The sun was going down when they pulled over in the parking lot of The Legends’ Inn, a swanky bar that attracted a modest crowd of rich men and women who sipped from their glasses and whispered in their conversations. When they walked in, Eve’s arm coiled around Tony’s left arm like a snake on a twig, the legendary Oliver Mtukudzi welcomed them with his equally legendary song— Wasakara. An infectious music that blew its way into Eve’s ears and heart, making her fall in love with it. It was no surprise though because she was yet to get over Todi, yet another Oliver’s song with which brought childhood memories whenever it played.
Tony, as if reading her mind, leaned in and said, “Oliver Mtukudzi sings in the language of love. A language you needn’t be familiar with to understand. He might as well be singing about war but still, make you want to fall in love.”
“I agree,” she said in a whisper, happy that at least they were syncing on something.
A man in his mid-thirties and in the company of a chocolate skinned woman, stood up when he saw Tony, his face beaming. “Tony, my man! Long time no see, my brother!” The two hugged, the manly hug complete with double slapping on each other’s back. As they quickly sunk into pleasantries, Eve turned her attention to the girl who looked on with a shy smile. Eve extended her a handshake but she stood up and pulled her in for a hug instead. It surprised her at how friendly she was, considering the fact that they had just met and they were yet to know each other’s name. When they pulled away from the hug, Eve said, “My name is Eve.”
“And I Aisha, nice to meet you and congratulations.” Her eyes were set on her baby bump and Eve imagined maybe that was why she was being too friendly.
“I see that you ladies have already met.” The guy, who went ahead to introduce himself as Martin, said. He was a tall guy, smartly dressed in a white shirt and blue jeans. “And I believe you are Eve, I have heard about you.”
“Tony is a famous guy around here so, yup, there is nothing that goes on in his life that many do not know about. Anyway, forgive my manners, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too, Martin.”
“Well,” Tony put in, “I think my wife and I will go find a table and leave you two to carry on with your date. By the way, nice to see you again, Aisha. I see you are still holding my man down. Keep it up” He said this with his eyes on Aisha whom he had known for a while now. She and Martin had been seeing each other for as long as he could remember. Aisha mumbled something he could not make out what it was but if the smile on her face was anything to go by, she had only said something nice, and that was enough.
Tony flashed a few others a smile as they made their way to their table. He was a regular here, no doubt. He pulled a seat for her and as they sat, Eve couldn’t stop reminiscing how it felt a few minutes ago when Tony said, ‘My wife and I’. How it rolled off his tongue like he had said it so many times before. Like it was actually true they were married. She had felt the excitement building up in her bump and trailing down every nerve in her system. And now, a smile sat with a lit cigarette between its fingers at the corner of her mouth. A sexy smile. Defiant. And in no hurry to leave. At least not until Tony noticed it.
“You said, ‘My wife,’ back there.”
“Oh. Did it surprise you?”
“In a good way.”
“You are my wife, aren’t you?”
She flashed him her ring finger, which only had his engagement ring on it, and he laughed. “Don’t worry, I will put a real finger on it soon.”
If there was a point in her life that she was so sure she and Tony would end up together, this was it. Tony was introducing her to his way of life in the city and she loved it. He wore his love for her on his sleeve and there was nothing in this world that could explain how she felt anytime he went down on his knees to talk to his son. He was still adamant that it was a son she was beginning to worry that he would turn cold if it turned out to be a girl. And as if to dismiss such thoughts from her head, he would say, “It’s not that I do not want a girl. Just that I am not ready to go to jail after waterboarding someone’s son to death for so much as looking at her!” And she would smile, always, asking him to get up and kiss her. That was his favourite part, she suspected.
Tony ordered a cold tusker for him and red wine for her.
“Your mum was very excited to see you, by the way. I saw it in the way she looked at you when you showed up from the bedroom.”
“I was happy to see her, too, though that wasn’t the plan. At least not at that moment.”
She had woken up early that morning to prepare his breakfast before he left. He had insisted that he wanted to leave before his mum woke up because he did not want her to know that he had sneaked in at night.
“I will be back in the evening,” he said, “And we will both act as if we are seeing each other for the first time so you better rehearse your part.”
“If you must know, your mother already suspects that you are a master of this sneaking business so she wouldn’t even be surprised.”
“Did she tell you that?”
“Yesterday evening. We were talking about you.”
“Do you believe her?”
“It doesn’t matter. You sneaked in to be with me so I will let your past human smuggling trade slide,” she said, kissing him on the lips.
So she was in the kitchen, humming and stirring tea when her mother-in-law showed up, her forehead wrinkled with suspicion. She offered quick greetings, her heart beating so fast as if she knew they had been busted. She was just walking past her when she heard her mother-in-law say, “You know, during our days, when a woman woke up early enough, humming or singing, it was believed that it was because her husband did not sleep on the job if you know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t know what you mean, mama,” she said, turning around in a slow motion.
“Anyway, since I know you do not have a husband, at least not yet, may I ask why you are glowing this morning?”
She rolled eyes, “I am always glowing, you know. It must be the pregnancy.”
“Come on, I know Tony is here.”
“Tony? Here? Where?”
Her mother in law smiled. “Trust me, I have lived with him all my life so I always know when he is around. Also, the poor boy probably forgot to remember not to leave his shoes at the door.” her gaze turned to the pair of loafers at the door and Eve’s eyes dropped with embarrassment.
“Okay, he came a night,”
“Tell him I say hi, just in case he is planning to sneak out like he sneaked in.”
Tony who overheard this conversation, had to come out to meet his overly excited mother who nearly lifted him from the floor as they hugged. Meanwhile, Eve stood aside with the teacup in hand, admiring the mother-son affection she was witnessing. With their plan busted, there was no need for Tony to leave again. He stayed back, and only later in the evening did he suggest going out to meet Danny.
“He is supposed to have his paternity test today to know if he is the father of his ex-girlfriend today,” he told Eve when they were back in their room.
Danny showed up with his black jacket hanging on his shoulder like suspense. He flashed them a faint smile as he approached their table, hugged Eve, mentioned how beautiful she was, fist bumped with Tony and pulled a chair. The two stared at him as he leaned back, sighed loudly, and flagged down the waitress to order a shot of Jack Daniels, which he drank in one quick sip. His whole body shuddered and his eyes turned blood red.
“She was saying the truth,” he said.
“Who? Anita?” Tony asked.
“About what. You not being able to father a child, or you being the father of her child, which one?”
He stared hard at Tony and said in a calm yet firm voice, “I am the father to her daughter. Our daughter.”
“Yeah,” Eve put in, “Congratulations. How does it feel?”
“Awesome and confusing. This time I think I can never father a child and then suddenly I am a father to a beautiful little girl. And soon to be a father again.” his voice lowered as he said, “And here is the confusing part, I am not sure how Clair will react to this.”
“She will be good,” said Eve as a matter of fact, “I know my sister way too well. If she wants to be with you, nothing is going to change that.” From the looks the two gentlemen gave her, she knew what she just said did not come out as she intended it to, so with a cheeky smile, she added, “In a good way, of course.”
“Well, I have explained to Anita that things aren’t changing. I will do my best to provide for the baby and her, but I am sticking with Clair, the woman I love.”
“And she is okay with it?” Tony asked.
“Anita, of course.”
“I didn’t give her the impression that she had a choice. In any case, she has no one but herself to blame for this.”
“I agree, now let’s drink and celebrate your milestone,” Tony said, raising his glass.
It was now pitch dark outside. The pub was almost full and everyone seemed to have had one too many to drink so they were letting loose. Their whispers became louder with every passing second. The women mostly dress in short dresses and jewels which looked like they cost and arm and a leg, no longer covered their mouths with their hands when they giggled or laughed. They simply laughed, their voices sharp enough to pierce through the thick air of perfumes and colognes. In fact, only Eve seemed to be the only sober person in that bar. Danny who had taken too many shots of Jack Daniels also opened up a little bit more. He confessed that he had cried so many times when he thought of how he was never going to be a father. At some point, he stood up, held his chest and casting his eyes up, said, “Thank you, Jesus, I am so relieved.”
Tony scolded him, “I am not sure your pastor would approve you calling Jesus’ name while holding a glass of whisky.” They all laughed.
Martin and Aisha were calling it a night. They came to bid goodbye to the three and before they left, Martin told Tony, “Take good care of Eve, man. I know I have just met her, but I have a feeling she is a great woman.” Tony nodded, and the two left arm in arm. Eve trailed them with her eyes till they stepped outside. When they were out of sight, she took the moment to gaze at the beautiful yellow security light that shone over a garden of flowers. She then stared at a tall skinny girl in a pair of blue shorts who tiptoed over in her heels to this potbellied guy as he was just about to enter his car. When he turned around to face her, she ran her fingers through his tummy and the guy couldn’t resist a smile. She wondered if she was a hooker and if she was proud of what she did. She wondered how life would be for her if she were a hooker, and what her mother would do if she came to know about it. Okay, she knew what her mother would do; she would curse the day she gave birth to her, or simply drop dead. Or both. The guy later drove off with the lady in his car.
“Martin is as faithful as the sun,” Tony was saying, “He and Aisha have been together for ages and I can swear he has never cheated on her. I admire him, man.”
“Don’t just admire him, emulate him,” Danny said, looking at Eve. She shook her head in acknowledgement.
They drank in silence. The music rotation in the club had done its 360 and it was back to Wasakara. The legend still sang his heart out with his husky voice, which was enough to make any lady weak at the knees. Danny’s phone rang and he stared at it with his drunken eyes before answering it. A few seconds later he lowered it and, said with a more sober voice, “Clair is in labour!”
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& finally, Happy women’s day to all the amazing women who read this blog. Kisses.