“Happy New Year!” We shouted.
“2000, right?” Kasuli smiled looking at me.
“We are not dead, are we?” I smiled back.
“It’s been a rough year,” Kasuli nodded.
“It has. I am glad 1999 is gone. I hope it goes away with its problems,” I smirked.
“Optimism Tinashe. You have to look on the bright side of things,” Shikulu Fumbani said.
“Yes shikulu. The bright side,” I said sarcastically.
“There you go with your sarcasm,” Shikulu nodded. “Look at my farm. Do you think I found myself here by accident?”
I looked around and said, “You worked for it.”
“Yes I did but I also faced a lot of problems. That is the reason why I am nurturing Fumbani to take care of it one day. He’s the only grandson that loves this life.”
“You forced me to love it grandpa,” Fumbani said sipping on some munkoyo.
“Whatever,” shikulu said.
We all laughed.
“My point is; hardships are part of life. You have to embrace them. You have to accept they are part of our lives but they also have to make you strong.”
“Yes shikulu, you are right,” I said.
“I am sleepy,” Kasuli yawned.
“Me too,” Shikulu said.
“How is your hand?” Fumbani asked Kasuli.
“It’s getting better now,” Kasuli responded.
Kasuli and Shikulu went in the house and I was left with Fumbani.
“Not sleepy?” He looked at me.
“I just have a lot on my mind,” I said worryingly.
“You always have a lot on your mind Tinashe,” He said.
“Yes. Live a little,” He turned around and went for the door.
I looked at him expressionlessly.
“Fumbani!” I called him.
He looked back.
“Thank you,” I said.
He smiled and said, “Goodnight Tinashe.
I was left outside alone. I sat on Shikulu’s chair and stared at the stars. The night was still young. I was grateful for what Fumbani and his family did for us. I didn’t expect it. I was wrong about Fumbani. I didn’t know what had changed him or that’s the way he was when he was with his grandfather but he was a gentleman. The day I saw him at the hospital, we were all surprised because apparently, he had heard that I had gone to Kabwe. After his grandfather told him about what Kasuli and I had gone through, he insisted that we join them at the farm.
“Fumbani I hardly know you,” I said.
“At least after she gets better, you can leave for Chongwe.”
“I cannot accept that Fumbani,” I nodded.
“Do it for Kasuli, she needs some peace and I guarantee you, grandfathers farm is the best for that,” he laughed.
“Thank you but no,” I looked at him.
The doctor tending to Kasuli came in and looked at us suspiciously and smiled.
“She’s fine now but she has to come next week for a check-up,” The doctor said and went on.
“You can take her home today.”
Fumbani looked at me. I couldn’t go back to Richard’s house nor go to Chongwe because I wouldn’t have transport money to bring her back for check-ups. Fumbani discerned that I had hit blunt.
“Go and prepare her while I go check on grandfather and later come back to take you,” He left.
I stood motionless. As promised. Fumbani came back later with his grandfather and we went together to their farm. The farm was beautiful. Kasuli couldn’t stop admiring it. Shikulu had done well for himself and his family. He had workers all over the place and Fumbani was in charge of them. We were showed to our rooms by Fumbani. The treatment we received was nothing we deserved. We were told not to do any work around. Every time I would try to do something, Shikulu would stop me. I was more than grateful.
I was lost in thought and when I checked the time, it was 3am. I could hear some noise coming from a distance people celebrating entering the New Year. I went in the house to our room and found Kasuli sleeping. I joined her and slept too.
I woke up in the morning and found out that Fumbani and his grandfather had gone to the hospital for the check-up. Kasuli had already woken up and she was staring blankly at the roof.
I turned my back against the soft bed and joined her, I reached for her hand and kissed it lightly on the back, she was all I had; the reason I would do everything in my powers to make certain that our lives were not the same from the way they were now.
‘Do you think God hates us?’ she asked for the first time in the ten minutes that we had been quiet.
That question felt like home, I had been asking myself the same thing over and over again I just didn’t know that her young innocent mind could think of such.
‘Why would you say that Suli?’ I asked after debating with what to say
‘From one of our Sunday school classes, the teacher told us that God is the father of the fatherless, I don’t see why a father would allow his children to go through such, papa would never allow us to go through such.’
I didn’t realize that tears had fallen from my eyes, I didn’t know what to tell her. She was young and innocent and she had been subjected to a lot of things; attempted rape, ill treatment, poverty just to mention a few.
‘I don’t know what lesson we are going to learn from all this but never doubt the existence of God.’ I told her squeezing her hand reassuringly
‘I am not doubting him Tina.’
‘He still loves me that is why I have you.’ She said turning her back towards me
I let go of her hand and walked outside the bedroom, I couldn’t hold the pain anymore. I just let it out but making sure that she didn’t hear me. I had chosen to be strong, that for my little sister I would not allow the world to break me but here she was the little girl I knew speaking like an adult.
‘God but why?’ I cried helplessly
I thought of the day papa had left with my little brother, I saw their smiles in this moment. The smile was way too perfect, I remembered how I had received the news. Everything flushing back like it was just the previous day. I thought of mama who was supposed to protect us but she couldn’t do enough as a mother. I thought of my father’s family who were supposed to treat us like blood but then had let us go.
‘God are we cursed?’ I asked in between sobs
I could feel my heart getting heavy, it’s like I was mourning my father once again, and I was mourning my little brother over again. I was crying for the pain and the anguish, I was crying for what the world had subjected me to. I was supposed to be a happy youth but here I was raising another child when I was still one myself. Kasuli saw happiness in my eyes and yet I was broken and I too needed fixing.
The pain came once, then twice. I could feel my lungs grasping for breath. Then Kauli’s little hand held mine.
‘Take me with you.’ She said as tears streamed down her face.
To be continued