“You will be safe there.” Xo told Juwawo.
“My mother is very good at hiding people. Don’t come out of Utawaleza till we come fetch you.” I said.
“Thank you for all you have done for me.” Juwawo said. He walked towards the building that had Utawaleza’s security check. He turned to wave goodbye once more before entering the front door.
“We have an hour till the shoot. I want to get home, get a shower.” Xo said.
I did not want to a pregnancy shot. I just didn’t enjoy being photographed. But it was important to Xo. He invited my family. Me and him took many photos together, I took a few on my own and some with each of my sisters and Ama. The whole thing took an hour because of the different arrangements of the photos.
“This photo should have you and your sister and her daughter.” The photographer said. Lusubilo, Anga and myself hurdled together on the designated area, waiting for the camera to snap. I started enjoying myself towards the end.
“See I told you it would be fun.” Xo said getting off the pod. I had planned a braai and some cake for Xo’s birthday party. We walked into our living room. There was Khetiwe, her family, Anga, her family, Ama, Ipy, Kuleza, Naledi, Shasha, Asante and the rest of Xo’s siblings. The decorations were set up for a bridal shower. This had to be Anga and Khetiwe.
“Surprise!” They all cajoled. I did not expect this. I knew I was far along enough to have a shower but I had said I found them useless. I should have known my sister would not listen.
“The first game is very simple. We will guess how big we think Salifya’s waist is by cutting as much as string we think would fit around her waist.” Khetiwe explained holding out white string. “Sali you can’t play of course.”
Xo won that game.
“Computer boy should have been disqualified. He is always putting his hands around her so he knows how big her waist is.” Shasha hollered.
“Sore loser much?” Xo retorted his words almost submerged by his laughter.
“There will be other games dear.” Anganile chuckled. “For this game we will start with the parents-to-be and then everyone else. We will have a sim of the two parents sleeping and the baby crying and needing either feeding or changing or just being held.”
“May the best parent win!” Nikiwe, Xo’s little sister hooted.
I won this game. I was a far lighter sleeper than Xo. The last game we played was guessing what the sex of the baby.
“I know the sex of the baby, so I can’t play.” Kheti said. Xo, me, Naledi and Werani all guessed a girl. Ama, Niki, Dingani and Anga guessed a boy. The rest refused to guess.
“We will find out upon delivery, but the losers will buy diapers for the baby for the first month.” Anga said.
There was an advice session at the end of the games. Ama left immediately after this. She had a guest lecturer at Kaviti University that evening.
“Thank you to all of you who came. And thank you Khetiwe and Anganile for putting this together. Our child will have great aunties.” Xo said.
Before Anga left I told her that I was grateful for her being there for me during my pregnancy.
“That’s what big sisters are for,” she said with a wave of her hand.
Shasha stayed and had dinner with us. Afterwards she left.
“That was more fun than I thought it would be,” I said sitting down next to Xo. I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep. Xo looked up from his tablet his eyes filled with horror and sadness.
“Look.” He turned his tablet to face me. I saw a video of an explosion Kaviti the capital of Kaulimi.
There was not that much sleep that night. Ipyana and Naledi were listening in on the police at the explosion site’s radios, while Kuleza tried to find the fire department’s report on the incident to see who had died. Ama was not answering her phone. I called in all the connections I had in Kaulimi to see how Ama was. Xo was trying to find out what happened by accessing the reports of smart houses that were near and involved in the explosion and any cameras in the area.
“I gave her so much grief when she adopted me. I was angry because I felt God had taken my parents and she was the embodiment of that anger. But I was also afraid that if I got attached…she would die too.” I exhaled to let the sadness and anxiety, that was constricting my heart, out. “I remember the year I started my period. I had beat up a girl at school because she had borrowed my tablet without asking. Ama was angry and disappointed. She talked to me about it explaining why what I did was wrong. She also made me start counselling. I thought she hated me. Then my period started three days from this incident. I just thought she will give me sanitation products and that’s it. But that weekend she dropped off Ipy at Aunty Lusekelo’s. Then she took me and Anganile to a fancy hotel in Kaviti. We talked about periods and just chatted. The next day we had a spa day. At the end she told me, if I ever needed to talk, she was there. If I was having a bad day all I had to do was tell her and she would do her best to make it better. She loved me even though I did not deserve it. When Ipyana got her period she did the same. I don’t know if she knows how grateful I am for everything she has been to me and Ipyana. I don’t think she knows how much I love her. I am just praying for a chance to tell her.”
“She knows babe.” Xo said placing me in his embrace. I pressed my face against his chest. Xo’s hand soothed my back.
Kuleza called. I quickly picked up my phone which was on the desk before us.
“I got the list. Your mother is not on it.” Kuleza said.
“Thank God.” I exhaled. “Send it over.”
We all lost someone; Xo an aunt, me police I worked as part of my cover in KP and Ipyana her best-friend Talilo. And many friends we knew growing up.
“Blood brings cleansing. For years this abomination against culture has been allowed to exist. A place without men. First a city now a province what next? Soon Kaulimi will be a country on its own. Some call us misogynists, some call us chauvinistic pigs; we are neither of those things. We are just soldiers protecting our country against this erosion of the family unit; of the building blocks of society. What happened tonight is the genesis of a new era!” the man with a mask put his fists in the air. “Of a new Order.”
“So Order was behind this.” Ama said. “Makes sense they’ve always wanted Kaulimi. Thank you for getting your friend to fly me here, Sali.”
Ipy stroked Ama’s arm with her hand. “I am glad you are safe.”
Ama wrapped her arm around Ipy, pulling her close.
“We all are.” Anga got up from the couch. “I am going to get something to eat.” She had flown in first thing in the morning. She exited the living room into the corridor that led to the kitchen.
“I got this message this morning from my source saying that the attack was a mirage.” Ipyana passed Ama her phone.
“That makes sense. Order has always wanted Kaulimi but never succeeded.” I said receiving the phone from Ama.
“So maybe Waranda was behind the attack.” Xo speculated.
“All that planning for just a bomb that killed 38 people it doesn’t make sense.” Ama pointed out.
“Indeed, they would want something that will truly annihilate Kaulimi.” I retorted.
“Maybe there will be more attacks.” Xo said.
“But if this is Waranda why hide behind Order. They would want responsibility. Their cause is much more noble than these misogynists.” Ama argued.
“There is something we are not seeing here. Who is the mole? What’s their role in Waranda? Who is behind Waranda? Why did I get kidnapped on the day of the auction?”
“Then there is the DSU? Who are these people that aren’t afraid to kill a police DSU.” Ipy said. “We are missing the nexus.”
“I noticed I was bleeding around three am.” Amama was lying down on her grey couch. “I knew. I could feel that the baby inside me had died. I knew, I knew.” Her voice was shaky and her eyes were red. “I woke up Lusayo and he took me to the hospital. They confirmed it. I had miscarried. I was finally beginning to have real hope I had made it to the second trimester. I blame myself for hoping. Maybe I was meant to have one child. I just put myself and Lu through this pain for nothing. Rudo says it was not my fault. That the child was very big and my body could not support him.” She sat up. She looked weak. “Right now I am just numb. Time, my classes, Sayo’s attempts to comfort me, it all means nothing to me. Another part of me died with that child.” She inhaled and exhaled. “I feel like I am being punished for choosing a colossus. But I know that’s just a silly superstition. I know that my frame was not meant for colossus. I know that by choosing to love Lusayo I chose this life just like my mother warned me. I was just hopeful that I could have Sayo and many children.” Little me walked into the room.
‘Can I watch TV now?’ I asked.
My mother told me to bring my tablet. ‘Sali you haven’t finished, please finish then you can watch.’
I threw my hands in the air. ‘But I am tired.’
‘Please finish Sali.’ She pleaded. Why was I being so selfish? Could I not see my mother was tired? I conceded and went to finish my homework in the other room.
“Lusayo wanted to stay home and be with me. I lied to him that I would be fine. But the truth is I wanted to be alone. We haven’t told anyone yet so no one has come to visit me. Which I like.” She lay back down on the couch. “Miscarried that’s what the doctor said. Miscarried? I hate that word ‘miscarriage, it does not truly capture what had happened…my baby has died, it was not miscarried…he died. Moreover the word implies that I had something to do with the baby’s death that I let him fall out of my womb. It implies that my folly or carelessness had led to the baby’s death. Which is not the case. I did everything I could to hold this child in my womb. Everything. Everything.” Her voice went monotone. “Everyday the shards of my loss etch deeper and deeper into my soul. I am bleeding vitality.”
“I keep thinking that maybe if I was still part of KUA I would have been able to stop this. These are the sort of attacks we stopped way before they happened.” Ama said putting my swollen foot back on the couch and picking up the other. Her foot massages were much more soothing than Xo’s.
“Me too. The time I was a mzengeli I must have thwarted 10 different Order attacks. And I mean stopped in a way that no bomb went off. This is why KUA was founded.” I retorted. “I feel useless. I can’t even go help find who exactly was behind this and put them down because I am 24 weeks pregnant.”
Her fingers kneaded my foot in slow motions. “What sort of world is my grandchild coming into? All I have is God without him nothing makes sense.”
“I praise God you are okay. Losing you would have been like losing my mother a second time. I would be lost because I still rely on you for guidance.”
Her round face lit up in a smile. “Oh Salifya.”
“I am grateful for you adopting me and Ipy and loving us as your own.”