, we stood by each other and always prayed together I believe this kept us stronger.

    *********************
    3 WEEKS AFTER HONEY

    One Saturday morning Atusaye was in the living room watching television while I was stuffing beddings in the washing machine. I had a cup of hot chocolate on the side and I kept drinking it.

    All of a sudden I felt dizzy and a strong urge to throw up and I rushed to the bathroom, Atusaye heard me and he rushed to the bathroom.

    “Bana mpundu (mother of twins) are you OK?” He asked me.

    Atusaye always referred to me as a mother of twins since our wedding day.

    “I don’t know honey guess I’ve had had too much of the hot chocolate” I said

    “I’ve noticed you’ve been drinking that stuff a lot, since yesterday” he said.

    “Have I? Ohhh.. It’s always been my favourite brand” I said as I gathered myself up again.

    ” too much of anything is bad honey..” Atusaye warned.

    I quickly prepared lunch but I felt really awful and no appetite for the food. However, I wanted to lick peanut butter.

    After I finished setting the table, Atusaye asked me to join him but he noticed I had a peanut butter bottle in my hands with a spoon.

    “Are you licking that stuff?”

    “Yes honey I’m not hungry” I said reluctantly as I folded my legs on the couch.

    “That’s it honey.. That confirms it” he said as he stood up.

    “Confirms what? What are you talking about?” I asked in shock.

    “You’re pregnant he said excitedly as he came to lift me.

    ” honey wait.
    Are you sure?… Its just fatigue” I opposed.

    Hubby and I quickly rushed to the hospital to confirm the suspicions and just like he guessed, the pregnancy test was accurately positive.

    The excitement on Atusaye’s face and the dance he did in that ward was ecstatic, the nurses were amused at how excited he was and one of them mentioned that she had never seen such excitement before.

    **********************************************

    BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

    All along Atusaye had been sure we would have twins but the scan results were shocking, we were expecting not one, not two but three children… triplets!!. I was so overwhelmed hearing the news and it made me really excited to meet the babies.

    All through the wait, Atusaye had proven to be the best husband a woman could ask for. He helped with all the house chores and made sure I was well rested. He attended to all my needs even when I happened to be very impossible.

    The morning of February 14th on Valentine’s day, my husband and I welcomed our three children. 2 handsome boys and one beautiful girl. What long debate it was to finally get the names for the children but we finally agreed on one thing. Our first boy to be born was named King, the second boy was Duke and our baby girl was named Princess. The boys resembled so much and were a clear copy of their father while Princess had a little of our features combined, she was beautiful.

    My uncle was finally released from jail and he was so apologetic. Though it wasn’t easy, I took it to the Lord in prayer one step at time

    **********************************************

    Well I finally had my happily ever after, my home had 3boys and two girls (mummy and Princess).

    Every step of the way has been a blessing, watching Atusaye teach our boys how to ride bicycles and play soccer was so beautiful. Princess and I played with dolls and cooked together.

    All in all, we are one big happy family. I surely had my fairytale and so can you. God is never late, he is always on time and it doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in life… Its never too late to surrender to him because he alone is capable of turning your life around. He turned my life around. The rejected stone is now the corner stone.

    Ephesians 3:20-21
    “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

    OH AMAZING GRACE.

    #THE END#

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