HER FORGOTTEN DAUGHTER

Introducing…..

Here’s a synopsis of the story I am currently working on…chapter one to be published over the weekend! I hope you will love it.

Her Forgotten Daughter:

After her grandmother’s death, 24 year old Evelyn embarks on a journey of discovery; to reunite with the mother that had abandoned her when she was just a baby. Unfortunately, what Evelyn discovers is far from anything she could have ever imagined. The pernicious truths surrounding her birth and parentage soon turn Evelyn’s sedated world into a ponderous mess.

Filled with disappointment and bitterness, Evelyn struggles to pick up the pieces of her shuttered world and start anew. But just like a rose rises from a thorned branch, Evelyn finds solace in the arms of the one man she was never supposed to love.

Will history repeat itself or can Evelyn overcome the odds against her and sprout freely like the beautiful flower she was meant to be? Or, will she wither and fall from  the pressures of her weary leaden life?

Will you give Evelyn a chance and accompany me and her on this journey to cheer her on? I certainly hope you do!

Echoes of the Heart – Part 12

THE CONCLUSION

Final image - Echoes of the Heart

 

The morning before he was to travel back home, Martin asked to meet Sibusiswe at a restaurant close to Ted’s place.

“Why didn’t you tell me that you and him were now seeing each other?” Was the first question Martin fired at her before she could even sit down.

For a man that usually carried himself like an Emperor of the Universe, Martin was looking a little worse for wear that day. His eyes were sunken deep and had huge circles around them like a man deprived of sleep for too long a time. There had only been one time when Martin had looked like that and that was the day after his surgery.

Something inside Sibu broke. She wanted to reach out across the table and hold his hand but she also knew that doing so would only complicate things further. And so she sat back and opened her ears to listen.

“Why did it have to be Ted Sibu? Of all men in the world…why him? Was I really that bad to you that you would do me like this?” Martin was on the verge of crying but he kept fighting away the urge. The last thing he needed was to appear like a weakling in front of the woman who already thought the worst about him.

“Martin,” Sibu slowly started. “My relationship with Ted has nothing to do with you.”

Martin knotted his hand into a fist upon hearing her words…

My relationship with Ted.

All along he had prayed and hoped that despite everything he had heard and seen…that perhaps it had simply been a bad dream…that nothing was really going on between them and just like she had done in the past, Sibu would tell him that nothing will ever happen between her and Ted.

But the ease with which she delivered the confirmation threatened to tear his insides to pieces. He was suddenly awakened to the reality of just how much power lay in words because in just those few words, Sibu had managed to break his heart and shutter whatever little hope he had desperately clung onto ever since their divorce.

Somehow, Martin had convinced himself that if he truly changed for the better and became the kind of man that would be good enough for Sibu, he thought that without a doubt she would take him back.

For the first time in his life he had made a commitment to become a better man and he had stuck to it. He might not have been perfect, but he had done his very best to make up for all those times he had made an already lonely woman even lonelier. He had worked on his weaknesses and did eventually become a good man so why did things turn out this way?

Why could Sibu not give him a second chance?

“All those times I hurt you,” Martin’s voice was shaking and his lips were quivering. He took a deep breath, raised his hand to cover his mouth but immediately realized it too was shaking and so he quickly lowered it and hid both hands under the table.

Sibu’s eyes too became watery.

“I apologized,” Martin continued, forcing his voice to sound firm but despite his effort, he could not hide the huskiness.

“I have spent the past years doing  everything I can to make up for having been a bad husband to you. I changed for you Sibu…so why…I don’t understand….”

“That’s the problem Martin,” Sibu interjected him. “You changed for me, not for yourself and certainly not because you felt you needed to change. There was never a time I asked you to change. All those times we fought over your wild behavior, it was only because I cared about your health, not about me. It was for your own good.”

Something she had said lit Martin up into full attention. “Was there even a single time you genuinely cared about me Sibu?” He asked her.

“What is that supposed to mean? After everything you and I went through, can you honestly ask me such a question?”

“I said genuinely….” Martin explained himself. “Yes, on the surface it appeared as though you cared but I can count the number of times I felt real genuine care from you. It was during those first few months after our marriage and then you completely gave up on me.”

“Martin,” Sibu had started.

“Let me talk Sibu,” Martin sat up straight in his chair. “All these years I solely accepted responsibility for how things ended between us but you know what Sibu, you are not innocent in all this. It’s like from the moment you agreed to marry me, you had already set a deadline in your head.

“You entered into marriage with such a mindset and you sat and patiently waited for the walls to come crumbling down. And when they finally did, you did not hesitate to raise your white flag. You had already given up on me even before I had started to fail so I never stood a chance with you. I know that you are stronger than the average woman out there but I have never seen a woman embrace pain as well as you did Sibu.”

Sibu looked upset, not because he was throwing accusations at her but because there was truth in what he was saying. She had indeed given up on him even before he had started failing their marriage. But how was she to explain to him that she had a lot going on in her life at that time?

“What, you don’t have anything to say now?” Martin asked sarcastically. “I don’t get you Sibu, I guess I never will. I tried so many times to get you to open up to me but you never gave me a chance. I am intelligent enough to know that a woman does not turn out to be like you just from genes. I was attracted to you because I knew you were different…but whenever I tried to discover just what made you different, you would shut me out completely.”

Sibu slowly raised her eyes to look at him. “Even if I had opened up to you, do you think you would have understood?”

“How about giving me the chance to fail first instead of failing me before giving me the test?” Martin returned. “That was always the problem with you Sibu; you made assumptions about me in your head and you convinced yourself that there was no redemption for me. I trusted you with my life but you on the other hand were more than ready to turn your back on me the moment a chance presented itself to you.”

“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” Sibu picked up her hand bag from the floor and was about to get up but Martin gripped her hand and looking up at her he sternly whispered, “If you want to see just how mad a man on the verge of collapse can get, I dare you to walk away from me Sibu.”

Sibu looked around and noticed they had become the center of attention in the sparsely populated restaurant.

“Let go of me Martin, you are hurting me,” she muttered.

“Say you will remain seated until we are done talking that’s when I will let go,” he negotiated.

Sibu put her bag back down and Martin released her hand immediately.

“You still haven’t changed,” he commented once she was settled down again. “Always walking away whenever you are forced to confront your weaknesses. I was the fool for always letting you have your way back then. I thought I was being supportive by not pushing you harder to confide in me. Ted was right, how can I call myself your husband when I hardly even know you? In just these few months you’ve been together, you managed to open up to him more than you ever did all those years we were together.”

“What did Ted tell you exactly?” Sibu asked.

“Are you really worried about me finding out your secrets?” Martin looked even more broken. The disappointment in his eyes ran deeper than the human eye could see. “I am just dying to know, why was it so easy for Ted? What is it about Ted that made you put down your guard and bare out your soul to him?”

Sibu could not come up with a response. She had lowered her gaze and kept her focus on the glass of juice in front of her.

“As someone that was married to you…someone you never gave a chance to at least help heal whatever scars you’ve been carrying all these years, I deserve to know why I never stood a chance.” He implored her.

Instead of answering him, Sibu started crying. The guilt had finally gotten to her.

“Is it that bad?” Martin asked upon seeing the tears streaming down her face. “Did you really think so little of me that the thought of revealing it to me makes you cry?”

“It’s not like that Martin,” she tried to wipe away the tears with the back of her hands.

“Here,” Martin had taken a hanker from his pocket and laid it on the table in front of her.

“I am sorry Martin,” she cried some more, trying hard to keep her voice down so as not to attract attention. She grabbed the hanker and quickly wiped away the tears.

“Sibu,” Martin tentatively reached his hands  across the table but she kept hers to herself, shaking her head slowly .

“I remember,” Sibu was saying. “That time we met at that restaurant in town in Lusaka…you mentioned something about this as well but I just didn’t want to think about it. It was so easy for me to place all the blame on you…on everyone else except myself. I always thought I had a reason for doing things the way I did but not once did I try to explain my reasons to you…or to anyone else.” She lamented.

“You are right,” Sibu continued. “If I had opened up instead of keeping things to myself…if I had given you a chance instead of waiting for you to disappoint me…maybe things would have turned out differently between us. I was so wrapped up in my own world I did not realize that my actions were hurting you in the process.”

“Sibu,” Martin called out her name. Sibu stopped talking and looked at him, her eyes filled with tears.

“What was going on in your life that was so bad you felt I would not understand if you opened up to me?”

Finally, here was a chance to tell him what he had deserved to know all those years ago.

Sibu finally opened up to her ex-husband and told him everything.

Suffice to say, Martin was left befuddled by the information Sibu had poured out to him.

“My gosh Sibu,” Martin said once Sibu was done with the story. “You really have a way of making a man feel like the worst bastard to have ever lived. What sort of man had I been to you to make you believe that I would have not understood if you had opened up to me and told me all of this a long time ago?”

“I am sorry Martin,” Sibu replied, the sincerity in her eyes tore deeper into Martin’s heart. “It was just my fears and insecurities,” she explained. “You have to understand, at that time I didn’t know as much as I know now.”

“And yet you still managed to confide in Ted and had him help you dig out the truth? I too wish I had been given the same chance.”

Every part of Sibu was soaked in guilt. “I know,” she openly admitted. “I know that now. I wish I had a better excuse Martin….”

“Me too Sibu, me too.” Martin echoed her.

“I am very sorry Martin,” Sibu repeated. “I wish I had a better reason to give…but things just happened like that. I don’t know why it was so easy for me to open up to Ted…all I know is that at that time, I couldn’t make sense of why someone like you would be interested in me? Even though it was obvious your feelings were real, I just couldn’t let go of my fears. I kept expecting things to fail I guess that was why I gave up so easily. I was so scared that you might find out what I thought was the truth about me and then leave.

“When you live with a secret like that, you always have to be on your toes…always cautious just in case you get discovered. I didn’t have enough confidence that you would understand. I mean, how could you? I too thought I was guilty of what my aunt told me. I still haven’t recovered my memories from that time and if not for that neighbor whom Ted spoke to that used to be close to my mother and aunt, it would still just be my word against my aunt’s. I am truly sorry Martin…now I know…”

“I wish I could say it’s alright but it isn’t.” Martin replied. “It really is not okay Sibu. Unfortunately, it is a little too late for me right now. It just breaks my heart to know that all that was going on in your life and I had no idea.”

“I am sorry Martin,” Sibu repeated.

“Then again, I guess you could say I never created an environment for you where you could feel free to talk to me about such things.”

“No Martin,” Sibu moved to sit next to him and proceeded to take his hand into her. “This is all my fault. Now I know. I was young and dumb and so insecure back then. I didn’t trust myself enough so how could I trust someone else?”

Martin then fully turned to face her. “What if we could make things right Sibu?” he asked. “Now that we know where we both went wrong, don’t you think we owe it to ourselves to at least work things out?”

“Martin,” Sibu started to protest but Martin could see her message in her eyes before she could even finish.

“Please hear me out,” he pleaded. “I really love you Sibu and I know now that there was a time you loved me enough to worry about losing me. There is no way I am going to let you go now after everything I have heard today. I can only imagine where we would be today if only you had opened up to me and allowed yourself to love me without all those inhibitions.”

“There is no way for us to know how you would have reacted if I told you that I wasn’t the person you thought I was.” Sibu argued.

The disappointment was back in Martin’s eyes. “I see,” he stated painfully. “Even now, you still have so little faith in me.”

“That’s not what I meant Martin and you know it.”

“What do I even know Sibu, what?” he growled. “No matter what I do or say it will never be as good as Ted. Am I lying?”

Sibu sighed heavily.

“Whatever you think about me Sibu, I don’t care and I don’t even want to know.” Martin said sternly, slightly leaning forward to deliver the message close to her face.

“I have spent the past three years trying to make amends for what I did,” Martin was saying. “Now it’s your turn Sibu. You owe it to yourself, to me and to our son. If you think that I am going to leave you and Ted be, then I suggest to give up right now because I am not going anywhere.

“I will do everything in my power to resurrect those feelings you had for me at one point in your life.” And whilst tapping on the table with his car keys he added, “I will try even if it keeps me. I promise you.” He then opened up his wallet, took out a couple of bills and threw them on the table before walking out.

With a heavy heart reflected through her eyes, Sibu watched Martin’s determined back disapear from the restaurant.

When she left him, she had promised Ted that she would cleanly end things between her and Martin, how was she going to explain just how complicated things had gotten? She rested her face into the palm of her hand and sighed heavily.

***

Everything around her had come to a standstill and only Veronica’s high pitched voice echoed though the four walls of the now empty restaurant.

“If your mission was to come here and insult me, you could have at least gotten your wardrobe choice right.” The woman’s bloody lips taking up half of her face and the long fake lashes threatening to drown the rest of it made it even harder for Sibusiswe to look at her.

Was that the kind of beauty they kept talking about these days? Sibu thought.

“All those pearls and fancy clothes make you look pathetic and ridiculous.” Veronica continued her attack.

Sibusiswe could only shake her heard as she took in the insults. There was something about Veronica’s face that made her look as if she had been born naturally drunk and upset. She could literally feel her IQ figures drop in numbers just from listening to the woman run her mouth.

“I find it hard to get offended when classy looking people attack me,” the ghetto born diva continued her attack on Sibusiswe.

“I didn’t ask to meet you so I could attack you,” Sibusiswe said, still maintaining her poise – much to Veronica’s chagrin.

“There you go again,” Veronica was close to snapping now, her long reptile-like nails digging into the beautiful expensive furniture of the high class restaurant. She hated everything about the restaurant her nemesis had picked just to reel her in. “That tone of voice,” her venom-like tongue hissed, “how the hell am I supposed to feel offended when you sound so melodic and corny?”

Sibusiswe couldn’t help laughing. “You seem to be under the impression that I came here for an attack,” she said. “I don’t think I have ever given you any reason to feel like that. If anything, I have been more than civil during all our interactions. You on the other hand have done nothing but antagonize me every step of the way. If anyone was looking at us, they would think I was the other woman.”

Veronica rolled her big round eyes, forcing Sibusiswe to move her drink away lest one of her gigantic eye lashes decided to take a dive in there in protest.

It can’t be easy for the pair to try to make a woman like Veronica look beautiful, Sibu laughed silently.

Those poor lashes… she sympathized.

Perhaps she would have felt a little less offended if her husband had left her for a better woman. She didn’t even have to be good looking. She just had to be easy on the eye and clean. Just how many layers of make-up did the eye have to beat to get to the woman’s actual skin? The make-up was literally wearing her, not the other way round.

“I can hear you thinking awful things about me,” Veronica put her arms across her chest defensively. “It must hurt your pride knowing your husband left you for a woman like me, er?”

Sibusiswe smiled wryly. “As a matter of fact it does, I won’t lie.”

Veronica looked confused, not sure whether to get offended or not. Why did her already tiny IQ shrink every time she was faced with this woman?

“Having said that,” Sibusiswe continued, “I don’t regret the divorce. I only feel bad for….”

Veronica raised her hand to shut her nemesis up. “I am really not a fan of yours Sibu and I would pay any amount of money just to get you to shut up so I can leave. The only reason I agreed to this meeting is because you and I need to come to a conclusion about Jacob. I am not comfortable with this arrangement of my husband constantly having to meet you whenever he is picking up or dropping off Jacob.”

“When are you going to get over your insecurities Veronica?” Sibu asked. “Martin and I have been divorced for over four years now. Apart from Jacob, I have no other business whatsoever with him. Unlike some women, I don’t find married men attractive. They reek of another woman whenever I am talking to them.”

“You might think that but Martin is a very kind man,” Veronica was saying. “He might still have lingering feelings…you are the mother of his child after all.”

“You’ve been with Jacob’s father for eight years now, four of which were during the time he was still married to me…and you are telling me you still don’t know him that well?” Sibu asked.

Veronica shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “What do you mean?” She flapped her lashes at her rival.

“Martin is not a kind man. You can call him anything else…but kind isn’t one of them.” Sibisiswe replied. “Anyway, I didn’t ask to have this meeting with you so we could talk about your husband.” She deliberately stressed the words. “I want us to talk about something you might actually find pleasing.”

“And what is that?”

“From now on wards, I would like it if you were the one responsible for Jacobs welfare…and by that I mean bringing him back to my place after his visits to you. I do not wish to have any more contact with Martin.”

Veronica took a moment to mull over what she had just heard. Again, she wasn’t sure whether to be happy or concerned about such a development. Isn’t that what she had always hoped for? She had been on Martin’s neck the past years trying to get him to let her take charge of that situation but he never relented.

What was really going on here? Something didn’t seem right.

If you even knew half of it, you would be using your fake lashes to hang yourself woman, Sibusiswe thought as she watched Veronica silently battle her demons.

“Is this what they call in the movies psychology reverse?” Veronica asked.

Sibusiswe had to hold her hand to her mouth to keep herself from laughing out loud. “It’s actually….forget it,” she gave up teaching the vixen. It wasn’t her job anyway. “I am being sincere with you Veronica,” Sibu said.

“Martin might still have a soft spot for you but he would never leave me for you. I am not the kind of woman to get her husband stolen by another woman. I always protect what’s mine.”

Sibusiswe scoffed once again. “You know what’s funny,” she said in a very calm yet menacing tone. “That Martin will not be coming back to me by my own doing. With your own tongue, you will beg him to get back with me.”

“Keep on dreaming,” Veronica hissed. “Over my dead body, you get it? Over my dead body.” And then she got up to leave.

“If you say so,” Sibusiswe replied nonchalantly, looking out the window towards the blue Jaguar still parked in the same spot.

Was this war ever going to end? She thought as she got up from her chair.

Or should she put an end to it right there and then?

This would not be the first time she would be getting blood on her hands. Only this time, she would make it worth her while. She picked up her handbag and headed straight to the blue car.

Sibusiswe was so wrapped up in her determination to confront the person that had been following her ever since she returned from South Africa that she did not see Veronica’s car approach from the other side at high speed.

She first head the sound of the engine before turning her head and when she finally did, she saw the naked thirst and determination on Veronica’s face as she dug her heels further onto the accelerator with just a few inches separating Sibu and the car.

Sibusiswe froze in horror, her eyes shut as she awaited her pending doom, unable to move or make any wise judgement as images from her past flashed before her eyes.

As the two worlds from her past and present collided in a  like moment, Sibu felt someone put their arms around her waist and yank her out of the way right before impact…just as it had happened in the past.

“Mum!” Sibu yelled out in a very voice. She could feel someone’s heavy breath next to her but when she tried to open her eyes to see who it was, the shiny rays from the sun blocked her view.

Who was this person holding on to her? She wondered as she struggled to keep her eyes open against the light.

“Mum,” Sibu called out right before she passed out.

* * *

“Mum! Mum! Mum!” Sibu kept crying out in her sleep while Ted kept shaking her to wake her up.

“Nurse!” He called out to the nurse that was passing outside the door. “Sibu love…Sibu, wake up, wake up my love.” He kept repeating.

He sat her up on the bed in her sleep and kept calling out to her. She was fighting him and crying with her eyes still closed but Ted refused to let go of her.

He wrapped his arms around her and then said to the nurse that just stood there looking as clueless as a broken compass, “get the doctor here wont you!” he yelled and sent the poor nurse scampering out of the private ward.

He held her tightly into his arms and kept repeating soothing words to her back whilst stroking her hair gently.

She finally opened her eyes.

“My mother,” she said as Ted slowly removed her from his embrace.

“Did you dream about your mother Sibu?” Ted asked her, getting down on both knees before her and taking her hands into his. “You kept calling out her name….”

“I saw my mother Ted,” Sibu said with a tear laden face. “She rescued me just like she had done many years ago. I saw her Ted.”

Great fear and concern filled Ted’s eye’s. “Sibu,” he tried to tell her.

“I know,” she quickly offered up. “I know that she had died. I remember everything now. It happened just like it did today.”

“Yesterday my love,” Ted corrected her. “You’ve been here since yesterday afternoon. They had to sedate you because it was the only way to keep you under control…to let you calm down a bit. Tell me what happened to you?”

“Our lovely patient is finally up,” the male doctor announced his presence in the room. “Why don’t you wait out at the front Mr Zulu while I examine your fiance? It won’t take too long,” he said to a visibly perturbed Ted.

“I will be right back my love, okay?” He said to Sibu as he slowly stood up. And with his hands still holding on to hers, “I love you,” he said before planting a kiss on her forehead. He then let go of her hands. “I will just be outside there,” he reassured her.

Sibu nodded and Ted reluctantly left the room.
Ted was naturally a very patient person but ever since he met Sibu, he seemed to run out of patience pretty quickly. He kept pacing to and from in the corridor outside Sibu’s room.

He was in the middle of pacing when he suddenly stopped in his tracks. He recalled the conversation he had had with the doctor concerning who had brought Sibu to the hospital the previous day.

“It was a man,” the doctor had told him in his office. “He appeared to be either in his early fifties or it could be late fifties…I really couldn’t tell. I was too busy trying to get to the patient.”

“And what did he tell you happened?” Ted asked.

“That a woman tried to run over your fiance,” the doctor explained. “He even got the number plate….” he opened his drawer and removed a piece of paper from a writing pad. “He left this here,” the doctor handed Ted the place number. “He said it was an attempted hit and run but he got her out of the way in time.”

“And what is this written down here?” Ted asked whilst looking at the paper.

“He said the complete description of the lady driving the car. He even drew a rough sketch, check the paper under.”

Ted’s eyes had widened in disbelief. “I know who this woman is,” he announced.

“You do?” The doctor asked, sitting up straight in his chair.

“That son of a…this is the girlfriend to my fiance’s ex-husband.”

“Woah,” the doctor exclaimed. “Then who was that man that brought her? He looked heavily concerned her about her. He was even the one that booked that room for her. He paid the hospital bill, in cash even before accounts could issue him with one and he said he would come to check on her later.”

“Can you describe the man to me?” Ted asked the good doctor.

“Like I said, I don’t remember much…but come to think of it, he and your girlfriend have   the same eyes.”

It was Ted’s turn to sit up. “What do you mean by that?”

“That deep and commanding gaze, it’s the same, even their eyebrows.”

“Doc, can you do me a favor,” Ted said. “When that doctor comes back, please let me know.” He removed his wallet from his pocket and took out his business card and handed it to the doctor. “Please, do this for me and my fiance. She’s been looking for this man for a very long time now.”

“So you know who he is?” The doctor inquired.

“I suspect I do,” Ted had replied with a far-off expression on his face.

“Ted, where is she?”

Ted was brought back to reality by the familiar sound.

“What the hell are you doing here?” He glared and Martin and went for his color. “How many times did I beg you to leave Sibu alone now look what you’ve caused!” Ted’s grip on Martin was so tight he was almost lifting him off the ground.

“Ted, c’mon man, don’t do this here,” Martin tagged at Ted’s hands which were threatening to chock him. “Everyone’s looking at us.”

“Is that all you care about right now?” Ted snapped and unexpectedly let her of him and sent him into a mini tangle with gravity.

Martin steadied himself and confronted his old friend. “What the hell is wrong with you?” He asked Ted. “How is it my fault that Sibu almost got ran over? Am I the only one in her life whose got enemies? I came here straight from the airport after Vicky told me what happened.”

Ted was dumbfounded. “And what exactly did Vicky tell you happened?”

“She said that Sibu had called her out for a meeting concerning Jacob and after they finished talking, Sibu was on her way to her car when someone tried to run her over but she was saved by someone.”

Ted scoffed. “And you believed her?” He asked whilst shaking his head. “That bitch of yours is the one that tried to kill Sibu!”

“What?” Martin asked, fear registering all over his face. “What do you mean she tried to kill Sibu?”

“She was the one driving,” Ted provided. “There was a witness there. They drew a sketch of her face, wrote down a full description of her and even provided her number plate.”

“That can’t be,” Martin was slowly shaking his head. He desperately wanted to believe that it was a lie but he knew that his baby was crazy. He wouldn’t put something like this passed her. How many times had she threatened to run Sibu over in the past? Had she finally lived up to her threats?

“Didn’t I tell you that your selfishness would only end up hurting Sibu in the process?” Ted asked Martin accusingly. “Now look what you’ve done?”

Ted’s words cut into Martin like a knife. Like a man exhausted from an everlasting fight, Martin went to sit down on one of the chairs lined up along the corridor. Reality had finally hit him like a heavy rock falling from the skies.

“How badly hurt is she?” He asked.

“She was lucky, someone pushed her out of the way in the nick of time. She only passed out because the moment awakened her memories from her past…otherwise she should be fine.”

“She remembered her past?” Martin asked. Not sure how to take the news.

“Yes, thanks to your baby mama’s craziness, the almost accident triggered her memories. That Victoria woman should be put in jail for what she tried to do. Sometimes I just don’t get women; why is she fighting Sibu when it is obvious you are the one that’s chasing after her? Will your heart go to her once she gets Sibu out of the face of the earth? Get your shit straight man and stop forcing Sibu into your drama. She will be my wife in just a couple of months. Show some respect and leave her the hell alone. This is my last warning to you and that crazy woman you are living with.”
From the hospital, Martin went straight home and found Veronica pacing to and from in from of the house. The rest of her body froze while she rubbed her hands against each other in sheer nervousness.

“Did you see her?” Veronica had ran to Martin’s car peered through the window to fire questions at him. “Is she okay? Was she hit? Who was that man that moved her from the road?”

Martin didn’t bother to answer any of her questions. Instead, he flung the door of his vehicle wide open, sending her scampering to the side as he forcefully came out.

“You are hurting me Martin,” Veronica protested as she was being dragged upstairs by the hand.

Martin led her straight up to the spare bedroom where she had been camping with their daughter and he flung her to the floor before opening her closet and throwing her clothes out.

“I need you to get out of here before I kill you,” he roared as he continued to fling her clothes everywhere. “Pack all your staff from this house and I will personally send you back to your parents.”

Veronica started bawling and she went to him and groveled on her knees for his forgiveness.

“I don’t know what got into me Martin,” she begged. “I just lost it for a moment. I didn’t really want to hurt her.”

Martin paused whatever he was doing to glare down at her. “You clearly saw her crossing the road in front you and then you accelerated. What did you hope would happen when your vehicle came into contact with her, give her some magical make-over?” He shouted.

Veronica kept tagging at his leg. “Please forgive me Martin. I am sorry. It won’t ever happen again.”

“Of course it will never happen again,” he said. “Who the hell do you think you are to compete with someone like Sibu? It’s my fault you did that to her. Just because I was a little kind to you you thought I would actually marry you?” he scoffed. “All I need from you is my child, nothing else! I have dragged this thing far enough with your parents and now is the time to set the record straight.”

Martin kicked his leg roughly to shrug her off and off she tumbled to her side while he stormed out of the room.

Left alone on the floor, Veronica bawled her eyes out.
Aunt Tafadzwa felt like her life had been turned into a living hell ever since Sibusiswe returned from South Africa. The silent treatment she was giving her tormented her all through the night and into the early hours of the morning. She had liked it better when she would walk right through her door and speak her mind but she really didn’t know how to handle this new side of her. Just what exactly was she planning to do to her?

As if she didn’t already have enough on her plate, Aunt Tafadzwa received an early morning visitor that day at her shop. It was Mrs Mwewa. She didn’t need to ask to know why the avator-like looking human was standing at her door.

“How dare you?” Mare Mwewa greeted.

Aunt Tafadzwa made a face and uttered something under her breath. “It took you this long ah?” She returned.

“You dame witch,” the Bemba woman cussed. “How dare you lie to me and even collect money from me when you knew very well that the information you were giving me was fake?”

Her temporary-friend-turned-nemesis-again scoffed. “You wanted to take my grandchild away from her mother…my niece, did you really think that I would sell you information that you could use against her?”

Mrs Mwewa looked more than ready to pop, on the face that is. “You really have no shame,” she hissed. “You took money from me!” She hollered.

“I never forced you to give it to me,” Sibu’s aunt contended. “You came all the way here in your fancy car and fancy clothes and threw a few words at me. I wasn’t the one that followed you. I simply saw an opportunity and I embraced it.”

“That’s called stealing!” Mrs Mwewa howled. “We had a deal and you cheated.”

Poteto – potato,” Aunt Tafadzwa said. “You call it stealing, I call it surviving. Now get out of here, I have a business to run.”

“How about we talk some more,” Sibu appeared from nowhere and joined the two women gawking at her in shock. She looked with repulsion from one woman to the other.

“Sibu, what are you doing here?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked, soaking wet in the aftermath of being caught red-handed.

“I am not sure yet,” Sibu said, still looking from one woman to the other. “But I would certainly like to know what sort of information the two of you were trading.”

They both just stared at her.

“I have to go,” Mrs Mwewa soon announced her departure and left before aunt and niece could say anything.

“Oh just quit it already!” Sibu snapped at her aunt who was looking like she was standing in a lion’s den. “I am not here to fight with you. Nothing you do these days surprised me so you can quit putting up that poor woman defenseless front.”

Aunt Tafadzwa immediately recovered from her act. “What do you want?” She asked, turning her back to her as she went back into the shop.

Sibu followed her inside.

“Tell me where I can find my father, ah,” she raised her hand to shush her aunt who was about to open her mouth. “I am done listening to your lies. If you do not tell me where to find my father right now, I can promise you that I will make you and your children pay for everything you put me through all those years. You know me well enough to know I am not bluffing, so speak.”

Aunt Tafadzwa was wise enough to know this was a battle she was never going to win. “He lives in Woodlands,” she said. “He moved here with his family a few months ago.”

“Moved here?” Sibu asked. “From where?”

“He used to live in Botswana but he moved here to be closer to you.”

“So I was right, he knows about me now.” Sibu said, mostly to herself. “When did he find out?” She asked her aunt.

“Last year. He went digging around for information and when he found out, he almost killed me.”

“Am I supposed to feel bad for you?” Sibu asked sarcastically. “Why didn’t he just come to me when he found out the truth instead of following me around like that? What exactly did you tell him?”

Aunt Tafadzwa shrugged her shoulders. “I only told him that you might not accept him easily into your life since you’ve hated him for such a long time.”

“I only hated him because of what you told me about him!” Sibu yelled. “But how can I hate him now when he’s just as much a victim of your schemes as I? You will never change Aunty. Text me the address right now and don’t make me come back here to ask for it again.”

Sibu glared at her aunt in incredulity before storming out of the shop.
Sibu received the address to her phone moments after leaving her aunts shop. She couldn’t help looking through her rear-view mirror for any cars that might be following her even though no one had done so since that day at the restaurant.

When Sibu reached the address of her father’s home, she couldn’t get herself to hoot so they could open the gate for her. Instead, she parked to the side of the road and called Ted.

“I can’t do this alone ted.” She told him. “Can you come?”

“Where are you babe?” Ted asked. “Text me the address and I will be right there.”

And as promised, Ted parked right behind Sibu a few minutes later. She got out of her car and went to meet him.

“What am I going to say to him Ted?” Sibu nervously rubbed her hands together.

Ted put his arm around her. “Don’t think too much about it my love,” he told her. “It’s obvious he also wants to meet you, desperately…so just act natural, be you and let everything pick up from there. Now should we go and press the button?” He pointed to green gate in front of them.

Sibu nodded and so the two walked forward. Ted rang the bell and then they waited.

The gate opened slightly by remote control and a woman standing on the veranda came into view.

“Honey!” She shouted the moment she saw who was at the gate. Her husband quickly came running from the house and joined her.

Lance Hangala stared shell-shocked at the daughter he had been dying to meet for the past year.

“I think we can go in now,” Ted said to Sibu and led her by her hand to her father.

This was the first time Ted was seeing Sibu looking so nervous and at a complete loss for words.

“Good afternoon Ma’am, Sir,” Ted greeted the couple. “My name is Ted, and this is er….”

“I know who she is,” the man nervously said.

And then there was an awkward silence as they all just stared at each other.

“How about we all get inside so we can sit down and chat properly?” Mrs Hangala excitedly announced to the group.

They all followed her inside.

Sibu was more than impressed by the interior of the house. She had seen the outside and had an idea of her father’s financial standing, but the inside spoke volumes about the kind of man he had become.

I bet Aunt Tafadzwa would collapse if she walked into this house right now, Sibu thought as she looked around the huge expensively furnished living room.

Ted kept his hold on her hand as they sat down and only released it when they were saved beverages.

“I can’t believe that you are really here,” her father finally said. “I don’t even know what to say to you.”

His wife joined him by his side once she was done serving. “How about I take you on a tour of the house Mr Ted while these two talk?” Mrs Hangala offered.

Ted turned to Sibu.

“It’s fine love,” Sibu said, “you can go. I will be just fine.”

Ted squeezed her hand tightly before standing up. He followed the friendly woman and the two disappeared from the room.

“So,” Sibu said once she was alone with her father.

“I am very glad you came here Sibu,” her father said.

“Me too.”

“How did you….”

“My aunt,” Sibu supplied. “I didn’t leave her much choice. Why didn’t you just come up to me instead of following me around like that?”

Lance laughed nervously. “I tried, God I tried to so many times but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was so afraid you might reject me and I….”

“I thought you were some crazy stalker,” Sibu laughed. “You pretty much freaked me out but eventually I figured it might be you. That almost accident at the restaurant made things even more obvious.”

“I figured,” he said. “Did you report the lady to the police?”

“No…I couldn’t, it’s just complicated.”

“I see,” he looked disappointed. “I guess there is a lot going on in your life that I don’t know about. I can’t believe it took this long to find out the truth. Sometimes I feel like going over to Tafadzwa and squeezing her neck. I just can’t believe that people can be that wicked.”

“Well, Aunt Tafadzwa is one of a kind.” Sibu said. They both laughed.

That day, Ted and Sibu ended up pending the rest of the at her father’s place and the two of them got to learn about Sibu’s new family. Sibusiswe discovered that she had two step-siblings who were fraternal twins, a boy and a girl aged fifteen. They had remained in boarding school in Botswana and would only be joining their parents in Zambia after graduating high school.

Her father was a retired farmer who had over the years invested most of his money in real estate both in Botswana and Zambia.

“Why are you grinning?” Ted asked Sibu as he drove her home late that night. They had decided to leave her car at her father’s place and he offered to bring it to her place the next day.

“I just can’t believe that I have a father,” Sibu said. “And that he is such a wonderful man. His wife too, she is very kind…you can’t help liking her.”

Ted smiled with her. “You know you really look alike with him….” he said.

“You think?” Sibu asked.

“I know so…except…you are so different from each other, personality-wise. He is so soft-spoken and you are…” you know….” He laughed as he waved his hands in the air.

Sibu threw him a nasty look. “So sleeping over for you tonight,” she threatened him.

“What?” Ted protested. “No way!”

Sibu laughed.

* * *

A week later, Mrs Hangala paid Aunt Tafadzwa a visit at her shop.

“Who are you?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked the petite woman standing in front of her.

“I am Mrs Hangala,” she candidly announced. “Sibu’s mother.”

“Don’t you mean step mother?”

“It doesn’t matter to me,” the woman retorted.

“What do you want here?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked.

“Aren’t you going to offer me a sit?” She asked.

“You are not welcome here, why would I give you a seat.”

“Er,” Mrs Hangala shrugged her shoulders dismissively. “I guess am going to have to deliver my message whilst standing.”

“What message?” Aunt Tafadzwa asked.

“Since my husband and my step-daughter won’t do anything about you, it is up to me to do something in their stead. You have two days to vacate this shop and go as far away from my husband’s daughter as possible.” The petite woman commanded in a very menacing tone.

There was nothing about her demeanor that spoke of the innocence she had displayed in front of Ted and her step daughter.

Right there in front of Aunt Tafadzwa, Mrs Hangala’s little menacing frame was one to be reckoned with.

“Now why would I do something so stupid?” Aunt Tafadzwa said. “Sibu bought this shop for me and I am not going anywhere. You think you can just appear in her life and run it for her however you please? Sibu and I had an agreement, I earned this shop.”

“She might have bought it for you but it is still in her name.” Mrs Hangala smugly corrected the woman.

“What do you mean by that? She told me that it was in my name?”

She laughed. “I guess she’s always been clever that one hasn’t she? The shop was never in your name. I offered to buy the shop from her and she agreed since she no longer wants to have anything to do with you. Right now as we speak, I am the new owner of this cute little place. My husband and I bought this whole section of shops. We intend to build a huge shopping mart for the locals so I suggest that you pack and go.”

“I knew that that girl wouldn’t just let things go. She just had to get back at me and she thinks kicking me out of here will make me fall? Well, she has another thing coming.” Aunt Tafadzwa fumed.

“She actually never wanted to sell this place,” Mrs Hangala explained. “I was the one who approached her and begged her to sell it to me, told her that I would help you get settled somewhere else but she said she didn’t care. I could tell she was lying. She still cares about you despite everything. But I don’t. And I need you gone by Tuesday next week.”

“Who do you think you are to kick me out of here?” Aunt Tafadzwa towered over the petite looking woman who never flinched under her stern gaze.

“I used to be a crazy woman before my husband married me and I can promise you that the crazy still lives inside me so don’t tempt me,” the woman roared. “My husband and his daughter might have forgiven you but I won’t let you off so easily after all the hardships you made him go through.

“A man his age cried himself to sleep for months when he discovered what you had done. No one can do that to my family and get away with it. What gives you the right to mess with other people’s lives like that? If you don’t want to find your stuff gone and no shop standing here, I suggest you leave before that happens.”

Aunt Tafadzwa couldn’t believe what was happening. She wanted to scream and wail but her pride could no let her do that in front of the strange woman.

“You can leave now. I will be out of here this very day.” She said arrogantly and headed back inside.

Mrs Hangala smiled triumphantly before turning to go.

Inside her shop, Aunt Tafadzwa called her daughter Tammy.

“You tell those stupid boys you are always hanging around with, tell them to come here and help me move my stuff home.” She said.

“Move what stuff mum?” Tammy asked from the other end of the line.

“That cousin of yours sold this shop to someone else imagine. They have asked me to move out as soon as possible,”

“Why so soon? You should have asked for more time.”

“I can’t stand being in this place any longer so just get me those boys here immediately.”

“You know that they won’t do it for free,” Tammy said. “I know tight you are when it comes to money so unless you promise to pay them, they won’t come.”

“Just tell them to come you stubborn brat!” She yelled at her daughter before rudely ending the call.

A few hours later, Aunt Tafadzwa had secured transport and she had Tammy’s friends help her move her things from the shop to the vehicle.

“I don’t know this driver very well so I can’t trust him alone to take my stuff home.” Aunt Tafadzwa said to the boy she suspected was the one sleeping with her daughter. “I have to clear out a few things with some people before I leave so I need you to drive with them home. I will come give you and your boys money when I get back home.”

“Tammy said you would give us after we finished the job ma’am,” the boy protested.

“And you haven’t finished the job,” she said. “You are only done half way. You have to unload them and put them into the house. Tammy will be waiting for you at home.”

And with that, she left the bunch of visibly upset boys behind.
Later that night when Aunt Tafadzwa got home, she cried blood when not a single thing of her stock from the shop had been delivered home.

“What did I tell you about those types boys?” She sobbed as she hit her daughter over and over again while her son watched in wonder in a corner.

“You have finished me Tammy…you have finished me you foolish child.” She threw herself on the ground and spread out her legs as she wailed dramatically.

Tammy ran away from her mother and tried to call her boyfriend’s number again but she still couldn’t get through.

“What have you done you son of a bitch,” she said whilst hitting her fingers over her touch screen. She raised her head up to look at her mother who was sprawled over the ground and covered in head.

She just sat there looking straight ahead with a blank look on her face. She looked like a woman whose brain waves had been exhausted.

She was deathly quite for someone that had spent the past thirty minutes wailing and crying her lungs out.

There was fear in Tammy’s eyes as she watched her mother embrace her sudden defeat.

Was this the end for them? Tammy wondered.

* * *

Ted waited in the car while Sibusiswe and Martin talked inside the restaurant where Sibu had almost lost her life. For the three of them, the restaurant had come to mean much more than just an eating place. It was the place where memories had been resurrected and where memories could be buried.

“Congratulations by the way,” Martin said. “I know I should have said this a long time ago but….”

“I know,” Sibu forced a smile. She silently wondered if there would ever come a time when she would look at Martin and not feel so sorry.

“But I really mean it,” Martin fought back the tears. “Ted is a great guy. I hate him, but he’s what you need.” He too forced a smile.

“Martin….” Sibu said.

“Don’t say it,” Martin told her. “Don’t say thanks and don’t say sorry because that will really make me feel shitty. I took a lot for me to finally decide to take a clean break and move on…it doesn’t mean I like it…but I know it’s something I have to do. I wish…I wish….” he desperately forced back the tears. He wasn’t going to cry on this day. That’s not how he wished her to remember him.

Sibu cried.

She wanted to reach out and comfort Martin but she knew she couldn’t. Despite everything they had been through, she would not have been where she was had it not been for Martin.

He was the first person to break down my walls and show me what real love is.  Sibu thought as she watched Martin walk away from her, memories from their past together flashed before her eyes.

Ted walked in at that moment and she ran into his arms.

“I want to see my mother,” she said to him.

Ted drove her to Memorial Park. He listened in silence as Sibu cried the whole way.

He dared not ask what was going through her mind.

He had the rest of his life to find out. This time he was just going to stand by her side and give her a shoulder to cry on if she needed it.

Once at the cemetery, Ted watched from a distance while Sibu chatted with her mother. She was still crying.

“Do you also think that I am a bad person mother?” Sibu addressed her mother.

“I really wanted to love Martin you know,” she sobbed. “I thought I tried my best but…I only ended up hurting him. Why I am always hurting the ones I love? Have you seen that good looking man standing over there,” she looked in Ted’s direction.

He had his eyes fixed on her with a smile on his face.

“I am going to be his wife in a few days,” Sibu said. “Do you think I deserve the kind of love he’s shown me? I am scared…. I have never been this happy in my life before so I am scared that one day I will wake up and it will all be gone.

“I just want to keep on dreaming. I just want to shut out the echoes from my heart and just love…love like there’s not tomorrow. I really want to do that mother.” She wiped at her tears and then smiled at Ted again.

He smiled back and waved at her from where he was standing.

“By the way, I met the love of your life mother…my father. He is quite a catch even for his age. He has never forgotten about you. I smile every time I think about him because I know that there is someone out there that loves me unconditionally…someone I can call my father.”

She had finally stopped crying now and Ted got the cue and came to join her.

“This is Ted mum,” Sibu introduced him to her mother. “Say hi to my mother Ted.”

Ted was all smiles as he lowered his head towards her mother’s tombstone. “I am honored to meet you Ms N’cube.” He said. “And thank you so much for giving birth to such an awesome daughter. I hope you don’t mind that I will be making her my wife…because I really really love her. I am crazy about her.”

Sibu was blushing all through Ted’s mini speech.

They both paid their final respects and headed back to the vehicle.

“Do you think she would have liked me?” Ted asked as he drove them home.

Sibu laughed. “I think so. You look a lot like my father so….”

Ted grinned from ear to ear. “That’s a compliment, right?”

They both laughed.

Sibu watched Ted as he drove. He looked happy.

she too felt happy.

I can’t hear them anymore, Sibu thought, with her gaze still on her soon-to-be husband.

The echoes, I think they’re gone.

She smiled and reached out her hand to him.

 

THE END.

 

 

Echoes of the Heart – Part 11

Final image - Echoes of the Heart

 

Two weeks had past since Ted and Sibu’s passionate kiss. Ted had expected her to avoid him at all cost after that but Sibu surprised him by doing the opposite; she had become friendlier than usual and talked a lot…she talked about everything except what happened that day.

Fearing that he might scare her away if he pressured her any further, Ted laid back and patiently waited for her. She still had a lot more months remaining of her stay in the country. Eventually, she was going to have to talk to him about it. He hoped that when that time came, it would be by her initiative and that it would be something worth waiting for.

Fortunately for Ted, he didn’t have to wait that long.

Ted had stayed up in his study working on one of the biggest cases he had been assigned that year when he heard little Jake calling out his name. He sounded desperate and Ted suspected he was crying too. That night he had been in a very bad mood so his mother had suggested that they sleep together instead of Ted’s room where they usually slept together.

Ted quickly ran up the stairs and found Jacob standing outside his bedroom.

“What’s wrong little man?” Ted got down on one knee and quizzed the crying boy.

“It’s mum,” he said in between sobs. “She is crying in her sleep and she wont wake up…no matter how much I shake her.”

Ted was up on his feet and running to Sibu’s room.

He found her sweating and turning and tossing in pain in her sleep.

“No…no…no…no,” she kept saying, her whole body convulsing in what appeared to Ted to be either pain or fear.

“Sibu, Sibu,” Ted kept calling out her name whilst shaking her.

She finally jolted up and was wide awake, but still writhing in pain against Ted’s embrace. He tightened his hold around her and kept repeating soothing words to her to calm her down.

“Are you okay mum?” Jacob’s little voice asked. It was only then when her son spoke that Sibu realized he was in the room and immediately, she calmed down. She then moved to hold her son in her arms instead.

“I am okay my love,” she assured him, stroking his hair as she tried to soothe him. “I am so sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just having a bad dream. Don’t be scared, okay? Mummy is very sorry.”

“I am sorry I couldn’t protect you from the monster mummy.” Little Jacob told his mother as he returned her hug.

“You did my son, of course you did,” Sibu said. “I got completely better the moment I laid eyes on you.”

“I did?” he asked with a glimmer of hope in his eyes.

“Yes you did.” Sibu released him from the embrace and held him away from her before planting a kiss on his forehead. “I love you so much my baby,” she said and then hugged him again.

“I love you too mum,” Jacob replied.

And holding him slightly away from her she said, “Why don’t you go to Uncle Ted’s room for a little bit while I talk to him about something?”

Jacob turned to look at Ted. “You won’t take long, right?” the five year old asked his potential step-father.

“No I won’t buddy,” Ted stroked his hair playfully.

Both Sibu and Ted watched as Jacob disappeared from the room. Ted got up and went to sit next to her.

“What’s going on with you Sibu?” he asked her. “Jake told me you’ve been having these nightmares quite a lot these past two weeks. What scared you this much and keeps you awake?” Rather than look around the room for something to use, Ted took off his vest instead and used it to wipe away the sweat covering her whole face.

“You asked me last time why I can’t remarry,” Sibu said, her voice a little slowed and pained from the horrors she had just been fighting. “This,” she was pointing to her wet hair. “This is the reason I don’t have the luxury to date anyone.”

Ted looked confused. “What do you mean by that?”

“The nightmares always start whenever I do something that makes me really happy. I saw a shrink once and she told me it’s a psychological issue…that I let my fears take over because of the guilt I’ve been holding on to.”

“What guilt Sibu?” Ted asked.

Sibu had lived with Martin for years but she had never gotten the strength to open up to him. Before, it had been because of his weak health, she had given the excuse that her problems might only add more pressure to him. And then later it was because she feared he would not be able to understand. He was not the type of person to deal with such great emotional issues. He had told her numerous times that he was not a touchy-feely kind of guy so how was he ever going to understand such complex feelings that she too could not understand even though they were happening to her?

But with Ted, she did not need to think twice. She was not sure whether it was the look in his eyes or the warmth of his embrace every time he held her in his arms…but with him she felt safe…she wanted to open up to him. For the first time in her life, Sibu felt like relying on someone, and so she confided in Ted.

“I was about fourteen years old when I lost my mother.” She started. “My aunt says I killed her…. According to her, I used to be very stubborn and wild. She says I gave my mother a lot of pain. I don’t know if it’s true or not since I can’t remember much from around that period of time. I lost my memory immediately after the accident.”

“Accident?” Ted asked.

Sibu nodded, “Yes, I was told that my mother was killed in an accident while she was chasing me with some boy I was fooling around with. My aunt says I was so infatuated with that boy who was older than me that on the day my mother died, we were planning on running away together but she caught us…and…and…” she shut her eyes and sighed heavily, tears welling up in her eyes. Ted moved even closer to her and held her hand while she narrated.

“We were at the bus stop that day with my boyfriend, desperately trying to get away from my mother who was chasing us. I was the the first one to step foot on the bus but before my boyfriend could get on, my mother had caught him and was pulling him and hitting him, trying to keep him from following me.

“In anger, I stormed out of the bus and pushed my mother away from him but there was a car coming from the other direction and it went over my mother, killing her instantly.”

It wasn’t the kind of story Ted had been expecting to hear. When she had first mentioned killing her mother, he had thought it was metaphorical…and not so literal.

He was petrified.

Sibu was watching him the whole time. “You are afraid of me now, aren’t you? Suddenly, I am this strange women you wish you had never met isn’t it?” She was saying the words with a smile on her face but the tears in her eyes told a whole different story.

Wasn’t that the same look she had never wanted to see in Martin’s eyes if he ever discovered the truth? Had he known the truth, she would have never had a chance with him. He had liked her because he thought she was different…innocent, he had told her. There was completely nothing innocent about her life.

Immediately, she regretted having opened up to Ted. Now she was going to lose the one person she thought she could count on without being judged.

With a grim expression on his face, Ted asked, “Did the police ever get involved?”

“They did,” Sibu replied. “My aunt said that she convinced them that it was my boyfriend that had pushed my mother. Many times I tried to get her to tell me which jail he is serving in but she says she has no idea where they took him. She warned me never to go searching because it might draw attention to me and that would be a problem for her because she had lied to protect me. But why do you ask?”

“Because I don’t buy any of it,” Ted spoke with such conviction it caught Sibu by surprise. That was not the reaction she had been expecting.

“You don’t believe it happened like that or you just don’t want to believe that the woman you like killed her own mother so she could run away with her older boyfriend?”

Ted was now up on his feet, Sibu could hear his mind thinking and making mental calculations. He was pacing back and forth, his face slightly tilted with his middle finger tapping the center of his forehead like he always did whenever he was working on a very hard case.

And suddenly, he moved closer to the bed and knelt down before her, taking her hands into his. “Sibu, don’t you know yourself?” he asked her.

“Huh?” Was all Sibu could say in return, wondering where this was going.

“When I first met you, I remember thinking how different you were from girls your age. I was greatly impressed by how well grounded and mature you seemed. I was not the only one in that room that day who had been impressed.”

“What has that got to do with what I just told you Ted?” Sibu asked, visibly confused by what was going on.

Ted was shaking his head slowly, a dampened and irritating look playing on his face. How could Sibu not have seen through something so obvious? He wanted to lash out at her for being so gullible but managed to keep his cool about him. Taking a deep breath, he swallowed hard and heaved heavily;

“I do not think you did any of the things your aunt said you did,” he said.

She flashed him a puzzled look. He had not expected less.

“I am saying that your aunt must have taken advantage of your loss of memory and lied to you about what happened that day,” he explained.

“Why would my aunt make up such a big lie? What would she gain from making me believe that… I had killed my own mother?” Even before she had finished the sentence, she grasped exactly what Ted was trying to say to her.

“No, it can’t be….” she was trying to convince herself more than she needed to convince him. “She can’t be that cruel,” she was slowly shaking her head in horror.

“One time when I was fifteen, she even dragged me to the place where the accident had taken place and dared me to ask anyone working around there about what had transpired. I was so petrified I couldn’t dare ask anyone. I was so afraid of what I might hear. Why would she risk taking me there if she knew those people might tell me the truth if they saw something?”

“Because she knew from the very beginning that you would not ask,” Ted said. “You were young and naive and she played you to your fears. Everything you know about that day is according to what she told you. Do you think that if we go to the police right now they would have records of that accident?”

Sibu was looking at him wearily, every muscle in her body gripped in terror. “Are you saying that there was no accident?” she asked. “I don’t think that’s something she would have made up. I know she is an evil person, but I don’t think she would go to such extremes to lie to me about how my mother died. This is her sister we are talking about after all. I really want to believe everything you are telling me…but this is just too good to be true…it’s just too easy.

“I have lived with this guilt for so many years,” Sibu lamented. “…and not once did I bother to question my aunt because it didn’t seem possible that she could fabricate details of her own sister’s death. You should see her, she really hates me and holds me responsible for what happened. There is no way someone can dislike another person that much based off something they made up…there’s just no way.”

“You never questioned anything because you never spoke to anyone about it,” Ted provided.

“I never did,” Sibu said in a whispered voice, a faraway expression on her face and with tears falling from her eyes.

Why had she never questioned anything? Her thoughts went back to all those times she had had conversations with Aunt Tafadzwa over her mother’s death. Now that she thought about it, her aunt had every reason to lie to her…she just didn’t know why she would feel justified in tormenting her own niece in the most cruel way possible.

Seeing her like that broke Ted’s heart. He brought her into his arms and held her there tightly. He wanted to take the pain away from her and shoulder it in her stead.

As if a sudden thought had occurred to her, Sibu tilted her body away from Ted’s and looked at him with a tear stained face. “If that’s not how my mother died, how then did she die?” she asked.

“That’s what we need to find out. If my suspicions are correct, it means your aunt had something to do with the actual death of your mother and she forced you to take responsibility because she needed to shift the blame from herself. Did you ever find out what sort of people you used to hang out with before the accident?”

“There was no one for me to ask,” Sibu answered. “My aunt moved us to a whole new neighborhood immediately after my mother’s death. I have no recollection whatsoever of who used to be my friend.”

Ted was wrapped up in deep thought as he mulled over what Sibu had just told him. He got up from the bed and went to stand by the window. He pulled the curtain half way and opened the window so he could feel some fresh air over his face.

Sibu remained seated on the bed looking at his back.

“What are you thinking about?” She asked him.

Ted slowly turned to face her. “I want to know the truth Sibu,” he said. “I wont believe for a second that you are capable of doing what your aunt claims you did.”

“What if I had really been that sort of person Ted,” her voice was heavy with worry and fear. “One of the reasons I stopped myself from asking any more questions is because I was scared of finding out the truth…then it would be like experiencing everything all over again. What if I only changed out of guilt for what I had done? Maybe…maybe I subconsciously know what I did and I changed my personality because of regret. I was a teenager…anything is possible.”

Ted was busy shaking his head the whole time she was talking. “No way, that’s not possible.” He insisted. “You mentioned seeing a psychiatrist earlier,”

Sibu nodded. “I saw one behind Martin’s back.”

“Did she ever try to help you regain your memory?”

“She wanted to…but I was too scared to try. I wanted the nightmares to go away so I thought she could help me without me having to remember what happened…but it didn’t work.”

Ted then moved back to the bed and sat on the edge, one leg crossed over the other. “Your nightmares,” he said. “What do you see in your dreams?”

“There’s one main one that comes every now and then,” she explained. “But then every once in a while I have one that’s so confusing. My age changes in these nightmares, sometimes I am young, about five, sometimes ten, and sometimes I am fourteen years old. One minute I am standing alone on this dirty street in the middle of nowhere…it’s like a neighborhood somewhere but it’s so dark I can’t see clearly,”

she had her eyes shut as she tried to recall the elements of her dreams.

“There are these funny sounds around, they are scary but every time I turn to look I find nothing. I always feel like something huge and heavy is coming to grab on to me and right before it does, a woman appears out of nowhere and holds me by the hand. The scary thing instantly disappears and I am not scared anymore.

“I cannot make out the woman’s face. I am looking up and trying to see her face but there is so much light from somewhere out of nowhere that I can’t make out her face. But just as I am starting to feel comfortable and safe, the woman suddenly disappears and I find myself standing in a whole different street.

“Unlike the street before, this one is clean but instead of a neighborhood, this one is on a highway. Cars are moving in all directions. Next thing I know one moment, they all suddenly disappear and the day changes into night and I am still standing all alone in that same spot rooted to the ground. I cannot move, literally. There’s a car heading towards me with a full beam on and the driver accelerates the closer he gets…or she gets to me. I can feel the ground below me suddenly start to crack but I cannot move because I am scared….”

Sibu is writhing in fear as she talks and there’s sweat on her forehead now. Ted reaches out to her and places his hands on her shoulders.

“I am here with you Sibu,” he says to her softly, pressing his hands deeper into her skin so she can feel his presence. “You are safe,” he assures her. “I am right here.”

Sibu managed to calm down and she continues, “The ground is about to open wide open and I am trying to reach out for something but there is nothing there. I am crying and praying for someone to help me but no one comes. Just as the car is about to run me over, I wake up.” And she opened her eyes in stark relief, her breathing high and heavy.

Ted moved his hands so he can hold hers and then he says to her, “And you always wake up just before the car hits you?”

“Yes…when there is no one there to wake me up, I struggle in that same spot for a long time and the car somehow never hits me until I succeed in waking myself up right before it comes.”

“What did your shrink say could be the meaning of the dream?”

“Fear…she said there is something I must be scared of in my life…or that it might have something to do with what I cannot remember. I never told her about the accident so I figured she must be right. It has something to do with the accident. She couldn’t give me a proper diagnosis because I wouldn’t open up to her about everything.”

“What do you think about trying again?” Ted suggested.

“Therapy?” Sibu asked. “You want me to remember what happened that day?” There was fear in her eyes. “I don’t know Ted….”

“I understand why you might be scared Sibu,” Ted was saying. “But I am here with you now. You are not alone. And I told you before, I don’t care what you think you did in your past. I promise I wont let you get hurt while we try to find out what really happened. I need you to trust me. Can you do that for me…for us Sibu?” he pleaded.

Sibu reluctantly nodded.

“Thank you,” Ted said, grabbing her into a hug. “I am going to be with you throughout this ordeal. Just trust me and let me take care of everything.”

“What are you planning to do” Sibu was suddenly feeling hopeful.

“I am going to get a few days off work and travel to Lusaka.”

“Shouldn’t we go together?”

“I don’t think it’s necessary right now. I just want to confirm with the police first if there’s any record of that accident and then I will go to that bus station and your old neighborhood as well. I am sure there will be one person there who at least remembers something.”

“How are you going to manage to do all that alone?” She asked.

Ted was smiling at her bemusedly. “Are you that worried about me?” he asked. “Now you are not afraid to show your feelings ey. I have a couple of people I trust that can take care of certain things. Don’t worry about it.”

In response, Sibu wrapped her arms around him from behind.

That gesture on her part almost brought tears to Ted’s eyes. He patted her hand lightly before resting his head on her arms from the front.

They stayed like that for a while.

* * *

Ted stood back in his perfectly fitting grey Armani suit outside Aunt tafadzwa’s shop while the woman baptized him in a full body scan, her eyes excitedly dancing about in their sockets.

“How may I help you young man?” She put on her angelic smile reserved only for such moments. She was making mental calculations of her daughter’s wedding theme. The potential groom looked more than ready to wait for her daughter on the other end of the aisle.

“I would like to have a word with you in private ma’am,” Ted said to the under dressed woman. She might have lost weight everywhere else but her stomach still seemed to be having issues against her. Ted had to consciously do everything possible to keep his gaze from looking down at the layers of stretch marks popping out from under her tight blouse.

With her hopes still high, Aunt Tafadzwa smiled and said, “let us go in and talk,” she gestured towards the inside of her shop.

Ted followed her behind.

“Are you here about my daughter Tammy?” She finally blurted out once they were inside, unable to keep the excitement to herself any longer. She had always wanted her daughter to find a good and intelligent looking man like this one instead of those vagabonds she kept hanging out with.

“Your daughter?” Ted asked, “I am afraid I do not know your daughter ma’am.”

Aunt Tafadzwa’s face expanded. “If you are not here about my daughter, then why are you here?” She quizzed him.

“I am here to talk to you about your niece, Sibusiswe,” he informed her nonchalantly.

Aunt tafadzwa stood up in a huff. “Sibu is not here,” she hissed. “She traveled to South Africa. You should leave now, I am a very busy woman.” She went to stand by the door to see him off.

Unfortunately for her, Ted remained seated, a smirk on his face. “I already know where Sibu is,” he told the angry woman. “As a matter of fact, I left her at my house in Cape Town.”

“Then why are you here?” She roared.

“I thought it would be polite for me to talk to the only guardian of the woman I intend to marry…I thought we could get to know each other slowly.”

Aunt Tafadzwa folded her arms and glared at Ted in disbelief. “You want to marry Sibu? Are you kidding me? Why would a fine young man like you want to get married to a divorcee with a child?”

“Is there a law somewhere against that?” Ted asked. “I thought she was your niece, shouldn’t you be a little more supportive?”

“I see what’s going on here?” Aunt Tafadzwa was saying. “So she told you a few lies about me that’s why you came her with such an attitude isn’t it? If you have nothing better to talk to me about, I suggest you leave right now.”

“Something better?” Ted pretended to be mulling over her words. “How about we talk about the supposed accident that killed Sibu’s mother? Does that sound like a better topic?”

Aunt Tafadzwa was a ball of fear. She was stiff from fear. “Why would you want to talk about something like that?” Her voice was shaking terribly.

Ted got up and buried his hands in his pocket, a bemused smile on his face. “I just told you, I am her fiance. I intend to know every little thing about my future wife, especially the things that keep her awake at night.”

“If you don’t leave….”

“Why are you suddenly getting all worked up?” Ted said as he watched the woman break into a sweat. “Sibu told me everything about what you told her…about how her mother died.”

Aunt Tafadzwa froze.

“She told you? Sibu told you?” She didn’t believe him. “There is no way Sibu could have talked to you about something like that.”

“Oh my, but she did,” Ted said with a grin on his face. “She told me about the boyfriend she was with while she supposedly pushed her mother to her death. She told me about how you dragged her to the place of the accident and how you kept her from talking to anyone about it.”

Aunt Tafadzwa could feel the walls around her crumbling. She was shaking from her very roots.

“I think you should sit down,” Ted advised, using his leg to point towards the chair she had been sitting on.

“I need you to leave,” she said for the umpteenth time. “I am not feeling so well.” She was holding her hand to her forehead. “I always get like this whenever talk of my sister is brought up. Why cant you let the poor soul rest in peace?”

Ted wanted to laugh out loud at her audacity and her little performance but instead he said, “I am not leaving this place until I tell you what I came here for. For years Sibu has killed herself over the guilt of what you made her believe was the truth.”

“I did not make her believe anything, I told her the truth!” she yelled. “She is just an ungrateful selfish wench out to make me seem like a bad person just because I made her pay for what she did to my sister.”

“And what exactly did she do?” Ted asked. “Give up this act because I already know the truth. I came all the way here to find out the truth and I did. There is nothing you can say that will ever convince anyone that Sibu had anything to do with her mother’s death.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” was what Aut Tafadzwa said with her mouth but her body was shaking so badly she had to seat down.

Ted was looking down at her with a frown on his face. “You should be ashamed of yourself for using your fourteen year old niece like that,” he rebuked her. “Don’t you have no soul? How can you be so wicked towards your own sister’s daughter? You killed your sister due to your own selfishness and pinned the death on her only daughter. Are you even human?”

“I never meant to kill her!” Aunt Tafadzwa yelled. “It was that brat…I wanted to get rid of that brat but Miriam was so foolish she jumped in and sacrificed herself.” She cried. “My sister was beautiful and smart. A lot of men wanted to marry her but she kept turning them down because of that stupid girl. I just wanted her to get married to a rich man so that the family can get out of poverty.

“I was a single mother with two children that were starving and yet my own sister could not sacrifice herself to marry a man willing to take care of all of us because she needed to set a good example for her precious daughter. The man was not even that old, a twenty-seven years age different isn’t such a big deal when a man has so much money as Mr Ngulube did. I had to do something about it! It was the only way for us all to survive.”

Ted couldn’t believe what he was hearing. After all these years, there was no sign of remorse from Sibu’s aunt.

He was baffled. “And you thought pushing her daughter in front of a car was the right thing to do to force her to marry some rich old man just so you and your children can live in comfort? Don’t you see anything wrong with that kind of reasoning?”

Aunt Tafadzwa was growling under her breath. “I knew what I was doing was wrong but what could a mother do? I had to look out for my own children’s interests. That bastard child of hers wasn’t even supposed to be born. I tried so many times to get Miriam to abort but she just wouldn’t listen. At least my children were born in marriage even though their father turned out to be a useless man. That father of Sibu was a nobody back then. He is busy prancing around like a rich man these days after ruining my sister’s life. He will die not knowing he had a daughter. That’s what he deserves for ruining my sisters life.”

“Sibu’s father is alive?” Ted asked in disbelief.

Aunt Tafadzwa froze when she realized her blunder. She had been so wrapped up in her hate that she let that information slip.

“No…you heard wrong, that’s not what I said.” She stammered. “Since we don’t know where he is, I was just talking hypothetically.”

“Sibu thinks that her father is dead!” Ted shouted.

“That’s what she tells people because she doesn’t want to admit that he didn’t want her. She knows very well that he is alive somewhere.”

“You just said that he will die not knowing he had a daughter because that’s what he deserves for ruining your sister’s life…yes, I remember everything,” Ted said upon seeing the shocked expression on her face. “It’s a weakness of mine…others think its a gift but I tend to remember everything I hear and see. You made Sibu believe that her father had rejected her when he has no idea she even exists?”

“It was the only way to keep her from searching for him. She had to keep working to feed my family. It was her fault after all that the sister who was supposed to be taking care of me died trying to save her. Well, she saved her and so she had to take my sister’s place. I had to make her useful. I couldn’t afford to have her running around the country searching for a useless man.”

“And when you discovered he was doing fine now, why didn’t you tell Sibu or him? I don’t doubt Sibu could have left you to suffer while she lived in luxury with her father?”

The woman scoffed. “That might might have risen from the flames but he is not all that. Martin’s family had way more money than anyone else.”

“So you forced her to get married to Martin for money?” That was a revelation Ted had not been expecting to hear.

Aunt Tafadzwa had a triumphant smirk on her face. “Umhu,” she said. “You thought your future wife was some innocent woman being abused, right? But she married Martin out of greed, I never forced her. In exchange for a few certain monetary benefits, she agreed to Marry Martin and when she was done with him, she dumped him like a hot potato.”

“You are sick,” Ted was looking her disgustingly. “You are kidding yourself if you think I am going to believe the crap coming out of your mouth.”

“Ask her yourself. Since she tells you everything, I don’t doubt she will tell you the truth.”

“I didn’t come here to listen to you badmouth my woman,” Ted snapped. “Before I tell you why I came here, I need you to tell me where to find Sibu’s father.”

“And why would I do such a foolish thing? How am I possibly to benefit from giving away such vital information?”

“Because at some point in that twisted mind of your, you are going to have to face the fact that you are an evil person that needs to repent. Sibu did not ask to be born. She was just a kid that was unfortunate enough to have you as an aunt. Just because your children were not born out of wedlock does not make them better than those that weren’t. What gives you the right to decide something like that?”

“I am not guilty of anything because I did everything in my power to ensure that my children were well taken care of. that’s what a mother does.”

“You bring shame to every woman out there who’s a mother. You took that same right from your own sister when you decided it was okay to throw her only daughter in front of a moving car. You should pray that nothing like that ever happens to your own children. Whether you don’t tell me or not, I will find out where Sibu’s father is and I will let him decide what happens to you.”

“Are you going to tell Sibu about what we talked about?” She called out to him from behind.

Ted stopped and with his back still to her he said, “Of course I will. She deserves to know the truth. It’s been a long time coming.”

Aunt Tafadzwa’s face was riddled with fear for the first time that day. She might have managed to manipulate her niece all those years but it was only because she had allowed her out of guilty, but now that the truth was out in the open, she shuddered at the thought of what she might do to her and her children to exert her revenge.

Sibu was the kind of person to do exactly that.

 

When Ted returned to Cape Town, he sat Sibu down and told her everything he had discovered back home. He had never before seen a woman break down in tears and cry as much as Sibu did that day.

To watch the woman he had come to consider as one of the strongest women break down and crumble right in front of him, Ted failed to hold back his own tears. He would have paid any price to transfer her pain to himself. That’s how much he loved her.

While Jacob was sleeping alone in Ted’s room, Ted held Sibu in his arms until she finally cried herself to sleep. Not wanting to leave her side, he stayed with her all through the night until Jacob came to join them in the early hours of the morning. Ted motioned for him to stay quite, moved to the side and called the little man to sleep between him and his mother.

“Is mum not feeling well?” Jacob whispered in Ted’s ear.

“Yes, but she will feel better when she wakes up in the morning so don’t disturb her. Let’s all sleep quietly.

“Are you going to sleep here with us?” Jacob asked.

“You don’t want me to?” he asked the five year old.

“I want you to sleep here,” Jacob whispered back. “You are the only one who can chase away the monsters when they attack mum in her sleep. I don’t want you to go.”

Ted smiled and ruffled his hand through Jake’s hair. “That’s my boy,” he said.

 

Six months later, little Jacob was to open the door to his father while his mother and Ted were cuddled up on the sofa watching TV.

“Mum, dad is here!” Jacob announced excitedly to the room.

At first Martin could not see anyone is sight since the two of them were hidden by the back of the huge sofa they were sleeping on until they both looked up when the announcement was made.

“What the hell?” Martin said upon seeing the two of them appearing cozy from behind the sofa. “Are the two of you….” his face was turning green from furry but before he could burst out, Sibu got up from the sofa and ran towards her son who was laboring with the bundles of toys his father had brought for him.

“How about we move these to your play room my love so you can play with them while your father and I talk?” She picked up most of them and carried them to the playroom with an excited Jacob closely following her behind, oblivious to the storm brewing between the two men engaged in a face off behind them.

“I see you haven’t forgotten where my house is,” Ted greeted his old friend. “It would have been nice if you had called first instead of popping up unannounced. You could have saved yourself a lot of embarrassment.”

Martin walked over to where Ted was now standing. “What did you do to convince a level-headed woman like Sibu to do something this crazy?”

“I would think that I was old enough to make my own decisions,” Sibu said when she joined them. “Aren’t you going to sit down?” She nonchalantly asked Martin as she sat down herself.

Martin sat down without incident, choosing to sit as far away from Ted as possible.

“Are the two of you cuddling and making out in front of my son?” Martin asked.

“Jacob is old enough to understand what’s going on so don’t drag him into this,” Sibu said.

“I shouldn’t drag him when the two of you are busy doing God knows what right in front of him? I thought you were smarter than that Sibu.” He snapped.

“Spare me the insults Martin. I did not do anything morally questionable in front of my son. Why don’t you just tell us what’s really making you upset instead of using Jacob so shamelessly.”

“I asked you Sibu…I begged you not to….” Martin lamented.

Sibu could tell he was really hurting from the discovery. She never wanted him to find out in such a manner. She had planned on telling him everything once they returned home. How was she to know he would just pop up at the door unannounced like that?

“I am sorry Martin,” Sibu said.

“Why should you apologize to him Sibu?” Ted shouted from where he was seated. “You don’t need to explain anything to your ex-husband about who you are dating when he has already set up home with some skunk from God knows where.”

“Hey you better watch your language man,” Martin warned from his other end. “Veronica might be a lot of things but she is still the mother of my second child.”

“Set your priorities straight man,” Ted said and got up to head upstairs.

“Where do you think you are running to?” Martin had run after him and pulled him back by the collar.

“What do you want me to do?” Martin asked Ted who was now facing him. “Tell me what you want from me so that you can leave my wife alone Ted.” He said in a pleading tone. “I know things between us haven’t been good in a very long time but you and I used to be friends man. How could you do this to me?”

“I did not do anything to you Martin,” Ted countered. “When will you get it through your head that Sibu is not your wife anymore and that you are never getting back together?”

Sibu remained seated in spot while the two men exchanged words. She had her head hanging between her legs and kept rocking her body back and forth as if to shut out their voices.

“You might think that you’ve won now just because she’s living under your roof but I can promise you that I will get her back no matter what it takes.”

Sibu could not take it anymore. She got up and quietly walked out of the house, the two men oblivious to the fact that she was no longer in the room.

“Do you even love Sibu or you just want her back just to fulfill some idea in your head because you failed to make her stay the first time around?”

Martin landed a punch across Ted’s face. Instead of retaliating, Ted had this smirk on his face. “If there was no child in the house, I would have taken you out right now but I have an example to set for my son.”

“Your son?” Martin was burning in rage. “How about having your own children instead of claiming another mans. Or is that too hard for you to do Ted? Is that why you’ve remained a bachelor all these years?”

“Don’t flatter yourself Martin,” Ted fired back. “I can easily make arrangements to make a baby right now because there is a woman in this room that wants me. That’s more than can be said for you?” Ted was looking to where Sibu had been seated but his eyes widened in surprise when he couldn’t find her.

“Where did she go?” Ted said, mostly to himself than to Martin.

“How should I know,” Martin muttered. “Isn’t this supposed to be your house?” His eyes searched around the place.

“If you are going to behave like this every time you come here, I hope today will be the last time you will show up at my house,” Ted said sternly.

“You really think you are all that don’t you?” Martin glared at his former best friend. “I was once married to that woman before and I can make it happen again. We have a child together for that matter. Even you should know that there are just certain bonds that cannot be broken.”

Ted scoffed at him. “If that bond was that strong, the two of you should have never divorced in the first place…and she certainly wouldn’t have told me that I am the only man to have ever made her feel safe and happy.”

That seemed to soak Martin up wet. “Sibu told you that?” He regretted the question the moment it came out.

“Did you even know the woman you had married? You had a woman like that right next to you yet you never even noticed the scars on her heart. And you keep calling yourself her husband…I would be ashamed if I were you.” And with that, he stormed off to his room.

“You can play in Jacob’s room for as long as you like,” Ted shouted as he took the stairs to his room.

Martin could not get himself to move. He remained where Ted had left him and drifted off in his thoughts as Ted’s words echoed from every corner of his mind.

You had a woman like that right next to you yet you never even noticed the scars on her heart. And yet you keep calling yourself her husband…I would be ashamed if I were you.

What did he mean by that? Martin wondered.