The first thing Zadzisai did as soon as she sat in the kombi was to ask the conductor if he could drop her off on Green Lane just before the Glen Lorne Shopping Centre. The conductor looked at her, sneered and continued shouting.
“Glen Lorne, Glen Lorne! Including those before Glen Lorne Shopping Centre”. He ducked into the kombi and said to Zadzisai.
“Eeeh sister, did you hear that? We do pass by Green Lane, kuvarungu we do pass through there. If you tell me the address I am sure I will know the occupants.” She just smiled at him and shook her head. He grinned at her and she could see his three gold teeth at the back of his mouth. She could tell he had had sadza nemuriwo for lunch, as his front teeth had green residue.
It was a chilly Wednesday afternoon, the sky was overcast and the August winds were beginning to introduce themselves. Zadzisai had been looking forward to this day for four years now. It was not her first babysitting gig but she had been trying to get this exact job for six months now. Ever since she got back from England she had been applying for this job and today she would finally meet the family whose life would change, including her own.
She sat between a man who reeked of garlic and could not stop coughing and a lady who was speaking very loudly on her tablet, it looked as if she was holding a counter book to her ear as she shouted into the receiver, “I sent the money via Ecocash Ba Nhamo, send Nhamo now anotora“. The man would try to start a conversation with her here and there but she had her earphones in and pretended to listen to music. The whole trip she had her eyes on the conductor waiting for him to call for Green Lane. Zadzisai zoned out as she began to contemplate on whether it was a good idea or if it was worth the risk. She thought about how Dadirai the only person who had stuck with her four years ago, had helped her get the passport and the visa.
The garlic man nudged her as the kombi came to a halt. “Vekuvarungu, Green Lane is that road there”. The conductor said as he pointed at the road which was opposite the kombi.
“Yaaah, it’s good you had 4 rands yakakwana. Or else I was going to marry you with someone”. Zadzisai got off and thanked the conductor, he just nodded his head and banged the top of the kombi to signal the driver. As the kombi took off, she crossed the road and took out her phone. She began to look through her messages with Mrs Warren to make sure she was in the right street and for the address. She put the address on Google Maps to make sure she would not get lost. It would take her 12 minutes to walk to the house.
The houses looked like the ones from Bicester Village in Oxford, the ones where you knew rich people lived there. The air was clean and unpolluted, the birds sang a different tune from the ones from her neighbourhood. All the lawns were neatly manicured and the houses were all more than two stories. She stopped as a car passed by wishing it was Mrs Warren but the driver was completely different from the picture she had.
“Zadzie, you can not go back now”, she said to herself as she walked.”You have been waiting for this for four years now, you deserve to be happy. Yes, amai nababa do not approve and will not after what Tongai did. However it is not your fault that he decided to run away with someone’s husband, you can not pay for his mistake. You deserve this, the way it happened was a mistake but the result was not”.
Zadzisai stood in front of the house with the address she was given. It was not very different from the ones she had seen as she was walking, but the bronze gates had huge W’s carved on them. The palm trees shielded the house, one could only see the Satellite Dish from outside.
“In two days you will be back in England Zadzie, just get it over with”, she convinced herself. She fixed her afro and as she was smoothing her dress, she spotted a clove of garlic. She took a deep breath, remove it and pressed the intercom.
“Hello, Mrs Warren speaking how can I help you”, a voice with a distinctive accent comes from the intercom. “It’s Zadzie, Mrs Warren. The babysitter…how are you?”,she said as she looked at the gate.
“Oh, darling, you made it. I was beginning to worry but Owen told me you seem like a woman of your word. Let me buzz you in”. She heard a soft buzz and the gates opened ajar, two brown dogs that looked like overgrown rats came running towards her.
“Gumdrop!! Sheepy!! No, get away from Zazie! Shuuu shuuu, boys where are your manners!”, a blonde petite woman shouted from the balcony. She looked like one of those retired supermodels, you could only see her wrinkles when she smiled or grimaced. She came down the stairs and hugged Zadzie, looked at her and hugged her again.
“Wow, you are more beautiful than I thought. Is that your real hair?”, she said she reached to touch it. Zadzisai shook her hand as she was about to touch it,
“Yes ma’am, it is my real hair. You have a very beautiful house”, she said moving a bit further from her.
“Oh thank you, darling, please come inside. I need to show you around so that you are familiar with the place before you start on Friday. And please call me Victoria, ma’am makes me feel old. After all 44 is the new 20”, Victoria laughed heartedly as she led Zadzisai to the kitchen. As she followed Victoria, Zadzisai was looking for signs of the child she would be babysitting.
“Angelina, come down sweetheart. I need you to meet someone”, Victoria shouted from the bottom of the stairs. Zadzisai’s heart began to pound and she could hardly breathe.
“How do you pronounce your name again, Zazie? Right? I always try to pronounce names correctly even though some of them are tongue twisters”, she said as she poured herself a glass of wine and an Appetizer for Zadzisai.
“Its actually Zadzisai but Zee will be fine”. As Zadzisai was talking, Gumdrop and Sheepy can down the stairs and Angelina was behind them trying to catch up. The dogs disappeared into the lounge before Angelina could catch them.
Zadzisai gasped and held her mouth,” She looks just like him, she has her father’s eyes”.Her eyes became glassy. She stared at Angelina until she was in the kitchen standing next to Victoria. She wore a pink dress similar to hers but with a darker hue.
“Zee, what did you say? Oh, we adopted her four years ago but a lot of people say she has Owen’s eyes even though his are blue and hers are brown. I guess its the shape they will be talking about”. Victoria exclaimed as she reached out to hug Angelina who was shyly staring at Zadzisai.”
Yes, I guess its the shape that they will be talking about. You said she is four? How did you end up getting her?”. Zadzisai tried to compose herself and act natural. Victoria looked at Zadzisai, smiled down at Angelina and asked her if she could go and find the dogs then she would introduce her to Zadzisai. Angelina ran towards the living room door and disappeared.
“Zazie, we haven’t actually discussed or told Angelina about her adoption. We feel she is still young and even though she is black and we are white, we see no colour she is our baby. We got her from a family in Westgate after their daughter was impregnated at 17. They could not handle the embarrassment because unfortunately, their son ran away with someone’s husband. Its a shame, the parents took the baby from their daughter and told her the baby was still borne. They sent her to England the last I heard but they were very desperate we received Angelina the day after she was born, on my 40th birthday.”, she said as she reached for a tissue to dry the corner of her eyes. She took two sips of her wine and looked at Zadzisai.
“She is a real miracle, we could not have a child so Owen and I opted for adoption and I do not regret it”. Angelina came running back in with the dogs, she stood in front of Zadzisai and shook her hand.
“I am Angelina Warren, what is your name?”. She smiled showing her toothless mouth to Zadzisai who laughed out loud, they all did.
“Mommy, I like her. Can we keep her?”. She looked up to Victoria who smiled back at her daughter and said.
“Yes, we can keep her”.
As Victoria was walking Zadzisai out the door, she gave her an extra key and told her she could start the day after tomorrow but she could come tomorrow to get to know Angelina whilst she ran errands. She escorted her to the gate and hugged her tightly, Angelina walked behind Victoria and waved as the gate was closing.
As soon as Zadzisai arrived home, she called Dadirai.
“Shaa, I just met my daughter for the first time. She has Tapfumaneyi’s eyes, she is beautiful Dadie. Hiiii mwana wangu that”, she began to cry.
“What are you planning on doing then Zee, are you still thinking of taking her to England? It is risky because of its kidnapping ka. Since Mugabe resigned hakusisina corruption so you might end up in prison, Chikurubhi straight before you make it to the airport.”
“I am taking her Dadie, she is the only thing I have. You helped me with her passport and visa, all I need is her and kuswera mangwana I am taking my daughter home. She is mine and she deserves to be with her real mother. They call her Angelina but before I gave birth to her I always called her Muneni. That is her name.”
“Hhhmmm Zee you know I always support you but think hard on this. I am not comfortable with this and I might end up losing my job at the Embassy if this blows over. Think about it, give it two days because of ndaakutotya.”, Dadie said to Zadzisai.
“Ok, I will think about it. I will take time, thank you Dadie. Wakaita basa hako. You gave me a chance to see the only thing worth risking my life for. Thank you”.
“No worries Zee, but chimbofunga about it”, Dadie suggested.
As soon as Zadzisai hung up the phone, she began to pack her bags and booked two single tickets to Heathrow Airport. She put her phone in water and began to plan for the next day, her trip back to Green Lane and straight to Heathrow with her daughter.