"So you mean she just said it like that?" Henry asked putting his plate in the sink. I was at his house, it was the weekend and Thulani was with my parents. I was picking him up later.
Chomba doesn't want kids.
"And what did you say? Where does that leave your relationship?"
Not very sure actually. I made a lot of rash decisions while nursing my broken heart and one of them was hooking up with Chomba, she was great and everything but. But?
We got along well, she wasn't the engaging kind, very independent, strong and the topping of it all was she accepted Thulani. yeah there was still a but in there.
"You want kids?" Henry asked not knowing what to make of my silence.
"Before Thulani, I thought family life was not for me. I thought I didn't want kids, and if ever the conversation came up there are enough orphans to adopt. Now, now I can't help but feel something is missing."
"you want to get back with Lindi?" he asked. "You know what they say about ibala lya kale"
Ibala lya kale talishupa ukulima, an old field is not difficult to cultivate. Simply put an old relationship is easy to resuscitate.
"Sometimes she looks at me and I cant remember why we broke up."
"Broke up? You left without ..."
"Whose side are you on?"
"I clearly advised you, Achi."
"I was scared."
"You lost her anyway."
"You told me she was pregnant for someone else."
"I told you she was knocked up, period. You drew conclusions on your own. I didn't even know you guys were sleeping together."
I looked up at him, rehashing this conversation was pointless.
"It was one time," I muttered.
"Well genius, that's all it takes." he smiled.
Right, I thought glumly.
"How is the good doctor anyway?"
I did not appreciate his tone, actually, I did not like talking about Lindi with Henry or with anyone.
"She is okay."
Henry gestured for more but I shook my head.
"I have enough on my plate right now," I said.
I had received my assignment. I was part of a secret mission going to the border where armed insurgents had placed their flag on Zambian soil.
It was not the first time I was receiving an assignment, I got assigned a lot in the last four years, but it was the first time I did not want to go. It was the first time I was rethinking my choice of a career and regretting being a Special Operative. Dad said having a child shifts the perspective of things but this was more than a shift.
"When do you leave?" he asked.
"Monday," I replied.
"Have you told her this time? Or you're pulling another Hoodini?"
I gave him a 'go fuck yourself' look but still replied. "I told her I have been assigned."
"so while you're away she will be taking Thulis to your parents?"
"Thulani, yes." I hated the nickname he had for my son.
"Your parents like her?"
I laughed. They did. My mom would have married Lindi if it was up to her. I nodded.
"Oh yeah, I looked into that Investment proposal you sent me, it's bogus."
"What do you mean?"
"The company doesn't exist at Pacra, the Tpin provided is fake. The business levy license is authentic though, which is quite weird."
"What about the financial statements?" I asked.
"Still checking with the bank but my guys at KPMG don't recognise the client name. How did you find yourself in this mess?" he asked.
"I am not in it," I replied.
"If you want to invest buy treasury bills or bonds. The money market is your best bet."
"Real estate?" I asked. Henry was well-versed in Investment banking, and one of the things about him that I liked was the fact that his mind was brilliant.
"Money market, because you can reinvest all your interests. Real estate is not so lucrative, maintenance fees, risks are higher and you cant trust a tenant."
"But you can trust the state?"
"I need to put some investments in place for my son."
He nodded. We were not joking around anymore. he sent me the link to the Central Bank website.
"Do some reading," he suggested.
"I am thinking of leaving my car with Lindi," i said bouncing the idea off him.
"Logical, she needs it for Thulani, why do you seem unsure."
"Chomba," I said.
"Hmmmmhummm," he mused.
"You and Lindi will always be connected because of Thulani, Chomba needs to understand that. But I doubt Lindi will be accepting that car mate," Henry said.
I knew she wouldn't but I intended to be convincing.
"She makes me so mad sometimes," I said.
"Is she still staying with Bhek?"
"No, she moved out."
"Still not taking your money?" he teased.
"It is not new, " I sulked. henry laughed remembering my rants in Uni, he always said I was lucky but gosh I was frustrated.
''You have unique problems man," he smiled.
"We can't all be single and unavailable," I said.
Henry just laughed. I looked at my watch and it was getting late. I needed to talk with Lindi before I picked up Thulani.
On the way to her house, I kept trying to find the words to tell her. I was still blank when I hooted at the complex gate and it slid open. The guard who now knew who I was because I often come over let me in. I parked outside Lindi's flat.
The door opened before I knocked.
"I heard your car," she smiled shyly letting me in. she was wearing a pair of shorts and a baggy t-shirt. Some things don't change.
"Can I get you anything?"
"No, I needed to talk to you before I get Thulani. I will be out of town," I said.
"You have been assigned?" she asked when we sat down.
I looked at her, I could see she desperately wanted to know but I couldn't tell her.
She stood up when I did not say anything. I stood up with her. Lindi liked to pace, right now I did not want her moving around in those tiny shorts while I watched.
"I will be back," I assured her. I thought she was worried about how to get Thulani to school and back since I had been helping with that.
"I will leave my car here so you can get Thulani to school..."
"It is not about that.." she said folding her arms. I was taken aback. What was it then?
"Where are you going? Is it peacekeeping?"
"Something like that," I replied.
"Is it dangerous?"
"Lindi,'' I said softly trying to calm her.
"Achi, Thulani needs you. I need to know if this assignment..."
Lindi was a doctor, I was sure she saw more of death than I was giving her credit. I powered through the memory of my first mission in Sudan, the first time I killed a man. Someone's father, brother and son, I put an end to his life. After that, I lost count of the bodies.
"I may not come back, but I will try to."
She sunk into the chair, squeezing her shoulder and her eyes shining with tears. I knelt at her feet, putting my hands on her lap, and squeezing her hands in mine. The warmth of her thighs filled me with awareness.
"I will be back," I promised trying hard to hide the fear that I felt.
She looked right at me and I felt seen. There was a softness that took over her features, when I knelt before her I hoped to comfort her, but she was comforting me at that moment. Emotions clouded judgement and I found myself kissing her.
Lips so soft and sweet, each caress evoking memories that had never died. Her soft hands held my face and the kiss that had started out to comfort was like a burning flame threatening to consume us both.
The shrill sound of my Commander's ringtone stopped me from exploring old avenues. Had it been anyone else I would have ignored the call. I stood up and answered in a clear voice despite myself. My eyes watched Lindi as she composed herself while I listened to my boss tell me that I was getting promoted after this mission. Promotions meant more missions, more missions meant more risks.
Watching Lindi, I suddenly understood why I failed to tell her I had signed up. I wanted her to leave me. I didn't want to put her through all this, but why was I kissing her just now?
I was messing everything up.