2 years later..
I got tired of staying home , so I pleaded with Chile to let me join her selling in town until she one day agreed after almost a year of staying with them. I was now 13 years old.
With the help of Ben (my friend who helped me with studies) I never went to school but Ben helped me , he would tell me everything they learnt though it wasn’t enough, i didn’t feel so much left out .
Now at 13, I could contribute to the well being of what I now called my family . Since the three of us where doing something together, rented a three roomed house with bigger rooms and electricity . My brilliant idea of me moving around town offices selling packets of fruits really helped . Chile would pack in plastics different fruits , oranges , mangos , appples and pears. I would put in the plastic dish and go round selling in the offices . By the end of the day I would sell for more than K300 when business was really good even K0 during monthends .
Joe was now working in a steel company , he had grown into a strong and handsome man , infact he told me he had a girlfriend of which I burst out laughing , for me he was still a boy .
One day I sat across the gate of ZESCO . It was a very hot afternoon and I was tired of walking . I bought a pack of frozen freezits and ate as i rested, then an idea came.
“What if I would go and ask about my mom , granny told me she was a chief accountant . Surely if she was that important someone must remember her” I thought to myself .
I saw one security guard leave the premises, I quickly stood up
“This is my chance” l thought .
“Good afternoon? ” I smiled greeting him . greeting
“Afternoon” he said .
“Sorry to bother you sir but l want to know something , how many years have you worked here ?” I asked.
” Why do you ask?” the man responded.
“The thing is , l want to ask about my old relative who worked here about 10 years ago.”
“Sorry my dear , I started working later. I’ve worked for only 3 years.”
“I see , thank you sir,” I said .
“Hey!” the man called me back. “Maybe you can ask Mr Botha , the office elderly . He has been here for over 10 years , maybe he can help.”
“I appreciate that sir , so is he inside?”I asked him.
“No , he got a sick leave for some days, check next week when he’s back .
I thanked the man again. I was so excited , I couldn’t wait to tell Chile and Joe .
“Mwazi don’t you think it’s dangerous? What are you going to say to the man if at all you will manage talking to that Mr Both?” I could tell Chile was worried.
“But I had to somehow find my father ” I told her. “Whether he knows me or not am going to find him . lt was because of him I’m going through all this , my mom was killed by the woman he’s married to . lt’s not fair and whatever I can do to find him I will do” l said with determination .
Later during the week I would pass by ZESCO as though to familiarize myself with the place. On a Friday l stood there aimlesly again , not knowing someone had been observing me watch the premises . “Hey you !” Someone called from the small entrance , “Come here.”
“Wow a customer” I assumed and i was excited .
Upon reaching there the lady standing by the gate asked me in . “Which fruits do you want ?” I asked putting down my dish .
“No , I don’t want fruits , l just want to know why for the past days you have been standing outside watching this place. what do you want ?”
I didn’t anticipate to be caught. “Um mmmm, I’m just looking for” I stammered.
“Speak up before I call the guard on you, who sent you to spy on this place ?” She raised her voice.
” What ? No!” I responded ” I came to see my uncle,” I lied .
“Who is your uncle ?” She challenged me.
“Mr BothaMr I said ” but he doesn’t know me so I came looking for him” I quickly added .
The lady looked at me for a moment ,
“where do you stay ?”
“In Chawama” I responded.
“I’m sure she believe my innocent face . she told me he wasn’t working that week ,
“Come next week” she said
“Oh, ok thank you” I smiled before rushing out.
At least something good came out of this, l confirmed there was a Mr Botha and the story of him being off was also true . “Next week it is . ” I smilled as I went on selling my fruits .
I spent the entire weekend thinking about my meeting with Mr Botha . I prayed he knew my mom and would tell me anything about my father and where to find him . Whatever the outcome of this meeting I planned in my head, I wasn’t backing out until I found my so-called father . lt was unfortunate I never asked granny about his full names , I only remember her call him Ackim.
” well, whoever and wherever you are I will find you” I swore in my heart.
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On Monday morning I woke up early, cleaned the house and took a bath. I didn’t want to look very small so I choose to wear a pair of Jeans and a loose body top, letting my hair loose it fall on my shoulders it looked nice espacially that i had it straighten the previous day. Chile insisted I put make up but I refused I wasn’t a fun of make up, lip gloss did for me.
I looked at the mirror we stuck in our bedroom and was satisfied.
” I look older” I told Chile.
“yeah, of course ” she teased with a laugh,
” if not that you are tall, someone would think you are still 10 with that small body.”
“come on ba Chile, do you have to remind me am slim?” I complained.
” yes, until you start paying attention to eating” Chile responded throwing me flat shoes to wear. I grew to love her so much. we barely had quarrels and we easily blended, she was my best friend.
I didn’t like her idea of getting married but lately it’s all she talked about.
” am not growing any younger Mwazi she would say, thankfully she found herself a good man after she discovered her old boyfriend was cheating. The new boyfriend, was a primary school teacher and he seemed decent. I just didn’t like the idea of her leaving us, she was the only woman in my life and in her was my mother, sister and friend.
“Ok let’s go lady” teased Chile standing up. That day I only had one mission, to see Mr Botha, I wasn’t going to sell fruits
” maybe if all goes well I will join you at the stand” I told Chile as we got on a bus to town. It was passed 9, that day we were surely late for business.
“it’s your fault” Chile accused me“you couldn’t stop talking about your father and all this plan of yours, you kept us all awake until passed mid night”
“Stop complaining Ba Chile” I answered giving her a sheepish smile.
When we got to Chile’s stand she told me to wait a bit.
“If he’s an office orderly he probably is working right now. Go after 10 maybe you will find him free..”
Chile was right, by the time i got to ZESCO, the man at the gate told me Mr Botha is in but was just having his breakfast.
“you can wait there” the guard said pointing at some benches at the reception. He then disappeared along the corridor. Few minutes later, he came with an eldery man. I think in his 50s. He was dark in complexion and an unshaved white moustache,
“she’s here” the guard pointed at me.
“hello!” the man greeted me with a gentle smile.
“hello!” I greeted back holding out my hand to greet him, he held me and stared at me quiet longer than usual.
” It can’t be” he sighed with a puzzled look on his face.
“you said your name is? ” He asked still looking at me in a strange way. “Mwaziona Daka” i said giving him my full names.
“Daka!” He exclaimed
” no way.” He raised his eyebrows at me and led me to the back of the offices him still holding my hand. “my child, who is your mother..?” He started.
” That’s why am here” I told him without hesitation. “I want to ask about my mom.”
He signalled me to sit at the bench. he sat down next to me and before I could proceed with my questions.. he said.
” I think I know your mother, if am not mistaken. she looked just like you, a bit older but the exact copy of what am seeing right now. my child you almost gave me a heart attack. Are you Ms Daka Chikondi’s daughter?” he asked.
I was marvelled by his accurateness.
” yes” I said smilling, deep in my heart I thanked God I would get some answers.
“Wow.. am so happy to see you, your mother was a very good person. she had a heart of an angel and she helped a lot of workers like myself in this company, May her soul rest in peace.” He sighed sadly. I let him finish his praises before I asked
” so Mr Botha I came cause I want to know about my father. I don’t know where he is and if he’s alive. Do you know where I can find Him?”
He looked at me, “my child you mean you don’t live with your father?” He asked surprised.
” No I dont live with him ” I told him. “I don’t know where he is my granny is dead and I need to find him.” I added.
“Sorry my child, I met your grand mother once at your mother’s funeral. she was devastated, Just like me she also believed your mother was murdered by that witch of a woman. Am happy you don’t live with your father i swear that woman is evil.” He lamentated.
“How well did you know them? I mean my mother and father?” I asked.
” I knew your mother very well, I was her driver for some time before she got her own vehicle. I met your father occasionally especially when I drove her for lunch and where they would meet. He seemed to be a good person too but I guess he dipped his fingers in a wrong pot. ” Mr Botha explained.
” tell me everything please. It’s important that I know the truth about the both. ” I begged “I really ‘ve to know…” I added seeing his concerned stare.
…to be continued