3 hours later, we reached the town of Solwezi. I had visited the small time years back, my uncle, mom’s brother once lived there before he passed on. At the time i was only 10 years old. I could still remember a few places though there was some great improvements and the small town was growing. I guess it was the coming of the investors in the mines.
Paula, told the driver of the open Van to drive us to one of the lodges she said belonged to her father. Immediately we walked to the reception the lodge workers came running to welcome and greet her. “what happened to you Madam?” One of the workers asked her.
” are you okey? Can we help you with something?” He asked her tagging behind as we walked in the long corridor heading towards the rooms.
“Yes” Paula answered..
“tell the accountant to pay the driver of the Van outside and please call someone to the office right now.”
“yes mam” the guy responded turning to go back after giving me a dirty glance.
Paula led me to a wide office with good looking furniture and neatly decorated cream white leather chairs behind a mahogan table.
An air con direct on the left of the table..
“this is where I work from sometimes when I want to take a break from my busy schedules.” she told me as she removed her boots.
“uuuhhhh! ” She screamed as she tried to step on the floor. I noticed the blisters were worse than I had seen earlier.
I giggle in my head, thank God I was a black person, it would take the whole week of walking for me to get such blisters on my feet.
“You need to be checked by a doctor” I suggested as she sat in her chair looking really exausted.
“not Now Ackim. I need to wash off this dirty on me and then make a few calls. Am not sure what’s going on with dad. So I won’t risk exposing myself yet until am certain this is under control.” She sighed tired.
I nodded in agreement..
“I think I can use a bath too” I spoke up still standing. I saw how people looked at me at the entrance, surely I was a real mess.
“Oh yeah, sorry Ackim” she sighed.
“look at me, am busy thinking of my problems forgetting you too need to be taken care of, am sorry.. ” she added.
“it’s okey, i understand. just show me the bathroom I will get to it already ”
She lifted the land line in the room and dialled some number..
“Shila come over to my office ” she called on the phone. A couple of minutes later a tall and dark girl with a well shaped body walked in.
“Show my friend a room which is vacant and give him whatever he will ask for, make sure he’s comfortable.” Paula added as the girl led me out of the office. she looked at me with a disgust look but I ignored her. who would blame her anyway, my body had not touched any water for the past 4 days except that of rains which even made it worse. I could bet I had a stench. I even wondered how Paula had managed to stay close to me as we walked together.
Shila opened a room two doors from the office we left Paula.. “there’s water and everything you need to get cleaned up” she explained, Still avoiding any contact with me.
“Thank you” i smiled and immediately regretted it, she made a face of disgust and walked away almost holding her nose.
The feel of the warm water on my skin was so wonderful. I took all the time i had scrubbing my skin. I had to get rid of the dirty I was feeling and had felt for almost 6 years. If i didn’t escape I could have lived under the command of general Loko for 6 years the follwing month.
After almost two hours of being in the tab scrubbing myself, I finally emmerged from the water and went to look at my self in a mirror. I slowly held my face.
“oh my God” I whispered, i could not believe how I looked. only an inch of my face was visible, my hair was long and tied, the moustache had grown covering three quaters of my face. I looked at my self for a few more minutes, a tear dropped from my eye as I recalled what I had been through. I however was not the cry type, so the tear disappeared as soon as it fall off my eye and it was dry again.
“Thank God am alive” I whispered.
It was the only prayer I could say over the years, either thank God for my life today or thank you God for the food. I never went beyond that. I guess I was forgetting every other prayer my mother taught me and what I learnt from church.
I was gone thinking about my life when I heard a soft knock on the door. I wrapped a towel on my waist and walked towards the door. A short guy stood by the door, he smiled at me..
” I have been told to come help you with your hair” he mentioned showing me the shaving machine in his hands.
” of course, thank you” I nodded indicating him to come in.
The guy did his thing and all the while we both were quite. He finished and asked me to look in the mirror..
“great work!” I exclaimed seeing my face clear and the moustache well treamed and shaped, leaving a very thin linning which defined my chin, revealing my thin lips. My head was clean and well shaved too. I could confess I looked like a different person, the people who saw me before could not identify me at first sight of my change.
In an hour I was done cleaning myself and I put on the new clothes another worker handed me. I wonder how Paula managed to give them accurate sizes to my clothes and shoes. I wore a pair of black jeans and a long sleeved body top which defined my bulged muscles. If not for the small vest I put inside the top could have exposed my pointed small nipples.
what I did everyday of my life was a drill and I needed no gym to get a perfect body shape.
Paula came by later and she stood by the door quite for a few minutes checking me out.
” wow! ” She exclaimed.
“you look um..mm good” she murmered. I let a smile..
“it’s almost like you can’t believe am the same person you saw an hour before” I added standing from the bed I had lay back on.
“Sure I can confess you look different” she chuckled.
“let’s have some real food” she suggested leading the way out. she looked great in her small dress and high Heels, even though she didn’t have a well outlined Zambian woman shape, she looked perfect in her dress which revealed her round hips.
we sat in the corner of the restraunt at the lodge as the waiters served some hot dishes of food.
Later that evening she suggested we rest and see the way forward the next day. Laying on my back I immediately fall asleep, the comfort of the bed making it easy to relax. After 5 years and some months of being in the bush it really felt more than great.
To be continued