Sabina My Love
By Richard Kadoko Mzuzu (Northern Malawi)
The road to the main market was busy. Women and children were selling food stuffs along. I slowly drove my gleaming black Mercedes Benz as I gazed at them through the windows.
One woman drew my interest. I parked my Merc at the market’s car park. I alighted, my eyes still fixed on the lady.
She stood thin and frail. Stripped on her back with an old stained cloth was a baby of about six months old. She wore a greasy torn gown which exposed her dangling breasts and scaly legs. Her bare feet had large cracks on the heels. Drops of the baby’s stools crawled at the back of her gown, inviting buzzing flies that hovered around her like Aero-planes at a busy airport.
For a moment, I cast my face down almost shedding tears. I knew the woman very well. Almost ten years back, she was my love bird. She was then beautiful and very attractive.
“Groundnuts!” a voice echoed.
Then, promptly, she grabbed her shaky winnower which held the almost falling groundnuts and quickly hurled herself to the middle of the road. She stood there, turning and looking this way and that, her blinking eyes searching for the prospective customer. Just then a heavy lorry sped through and knocked her down. Her body wriggled for a while like a beaten snake and then lay still.
I ran to the scene of the incident. I knelt down beside the woman’s body while looking up and my arms spread in the air like a bishop reciting a prayer.
“Sabina! Why Sabina!!!!” I cried loudly.
Some onlookers who knew me both as a top notch journalist and the Bureau Chief of one of the largest daily newspapers in the country pulled me aside. They asked me why I was crying over a poverty stricken woman, a mere groundnut seller. I faithfully narrated the whole story to them.
Sabina was, as far as I am concerned, very beautiful. She was of medium height with well curved hips and protruding buttocks. Her buttocks shook when she walked. They shook so vehemently such that it appeared as if she was dancing while in fact she was merely walking.
It was for this reason that I got attracted to Sabina and got to love her so much. Although I was unquestionably poor, she accepted me. We lived together happily until one Saturday afternoon a year later.
We were walking down a street holding hands when a VX Prado materialized and started moving very close to us. A huge man in dark glasses who sat in the middle seat of the Prado wound down a window and gestured at Sabina to get on board. The man was Nyesi Mchisi, a business magnate in the city of Mubangwe where Sabina and I lived. The Prado then stopped.
I pulled Sabina’s hand so that we moved on. To my surprise though, she freed herself from my grip and stared me coldly. Meanwhile, Mchisi opened the door and grinned in the Prado. Pain and anger colonized my heart as I saw Sabina entering the Prado. Like a snail glued to the wall, I clung to her. Then she hit me hard on the cheek with an elbow and I fell down outright. Still lying down, I heard the door bang shut and the Prado beginning to move. As I raised myself up, large phlegm of saliva jetted out of the window of the Prado and splashed onto my face. I ran after the Prado like a mad person as it sped off.
Around, scores of People laughed and shouted at me because they thought I was just being pompous by walking with a girl who was not mine. Surely, I too failed to comprehend what had just happened to me as I sadly and aimlessly walked about town that afternoon. All of a sudden, I was alone. Was this arranged so that they embarrass me? Or perhaps it was just a bad dream, hoping that at last I would wake up. Honestly, I felt very bad and useless to be robbed of my beloved Sabina in this manner and worse still in broad day light. Was it wrong for a poor young man like me to love a girl of the looks like Sabina? Death was the only comfortable option I thought I had.
The following morning I went to her small house in one of the high density areas in Mubangwe. She was not there. Her house was empty with doors and windows left wide open. Her neighbors told me that they saw a van the previous night which collected all her belongings. The reality dawned on me then that I had lost Sabina to Mchisi. I realized that it was money and the desire for the precious things of this world that had driven Sabina to Mchisi. How unfair it is that a poor man can be robbed of his most cherished thing in a twinkling of an eye! I wept bitterly. I tried to call her. Her phone number was constantly out of reach.
Six months passed without seeing Sabina. Then I finally met her in a shop one day. She stood in front of me facing the other side. This time her skin had become lighter. Her buttocks had enlarged and protruded even more. She looked more appealing than before. I tickled her on the back. She turned to face me. Suddenly, her face turned furious.
“Back off,” she told me.
“Sabina, wh…wh…what did I wrong you?” I stammered.
“I said get out of my sight!” she shouted.
People in the shop flocked around us. Sabina was looking at me straight and hard. Her mouth shook with anger.
“You and I don’t match at all!” she said and hurriedly walked out of the shop.
I followed her.
Outside the shop, Mchisi’s Prado waited for her. Two gigantic young men in dark glasses, wearing vests, combat jeans and thick boots leaned against the Prado. Sabina stood between the young men looking at me as I came, her arms akimbo.
“Since when did you realize that you and I don’t match?” I asked her.
She just opened the door of the Prado and disappeared into it. Then one of the young men kicked me hard to the ground. He came over as I still lay down and stepped on my neck with his thick boot.
“Stupid Golira, leave this girl alone,” he said sternly, pointing his long forefinger onto my face.
Then he rushed into the Prado which had already started speeding. Still lying down in pain, I saw Mchisi thrust his head out of a window. He smiled at me. It was an evil smile full of mockery. I closed my eyes like one praying for vengeance.
The next time I opened my eyes again, I was on a hospital bed. I wondered when and how I came there. It came to my knowledge later that some people who witnessed what happened to me at the shop actually took me there. They said I lay where my harassers left me, so weak. I could not even talk.
They urged me to go for counseling and to forget Sabina completely. I did go for counseling but to erase Sabina from my memory was no possible thing. The truth was that I loved Sabina so much.
Another six months passed. I had just finished covering a function at a hotel one day and I was on my way out. Just then a Toyota Fortuner pulled up at the main entrance of the hotel. The front left door of the Toyota Fortuner immediately flew open and out emerged the young man who roughed me up at the shop. He opened the left rear door and out came Mchisi with an attractive girl who had exorbitantly protruding buttocks. The girl wore a short tight skirt which exposed her plump smooth thighs. My heart leaped when I noted that the girl was Sabina, my love.
I struggled to fight back anger and jealous within me as I saw the two hold hands and slowly move by the reception to the restaurant. They laughed when they noticed me stand by. Sabina deliberately shook her already shaking buttocks as she cat-walked. She kissed Mchisi, making me feel even more jealous. Believe me, I wished it were just a bad dream.
I wondered why Mchisi and Sabina were taking their love affair that far. Just because they were in deep love they felt they could always belittle me and torture me emotionally? I sobbed.
Exasperated by what I painfully regarded as betrayal of the highest degree, I decided to leave the city of Mubangwe. I went to Lyando, another city down south my country. I wanted a new environment with new people and new things. I wanted to experience a new life away from Mchisi and Sabina. Meeting and seeing the two on the streets of Mubangwe holding hands and kissing pained me so much. My anger and hatred towards the two grew every passing day.
Life in the city of Lyando was good. I worked hard for the following two years as a freelance reporter which eventually earned me full employment at a certain reputable news paper. The salary and conditions of service were good. One year later I bought my first car. Because of the bitter experience which I encountered with Sabina I had resolved not to fall in love again, at least for a while. Of course, I interacted with women and girls during parties and drinking sprees but never proposed love to them even if they showed interest in me which they usually did.
Meanwhile, news from the city of Mubangwe had it that, Nyesi Mchisi had been burnt to death. The report on state television said police wanted to arrest Mchisi following a tip that he was about to traffic ten kids to a neighboring country.
However, the law enforcers were overpowered by angry people who administered mob justice on the tycoon. Burning, large truck tires were piled on Mchisi. His property was also looted and all his shops and houses set ablaze. A bewildered eye witness appeared on TV and recounted the whole episode.
“Four policemen knocked on the door of Mchisi’s mansion. This time, young men wielding machetes and stones surrounded the fence of the house. Just as he was coming out to meet the law enforcers the young men in their large numbers jumped into the fence. Some pushed away the policemen while others whisked Mchisi to unknown place. Meanwhile, heavy fighting ensued between the four policemen and the remaining young men. More people flocked to the scene and joined the fight. Others rushed to Mchisi’s shops and houses. Then more policemen were deployed to disperse angry people with teargas. By the time they located where Mchisi was taken to, it was too late.”
Mchisi’s huge figure with his evil smile came to my mind immediately I heard news of his death. So, he was responsible when poor couples cried for their kids and hopelessly waited for endless police searches and investigations? How cruel and inhuman some people can be? I shuddered when the place where he was burnt to death came into view. Ash was all over. In fact, the eye witness confessed that his bereaved relatives picked not even a single bone from there. I wondered where Sabina could be. Was she also killed? So many questions came to my mind.
A year after Mchisi’s brutal death I visited Magenge, the Capital City of my country. It was night and I was at a famous pub in the capital. Here was where prostitutes paraded almost naked to attract men. Under the clear lights of the pub, the scantily dressed night queens in their different sizes and shapes danced seductively to fine music. I watched them with delight as I sipped my beer.
One gyrating prostitute with plump thighs and protruding buttocks drew my curiosity. These were the kind of women I loved. No wonder she reminded me of Sabina. Was she the one perhaps? Did she escape the wrath of people in Mubangwe and ended up in the capital to become a prostitute? I wondered as I pulled myself closer to her. It couldn’t be. We danced together for a while. Our eyes met and immediately my suspicions came to rest. It was Sabina. I embraced her. She withdrew from me furiously and walked out of the pub. I followed her. Above the din of loud music from the pub and noise of people around we exchanged words.
“Why are you running away from me? You see, I want us to reunite.”
“I can’t,” she said, avoiding my face.
“Look, I forgave you. We can live together happily again.”
“Moses, I said I can’t.”
“Sabina let the past belong to the past. I can now provide everything you need. Stop disgracing yourself in public.”
“My dear, am very happy with what I do. Leave me alone.”
“Happy? What do you mean?” I enquired my voice full of concern and worry.
“Moses, if you!!!!” she raised her voice.
I placed my palm on her chest to calm her down. Her heart beat fast and hard as if she was being chased by vicious dogs.
“You see, am just being mindful of your life and well being. I am just being considerate enough to offer you a place in my heart once again even though we have a bad past. But if you don’t want, so be it.”
“Yes, I don’t want,” she said, still avoiding my face.
“Sabina, I didn’t know that you are so stubborn.”
She aimed her beer bottle at my face in an attempt to hit me. I quickly grabbed her arm, twisted it and snatched the bottle. She groaned with pain and ran behind the pub. I went after her and looked around. She was not there.
A couple of years passed. I got promoted at work to the position of Bureau Chief and I was transferred to Magenge. One day, I set out to a certain village on the outskirts of the Capital City to gather facts about a cholera outbreak there.
I drove my car on bumpy tracts through dilapidated grass thatched mud huts. Women with their children were selling bags of charcoal and firewood along. They cheered and waved at me as I passed as if I were a deliverer of some sort. I spotted one pregnant woman who was struggling to arrange her bags of charcoal. I stopped and dropped out of my car to buy two bags from her.
I could not believe it. The woman was Sabina and there was no mistake about it, looking at her very familiar face. What surprised me most about her was that she no longer had those well curved hips, protruding buttocks and plump thighs. I needed no microscope to notice this. She looked like an ordinary village woman who endured numerous years of poverty and suffering.
“How are you Sabina?” I greeted her while smiling.
She looked at me straight.
“Who are you?”
“You know me. I am Moses Kakhome.”
“Sorry, I don’t know you and my name is not Sabina.”
“Sabina, don’t pretend that you don’t know me. It won’t benefit you anything my dear”.
“If you don’t want to buy my charcoal, just leave.”
She tightened her old faded loose wrapper and began to walk away.
“Stop being stupid! I can give you a new lease of life.”
She did not respond. I watched her with pity as she walked, struggling to lift her thin legs with that heavy pregnancy.
“I want to buy all your bags!” I shouted.
She just walked on silently and entered her small grass thatched mud hut. She closed the rattling door. I concluded that self guilt and shame had all along prevented Sabina to come back to me. I realized that the public humiliations and the emotional torture that she and Mchisi had inflicted on me always haunted her. I threw myself into my car and drove off.
So many people surrounded me now. I noticed that some of them were wiping tears off their faces as I finished telling my story. I also fished out a handkerchief and wiped my face. This time, Sabina’s body and that of the baby had been rushed to the mortuary. One boy asked me a question.
“But why do you cry over a woman who denied and humiliated you in public, a woman who constantly rejected your forgiving heart and numerous offers for reunion?”
“I loved her so much and she meant a lot to me. If only she understood and was patient enough……” I pressed a handkerchief to my eyes as more tears flowed.