Mama I’m Sorry

Growing up, her mother threatened her with death for mistakes so small it would take one with a cleansed soul to notice them, so it wasn’t difficult for Amara to imagine what her mother’s reaction was going to be, now that she had found her smoking like a chimney and drinking like a fish. She dropped the cigarette butt in the sink before going to open the door, all the while feigning a smile. She hugged Achika first, and if it wasn’t for the fact that her mother was standing within an earshot, she would have demanded to know how Achika could lead her mother to her house without giving her a heads-up. She then walked to her mother, hesitantly, almost as if she expected her to push her away but when she wrapped her arms around her, her mother hugged her back and a wind of relief swept across her. The hug lingered for a little longer and Amara beamed when her mother rubbed her back gently like she knew she could do with a little of comforting.

“I am so happy to see you, mum,” Amara said.

Her mother pulled away from the hug but still held her by the arms, eyes fixed on hers.

“Amara, what happened to you?”

It was a loaded question, one that turned Amara into a stammerer when she tried to answer it. Was it that her mother wanted to know what happened, or was she wondering, aloud, how her own daughter, one she had brought up to be self-respecting, would turn into drinking and smoking just because she was facing some difficulties.

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Mama I’m Sorry

She loved the soft touch of the ragged carpet’s fur caressing her skin as she lay sprawled in Achika’s living room, her short dress barely covering her thighs. In her right hand was an unlit cigarette, which she had been contemplating for a while now, even though she had asked for it with the confidence of a chain smoker. Her head was tipped to the left, eyes staring at Achika who was standing at the window, blowing a thin string of smoke from the corner of her mouth outside the window. Sometimes, the smoke came out of her nose and when she looked at Amara, Amara was fascinated by how her eyes burned red as if a small fire had been lit underneath her eyeballs. She also loved how Achika closed her eyes when she rubbed the back of her neck. It felt suggestive. And each time their eyes met, they both smiled and continued to gaze at each other until one of them, mostly Achika, looked away. It was like two people noticing each other in a club, neither of them willing to be the first one to approach the other.

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Mama I’m Sorry

This had to be a dream. She surely was dreaming because there was no way, in this life or the other, Masai would call her a ‘bitch’ without flinching and slam the door in her face. The loud bang painfully echoed in her head; she squeezed both sides of her head to try and subdue it. She heard giggles. The overly excited voice of the woman Masai was with annoyed her. She lifted her right hand—curled into a fist—ready to bang on the door and lash out at both of them, but James was quick to grab her hand mid-air. She struggled to free herself from his grip but he was too strong for her. When she had calmed down, he loosened his grip and asked what happened and she nearly broke down when she tried to speak.

“You know what? Don’t worry, I will find out myself.”

He gently pulled her back and repeatedly knocked on the door until Masai opened. Masai had a disgusted look at first, but it drastically changed to that of concern when he saw James. It was obvious he hadn’t expected to see anyone else other than Amara. He stared James in the face and James stared right back. When it was obvious neither of them was going to back down from the staring contest, Masai stepped out and shut the door behind him.

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Mama I’m Sorry

She remained rooted to the spot. Though she had prayed that Masai is found soon, she was not sure how to react now that her prayer appeared to have been answered. In this unsettling moment, the smile on her face would change into a frown and curve into a smile again, all the while telling herself that Masai was okay. Or was he? She hadn’t asked James where his friend saw Masai and the state he was in but her gut told her he was okay. Ordinary, him being okay would be a good thing, but not if it meant his leaving was intended. That he had decided he wanted nothing to do with her or their baby, and so he was distancing himself from them both. James called again and she hesitated before answering. She hesitated because she was not sure which questions to ask and what answers James would give. A part of her was still holding on to the belief that Masai’s leaving wasn’t deliberate and that something, one which she wouldn’t stomach, might have happened to him. But she was the one who had silently accused James and the two officers of doing nothing to find Masai, so the least she could do was answer her phone.

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Mama I’m Sorry

There, in the silence of her room, she stood trembling. She could hear the sound of faint music and the occasional burst of laughter from her neighbor’s house, and she wished she had socialized with her neighbor because she would have then gone and asked if she had seen anything strange. Taking two steps back, she plopped into the bed as if her knees could no longer support her. Where was Masai? How could he do this to her? She was already imagining the worst, that he had deserted her, just like her father did. She buried her head in her hands and tried not to sob but her emotions got the better of her and soon her eyes were drowning in the small pond of tears forming in her hands. When she looked up, she caught a glimpse of herself in the dressing mirror and the terror in her bloodshot eyes frightened her. Or maybe he hadn’t run away. Maybe something bad had happened to him and he needed her help. She sprung to her feet and in a lightening speed, scrolled through her phone to find Achika’s number.

She paced the room, willing Achika to answer her phone, but she didn’t. She had probably left her phone in the car and her tongue was sweet talking whomever she was with. She thought of whom else to call to no avail because she couldn’t think of a single soul, other than Achika, that would answer to her call of despair at such an ungodly hour. Hassan would, but she couldn’t bring herself to dial his number. She was beginning to lose hope when she remembered James, the tall suited guy she met at Joanne’s charity event. It got even better because he had told her he was a security consultant, making him the perfect guy to call in this situation. As his phone rang, she prayed that he would answer, and he did. His deep voice coming through the phone was like a voice of God.

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Mama I’m Sorry

He had told her so many times that she made him a happy man, but it wasn’t until now that she saw what he really meant. The smile on his face, wide and sunny, was like the gentle hands of a masseur, caressing and filling her body with Goosebumps. It was a smile of a man who had finally hit his target in life and now was ready to go to sleep and drift off to after life because there was no other thing in the world left for him to achieve. Of a man who no doubt was contented with what he had, and what he had was her. It filled her with joy to know she was capable of putting such a smile on his face. She held his gaze, her heart beating with anticipation, yearning to hear the first words out of his mouth after this enormous revelation—though he had already said what she needed to hear with his facial expression.

“If this is a joke, I will—”

“I am pregnant.”

“You are pregnant.” He said as if by repeating her words, they would turn out to be true.

“I am.”

“Which means we are going to be parents.”

“Normally, that’s how it works.”

“Oh My God!”

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Mama I’m Sorry

She almost sprinted out of the bathroom when cold water touched her skin. Her Instant Shower Heater was faulty, again, and she blamed Maasai for it. He was the one who insisted on being an electrical engineer the last time it failed and she was the one who loudly challenged his skills. Holding her breath, she froze under the shower and waited till her body got used to the coldness before continuing with her bath. Later, she put on a short black dress she had neglected for a while and noticed, with alarm, that it held her too tightly she couldn’t breathe. Her breasts and hips threatened to burst out of it and as she glared at the mirror, she feared she had become fat or that she was pregnant. But she ruled out the likelihood of being pregnant because the last time she had sex was three weeks ago and that, she convinced herself, was not enough time for her body to experience changes if at all she was pregnant.

Or was it?

She sat on the edge of the bed and stared at her reflection with narrowed eyes, silently telling herself that there was no way she was pregnant. Achika called to say she was on her way and so she postponed questioning her fertility and ransacked her wardrobe for something to wear, carefully avoiding clothes that had the potential to hold her tightly. But she had no baggy clothes so she settled for a pair of blue jeans and a hand-woven brown sweater. She ran her hand through her braids and held them at the back with a black hair band. She was at the salon the previous day and she had told Nyathiwa that next time she would be dreading her hair.

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Romeo And June

Roméo is the guy who appeared in a condom advert some months ago. He was in very tight boxer shorts, his abs and nipples blessing the world with their loveliness. He was in a swimming pool with pretty girls, Brazilian hair flying, breasts pumped to the chin, crotches neatly waxed. He slowly climbed out of the pool with one of the bimbos and they made straight for his black Range Rover sport. He quickly looked around for his, or rather the girls’ “protection” as the girl wriggled and giggled sheepishly, and when he didn’t find it the girl slammed the door in his face and swayed away. But he looked so hot in that I doubt many girls would have thought of anything else but his biceps and hollywoody torso. Myself I could give many things to just have him hold me for a minute.

June is my sister. My twin sister. Apart from the scar on her left shoulder and the fact that she likes heavy makeup, we look alike. Physically, at least. She’s very short-tempered, a dominator in everything. A heavy drinker. Her skirts always stop right below her hips. She is a professional dancer and lives in a fancy apartment thanks to her ex-husband.

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Mama I’m Sorry

She kicked off her shoes, picked them up and threw them in the corner already playing host to other pairs and, with a pensive sigh, let her weight drop on the couch. Her house looked abandoned. The furniture begged to be dusted. The pile of shoes in that corner needed to be put back on the shoe rack. Utensils, which no longer found their way back into the sink, yearned to be cleaned. Her living room pleaded with the curtains to be drawn so they can have a test of fresh air but, she told herself, postponing the chores for a day wouldn’t kill her. That’s what she had been telling herself ever since Maasai left to take care of business in the village. It was the first time she was alone after her father’s death and she was finding it difficult to continue being the ‘strong woman’ everyone thought she was. Two days after Maasai left, she had gone in his wardrobe to look for something of his to wear, for she was missing him already, when she saw the watch Maasai bought her father, one which he never had the chance to present to him. The watch triggered her father’s memories and she had put it on and lied on the bed facing the ceiling, fighting her tears.

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Mama I’m Sorry

She fell asleep for the first time in five days, and the universe conspired to make sure she was well rested by filling her sleep with nice dreams, alienating her from her tragedy. The next morning she woke up to loud murmurs from somewhere in the house, now a normal occurrence. In her village, when death visited your compound, with it came distant relatives, neighbours and strangers who talked like they were in a talking competition, only stopping to look at you with pity and mumble ‘sorry for your loss’ when they saw you. She glanced at the window and the morning sunlight shimmered from behind the bright coloured curtain, begging to be let in. She closed her eyes again, filtered out the murmurs and reminisced about her father, now lying dead in a morgue. How could he die just like that? And why did it have to be on the same day she had hoped to make peace with him? She found it difficult to believe that her mighty father, who walked with a walking stick because his ego was too heavy for him to carry alone, could simply fall in the bathroom, hit his head on the floor and die.

She knew she was being unreasonable but she had not expected that her father’s exit from this world would happen so unceremoniously. She had refused to accept that her father would go out like that until she saw him at the morgue. They had gone there the same evening and though the attendants and security guards turned them away, asking them to come the following day, they stood their ground and Maasai finally managed to persuade one of the attendants, a thin guy with yellow teeth, to let them view the body. The attendant had looked at his two other colleagues with asking eyes and they had shrugged before letting them in. But once inside, Amara refused to open her eyes. Once she saw that it was truly her father lying there, there was no going back. Her belief that this was a mistake would be wiped out. She covered her eyes with her hands till Masai placed his hand over her shoulder and said, “If you are not ready, we can always come back tomorrow.”

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