*Donna Kapira is a graduate of College of Medicine, a constituent college of the University Malawi. She was born at St. Johns Hospital in the city of Mzuzu in Malawi on 16 October 1996.She has been an avid reader of any captivating story ever since she learnt how to read. She loves science but also believes there is a writing streak in her. When she is not studying, she loves to read and write or listen to good music. She also loves meeting and making new friends
There are needles and tiny pins getting through your chest. You try to pull them out but the needles are inside your chest so you can’t remove them with your hands. The pain is unbearable. Your chest hurts, your head feels like a truck is moving on top of it. You want the pain to go away and so you try to lift your head for a good stretch, but something is pinning your head down. You panic, then fury boils from deep within your chest and threatens to choke you. You need to get up but you can’t. So you brace your throat for a good scream to call for help but as you lift your mouth, the darkness loosens its grip and your head suddenly feels lighter. Oh it feels so good. Then you remember yester night. The pain, the hurt, the anger. The tears come back and you feel like screaming again but instead you don’t. You simply stare at the two cockroaches on the opposite wall. They are playing a game it seems, oblivious to all the dreams going on in your life. You raise your hand to your cheek and you feel the rough, dry trail of tears from yesterday. Your chest feels heavy and the heat in your cheeks is back. No I must not cry. You are never going to do that to me again Richard, you scream like he is among the inhabitants of your tiny room. You are never going to do that to me again, you say it again, this time as a whisper. You realize that saying it actually brings control back into your life. There is someone else in his life, a woman that he thinks is worthy enough to receive his love. You were just a passing fantasy, that little voice says again. The heaviness weighs again on your chest without warning. It’s too much and the tears fall. Hot and aggressive. Like they are saying something. You can’t code the exact words. You just let yourself cry. Like yesterday, they fall without restraint and you let them. You don’t even make an attempt to get rid of them or stop their flow. If it were possible, you would have bucketed them as a monument. You tell yourself that you will grieve over him then will stop and move on. That will be it. You just don’t know how long this mourning period will last. You tell yourself you will cry for how he made you feel. Stupid. For making you feel like a desperado. Desperado yes. All the good moments you spent together, your phone calls and how much you never wanted them to end? What time did he speak to the other woman? You smile despite your tears because the pain hasn’t eclipsed your empathy so it seems. You are a kind young woman; you whisper to yourself. And amazing too, the voice is louder this time. You nod your head grinning to yourself despite the falling tears. Richard was the kind of man you wouldn’t fall in love with at first sight. You liked men with GQ model bodies; he was as skinny as a stray dog. You like confident men with deep rich voices but Richard carried himself like he owed everyone around money and spoke like a small boy. You like men that value a woman’s brain women but he’d made it clear to you that he would employ a man over a woman because of their gender. Oh he had his reasons for that. So what drew you to him? Well the jury is still on that matter.
You met him as an intern at his company. It was his smile that told you he’d already been through your Instagram and seen your uploads. First day you met him, he took both your hands and clasped them in his. Then he raised them to your mouth and blew a kiss across the fist. You didn’t know what to do. You needed that job and you couldn’t throw fire in his direction. You wanted so much to put him in his place. You hate such blatant shows of interest. But there was another reason why you didn’t. The other reason was the small mound of excitement that began to build across your body. Quickly you removed your hands, smiling cautiously to let him know that you needed the internship position but not his hands on your body, no matter how public the body part was. Being your mother’s daughter you had morals. The mound turned into a hill the one day you wore your purple pencil dress that accentuated your thick shape and put your thick legs well out for the highest bidder. “That dress suits you “he’d said a crinkle in his eyes. It had been in the midst of one those tea breaks where everyone was pouring tea from the electric kettle. You were sure you blushed because the warmth spread from your legs past your stomach right to your brain. Right your brain because you couldn’t locate what to say but just blushed. The other girls in the room looked at each other with knowing glances but you couldn’t pick out what.
Then the other day when you went to his office to get the manuscripts of the weekly magazine for printing, he’d stood up rounded the table and came right behind you. The hairs on your body stood on their ends. Everything was suspended in that moment as you waited for what he was going to do. You knew it was something indecent because you had seen the looks he’d been giving you. You were sure he’d done unspeakable things to your body in his mind. You felt the warmth of his bad breath on your neck. The subtle of his beard made a tantalizing move across your cheek. It felt too good to be true. Then he put his hands on your waist and tickled you. You lost your cool and giggled. It was a sound that caused the look of triumph on his face that you can’t seem to erase from your mind no matter how hard you try. You didn’t know why it had felt that wonderful though. Maybe because it had been a minute. It had been a minute since someone had touched you like that. But you were not about to get carried away, so you composed yourself, carried the newspapers without another word and left the room. You could feel his gaze on your back. But you were an only intern that was looking for solid ground in the industry so you were not about to scandalize yourself.
He began to buy you lunch. Offering lifts to and from the workplace. Even Vitu, your favorite taxi driver began to notice that there was someone in your life. You know because one day he called to ask why you no longer called him for his services. He’d commented that whoever was in your life must be a cruel person because he was then sleeping on an empty stomach. You laughed about it. Richard’s actions made you feel like a real queen. It was the way he would look at you. Like you are the only one in the room. There was that one time after you’d heard about your mother’s hospital report on the progress of her skin cancer. You were sad and depressed and you are sure it showed on your face. He found you in the tiny room you used as your office, came right behind you, put his hands on your waist and gave you a soft kiss on your neck. He didn’t say anything. Just stood behind, hands on your hips with his chin against your cheek. Then ever so softly, he kissed you on the neck again and asked in a whisper, “You look troubled, is there anything troubling you?”. It was in that moment that you knew that you had gone far too deep in whatever you had with him. You didn’t have time to sit down and describe it. But there was something. There definitely was. It was behavior you wouldn’t tolerate from anyone else under any circumstances. There was that day he’d asked you to stay behind and help him edit that week’s magazine. You were not sure of it. He was asking a lot from you. But in that lovely way you had grown to love over the few months, he leaned down and tucked a stray braid behind your ear and whispered softly, “I believe in you, you are a bright woman, please stay with me. The temptation in the air was too thick. You knew he was lying when he said he believed in you. The only thing he believed in were his raging hormones. You know because he’d made it clear that other than your physical attributes, you were “just a woman”. “Women don’t achieve much; they are busy with other things. Those women you see exceling in careers are very unhappy in their families”. Those were his favorite words. It made you wonder what had implanted that into him. He had so many examples of successful women around him. You felt the sexual tension between the two of you. You knew he was asking for more than flipping through pages of the newspaper looking for missing words, wrong spellings and incorrect grammar. And you knew the danger of staying behind with him but that force was so strong. You had been chaste throughout college because you didn’t want distractions and there was never someone that drove you to distraction like he did. Yes, maybe he was definitely the one. The marriage type. So with his bad breath on your neck, you nodded your head and said yes to everything that night.
You didn’t edit articles. You touched, you explored one another’s physicality. When he went as far as removing his pants, you put a hand over his and looked at him pleadingly. “What?” He’d asked, his voice breathless as if fresh from jogging. It’s too early for that. You told him. He touched your cheek as he pulled up his pants and marveled at your ability to think in such moments. He made a joke out of it and promised that it was going to happen one day. His promise scared the wits out of you.
It was more of the same. You told him he could only touch you and that seemed to satisfy him. At least you thought so. You loved that he never forced himself on you and that he was ever so thoughtful. You needed the job experience but also you had the desire to fight. You knew that mixing the two would never work. You thought that if only if you could work on not pissing him off, then your climb up the journalist career was a sure thing. You didn’t know how though because he kept making advances at you and each and every day your walls were crumbling down. You had done so well at keeping the men off you all through since you hit puberty. But it was so difficult to say no to him. Then you began to think of him as the father of your children. Imagining a future together. The fact that he was a writer like you are made you think it was a God-ordained path. Together you could even come up with your own publishing company. You would check your phone every now and then for a text for him, your heart going into overdrive every time he texted or called. You were getting in deep but he didn’t say anything to move the two of you forward. You told your best friend and she advised that maybe he was waiting for the perfect time. Or maybe he was giving you space. Truth is, at this time, the last thing you needed was space. You needed to be with him and call him yours. You’d caught yourself grinning to yourself so many times as you thought about your moments with him. It’s a beautiful thing to fall in love, you thought. He was no different. One day you had a fight because he’d seen that you saved him as” Richard” in your phone. He was hurt. He said Richard was too distant, not intimate at all. So you changed his contact name to Richie. He was happy. So happy. It pleased you that you had the power to hurt him too. Not that you liked hurting him, but you needed the assurance that it wasn’t just you that was too far gone. You had even gone ahead to tell your mother that you had found a potential suitor and went ahead to tell her he was not from the north. Your mother, to your surprise told you that it didn’t matter. “As long as you are happy. Sometimes the hard-hearted ones are even our own, my daughter”, she’d said. So that was a double tick. Parents’ approval. He just had to ask because you were a sure thing.
One day after 10 months of you being with the company, he invited you to a party at his house in Manja. Of course you didn’t know how to say no so you went for it. You were nervous the whole day as you prepared for the party that night. What were you going to wear? How too much was too much? Maybe this was the night he was finally going to ask you to be his girlfriend. Yes, that was what was keeping you from getting involved completely. You needed that assurance like you needed so much money in your bank account. So you chose the red conservative dress. You had to be worthy to be seen by his mother and brothers. Maybe they were going to be there. He came to pick you up around 8pm.You were trembling due to excitement. You felt special. You wanted to know what this party was all about. He smiled and told you it was just a get together of his friends. That sounded wonderful, you thought. He was actually taking you to meet his friends. Surely that was a huge step.
The party had so many more men than girls. The few girls that were there seemed like they had been picked from a brothel. Something about the way they shook their bodies on the tiny dance floor. Maybe they were friends of his boyfriends. You began to feel uncomfortable and you let Richard know. So he took you to his room and soothed your fears the only way he knew how. You felt better. While in the bedroom he tried again to remove your clothing but by now this was a familiar battle which you had gotten so good at. The words were not out of his mouth yet. So no, you assured yourself. You stopped him. Looking up into his eyes you saw tears. “What was wrong? “You asked him? He told you he couldn’t talk about it but it was hurting him. What was it? You wanted to know because naturally you were curious. He shook his head and kissed you. Whispering against your mouth, he told you that you were the woman who had given him the best days of his life. You didn’t understand and didn’t have time to ask or think because he was dragging you out of the room. You took your phone out and texted your best friend about what he’d just told you. Together you celebrated what was to come. What he was possibly going to ask. You were so happy.
You decided to take a seat beside one of the guys who was drinking and watching the girls on the dance floor. Richard told you he was going to be back with you in a while. You saw him stand and talk to one of the men that looked like they were in charge of the party. You didn’t see much because the guy on the sofa began to speak to you. He told you that he couldn’t identify you as one of those girls. It was the way he said “those girls” that said it all. And you saw his eyes rove over your body. You thanked heavens you had dressed decently. You told him it was your first party. So where do you get your customers? He’d asked. You were taken back and offended but kindly you told him you had been invited by Richard. You saw his brows lift in recognizance. “Oh the groom himself. I am sure he is having a tough time having to let go of all these wonderful girls. Marriage sure is a cage”, he shuddered exaggeratedly as he took as he took a sip of the red drink in the glass. He told you it would be years before he settled for one woman and she better be good. You were astounded. Suddenly there was a lump in your throat. You swallowed the lump in your throat but it remained. You felt like screaming in anger. That bastard.
You told the guy on the sofa that you needed to leave. You called Vitu and like the good businessman that he is, showed up within a few minutes. It was what you needed. To get away from Richard as soon as possible. It was the feeling of humiliation that hurt you the most. He didn’t even dignify you to at least let you know his intentions. He was just having fun before the “cage”. In the taxi you gave in to the tears and sobbed noisily, not caring that the taxi driver was someone you knew personally.