“Luyando isn’t a virgin anymore,” Chipo thought as she stepped into the bedroom. It was a foreign world she wasn’t accustomed to. There was a huge double bed at the center, overlooking a twin set of identical windows. The curtains danced around continuously whenever the wind blew through. It was a dimly lit room with a tiny brown chest of drawers right next to the door. Chipo was hesitant to make another step so she stood at the entrance and allowed her eyes to savor what was before her. A big brown teddy bear slouched in front of two continental pillows with its toes touching a fluffy fleece blanket that was also brown in color.
“Feel at home,” Aunt Jane said as she gave Chipo a little push on the back. Chipo looked around until her eyes settled for the radio on the table that was besides the chest. She recognized the soft ballads of Alick Nkhata on the Taxi Driver song while some words drowned in the haphazard keys of the piano. By that time, the likes of The Beatles and Elvis Presley had influenced local artists so much that it was not easy to distinguish them.
Chipo, within herself chuckled as the lyrics registered in her mind. The taxi driver had over billed the passenger yet the distance was rather too short. She gave an involuntary smile and Aunt Jane had seen it, thinking she was easing into her new home.
“Take a bath and dash to the table for supper, will you?” said Aunt Jane, then she disappeared into the darkness of the passage.
Shortly, Luyando burst into the bedroom, startling Chipo. She held onto her Rambo plastic bag on the edge of the double bed for comfort, while panting heavily.
“I scared you?” Luyando asked mockingly. Chipo said nothing and gathered the senses she had lost a moment ago. The two felt strongly towards each other as if their mothers were not sisters. Chipo remained seated quietly, sorting what she would wear after her bath while Luyando threw what was on her body in the laundry basket.
Chipo observed her. She was sure, by the strand of each hair on her head that Luyando had lost her virginity. Her hips now seemed to curve more outwardly and she had suddenly become flexible enough to cross her legs. Town girls were lazy and stiff like boys, but now Luyando had the ability to sit cross legged without any complaints. Surely she had been spreading them for someone. And her breasts looked more swollen. They had been fondled countless times until they lost their firmness. They were too fluid now and had collapsed. Her mind journeyed towards a colorful imagination of what her cousin’s encounters were like and non were pleasant so she tried more amusing paths with less trenches.
Bama, her mother, appeared in her mind and brought a smile to her face. Her smell was still on Chipo’s dress and she breathed in until she made her mother’s scent unforgettable. Smoke and fish.
The two took turns bathing and had supper with Uncle Mumba, Aunt Jane and Fred. Their family was little and everyone had a room of their own. When the evening chores had been done each one went into their own space without engaging the other in their activities, much to Chipo’s surprise and disappointment. She was used to the usual folklore tales by the fire, dancing in the dark and singing all night long at meaningful occasions. She had missed it already.
She was used to sharing because there was not much she owned. In contrast, her aunt and uncle had bought her new church shoes and a whole new set of clothes yet discomfort crippled her. Aunt Jane had told her that she didn’t need to keep her Rambo plastic bag so the maid tossed in the bin. Including the dress that smelt like Bama and that made her particularly unhappy.
She sobbed in the silence of the night on a mattress that had been spread for her by Luyando. At home, a sack was her bed yet she missed the hardness of the floor. She overhead Luyando telling Aunt Jane that all village people smelt the same.
At long last, when the crickets had chirped their chorus in harmony, sleep begun to creep up on her and she gave in involuntary.
Alick Nkhata sung quietly on the wireless radio in a song titled Uluse Lwa Nkwale. This time the driver’s mercy had landed him in hot water. After pitifully giving an old man a lift, the man died and his family shifted blame to the driver, saying he should have left him alone. It was based on a fable tale about a quail that assisted a snake by carrying it to safer lands, upon landing the snake turned on the quail and ate it.
To be continued