some mythology says that a child with albinism is born as punishment for fornication.
In front of us was a field filled with many trees and shrubs. I pointed at a small brown shrub with white flowers.
"This is it." I said as I got down to my knees. I uprooted it. Ayamba uprooted the other mwaluve plants.
"It's almost dusk. Do you want to go see the lagoon of light?" I asked after we had finished.
He nodded his head. We set up our tents on the east of the lagoon. When the moon came into the sky, I took Ayamba near the water so he could see the light within the lagoon. He watched with delight as creatures of the lagoon glowed a bright blue.
"They say Chauta came down, "I said wading into the waters. "And bathed in these waters."
I stirred my hand in the water, the water around my hand glowed blue. "Now these waters radiate his light but only at night."
I turned to face him. He was surveying the waters. By the time, he joined me, I was floating on my back leaving a glowing trail of blue biolumiscient light beneath me. I closed my eyes, letting all my questions and concern float away from me. Something yanked my foot down. I sank then swam to the surface.
"Ayamba!" I hit his shoulder.
He just laughed.
My hand had hit near his markings, I let it linger. Caressing the bumps on his skin. Our eyes met.
"How long did it take to finish all the marks?"
"Long enough to make me wish I was not an elder."
I chuckled. "After all this, when you return to your life, and I to my new one...I might actually notice your absence."
"You mean you will miss me?" He smirked.
"I never said that." I swam away from him. He followed me. He stood near where I was. I tried to stand but the water covered my face so I floated instead.
"I will miss you too." He said, his voice serene as always.
He nodded his head. "I have grown fond of you."
"And I you."
I swam closer to him, my arms almost scraping his shoulders. "I am jealous of your height. You get to stand."
"You can hold onto me and you won't have to swim."
I was about to, when I saw behind him two men coming our way.
"There are two men, I think they are the assassins." I whispered. "They are behind you."
I dived through the water, came up for air, an arrow scraped my ear. I swam to the surface. Ayamba was already on the shore. I went for my blades. He grabbed his arrow. Another arrow grazed Ayamba's shoulder. Could I manage to throw a blade over the lagoon that would reach them? Ayamba fired his arrow at them. It hit one of the assassin's head. I hurled my blade over the waters. It reached the second assassin's knee. He was on the ground. I threw another, this one landed on his chest. He was on the ground writhing in pain. I took my ikwa and I swam across the lagoon, ignoring Ayamba's warnings not to go near him. I walked up to him and held out my spear to his neck.
"How many more?"
He laughed. "Too many for you two."
I stabbed his thigh. He screamed.
He laughed again, revealing his blood stained teeth. I pressed my finger into the wound on his knee.
"You will die. But the question is in how long? How many and who sent you?"
He did not reply. Khataza would have cut off his finger but I could not bring myself to do it. His eyes closed.
"That was dangerous." Ayamba chided. I hadn't noticed him swim across the lagoon. "He could have killed you."
"I had my spear."
"It was an unnecessary risk."
"We need to leave this place."
Ayamba seized my arm. "He could have killed you. Amanda finish the contract no matter their injury because if they die during the commission of a kill: their family is paid double the bounty."
I wanted to snap my arm away from his grip but I saw his eyes glittering with concern.
"I will be careful next time." I apologised.
He nodded his head. "We need to use a different route than the one we came in. They could be waiting to ambush us somewhere in the route we used."
"We should pack the plant cure in separate bags. In case they find us. We could use one of the bags as a decoy."
"That's a good idea."
We separated the plant cure into four satchels.
"So fath..Khataza is working with the people who want to kill us?
Ayamba nodded his head, his eyes were teeming with pity.
We used the flatlands, it would be longer but at least it would be safer. I saw a leopard sitting on a tree. I took out my blade.
"What are you doing?" Ayamba asked.
I showed him the leopard.
"Those are pacifists, they only attack when attacked." He said.
I put my blade back in my arm strip which held my blades. We continued walking through the grass and trees.
"No we can't stop here for lunch." He objected after I suggested we stop at the clearing with shade from a large tree/
He pointed up at the trees. There was a baby gorilla in its nest.
"It's just a baby."
"Yes, but that's its family's nest meaning somewhere nearby is its father. The silverback could perceive us as a threat and attack us. I want to conserve all my energy in case we ran into the assassins on our trail."
I nodded and continued walking. "How do you know so much about animals?"
"My parents were both hunters. They would often take me with them hunting. When they died, I continued to spend my days there just not hunting."
"Ah okay. Who do you stay with during familial visits?"
"My cousins. They were kind unlike their parents."
We walked through dusk till we reached a Chinyiha village. After an evening meal of plantains and water buck meat we were led to our room in the hut.
"I am sorry I told them we were married." I said.
"Maintaining Nyasha's cover was the best way to go." He laid down his mat.
"Take the kama. You took the mat last time."
"It's alright. I am already settled."
I entered the kama. My eyes surveying the different decorations on the wall. Ayamba put out the lamp.
"After this, I want to find out more about my parents. If I have any relations? They are records like that at the Mchengautuwa Archive right?"
"Yes they are."
There was silence.
"Yes." He sounded as though he had started to drift to sleep.
"Do you think of your future wife?"
"I hope for your sake she is a good woman."
"Because you deserve to be happy Ayamba."
"And so do you."
"I don't know about that."
"Everyone does." He said.
Why was I doing this to myself? Asking about his future wife. It could never be me. It didn't matter that we connected and that he might have liked me too. Zidana would choose a woman with no criminal past. A woman who did not have ties with the terrorist Khataza. But even if they did choose me? Would I make him happy? Why had he offered to let me hold onto him in the lagoon?
After bathing, eating breakfast, we left the Chinyiha village.
"Wait you speak all the languages in Utawaleza?" I asked pushing long grass out of my way.
With his long legs Ayamba just glided over the long grass. "Yes."
"Wasn't that hard?"
"No, most of them are similar but learning languages outside this vicinity like that of the Himba, Hadza and the like was hard."
"I can imagine. I would love to live among the Himba and learn their elaborate styles with hair."
He turned to face me. "I think your hairstyle is elaborate already."
I smiled up at him, he smiled at me too. Then he twisted his neck, facing where we were going.
"When I was younger, I wished I could join the Himba."
"So I could paint myself red and have skin like everyone else."
"Oh. Were you teased for having milky skin?"
"Sometimes. Sometimes when we moved to new towns. People would spit on their chest when they saw me to avoid having a child like me. And some would say that my parents must have done something horrible to get a milky skinned child ." My eyes focused on our path, nestled in the middle of long brown grass. "I remember when Khataza's last born daughter got married and moved away. We also moved to a new town where there were no milky skinned children. People starred and nobody would play with me. I told my mother, she said that I should use the free time to train with my blades. I did."
"My uncle and Aunty told me that no one could ever love me. That is why Chauta took both my parents from me. For sometime I really believed that." He turned to face me. "Chauta has shown me that beginnings don't matter, just the endings. The way our lives begin does not matter but how we choose to shape it when we can, to make a good end."
Before I could reply, ten Amanda assassins encircled us. They all had different weapons; some spears and some machetes. I sliced through the throat of the one adjacent to me. I ducked my head avoiding the swing of a machete. Ayamba whirled around, hitting the man next to him with his stick.
"Run." I said to him.
"Go, you are more important than I." He retorted. He shuffled to the left, barely avoiding the hurl of a short spear. He turned his face towards his attacker, hitting his head with his stick, the man went down. An arrow landed on one of the men attacking us, another on a woman attacking us and a short spear on the head of one of the Amanda. I turned to see their source. Mazaza was rushing towards us with his long spear. Nyasha was on a tree branch spraying arrows onto our attackers. We would survive this.
"How did you find us?" I asked receiving a piece of beef biltong from Nyasha's satchel.
Mazaza who was leaning against the wall of the cave replied. "I found out about the second bounty when I was delivering 'your body'. I returned to where Nyasha was. Luckily he was well enough to come here. Nyauzembe used the charm on your neck to find you."
"You found us just in time." Ayamba said wiping the blood of his stick with a wet cloth.