Another Time, Another Universe

by Aubrey Chinguwo

She could clearly tell the sense of isolation on his face that was difficult to shrug off, yet through this horror of imminent death, he felt an arm encircle his neck. He was not alone really. He would die with someone else. And there was no way she could leave him alone that night.

"Why should it be you Keith?" Kaizer gave strong shivers of horror as Keith groaned low and weak as if he had no energy left. She bit her lips to stop herself from crying but could not hold her breath. Even shouting for help became increasingly difficult. Neighbors were also intensely scared to get out of their houses after the gunshot.

"Please Keith, don't die now," she cried and grimaced with intense pain as she wiped her tears with a bare hand but all in mental discomfort.

Thoughts tussled inside her head. Poor thing, was he dying now? Suddenly she had a thought. Why shouldn't I save him? She passionately wanted him alive.

Awkwardly, she sat down, pillowing his head in her lap. She looked quite shocked at him, and nervously touched his head, stomach and finally the chest where the bullet must have gone too deep inside it. She shook his hand and noticed the faint sad smile that played about his lips. She knew God was still sparing his life and thanked the heavens.

"Don't leave me alone," he struggled with the feeble cry that sent countless paralyzing shocks down his spine, mounting wrinkles of great pain on his face. The cry reached her heart and galvanized her into an immediate action.

With a heavy heart, she laid her hands against his face and whispered in his ear, almost desperately. "I am not leaving you alone. I love you so much Keith."

With an effort, she carried him on her back and headed for her car parked outside the house. She turned the key in the ignition and the engine whirred at once. She put the gears into reverse and strenuously rolled the vehicle out.

Traffic had piled up in the street. She waited for a gap and bounced straight across the road. She drove to Kabowa hospital at a supersonic speed, a dragging sorrow coagulating her blood with a wearisome movement.

* * * * * *

For no other reason that overwhelming love, she had wept all way round the clock, and was much in need of any kind of solace to dispel her shattered hopes, not good for an expectant woman. So her temples throbbed. She braced herself against the wall as she hummed melancholy tunes, and nearly turned a full circle in an attempt to have a clear view at Keith who lay on the hospital bed sleeping, his head propped up on a pile of pillows.

The foulness that this day brought her simply evoked memories of her recent power-packed past that emerged as if from a broken chrysalis of consciousness.

"Open for me Kaizer. Let me in please" Her husband was away this day and she was home alone when the knock came on the door. She was frightened even more.

With her heart thumping percussively, she walked gently towards the curtains and rolled them open. There was a male human figure on the floor which she failed to recognize.

"Poor man, what should I do for you at this dead hour of the night?" she asked, as she staggered towards the door. Not a woman drunk from alcohol, but from shock and helplessness.

"I have come to apologize. Let me in first and I will identify myself," the man almost shouted repeatedly.

She opened the door slowly and the man rushed in without her consent.

"Please, I have to know you first. Things will not get well if my husband finds you here."

"Take it easy," the man said as he looked her from foot to head and for a moment traced the contours of her face. He was not even concerned that she was married.

Then something took a quick shape somewhere at the back of her mind.

"Keith," she heard herself say so with deep doubts in her voice.

"Yes I am. I am so sorry Kaizer."

For a moment, there was the kind of silence that could almost be felt.

Kaizer found it hard to explain everything. She broke into tears. The man she had been searching for months now and whose child she was expecting was lastly standing before her.

"I am sorry Kaizer. That's why I have come here to beg for your forgiveness." The man drew so close to her that he could smell the scent of her skin.

The two lovebirds stumbled into each other in Johannesburg, South Africa. They got along famously and spent a night together in Kempton Park the very same day.

"You ducked me in the room even before dawn broke. I was stranded to wake up without you by my side," she complained amidst sobs.

"I remember everything my dear. But that wasn't planned," he said with only a slightest hint of guilt.

However, things had taken an ugly turn when weeks later, still in South Africa, Kaizer became expectant. Whose responsibility would it be? She plunged into restless thoughts and felt as if the whole Jo'burg sky was falling apart on her, and wished the earth should open and swallow her up.

With all reasonable efforts, she searched for Keith heaven and earth and ended up in a world of imaginations.

Her Aunt chased her, forcing her to remember the man she had dated for a short period of time in Malawi.

It is with little wonder that her boyfriend Chifundo accepted the responsibility when she returned home following her situation. Hardly did Keith know these hard times.

She didn't know how Keith would welcome the story of her pregnancy.

"I am expecting your baby although I am married to another man. I don't like him. He is a thug and every time he beats me on trivial issues," she sobbed more and more, seeing her marriage with Chifundo spinning out of control.

"Why did you lie to me that you are not a Malawian?" she cried curiously in his arms.

"I still love you Keith." The extreme sadness and pains that had been there on her face eventually began to heal.

She grabbed him by hand, lifted him to her feet and looked straight into his eyes. She then made a slight movement which brought him into fleeting contact with her lips. The gentle collision reverberated through their souls. They could feel the heat of their bodies coming at other in waves.

As if that was not enough, her lips parted to his firm tongue which tentatively touched the tip of hers. That was a long exploring kiss that seemed so softer than the warm breath of summer. He then put his hands flat on her hips and pressed her so close that she could scarcely breathe.

As though by magic, the door opened vociferously and Chifundo came in with a snub barreled riffle in his hands. Keith was welcomed by a bullet which sent him sprawling onto the floor with a heavy thud.

* * * * * *

He was aware first of the vague sick smell of ether, of the feel of hospital sheets, of the cast on his chest and finally the heavy hipped figure of Kaizer embraced in a chair.

She saw him and went to sit there on the bed, close enough to touch.

"I am sorry Kaizer," his words came a little lamely. She let him know without words that she understood exactly what he was up to.

Her lips twisted to a seraphic smile as he held her tight and again whispered in her ear that he was sorry for everything bad he had done and that he was going to try his best to be a good husband from now on.

She shed tears of joy. Pretty soon he was crying too, matching her tear for tear. Finally, she dried her tears with the back of her hand and laughed about nothing at all in a gargling kind of way. She hugged him again, not certain that it was really him.

"I love you so much Keith. And I promise to give you my love forever."

"And I love you too Kaizer."

Another time, another universe, it seemed.

It did not take an hour for the too to know that Chifundo had been arrested.

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