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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Stupid Zone 3


Episode 3
After the shattering of the last bits of my heart into a million pieces, I walked away from the scene that was before my eyes, of Naomi and her new boyfriend kissing.
I had known Naomi for four years and in those years she had dated men I could not count with the fingers one hand. After each break up, she would come to me for comfort and even though I wanted to tell her how I felt about her then, I always thought it would be too soon and inappropriate so I waited. But before I was even sure she was healed, she moved on to another guy and the cycle continued.
She would text me all night telling me about all the sweet things her new boyfriend had told her. I often wondered why she would be texting me and not him but I loved her company even if it meant being stuck at the backstage of her love life.
That day however, I decided I had had enough. I was not going to pine over her anymore. I was done with being her crush and I was also done with being her friend. My decision took me back to four years ago after I saw her with a boy for the first time.
******
I remember how happy I felt the day of our ‘reunion’ after I manned up and stopped avoiding her after I saw her with a boy. It could have been because we had not seen each other for a long time or maybe because she just wanted to, but Naomi launched herself into my arms and hugged me for a long time. We did not even care of there were people passing by along the road seeing our little act. I held her in my arms after she told me to never disappear on her again. I was mentally counting to 10 before I could spill the beans but she spoke when I was on number 7.
"Rich," she mumbled into my chest.
"Mmm," I answered.
"I have something to tell you," she said and at the same time untangled herself from my embrace as if it was not conducive for her.
I let go of her and looked into her eyes, they were as beautiful as ever. She looked into mine and I saw what I interpreted as sadness in her eyes.
"What is it?" I asked her.
"I'm going to boarding school," she said after a long moment of silence.
"Oh," was all I could think of saying.
I had not seen that coming, I thought she would tell me she had a boyfriend and I had even prepared a little speech in my heard about how I was the right candidate for that position. But this; how was I to handle it?
Wait, did she say she was going to boarding school? That meant I would not be seeing her again for at least the next three months or so.
"Rich," Naomi said as she shook me.
"What?" I asked abruptly.
"I've been talking to you and you have been zoned out the entire time. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought you are the one going to boarding school," she said with a smile.
Seeing her smile instantly made me feel better and it was like my head was back on straight so I was able to address all the questions I had with her.
"Sorry what were you saying?" I found myself asking her.
"I was saying I don’t want to go." she said, the sadness returning to her eyes.
Without thinking twice I pulled her into my arms and started stroking her hair, she didn’t protest.
"Then don’t go."
"I have no choice," she said and then sniffed.
"Why is that?"
"My mother says I have become too playful and my grades are dropping. So I just have this term to be here as I’m  going next term." she said.
"Which boarding school?"
All I could think about was how far she would be from me and all the boys who would have shots with her.
"Mansa Secondary School," she said.
What she said startled me and I pulled her out of my arms to hold her at arm's length so I could look at her properly.
"That is almost like in another country," I said getting all emotional.
Naomi laughed instead and I found that annoying but I managed to conceal it.
"You find your going away funny?"
She shook her head.
"The other country thing," she said and I actually laughed as well, albeit shyly.
"Can your parents accept a deal?" I found myself asking.
She looked at me wonderingly.
“Aren’t your poo grades the reason they want you to go?" I asked the obvious.
Naomi nodded.
"So what if we can better those grades?"
She looked at me the way I presume Thomas Edison's friends looked at him when he told them his vision?
"I can help you up your grades," I said enthusiastically.
"I only have two months before my end of term tests, I doubt that can be achieved." she said sounding defeated.
"I believe we can do it," I said confidently.
"OK I will ask my parents," she said and hugged me again.
I didn’t want that moment to end. Now that I look back, that would have been the perfect moment to tell her how I felt but I didn’t. It’s like I was allergic to happiness or something. At one point I would be afraid she would say no and I would kill our friendship but at other times I was afraid she would say yes and then I would mess up and she would break up with me and I would kill our friendship.
In the weeks that followed, I told mom I would be staying late in school to study after classes and she was proud of me. Of late, she never used to beat me as much and we could actually have a decent conversation although she always tried to embarrass me in front of everyone by telling them she was proud I had become a man.
“Onani ma pimples yonse aya, my son has grown,” she would say.
*Look at all the pimples on his face*
As the days turned into weeks, I noticed Naomi improve tremendously at her studies and I was confident she would make it. She had asked her parents if she could stay in Lusaka if she showed improvement and they had agreed.
The two months elapsed and she sat for her end of term tests. We closed for holidays and we spent a lot of time together after.
One day as we were taking a walk, a woman who was friends with my mother met us and I knew all hell would break loose.
"How are you young lady?" she greeted Naomi even before taking to me.
Naomi who had been holding my hand, let go of it and smiled at the lady whom she did not know.
"So I see you are walking with my son huh," she said.
Naomi went on her knees.
"Oh you are his mother, I have heard so much about you. It’s nice to meet you ma'am." she said her head bowed.
I grabbed her by the hand and pulled her up.
"She is not my mother, let’s go."
“But she said…….” Naomi was about to protest.
My action seemed to anger the older woman who started shouting at me.
"Children of nowadays don’t have respect. Am I not the same age as your mother? How then does that not make me your mother?"
"Bana Muzo twaya ifwe," I said as I grabbed Naomi by the babe.
*The mother to Muzo, we are going*
I pulled Naomi away and we left Bana Muzo standing looing in our direction at a loss for words.
"Why did you treat her that way?" Naomi asked me when we were alone.
"That woman likes to reap where she did not sow, she likes stealing praise,” I said angrily.
“What do you mean?” Naomi asked me.
“Never mind.” I dismissed it.
"But that's no way to treat an elder," Naomi schooled me.
"If an elder doesn't behave like one, I don’t see why I should respect them." I said.
"That’s why your mother flogs you," she said quietly.
"What did you say?"
"Nothing," she quickly said trying to cover her slip.
"Who told you my mother flogs me?" I asked her.
Naomi didn't respond, she stood facing the ground with her foot drawing circles on the sand.
"Naomi, I’m talking to you," I persisted.
“I have noticed belt marks on your back." she said quietly.
I was about to ask her how she saw them when I remembered she had once accidentally poured water on me at my school during our study session. I had taken the shirt off to air it a bit then put it back on. I had faced the other way because I didn’t want her to see my ribs that were almost protruding from my chest but little did I know I was exposing my heavily flogged back to her.
"I have to go now," I said.
"I see."
I could tell she was not happy but I didn’t want to talk about being beaten by my mother to a girl I liked. That was one display of weakness I was not willing to show her. How was she going to trust that I could protect her if my own mother could assault me that way?
"We can talk about this," she added.
"I don't feel like talking about it."
"OK.” She said then paused for a while before adding, “Moses asked me to be his girlfriend,' she said as she turned to walk away.
"What did you say?"
""I don't feel like talking about it," she returned my tone.
I was too proud to start reversing my statement and so I let her walk away that day. I have played that scenario in my mind over the last four years and I have wished upon every star that I could go back and do things differently. But you know what they say about wishes, beggars would definitely ride.
When I got home that day, I found mom had placed all sorts of torture tools on the table and I knew the night would be too long. I could see a cooking stick, a frying pan, a fresh mulberry branch, a belt and a slipper.
I went and slumped myself in a corner and when my eyes adjusted to the light, I saw bana Muzo seated next to mom smiling at me.
To be continued

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