It was an odd day to die. The atmosphere was golden and the horizon was embracing itself in the warmth of August. Such a beautiful day for a lovely wedding or to capture sun-kissed photos. On such days, my mother would say to me in her tiny precious voice, ‘the gods are happy, something good is going to happen,’ but she was wrong. It was a perfect day; there was nothing like a thunder strike or a terrible wind like the one in a horror story. There was no sign of death, just loud music and yelling coming from electric and human radios in the street. My mother was miles away and I knew she had begun to wonder where I had gone. It was a good idea to tell Michael, my younger brother, that I had gone to see a sick friend in Zomba and I would be back before sunset. I had begun to regret putting on makeup in the first place. My tears had messed up every single drop of foundation and my eyeliner was crying out for help. When the slit at the back of my skirt tore in front of everyone after I got off the bus, I knew this was a sign I was in the wrong place.
“Wait!” I could hear the poor young man howling in desperation behind me, as he tried to catch up with my thick, short legs. I kept looking straight, trying to ignore the fact that I could hear his instructions loud and clear. My brain was calling him all sorts of names and one of them was a ‘pig’. It described him perfectly. It was my mother’s favorite word. She would call my father a pig and the rest of the men she knew were all big fat pigs.
“Come on, don’t cause a scene!”
“Oh! You want me to tell everybody here that you are a bloody cheat? Maybe that will cause a scene! ” I said it so loudly that the women selling fruits along the road cheered. Perhaps they too had been hurt by the same men who had promised to buy them cars and build houses for them. I was sure by the time I got home I would become an activist. A gender activist would have suited me best. I had finally found my purpose; to be a voice for those broken and voiceless women who were lied to by little boys who called themselves men.
“What do you think you are doing? Why are you getting inside? “
I said it with so much confidence, I was proud of myself. “Guess what? Can you not control my life again? I just want to go home and forget about you! ” I reached out to the blue door handle of the small car. I slammed the door and I could tell from his face that he had gotten my message.
“Fine! Let me pay for a decent taxi for you? ” He convinced me. But again, I rolled my eyes and twisted my lips. It was a thing I did when I tried to communicate with a person that I was not interested in.
“But I am sorry… Look, I don’t trust such cars. They’re unregistered and anything can happen to them. “I paid no attention. I was avoiding appearing to be a weak and hopeless girl who did not make clear decisions about her life. I swallowed my pride and, for once, felt like I had it all figured out.
“Please leave her. If you can not take care of such a beautiful girl, give a chance to other men who are willing,” commented the bus driver as he pulled out his car keys ready to start off.
“Baby, I am sorry… Call me when you get home. I… and I… ” The rest was a blur to me. I had shut my ears completely; I did not want to see his face.
“Driver, please let’s go!” My nerves started to blow up, I was about to disappear into thin air. I must admit, I still thought about him. I did because as much as I knew he lied to me, I loved him regardless and I hated myself for it.
I was squeezed in the middle of two men like a sandwich. They were both staring at my legs lustfully as my skirt had gone above my thighs. The smell of Chibuku was everywhere. It was a sign they were college boys just taking passengers because they needed extra money for their body fuel. They tried to talk to me, but I ignored them. I was thinking twice about leaving the car. I don’t know why, but I still stayed. When my phone rang, I switched off. I knew it was him. I closed my eyes and tried to bring myself back to life. I woke up from my dead sleep, not because of the noise, but because I was stripped naked and cold. My body was pierced everywhere. It occurred to me that they were cutting my flesh away while I was still breathing.
“Eh! Lucy, your screaming wake up! ” My husband tapped my cheeks. “You have peed on the bed… Again “
It was very embarrassing, but I was just happy I was breathing.