TEARS, SHADOW OF MY PAST…….
……A MONTH AND A HALF LATER…….
Chief Nichengela together with his royal guards, family, council and villagers gathered at the heart of the Bwena Mwapona village, where a fully able-bodied Anthony along with Diane and Martin stood paying off their last respect to the Tonga chief before departure.
“It’s been a great honour and pleasure to have known such a man like you Anthony. Indeed, time has appeared to be short but your stay here has been heart-warming. You were brought here having so many injuries most would render a hopeless thing to think that you would recover yet here you are fit and strong to the bone and flesh. May Nyambe continue to watch over you allowing the sun to always set over you. Go in peace, my son,” Chief Nichengela spoke gladly through his trusted translator, Mubine, whilst patting the shoulder of Anthony who’d gone a knee low in humbly courtesy of the Tonga chief seeing the off out of his village.
“Diane, Martin”, the chief spoke turning to face them, “It’s been my pleasure having you in my kingdom and also pleasing to my ears that my dear son Anthony shall have company with whom he shall return to the city,” he patted their shoulders both and continued, “Travel safely and may you reach your destination in one piece as you came.”
“Thank you, your highness,” pouted Diane gladly as she smiled at Anthony looking ever more radiant than before, having fully recovered. He was back in shape and that along made her glow, “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to both you and the rest of the people of the Bwena Mwapona village for your fine hospitality and welcoming during our stay in your kingdom,” with a bow she said, “Thank you, thank you for everything your majesty.”
Feeling cheerful, the chief replied, “It’s my pleasure,” he said excusing himself taking his royal council and men with him to have a few words.
Martin looked about the stretch of the kingdom and with an exaggerated whistle whist pulling his cross-belt tight, he piped up, “I’m surely going to miss this place you know.”
“Two can agree to that, me too,” grinned Diane eying the little girls and boys waving at them, “This place was a great tour to embark on.”
As the two had engaged in conversation, Anthony spotted two Monde warriors having a word with mbuya Hamuba a distance not too far from where he, Diane and Martin stood, but he could hardly make out a thing from what they had been talking about. They hadn’t been the same Monde warriors who’d carried his bleeding form all the way from the Zambezi River where he nearly died from the ambush—those two left long before he’d come to shortly after arriving at the village he’d sought treatment for his wounds. As he slowly approached the Monde men and the elderly woman, they were only concluding and the two warriors dispersed almost immediately. The woman seeing Anthony walking her way welcomed with her warm look and exchanged pleasantries with him through another loyal translator of the village.
“It’s brought me great joy to see you my son fully back to health after such a long time of nursing you. Take care as you depart from here and may you be reunited with the love of your life,” she said heartily.
Hearing her speak of Erica only caused Anthony’s eyes to tear. Time and again he had wished to have heard a thing or two from the other village about the wellbeing of his darling Erica but word had been scarce only hearing bits and parts when the Monde warriors came by to visit the kingdom that his love was fine and that the Monde chief awaited the prisoner’s return—sadly he was still viewed as one, much to his dismay.
“How’s Erica doing? It’s been so long. I miss her terribly,” Anthony spoke with a heavy heart and the translator who picked it up in Nyanja translated for mbuya Hamuba who patted Anthony’s back for comfort for he needed it.
“Your love is fine. She awaits you as we speak in the Monde village. Go in peace and be reunited with her. She’s waited for you too long, my son.”
Anthony forced back the tears that threatened to pour and nodded. He said his last words to the woman who had, for the past weeks, shown much motherly care that he would always be thankful for her aid during his time of need. Shortly he joined the other two he had been with as the chief returned with Mubine and two other warriors.
“As you leave, I shall see to it that you reach your destination with word brought back to us. I shall send with you Mubine, my trusted spokesperson along with Mutanda and Nalula, brave warriors to escort you almost all the way to the Monde village.
“Thank you, your majesty,” spoke Anthony in unison with Diane and Martin.
“Go in peace, thank you for your visit,” Chief Nichengela said as Anthony finally left with his company.
He was glad that he had Diane and Martin accompanying as well. It was a gesture he had asked for but was grateful. Besides still anxious to figure out the jigsaw puzzle his life was turning out to be, one thing for sure was that he was glad that he had someone to talk to whilst he was out to solve the puzzle that laid out before him.
“Erica come on, enough already. Forget about that Anthony now!” Bianca chided, “It’s been over a month. We both know that he isn’t coming back. You need to move on with your life!”
Erica refuted, “No, I just can’t Bianca,” she said head buried in her lap, “I just wanted to know the truth from himself. What if something happened to him? We both know that they that threatened me to stay away from him could’ve done more harm than before. They nearly killed him. What if—”
Bianca grunted in displeasure, “Again with that story, you go. Why can’t you just get over him already? He had landed himself in things bigger than he could handle no wonder men were after his throat. Why should it still bother you? You need to move on with your life now Erica.”
Erica looked flustered, “Bianca are you serious? I loved that man, I still do. He was the one I was soon to be engaged to, the one my family gladly welcomed into the family and there you are talking like he was some cheap guy from the street. That man was to be my husband.”
“No, listen. I know he did awful things but he didn’t have to be dealt by mere men out to grab his throat. If they nearly killed him before they could do it again……” her face went dull, “What if they—’ she didn’t get to finish her sentence as her friend put a finger to her lips to shush her.
“That’s enough already,” she laughed in a teasing way, “You will ruin what plans I have for you tonight, come on, up, up you go,” she said getting the empty plate of crusty bread crumbs and empty glass of juice off the bed and placed on the cabinet, “You’ve been sulking in bed all day long it’s time for some good time out there,” she said pulling her by the arm, cuddled in the blankets and sheets she was.
“Where do you want us to go? I want to remain in bed, please, let me go,” spoke stubborn Erica.
“But you’ve been here since morning!” complained Bianca.
“Dah, it’s a lazy Saturday!” exclaimed Erica getting herself back into the blankets.
“But you’ve been all sad and gloomy all day! Won’t you want to join me for fun?”
“Um……” Erica looked thoughtful then shook her head, “I’m good.”
“Morgan’s taking me out today for dinner,” piped out Bianca cheerfully.
“Awww, how so sweet……and you want me to spoil it for you? Just go ahead and you two have fun,” Erica said slumping down with her wait onto her bed, head on the pillow staring at the ceiling.
“Girl,” Bianca began picking her phone from the cabinet, smiling she was at the screen Erica turning her attention back to her, “There’s this cute guy that’s friends with Morgan….”
“Oh……please no, spare me,” whined Erica looking back to the ceiling already unamused.
“His name is Terry,” Bianca said pulling her friend back to sitting position, “Hey, that’s not being nice. Will you just let me finish?” Erica made a sneering face as she continued, “So, yeah, he’s a great guy actually. I’ve seen him a couple of times with Morgan and seeing how you looked I wanted you to have something other than being sulky to look forward to for a change. I asked him to tag along provided that you will join us tonight for dinner.”
“No thanks,” declined Erica with a sigh, “I will pass. You can go on without me.”
“Just take a look at his picture,” Bianca chirped showing Erica the photo but she wasn’t in the slightest interested in seeing it, “Come on.”
“I will pass,” went Erica hugging her pillow sulkily.
“Oh, okay,” pouted Bianca rising to her feet, “I will take that as a yes. Be back in a minute. You and I need to visit a salon and a get a hairdo, and seriously you are in need of one if you asked me,” she sniggered.
“No, I don’t want some hairdo what I want is Anthony,” she whined slumping her face into the pillow dramatically causing Bianca to take humour in it.
“Look who’s talking. Wasn’t it you who was busy tossing things about the place and snipping every single photo of him you could land your hands on? Now you are busy complaining about missing that same person who hurt you whom you wanted nothing to do with?” she eyed an uninterested Erica still head face down on the pillow hardly paying attention to her, “You were only being dramatic that’s what you had been.”
“Please leave,” spoke Erica in between the space of the pillow, her face partly buried, “Go away please.”
“I shall be back,” Bianca said noticing the caller ID flashing on her ringing phone’s screen, “Morgan’s calling. I shall be back.”
“Yes, go away and leave me alone,” whined Erica yawning.
“You wish. We are going to that dinner whether you like it or not,” pouted Bianca stepping out of her friend’s room to pick up the phone call.
Anthony and his company waddled through the shallow waters part of the long Zambezi River crossing into Zimbabwean lands they now were; the vivid memories from before where he almost died in that very place came flooding his mind almost instantly. Shuddering, he brushed the thoughts away of the men with the guns one who’d almost killed him. They went on and crossed into rural Zimbabwe heading closer to the Monde village where Anthony’s heart skipped a bit the moment he realised that he was yet again in the very foreign land in which he’d last been held captive with Erica.
“This is as far as we shall go with you,” spoke Mubine when from a comfortable distance chief Mutabile’s village was in clear sight, “We’ve reached you to your destination,” he said patting Anthony’s shoulder, “We shall return to our kingdom to pass the news of your safe arrival to chief Nichengela. Good luck and greetings to the Monde people.”
“Thank you Mubine,” went Anthony shaking the man’s hand, “However shall we repay you all for your kindness?”
“Consider it as a humble treatment from me and the chief himself. Go see your love. Smile. I’m sure she missed you greatly.”
“Thank you,” replied Anthony resonating and upon exchanging few words with both Diane and Martin, Mubine left with the two warriors he’d come with.
Diane and Martin stood akimbo watching the men walk back whence they came from before diverting their attention to Anthony who looked deep in thought.
“Anthony?” Diane asked staring quizzically, “Are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m,” he said heaving a sigh unsure about how to get himself out of the sticky situation having been brought back to the very village where he wasn’t so sure if he would get to leave with Erica in one piece.
The three approached the village and hardly had they set foot on Monde territory when alas they found themselves surrounded by tough and savage looking Monde warriors.
One of them walked up to Anthony who expected such resentment from the lot of them, “The chief has long been awaiting your return,” he spoke in Nyanja. He grunted, looking from head to toe of the prisoner and snorted, “I see you have indeed attained full recovery.”
With four up-front and five guarding the rear, Anthony, Diane and Martin in the centre, they walked to the chief’s quarters astonished they were at what laid waste in parts of the village.
“What happened here? Was there an invasion?” Anthony asked but the one who spoke Nyanja only grumbled.
“So, you ask when it was you who initially brought this calamity upon us!”
“What?” Anthony spoke perturbed, “I did no such thing!”
“So, you speak. Wait till you meet the chief!” spat the man coldly.
When they reached the chief’s royal quarters, they found him seated in his throne hand to his chin, he had eyes that could pierce the skin as he glared the moment his prisoner was led to him.
“I see you walk proudly having been nursed back to health. I should’ve let you die here as a fugitive you were!” the chief boomed rising to his feet, “See what calamity has befallen my kingdom because of your infiltration?!” he spoke through his translator.
“I did no such thing your majesty,” declined Anthony, “Who attacked your village?”
“The very men after you! The same who wanted you dead before and are still searching for you did this to my kingdom! You brought trouble here and for that you shall be dealt with!”
“But your majesty I don’t even know them!”
“They sent one to attack you before and he didn’t succeed, hence you were alive and found yourselves in my village. They sent men to attack you and my men whilst you trekked to the Tonga kingdom of Bwena Mwapona village, did they not?” he fumed, Anthony was quiet, “Did they not nearly succeed in killing you along the journey to see chief Nichengela? Did you not escape badly wounded? Answer me when I ask you, prisoner!”
Anthony was quiet and had his head low with nothing to say in defence. Silence ensued.
“Initially I would have had you prosecuted myself but, there are others willing to do much more than that. Whatever you did, I want you out of my village this instant lest more trouble follows you here.”
Anthony looked visibly dull and bleak facially but he spoke, “Your majesty,” he looked him in the eye, “I apologise for all that befell you and your people. I’m sorry. I didn’t wish for any of this to happen to you. If only you let me my love leave with me, we shall depart immediately and leave you in peace.”
The chief grunted as if uninterested and Anthony took it that he wasn’t wishing to talk any further. He decided to take his leave but suddenly the chief’s men blocked his way with spears crossed in his face making a barricade for him and those with him—Diane and Martin flabbergasted trying to follow.
“Why should I let you leave when I could send word to those after you that you’ve returned? They are still about in a nearby town waiting for you; preparing to launch a surprise attack on you!”
“Your majesty….” Cut in Diane and shooting daggers at her the chief grunted.
“Who’s she?” he asked rudely eying her.
“She’s a friend,” Anthony replied and the chief’s questioning eyes landing on Martin led him to add, “And so is he. They are with me.”
Ending the discussion chief Mutabile spoke, “I shall send no word to those searching for you. They will still come for you,” he said solemnly, “And as for the woman you are speaking of……She’s not here. They took her with them.”
Anthony’s jaw dropped and fazed he was went, “What? They took her with them—” the chief interjected.
“Not as prisoner,” he said and that cleared the question he in wait from Anthony, “They let her go once she reached her destination. It’s you they want. Your lover is back whence she came from. To her family did she go back to. Now depart from here at once!” he ordered.
Anthony looked absorbed in thought as the Monde warriors pushed him out of the palace without any slight decency of courtesy leading Anthony out of the palace.
“Depart. You are lucky the chief spared you! Leave!” spoke the same translator returning to the village from the entrance at which they had left the foreigners. Anthony astounded looked at a bleak Diane.
“We have to go find Erica,” spoke Anthony with a broken voice.
“Excuse me but did you say we?” Diane asked puzzled.
“Oh……I thought you were coming with me? Aren’t we both going back to the city?”
“No, not with you!” Diane refuted shaking her head profusely, “Anthony we just met you after five good years of dead silence! So much has happened and looks like you’ve got into messy business. Why should we get involved any further?”
“Diane if you will only let me explain—”
“You’ve got bigger problems upon you. We can’t get involved. I mean we did come all this way to find your lovely woman but that’s as far as it gets. You are on your own.”
“Diane, if you will only—”
Diane raised her palm to cut him off, “Enough. You are your own. Sorry. It was nice meeting you again.”
Seeing no point of arguing Anthony sighed, “So be it. I shall take my leave then.” Hardly had he moved when Diane looked at him and walked to him.
“Diane!” chided Martin, “What are you doing?” he looked angry now, “Will you for once not let your emotions get in your way? Will you always let this man get the best of your emotions? Have you forgotten so soon what happened before for having trusted this man?”
Anthony cowered but Diane still approached him, “I shall not hold whatever you have against him. He needs our help. I think we can do something.”
Martin looked furious, “You do know that whatever shady business this man landed himself is criminal offence to be dealt with by law, right? If men are after his life just what will it land you and I in? We can’t afford to get involved.”
Diane looked at Anthony and back to Martin, “But we can still try to help…”
“No, you can still try to help. I will have no part in it.”
Feeling defeated, Diane spoke hoarsely, “Fine. Tell Bernice I shan’t be returning with you. I shall be on my way back home when this mess clears up. I will see you,” she turned to pull Anthony by the arm, Anthony too stupefied to get everything going on.
“Wait,” Martin called stopping her.
“Martin, you can go back if you want to but I won’t join you. It’s not your business but Anthony was like, I mean, is still like family to me. Let me help him if you may.”
“I’m not stopping you but I won’t let you go alone, I will come with.”
Diane’s face shined as she turned to face a bleak Anthony dumbfounded, “Let’s go dig you out of your mess and find your lover.”
Anthony, too dazed to speak, only nodded and off they departed for town, soon to be on their way to the capital city.
“Oh my!” went Bianca the moment they walked back into Erica’s bedroom from the salon, “Just look at you, just look!” she said handing her a mirror.
Erica just stared at herself in the mirror. She was breath-taking, her manicure and pedicure were nothing but stylish, she was glowing and behind the makeup, it wasn’t visible enough to spot her eye buds unless she washed her make up off. Instead of seeming proud of her stunning looks Erica only put the mirror away and sat on the bed, sighing away.
“Erica….” Bianca went following her, “You have to come out of this someday. Yes, I know what happened was awful but neither of us saw it coming. If you really put as it is, if that’s really who Anthony was the whole time,” she said placing her hands in Erica’s, “Then you have to forget about Anthony. I’ve put up with this for too long to let myself continue seeing you going on like this,” she looked her friend for a while noticing how beautiful she looked, “Cheer up. Sometime you have to move on and if Terry might be the guy then kindly give him a chance. Look,” she turned Erica’s face the moment she noticed that Erica had looked away, “If you don’t like the guy you can forget about him but only after having dinner at least. After tonight if you don’t want to see him then it’s fine. I won’t force you.”
Erica only looked at her friend then took out her phone from her purse and began playing a game of Tetris on it.
“So, please lighten up for me, will you?”
Sighing again, Erica replied, “Okay……man you are so adamant about this. What’s with this guy anyway?”
“If it’s a chance to make you get out of your sulky mood then he’s one guy to meet. PS crying makes you look ugly—don’t you dare cry with that make up on!”
“Why shouldn’t I? I’m not promising you anything,” Erica spoke plainly still playing the phone game.
“You shouldn’t even think about it!” she chided. The door-bell rang and Bianca’s face lit up, “That must be them!”
Erica’s face flashed in astonishment, “What??”
“Oh, yeah, I forgot to say that I texted Morgan your house address”, Bianca said and already could see the displeasure on Erica’s face which she deliberately chose to ignore, “Come on grumpy pants lets go! They are waiting for us!” chirped Bianca pulling her friend out of the room with her.