“I can’t believe you kept me in the dark,” Achika said, swirling the wine in her glass. It was a lazy afternoon and they were chilling in her house.
“Trust me, it was for the best. I didn’t want you risking your life trying to save me.”
“Isn’t that what friends are for? Saving each other?”
“Friends know better than to put each other at risk.”
Achika glanced at her and smirked. “How is your mum, have you talked to her?”
“I did in the morning. She says my aunt is doing a good job looking after her.”
“And James? Has he called?”
Ignoring Achika’s question, Amara shifted in her chair and threw her head back against the couch. She hadn’t seen James since the day he walked away from the hospital, but she had heard from him. He had called to ask about her mother and when she was planning to come back to the city, and she had told him she would let him know even though she was packing her bag while on phone with him. Her mother was recovering well and she would have stayed longer in the village, but she had a meeting with her boss in two days’ time. She had been away from work for a while and though her boss hadn’t mentioned anything in regards to what the meeting was about, she knew it was her absence they were going to talk about. Mentally, she prepared herself just in case let her go.
“You know you aren’t going to ignore me just like that,” Achika said.
“No, I haven’t heard from him.”
“Why don’t I believe you?”
“Am I supposed to answer that?”
“He is a good man, Amara. I know you are madly in love with Masai but if there’s any chance you and James can be together, I would suggest you take it.”
“He hasn’t called, Achika. I don’t want to build my hopes on a man who is ready to flee at the slightest provocation.”
“But even you have to agree that bringing Masai’s name while with James was uncalled for.”
Amara was going to say something but Jack walked in from the bedroom. He was shirtless with only his white shorts on. He walked his skinny self across the room to where they were, leaning down to kiss Achika on the lips and pulled Amara up for a hug. If it were someone else, Amara would have politely asked him to put his shirt on first but this was Jack, her favourite person.
He walked over to the open kitchen and pulled out a bottle of beer from the refrigerator, drinking directly from the bottle. Amara caught Achika watching Jack with a lingering smile and delicate eyes. She still found it difficult to believe that Achika and Jack were now engaged, even though she was the one who kept encouraging Jack to open up about his feelings to Achika. She had imagined the furthest it would go was Achika laughing Jack’s love proposal off and moving on with her life, breaking men’s heart and delivering hard tackles to male chauvinists.
“Look at him, isn’t he adorable?” Amara cooed.
Achika laughed and Jack looked up.
“Are you girls talking about me?” he asked.
“No?” they chorused.
He came and sat next to Achika, placed his hand on her shoulder and looked at Amara. “So what did the boss say?”
“So many things, but the bottomline is I get to keep my job.”
“I knew he wouldn’t fire you. He adores you.”
“But I am now on my maternity leave, officially.”
“Speaking of which, when is the baby boy or girl coming?” Achika asked.
Amara arched her back with a sudden whimper.
“Amara, are you okay?”
“I think—my water just broke!”
“What?” Both Achika and Jack sprang to their feet.
Amara burst into laughter. “Relax, guys, I have always wanted to do that to you.” She wiped the tears rolling from laughing too hard. “I am due in a month’s time. It’s a girl, by the way.”
“Phew, you got me,” Achika said, “You know I don’t like hanging around pregnant women because the baby might pop out anytime and I won’t know what to do.”
“Coming from a lady, I am surprised. Won’t you have children?” Amara asked.
“No?” Jack quipped.
“Oh, babe, if you want children, you will have to look for another girl to marry,” she said. Jack wasn’t sure whether she was joking or not.
Weeks past and her unborn baby continued to weigh her down. She was due in two weeks and her mother had promised to come over to take care of her until she put to bed, but Amara told her not to worry because Achika was doing that already. Besides, she knew her mother still needed time to relax and recover from her own scare. The nights dragged on, her eyes always lurking in the dark as if searching for answers to questions she did not know. She found herself thinking about Masai more and more, especially since her relationship with James was shortlived. They had met again. She had one day picked up her phone and called him after Achika urged her and he had invited her to dinner in his apartment, which had large portraits of African women in kangas and pots on their heads on his walls. They had sat on the couch next to each other after dinner with glasses of non-alcoholic wine, holding each other’s gaze with anticipation. She sadly realized that now that they had decided to be together, they had nothing to talk about, both of them feeling like they should feel the void with sex, which she wouldn’t have minded had she not been heavily pregnant. She remembered him leaning in to hold the base of her neck and kissing her lips, and her lips refusing to move despite her willing them to. He had pulled away from the kiss and said, “Maybe I should drop you home,” and she had nodded, slightly embarrassed, slightly guilty.
They didn’t speak much thereafter.
So she thought of Masai. Where was he? Did he think about her? Did he miss her? She remembered the days she came home from work in the dead of night to find him in the house, eager to scare and surprise her at the same time, wishing she could relive those moments.
Two days to her delivery date, she woke up early in the morning, threw on an old dress and made for the kitchen. She staggered, for her feet and back hurt. Her feet had been hurting for a while now, swelling even, but on this day the pain had gone a notch higher. Midway to the kitchen, with her backache increasing rhythmically, she wondered if the coffee she was going to make was worth it, and would have turned around and walked back to bed had her craving for coffee not spoken to her, urging her on. She took a step forward, and another, kindling a fire in her loins. She wished for someone to carry her around or even rush her to the hospital, for it dawned on her the baby was not waiting for two more days. When the fire in her loins raged, she wriggled herself out of her dress and tossed it aside like a mad person. An army of ants was roaming her body, stinging her at all the sensitive parts. Where was Achika? She was supposed to be at her place very early that morning! She was about to run out of the house naked when she heard a voice through her kitchen window.
“Looks like you can do with some help.”
She looked up. “Stop staring at me like I am a damn statue and come in here!” she yelled.
“Yes ma’am,” Masai replied, smiling.
* * * The End * * *
I apologise once again for the other post, and thank you for your patience. Now, I feel like giving a vote of thanks, but I am tired guys. I will give a vote of thanks on a Facebook post tomorrow. Have a lovely night. Cheers.