© Tisa Phiri
A few minutes after Thandi was taken, an elderly woman driving a Toyota Mark 2 which was white in colour and a number plate which was from years back but the car still looked clean and neat. The white covers she had put on the head seats showing off how the interior of the car was, even from steps away where Sali and Mattie sat waiting patiently for their own turn to be picked.
The woman stepped out of the car her long Chitenge dress reaching her toes covering some blue sandles matching with the small patches on the material.
” helo, am sorry I am late, I had some visitors at home and you know how it is, I had to spend some time with them they came all the way from the Copperbelt” she went on giving the details which somehow bore the girls.
It was clear there intrest wasn’t knowing about her visitors. They just wanted to get over it already. They had been waiting for over an hour after Thandi was picked and Mattie was almost loosing it. Thinking whoever volunteered to help them had backed out at the last minute.
” it’s alright mam, am so glad you came” the lady responded calmly. A tone of relief in her voice.
” the other family has picked one girl already. We have Sali and Mattie remaining here. You can pick any of them ” she shrugged moving back allowing the old woman to take a closer look at the girls.
After asking them some funny questions of where they both came from. How old they were, what they looked forward to and other questions, she finally decided to take on Sali who still didnt reveal the part of her having some strange powers.
” take care of yourself Sali, i promise you will do just fine,” Thandi said, ” we will get in touch. Lets meet in town next weekend okey?” Mattie hugged Sali assuring her to get going.
” okey” Sali sighed and walked away.
She sat silently in the front seat as the woman who she noticed talked a lot kept asking her one question after the other.
They drove past the compound where Sali and her friends had stayed and she turned to look at it already missing her friends.
” so what do you do mam?” She finally cut in the woman’s words as she expalained to her about her sons and daughters who were studying or working.
” i retired last year. I used to work as a teacher in the ministry of education and was promoted 10 years ago as Headteacher before i retired. My husband runs his own company. ” she smilled proudly.
By the time the women finished telling her about her years in service they were driving in a wide yard in Chilanga. A short guy with a funny hair cut opened the gate for them and bow a little to greet the lady.
” hey John this is Sali, shes come to help Belita with the house work and she will be staying with us. ” Sali was introduced.
Coming into the house, they met a woman Sali quickly noticed was a maid because of the uniform she was clad in, a checked blue buttoned dress with a head cape. The woman was standing in the kitchen almost kneeling at the sight of her boss.
” you are welcome back home mam!” She eclaimed forcing a smile on her face.
” Belita this is Sali, the girl i told you about. Show her to your room and let her get started. We will talk about your payments and other things later on. Am tited now i need to rest” the woman spoke her eyes now on Sali who was still clinging to her small bag.
” yes mam” she bow a bit in respect like she had noticed from the other two workers.
20 minutes later, she was in the kitchen receiving instructions from Belita as she hurried her to do things pointing out that the family should be served their dinner before 7 pm.
By the time they were done serving, Sali felt a little tired. She however was told it was a trend of the house to ensure all the plates were cleaned and the dinning and kitchen swept and left clean before bed time.
She sat down on the cold tiles on the wide veranda to eat with Belita who had pilled their food on two plates. Sali wondered why they were eating something different from what was served on the main table. She had initially, thought they were to eat the food remaining in the pots.
” we don’t eat what our bosses are eating. Everyday we ought to ensure that we prepare our own as instructed by the madam” Belita whsipered to Sali as to answer her unasked questions.
” okey” she responded getting to eat as she was feeling so hungry. Belita looked at her eat and shook her head.
” you must be hungry huh? ” she smiled sighing.
” i only had some left over nshima with the girls this morning and i have not eaten anything since. ” Sali responded now feeling ashamed of the way Belita was looking at her.
she was still munching on her food when she heard two voices giggling behind her. Sali turned her head to look at the direction of the giggles which were turning into laughter. She almost chocked when she saw two boys standing and micking her chewing.
” hahahahhaha look at how she is eating, wow , shes really fast no wonder she’s so fat!” Screamed one of the boys who seemed to be around 12 or 13 years old.
” stop talking nonsense and leave the poor girl alone, its probably that she has not had such a meal in a long time” the other one who was a little bit older responded with a laugh.
At first Sali thought the older boy was being sympathetic but the laugher that followed showed how much Sali will have to bear with.
” you must be the girl from the orphanage?” the older boy asked teasingly.
” chimba! Come back here and leave that girl alone!” Mrs Numba shouted from inside the house.
” we are just checking out our new house help grand ma! ” the boy defended himself still wearing a stupid smile on his face.
Sali was quiet, the two boys were a very good reminder of the boys who tied her to a tree back in Chongwe.
She felt hot tears gather in her eyes, what was she to do now that she had to face the same enemy from her past.
” Sali you have to get used to those boys. They are the grand children to Mrs Numba and they are spoiled brats as you have noticed already. Dont mind them, they are just kids after all” she added patting her hand.
Sali nodded, with everything in her , she wished things were different. She remembered Mattie ‘s words.
” whenever someone tries to get on your bad side, remember us and know that in spirit we will stand with you.”
Sali sighed sadly her appetite lost, she stood and collected the plates walking back inside to start washing them.
Belita sent her to go and collect the plates from the table as the family had finished eating.
She walked in head down and came to a full view of 6 people seated around the table chatting. They all went silent upon seeing her enter giving Sali a hard time to stand still without shaking.
” Saliya, come over here i introduce you to everyone !” Madam Numba called her out bringing her back from her defeaning silence.
She pointed at the man across the table, ” that is the owner of this house, Mr Numba, my husband, the one next to him is our last born son, you will be seeing him around as he has just completed his college degree and is now persuing some jobs” she smiled at a man of about 20 who kept his eyes on the table and only looked up at Sali once and looked back down. Sali thought he was shy.
” the one opposite him is Grace, she’s my niece and stays here with us, she’s doing her 11th grade in secondary school. Am sure you have met Chimba and Paul”, she paused signalling the two seemingly naughty boys to keep quiet as she introduced them.
“Chimba is my first grand son, he’s the child to my son who is abroad with the rest of the family. He’s staying with us for the holiday and will go back when schools open there in the States.
The other boy, Paul is my daughter’s child. Shes my second born and lives in the southern part of Zambia, am sure you will meet her soon too. Paul stays with us here. Lastly” she sighed looking at a girl of about 12 who sat next to her.
” we have Maria here, she’s my late sister’s last born child and she too lives here with us” she concluded clapping her hands softly.
” you are welcome!” Sali heard Mr Numba’s deep voice and the others said it too after him. Sali could see the boys and Mary still looking at her with funny smiles and she felt uncomfortable.
” go on and get the plates dear ” Mrs Numba spoke up and Sali bow slighlty getting to clean up the messed table.
She wondered how the people around the table had left so much food on their plates which was as she was told, to be thrown since it was touched, when people out there were desiring to have such meals to quench their hunger.
She felt the urge to collect the food and keep it to eat later but the abusive looks she was getting from the boys made her think otherwise. She knew if those boys could see through her thoughts they would really make funny of her.
That night, tired she went to what was to be her bed, a small single bed with some thin blanket and bedsheets. She lay on her back her eyes wide open.
” you will get used my dear child. Mrs Numba is a good woman though she sticks to her rules. Follow them and you will have no problems with her.” Belita smiled as she got to her own bed which was opppsite Sali’s.
” ofcourse” she sighed and pulled up the blanket turning to get her much needed sleep.
To be continued