In the inner most parts of Zambia lay a small quiet town where true friendship was rare and so cherished and where pure love was most sought after and when found, treated as gold there was a young lady of age in her vital age, staying with relatives and going by the name of Nalukui. Nalukui though mostly hidden was a very pretty girl, so pretty that when glanced at from a distance men forgot they were married, when boys saw pass by she not only became their topic of discussion but also caused their voices to have tremors as she had left them breathless. She was a beauty without question, so adorable you would think God created her first, and then created Adam. Even other young girls were made to look absurd by Nalukui because on one hand she made them fantasize on being her friend and on the other hand they wanted to lock their boyfriends in the armpits so that Nalukui wouldn’t snatch them away.
However even with the beauty that Nalukui had there was something about her that set her apart, something different that was consistently proving that it was stronger than her beauty, something that had equalled the wrath, ferocity and wake of a beast… the beast that had now tormented her all her life; the fact that she was born deaf and dumb. Nalukui couldn’t hear anything and she couldn’t say anything. Sound can be very scary when it is loud and unexpected and so you would consider it a blessing for this girl because she never hears it yet to the contrary the fact that she doesn’t know sound is what has locked in her the burden of fear all her life and worse still the burden grows heavier as she is unable to speak out her fears as she is forever pieced by the feeling that as eyes look at her, they mock her. If you could read minds, in reference to her condition you would hear this girl say my thorn in the dark.
Nalukuyi stays with three cousins, two girls and a boy and the boys next door only stopped hitting on her about three weeks ago. These days they only wave at her when they are on their veranda, giving her smiles which she doesn’t take time to judge the sincerity of. The one thing that helps her get by is that she’s a big fun of novels and she reads them enthusiastically. One particular one that she hasn’t been able to put down is one done by Paul Muuma entitled “Love, My Addiction” and she was just about to sit down in the kitchen and read it for the fifth time when as she saw something move and when she looked up, she saw a guy standing by the kitchen door, the guy waved and his lips moved, seemingly saying something but she didn’t want him to disturbed her reading so she looked back on the pages of the novel. Then quickly her cousin came in a rush from the sitting room.
“Tom, hi.” The cousin greeted.
“Hi Joyce, I’m here asking for the bottle of cold water but the girl there is ignoring me!” He said quite loudly, sarcastically so that Nalukui could hear him and may be acknowledge that she was being rude.
“Uh, Tom, that’s my cousin, she’s deaf… so I’m sorry if somehow you felt she was being rude.”
“Oh… no way!” Tom couldn’t believe it. He felt a pinch without knowing where it came from.
“Yeah, and besides she’s reading her favourite novel…” she goes to the fridge and Tom looks at Nalukui, her beauty then catches his eye like a leech. His gaze lingers on her until her eyes look up at him, caught red-handed and he quickly looks away and then braves it, there’s nothing as gallant as staring into the eyes of beauty and the thrill was that she too was staring back at him and in that moment their hearts collided, their souls met. Until Nalukui quickly stood up and ran to the bedroom. Joyce came to the door with a frozen container,
“Yeah, she doesn’t really hit off with boys… but neither does she run off like that,” she said as she looked back then she looked at Tom, “what did you do, sign language?”
“No, I just looked at her.”
“Later…” then Joyce went back to the sitting.
Tom went back to the house disturbed, his conscious was quite shaken, moved with sympathy and burdened with sorry in his heart all over the fact that the girl was deaf. He found himself wishing there was something he could do to help her, perhaps cater to her, hopefully heal her. Perceivably ‘lay hands on her’ but the last time he checked he was two weeks ago at the UNZA recreational centre getting baptized in liquor as opposed to being at the Christian centre being baptized in the Holy Spirit so him being a tongue speaking born again Christian was out of the picture consequently ‘praying’ for her wouldn’t help. He just genuinely wished he could make her life better as he sipped on some called juice as he was standing in the kitchen.
“So you’ve met Nalukui?” A brother of his asked, then Tom turned around.
“Who’s that?” Tom asked.
“The opposite door neighbour, Joyce’s cousin…”
“Yeah, why didn’t you guys tell me she’s deaf?”
“And dumb?” The brother rubbed salt into Tom’s wound.
“Wha???” Tom was further dismayed. “She’s dumb too?”
“Sad huh, though her beauty makes up for that in a major way, you don’t know how many guys have tried to get with her since she came but up to now no one has succeeded.”
“Really?” Tom said, then he saw her come out and sit on the veranda, again just like the first time he stared at her and found her stealing glances at him as well. He smiled and she blushed, showing innocent jitters. Tom came out trying to approach her but before he could reach her she had already run into the house. As if stalling him she made his desire for her gear up. Then he reached the door and knocked then Joyce came to answer.
“Hey Joyce do you mind calling her for me, even for a minute, just want to talk to her.” He said.
“…Even if she won’t hear you?” Joyce asked.
“I’ll do whatever I can to cut across to her…” then Joyce went and called Nalukuyi then came back and told Tom that she was coming.
In a moment Nalukui came slowly, Tom’s countenance glowed again, she reached him and looked straight at him. There was a spark in his eyes that she hadn’t seen in anyone else and he tapped his chest just at the position of his heart then pointed at her and she blushed. Just like the others he was also under the Nalukui spell but there was something genuine about him that she just couldn’t place a finger on then suddenly she saw him do crazy things with his hands, trying his dumbest to get across to her with promise, love and desire. For a minute she felt a pinch through the unfulfilled desire to actually hear his voice, she could see funny pictures of his face, trying to connect the motion of his hands with the movement of his lips but couldn’t get a hint at anything or if she did, it was blocked by the realization that tom was a dark-chocolate, tall and luscious plus insanely handsome man but fear crept into her heart again, the fear that he just wanted her for her looks, perhaps to just use her and dispose her because it was painful to have someone and that same someone doesn’t understand her world, she didn’t know if she could trust him, and just there she just ran off on him again.
In her bedroom tears hugged her pillow, why was she born like this? Why her? The questions that had haunted her since eternity rounded up in her mind, on and on until she slept off. Suffice it to say, Tom followed her in her dreams, smile blazing, eyes sparkling even in a dream she was too weak to resist him and for the first time ever she heard the sound that coincided with the movement of his lips, she heard his voice which was deep and steady that professed his love for her, giving her hope, warmth and ecstasy with longevity. She woke up after thirty minutes from a dream she could have sworn lasted a lifetime. She couldn’t help feeling Tom was now her dream, her spark of hope and her angel for Christmas. She went into the kitchen, to the window hoping she could catch a glimpse of him but for five minutes he was nowhere to be seen and as she looked down she saw a piece of paper written on it; Nalukuyi and she hoped against hope that it was from him and as she read it she found that it was definitely from him asking her out, her heart-throb wanted her to be his girlfriend and as much as her heart had jitters for him she needed to reject him, so that he could come at her again and show that he really wanted her.
In a moment she looked out the window and now found him staring at her with his charming smile and she put on a serious face then showed him the paper and tore it as he stared and she made a grimace and shook her head then went back to her bedroom and started playing with her hair. Then she continued reading “Love, My Addiction” aiming to finish it. Christmas was nearing and the excitement of its atmosphere was steaming. Evening came and Joyce brought a piece of paper to her bedroom with a smile then gave her as she said ‘from Tom’ in sign language Nalukuyi became excited and grab the piece of paper and found that it was a poem from Tom that read;
Nalukui; my dream in the night
Nalukui; my sun in broad day light
Nalukui; my muse for living life right
I desire you so much my heart trembles
I yearn for you so much my liver quivers
I crave you so much my soul shivers
Nalukui I want to comfort you with the warmth of my arms
Nalukui I want to embrace you with the affections of my heart
Nalukui I want to dress you with the adorations of my mouth
Nalu I only beg for you to let me love you because girl I deeply love you
At this Nalukui was filled with so much joy and happiness that she was drowning in love. She had finally found him, her home; the rib cage she had come from since creation and for the first time she felt in her heart that everything was okay and then she stood by the window then she came on her bed and wrote behind the paper ‘Tom is my angel for Christmas’.
The following day Tom was in the market place where he was talking to a friend of his who well understood sign language and they made plans on how Tom will say things to Nalukui and the friend would interpret, as soon as they discussed the time and the place and made an agreement the friend left. Peter now turned heading for a certain shop when suddenly he felt a grip on his right hand and when he turned he found that it was Nalukui, she looked so shaken and emotional, he even saw a tear running down her eye; he became scared then she made hand gestures of holding a rope and putting it around her neck and showing that she wanted to go and commit suicide and Tom caught the impression.
“Why???” He asked, holding both her wrists, he felt so disturbed, and then he suddenly realized his voice was too high then he walked her off with his hands in her’s. As they walked he dialled his friend’s number and told him to meet them at an unfinished building. The same building was some blocks away from the market place and as soon as they reached there Tom look at Nalukui not knowing what to say but urging to comfort her then he gave her a hug, slowly and gently and then trying his best to comfort her but not knowing if it was working until he felt her arms embrace him back. Suddenly the friend he called showed up.
“Tom…” He said, just to get his attention.
“Ian,” he looked at him, “I think she tried to commit suicide…” He said.
“But,” Ian felt troubled, and then he started communicating with Nalukui in sign language. Then she started responding.
“It’s very hard for me,” he started interpreting, “people don’t understand me, even the ones closest to me, this life is difficult… you don’t know how many times I’ve wished to die. I live in fear every day of my life, not knowing what will happen five minutes from, I can’t bear it” she became emotional and her voice came out and Tom put his hand on her shoulder. “Why can’t I just die? Why can’t a car just bash me ad relieve me of this misery?”
“If that happened I’m the one who would now be crushed Naluki…” Tom jumped in and Ian translated to her. “I’ve never met a woman like you and every time I see you all I want to do is love you, comfort you,” she kept her eyes on Ian and stole glances at Tom.
“I want you to feel normal as long as you are with me. Nalukui you are really special to me. Can I promise you something? I’ll be your wish, I’ll be your dream I’ll be your fantasy… I’ll be your hope, I’ll be your love; be everything that you need. Listen, I love you more with every breath truly-madly-deeply… coz Nalu I will be strong, I will be faithful coz my angel I’m here for you.” Nalukui smiled with tears in her eyes, just as if her tears of pain had turned into tears of joy and she took out the paper that he had written her a poem on and she showed him then he saw behind it the inscription ‘Tom, my angel for Christmas’ and he smiled then looked at Ian.
“Boyi, pyamo,” he said and Ian smiled and the said bye. Tom wrote on the same piece of paper, ‘when did you write that?’ and she wrote ‘just after reading your poem’ then he smiled and embraced her more, making her feel so secure and as well genuinely loved. Then they continued communicating through the paper until they had run out of space on the paper and what became of them were smiles, fondly embraces and the secure feeling of his and hers; truly in love.
By the time he was taking her back home it was dark, and they were hand in hand with their smiles refusing to fade until a car flashed lights in front of them, it was Nalukui’s aunt. She stepped out of the car and quickly came and grabbed Nalukui’s hand, looked at Tom,
“We’ve been looking for her all day…” And she put Nalukuyi in the car and drove off.
Tom was left alone as he saw the car drive off. A pinch in his heart is what he felt as he saw her snatched out of his hands but then again he was comforted only by the fact that Nalukui was feeling much better and now he just couldn’t wait to give her the Christmas gift he had promised her. Not knowing how the following day would be he decided to go to shop-rite, which as per usual had a lot of promotions going on, winning big was spontaneous plus shoprite was facilitating giveaways. For a moment Tom felt he should have had come with her because the mood of Christmas was breath-taking, it inspired togetherness and romance was allowed. Tom bought her a Christmas mug, wrapped together with Ferrero Rochet and he also got a small teddy bear, conveniently because it was tagged ‘I love you tom’ and a Christmas card. With that he was assured he’d love them.
The following day was Christmas day, early in the morning Tom and his brothers were all together set on an errand that they had to do for slaughtering a cow for an afternoon Christmas family brai that was to be held at the family farm. Relatives close and distant were coming together. Tom swore to himself that as soon as he found a slot to sneak away when most of the heavy stuff was done he was going to go and drag Nalukui for this event because he felt he couldn’t celebrate without his newly found soul-mate. Fortunately enough a window had just opened up around 1 o’clock and everyone from home had come to the farm and Tom to a quick shower and went back home.
When he reached home he quickly grabbed the Christmas presents and he went over to Nalukui’s house and when he knocked a strange face answered the door.
“Hi, I was here to see Nalukui…” Tom said.
“Sorry, there is no one here by that name.” the girl answered, Tom’s heart pound.
“Sorry, I didn’t think I heard you, what exactly did you say?”
“Don’t you see that there are no curtains on the window, we just started moving in this morning”. Tom couldn’t contain himself; he felt his head-aching and his foot itching at the same time.
“The people that were staying here just moved out yesterday. And since I see you’ve got some Christmas gifts I wish I knew where they were relocating to… Sorry.” Then the girl closed the door.
In a split second, Tom had the shock of his life, so the last time she was taken from his arms was the last time he’d set his eyes on her? He came to realise. He felt dismayed, distraught, dis-wired, heartbroken, heart-stricken, emotionally depressed. He fell in love with her and now she’s gone. He had such enormous sympathy for her, which culminated into loving her and wanting to make her happy. ‘Why was she gone? He asked himself, her despatcher had left on his heart a blade and his looked to the sky and said ‘Nalukui, until I find you again… you’re the blade of my heart. It was painful, only so painful that it reviewed his feminine side, from his right eye came out a tear rolling down the cheek and off the skin to the ground but before it could even reach half the distance, it fell in his right hand and he looked at it, it was only one tear drop as opposed to the pond tears that signified of intense sorrow that were on Nalukui’s right hand, in a bus ‘Tom, my love never rest until you find me, so you can comfort me again and erase this distance between us, the blade of my heart. The bus went on increasing in speed, fading in the distance. Neither Tom, nor Nalukuyi had seen this coming.