Will you love me more if I tell you that I know the people in that photo?” Tracy asked. Why Not?” was his answer
Tracy had taken too long to say the words that would effectively stop Michael from bothering her with platinum roses, apple juice, endless love and all the empty words men speak to make women fall into their traps. She just needed to tell him that she abhorred him more than a person would ever hate the devil, but she had held the words back too long to be able to say them.
Now she was not sure if in her decisive response she would not say the opposite with “so help me God” appended to the words like someone taking up a sacred duty.
Her way to office had taken a winding road and Michael did not know that. She was not only a beautiful lady as Michael always said to her, but a beautiful mother.
The spectra of her previous relationship always danced before her when Michael brought up the subject of her becoming his future bride.
The ghost always scared would be ghosts, turning the prospects of any developing love relationship into a nebulous vision, seven constellations beyond her reach.
Tracy had been the Helen of Fenga Village in Chief Mandeya Area in Honde Valley. When she was in Form Three at St. Peter’s High School, she had prematurely opened the door into womanhood, closed it against her girlhood, and she had begun a whole new life, which excluded the blessings of juveniscence in a simple society and the carefree laughter within classroom walls.
The landing of a malaria control team in the area had effectively eliminated the fevers of the deadly disease, but the involvement of an eighteen year old man in the team had brought her down with a different kind of fever that turned her into the queen of the young man’s tent.
She would creep into Anthony’s tent every night to share with him the inevitable zest of fecund youthfulness.
The benefits of an incipient relationship flowed her way, and nothing counted for anything if it excluded Anthony. Tracy enjoyed a lavish share of the food supplies that Anthony received from his employer, the cosmetic soaps and sundry other items that came in Anthony’s favour.
Then came the night of the disturbing vehicular noises. Tracy had had no chance to sneak out her mother’s custody because she was sharing her room with her visiting aunt.
On her next visit to Anthony’s tent, she was greeted by an elderly man, her father’s age. On enquiring about Anthony, Tracy learnt that the elderly man was a member of a totally new malaria control team and did not even know Anthony.
Her insides collapsed as the ground under her feet seemed to shift. She had come to tell Anthony that she had missed her monthly period.
She began a long wait for Anthony’s communication, hoping that he would at least write a letter telling her where he had been posted. Every moment took its time to pass to allow Tracy to feel the weight of her problem.
Having gone through the rigors of raising a child, and being a second chance student for the remainder of her secondary school and finally obtaining a diploma in secretarial studies she had met this exciting young man Michael who was more than ready to take her to the chapel for the nuptials.
They were workmates at Mobtech Wireless, a fast-growing mobile network company in Mutare.
When Michael proposed spending one Saturday with her in one of the conservancies in the outskirts of Mutare, Tracy had embraced the idea, but had worn something very strong under her skirt, just in case.
Passing a very old milestone, which had been erected to guide bullock cart operators, the couple sat on a flat rock and began to talk. Michael ended up talking about his cousin who had been assaulted to death by his workmates after a misunderstanding that involved a girl.
His eyes moistening, Michael extracted a photo album from his jacket pocket. “It is mainly because of him that it took me so long to think about marriage,” Michael said. Tracy received the album and started to leaf through. Most of the photos featured Michael in his school days, sometimes alone, sometimes with his age mates.
As she went through the leaves of the photo album, she thought the whole thing was a dream that she had allowed to tease her mind for too long, especially when the photo of herself and Anthony suddenly appeared as she leafed through. She had significantly matured into womanhood for Michael to recognise her from the photo.
“Who are these people?” Tracy asked, presenting the album to Michael.
“My late cousin and his lost love,” he said with no slightest clue as to why Tracy would ask. “Before his short life expired, it had become routine like prayer for him to talk about how he squandered a chance that would never be salvaged from the lost treasures buried with the garbage of the past. Despair had driven him into reckless relationships in which he was spared the obligation to make a vow.”
“Will you love me more if I tell you that I know the people in that photo?” Tracy asked, searching for cues in Michael’s eyes.
“Why not? Or maybe if I show you the duplicate of that photo which I have always carried on my person…”
“I don’t understand,” Michael said.
Tracy dug into her handbag, took out a laminated photo and deposited it into Antony’s receiving right hand.
“The two of us. Your departed cousin and I. Now tell me, do you love me more than you ever did when you first said the word to me.”
An uneasy silence settled upon them. Tracy’s eyes were fixed on Michael’s, demanding the answer that she knew was not easy.
Michael placed his hand in Tracy’s and said: “The journey has been long and full of promises. Keep my side always. If it were possible, we would sign our nuptials here, on this rock.”
The new lovers sat on the rock, scanning the future amid the softness of a silent conversation.
Nhamo Muchagumisa is an English Language and Literature teacher, and he writes from Odzi. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on +263777460162. Email him at: email@example.com.
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