‘It’s Ipyana,” I said. I saw the angst on Xo’s face.
‘She is in in trouble,’ he finished for me. Xo had set up a panic button in my little sister’s phone. All she had to do was say ‘HM’ with her phone within 3 feet of her and her phone would send a distress call. Xo had established that a bot had taken Orelha, Ipyana’s roommate, hostage. I rushed to my storeroom. I was packing my sniper blaster and loading my blade thrower when Xo said.
“I can’t stop you, can I?”
I grabbed my bag off my workroom’s table. “I am ready to go.”
Xo dropped me at the adjacent building to her apartment. There was a bot acting as a lookout for the bot inside Ipyana’s apartment.
“Make the pod hover, undetected. Stay in the pod, keep your vantage point.” I instructed him. Normally I didn’t have to tell him this, he would do it himself. But he had become over-protective ever since he found out I was pregnant. I snuck up to the bot on the roof. I took it out with an electric powered blade from my blade thrower. Then I positioned my sniper blaster on the roof of the building, getting a clear shot of the bot holding Orelha hostage.
“Turn around.” Someone said behind me.
I turned around. She was holding a blaster. Human. I slowly moved closer to her raising my hands in the air.
“Who are you?” she asked, her feet closing the distance between us in slow movements.
I grabbed the blaster from her hand, tossing it aside. Before she could punch me, I pulled her with my free hand, making her upper body fold in front of me, the base of her skull was a few inches away from my hand, I hit her right there with a straight palm. I let go of her unconscious body. I walked back to the edge of the roof of the building I was on and took out the bot holding Orehla hostage.
“It’s over.” I told Ipy on the phone after checking on Orehla who was okay physically but shaken up.
“So you know how me and Naledi ran analytics of behaviour to spot crime patterns and predict future crimes.” Ipyana said. ‘Well we noticed there were a couple of brothels operating the same way they were under Waranda. Once we confirmed this, we took it to our immediate superiors Detective Inspector Mwase and Detective Inspector Ntawale. Today, they were going to take it to our unit’s leader. We had just gone over all the evidence we had when I got this call from an unknown number threatening to hurt Orehla if I told our unit leader Detective Superindent Suwedi. After you neutralised it, this person tells me don’t tell your DSU or next time I will just shoot.”
“Any ideas who this could be?” I asked.
Ipy shook her head.
“I am glad you are okay.” Ama said. “Where are Naledi and Orehla?”
“They are staying Naledi’s parents in Kasungu.” Ipy replied.
Amama had come all the way from Kaulimi after she heard what happened. Anganile Kyara, our elder adoptive sister, would have come too but she and her family were in Antigua for vacation. It had been three years since Ipyana’s kidnapping but we were all still very protective of her. We had all been against her joining the police. She would not listen of course. “This is what we feared.” Was the silent rebuke we all seemed to utter. Having seen what being on the receiving end of over-protectiveness was like these past few weeks, I sympathised with Ipy.
Xo placed his phone on the glass table between us. 3D Images of HM locations floated above it. ‘I cross-checked with the Aka-Rebel database. Most of these are run in a similar way to how the HM under were run. Different locations yes but same modus operandi.’
‘Waranda is not dead. It’s like the lernean hydra and we just cut off one head.” Ipyana said.
“Muhlabase was healthy when they arrested him. It was strange when he died of heart failure. Me and Xo think the other leaders of Waranda must have poisoned him.” I said.
“This may not be connected but,” Ama turned to face Ipyana and said. “I think Chirwa is alive.” Chirwa was Ipyana’s handler in Aka-Rebel. Ipyana almost choked on her food.
Ama placed her phone on the table and played a voice note of a woman calling a taxi.
“That’s Chirwa.” Ipyana said.
“Why did she fake her death?” Xo asked.
Anganile called. She asked Ipy questions, then me. “I knew this police thing was a bad idea,” Anga concluded her lecture.
“Goodnight Anga.” Ipy said, waving at Anga’s image.
“I see what you are doing. We are not done here. We will talk about this when I return.” She retorted cutting the call. We laughed at Anganile’s reaction. Xo threw a look at me. I had promised I would tell them my news next time we met. These were not the circumstances to announce such news but I had made a promise.
“I have news.” I said looking at the banana I was peeling. “I am pregnant.”
Ama and Ipyana got up and each gave me a hug.
“How many weeks?” Ama asked sitting back on her chair.
“10 weeks now.”
Ipy pulled her chair and sat in it. “Oh Sali I am sorry I put you in danger. If I had known I would not have…”
“I am pregnant not incapacitated.”
“How long have you known?” Ama asked in a serious tone.
I glanced down at my plate. “For a month.”
“Salifya! You were in the Gambia risking your life to find that boy.” Ama chided, then turned to Xo. “And you, you let her?”
“She hid it from me. I did not even find out through her,” He said.
“How did you find out?” Ipy asked.
“When we went to Utawaleza, Abuya said ‘a strong baby, I can tell.’
I was confused as to what she meant so I asked. ‘What baby?”
Abuya laughed and said ‘The one inside your wife.’
That’s how I found out my wife was pregnant.” I could hear the hurt in Xo’s voice. “I know she hid it from me so that I would not stop her from going to Gambia to find the kidnapped boy.”
The night my grandmother revealed I was pregnant, Xo almost cried. “You could have died in Gambia. I would have lost both of you,” he lamented. “Do you know what that would have done to me?”
“I am sorry,” I said.
“You were only thinking of yourself.” He choked. “Not me, and most importantly not our child.” Xo placed his head in his hands. “We sparred together after you found out. I could have killed or harmed my child.”
I sat down next to him on our kama. “I would not have let you.” I placed my hand on his shoulder.
Xo lay down on the Kama. I looked at him not knowing what to say to assuage his anger with me. “I had an appointment the day before we left. The baby is okay.”
“Sometimes I forget how good you are at keeping secrets.” He said. “Your symptoms and your appointment. I suspected nothing.”
I wanted this baby. But I was clearly not ready to be a pregnant woman.
“Being pregnant means you need to take extra care of yourself. It’s not just you anymore.” Ama said. “That’s gone forever.”
I listened to her lecture silently. I knew I deserved this.
“No more raids for you.” Ama said with finality. I nodded my head. I was benched for most of the year. I would miss the excitement.
“Wait how did she manage to hide her symptoms from you?” Ipy asked glancing up at Xo.
“She was in Gambia looking for a Q that was sold to Gambian tycoon. I was here. The time we were together she had worked hard to hide her symptoms from me.” Xo retorted.
“Is it a boy or a girl?” Ama asked.
“I want it to be a surprise. She is not finding out either to make it up to me for hiding the pregnancy from me.” Xo told them.
“Any ideas on names?” Ipy inquired her face beaming with excitement.
“We are still discussing.” Xo retorted.
“You know, Ipyana is a unisex name, just putting that out there.” Ipy said, outstretching her fingers as she said ‘out there’. Xo laughed. Amama and I smiled. “Again I am sorry for calling you this morning.”
“Don’t worry about it. And if you’re trouble again call me and Xo will help. And I will if I can.”
It had been a long journey to get to a place where Ipyana could rely on me after I abandoned her and Muhlabase’s goons kidnapped her.
“How are you though?” Ama asked, her eyes locking with mine. “Like really?”
“I’ve been having abdominal pains and feeling fatigued.” I rubbed my belly. My stomach was about the width of a banana.
“That’s all normal. Which is why you need to slow down and let Xolani help you.” Ama reiterated.
“She still doing exercises she was doing when she was not pregnant.” Xo tattle-taled. I threw a look at him.
“What? Salifya that’s not appropriate.” Ama said exasperated. I drew my breath in preparation for another lecture. Luckily, there was no lecture.
Two years ago, Anyazgambo found some of the things she had kept that belonged to my biological parents. There were clothes, my father’s books and their devices. My father’s tablet had photos of them and us which me and Ipy harvested. My mother’s tablet had video diaries. At first I used to watch them only when I missed them. But ever since I found out I was pregnant, I started watching them more regularly. I found the video diaries of her talking about her pregnancies.
“I know I should tell Lusayo. I know that. And I am about to start showing at 13 weeks. I am actually surprised he hasn’t noticed. But then again he has been travelling a lot lately for work. I know he will be mad that I did this. He is afraid we will have another colossus and I will miscarry again. But I have hope that God will aid me just like he did with Salifya.” Amama leaned back on the couch. “I have to tell him tonight though. It will be better if he hears it from me than notices.” I played the next video. “I told him. I thought they would be a lecture about the risks but instead he held me in his arms and told me that ‘You and Salifya are all I have in this world. I don’t want to lose either of you. It would break me.’ I feel very guilty about getting pregnant again. God please let this child live. Please.” I closed the tablet.
Xo wanted children. I did not.
“What’s this?” I asked pointing at a tattoo on the ball of his left foot, which I had never noticed till our honeymoon. It was on his upper foot, a tattoo of two feet shaped as a heart.
He pushed his foot into the black sand. “It represents the child Tijenge aborted.” He took out his phone and showed me a photo of his ex-girlfriend’s right foot. “A couple of months ago, she reached out to me, told me she regretted it. And that she wanted to honour the memory of our child somehow. I suggested we get this tattoo. It was drawn to scale to fit how big her feet would be when she was…killed. I put it there so no one would see it.”
I watched the waves of Lake Malawi climb on the black sand and retreat. I knew. I knew then I had to have a baby with him. He deserved it. Whatever my feelings were about children. I was going to have one child. At KUA we were taught to control our biological functions. It’s taken me three years to finally stop procrastinating and do it. I had wanted to tell Xo when I found out I was pregnant, but I did not want to give up my job.
“Are you watching me sleep?” I asked.
“Yes,” Xo smiled. His head was resting on his pillow, his body facing me. “I kept wondering why over a sudden I could get up earlier than you. Now I know it’s the baby.” He rubbed my belly. Me hiding the pregnancy had put a strain on us. Xo was mad at me for almost a week which never happened. I was glad that he had forgiven me. “What made you change your mind about having a baby?”
I told him about the tattoo on his foot. “And I notice the longing in your eyes when you carry our nephews and nieces.”
“The tattoo, you saw that three years ago, what’s taken you so long?”
Xo jumped out of bed. “I want to show you something.” He scooped me out of bed. He took me to his workroom.
“You did not have to carry me here.” I chuckled.
“I was not trying to carry you. I just wanted to carry the baby and sadly that involves carrying you.” He chortled, setting me on the ground. I playfully slapped his shoulder and rolled my eyes. At the centre of the room was an object covered with a black cloth. He pulled a cloth over something that looked like a statue. Underneath the cloth was a robot. It looked like me, had my tapered cut, hickory eyes, and tall stature.
“I’ve been working on it since you had malaria and Ipy went on a raid in your place. In case something like that happened again,” he placed a helmet over my ears. “You can control whatever it does just by your thoughts. Try it.”
I managed to get it out of the room and back. It was strange to watch.
“Kuleza programmed it to know Bembe and in theory it should know Chaya since you do. I named it Fya.”
“Thank you.” I said leaning towards him and kissing him.