I delayed going back home for fear of uncle Jonah , so I went to play with my friends at their farm. I had two good friends Sara and Sonile they were sisters. We were doing the same grade though Sonile the eldest was in a different class , she started school late no wonder she was in grade 5 as well .
I told my friends what had happened the previous night with uncle Jonah . Sara suggested I stayed with them
“But what reason do l give your mom?” I asked her. .
“No Sara, I don’t want anyone else to know what happened. Please don’t tell her, if this got to uncle he will kill me .”
I was scared because that night wasn’t the first time he tried raping me , the other time was in the garden but fortunately I managed to skip away . Just when I wanted to tell granny, he came back and sat next to us giving me killer eyes .
When we were alone that day he warned if I ever told granny or even anyone he would kill me and to confirm his threats he even spanked me hard on my face . l cried silently without granny noticing .
“I have a plan” I told my friends.
“I will hide under the bed tonight he won’t know am there when he comes back but for now I will stay here with you guys ” I said .
Later that afternoon, I remebered I had to check on the workers at the farm so I left . Planning to spend the whole afternoon there , When I got there a Mr Mbewe called me looking so sympathetic ,
“I’m sorry Mwazi your granny will be okay,” He mentioned with sadness.
“What ? What granny ? What are you talking about ?” I asked surprised about what he was telling me.
“Uh so your uncle Jonah hasn’t told you yet ?” the man looked surprised.
“What? “I asked almost crying.
“Sorry mama your granny was involved in a road accident yersterday on her way to Katete , she was seriously hurt and is admitted in Chipata General hospital. Sorry” he added.
I looked at him in shock , all sorts of thoughts running through my head . what if she dies? How will I stay with my crazy uncle ? What about my education? Oh God, I wish she gets well , she’s the only one I have, I thought as I sat down on the small hill in the maize field .
I had been sitting there quietly for hours I didn’t even realise it was almost 6pm and the workers were starting to leave the field . Mr Mbewe called me out,
“Hey Mwazi ? go home , your granny will be fine. I’m sure your uncle will come back with good news , okay ” he said .
Standing up , l realised my uncle wasn’t at home after all , as I walked down to the house in my uniform I wished uncle will have good news about granny. I couldn’t bear anymore sad news.
Uncle came around 19 hours drunk . “How could he even drink when his own mother was dying in the hospital ” , I wondered.
“Uncle Jonah , how is granny ? “I asked him as he sat in the sitting room.
“Go and see your dying Amama,” he answered carelessly.
“Eheee! We will see now what you will do you stupid spoiled brat,” he said in a drunken voice .
“Uncle, is granny going to be fine ?” I asked again.
“Iwe I’ve told you she’s dying anytime so just start planning where you will go because all this farm is mine now , you hear me ! You will have no where to go,” uncle shouted on top of his voice .
I realised I couldn’t stay with my crazy uncle anymore. I went in granny’s bedroom packed my clothes in my school bag. I went to granny’s secret bag and got some money. I don’t remember how much , all I know was I got a lot of K100 notes . I saw a photo which granny showed me, that it was my mother’s , I packed it too and sneaked out of the house. I had to go and find my granny and take care of her at the hospital .
That night I wasn’t afraid of Hyenas or ghosts . I just walked to the road side thinking and imagining granny laying in the hospital bed alone and in pain I had to go to her.
Upon reaching the road I found a big bus , two other people boarding . l quickly stormed into the bus not even asking where it was heading . The conductor came to collect his money.
“How much ? ” I asked.
“K120,” he responded.
“Ok ” I just got the money and handed it to him . I held my bag tightly and immediately fell asleep.
I woke up as the Bus was pulling over in the bus station. I didn’t realise I slept for many hours .
“Oh, am sure we were in katete” I thought to myself. Everyone started moving out . l put my bag in my back and went out as well , to my surprise the town was so different from what I could remember. I had gone with granny to katete some two years past to visit some relative but the sight was so different .
“How ?” I wondered , I was so hungry and confused, walking to the opposite shop i bought myself a bottle of Fanta drink and cream doughnut. I sat on the bench eating , a certain lady with a baby came by she looked dirty and was begging the people walking in the station. I felt bad for her , she looked hungry. I got the change I had from the man who sold me the drink and handed it to her without even counting it . She looked at me after counting the money.
“Zikoma mwana wanga(thank you my child) ” she said.
“God bless you” . I smilled at her and watched her disappear in the crowds. I went over to the shop and asked the man selling.
“Please uncle , where is the hospital?”
He looked at me surprised. “Which hospital?” he asked.
I noticed I had even forgotten the name of the hospital Mr Mbewe had mentioned
“Um, I don’t remember ” I answered.
“Iwe you are not serious” the man shook his head, putting his items in order.
I went back to my seat thinking i just had to remember the hospital , a tall boy came were I sat sighing as he sat.
” iwe Uyenda kuti (You, where are you going ) ?” He asked .
“Uh um , I’m going to the hospital” I murmured .
“Which one ?” The boy asked.
“What is wrong with these people?” I thought.
Everyone was asking which hospital . I remember granny told me there’s only one big hospital in chipata town . Then I realised I made a mistake , l just remembered Mbewe said Chipata general hospital but why did I rush to katete ? Oh God I panicked .
“Answer me? ” the boy who was still staring at me asked when he noticed I had been quiet for a while .
Instead of answering his question , l asked him. “Where am I?” The boy looked at me again puzzled .
” You mean you don’t know this place ? You are in inter-city bus station .” He smiled.
“What ? I jumped from my seat , what intercity?” I remebered granny told me stories of intercity bus station in Lusaka . She told me there were a lot of crooks and boys who called out people for buses and if you didn’t know better they would put you in a bus that took hours to load and take off.
“So you are saying I’m in Lusaka ?” I asked the boy almost crying.
The boy realised I was lost and something was not well with me. He asked where I came from and I narrated the way I ran away from home . He asked the bus I used and dear, I didnt know ,
“l never bothered to ask ” I told him.
“lt was dark and I just got on the first bus l found ” l said crying visibly now.
“Now what?” I thought to myself , “so you have money I put you on a bus going to chipata ?” He asked me.
“No, I answered quickly.” I didn’t trust him and I thought if I told him I had money he would steal all I had .
” Uh too bad then” he said ,
“now what are you going to do ?”
” I have to think” I told him.
“Please leave me alone” I said to him holding my bag tightly.
“Suit yourself,”, he shook his head and walked away .
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I sat on the bench trying to find a solution to my problem , at first I thought of going back to chipata but the idea of facing my stupid uncle was scaring . What if granny is dead already . I remembered the way uncle said it last time . I was sure by then she was dead. uncle Jonah sounded so confident when he spoke of her dying and him taking over the farm. “But then where do l go here in a strange city?” I kept asking myself.
I didn’t know anyone, then I remembered I had a father in Lusaka, though I had no idea where to find him. If I did however, I didn’t know how to locate him or even tell him. He didn’t know I even existed.
Another was the issue of dad’s wife the murderer , no way I was going to look for him .
I trembled with fear upon realising I was in so much trouble than I had thought .
Hours later , the boy who spoke to me earlier came back .
“Hey , you are still here?” he asked ,
“So what have you thought little girl ?” He teased
“Nothing” l said sarcastically .
“Oh, look at you, so you think you are a tough one aii? Wait till you face the street kids of this station then we see how tough you are.” He said walking away.
“Please, wait!” I stopped him now scared of what he just said .
“What , now you are just a scared little girl after all , now what ? What can I do for you?” he asked full of pride. I could see it rising.
“Please, help me” I begged. “I don’t know anyone here and I can’t go back home , my uncle will kill me . ”
“So what did you do for him to kill you?, you are a problematic girl ka ? ” He giggled .
“No,” I answered quickly.
“Please help me” I held his hand crying. For some reason I felt safe with the stranger boy . He looked humble somehow , l could tell he wasn’t a thief .
He took me to a restaraunt nearby and bought us lunch .
“My name is Joseph, but you can call me Joe, what’s your name ? ” He asked me chewing on his food.
“Mwazi, Mwaziona” finished it.
“Ok, Mwazi , tell me everything let’s see if I can help you.” I looked at him , he was so nice to me . He looked a few years older than me maybe 4 or 5 years older but he was proud of himself I could tell. He was acting all matured.
For some reason he didn’t want to relate himself to the street kids or something but what the hell was he doing walking around the station .
“Okay” I sighed finally.
“l will tell you everything.”
…to be continued