By Mwizenge S. Tembo, Ph. D.
Professor of Sociology
My sweet Linda Jitanda chipesha mano (one who kills my brain), Linda’s shorter friend Anna, and myself were standing on the side of the quiet desolate side of the tall Kwacha House NAMBOARD Headquarters Office building on the Northern end of Cairo Road in Lusaka the capital city of Zambia. I felt a turmoil of raw emotions; anger, unfulfilled desire of lust, love, boiling rage heating in my chest, hate, sorrow, disappointment and bitter sweetness. The day, my life and everything had turned upside down. My lover Linda the woman of my dreams was 3 months pregnant by another despicable man her parents forced her to marry in the village. Our love was shattered. Our future together was chaotic, hanging in the balance, and unknown.
I rested my left elbow against the wall and tilted my palm against the side of my head. Linda was standing close to me with her hands crossed on her bosom staring up far into the empty blue sky with her anguished face full of a million emotions. Her darting eyes glazed with welled tears. She was in pain. All three of us said nothing. Another noisy goods train thundered by with loud bellows of the siren at the Great East Road railway road crossing.
“Ba Tembo,” Linda suddenly said looking at me. “Niyenda, (I am going) …something truck something ….1600 hours Lubama Market.”
“Ba Tembo” Anna said. “Linda ati ayenda. Truck yamene anabwera nayo na cousin wake wuja mwamuna yiyenda to Mwinilunga pa sixteen hours kuja ku Lubama Market to KuKamwala. Kazeni wake wuja mwamuna amene a draiva truck ya nsomba.(Linda is going back to Luburma Market in Kamwala. The fish truck her cousin is driving is leaving for Mwinilunga at 16 hours.)
I was quiet for a while. Though my whole heart and body were overwhelmed with heavy excruciating painful emotions, there was still something I could not explain; I could not put my finger on it. I felt feelings of intense sweet bitterness when I was with Linda Jitanda. It is as if I was before an angel or a god. How could this be? My weak heart admired her heart of courage and her recklessness risky abandon to see me, which the madness that is love sometimes creates.
“I will escort you to Lubama Market,” I said. “Let’s go.”
We walked along Cairo Road toward Kamwala. Linda looked intently at everything she saw along Cairo Road. Her eyes darted from the store window shopping displays, to people and especially what young women were wearing. She stared at young women’s high-heeled shoes as if she was wondering how do they walked in those tiny tall things? She would point and make a comment to Anna in Kaonde. She would then glance at me breaking a tiny sweet crooked killer smile at the corner of her mouth.
“Ba Tembo, ha! Guuud ha!! Bu-utifu!” she would say to me in her pretense English.
She reminded me of myself when I first visited Lusaka and Cairo Road in 1969. I had looked at and observed everything very intently because I knew I had to describe and tell everyone back in the village how Cairo Road looked like; especially the most fascinating things and about people of a bustling metropolis that is famous city of Lusaka.
After passing Mwaiseni Stores at the Southern end of Cairo Road, we turned left. We crossed the railroad tracks and the tunnel underneath the Independence Avenue. We emerged into the vast Lubama Market which has everything. This whole shopping area used to be called the second class trading area. During the British colonial days in the 1940s and 50s, only Whites were allowed to shop at the first class shops along Cairo Road. Africans, Zambians, or blacks were restricted to the Kamwala Shopping Center which was called at the time second class trading area.
Lubama Market has tons upon tons of stalls of salaula or used clothes. It has beans, peas, rice, charcoal, bicycle parts, car parts, traditional roots medicines, all kinds of unprocessed tobacco, and live chickens. We meandered our way deep into the market passed fresh Kafue fish and vegetable vendors into the nshima area. I told Linda and Anna I wanted to buy them nshima. Anna told us she would get the money from me for her nshima that she would buy and eat by herself just a few nshima stalls from us. We could see her. She wanted to give us our last moments together alone although we could not communicate in Kaonde or Lusaka Nyanja or English. Anna was very thoughtful.
Linda and I both ordered nshima with chicken. Normally, there would be 2 separate plates; one for her and one for me. But I told the sever to combine and make the nshima and ndiyo (relish) into one. We ate quietly savoring what both of us must have known could be our last moments together as lovers. It was the best nshima I had eaten in a long time. I knew she was probably unusually hungry since she was 3 months pregnant.
As we were finishing eating, a man approached Anna and said something to her in a raised urgent voice.
“Ba Tembo! Linda!” Anna shouted. “Truck yiyenda manje ku Mwinilunga!(The truck is leaving for Mwinilunga.)
It was Linda’s cousin whom I had seen with Linda at Sinjonjo Bar in Mongu. He avoided meeting me. We quickly washed our hands. I warmly gripped Linda’s right soft hand in both of my hands in what could be our final last moment ever to eternity. She slowly lifted her left hand to reach for my face and gently rubbed the right cheek of my face.
“Bye-bye husband Tembo,” she whispered. “L a fu yu, good husband, God bless you forever.”
I was suddenly tongue tied as something was lodged in my throat. I was speechless and teary eyed. A tear dropped from her left eye.
“Linda Jitanda,” I whispered. “You are such a beautiful a woman. I will love you forever. God bless you too! I hope we can see each other in the future again; may be in heaven.”
She pulled away, I let go of her hand as she turned with an anguished face and walked away disappearing behind the Lubama Market stalls as I stared at her heavenly luscious figure behind her beautiful chetenje. I knew right there and then that the turmoil, turbulence, and earthquake of deep emotional pain was just starting for me. The next few minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and even for the rest of my life, my heart was going to ache, cry blood and sing my painful personal national anthem: “Linda Jitanda is gone!!”
**If you loved this story, this author published “The Bridge” a highly acclaimed romantic thriller novel in 2005 that reflects deep aspects of our Zambian culture. The Ministry of Education Curriculum Development CDC) in April 2015 approved or accepted the book to be used as a supplementary reader for grades 10 – 12 in the Zambian Secondary School Literature syllabus. An application with the Zambia Examinations Council was filed for the book to be adopted by Secondary School in June 2016. Please kindly contact Zambia Examinations Council to urge them to adopt the book.