MAYBE, JUST MAYBE!
And I keep having this dream. In it I find myself in the middle of a deep river. The water is so quiet that one might be tempted to believe it is not moving at all. Strangely enough though, they have enough power to draw me down, and when I am just about to sink and die, I wake up from the dream. I have many times heard that the devil works with water, snakes and fire, so I am quick to believe these are works of the so bad devil. As a result, I always shout “Jesus!” when I wake up from this dream. To say it does not work, to say His name does not work the wonders it is supposed to, would be to set a bull’s eye on my back1, as that would be an insult to the Lord Jesus. I then decide to say maybe I’m too unclean to attract His attention. One other thing which is as constant as this dream is the thoughts about my lovely and sweet Nomsa after waking up from this dream. Oh! My lovely Nomsa, if I could get a chance to ask just one favour from the Almighty God - to free my Nomsa out of those walls they have locked her in. He shall grant me immediately.
I met Nomsa at the University of Swaziland. We were both students there during that time; she was studying B. Eng, and I was pursuing my diploma in Law. I will no doubt tell you that she is the most beautiful lady I have ever seen in this world; one cannot resist smiling at seeing her oval dimpled face. Even now that I am telling you about her, I can’t restrain myself... believe me, you as well would smile at her sight. That place where they are keeping her is far from being a good place for such an angeless; I swear the heavens are frowning over this. It was none of her fault - any living human would have done what she did under the circumstances that my family put her in. Yes she had angelic looks, but she was no Goddess. Even heaven’s greatest enemy was once heaven’s most favoured angel, thus it is normal of humanity to fall to traps.
When we found out that Nomsa was pregnant, we were shocked. But later it came to our minds that the ways of the Almighty are beyond our understanding as humans, so we accepted the situation and vowed to stand for all hardships that may befall us as a result of the pregnancy.
In May, three months after we had found out about what had caught us, we had to go home as the University academic year was elapsing. We had to take a bus to Mliba where we come from. And this meant a new phase in our lives, revealing this to our parents, and church especially for me. My parents have brought me up under strong Christian rules: the church always comes first; you can miss whatever you want to, even school, but not church. From my upbringing, there is one Christian law that I loved so much. This is not to say I hated the others, but to say this one was deep in my spinal cord; spinal cord, yes for me things do not stay in the heart, but they stay in my spinal cord. ‘Do unto others as you would love them to do unto you’. I really loved this law; actually, I still do even to this here date. My wish is that if every living human would adopt this law, I assure you, my Nomsa would still be with me even today.
To my surprise, my mother already knew about the secret. Just when I arrived, she could not even let me put down my bag. She burst like some cough that she has been holding for more than two hours. “Her family is not of the prestige that could bear a grandchild for me and your father!”, she shouted. “It just cannot happen! We have worked way hard that a family of lazy mites can just wake to find themselves swimming in our wealth,” she continued, and I just knew what she was talking about. I was tongue-tied. I failed even to say ‘hello’ to her; I just passed-by to my room. There I lay on my bed and rolled a mass of thoughts around my mind.
Evening came. My little sister knocked at my door to deliver a message that mom and dad were calling me. I woke up and went to the sitting room where they were. It was our first encounter with dad since he was not in when I arrived. “Son, how are you doing? How are studies going?”, dad asked. I responded to that, and even before I finished, my mom popped in. “We won’t be wasting time asking you if you are the one who impregnated Nomsa. We called you here to give you orders of how you should handle the case. You are going to take that money and go to Dr. Hakim in Manzini. He will do the job for you, and you will wipe away the shame that you are about to throw on our faces”, she said. My father could say nothing other than to nod as his wife related to me the orders to follow.
That same night I called Nomsa and asked her to meet me by the road which passes behind her homestead. I went to her to deliver the new developments. She was happy about our meeting as she would also have the opportunity to tell me her parents’ reactions. “My family was disappointed Mandla, but my father was quick to mention that spilled water can never be recollected from the ground. Let us learn to live with it”, Nomsa said.
For a moment, I stood unmoved. Nomsa’s words kept reverberating in my ears and mind. Her father’s reaction made my news even heavier to deliver to her now. It would have been better if her father had gotten very angry at her that he even chased her. As for now, how do I start? “M...mmm...my parents wa... want us to get ri...”
Nomsa did not wait for the rest. Like an impala escaping the fierce anger of a hungry lion, she disappeared from my sight. I could only hear her quick footsteps in the dark as she vanished into the still darkness. I was left blaming myself for what I had said.
But that was it.
My mom could not bear the news that Nomsa was not accepting the abortion idea. “These people are so wicked! They aim to tame you into rescuing them from their poverty through attributing to you a pregnancy that you are not responsible for,” she said when I told her about Nomsa’s response. How I wished I could explain to my mom. But she did not ask me even one question. She had all the answers.
My mom went to Nomsa’s home to tell her mother that she should tell her “wicked” daughter to stop her “weird” plans and just do what she is offered, as that would save them a lot of trouble. She threw all sorts of insults to their family, calling them termites that eat mud and live in it. Due to anger from what my mom had done to them, Nomsa’s parents changed their attitude towards Nomsa. They would always lament about how she went to reap them trouble from the gods of the land. They had become the family of witchcraft in the community. Consequently, they ended up buying the abortion idea with the hope that they would do away with the mosquito which always rang in their ears.
Even to them, Nomsa did just what she did to me- she ran. Nobody knew where she had gone. She no more wanted anything that had to do with me, and she wouldn’t even pick my calls. The search began: I, her family, and mine, all taking different directions. We could not make one team because we all had different intentions. I prayed that team her family gets her first than team my family, I was afraid my mom would even go the mile of taking Nomsa’s life. When a huge task like this one is underway, time has the tendency to fly. The two months of university vacation were over, and now we were in a study break to prepare for our first semester examinations. I decided to go home to observe the situation regarding Nomsa’s search. A lot had been tried then: the police, the radio, and even traditional diviners by her family. They were told she was still alive, and that was the source of the little hope that was still pumping.
The day after Christmas, I was resting under a tree near Nomsa’s homestead. It was under the hot summer sun; one would swear thunder would burst in the next forty five minutes. But the sun was already setting, and still, no sign of rain. I stood up and stretched myself. At a far distance, I noticed a slowly trotting small sickly creature heading towards the home next to the road. It was a figure of a person holding a parcel in its arms, holding it with care like a fragile object. The figure was moving so slow that one would wonder if the fierce heat of the sun had any effect on it. I sat down again as I found out it was still hot for me to walk home; maybe I should wait thirty more minutes. As I was sitting there, my ears were hit by a loud cry from the home next to the road. I thought to myself that though I was not a favourite to that family, but I could not let a soul be lost, mostly because the enmity was not my wish. I stood up and ran in the direction where the sound came from. When I got there, I got the shock of my life. It was Nomsa. I had to be happy beyond explanation; for all this time, I had so much wished to see her. Even as I sat under that tree, wishes for our reunion were running through my mind. But for some reason, I could not scream for joy as you would expect me to. I went closer to her hoping to get a hug. She stood motionless holding the parcel towards me. I felt the stench of a dead body. I thought maybe it was some dead donkey, wild cat or dog hit by a car. But I didn’t look sideways to see what it was; I didn’t want anything distracting my eyes from the sight which I had for so long longed for. I took the parcel from the motionless Nomsa and held it tight in my bosom. The more I did so, the more the stench troubled me. This time, I stopped looking into Nomsa’s eyes and slowly unwrapped the parcel. I could not believe what I saw. It was the body of a baby, decaying.
I looked at the body, and then at Nomsa, and to the body again, still in my arms. As I continued doing so, Nomsa’s lips opened, and she started to talk for the first time since I came. She wasn’t audible enough, but I did hear her whisper: “It is this that brought all the unbearable pain to my life, to my family, to my love, so I decided to take it back to where it came from, maybe, just maybe I could get back my life as it was, happy”.