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In due time.

By Grace CT Murukayi

“Before I say much, I am thrilled with the content I extracted from your essays. I must say, I am impressed.” There was a round of applause and he continued, “The amount of negativity cast upon this generation is mostly for nothing because they clearly put the effort in this work and are very familiar with their technology. Without wasting any time, I shall now announce the results. Also, you should take note that it was not an easy task”, said the etiquette gentleman as he adjusted his tie. There was a moment of silence as anticipation hovered in the air around.

Chandapiwa was a very intelligent and determined girl who, by observation and expectation, was worn out by the ruthless crowd she called her family. So she hadn’t really thought her life would turn out like this. Not that she ever thought of it anyway. She was six years into the abuse and at age sixteen, she was emotionally stronger than most middle-aged persons. As she made her way expectantly to the venue, she was glad she’d met someone who understood her, who gave her more reason to turn her imagination into word by sharing his own story. He was the only friend she ever kept. They all never really understood her. After all, she was the introvert of introverts and Philani had exhumed the extrovert in her. She certainly understood that people needed common ground to relate. Hopefully, they were going to reap something out of their union. “Topela tobona”, she thought out loud. With a sigh, she quickened her pace and walked head high and shoulders back to witness her fate. And only God knows they might toast in the aftermath.

“Mfana utshiye ugezise laba bantwana ungakahambi, an old man needs his rest.” the old man quacked. “Yeah right.” Philani fumed to himself. All his father ever did was go to work, eat, watch TV, beat him times 3! Sleep and repeat. He never missed doing any of his “chores”. He was praying that one of these days will be the last time he lay a finger on him. At least Chanda and he had gotten an opportunity of a lifetime, to write a short story, individually or as a duo like they had done. You know what they say, two heads are better than one.

Their meeting was a blessing in disguise and he was cocksure they would get the scholarships and all the other legitimate stuff that was on the prize list. Energy doesn’t lie. At least the sponsor was kind enough to reach out to the best five he remembered. It would be a relief to Chanda. She had lost her parents at 10 and forced to live with her paternal aunt and her husband. She had submitted to the aunt’s insults about her parents and how their witchcraft had turned against them and she might as well be a goblin for all she knows. Kwaks! That was very ridiculous. Sadly her uncle had violated her female rights every night, making sure to clear all evidence and leave her with a story without substance. Poor girl. But who was he to pity her when he got beaten every day like he was popping ARVs, of which he was. His naive mother had contracted the virus and given it to his father and himself. This was why his father loathed him. He believed he was the product of his mother’s mischief But their striking resemblance proved otherwise. Who has time for paternity tests in this community of ours? And because his mother had died before his sire could unleash all the anger on her, he’d been the one to take the fall. He’d taken the beatings as therapy sessions, a hobby to refresh from all the stigma from school and all. He was very grateful to the youth club that even after he quit, he managed to come out with a friend. And as a matter of fact, he had to get going to his friend else he would miss the results announcement, after waiting for six unbearable months.

As they sat there side by side, mouth shut and their fingers crossed, the pressure of their intertwined hands told each how nervous the other was. Since they had both failed to confide in the nation’s justice system, they were pretty much hoping this would mark the beginning of a new race, a clean one. They had been taken for granted by those close to them and they felt inferior and vulnerable because it would have been biting the hand that feeds. As Mr Spokesperson here, precisely Mr Solani cleared his throat to commence the prize-giving, something tightened in Philani’s gut and Chandapiwa felt as if she was going to burn her skin off. The first three prize winners in descending order were called and the moment became tenser with each passing second a loss and gain somehow. And in a gif, they were smiling ear to ear, trotting in shock and disbelief as it dawned to them that their hard work and effort had paid off and it was worthy. Whatever Mr Solani said passed in a blur as they marvelled at their triumph. As they sat there, the sun shining as if in an alliance, they were both certain that they had begun the journey of a thousand miles with one huge step of teamwork. There was hope for the future.