By Dominic Zgambo
What motivated me to do this? Why did I allow this to happen? He posed difficult questions to himself, but it was too late to change the situation because he knew the matatu of life has no reverse gear. He wished Mother Earth would open her enormous belly and swallow him whole. It was a fateful day for Mangaliso.
When he woke up earlier that day, it was very cold, but he still left his blankets for the day’s hustle. He knew that laziness and poverty don’t mix: it’s a dangerous concoction. After losing both his parents and a younger brother in a road accident, his small, grass-thatched house was the only companion he had. It had been three months since their demise, but there had been no sign of emotional healing on his part; he was left with an incurable wound in his heart.
His lonely den had two wrappers that separated the two bedrooms and the sitting room. The name bedroom is not very correct though since he didn’t have a bed. Mat-room is a better suited term because he did have some reed mats.
His daily routine consisted of sitting outside the shops near the bus stop with his colleagues, waiting for customers. They could be telling stories, making fun of passersby, especially women, and laughing carelessly. He beckoned one huge woman who was approaching them. Mangaliso was the only one who wasn’t afraid of carrying fat customers.
“Take me to Embangweni hospital,” the obese woman demanded in a husky voice.
“No problem, let us go,” Mangaliso replied.
“I hope you don’t ride too fast,” she cautioned. He didn’t say anything; instead, he climbed onto his bicycle and began the exodus.
It was around 8 a.m. and bitterly cold, as he rode, the wind swept across his face and he felt good. He hung his radio in front of the bike and was listening to Congolese rumba music. He did it all the time to avoid engaging in conversations with his passengers. Some people could ask so many questions, he didn’t like that. Silence was his best friend as an introverted man. Strangers could mistake Mangaliso for a happy person. Two of his front teeth crossed the lip boundary, which made him have he a distorted dental formula. Since he hardly closed his mouth, some thought he was ever smiling. After she pays me, I need to go to Embangweni Trading Center and get a pair of slippers, he thought. His current slippers were in shambles. large holes had formed circles on both of them, rendering them useless for their intended purpose since as he walked, his feet could still kiss the ground.
“You’re going too fast. I don’t want any accidents, please “The fat lady grumbled.
“Don’t worry, you’re safe.”
He despised being a biker. His ambition was to become a lawyer. Because his poor parents could not afford his secondary school fees, the MP for his district helped. He had paid for a few students in his neighborhood, and he was fortunate to be one of them. He applied to a public university after doing well on his final exam in high school, but he was not considered. The few government colleges in the country could not accommodate everyone. He decided to start a bike business popularly known as kabaza. I will be saving money until I have enough to attend a private college. He convinced himself that whether it took him many years he would succeed.
“Who will you see in the hospital?”
“My husband has been sick for a month,” she said.
‘Please accept my apologies.’
“But you didn’t ask me how much is the fare?” Silence followed.
“I… I didn’t ask because… I don’t have any money,’ she stammered.
“What exactly do you mean?”
“I mean exactly that,”
“So, why did you…?” His voice was tainted by rage, his tongue was parched, and his saliva turned bitter.
“You see, we’re passing through a secluded jungle,” she said.
“You’re a man, and you should know what to do in such situations. As for this moment, I’m completely yours.” His coworkers had told him about such women. Oh, for God’s sake! I can’t fall to that. He had told his friends numerous times.
“I am not like other people. You are deceiving yourself if you believe you can manipulate me. You either pay me or I take you to the police.”
“Hahahah!” she chuckled mockingly. What type of man are you? Taking a woman to the police? Do you think the cops will believe you? Instead, you could be arrested for attempting to rape me.” He immediately came to a halt, grabbed her handbag, expecting to find money inside, but there was none. She hugged and kissed him as he attempted to return the bag to her. They both went inside the bush, and her plan was successful.
After reaching the hospital he had to wait outside ward because he had to take her back. She stayed inside for a long time and he was prompted to follow her there. He found her sitting beside a bed, feeding a man who appeared to be very ill. All of his zygomatic bones protruded sharply, his sunken cheeks had formed deep gorges. His clavicles were clearly visible on his shoulders.
“Is this your husband?” he asked, while trembling.
“Yes, it is just malaria,” she replied, trying to conceal the bottle of medication beside his bed. His eyes caught a quick glance and read something written ‘ARV’. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He thought he was dreaming, and then wished he was dreaming. His entire body was numb, and his knees had calcified.
“Thank you very much, see you next time I will stay a little bit longer,” she said, with a devilish smile on her face. He didn’t hear her and remained motionless. His feet wouldn’t move, and his heart pounded like a Japanese subwoofer against his chest. Despite the fact that it was a cold day, sweat had formed large circles around his armpits.
“I said see you next time!” she repeated.
“See who?” his voice was a mixture of anger and sorrow. This woman is evil, daughter of lucifer. How could she do that to me? lost in a chain of thoughts he dragged his legs and left.