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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Gina's Cross (3) dreams die

Marcus had been gone for about three months when he visited me in the village. I was so happy to see him and realized how much I missed him on seeing him again. He told me that since I refused to come to the city to visit him, he had to come himself.

"You have been on my mind since I returned to the city. So, the first opportunity I got, I had to come see you," he stated as he handed over some bags he had brought with him.

They contained gifts he had brought for me which included clothes, shoes and some things for Una as well.

"Thanks, Mark for all these. But are they not too much?" I stated as I admired the items.
 "Nothing is too much for you, my darling Gina," he said, hugging me.

 He spent over a week on this visit and we were together for most of it. Infact, he spent more time at our house than in his own parents house which was at the other end of the village. 

Even his mother who was Nene, my grandmother's friend noticed his frequent visits and remarked on it when we saw her one market day.

"I don't know what you people gave to my son that made him abandon his father's house for your place! Since he came, I hardly see him! At least, allow me see him a little before he returns to the city," she said.

We could tell she was joking as she was smiling as she spoke.

My grandma replied: "I know your problem. You have become so old and forgotten what it is like to be young and in love!" That elicited laughter from Marcus mother and Nene joined in. 

 I stood there listening as they chatted about their youthful days when courting between young men and women was done differently, 'they could not even hug themselves while courting unlike now when many young couples even live together before marriage!'

One morning, I was getting ready to go to the stream to do some washing when Marcus came over. Nene had gone out and Una was in school. I had enrolled her in a play school owned by a retired teacher in the primary school who had taught my mother as a child. 

Marcus offered to escort me to the stream so I packed the clothes in a large plastic basin and we set off.

There were few people there at that time of the day; just two young boys bathing and an elderly woman who was fetching water. As I started washing, Marcis offered to help.
 "Let me help with the washing as the clothes are so many," he stated.

"Thanks. Don't bother, I can cope. Just sit over there under that tree and keep me company," I said. 

As I worked, we chatted about different things; life in the village, his business, my desire to further my education and hopes to gain admission again and have the means to sponsor myself...


After that visit, our relationship waxed stronger. Mark wanted us to be together; indeed on his next trip to the village, he told my Grandma that he loved me and wanted me as his wife. I liked him very much too and I knew I would be happy with him. 

What I loved most about him was his fatherly attitude towards my child, Una. I had told him what happened to me as a young girl and how Una was born. He felt touched at what I had passed through at such a tender age.

"It's all in the past now, dear; what matters is the future. And I hope to play a great part in that," he stated reassuringly.

Things moved fast after that. With Grandma's support, Marcus, accompanied by two of his uncles went to see my father about his intentions to marry me. My Dad was not against the marriage, stating if that was what I wanted, then I could go ahead. 

Marcus and I made our plans and soon after, we got married; we had a traditional as well as a church wedding. Thereafter I left the village to join my husband in the city. My daughter remained with my Grandma for a while until I was able to get a good school for her. 
Life with Marcus was like that of somebody who had been living in a desert and suddenly found water. It was as if God sent him to make up for all I had gone through in my short life. 

He was so loving and could not seem to do enough for me. Shortly after our marriage, he got admission for me to do a diploma course in a polytechnic while awaiting entrance to the university.

I got pregnant with my second daughter while doing the programme. We named her Ruby as she looked like a little jewel.

Marcus was so happy at the birth of our daughter, he threw a big party during her naming ceremony and dedication. His business was thriving and we lived quite well. For the first time in a long while, I was truly happy. I had a husband who loved me so much and was ready to do anything for me and two lovely and healthy children.

For the next five years, Mark and I lived happy and contented lives. Who knows, we could have lived 'happily thereafter' according to the fairytale if the accident had not happened. 

Mark had gone on a business trip out of town and was on his way back when the vehicle he was traveling in was involved in an accident. 

His death was kept away from me for days. It was his elder brother who lived in the city that finally broke the news to me. As you can imagine, I was devastated and inconsolable. 

How could this have happened to my dear husband who had promised to be there for me forever, to love and cherish me for the rest of his life? How could death do this to me, I kept wondering. 

Our dream of growing old together had died just like that and I was left all alone so young, at just 25! What was I going to do without my beloved husband by my side?

"You will have to move on, at least for the sake of your children," was what everyone who came to commiserate with me said. It was easy for them to say, what did they know about losing a loved one, I thought with some resentment.

My mother was of the same view as the sympathisers.

 She had come to see us about ten months after my husband's death and burial. She could see that I was still mourning him and she had a long talk with me over the matter. 

 "I know his death is painful. It was a big shock to your Dad and I- he was a good son-in-law and we all miss him. But you can't go on like this. Look at you! You've lost so much weight; you no longer take care of yourself, much less the children. 

 You are still very young and life has to go on. You have to pick up the pieces and start all over again. A strong person doesn't stay down when he falls; he tries his best to bounce back. It's time you did that," she advised.

 She stayed with us for sometime and with her support, I began to recover from the shock of losing my husband. There were practical reasons why I had to. I had to start thinking of ways of surviving without Marcus financial support. 

 Throughout our marriage, I never worked as he provided all our needs. He had substantial savings which I had access to after his death but it would not last forever. I had to look for ways of making money so I could take care of my children.
 Starting a business
I did not want an office job; I wanted something that will give me enough time for my family so I decided to open a small restaurant.

  I picked a good location not too far from the street where we lived. Customers seemed to like the food we prepared for within a short time, the place became very popular. Many office workers in the area often took their lunch there. I began to make money and I was able to employ more staff to help with running the place. 

 Later, I paid for the shop next door to the restaurant and opened a branch which specialised in 'pepper soup' and drinks. That too was popular with clientele. Money was rolling in and I was happy at my success in the business in less than three years of starting off. 

  I would have continued with the business of simply cooking and serving food to my customers if a friend of mine, Beatrice had not come up with the idea of making more money from my customers through another means. 

 I had known her since the early days of my marriage with Marcus. We lived in the same compound until she moved away to another location due to a problem she had with our landlord.

 Anyway, Beatrice who was single, had come to see me in the restaurant one day. She had been there before and had been impressed by what she saw the first time she came. On this visit, she had pointed out something to me.

 "These your serving girls are so fine! Where did you get them from? And their uniforms too, simply cute!" she had enthused. "But what a waste!" she added.
 "Waste? What's that supposed to mean?" I inqueried.

 "Gina, be smart! You have a gold mine right under your nose and you are allowing it to waste!" she said. 

 Then drawing close to me, she said quietly: "With such pretty girls parading around, is it any wonder that many male customers flock here to eat? Do you think it's only your food that's drawing them here? I bet you, many come just because of the girls."

 "So? If its good for the business, what's the problem then?" I asked.

 "The problem is that you are not mining this 'gold mine'. Don't be too strict, allow the girls to go out with the men who want them and you will be amazed at the amount of money you will make," she said.
 "What? How can you suggest such a thing? You want me to start running a brothel or what? You want to turn me to a Madam?"I stated.

 She shook her head.
 "This business is better than a brothel. It's a clean business, with no hassle and a lot to gain," she said and went on to state some of the cons of the crazy idea she had just put to me...

Will Gina accept her friend's idea? Details coming soon!


To Be Continued...


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