“Tinashe, is Gary coming back,” Kasuli stared at me.
I shifted uneasily. There was no answer to that question. There was nothing that I could say to an innocent soul like Kasuli. Fortunately, one of the relative’s children called her to play with the other children. I had to convince her to go and play. She needed some friendly faces especially those of her age.
This was a week after we had buried Papa and Gary. Most of the people left for their homes. Only my uncle Richard and his wife and some few relatives remained to conclude the funeral. They had been having thorough discussions through the entire week. I could tell that it was about our fate.
During the last days, momma had only been seen on two or three days. She would come and disappear in thin air. No one knew where she was going. They didn’t ask her because she was a stranger to everyone.
“Did you see her last night?” a woman murmured.
“Yes I did. I wanted to tell you about the same. That woman is reckless. She came drunk and was swollen on her cheek. I wonder what her daughter would think of her.” another woman said.
“Wonder’s shall never end.” the first woman said.
After overhearing the two women conversant, I wondered what was happening to momma. When I saw her for the first time in three years, I couldn’t even recognise her. She had lost a lot of weight. There was something going on with her and I was determined to find out. With the way things were unfolding, I needed to make sure that whoever would take us in would be appropriate for us.
The next day, some more relatives left our house. It was now easier to move without having a lot of sympathetic eyes on me. I got outside and found my two friends washing plates busy chatting. I was glad they had stuck around for me. They were genuine friends. I looked for momma but couldn’t find her. Returning to the house, I saw Marlon on the other side of the road with some boys from our school.
“Tinashe, how are you?” Marlon greeted me as I walked to him.
“I am trying, thanks.”
“I was hoping to see you. It’s been a week and I just wanted to find out how you were doing.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you Marlon. I appreciate. And thanks for everything. The girls told me you have been around from the start.”
“You are welcome.”
“I am going back now. I was looking for momma outside but she is not here.” I looked around.
“I saw her heading this way with a man.” Marlon pointed down the road.
“How did you know it’s my mother?”
“A friend showed me. When she came on the third day of the funeral, people talked and I got the chance to see her.”
I was curious about what momma was up to. I just couldn’t let it slide.
“Do you mind escorting me?” I asked him.
“No problem, let’s use the car.”
I hadn’t seen that the Fiat was parked some meters from where we were standing. Marlon told his friends that he was coming back. We got into the car and followed momma. He drove for about fifteen minutes and there was no sight of her. I was about to tell him to drive back when we saw her coming out of a club with a man holding her hand. The man who looked like he was in his late thirties, tall and very huge, dark in complexion and furrows were formed on his forehead. Looking from the distance, I could tell that momma and the man had been having an argument.
“What do you want to do Tinashe?” Marlon looked at me.
“I don’t know.” I answered expressionless.
The man dragged momma from the club and took her on the roadside and started shouting at her. She had her head down all the time. She couldn’t look at him. I could tell she was afraid of the man. I decided to get out of the car and found out what was happening.
“Tinashe what are you doing here?” Momma creeped out. “Go back to the house.”
“Momma who is this man?” I asked.
The man looked at me with lustful eyes and said, “Wow, this is Tinashe. She is more beautiful than you.”
“Terry respect yourse………..”
Before she could finish the sentence, she received a slap on her face that she fell on the ground weeping. I stood motionless looking at the cruellest man I had ever seen. He didn’t care he had hit a woman. He looked so calm and unremorseful. Marlon ran to where I was and told me to go back to the car with him.
“You always make me do this to you Mary,” he knelt down and picked her up.
I didn’t understand whatever was going on. Stepping back, I looked at momma who couldn’t even look me in the eyes. He wrapped her around his arms I couldn’t see her. She was crying in his arms and he comforted her. What kind of man would beat up a woman and later comfort her? I asked myself. What made it worse was that she even hugged him.
The drive back home was in total silent. I kept trying to make sense of what I had just witnessed but I couldn’t.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Marlon asked.
“Not now, thanks,” I got off his car and walked to the house.
I got into the house and found Kasuli crying. She had not seen me for an hour and was crying that I had left her too. She couldn’t stop crying and no one managed to calm her down. My friends tried after my relatives had failed but they also failed. I found her with Diana.
“Tina has left me too,” she wailed.
As soon as Diana saw me, she smiled and told Kasuli to look back.
“Tina!” Her face brightened.
“My Kasuli,” I hugged her.
I carried her and took her to the bedroom. She started complaining about me leaving her and told me I should never leave her again. I wanted to tell her about what I had just witnessed happening to momma but I couldn’t, she couldn’t apprehend the situation. She started making joyful noise and jumping on the bed when we were interrupted by my aunt’s pathetic voice.
“So now, you are leaving in boy’s cars? Just a week after your father’s death and you are already disrespecting him?” she stood folding her hands on my bedroom’s door.
To be continued