Naledi helped me to the window. Xo was in the pod waiting for us outside the window. Fya fired two rounds at the window making is shutter. The explosion had already started when Naledi jumped into the pod after me. Xo’s pod shut as soon as soon as Naledi entered it. The pod got swayed by the explosion’s aftershock.
“Your sister said I was spending too much money when I got the anti-explosion shield on my pod.” Xo cajoled. “I am so glad I am finally vindicated.”
“I am sorry we failed.” I said my eyes moving from Sali and Xo, who were both seated in the chairs beside my bed.
“Not every mission is a success. The important thing is that that you are all alive.” Xo said. “And that those war-bots were destroyed.”
“I need to upgrade your armour to take the bullets that Lwando was using.” Salifya’s voice had a slight quake that I had only recently learnt to detect. She was upset. “I am sorry this should not have happened. I built the armour to take any beams. This is my fault. You could have died.”
“But we didn’t.” Naledi said. I could see that whatever we said Salifya would blame herself for what happened tonight. She and Xo wished us a goodnight and exited the room we were admitted at in Watanja’s clinic.
“My sister always wanted me to sing.” Akuzike said putting tomato sauce on a side of his plate away from the chips and quail.
“Why don’t you want to sing at church?” I asked mixing the beef liver stew and rice. I wanted to raise my haemoglobin levels naturally after I lost so much blood from my blaster wound.
“Growing up being starred at and mocked. I find it easier to hide away. But now that she is gone I want to sing for her.”
“How was your visit to Talilo’s mother?”
“It was very sad. Her mother and sister are so broken up about this. We helped her sort through Tali’s stuff.”
“What was that like for you?” He asked, his eyes rising from his plate to meet mine.
“It made me cry seeing her room without her. She didn’t deserve to die the way she did. She was a good person. She wanted to be a social worker. She wanted to help people.” My eyes were fixed on the marble table between us. “I just don’t understand why God would take her away.”
A sad smile spread over his lips as he listened. Before coming to meet him for lunch, I kept asking myself why it was so easy for me to open myself to him. Our friendship had taken a hiatus, but it was as though we had not. It was because Aku was so willing to listen to me as I sorted through my emotions.
“Going there, I thought that we would comfort her mother but she comforted us. She told us that Talilo was a Christian and we were Christians so this is not the end. We would meet again in heaven. ‘It’s painful to be separated from her, but let us take comfort in knowing she is in a better place’ and she told us to turn to the Lord in our anguish. ‘That’s there only way I have been able to get through this.’ then she read some verses from the bible. I left better than I went in.”
“Sounds like a good visit.”
After lunch, he walked me back to the station. When I reached the station’s entrance, I turned and waved at him. The previous week, he had called me to chat. During this phone, I had gotten up to get my laptop, he had noticed the limb in my leg and asked me about it.
“What happened to you?” he asked. His eyes glued to my leg.
I told him what happened without going into detail.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” behind his deep voice was a tinge of hurt.
“I am sorry I didn’t. I am getting better though. I can actual walk on my own now.”
He told me that if he was not in Rusape he would have come and visited me to see if my wound was okay. He texted me every single day asking me about my leg. Naledi says it was a guise to talk to me everyday. I choose to believe he was concerned about my leg. He had just gotten back from Rusape that day and asked me to lunch.
“How was the lunch?” Naledi asked when I got to my desk.
I slid into my chair. “It was good.”
“Ntawale was asking me where you are. I told him you went to have lunch.
‘Without you? Who is she having lunch with?’
I just ignored him. He goes ‘Who is she meeting?’ standing a few inches from my face. The way he does when he is interrogating a suspect.
‘Look Ntawale, you are not her boyfriend who she is meeting for lunch is none of your business.’ I starred him down.
He pulled away from my face. ‘You will be very embarrassed when me and her start dating. You will be embarrassed at the resistance you put.’
‘Look I didn’t want to get involved in this but I have to ask. Where are you getting your hope from?’
So he sits down and tells me that you like him but are afraid of your elder sisters being angry that you are going out with a colossus(his words). And that you are afraid of my anger towards you because I don’t think he is right for you. ‘We all know she is passive.’
‘Me and her sisters aren’t the reason you two aren’t dating. She doesn’t like you.’
‘That’s not true. If it were, why would she invite me to all those plays? Why would she have told me that she was glad we were friends? That time I was working in Balaka for two months when I returned she told me she missed me too. She likes me.’ I just kept quiet.”
“First off, I never said I missed him what I said was I was glad he was back. And I did tell him I was glad we were friends but it wasn’t at all romantic. Urgh. That means when he said it back, he was telling me he liked me. I thought I was talking to a friend.”
“Oh he also said that you are there only one who calls him Atuweni, everyone else calls me D.I. Ntawale or just Ntawale.”
“I thought we were making progress.” I face-palmed myself.
Naledi chortled. “Clearly you are not.”