The Veil Chapter 22 - Mzansi Stories

Monday, May 23


The Veil Chapter 22


Chapter 22
“Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?” – Unknown.
Lucy sat down and contemplated on her next mission. Her bubble had been busted way too soon before had plans had been fruitful. She shivered slightly, not from the cold but from the fear of what was likely to happen to her next. She didn’t know if Alick had killed the man because of Five Hundred Kwacha or because he had found out that she was having an affair with him. From what Jack had told her, she suspected that Alick already knew too much. If he was capable of killing a man for having an affair with his wife, how much more could he have punished her? He surely could have strangled her with his bare hands. She shuddered at the thought of it.
Was it her fault that he was barely at home most of the nights? When he was busy entertaining customers in his bar, she had sought her pleasures elsewhere for mostly he arrived home exhausted and drunk. What she forgot was that he did the business for her. Her insane demands for good things they could barely afford and her insatiable desire to look like they lived posh had ended up making him doing illegal businesses. That must have hurt him so much to think that he was working harder than he had done before in the whole of his life yet she was still going behind his back and sleeping with another man.
Lucy was on the crossroads. She patted her tummy in despair. Wasn’t it bad enough that she was advanced in years and now she was pregnant for a dead man or the prisoner? Perhaps it was better he had died because he was married and chances of leaving his wife for her were close to naught. It could have been better to go back to her relatives but who would accommodate her after her reputation had way preceded her?
Going to her daughter wasn’t possible as well. She was married to a Policeman in Salima and had a one year old child. She couldn’t face her for the shame and humiliation was too much. People won’t stop wagging their tongues in gossip. She knew she couldn’t wait until the baby was born to determine who the father was for already Alick looked like he was done with her. She couldn’t risk her life by getting near him when he would get out of prison, if he would at all. He was someone who held a grudge for a very long time.
It was 6:00 pm. Loveness had come back from the market and taken a bath. She was getting worried for Flora was not yet at home with the babies. It was getting dark and cold, she wondered what she was thinking to still be out at this hour. She didn’t know how many times she was supposed to tell her not to expose the children to pneumonia or coughs.
The younger children have said they didn’t find her at home when coming from school at least she had left after preparing food. She wanted to start preparing supper but was way too worried for that.
She heard footsteps outside, then a slight knock on the door before Flora and Jack entered each carrying one of the twins. She should have known better that lover boy was back no wonder Flora had been acting like she had her head in her hands the previous day. It was obvious that they would always disagree when it came to Jack.
She moved to the far end of the mat to give them enough space to sit down. The twins upon seeing their grandmother wriggled free from their parents’ hold and crawled excitedly to her. She took both of them in her arms and tickled them. Their laughter filled the whole room. They were equally happy to see her as much as she was. She put them down and greeted Jack.
“Flora I have told you not to keep the children out until dark. They might catch a cold or worse pneumonia.” She said trying hard not to sound angry. Jack’s presence was enough to rise her temper.
“I’m sorry Mama but she was at my place. We must have got caught up in chatting not to see that it was getting dark.” Jack apologized instead of Flora.
“I don’t know what I must do for her to listen to me.” She said further.
“We apologize Amai.”
It was a new experience to listen to Jack apologizing. Loveness looked at her daughter from the corner of her eye. She looked like a cat that had finished a bowl full of milk. How dare she go behind her back and get all goody with the very same man who had once treated her like trash. She hoped she hadn’t made the mistake of forgetting so easily.
“Besides… who gave you permission to bulge in and out of my house as you please?”
They both didn’t reply.
“Look here you two. I don’t want cat and mouse games under my nose. You once gave me enough grief and am having none of it again.”
“But Mum…” Flora started protesting but Loveness shut her up.
“Let me be frank with you before I have my house full of your babies. If you want to do things in the right way I demand to see your people as soon as you can arrange it. At least do the right thing and save yourself the shame.”
“Mum!” Flora didn’t want her mother to embarrass Jack, not when she had just got him back. What would he think? That her mother was pushing her to him?
“I understand your fears Mama. I already explained this issue to my Uncle and I should thank him for being the one giving me sound advice to make things right. I’m sorry for my unfortunate behavior and my father’s in the past, I’m sure you will find it in your heart to forgive me. My Uncle will come to see you before all my people comes. There is something he would like to do for you.” Jack said.
“When is he coming?” Loveness wanted to be sure he was telling the truth.
“I will let you know when he is ready because he has already returned to Blantyre earlier this morning but he will be back soon.” Jack answered.
“Please do. How is your father? Such a shame that he is in prison.”
Jack and Flora looked at each other at the sudden change of the subject. They knew for now the issue had been laid to rest.
He stayed for a few more minutes then took out Four Thousand Kwacha and gave it to a disbelieving Loveness. She accepted it and hoped one day she won’t be insulted for it.
Flora looked at Jack and wondered where he was getting such kind of money. Not mentioning of the children’s clothes they had gone to buy at the trading center that afternoon. It was just too good to be true.
She heard her name being called for like a thousand times that morning alone and wondered what it was again. As it was, her fingers hurt because of shelling maize and she couldn’t manage to go to draw water on her head with all the heat. This place was so hot. The children were playing under the big tamarind tree. She had heard her mother in law calling her but she was so tired to do any more house chores. She knew the big pot of nsima also awaited her on the fire. Since her coming, it seemed everyone had been relieved of their duties. It was left to her as the daughter in law.
This was her third month but she still had not heard from Joseph. The man was simply heartless, she thought. Couldn’t he have at least checked on the children?
Her last born son Yamiko had been having a burning fever since two days ago. At the local health center five kilometers away, they had given him pain killers yet he was getting worse and she was becoming impatient. What was she thinking anyway to move out of her home? Did she have enough evidence to prove that her husband was cheating? No, then why had she jumped to conclusions? Her husband was the most secretive person and she knew nothing about the businesses he run. He had never given her a chance to know what he was doing. It hurt to be put outside of their finance generating circle. Was it a crime that she sat at home and didn’t contribute in bringing the money? But she took take of the children and did all household chores.
How many times had he refused to give her money to start her own business? Several times. He said he was afraid she might run off with another man. He was one insecure man, afraid of his own shadow. He knew that her financial independence would be a ticket for her to soar to unbelievable heights.
Nabanda was sure Nelly was playing deaf deliberately. She needed help to move the bags of maize from the veranda to the store room for safe keeping. To her, Nelly was just so lazy and wondered why she had bothered to come to her in the first place. What had she expected? A housemaid perhaps. Life was tough in the rural areas and she needed to prove her worthy and hardworking skills to her in laws.
She knew something was wrong the moment Nelly had turned up with a loaded truck even though she had pretended that everything was fine. The gift of cotton wrappers and plastic shoes which she had given her were enough to verify her suspicions. It wasn’t many a times when Nelly did that.
When she had asked about her son, she had simply said he would be coming any day to see them. Three solid months had elapsed since and he hadn’t said anything about coming the last time she had talked to him on the phone.
She went to the kitchen to check on the nsima on the fire and found Nelly putting firewood. The kitchen was filled with eye stinging smoke. She quickly withdrew, went to clear the mat and awaited the late lunch.
Later that evening when they were about to go to bed, Nabanda called her daughter in law to have a word with her. She wanted to know what the problem was because hiding under the façade of having a holiday wasn’t going to sort out her marital issues. Nelly took the children to bed and came back. It wasn’t easy to sit down with her mother in law and have a serious talk when they have never been close.
After several minutes of throat clearing, Nabanda started talking.
“I appreciate a lot for your visit but we both know that this isn’t a social call. So tell me what the problem is?”
She felt that there was no need to mince about words.
Nelly was surprised of her forwardness but in another way she was glad that she was the one to start.
“Let me apologize for not being open with you. I have never been very good in communicating.”
“It’s alright. Sometimes we need something to open us up. So tell me what the problem is?”
“He sent me out of the house after we quarreled.” Nelly said.
“What is the issue you quarreled about?” Nabanda asked yet not wanting to sound like she was pushing her.
“He is having an affair and keep coming home really late. When I ask where he was, he doesn’t give me straight answers. What sort of marriage is it if he isn’t open with me?”
“Does it mean if he told you that he wants to take another wife, would you have agreed?”
“No way can I agree for him to take a second wife. Its better I end issues with him than tolerate such nonsense.”
“He complained that you are so rude to him and he wants to take another wife.”
“What are you serious? No, he can’t possibly do that. I just react to his actions. What about the children?”
“He will come for the children and you will have to go back to your people. He is arranging for his uncles to meet your uncles and get done with you.”
It felt like a very bad dream. Nelly was angry. With Joseph but mostly with herself. Did it mean the woman has been there all along or he had his chances the moment she got out of her house?
“When did he tell you all this?” she asked, hiding the tremble in her voice.
“Today afternoon. He plans to come for the children next week.” Nabanda answered.
“I’m sure you are the one supporting him.” That was rather said abruptly.
“Why would you say such a thing? Was I there when you were having your arguments? Don’t you think he is old enough to know what he wants and what he doesn’t?”
“Whatever plans you have been making behind my back will never succeed. You tell him that.”
Nelly’s voice and anger were rising uncontrollably.
“I was trying to help and here you are insulting me. I can see why my son wants another woman so he can have peace of mind since you are always barking like a dog. You talk like your mouth is on autopilot. Let me give you advice as a fellow woman. Continue talking like that and you will never keep a man in your life.”
“Are you God to decide my fate like that? Stop meddling your nose where it’s not needed. Save your breath, I didn’t ask for your advice.”
“You are in my house maybe you have forgotten. Everyone will hear about this, you can’t disrespect me like that.”
Nabanda went to her room, visibly distressed. Anali ataona malodza (don’t know the English translation to that). She was shaking all over. If not for her grandchildren, she could have thrown Nelly out. From now whatever it was about her son’s marriage, she would never get involved. It had not been her fault that she had come to her house. She knew now that Nelly didn’t need her help, she had just been desperate, with nowhere to go.
Nelly wasn’t remorseful of what she had said. She was determined to burn her bridges and keep her pride intact. It never occurred to her to love and appreciate her mother in law for telling her what was going on. She didn’t sleep a wink that night. She packed her bags and that of the children. In the morning she woke up early and got the children ready for the journey back home even if it meant using the last money she had. She would leave the furniture behind. It didn’t matter anymore. This issue was a state of emergency. She hoped she wasn’t too late to save herself and her marriage. Whoever it was who thought she could take her place, was in for a big shock because she couldn’t sit put and watch her husband with another woman without a fight…

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