TO FIND GRACE
Grace sat in the student`s common room watching some movie that she had not really paid attention to. Only the pictures moving about the screen made her mind find some easiness on the tension she had been feeling earlier. It had been a busy semester which was almost coming to an end finally.
Things had not been so easy in terms of school but she had worked so hard her inner most desire and prayer was that her efforts would finally pay off.
“I have moved all campus looking for you, I never guessed you could be hiding here” a voice called out and she sharply turned looking at who it belonged to.
“Junior” she sighed shifting in her seat to save space for him to sit next to her.
“Hey! You look tired, are you okey?” Junior asked sitting next to her.
“You bet I am, I had a long chain of tests the past week and am so exhausted. It being a Friday I thought of sitting here and watch some TV. Dingile has gone to spend the weekend at her cousins in Avondale so am all alone. What is going on with you? Heading somewhere?” she asked him seeing his back pack on his shoulder.
“Yep. Am tired too and want out of this place for the weekend. I decided to take my cousins out as I promised them last time. They will be dropped by my uncle soon” he explained
“Wow, I envy you. I wish I could take that break too” she laughed softly without really meaning her words.
“Well, it’s done, let’s go” Junior announced cheerfully.
“What? No, I mean I was just saying junior come on, I cannot just interrupt some family outing like that” she smiled shaking her head.
“Yeah why not, it’s just two young people a girl and a boy, they are funny and you will like them. We have been friends for over 5 months now my dear. It’s no big deal” he added to convince her.
“Um, I don’t know Junior, it doesn’t feel right at all, what I will even be talking about with you guys. I promise to come with you next time but this one I will pass” she agued
“Am not taking no for an answer, go to your room now, change into something appropriate and let’s get going Grace” he ordered faking to be serious.
“You are unbelievable” she frowned putting her legs down from the bench she had sat on.
Junior watched as she headed to her room to change. He felt good around her. It was that natural connection he felt attracting him to her that he could not explain. His friends had been accusing him of having some close relationship with Grace. He got tired of arguing about his true feelings to them so he let them think whatever they wanted to. He could not let days pass without seeing Grace and sometimes would move about campus the two of them hand in hand. For some reason none of them ever mentioned anything intimate to each other and they both seemed comfortable the fact of being just friends.
“How do I look?” Grace asked startling him he smiled standing up.
“As beautiful as an angel, now am jealousy” he teased holding her hand.
“What? Jealousy? That’s a start, the mighty handsome junior jealousy of me?” she laughed as they walked out the hostel to the car park.
“so, when is this uncle Ben of yours dropping his kids?” she asked wrapping her hands around herself as the weather felt a bit chilly on her skin she wished she had taken something to pull on top of her sleeveless splattered dress.
“There he is” junior responded pointing at a ford ranger driving into the park in front of them.
“Come on lets go say hi” he held her hand and led her to the car. The moment Ben saw his nephew walking towards him he pulled down the windows and before they could even get down Grace saw a boy of about 13 and a girl step down running towards them.
“Easy guys!” Junior who the kids where hugging shouted with a laugh.
“I missed you J” The girl Grace suspected to be Mapalo from the stories she had heard from Junior about his cousins shouted excitedly.
“And who is this beautiful lady? Your girlfriend” Isaac asked smiling at Grace she looked down sly. In her heart wishing that were true since she had come to love Junior more than the ka friendship they had, though she vowed to never tell him a thing till one day he would start that ball rolling.
“Hey guys behave” the elderly man came out of the Car and Grace quickly looked up at him her heart skipped a little bit she didn’t understand why. She told herself maybe it was the fact that the man was so handsome even when he looked order than her by far. He was around 40 from what she had head but at the moment she could argue he was 10 years younger, his skin was so smooth and tender his face so calm with a well shaved moustache.
“how are you young lady, you must be Grace?” the man spoke and for a moment she froze in her steps realizing that his voice sounded so familiar, like one she had heard more than once in her life.
“Am fine thank Sir” she responded with a smile.
“Grace as in Grace?” Isaac asked making his father look at him warningly Grace saw the boy must have struck something in his father only she had no idea what.
“Don’t mind him. I had a daughter by that name years ago” Ben responded and quickly changed the topic looking at Junior and handing him some money.
“Well, guys, just let me know when you done with your outing, am coming to pick you up” he told them mostly looking at Junior who nodded his head.
“I was hoping you drop us at Arcade’s uncle. I mean I decided to let these guys watch some movies first” Junior looked at Ben.
“well, if that is the case then hop in, I need to get back to the office before 17 hours” he walked to the driver’s seat and Grace who
s heart kept pumping fast followed everyone in the car. Not that she was coming from a family that was poor, but there was some class to Junior’s uncle that struck her attention. The neatness and sweat scent of the car seats made her feel relaxed the moment she sat down. Junior was in the front seat and she had to sit with the two siblings who kept picking on each other. In the few minutes they travelled from the campus to arcades they had argued about 3 or four things but Grace found them fascinating.s beauty he was so calm and composed too she knew even the fights he was having with his sister were started by Mapalo.
“Enjoy your outing guys” Ben shouted from the window when everyone was out of the car.
“Nice to meet you Grace” he smiled at her and she responded watching him leave.
“I told you he is nice” Junior spoke up making her realise they had to start moving to the cinema room.
Mapalo and junior walked in front whilst Isaac stayed back keeping pace with Grace and chatting softly like he was a gentle man. Quickly Grace connected his ways to his father. the boy not only resembled his father
They walked into the cinema wall after buying some popcorn and Junior excused himself leaving the three seated in a row.
“Am coming Grace” he told Grace before leaving.
“Yeah sure” she nodded and sat silently.
“So what was that about Grace?” she laughed interrupting whatever Isaac was he was telling his sister.
“Well, it’s a sad story in our house. Apparently my little sis doesn’t know about it but as an older child of the family, you know dad tells me things” the boy smiled with clear pride he even raised his voice to make his sister get him.
“See, he is the one that starts me” she winced like a baby and they all laughed.
“I know the story too” she added with so much conviction.
“Mom told me that Grace was our elder sister. She died in a terrible accident mom doesn’t like talking about it.” She explained and Grace felt sad about the story.
“Am sorry guys I didn’t mean to….” she apologized.
“it’s okey, it was many years ago anyway” Mapalo added but Isaac cut in…
“Many years ago but for mom it is like yesterday, sometimes I feel like she cannot love us as much as she loved her.” The boy shook his head.
“Oh come on Isaac I don’t think that is the case. How is that even possible? It’s just that it hurts to lose someone you love. She loves you both am sure even though I know her not” she tried to console the boy.
“Well Grace have you ever lost anyone before?” Mapalo asked innocently.
“Yeah I lost my aunty a few years ago. I loved her so much and she died. So yeah I miss her a lot but that doesn’t mean I cannot love others around me” she explained in the simplest way possible and Isaac nodded his head she saw he was good with understanding things.
“Yeah am sure you are right” the boy shrugged putting some popcorns in his mouth and looking forward at the screen in front of them. Grace took time watching the kids in silence. Something about them seemed to get to her heart and she sighed sitting back, feeling glad she agreed to go out with them. There was evidence she was going to enjoy their company.
“Hey guys am back” Junior sighed pushing himself into the rows and Grace looked at him with a smile.
“Where did you even go? You almost missed, the movie is about to start” she giggled handing him a pack of popcorns and he deepened his hands grabbing his handful.
“You really want to know?” Junior teased and she shook her head getting his point already.
“Yeah you had to wait to come to the mall huh?” she teased back with a laugh and the two of them laughed making Isaac shush them as the movie had started. She looked at him, placed her forefinger on her lips and smiled as Junior nodded to agree to silence too.
TO FIND GRACE
Back at home, Diana, Mrs. Mwape was helping her son do homework. Explaining the basics of math’s to her only fruit of her womb. Well, she had been blessed with a son 6 years after Jena and Ben got back Grace, the only challenge is that the boy had some kind of defect, one of his legs was not as strong the time he was born so his condition affected his leg bones making the boy have a limp in walking as he grew older. The doctors had told Mrs. Mwape that those where some of the effects of having given birth to a child in her later stages of life.
Inwardly she felt her obsession with Grace was the fact that she wanted a normal and sharp child that she found in Grace. She had noticed even his level of intelligence was not good. The boy had issues with school.
“What are you guys doing?” Kent asked as he walked into the house.
“Hey! You are back?” Diana turns to look at her husband standing up.
“I was trying to help Joshua to solve this” she pointed at a book on the table.
“but honey, Joshua is in grade 7 why are you solving that grade 4 work with him?” the husband asked lifting the paper and looking down on his son who was busy chewing on his fingers unconcerned.
“You know how he is, he doesn’t seem to know anything of Grade 7 work. Am worried about this boy, how is he going to write his exams with such kind of slow progress?” she shook her head.
“Well, get to it guys am going to check on the fields. Am a farmer and not a teacher and besides you are the mother, see how you can help him. I wonder why he cannot be as intelligent as Grace. At his age, she was performing far much better and effective no one had to teach her a thing” he added as he walked to the pantry to get his gumboots.
Diana shoot a sad look at her husband. Knowing so well he knew that Grace was not their biological daughter.
“You know next time you decide to compare our kids you should think twice about saying it aloud. This boy there is our son and he needs both our support to get where we want him to be. “She scolded her husband angrily.
“Come on Diana it’s not the way you are putting it, I was just saying…”
“What?” she cut in following him as he walked to the other room?
“What is your problem this afternoon? I was just making an innocent comment and I wasn’t wrong because you know so well this boy has always been like this since birth. So please spare me the lectures and let me do my work in the fields” he added and walked out leaving Diana upset.
She looked back at her son and sighed sadly.
“Maybe its punishment for what I did years back” she thought to herself her eyes started filling up she had to walk away to avoid Joshua seeing her. She sat in the couch and allowed her mind to replay some memories from years back. She and her husband had agreed to let Jena and Ben take Grace away. She had stood by the window watching as they left, her heart heavy with pain of losing a baby she had come to embrace as hers for almost 3 years of her life from the day she was born.
“Its okey my dear, it’s going be okey” Kent whispered to his wife and held her close.
“No, it’s not okey honey. We took in that baby and took care of her from day one. If we had not picked her, she could have died with either the cold or eaten by the dogs that night. Am not going to sit here and watch a stupid girl and her flashy boyfriend come and take away what we have raised” she shook her head seriously looking at her husband.
“What now, we already agreed to let her go my wife, so that is what we are going to do” he shrugged walking her away from the window.
“Listen to me Kent, if you have given up on our baby that is your problem, as for me Diana, am not letting go, that girl is my child and am not letting her go.” she spat and walked away leaving her husband watching her in silence, he was also affected but he had no idea how he was going to get the girl back.
A year later Diana walked in from town and came with papers of a new land in Monze, she smiled at her husband and handed her the papers.
“What is this?” Kent asked looking down on the papers.
“I have acquired new lands, very fertile and a lot of space enough for a good farming business we will start” she smiled at him.
“What? Are you joking right now or you are serious?” he looked at his wife`s face.
“We just shifted here and I don’t think this land is bad at all. We have all we need here honey” he shrugged softly shaking his head.
“Listen am not disputing that, but if we are going to get our daughter back we need to start our lives from far away. I don’t like the areas in the further North but Monze is not bad. A lot of business opportunities too” she explained with gestures.
“Okey, okey will you slow down a little bit. What do you mean start over with our daughter? Isn’t that chapter closed already?” Kent asked standing up.
“No, it is not closed. I have a perfect plan and no matter what that baby is coming back into our arms, admit it Kent she made us feel like parents, we both love her and know deep down she is ours. So now are you in or not?” she stood to join her husband who looked at her thoughtfully.
“I don’t know Diana, this doesn’t sound okey at all” he shook his head.
“Well, better make up your mind or am going to do it all by myself” she shouted and walked away.
“Mommy! See, I have finished that question!” Joshua shouted excitedly as he limped towards his mother making Diana snap out of her thoughts and look at her son.
“Hm. really? Let me see that” she extended her hand and got the book.
“It’s wrong Joshua, do it again” she scoffed holding her head feeling tired all of a sudden.
“But mom, ” he almost complained
“No buts Joshua go and redo your work please” she raised her voice at him.
The boy walked away to the kitchen table he had been writing from, dumped the book on the table and ran outside to play.
In Lusaka Jena and her kids where in the car as she drove them to school.
“So have you guys parked all your homework books?” she asked looking at the kids through the mirror.
“Yep” Mapalo responded
“Yep? Sweetheart what did I say about such kind of language in our house?” she scolded the girl who looked at her fingers and softly apologized.
“It’s yes mother” Isaac added looking at his sister.
“I am not talking to you” Mapalo responded hitting the brother on the shoulder. He too raised his hand to hit her back but before, Jena raised her voice at them.
“can you guys behave yourselves this morning or I swear I will take you back home and you will wait for the driver to take you” She threatened.
“It’s her who started mommy” cried Isaac.
“I don’t want to hear all that just sit back and silence please” she shook her head as she drove close to the traffic lights which were now turning red. Her phone rung at the moment and she picked the head sets to her ears answering it.
“Junior, good morning” she greeted the moment she slid the phone to answer.
“Am okey auntie, just wanted to let you know am coming back home this afternoon, we have gone on Vac” he answered
“Well, that is good, we missed you. Just call Isaac and Mapalo`s driver to come pick you up. Your uncle will be busy and I have some work load too. We might come home late”
“Sure, see you later” Junior sighed
“Hey what about that friend of yours Isaac won’t stop talking about? How is she?” Jena asked stepping off the gears as the traffic lights turned green.
“She is okey, she was supposed to go today too but she stays in Monze and couldn’t get a ticket on time. She will be going back tomorrow.” He explained.
“Any problem?” Junior asked.
“No, I just found her name quite odd” Jena let a laugh recalling how Isaac had spoken of Grace telling her she spoke so calmly. He had told her mother that she was so beautiful he wished Junior would pick her as his girlfriend.
“Yeah, I know right. Am sure one day I will come home with her. I have told her how great you guys are and she always finds stories about you so fascinating.”
“Hm. so what is the deal between the two of you huh? Will you tell your aunty?” she laughed
“Um, let me come home aunty” Junior quickly dodged the question and Jena shook her head knowing so well he had something hidden,
“Okey then see you later “she cut the line and looked ahead as Roads Park School came into view.
“Hurry out guys am late for work” she hurried her kids and Mapalo moved forward to plant a kiss on her cheeks as Isaac walked on.
“Isaac?” Jena called back her son.
“What? Bye mom!” he smiled raising his hand.
“No, no, come on here” she laughed pointing her finger on her cheeks.
“No ways. The guys are watching mommy come on” the boy shrugged and before Jena could answer he trotted away to join his friends she shook her head. Knowing her son was no longer that small boy who would kiss her at whatever place.
“Thank you Lord” she whispered to herself as she joined the main road to head back to her law firm in town.