Lumbiwe – Episode 7
© Tisa Phiri
Upon reaching the stream I found Smart, the Prince sitted on a rock beside the stream a little far from where we fetched water.
“Good afternoon ? ” I greeted him trying to hide the smile.
” I didn’t think you would come after what happened the other day,” he said as he stood from where he was sitting.
“Hm, I figured you probably want to apologise” l told him my face down as I played with the grass with my fingers.
“Come we sit together ” he called me tapping the side of the stone he was sitting in.
” I don’t feel so comfortable being so close to you after the other day” I lied looking away.
” mmmn I see. Okay then sit here then I will stand.” He stood shrugging.
I sat down and after some silence for few seconds , he spoke up.
“I called you because I like you a lot. I am of the right age to marry and everyone is expecting me to choose a wife.” He started
I danced in my mind , excited that he would choose me.
“Wow mbuya” , I interrupted the story holding my chin in my palm as I smiled at my grand mother. Her voice was composed in a good way, the true expression of how she probably had felt years past.
“you really got him?” I added
She smilled, though, I couldn’t see her face i felt her relax and I knew that memory got to her.
“Zelipa ” she managed to say.
“I really wish that day the Prince chose me” she remarked sadly.
“what ? ” I asked shocked
“But how come? Why did he call you then?” I asked impatiently.
“Will you let me tell the story or not ?” She let a small sound laughing.
“Okay continue mbuya, it’s just that I can’t wait to hear what the Prince told you”
She relaxed and sighed.
“Well, he went on and told me he liked me alright but he was not sure about marrying me. I snapped angry at his lack of courtesy in the way he was directly telling me I was not good enough for him.
“Smart if you know you don’t want to marry me then why did you call for me ?” I shot an angry eye at him.
He chuckled , “am a man remember? and I have needs, so since I like you and I know you like me too we can work out something. Who knows I might choose you as my wife in the end” he said to my face.
I felt anger remembering what my grandmother told me about him taking advantage of girls , but I was not to loose like those other girls. “I Lumbiwe will have what I want. I will show you I am the one you want ” , I shouted in my head.
“Mmmm” I spoke up looking down the ground my eyes set on his shoes now.
“So what’s that something we will have Smart? ” I asked looking straight at him.
He smilled then mentioned my name , “Lumbiwe..” After a pause he held my hand ,
“don’t you like me ?” He asked staring direct into my eyes. To be honest, I didn’t like him as much as I thought I did , at that moment I had started despising him. It was like he was telling me proudly I was not good enough to be his wife but he could make me his mistress. I felt betrayed but I played calm, for some reason, I let my pride lead me. Am sure the normal thing to do at that moment was to walk away but no I stayed on.
“Hmmmm , if you were not sure I don’t like you Smart you wouldn’t have called me, but am not ready to be someone’s mistress. ” i responded taking my hands off his hand.
He smilled.. “wow, i like the way you aim higher. Ok then show me what kind of a wife you can be, just then I would consider making you my very own wife. I mean you are beautiful and smart too so you can perfectly fit as the princess of this kingdom” he said with a grin.
“Ok let me think about it” I told him leaving his side.
“I have to go now, I have an Errand to run for my mother.
He smilled back “good girl, Don’t take forever then, I will see you soon” he said rubbing my hand.
As l walked to Tendeka’s house to go buy meat as sent by my mother. I thought of what the Prince had said. Somehow I really thought he had a point. I had to prove I was worthy being his wife , some inner voice warned me otherwise but my head convinced me to always aim high and achieve what I needed to , facing every challenge that came my way.
“If you want me to show you” I said audibly walking alone.
” then I will prove to you that am worthy more than all those girls you have been with.” I let a smile as I bounced and threw my hands in the air as I walked.
“Odin…!” I called out upon reaching Tendeka’s house. Tendeka’s father answered from behind the small hut.
” Am here!” he called out.
“Good afternoon atate(father) . I knelt down traditionally as l greeted him.
” Good afternoon” he answered cheerfully. “what brings you to my house?” he asked smilling.
I saw that he had some resemblance with Tendeka , he called his wife to come give me a seat before I could tell him my mission.
” No ” l declined.
“Thank you but I don’t intend to stay long, I just came to buy some bush meat ” l explained still kneeling.
“Oh that’s good , by the way how are your parents and brothers and sister?” He greeted as he went on making the traps.
” They are well atate” I responded,
“mother sent her regards. ” I added politely.
” I appreciate it. Now let this boy get you what you want ” he looked up at me.
“Tendeka ! ” He shouted to call his son and my heart started pounding harder. I had not seen him in days and I was not ready to face him after that humilition he had put me through.
He appeared from the main house and I made sure I continued looking down.
” Good Afternoon aLumbi” he greeted me with respect.
“You pretender !” I laughed in my head ,
“since when do you respect me, idiot.”
I forced a smile.
“Good afternoon thank you “, l answered audibly glancing up at him and back down in a flash.
“Take her to the kitchen she chooses what she wants from the dried meat” the father told him as he continues making the animal traps I found him making.
“Come with me” Tendeka told me.
“Zikomo( excuse me) I excused myself from his father and followed Tendeka. His mother was coming out of the kitchen with a small drum of water , she was probably going to fetch water. As we approached we greeted each other.
I stood by the door not willing to go inside with Tendeka.
“Are you coming in to chose the meat or not aLumbi” he said making sure I noticed the respect was fake.
“You can bring it here” I told him avoiding his stare.
“Oh sorry, it’s too heavy to lift. Maybe I will go fetch my sister to come help you. it’s like you are scared of me” he said mockingly.
I looked at his wide opened mouth and shook my head.
“You are unbelievable” I said sounding upset as I went in. I pointed at the piece I saw first. “This one,” I said without hesitation.
” Are you sure?” he asked almost whispering.
‘Am sure” l said loud enough to make sure people outside heard me.
He smilled and got the meat, wrapped it in the leaves and handed it to me.
“Here , thank you for buying.” I turned and walked out without a word and walked towards the back Kneeling down again as I said bye to his father. who told me to pass his regards to my family.
“Of course” I smiled before standing right up. I wiped the sand off my chitenge after walking a few steps away and walked back home wondering why I had suddenly started feeling unease when I was around Tendeka. I would admit I liked seeing him again but pushed the thought back. I had to focus on winning the Prince’s heart even when my heart said otherwise.
I had slept early a week after. Since I came out of age, my elder brother had built me my own hut. My young sister was still sleeping in the same room with grand mother.
I loved my hut and always kept it well plastered with black soil on the outside and white inside. we usually used the lime my father got from the city and mixed it with some clay soil to make a whitish soil and paint inside the huts , so l mentained my hut in that manner.
The truth is that during the past week I had really thought more about Tendeka than l actually hoped to. I recalled seeing him with my cousin two days earlier as I lay in my but. He didn’t bother me like he always did and l felt somewhat hurt. I wanted him to at least pick a fight with me or something that could have made us say more than greetings. when I told Dolika about it she laughed that I too had some feelings for him but wouldn’t just accept him because he was not of a high status.
I shook my heard as I covered myself with a warm Chali blanket. It was a gift from my parents after my initiation and I loved the feel of its silkness on my skin.
I heard a tap on the small window as l was deep in thoughts. I looked at the window , “who could it be?” l stood and peeped outside to see who it was .
“it’s me.” I heard Smart’s voice.
” What do you want here this time of the night ” l asked suprised.
“Open the door” he whispered
” please , l have something to tell you.” I shook my head as I got my chitenge and wrapped it around myself. I opened the door and he sneaked in.
To be continued