Things went back to normal after the incident that in the end solidified the friendship amongst the four of them. They spent more and more time together hence making memories that would last a lifetime. Zuba reduced her relationship with Mr. Gihu to mere work-related interactions. When that did not work, she gathered enough strength to let it all go as she still had her inheritance to last her until the next opportunity. She quit her job at the BNetwork.
For many of her coworkers, it was as though she was admitting that she still had feelings for Mr. Gihu while he was moving on with the new hire in the public relations department. To her friends, if she was no longer involved with Mr. Gihu, all was well. To Zuba, it was more than what she was feeling, it was the words of Mrs. Gihu, the trip to Kigali, and more. She had a better understanding of the world and of herself on a deeper level, which made her want to start her life over in a way.
Meanwhile, Kwezi and her mother had been texting each other more than once a day. All of Zuba’ s efforts had not been in vain after all. A month later, Kwezi finally accepted her mother’s invite to dinner on the condition that it be held at her house and not her mother’s. There were still some memories she did not want to awaken by going back to the house she grew up in. Zuba offered to help Kwezi prepare the dinner while Butoyi grabbed the drinks.
Bukuru was not in the mood lately as his ex-wife had completely canceled the Christmas trip from Brussels to Bujumbura with their kids with no plan of going back on her words. The three friends decided to give Bukuru a little bit of space while checking on him daily and throwing out the beer bottles whether full or half-empty on his coffee table. The news had taken its toll on him. The three of them had to better figure out something soon to stop him from spiraling into depression.
When Saturday came, Zuba got up early to help Kwezi set everything up for the dinner.
She found Kwezi in bed,
“What are you doing? I thought you had to go get your hair and nails done in a few?” Zuba asked.
“I don’t know about all this. I think I should slow down with the mother situation. You know, give myself a month or two before making such a huge step.”
“You’re not chickening out now, are you?”
“No, of course not! It’s called being smart, strategic, level-headed.”
“Listen Kwezi,” Zuba said as she pulled out the blanket and left Kwezi no choice but to sit down, “Between me and you, it’s okay to admit you’ve been waiting on this day a long time and you’re just a little scared. You never really know until you know. I may have gone to Kigali hoping that my mother and I would be in a better place by now but even if I didn’t get what I wanted, doesn’t mean I did not get what I needed. I have no regrets because I tried. I no longer sit up wondering what things would be like if I had the courage to go to Kigali. I did that. I must say, I am proud of myself for it.”
Although a lump of hurt could be heard beneath Zuba’ s voice, it was true that it took a whole other level of courage from Zuba to make that step. Kwezi saw that her friend was opening about the aftermath of the reunion and asked,
“Do you wish to have done things a little differently?”
“Yes, but it doesn’t matter now,” Zuba replied.
“Why not, maybe you’d have gotten a different result.”
“True. But there’s always going to be a billion ways to do something and I did the one I felt compelled to do. I think if I were to have planned all of it more carefully to the last detail, it wouldn’t have been organic.”
“Maybe not. But…”
“Enough with me Kwezi, you need to get up and start getting ready.”
Kwezi obeyed and went to take a shower while Zuba poured herself a cup of tea while watching a documentary on wild animals. It was interesting to see how the wild animals behaved in their natural habitat compared to when they are put in a cage at the zoo.
Half an hour later, Kwezi showed up in the living room in a large Dashiki shirt and sandals.
“I’ll be back in an hour I think.” Kwezi said.
“Would you like for me to go grocery shopping then we can meet up here for lunch?”
“Yes, that’d be great.”
Kwezi handed Zuba the grocery list and they both drove out of the gates in separate directions. Butoyi then called Zuba on her way to the market,
“B, wassup? How are we doing?”
“Good…Great…I just keep wondering whether there is someone under this sun as great as I am. And I must say I can’t find no one.”
“Of shut up B! I can think of a couple of people right now!”
“Yea, but Mr. Gihu doesn’t count Zu. I know y’all may have had some great times, but you never let me show you better times, so you wouldn’t know!”
“That’s disgusting B! Grow up!”
“That’s grown up stuff Zu, anyway I managed to get Bukuru an interview tomorrow afternoon at the Belgium embassy.”
“WHAAAAT??? SHUUT UP!!! DON’T PLAY WITH ME!!” Zuba screamed for a minute and luckily her car windows were up so people in the streets could only watch her scream and not hear her.
“Who’s the GOAT now?”
“Still ain’t you but damn B. Thank youuuuu!”
Zuba couldn’t believe it and insisted Butoyi joins her and Kwezi for lunch, which he could not decline. Zuba then quickly bought everything on the grocery list all the while having fun listening to the women street vendors talking amongst themselves. The women in a way represented her absent mother and she had so much respect for them; for staying with their families and trying to make ends meet whether they were teen-moms, widows, divorcees, or simply married women.
Zuba was early to arrive at Kwezi’ s house so she started to prepare lunch. Kwezi joined later when the pilau and the beef was ready. Kwezi was preparing the plantains when Butoyi showed up.
“How are the sexy ladies in my life doing?” Butoyi announced himself.
Zuba ran and gave him a big tight hug as he lifted her up. Zuba’ s circle might have grown smaller over the years, but it was tighter than superglue. To have Butoyi go out of his way and use his connections to make sure Bukuru gets an interview for his Schengen visa even though they had only known each other a few months.
“Still can’t believe you did that!” Zuba said.
“Look at you finally bringing something good to life!” Kwezi added.
“I wouldn’t expect you to know the good things I bring to life Kwezi. But let me know when you’re ready.” Butoyi responded.
Kwezi and Zuba rolled their eyes as Butoyi was a handful to say the least.
“Can you set the table B?” Kwezi asked.
“Really? A man can no longer sit in 2018. You must find something for him to do?”
“You’re eating too right?! That’s very little to ask!”
Butoyi set the table and half an hour later the house was filled with joy and laughter as they made fun of each other.
“What time is you mom coming for dinner?” Butoyi asked.
“7PM.” Kwezi replied.
“Are you nervous?”
A long silence followed before Kwezi shared,
“I really don’t want to bring up the past with her but somehow I feel like it is going to be like the big elephant in the room. I am just not ready to unpack all the things I’ve held onto over the years. I just want a normal, quiet mother-daughter dinner.”
“I feel you K. You might wanna start easy. Maybe your next dinner you can talk about that. Think of this as a first date.” Zuba said.
“Well that’s not quite a good example as we all know some women in this room who like unpacking a few things on the first date.” Butoyi added.
“F*ck you B! Grow up or sum damn!” Zuba replied.
The afternoon went by fast as Kwezi and Zuba prepared for dinner while Butoyi stayed for moral support.
“You guys should leave, she’ll be here soon.” Kwezi said after changing her clothes into a chic jumpsuit and sandals.
“I think it’s better if we first make sure you’re okay once she gets here.” Zuba suggested.
At 7.10pm, a honk from outside caught their attention and Kwezi asked the housekeeper to open the gates.
The three friends stood outside of the driveway and watched Mama Kwezi get out of her car with several bags. Although Butoyi was not fond of her, he decided to help the housekeeper bring the bags of what appeared to be fruits and juices. Kwezi stayed still while Zuba said hi to Mama Kwezi and stood beside her.
“Good to see you two together.” Zuba said to break the ice.
The two women then took a step forward and hugged for a minute. When their eyes met, both were full of tears. It was joy and the sentiment of a withheld hope of a reunion.
Zuba went inside the house to get Butoyi so they could visit Bukuru and give Kwezi the space she needed with her mother. Before leaving, they checked on Kwezi to see whether she was truly fine being along with her mother.
“Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” Zuba asked.
“Yes I am. You guys go on and check on Bukuru.” Kwezi replied.
“ We’re one phone call away Kwezi if you need us to take care of your mother for you.” Butoyi added.
“I don’t think that will be necessary.” Kwezi replied with a smile. She was holding herself back from bursting with happiness. The question that everyone asked themselves was where the anger Kwezi had held on for so long against her mother gone?
Zuba and Butoyi finally left and made it to Bukuru’ s when he was asleep on the couch in the living room. For a second, they were both scared that he wasn’t asleep but rather gone. They shook him, and he groaned. He was high and drunk so Butoyi forced him to drink water while Zuba cooked something quick.
A few hours later, they were all sitting in the living room, stomach full and Bukuru in a better shape after a long shower.
“Bukuru, we have something to tell you.” Zuba started.
“Something happened to my family?” Bukuru started panicking.
“No, you silly!” Zuba answered.
“Where is Kwezi? Is she okay?” Bukuru asked.
“Yes, so Butoyi got you an interview at the Belgium embassy tomorrow morning.”
“For you to get a visa and surprise your family for the holidays, duh!” Zuba added.
“My ex-wife does not want to see me.” Bukuru said.
“No one is asking you to go see your wife, it’s your kids you’re going to see.” Butoyi said as he felt for the old man. To have his own blood being so far and not being allowed to even see them for Christmas was torture.
“I’ll think about it.” Bukuru said.
“No, you won’t. I’ll be here 8AM and we are going to that embassy together.” Zuba said.
Bukuru scratched his nearly bald head and turned to Butoyi,
“This woman never gives up!”
“Tell me about it!” Butoyi replied.
“Guys, I can hear you!” Zuba added.
Zuba and Butoyi left Bukuru with clear instructions to stay away from alcohol and drugs for the night as he had to show his best self to the visa officer. Butoyi offered to pick them up the next morning.
Sure enough, the next day Butoyi showed up at Zuba’s at 7.30AM and they drove to Bukuru’s shortly afterwards. Bukuru spent almost an hour with the visa officer while Butoyi and Zuba got breakfast at the Café Gourmand and met up with him later.
“How was it?” Zuba asked all the while excited.
“I don’t know, I’ll have to wait a week to find out!” Bukuru replied.
“You’ll get it I’m sure.” Butoyi said.
The three of them ended up going to the beach afterwards to join Kwezi who was already chilling there since early morning. The fifteen minutes’ drive was smooth, and no one spoke as they all got carried away by the breathtaking view of the city. It did not take much to spot where Kwezi was sited at, a few bottles were already on the table.
“Hey fam, we going to Belgium or what?” Kwezi asked.
“They said they’d get back to me next week,” Bukuru replied.
“There’s no way they’ll decline your visa request…”
They all ordered lunch and especially asked for a a few Moet champagnes to be brought in celebration of the good things happening in Kwezi and Bukuru’ s lives.
“So how was it with your moms last night?” Zuba asked.
“Surprisingly very emotional. I’m meeting her up for dinner tonight at a restaurant…” Kwezi replied.
It warmed Zuba’ s heart to know her best friend had finally reunited with her mother and that through her, she could vicariously live her dream to one day be in the same position with her mother.
* Chapter Eight – Finale *