“He finally came,” Clara laughed. “He came to me the other day and wanted to find out if you had a boyfriend. I told him you didn’t. Apparently, a lot of people at school thought Fumbani was your boyfriend.”
“Don’t tell me Clara,” I grimaced.
“I am telling you,” she shrugged. “That boy would have finished your market.”
“Anyway he is no longer in the picture now,” I said thoughtfully.
“You look beautiful by the way,” she complimented me.
“Thank you Clara, I hope it’s not too much. I don’t want to appear as very anxious to go out with him.”
“No, it’s just fine, where is he by the way?”
Marlon had told me that he would meet me by Clara’s place. He didn’t want my father to see him. I also found an opportunity to take Kasuli to Clara’s place to be babysat until I came back. We were growing impatient because he was late by 20 minutes. While sitting on Clara’s veranda, a Fiat Panda 4×4 parked on the other side of the road. No one came out of the car for a good three minutes and we couldn’t’ see who was in it.
“Isn’t that him coming out of the car?” Clara exclaimed.
Carefully looking at the figure I answered, “Yes that’s him.”
Marlon stepped out of the car. He walked towards Clara’s compound while we looked at him in awe. He walked with his head and shoulders high deriving confidence but nobility showed on his steps. He looked so tall and slender, his face so luminous and innocent like a baby with amazing features. The best part was his outfit which was as immaculate as pure water. Marlon looked at us and probably knew what effect he had caused on us.
“Go now,” Clara murmured.
I got up on my feet and walked stately to where he was standing. Getting closer to him, I inhaled his perfume which felt like a new life had been born in me. Who was this boy, I thought to myself.
“I am sorry I am late Tinashe,” He apologised sincerely.
“It’s ok, I actually got here too,” I said.
“Well, let’s get going my lady,” he gave me his hand.
He led me to the car which he got out from. Turning my head back, I saw Clara and Kasuli standing on the Veranda with Kasuli looking rather sad. She was not used to being around strangers but Clara’s family was no stranger to her. As I looked at her, I felt a compelling surge of emotion which ran its course from my throat to the stomach. I felt weak in my knees. This was the same feeling I felt watching papa and Gary leave the house. What’s happening to me, I asked myself.
“Is everything ok Tinashe?” Marlon asked me.
“I am fine,” I stiffened.
“You seem nervous. Don’t worry it’s just a movie,” He smiled.
“It’s nothing,” I brushed him off while cleaning my face which was profusely sweating.
We got to Plaza one. One of the best cinema halls in the country at the time. I watched Marlon get the tickets from the ticket booth. The place was crowded with couples busy chattering. The atmosphere was rather awkward for non-couples. Marlon got back and we entered the cinema. The movie was amazingly romantic and fun. It reminded me of a story I read in a magazine. While watching, I could feel his stare on me. I badly wanted to look at him too but I knew where that would lead us. He held my hand once and I stiffened. I watched the whole movie without looking at him.
“How was it?” he asked while driving home.
“Not so bad. I love that girl. The actress.”
“Salma Hayek?” he cut in.
“That’s her name?”
“You know your movies,” I said while thinking. There was something about Marlon. This kind of life didn’t look new to him. It was like he was used to this life. The way he talked to the guy who sold the tickets. It was like he had been there before. The way he led me to the seats in the cinema, he clearly knew his way and picked the best spot. I had so many questions to ask him but most importantly this one, “How old are you?”
“What?” He bursted into laughter.
“I am just asking,” I said shyly.
“I am turning 20 in December,” he answered with a smug on his face.
“Marlon who are you really? I know nothing about you.”
“What do you want to know about me Tinashe?” He parked his car some meters away from Clara’s house.
“I don’t know but I feel like there’s a lot I would like to know about you. You are a stranger to me and that freaks me out.”
“A stranger you have gone out with to watch a movie.”
My face turned to stone. I felt stupid hearing those words from him. He was right. I knew nothing about him and yet I went out with him. I prayed silently that I didn’t strike him as a desperate girl looking for love.
Realizing he had made the moment awkward he said, “I am sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. My full names are Marlon Bwembya.”
“Bwembya as in Darlington Bwembya? The Minister of Agriculture?” I asked hoping it wasn’t true.
“Unfortunately yes.” he scratched his head.
Everything was explained now. The car, the friendliness shown to him at the cinema, the fancy styles. What I wondered about though, was what he was doing in the suburbs of Lusaka township which was moderately a high density area. We talked for almost an hour and I tried as hard as possible not to seem very inquisitive.
The time was around 5 in the afternoon. I left Marlon and went to pick up Kasuli at Clara’s. I found her sleeping. I woke her up. She smiled upon seeing my face. Clara wanted to hear how my date with Marlon was but I was late. Papa and Gary would be home by that time. We rushed home with Kasuli and found two gentlemen on our door knocking. They wore uniforms like Papa’s. I felt affrighted. My body felt numb as I approached the two men while Kasuli held my hand.
“Excuse me, may I help you?” I asked.
“Yes. Are you Ms Tinashe Mulongo?”
“Yes that’s me.” I answered.
The two men removed their caps from their heads and their faces suddenly turned blue. They looked at each other as if in conflict of who will tell me whatever they were about to tell me. After a long hard breath of in and out, one of them finally spoke, “There has being an accident Tinashe. Unfortunately, your father and brother died on the spot.”
To be continued