Lumbiwe – Episode 8
© Tisa Phiri
He entered my room swiftly,
“what is it?” I whispered looking outside for fear that maybe someone had seen him come. I closed back the door and he sat on the small stool in the room panting and his face full of fear like someone who had just seen a ghost.
“What is it Smart?” I asked him again.
” Give me some water please” he managed to say after a couple of minutes. I got a cup and got water from a small calabash and handed it over to him. I waited for him to gulp the water, sighing and wiping his mouth when he was done.
” will you explain to me what you are doing in my house this time of the night and why you look like this?” I asked again.
” Am um i”he murmured
“You are what? Smart say it now or leave my house.”
“Am sorry Lumbiwe I didn’t intend to come here. it’s just that i went to see this girl and then…” he paused.
” and then what?” I shouted.
“shshshsh!” he sushed me when we heard foot steps of people outside. luckily I didn’t turn on the lamp so my hut was still dark. Only the small light entering the door as the moon was raising, shined on Smart’s face. He had sat direct towards the door.
I heard my brother talking to the people whose footstepps we heard earlier,
“there’s a man we just caught with my daughter,” the person explained
” but he escaped. Have you not seen anyone pass here? we saw him ran this way.” The mam added.
I looked at Smart who now moved to the corner like a dog which had stolen relish and is hiding from the owner scared of being whipped.
” no I have not seen anyone” my brother told them.
” I was inside sleeping just your noise woke me up. every one here is asleep” he added.
” okay” I heard the men respond.
“Sorry for disturbing you” they apologised as they walked away their angry voices shouting and cursing.
I looked at Smart and slapped him hard.
” you are a dog Smart.! a good for nothing Prince, how dare you go sleep with a woman in her own village this time of the night and you dare risk my life by running here. You surely have no shame you fool” I snapped.
” please its not like that” he said with his voice so calm.
“just let me explain”
“Hm explain uh? Explain what ? I know everything. I see, so that’s how you want to use me eeh? ” I asked despising him.
He tried touching my hand but I threw him out.
” leave before I scream and everyone will get to see that it’s the son of the king that is going round sleeping with women like a dog.” I almost yelled loudly.
He went out silently and i watched him disappear in the woods. I shook my head in disbelief, “how can this be happening to me?” I cried to myself.
It’s not like I loved the prince but I cared enough for him to be my husband. That moment he had just destroyed the dream of me being a princess and probably a queen some day and I hated him for that.
The following morning, news went round about the man and girl who was caught red handed by the parents. unfortunately no one except me knew about the true identity of the man.For some reason I kept his secret and never told anyone not even Dolika what had happened that night.
After some time, the rumors started dying but the girl was taken to another village. It was evident she would never find a husband in our village.
One day, my cousin Jonas called me. “Lumbiwe, ” he said..
“go with me to the wood, I want to collect firewood for your sister-in-law” meaning his wife, he asked me.
I got my chitenge and joined him. unknown to me, Tendeka had organised I see him. According to him, Tendeka was afraid i wouldn’t agree if i was told he wanted to see me.
“So why did you want to see me?” i asked after my cousin left us. He looked at me and sighed.
“Lumbi, Why do you hate me so much?” he asked seriously this time.
“I don’t hate you Tendeka” I said looking away.
“I think you are the one who hates me, no wonder you scared me in your mask and tease me every time you see me.” I responded.
He let a laugh, ” I tease you because you are stubborn and don’t respect me as a man.” Came his response with a tone of seriousness.
I looked at him, shaking my head ” there you go again” I said.
“Do all men in this village ask women to respect them or they are just respected? ” I asked with a mock.
“oh so you mean I don’t deserve respect aiii ?” He responded sounding disapointed.
” whatever you will conclude” i added sarcastically
” you call what you did to me the other day being a man uhh? ” I shook my head.
He smilled and giggled
” i see so its about that?” he said like he had forgotten.
” but i thought you enjoyed that” he teased kicking the leaves of the small tree near him.
“You are something else then, you undress me in broad day light and you think I enjoyed it. Who do you take me for huh? A prostitute” I questioned him.
” No” he cut sharply
” it’s not that, I was just trying to … forget it” he shrugged dismissing his words.
We talked about nothing in particular for almost an hour and I at last told him I was leaving.
” why? ” He asked his eyes looking straight at me.
“well it’s clear you have nothing sensible to tell me it seems we came here to quarrel and I have chores at home” I explained walking away.
“Wait..” he stopped me.
“what now?” I turned.
He stood close and asked
” is it that you want to marry the Prince no wonder you treat me like a nobody?”
His question caught me off guard
” no..what… No Tendeka.. um I ” i stammered not knowing exactly what to tell him.
Since the night i saw the prince last, my desire to marry him started fading slowly but I still wanted to marry a better person. I infact started contemplating marring Mr Zulu’s son and move out of the village.
I looked at Tendeka, he was still there waiting for me to answer. I didn’t realise I had gone mute.
” No Tendeka ” i went on
“Am not marrying the prince but am marrying someone from kumigodi ” i smiled
“So you see am not as useless and stupid as you consider me to be” I pointed out with pride.
“Oh” he said looking rather disappointed with himself.
“that’s good Lumbi, I gues you found someone better after all.”
“yeah ” I nodded and started walking on.
He stopped me again,
“Am sorry ” he sighed
“I forgot, I brought you this” he mentioned handing me a kalulu (hare)
“thank you ” I said, holding it by the trap it was caught in. He slid his hands on mine as he gave it to me and hesitated to let my hand go.
As I walked, I felt sad, i had told him that. The painful look I saw in his eyes made me feel sad. I almost turned to go back and stay with him longer. But then I stopped myself.
” he is probably better off without me” I thought to my self.
” maybe I just hurt his pride as a man but not that he likes me or something.” I argued in my mind looking at the meat in my hand and sighing. The thought of how much he had to put in to bring me that small wild animal made me smile. ” trying to be a gentle man hmm” I whispered to myself.
To be continued