Second prize, 2019 Makewana Short story Competition

 

My ride was longer than expected. I was very excited and very nervous the entire time. Finally, the bus reached Ntcheu bus depot; my pit stop before it proceeded to Blantyre. I quickly packed away my cell phone and sternly got up to look for my bag. The bus was very quiet. Those people going to Blantyre were sleeping. There was a faint light illuminating the entire bus. The people who were dropping off at Ntcheu were so noisy that some of the passengers still proceeding began to murmur with disapproval.  We moved in the aisle one at a time as we also had to stop for the other people who were getting their bags out from the compartments which where a bit narrow and the bags seemed to be stuck and needed a tight grip. As we walked closer to the door, we had to stop for one woman who failed to get her bag out. It took two men to grudgingly slide out the worn out sack bag.

 There was a cool breeze of air in the dark night. The depot was still alive considering it was after ten. I looked around to see if Wayne was around. This was something I was looking forward for some time. I was meeting the love of my life. My heart raced so fast as I moved on the other side where there was good lighting. The depot had quite a number of buses of which many were empty. I looked around to see if I could recognise some of the faces around but I was a stranger in this part of town. My thoughts were fixed with my reaction on what I would do when I meet Wayne.

‘I can’t wait to see you beautiful’ I remembered him telling me on the phone last night.

‘Me too. I can’t wait to see you.’

‘I’m going to carry you with excitement’ he jokingly said.

I smiled at the way his voice sounded in my mind. He told me he was going to be here by the time I arrived. I took out my phone to check the last time he wrote to me. It was about twenty minutes ago when we had just passed Lizulu. I found a place and sat down to wait a bit longer. My whole body was thrilled with joy.

‘Which side will he come from?’ I played a little game in my mind.

 My anxious got hold me that I took out my phone to dial him just to let him know I had arrived, when someone called to me.

‘Mara.’

‘Yes?’

There stood a shabby looking guy. He was beaming with excitement.

‘How was your journey?’

‘It was….er…ok’ I replied doubtly.

He quickly rushed for my bag that was laid next to me. He carried it and led the way towards the gate.

‘Maybe he sent someone to pick me up,” I wondered.

 I looked around. There were no people around just a few vendors and minibuses around. We were now outside the depot.

‘Where is he?’ I said trying to pick up the pace because he walked faster than me.

‘Huh?’ He seemed confused.

 ‘Where is Wayne? He didn’t say he was sending his houseboy to pick me up. He said he will come personally?’ I proudly narrated.

He stopped and with bewilderment stared at me. ‘I am Wayne’.

I met Wayne about six months ago through a social media group. The group was intended for people selling products and those who wanted to buy. If a person was selling something you want to buy you can ask for details and buy it. It was the quickest means for buying and selling items. The time I joined this group I had no intentions of business but I grabbed the opportunity when I saw how fast the selling processes were. It was my second batch of items to sell when Wayne wrote to me that he wanted a pair of sneakers. After a successful transaction he asked for another pair of shoes  for which he also paid diligently. I thanked him for being an honest and fast reliable customer. We instantly became good friends.

In no time we started calling each other on the phone. By the time the month was over we began dating. I learned how he was the first born in his family with six younger siblings to fend. His father  had died when he was little and his mother was an old woman. Being first born, he dropped out of school to look for work to help the family survive. Through hard work, he managed to secure some money that he invested in his shop which was the only large shop in Ntcheu. From the shop, he managed to build a house and had several cars and was an owner to a large shop in all Ntcheu. Speaking to Wayne on the phone was nice but we needed to meet each other. Our relationship got very serious. It was his words that got my attention;  he wanted us to get married. I was so certain I had met my soul mate after years of struggling to be in a good relationship. My luck and my time was coming where I would also be married and have a family of my own. The idea thrilled me. I would never struggle again. With my husband having such a large shop an already built house and vehicles there was nothing a girl could not dream of.

Three months in the relationship, I began to plead with him that we should make an arrangement to meet up. One Friday morning he called to tell me he was making plans to come to Lilongwe. Later on that day, he called to tell me his mother was ill and was admitted to the hospital. His mother urgently needed an operation and the hospital demanded a lot of money of which he had some . He needed an additional K200, 000. He asked me to lend him the money as I was his last option. Immediately I did not hesitate but sent him the money. He thanked and told me how I was proving to be a good person and how much I loved him. With time, me sending him money was no longer an issue. I began to send him money regularly to help him with his sick mother and his siblings. Wayne pledged his life to me and promised me he was going to give me back everything as soon as everything was back to normal.

 ‘You’re absolutely mad!’ My friend Joyce exclaimed one day. ‘Do you trust this man?’

‘Of course I do. Why would I not?’

‘Can I ask you something?’ Joyce said with her usual chuckle. ‘How well do you know this man to trust him with your money?’

‘I am helping him,’ I defended.

Joyce shrugged.

‘But you have never met him.’

‘So’. I said coolly. ‘We talk on the phone everyday’

‘I hope you’ll not regret it one day’. There was a warning in her voice. I felt rage rising inside of me. Partly what she said made sense true but she did not understand my relationship with Wayne. I loved this man and I was willing to do more for him. Love is a solid thing that was expensive to find and I was not going to doubt his love for me. It was clear this man loved me. To me, doubt was a luxury I couldn’t afford.


My inside churned with vomit. I could not believe my eyes. This unkempt dirty looking man was Wayne? No it couldn’t be. This was too much to be true. My feet were stuck to the ground and my tongue was swallowed inside the mouth. I could taste vomit in my dry mouth. I stood there transfixed and looked at him with disbelief.

‘Let’s hurry up and get going.’ He urged.

I forced my legs to carry me. My legs were very heavy and I grudgingly followed him. We crossed the road and got to the other side. We walked in silence. There was so much in my mind; so many thoughts whizzed through my head. The walk was very troubling. There was a bar ahead of us and the shops along the road had two or fewer people. We reached the bar and we walked a very smelly corridor with a stench of urine probably from the people who drink in the bar. We walked further passing dazzled bodies which were intoxicated. There were some who had prostitutes with them.  We stumbled into the darkness going further the narrow passage. My head was now spinning with fear. I was sure this man was going to kill me now. After the narrower stinky passage, we came through to an open area. I breathed a sigh of relief with the open ground knowing no harm was going to come to us at that point.

Dogs were barking everywhere into the dark night. He walked faster and I followed him. There was a shabby looking gate made from wire. We reached the gate. There was a security guard who greeted us.

Inde man Wayne za bhoo (Hi Wayne, how’s stuff)? he seemed excited upon seeing us.

‘Indetu a Phizo, umakwana (Hi Phizo, you’re the man),’ he replied, shaking hands with the guard.

The guard also greeted me but I had no strength to answer him. So I just followed. We got inside, it was a lodge. I struggled against the tears in my eyes. Tears of shame and disappointment. We entered the lodge. It was not in  good condition;  you could tell from the torn out paint and dust everywhere. There were a lot of spider webs around. I was charged to pay K2500 and given a room to sleep in. This man called Wayne helped me with my bag but I was too mad to even look at him. The room was in a very bad condition but I didn’t care. It was now obvious that I had been lied to all along. I looked at Wayne clearly now with the light in the room. He was so sickly. He was wearing dirty clothes and a pair of worn out slippers. Worst of it all he had a stench with him. I had no other words to say to him.

Usiku wabwino (Goodnight), I will come tomorrow to check on you’.

‘You’re a liar. You used me!’ I hashed out.

He was about to lose his temper but he quickly collected himself and his anger and frustration turned into a stare of indignation.

‘Let’s talk tomorrow, you must be tired and it’s late now’. He said in a cool voice.

I watched him walk out of the room. I followed him. He walked to the reception and out the door. I wanted to run to him to hit him but I couldn’t. The girl on the reception stared at me.

‘Who is that man?’

Wayne ameneyo (That’s Wayne).’

‘What does he do?’

The girl looked at me in surprise. There was concern in her face.

Ndiogulitsa ma units’(He sells phone units).

I rushed to my room, closed the door behind, and wept. I wept for everything that I lost and for believing that I had met a man. Joyce had been right all along, she had tried to warn me but I was too stupid to know and understand her. I remembered how I mocked and embarrassed her. There was one  day I would never forget. I had just finished talking on the phone with Wayne one afternoon when I called him asking him if we could arrange to meet up. I told him my friend was wondering why we had never meet in person. This got Wayne upset to the extent that he threatened to leave me.

‘Don’t listen to her; the only thing she wants is for you to be miserable’. He told me.

That was when I decided to give Joyce a visit. Wayne was right; she wanted me to be miserable because she didn’t have anyone to love. She was jealous of me. At that exact moment I was filled with hate towards her. Joyce was with a couple of other people when I found her. I got courage with rage boiling in me. This was good; all these people would witness my triumph and Joyce was going to be humiliated.  I said every bad word I could think of and warned her to stay away from me. I was satisfied with the look of hurt on her face. It gave me satisfaction and joy when the other people stared at her with shame. She was not going to ruin something beautiful and special like that for me. I risked losing her if it meant keeping my dream alive.

‘You’re a lonely girl and you will always be lonely!’ I remember shouting at her. ‘Nobody will love you that is why you intend to ruin my relationship and I regret being your friend. Shame on you.’

But I remembered and realized I was the one in shame now. I risked losing a good friend over someone I hadn’t even known really well. I regretted my decisions. All the promises this man  had made to me were lies. How could I be stupid and believe in something that seemed logical in the eyes of a regular person? Was it because of the attention that he sworn to give me? This person saw through me, saw the desperation and took a chance. No, he ruined me. He was someone who could convince me through the other end of the phone to the point that he had controlled my life. There was nothing but regret in everything I did. I wish I had seen it sooner than anticipated. I wish I had listened to Joyce when I had the chance. I realized that my friend’s intention had been pure and she had wanted to protect me. I had been blind to it all and was caught up in the flame and dark circle of lies and deceit called cyber love.

 

 

 

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