“We’ve been walking for a while now, where are we going Angie?” Mayja spoke his frustration for the umpteenth time since they left the facility engulfing in flames. “Trust me..” Angie begun to reply before she noticed that Mayja and Mulenga had stopped walking alongside her. The pair stopping to protest their displeasure at being made to walk around without a known destination. “What are you two doing?” Angie asked walking back to join the pair. “I haven’t seen you in along time and Mulenga doesn’t remember ever seeing you. We don’t want another ambush” Mayja whispered as soon Angie was besides them.
“First meeting in forever, now, my life’s work is in flames and you clearly know alot more than you’re telling us, which makes both of us uncomfortable to be with you” Mayja aired more of his displeasure towards Angie in whispered tones. “You both seem interested to discuss everything right now. When I do it, I don’t want to be whispering. You’ve seen the danger first hand for yourselves. I’d like to get off the streets as fast as possible, then we can talk.” Angie responded to Mayja’s uncertainty in her normal tone, loud enough for any passerby to hear. Mayja’s hands flew into the air as his bottom jaw fell open at Angie’s lack of discretion.
“At least tell us where we are going?” Mulenga finally chimed into the conversation. “Fair enough,”Angie responded without skipping a beat “Her name is Marian, she has light in her heart, she was also once my teacher, you will need a teacher, Mulenga.” Angie looked towards Mulenga as if nothing else in the world mattered but her. Mulenga opened her mouth to speak but she sensed a hint of sorrow behind Angie’s words and nothing felt appropriate to say without prolonging their stand in the dark, instead she just stared at Angie.
Across streets the area dividing Kabwata and Libala from each other, through an open car window, two things could hardly ever be misunderstood, the sound of laughter and the smell of food. Black curly hair, cornrows at the sides of her head, an afro the rest of the head. Dark chocolate skin tone, shortest in every room, but considered top ten most influential people on the planet. More could be said about the lady of the night, who passed round offering free food and free housing to anyone willing to follow. She opened the food truck and immediately a queue was forming to collect their free meals.
“Pass me the plates, let’s give out and go home.”
The lady said this almost 10 times in the half hour the job of giving out food took. When all were fed and the queue was long gone, the food truck started to clean and close up. The lady walked outside allowing the younger ones to finish packing the remaining food for anyone who might be in need. She just stood in the middle of the road, afro blowing with the night wind, taking the night in, as if she was awaiting some unknown visitor. “Marian, is that you?” Angie asked with excitement in her voice as she stopped herself from jumping up and down.
“Very few people call me by name, are you friend or foe?” Marian asked without turning towards the source of the noise. “I am neither, for I am family, Ma.” Angie spoke relieved to have found their rescue. Marian stood her stance not bothering to face the source of the noise. “Only one person has the gall to call me, Ma.” Marian laughed her to herself “Angie, what brings you searching for a safe haven after all these years?” Marian turned to face Angie with a wide grin plastered on her face.
Back in Marian’s truck Angie and Marian talked back and fourth like two best friends catching up after summer vacation. Mayja and Mulenga sat next to the pair stunned by the lack of concern for their guests. “I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but where are we going Angie, and who is this?” Mulenga spoke calmly hoping to get her questions answered at some point. “Angie who is this child with your inquisitive eyes?” Marian asked with no regard to answer Mulenga’s question. “I took your advice, took her and ran off, left her by the first orphanage I could. Then I kept on running to throw them off the trail.”
Angie spoke more to Mulenga than anyone else in the truck. The truck was slowing down as it approached a gate, two guards went to the rear of the truck opening it to confirm number of people with the truck, as one guard remained posted at the gate. As soon as they noticed Marian, they rushed to open the gate with previous signs of hesitation forgotten. The car drove up a lengthy road before finally parking, the driver and his passenger got out leaving Marian with her guests. “This place can seem really big at first, you’re welcome to stay as long as you need, and you girl, I hope to see you at practice tomorrow morning.” Marian looked at Mulenga as she spoke with a carefree demeanor before letting herself out of the truck with a sigh.
“These rides keep getting more uncomfortable as I age” Marian said to no one in particular once outside the truck. “Angie will show you around, you have lots of questions, I can tell. Take a shower, eat and if you still have the energy to talk tonight, then we will talk” Marian spoke before walking through the largest doors Mulenga had ever seen. Mulenga could see green grass as far as her eyes would allow her. The buildings surrounding the grass all looked aged, like something out of every fantasy movie she’d watched growing up. The front of the building that Marian had walked through was decorated with polished stones covering the entire front of the entrance.
Above the large oak doors was written, “Welcome to Chikwendo; Home of the Insanely Gifted”