A few hours later after she had sent Mr. Gihu to his house, Zuba decided to pay a visit to her much older neighbor – Bukuru, a single old man whose wife and kids had abandoned in Burundi and started a new life in Belgium. His bank account had suffered when his pharmaceutical company went out of business against one of his competitors a few years ago. Bukuru had gone on a downward spiral afterwards, drank more often and was aggressive towards anyone who came close to him. As a safety measure, his wife had taken the little money she had stacked over the years and started a new life with their two sons far away from him. The divorce papers had been handled by their respective lawyers and the two had agreed that once their oldest son turned fifteen, they would come back and visit Bukuru for Christmas.
At the beginning of the year, Bukuru had been able to withdraw from alcohol and instead just smoked weed every night. He had admitted to Zuba one day that he was doing it for his kids, “I don’t know how much they remember of me, but it isn’t pretty for sure. I am hoping that this December they can see their dad in his best shape so hopefully I can quit smoking too. I have started going to the gym, you know, in case they run around hoping I can catch them.”
Obviously Bukuru was either in denial or he truly believed that everything would go back to normal once the kids were back home for Christmas. On the other hand, Zuba could not stand Bukuru’s ex-wife as she felt Bukuru had been betrayed at the very moment of his life when he needed support. One night in a heated argument with his ex-wife over the kids schooling, Zuba had witnessed Bukuru cry for the first time. She had then confessed, “I wish she would show up here! The woman is a manipulator and an opportunist, maybe this divorce was the best thing that ever happened to you.” Zuba was all in her feelings as her hate towards women in general was justified; the signs were out there even when she wasn’t looking. It was a woman who had abandoned her, another who had bullied and excommunicated her, dozens of others who in one way or another had betrayed her. She was safe around men for the most part.
Tonight, Bukuru was going to provide a small bag of weed that she would bring to Butoyi for his services. As he always said, “Anyone who wishes to encounter heaven alone is selfish.” Bukuru was mostly generous with his marijuana.
On her way to Butoyi’s house Zuba bought some fruits and vegetables from the street vendors. All women. Not the ones she could not stand. No. These women were giving up comfort to feed their kids. These were goddesses in her eyes and although she could afford going to the supermarket or even send her housekeeper to do the groceries, she loved listening to their conversations. Despite her own effort to obliterate the silent voice within her that longed for some feminine energy, she still spent her Sunday afternoons at the café near the women’s fruit stands. Sometimes she would offer to pay for their lunch or buy the remaining items for double the price.
The white Toyota Rav 4 honked at Butoyi’s gate by 6.45PM. A young man came and opened, Zuba drove through.
“I told you to come at 7.30PM, what exactly are you doing here?” said Butoyi.
“Jeez! Aren’t you happy to see me?” Zuba replied, “Is that how you greet people now by shooing them away?”
Zuba got out of her car and took out the groceries. She felt like a big sister to Butoyi and every now and then she would stop by and bring some groceries on the pretext that he would die of hunger otherwise. Butoyi was an orphan who had managed to take himself through school and ended up being one of the biggest programmers in the city. Although several of his extended family now tried to claim him, he had already established his family amongst his close friends. The two had met four years ago outside of the Cabana Club, Zuba on the night of her Grandmother’s funeral, him on his graduation night. He had gotten into a fight and was too high to defend himself, Zuba left her then boyfriend to drive him home and the rest is history.
Butoyi rushed to help carry the bags inside.
“You have to stop coming unannounced, I could have had a girl over!” he shot a glance at Zuba who mocked him.
“If you had a girl over, you wouldn’t have bothered texting me” she said, “unless by girl you mean the ones you virtually meet up with online when no one is watching”
“Well at least they ain’t married.” he said.
An awkward silence followed, she felt a little lump of hurt.
“Hey, I’m joking” he added, “We all have our days when we need our fix right? As I am sure you don’t hold back on him.
Zuba threw the bag of mangoes at him “FUCK YOU!”
“Nah, I’m good love, enjoy.”
In his two-story house, Butoyi could afford having a game room with a pool table that the two enjoyed very much. They chose to spend the evening drinking and playing games on his PS4.
“Where’s that good stuff?” he asked.
“Here,” she said as she handed the little plastic bag, “tell me where I can find Mama Kwezi.”
He then sat up straight on the couch facing her.
“Look don’t get mad at me but…”
“Stop playing with me, what’s the address?” she asked impatiently.
“So I could not find her but…” he admitted, “I know where she goes on Sundays”
“I don’t wanna know” Zuba replied as she took one last sip of her drink and got up, ready to leave.
“Listen,” Butoyi grabbed her arm “you don’t have to go inside the church, they close at 12.30PM so you can just go around that time. I just sent you a photo of her and the address.”
Zuba sat down and admitted, “You know I can’t go anywhere near a church plus this project is demanding way more than I had anticipated.”
The two knew how to support one another and this was time for Butoyi to not let his friend give up on her dream too soon. “ You can’t just back down because it just got harder, you are better than that!” he said.
“Maybe but I’m gonna need to find some other woman to be my first guest for the show and I have less than a month left.”
“Worst case scenario” Butoyi added, “You and I can go into business if you need the money. We can open a sort of playboy mansion in the city as I already have some investors in mind.”
This made her smile, Butoyi was never going to change and he will always be able to divert whatever worries she had.
“You’re a psycho ma dude!” she said.
“We could even open a sex-ed school for couples, so they can spice things up instead of one of them ending up in your bed.”
The two of them pillow fought for five minutes while the game was still going and ended up on the floor laughing from their jokes.
“You think I’m a terrible person for sleeping with a married man B?” she asked.
“No but I think you deserve much better than that.”
Zuba still chose to not meet his gaze and instead stared at the chandelier on the ceiling.
“We have history together Mr. Gihu and I but…” she said, “It is not my intention to take him from his wife.”
“I know” he admitted, “you don’t want to commit and the only group of people in this country who want the same thing as you do happen to be married or are too immature.”
“ I am just going to pretend you did not call me immature,” she said.
“Zuba,” he said, “have you thought that maybe this whole shenanigan of trying to produce a show that attempts to reconcile mothers with their daughters is more your spirit calling you to reach out to your mother and talking things out?”
“Well, look who’s turned pastor in one night!”
“I am serious Zu, healing is not a transferrable energy and watching those relationship become repaired won’t fix yours.”
Zuba stood up and got ready to leave as she always did when things got too personal.
“At best, I will be doing something right for once and at worst it will give me the courage to entertain the idea of talking to my mother after ten years of no communication,” she said before kissing him goodbye.
On her way home Zuba had considered going to the church Butoyi had mentioned at least a hundred times and chickened out every time. An hour later when Zuba was back in her home, she took a glass out of the cupboard, poured herself some Pinot Grigio, and fell asleep on her couch. Tomorrow she would either recoil in front of adversity or face one of her greatest fears, in which case a good night sleep was exactly what she needed.
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* Chapter Three *