© Tisa Phiri
Days went by and the girls got busy. Thandi working on some different contracts. Sali and Mattie managed to set up a fish shop in town and it was so far doing well. The girls were happy they doing fine.
” i have to leave now Mattie, Joe is outside” Sali stood up taking off the apron she was putting on top of her loose pink blouse and a black skirt that went slightly below her knees.
She had dressed to prepare herself going to see Joe’s parents finally. Joe wanted them married in a month and she had no option but to face her fears. She knew Mrs Numba wouldn’t so much approve of her even when Joe convinced her his parents were okey with it.
” i know you had a hard time convincing them my love. It’s just that i love you and i really want you in my life that i will accept going to see them, otherwise i know your parents especially your mom wouldn’t gladly accept me” Sali had argued.
” hey, don’t keep that mam waiting outside. It will be okey. Just be yourself you have a king who cherishes you so much. That is enough to give you courage to take you through the time you will spend with your inlaws today” Mattie spoke to her .
” yeah, i guess so” Sali shrugged grabbing her bag.
” all the best!” Mattie shouted as Sali reached the door. Mattie was seated at the counter as the two boys they hired to help in the shop were busy serving customers.
” i needed that!” Sali raised her hand at her before walking out to Joe’s car.
” my love!” Joe stepped out to open the door for her.
” hey! You okey?” Sali asked giving him a peck.
” never been better” Joe kissed her back.
” yeah you look happy and excited but am worried shit inside” Sali frowned.
” but Love, we talked about this last night. Are you having second thoughts of marrying me?” Joe asked a bit taken aback.
“No, come on love. You know you all i want. Its just that am scared of going back to your parent’s house. I….”
” come on Saliya” Joe smiled calling her full name as he always did when he referred to her by her name.
” don’t stress over that. Look on the brighter side of this. You already know them so it won’t be a big deal to see them. You will know exactly how to take them” he smiled.
” yeah i guess you are right my love. Shall we go now?” She tried to smile.
Joe moved to the driver’s seat and they drove off, she just couldn’t settle down. Something felt so wrong about going to see Mrs Numba and she was so worried she felt she would get sick. Seeing how Happy Joe was as he kept rubbing her hand his other hand on the steering , she smiled to show she was calm meanwhile she was so sick inside.
That feeling that something was terribly wrong didn’t leave her since the time Joe made a date for them to go see his parents for a formal introduction. She kept having bad dreams and of late she couldn’t help recall the death of that man who wanted to rape her.
” hey!” Joe patted her hand.
” did you get i thing of what i just said?” He asked her seeing she didn’t pay attention to him.
” yeah i heard you love” Sali lied clearing her throat.
” okey, what did i say?” Joe asked her.
Sali looked at him and shook her head chuckling.
” am sorry, yeah you caught me, i wasn’t listening” she told him.
” Love, what is it just tell me. You don’t look okey” Joe stopped the car away from the road.
” i love you Joe, i trully do and i want to marry you even today if possible. Its just that i have a bad feeling about going to your parent’s i cant help it” she finally told him the truth.
” babe, come here” Joe drew her closer to him.
” There’s nothing to worry about now come on. I already told you they are okey. Please don’t do this to me” he touched her lips passionately. I want you to feel okey. We will get through this together okey?” He smiled kissing her.
Sali held him back too, ” i know, thank you. I guess am just being silly and acting like a child. I love you” she smiled and he nodded kissing her again.
” can we move on now?” He asked turning the ignition keys.
Upon reaching the house, Mrs Numba stood outside to welcome them with a wide smile which Sali still wasn’t convinced was genuine.
They were ushered inside and to her surprise they found some unfamiliar faces of two men seated in the living room.
Looking around the house she had lived and worked in before brought some memories back but Sali tried to concentrate on why they went there.
After greetings she sad down wrapping a chitenge around her skirt. “You are welcome again Sali, its been a while and you have changed so much” Mrs Numba smiled.
” in a good way ” she added
” i would say i was surprised when my son told me about you. I first thought it was a joke, but now i see he was being serious” she went on making Sali look down. Her tone wasn’t the pleased one she could tell.
” so what do you do now?, still working as house help” she asked her.
” mother stop!” Joe responded this time his tone firm.
” no its okey love” Sali tried to smile.
” no mam, i now own a fish store in town” she answered proudly.
” oh okey, fish seller thats something ” Joe’s mother shrugged looking at Joe.
Joe’s father who was quiet all this time cleared his throat. “Okey sonny, so when do you two intend to marry?” He asked his eyes on Joe.
Joe smiled sitting up, he held Sali’s hand.
” well father, we planning next month”
” next month ? So soon?” Mrs Numba burged in shocked.
” yes mother, why wait. I am no child and i need my woman by my side you know” he smiled looking at Sali who kept her head down.
” I see” his father spoke.
” well am sorry to cut your joy short sonny, you are not going to marry Sali, atleast not any time soon. Unless you willing to wait for her for years” he expalined as Mrs Numba smiled happily Sali was shaking. Her fears coming alive again. She had sensed the two men where not there for anything to favour her.
” you see these men here,” Mr Numba continued before Joe could get the chance to ask him what he meant.
” they are officers from the Zambia Police, someone reported our Sali here for murder” he sat back challengingly.
” you joking right? ” Joe looked at his father then the two officers with a laugh.
” no sir, your fiance here killed a man years ago and hid it. The report came in last week and we followed it up to find indeed she was here at the time of that man’s death. He was your neighbour here” the police man explained.
Sali was astonished, she was shaking tears in her face already running down and dropping on her blouse.
” no that man was a drug addict and drunkard, they said he died out of an overdose” Joe argued now standing up.
” thats what we all thought sir, until a woman reported that she overheard Sali and her friends talking and Sali admitted to having killed the man, how? we are not certain yet.” The man added.
” babe, tell them this is a lie” Joe walked to Sali.
” tell them you have never killed anyone, please tell these men they have a wrong person” Joe cried holding Sali’s hands as he knelt before her.
” am sorry my love” she started crying out loudly now.
” oh no!” Joe shook his head moving back and landing himself to the floor.
” am sorry, i didn’t mean to kill him. The man wanted to rape me and i don’t know what happened he just fall down before me and died.” Sali cried
” why, why didn’t you tell me this Saliya?” Joe held his head.
” we were going to get married in a month, when were you going to tell me about this? ” he asked.
” i was scared, i wanted to but i was so scared Joe. The girls and i thought it was all in the past and i was so scared to tell you. I didn’t mean to hurt you Joe i swear. I was only 15 and i had no control over what was going on in my life. Am sorry my love” Sali went down close to Joe.
” sorry Ms but you have to come with us” the officers stood up.
” am so so sorry Joe. Please forgive me” she tried to hold him but the police officers held her up cuffing her hands from behind.
Mrs Numba looked down as Sali turned to her. Mr Numba kept shaking his head as Joe’s face kept down he couldn’t look up at her.
” lets go mam, we will go after your friends now for concealing a murder.” The policeman told her as they led her to the car outside.
” please leave them out of this its not their fault” she cried.
” well, it it a crime to hide a crime from the authorities. Am sorry they will too pay for this ” he responded
” you murderer you killed my son and i swear God will purnish you!” Came the voice of a woman Sali recognised as the mother to the man who died.
” am sorry, your son wanted to rape me and ….”
” stop saying that you killer, you killed him and you deserve the punishment coming for you!” The woman silenced Sali and she sat down the car her cuffed hands on her laps.
She looked back at the house and saw Joe standing inside by the window his face wet. She cried the hot tears running down her face. What was so painful was the disappointed look on Joe’s face. She knew that was the end of her love story. She had hurt so bad the only man she had come to love with everything she had. Now that she was probably going to spend the rest of her life in jail, she knew the chances of ever setting her eyes on him were all gone.
” please Lord, help him get better” she whispered a prayer as the car moved away from the yard she turned to look back at him still standing by the window.
Mattie looked at her watch for the 5th time. Sali was supposed to have gone back to help her close the shop but it was almost 20 hours in the evening with no sign of her.
” oh Sali, you want to spend a night at Joe’s place without telling us?” She asked herself searching for her contact and dialing her number but it went unanswered. She tried again but nothing, infact the line went dead, the third time she tried to call it was off.
” hey sweety! Still here, i thought i would pass through and pick you up ” Thandi who was now driving an Allion walked to the shop as Mattie talked to herself worried about Sali.
” oh Thandi glad you are here. Sali is not yet back and i have tried her line. Now its off she has not picked up, am worried. She said she would be back before evening but look at the time now ” Mattie shook her head.
” yeah thats bad. She always keeps us updated if she’s delaying.” Thandi sighed.
” yeah.let me try Joe’s line. Maybe Sali has put her phone in the bag and it has gone off.” Mattie frowned.
” yeah do that” Thandi agreed.
” what? ” she asked seeing how worried Mattie looked.
” its off ” she shrugged looking at the screen.
” are you sure? Thats odd” Thandi took out her phone trying to call too.
” oh my God, am sick worried now. Where is this girl. She needs to be there at my crowning ceremony tommorow. ” Thandi sat on a stool.
” anyway, lets not get ahead of ourselves. Shes probably decided to give herself to her man tonight. She just wants to surprise us with the news tommorow. Lets go home Joe will surely bring her back” Mattie sighed lifting her hand bag.
” yeah lets pray that’s the case Mattie. That girl better turn up. I need you both at the function tommorow.” Thandi pushed herself down the long stool as Mattie closed the shop windows and they later walked out after locking the doors.
To be continued