Mrs Juba’s pregnancy sends quartet wagging tongues

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 12:39:37 +0000

WHEN I arrived at the now defunct Libala commuter train station in Lusaka one Saturday in April, 1993, around 11:00 hours, I was surprised to find the place almost deserted. In fact, the few people I found there were mostly street vendors selling sugar cane, fried groundnuts, sweet potatoes and oranges.

Inquiries revealed that there was only one commuter train operating that day because the other one had broken down (there were normally two commuter trains operating each day from either direction).

I was told that the single train had left some 15 minutes before, which meant that I had to wait for over an hour before it returned from the other end of the line in George Compound.

I had the choice of going to the nearby Kabwata Bus Stop and jump on a minibus into town and then connect to my home in Northmead.  But having already walked that far, I decided to wait for the train. After all, I was in no hurry to get back home.

And so it was that I went to sit on an empty bench under one of the concrete-roofed shelters at the station. Fortunately, I had two of the daily papers to keep me busy while I waited for the train.

About 20 minutes later, four young women came and joined me on the bench. The way we sat was that I was facing southwards and they northwards. Two of the girls put on trousers and T-shirts while the others wore skirts and blouses.

Surprisingly, for the next three or so minutes, the girls just looked at each other in silence as if for lack of something to talk about. Then one of them said, “Guys,  are we going to sit here like deaf mutes? Come on, let’s find something to talk about.”

And they did find something to talk about – passers-by. Each time somebody passed by, he or she would be a subject of a comment, which was either nice or nasty depending on what they thought about him or her.

For example, there was this young couple coming from the direction of the nearby New Kabwata Township approaching the station. The man was holding a baby in his arms while his smartly dressed wife followed from behind.

The girls apparently had a low opinion of the man and wondered how a plain-looking fellow like him had managed to marry such a beautiful woman. But then, they remembered the old saying that love was blind and that opposites often attracted each other.

Suddenly, my female benchmates changed the subject and started gossiping about a girl in their neighbourhood who liked wearing what they described as “funny clothes”. According to them, these clothes made the girl look horrible but she appeared to be unaware of this fact.

“You are closer to her, why don’t you advise your friend to dress properly?” one of the girls was asked by the others, and she replied, “Forget it. Elita is not the type to advise. She can’t appreciate such advice. In fact, she would hate me for it because as far as she is concerned, she is convinced she looks gorgeous in those clothes. I wouldn’t like to be the one to dent her pride, so let sleeping dogs lie.”

At this point, I felt like chipping in but on second thoughts, I thought it was none of my business to intervene. In any event, was I not supposed to pretend that I wasn’t listening?

I had resolved that whether it meant waiting for two hours, I would do so, especially that I was enjoying the lively discussion among the girls.

As expected, the girls changed their topic again and this time, one of them brought up the issue concerning a woman named only as Mrs Juba who was then supposed to be pregnant. The girl asked her friends if they knew something about the pregnancy.

On receiving a “no, please tell us”, the girl said there was some controversy surrounding  the pregnancy but she won’t divulge it to anyone “because some of you are loud mouths who can’t keep secrets. I don’t want to be involved.”

But the friends assured her that they would not squeak to anyone about whatever she was going to tell them, whereupon the girl said, ”All right, I’ll tell you. If you tell anybody about it, I’ll deny everything and it’ll be you in trouble.”

According to her, the pregnancy the said Mrs Juba was carrying was not her husband’s.

“Of course, the husband may not be aware of this, but the truth of the matter is that his wife was impregnated by Malaya, his next-door neighbour and drinkmate.”

“I don’t believe that,” disputed one girl. “Mr Juba and Mr Malaya are the best of friends. Moreover, they work for the same company. How could that happen? That’s out.”

The story-teller swore upon the grave of her ancestors that what she was telling them was “gospel truth”, saying, “It’s true Mr Juba and Mr Malaya are very good friends. But unknown to poor Mr Juba, his wife has been having an illicit love affair with his friend, and now she’s pregnant.”

“Please explain,” another girl urged. “How did it happen?”

The story-teller told her friends that both Juba and Malaya were employees of a Lusaka transporter. She explained that after her first child, Mrs Juba was failing to conceive again. As usual, it was assumed that she was the one responsible for this and was advised to seek the services of a witch-doctor.

“But despite consulting so many ng’angas, Mrs Juba was still unable to conceive. Meanwhile, her husband started saying that he wanted to marry another woman who could give him another child.

“As you can imagine, Mrs Juba became a very depressed woman following the complaints from her husband. But somehow, she felt it was not her at fault. To this end, she decided to do something about it.

“As if reading her husband’s mind, it so happened that Malaya  later proposed love to her. Apparently, he had been secretly admiring her for a long time and this time, he gathered enough courage and made his intentions known to her.

“After several feigned refusals, Mrs Juba gave in but the problem was finding a suitable place where they could be meeting. I know you won’t believe it, but they resolved to be meeting in Mr Juba’s  own house in the evenings.

“Mr Malaya capitalised on Mr Juba’s drinking habits. He knew that Mr Juba liked the bottle, so what he did was that after knocking off from work, the two would go to the bar together for a drink.

“Mr Malaya would buy a lot of beer but he would drink moderately while allowing his friend to drink his head off. Midway through, Malaya would excuse himself saying he was going to the toilet.

“But instead of going to the toilet, Malaya would go straight to his friend’s home, commit adultery with his wife as per their arrangement and return to the bar just in time. This happened on several occasions until she got pregnant,” she said.

The story-teller went on to say that even up to that day, Juba thought that the pregnancy was his.

“My boyfriend told me about this scandal – don’t ask me how he got the information because I don’t know. But each time I see Malaya and Juba together, I feel really bad – I mean, Malaya is not being fair to his friend,” she said.

“But are you not happy that  Mrs Juba is now expecting?” asked yet another girl.” If it didn’t work out with her husband, what else did you expect her to do? She had to go underground if only to prove to her husband and his relatives that she was not the one to blame after all.”

However, the story-teller said that was not the point. “Of course I’m happy that Mrs Juba is going to have another child. It’s the manner she went about it that doesn’t please me,” she said, adding that it did not augur well a married woman flirting with  the man next door as happened in that case.

And just then, one of the girls in the group looked towards the eastern direction and warned her friends to change the subject; for there, approaching the train station, was none other than the same couple they were gossiping about! Talk of the lion!

The “controversial” Mrs Juba was in an advanced stage of pregnancy and it turned out that she was such a pretty woman, probably in her late 20’s. The first impression I had of them was that they were such a happy couple.

By the time the couple reached the station, the girls had changed the subject and were now discussing the high cost of living! The discussion centred mainly on the recently increased prices of fuel and the likely impact these would have on the prices of food and services.

Can you believe it? The young story-teller was the first to greet the couple when they arrived. Apparently, the couple were her tribal cousins and she jokingly asked Mrs Juba, “When is the big day? We’re waiting.”

Mrs Juba laughed and told her not to be silly, saying, “You can tease me now. Your turn will come tomorrow.”

 The author is a Lusaka-based media consultant who also worked in the Foreign Service as a diplomat in South Africa and Botswana. For comments, sms 0977425827/0967146485 or email: pchirwa2009@yahoo.com.

Author

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button