Terry turned out to be surprisingly good. He was good to mama and us. The first four months we stayed with him, he showed us nothing but love. He even threw me a small party on my 19th birthday. Mama was happy and so were we. Mama would always tell me from time to time how right she was about him.
“Didn’t I tell you Tinashe?” She smiled. “People change.”
“Yes mama,” I said.
I agreed with her but I gave him the benefit of doubt. It’s true that people change but not all the time. At some point, a person’s true nature comes out.
Kasuli was now twelve and maturing very fast it was scary. Her body became curvier. Her hips got wider and Her breasts developed. She had even grown taller. It was obvious she had started getting attention from boys because she would spend a lot of time beautifying herself. She started caring how her hair was and what she wore. I felt my younger sister was slowly slipping through my hands. She became distant and would not talk about personal matters like we used to. I thought maybe it was because we were happy and had nothing to talk about.
I had started going for tuitions. Mama didn’t manage to find a place at any school in Kabwe and she opted I started attending tuitions. I went for tuitions only on Saturdays and would spend the other days at home probably reading, studying or doing house chores. Every time I was home alone and bored, I would get Marlon’s letters and read. In the past four months, Marlon never wrote to me and I wondered. Four months to me was a wrong time not hearing from him. In all the times we had been writing to each other, two months was the latest. I didn’t want to think much about it. After a busy day of sweeping the house, cooking and fetching water, Mama came back home holding Kasuli’s hand infuriated. She passed me outside without saying a word. I followed them inside and mama was furious. Whatever it was, was serious.
“Mama what’s wrong?” I asked scared.
“Ask your sister,” she pointed at Kasuli.
Confused, I asked Kasuli, “Kasuli what is it?”
Kasuli remained quiet and avoided eye contact. It was becoming irritating because no one couldn’t tell me what was happening.
“Mama tell me,” I raised my voice.
“Your sister has the audacity to stand with a boy and holding each other at the school ground,” Mama said.
“What?” I looked at Kasuli.
“You heard me right. Some teachers have been telling me that they have been seeing her with the same boy for a while now.”
“Kasuli is that true,” I asked her.
She was still silent.
“It’s true, I found her myself today,” Mama said angrily.
It then became clear to me as to why Kasuli had been acting strange lately. She had been wooed by some boy at her school and she felt all grown up. I couldn’t let it continue, whatever was happening it had to stop.
“Who is the boy?” I asked her seriously.
Kasuli knew me all her life and she knew when I got upset. She shifted nervously when I asked who the boy was.
“Perhaps she’s following your footsteps,” Mama said and left for her bedroom.
“Mama what is that supposed to mean?” I yelled.
“She sees that you have a boyfriend and she thinks its ok for her too.”
That hit me hard. I became speechless and just sat down. Was what mama said true? Was I a bad influence on Kasuli? I thought about what mama said real hard. I knew mama said those words because she was angry but I had never thought of it that way.
“Can I go to the bedroom now?” Kasuli asked with her face facing down.
“Yes, go and change you have supper.”
Later that night, I decided to talk to Kasuli before we went to bed. I needed not to be scared of her, if there was anyone who could talk to her freely, it was me.
“You have to stop seeing that boy Kasuli,” I said.
“I like him Tina,” She said.
“You don’t even know what that means.”
“I know. It’s like you like Marlon.”
Mama was right. Kasuli was influenced by me. It was obvious she grew up admiring what I had with Marlon and the first time she got with a boy, she jumped right in.
“No, you’re young. That boy only wants something from you and once he’s done, he will leave you.”
“No buts, this is not a discussion. You have to stop seeing that boy or else I will come to your school and weep the both of you,” I switched off the light.
I could hear her cry as she felt asleep and felt bad but I had to show her that I was serious. I was scared for her. We had been through a lot already and I couldn’t bear seeing her little heart crushed.
The next few days were awkward among the three of us. It was like the three of us were all not in talking terms. I was upset with mama for telling me that I was influencing Kasuli and she was upset with Kasuli. Kasuli was also mad at me. We were having a silent supper when Terry stormed in drunk to his wits. We were all surprised especially Kasuli because she had never seen him like that before. He came into the sitting room and sat on the couch staring at us in disgust.
“Go and rest,” Mama told him.
“I am not tired woman,” he looked at her. “As a matter of fact, I am tired.”
“Then go and sleep,” she said calmly.
“Do you know what I am tired of?” He asked looking at the three of us.
No one answered him.
“I am tired of taking care of you all. I go to work and work my ass off and feed children who aren’t even mine.”
“Terry stop!” Mama shouted.
“I am not stopping Mary. You cannot even give me a child of my own.”
“We discussed this Terry.”
“No Mary, No. I am tired. Do you think it’s easy pretending like I am all fine with whatever this is?”
“Then leave,” Mama said with sadness in her voice.
“And what? So that you can live forever after with your girls?”
Mama didn’t respond.
“I am tired,” he touched his head.
Mama got up and went to him, “Let’s go to the bedroom.”
“Leave me alone,” He shouted at her and pushed her to the floor.
“Mama!” We screamed at the same time with Kasuli.
“It’s alright girls, I am fine.”
The beast had been unleashed. I guess I was right. No one changes completely. That night, I couldn’t sleep. Mama and Terry kept shouting at each other on top of their voices. At one point I could hear slaps but closed my ears. It was really sad hearing everything. The plate kept getting fuller and fuller. I already had Kasuli on my mind and now Terry was back in his state.
The days that followed got even worse. Terry would come home drunk and do the exact things he did the previous day. The environment was becoming toxic for all of us. He disturbed the little peace we had in the house. Kasuli was growing more distant from me. It was obvious she was still seeing that boy. Mama stopped talking to me like she used to. I saw how ashamed she was. It was obviously because she asked herself what I thought about her and her tolerance to Terry’s deriding behaviour.
“Tinashe,” mama called me after returning from work. I had not seen her in the morning. I sat next to her and saw she had a red eye and discerned there and then, that she was punched by her Terry.
“Mama, report him to the police,” I told her.
Looking away, she said, “That’s not the reason I called you Tinashe.” She continued, “I want you and Kasuli to go back to Lusaka.”
To be continued