I kept my eyes on him. He was so quiet and peaceful it pricked my heart. ” how can a man so handsome, with a long light face and a pointed nose, be mad? ” I asked myself folding my hands as I sat directly facing him.
He was slowly eating his morning Nshima and my eyes went down his hands. ” oh My,” the long clean and sharp nails on his fingers caught my attention. He slowly and gently rolled the lamp of Nshima in his palms. It was like he was some kind of perfectionist.
One would tell from the skin tone that even in his madness he still bathed his body. If not for the additional clothes he had put on and the chitenge pieces wrapped around him, one would surely think the man was okey.
” Jennifer!” My cousin called me.
” I think we better start off now, the busses are here and people are boarding.” She informed me and I stood up sighing.
” of course. But I will use my car, let aunty and the other 3 elderly people come join me ” I responded adjusting my Chitenge as I walked to the car.
Taking one more glance in my back to see the man again and walking fast to the vehicle.
As they lowered the cascate in the grave, the reminder thoughts of my dead parents clicked and I shed tears.
I had grown up from different homes after my parents passed on years back, and sometimes I missed them. Especially with the funeral I was attending, it was unavoidable to think of my parents.
For a moment my thoughts were taken away from the man I left eating at home.
” The Lord had given, and now he has taken, we cannot question him for he is God. Let us just pray that the soul of our beloved son, Brother and friend may be in the hands of the almighty God” the man who was helping with the prayers spoke up.
I watched in silence as the people added some flowers on the grave and later on it was all over.
I needed to go back to Lusaka, Monday was to be a working day. So when we got back home I put all my things in the car and waited for the conclusions of the funeral after lunch.
I looked around for the mad man with my eyes. My heart skipped when I couldn’t see him anywhere.
” hey aunty. Has that man left?” I asked my aunty.
She let a laugh and looked at me.” That man must have affected you so much”
” I know right” I shrugged casually. ” it’s just that I can’t help feel this deep concern about him. It’s like I knew him before he got like that ” I told her her with sincerity.
” he has moved, I think he is in the back” she finally told me and I felt myself relax a bit.
” so anyone knows who that man is?” I asked again this time causing the other woman who was nearby look up at me.
” rumor has it he was okey, like he went to the University and found a good Job here in Kabwe. I don’t really know if the rumor of him sleeping with a widow is true. People say he came from Lusaka.”
” I see” i nodded my head narrowing my eyes.
” what’s his name Aunty? ” I asked the lady
” They he is Ba Benja. But one can never tell for sure. A lot of people just refer to him as Ba bwali because of the Nshima quantity he’s able to consume in a meal” she responded with a chuckle.
My mind started imagining what the man was like before, I thought of the possibility of him having a family but I still wondered why they let him wonder around instead of taking him to the hospital or something just to help him.
Before saying my farewells, I walked to the back where the man was now seated quietly he was dozing off.
I stood before him seeing no one was paying attention, except my cousin who stood with me. I looked at the man from his torn shoes up to his half covered face. The silkness of his black beards driving my desire to feel them in my hands. I analysed the curves of his mouth and eyes. ” he’s so perfect” I whispered not knowing I had said it loudly.
” what?” My cousin asked patting my hand.
” Ba Jen, what did you say?” She accused her eyes already displaying the laugher that was to come from her mouth.
” I said I pity him” i lied clearing my throat.
” what’s your name?” I asked the man not sure if he understood Bemba.
I was taken by surptise when he lifted his white eyes at me. His lips curved into a smile and he answered with a laugh that was so low but audible… ” my name is Benjamin” he smiled amid his laugh making my inside turn with joy at the sound of his voice. He spoke what I thought was perfect english. Maybe the theory of the University had some truth to it, I wondered.
I wanted to ask him more but the attention of people around now made me realise I was acting up.
I felt some wetness in my eyes and I knew standing there any more minute, would make people think I was not so normal. I composed myself and walked to my car.
After my cousin requested for some money which I couldn’t hear as to how much she was mentioning or the purpose of the money.
I just nodded my head and smiled at her as I started the engine.
” will see what i can do my dear” i added and the car was now moving away slowly.
The journey back was not so much as I had planned it to be. Instead of me thinking of what I would do the following day at work or looking forward to watching my favourite TV show, all I kept on thinking was the mad man Benjamin.
” what is wrong with you silly!” I scolded myself after I got home and now was standing in front of the mirrow in my bathroom. ” you are surely not well and this nonsense has to come to an end!” I whsipered loudly.
It didn’t make sense to me that I was feeling so affected by a mad person, it’s not like it was the first time i heard or saw a mad person. I didn’t get myself and the feeling was so frustrating I failed to do anything reasonable that evening.
I tried to organise my clothes for Monday, sitting in front of the TV but every chance my mind took off and the images of Benjamin flipped through.
” oh my God what is wrong with me?” I screamed in the couch pillow. I guessed the loniless I was going through contributed so i called a friend from work.
We weren’t that close but atleast he kept me company at lunch hours and sometimes weekends.
” hey Kegan!” I said trying to sound excited.
” Hey! Girly! ” he responded as he always did. ” you back? ” he asked before I could say another word.
” yeah. Was wondering if you have anything planned out for this evening, am bored to the core.”
” provided you settle the bills am all yours!” He laughed
” grow up man, you are a man and supposed to spent, you are shameless” I teased and I heard him go on his theories of women spending too on outings and how women always applied gender when things were in their favour.
” alright it’s fine the bill is on me. We meet at Makeni mall?” I inquired as I removed my clothes to take a shower.
” see you!” He cut the line and i threw the phone on the bed pulling my leg from the jeans.
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Within 30 minutes I was done preparing myself. Wearing a s pair of faded jeans and a wood on top, I finished up with some canvas, my face plain with only some lip gloss on my lips. satisfied with my tomb boy looks, I walked out to the car speeding off.
Upon seeing me park my car in the parking lot, Kegan walked towards me raising his hands and shouting on top of his voice.
” the buyer is here!” He screamed and I smiled at him as I locked the car door.
“You are such a child, Kegan grow up you are 28 years old !” I laughed making him make some boy dance as his hands kept in the pockets.
” I can father a child and I have told you time and again, don’t judge a book by its cover ” he laughed wincing at me.
” mnmmm I pity the chicks you lay with” I shook my head as we walked to the mall.
” so how did the funeral go?” He asked as we waited for our pizza at Debonairs.
” good, quiet captivating if I may add” I said with a flirt smile which I didn’t notice until I saw kegan raise his eyes at me.
” tell me more!” He sat up with a silly smile on his lips.
” what!” I giggled. ” you are silly, you want to hear the details of a funeral are you nuts?” I looked at him.
” mmmhmhm no you my friend met a man and i can feel you” he teased mimicking my voice.
” the way that word ‘captivating’ came out, I know there’s a name to it. So drop the act and fill me in on this dude” he shrugged putting the bottle of coke aside as the waiter placed the pizza box on our table.
I took my fruitrree and drunk half of it trying to swallow the shame that came with my thoughts.
” how can i be so stupid” I spoke to my mind.
” no there is no man Kegan. Come on, I just went for a day and you expect me to find that interesting man. Besides I told you am off dating for now. You men tend to be jerks most of the times and am not ready to spend another period of my life crying over some jerk.” I remarked and saw Kegan grinn.
” any way I will wait till the day you will spill it out. You can’t lie to me Jen, you know I know almost everything about you” he pointed out and grabbed a piece of pizza taking a bite.
” now this is life ” he smiled chewing on the pizza.
I looked at him, ” if only you knew who is gotten me this crazy ” I smiled at the thought and pulled myself a piece shoving it in my mouth as though a big bite would clear all my unrational thoughts.
To be continued…