Saying goodbye to Marlon was heart-breaking. The days that led to his departure were sad days. I kept wishing something would come up that would make him stay but my wish never came true. Marlon left on the 24th April of 1998. Before he left, he told me that he would be sending me letters as soon as he settled in Algeria. I waited for his letter for a month but it never came. I thought it was best for me to concentrate on my life and the pressing issues I had. When time comes, he will send the letter, I told myself.
Mr Lubase did as we agreed. I got the money that my uncle used to get monthly. The first month, uncle Richard was told that there were problems with the processing of the money. He obliged the first time. A problem arose when I got the money the second time. My uncle suspected that I was getting the money. One day, after coming from delivering some orders, he came all burned up with anger and entered the bedroom without even knocking.
“Uncle Richard!” I screamed.
“I am sorry but I have to talk to you,” he said looking away.
I had just come from taking a shower and was in a towel, luckily.
“Do you mind? I need to put on some clothes.”
He left the room and told me to dress up quickly. I knew that he had found out where the money was going. I hurriedly dressed up and was determined to play dumb to his questions. I found him in the sitting room tapping his leg impatiently. As soon as he saw me, he pointed me to a chair. I grabbed myself a seat and sat.
“Don’t I feed you?” He asked.
“You do uncle,” I answered looking at him.
“Tell me, why did you go to your father’s company and started getting the money I was given to take care of you two?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about Uncle Richard,” I answered ignorantly.
“Don’t play games with me Tinashe. I know the money is now being given to you,” He was getting more furious.
Should I tell him? I asked myself. I had just collected the money for two months and he had found out and was putting up a show already. He had been collecting for seven months, not once did I confront him. That made me see him for who he was, a selfish man. I decided not to tell him. He pressed and pressed but I didn’t curl. I was rigid with my responses. After I saw that he was defeated, I then thought of turning the tables against him.
“So there is money that comes from Papa’s company?” I looked at him.
Hesitating and caught unaware, he said, “Yes that’s for your upkeep.”
“And why didn’t I know about it Uncle?”
“Do you have to know anything?” Before I could answer he went on. “There is a lot of things you don’t know. Just recently you found out your mother got a loan, didn’t you?”
I remained silent. For some reasons, mama’s name being mentioned in any argument weakened me. Every time someone mentioned her, I didn’t know what to do; whether to defend her or be against her.
“Now listen Tinashe, if I ever find out you have been getting the money, I am sending you and your sister to Chongwe. Do you hear me?”
Chongwe also weakened me. The thought of those relatives was like a nightmare. I didn’t show him that I was scared. I kept a straight face.
Leaving him sitting uncomfortably, I went back to the bedroom and found Kasuli folding her clothes. She was growing up so fast. In her I could see me. She was a good child. She listened and obeyed. Whatever I instructed her to do, she did with no hesitation. I started building a friend in her. I would talk to her and she would sit quietly and listen to me. I would also tell her to tell me anything she thought of telling me. I was glad she said everything that was in her heart. Funny thing is, every time she did, we would end up crying.
The next day, I visited Mr Lubase and told him about my uncle’s suspicion. He too was concerned about my uncle. He asked me if my uncle was mistreating me and my sister but I denied. I couldn’t say anything against Richard’s family. My conscious couldn’t allow me. The money that I had gotten was enough at that moment. I told Mr Lubase to continue giving him the money only on one condition. He was hesitant at first but with much persuasion, we came to an agreement. The condition was that after a month of resuming giving my uncle the money, if I didn’t visit Mr Lubase, the company needed to stop giving Uncle Richard the money.
“Before you leave, what are you planning to do?” Mr Lubase asked concerned.
“It’s nothing serious, I think me and my sister just need a change of scenery. Thank you Mr Lubase,” I closed the door behind me.
Walking back home and seeing the other kids knocking off from school hurt me. Seeing them in uniforms reminded me of how much I missed school. It also reminded me of Marlon and wondered how he was doing in Algeria. I missed him.
Days later, a letter came from Marlon. Fortunately, I was home alone with Kasuli. I heard a knock from the door and when I opened it, it was the mail man. Immediately I saw him, I knew Marlon had written to me. I signed and got the letter and ran to the bedroom. I was so anxious and excited at the same time. I opened the envelope, took the letter and jumped on the bed accompanied by Kasuli. She watched me read the letter.
“Why are you crying?” She asked.
I couldn’t utter any word. I looked at her and read it out loud.
“Tinashe my love, I am sorry I didn’t write you earlier. It took me a while to get settled here but I a am now. I miss you so much I hope you and Kasuli are doing fine back there. I have so much to tell you about this place but that can wait. Write me if you can as soon as you receive the letter. I love you, Marlon.”
Kasuli’s face was expressionless. She didn’t understand much about the love thing. I didn’t even know why I had read the letter out loudly. I guess it was because of the joy I felt. That night, I was so happy that all the sorrows I had vanished. My Marlon had written to me, I sat on the bed with the letter on my chest.
When having supper, I didn’t see aunt Tamara. I didn’t ask uncle Richard or Enoch because we were not in talking terms. My uncle couldn’t even look at me. If its Enoch, ever since that day, he never spoke a word to us. After washing the plates, we went to bed and left Enoch and uncle Richard seated. Some minutes later, uncle Richard knocked on our bedroom door.
“I have followed your aunt to the funeral, we are spending the night there. Enoch is in his bedroom.”
“Whose funeral?” I asked.
“Does it matter? You don’t even know the person,” He left.
I locked the door and went to the bedroom. I read Marlon’s letter once again which was probably for the hundredth time. It was nice knowing that Marlon still had me in his heart. Sleeping knowing that about Marlon brought peace to my soul.
I was awoken by a sound coming from the door knob. At first I thought it was the wind from outside but as I paid attention, the sound came from the bedroom door. Each second, it became louder. With each sound, panic and fear crept in. I wanted to wake Kasuli but what if I was insinuating, I thought to myself. I got out of the bed and asked, “Whose there?”
The sound stopped and there was total silent. I stepped backwards and the sound continued. My legs felt weak. Waking up Kasuli, the door opened. Kasuli was awake and we could both see who was standing at the door.
To be continued