Belinya Banze is simple. And no, she's not ordinary. She has an extraordinary,
prominent love for telling whole pieces of stories of us both in print and pictures.
Whatever she writes, whether fiction or non fiction, it's always someone's story. She's written and published stories of her and others on the medium platform. If she's not writing good seven-minutes-read essays, she's penning down ninety plus pages of a film screenplay. Since 2017, she's written 9 original screenplays and 1 adapted. If not writing, her head is most likely falling up and down her computer in slumber.
The man at the cemetery
The winter cold breeze blew through the silent night at the cemetery swaying the leaves of tall trees. Felicia Ntambo was seated quietly on top of a tomb as the breeze blew through her tiny fingers. Melancholy was imprinted on her tan face. She checked the time on her small phone and it read: 19:00. She turned her head and looked at the tomb with a name inscribed on it. She took a deep sigh that seemed to tear apart her chest; she gathered strength as she breathed in and out taking her should up and down with and finally gained the strength to say, "My day was okay.. I woke up in the morning, prayed and went to spend the day with the children.. nothing extra ordinary.. Actually something extra ordinary happened.. I woke up.." Felicia said to her late husband who died just six months back. Going to the grave was her daily norm. She'd go every day, sit quietly until 7pm and start her daily conversation with her late husband. That was her favorite time of the day even when her husband was alive.
He'd come back home around 5:30 when she had finished cooking dinner, they'd bath, eat and at 7pm they'd share each others daily positives and struggles with laughs, gazes and embraces in between. They were in true love. So gentle with each other. So respectful towards each other and tremendously cared about each other. Felicia and her husband had been through it all together, the good and the bad. They were there together celebrating life when she first opened her first day care center. She was there when he started his job as an engineer at a well reputed company after having worked as a mechanic for so long. They were both there, falling in love with each other everyday.
Even when they hoped and their hope was crushed. They always hoped and dreamed to have children of their own. A boy and a girl is all they desired; they had for them beautiful names. They tried for good 5 years with no luck until Felicia could conceive. When she did though, she couldn't even hold the baby for a good four months. And none of her three pregnancies was she able to hold. It's either she'd miscarry, or give birth to a dead fetus.
They had no luck in bringing into their world of love a love made by their love. They never had the chance to have a child to call their own, blood of theirs, bones of theirs, genes of theirs till death did them part. Before he died, she carried his child for 3 months and there was a little hope that she'd give birth, and that was her husband's strength to keep him alive until he breathed his last breath and left. Three months after his death, she didn't get a chance to mourn and hope for a better future when she miscarried the only thing that her husband has left her with in memory of him.
It's been six months, life at 34 is not as Felicia had envision it but she keeps living. With her throat soar, she keep her chin up. It's all she could do, to live. There she was, sitting on her husband's tomb doing what they always did, sharing all of her day positives and all of her day negatives with so much melancholy flashing in her face and with so much cracks in the words she uttered.
"I wonder what you'd say.. I wonder how your day would've been today.. that you discovered how a car could work without an engine.. you had so many dreams, my king.. I was your everyday dream though" She said and pulled out a little chuckle that could not even for a sec hide all of her ache.
She had a lot to say to him about the children at the creche, what she got up to do.. She had a lot of words, her throat failed her, the words couldn't pass through; the pain was excruciating. Her somber eyes got stuck in a direction, and curiosity hid all of the hurt in her eyes. She looked over, 3 tombs away from her husband's tomb, a tall man who was knelt down sobbing out loud. Felicia had seen this man before, ever since her husband's burial. He's always been there seated quietly and would leave after some moments. But on that day, it was different, he didn't leave. He knelt down and sobbed, and the sob became a loud cry that grabbed Felicia's attention. She could relate. She could empathize. Being kind, Felicia stood up from the tomb, paced towards his direction to check up on him.
"Good evening sir, I'm sorry about your loss.." Felicia said trying to comfort him and have him stop letting down the tears but she knew that those words would mean nothing; they meant nothing to her too when people would encourage her to be strong. Yet, she kept the words coming, "She's in a safe space now, she'd be happy to see you move on. It's going to get better with time." Felicia said and had an immediate pause, her eyes blinked for clarity.. amazed staring at the tomb written: [From 2009-2020] 'It's been eleven years', she thought to herself and before she could try make sense of the time frame, the man stood up, wiped his tears and looked at Felicia, "It's been 11 years. They all lied to us. Time heals nothing.. you never get over the one you love.. you learn to live with it.. I guess I am a slow learner," he said with a grin as he extended his hand to her for a greeting, "I am Mr Tono." Felicia's brain was still trying to make sense of 11 years and the words the man spoke. Her eyes were stunned that all of a sudden Mr Tono was executing such strength, he was sobbing just a second ago and all smirking at that point. Felicia shook his hand, smiled and said goodbye. She left and didn't even say goodbye to her husband. Many thoughts were running through her mind. 11 years caused quite a disturbance.
Felicia got home around 8pm on that day still stuck on the strangeness of the man at the cemetery, the words of the man at the cemetery and 11 years. She walked in and sat down on the sofa, warmly furnished house with classic furniture that could not warm her cheeks. It felt so empty in her silent wonder with no sound of her late husband who she has let to rest; no sound of the children they had hoped to born. Her eyes kept wandering in one place, lost in thought.. She believed time healed all wounds. She believed that she'd move on one day because that's what her darling late husband would've wanted, to see her move on, free and happy. She was sure she was going to reach a state of total healing for her late husband's sake but on that night she questioned all of her hopes. Could that man at the cemetery been struggling getting over their loved ones for the past 11 years? And if he's still not over his loved one, how much more for her? she loved her husband with every fiber of her being and without him, every fiber of her being could not take the weight. She was struggling to leave without him and was on prescription to ease the pain. She was afraid to disappoint him and not to live up to the promise she made before he died. He asked her to promise to be happy, that she gets over him. That she finds happiness and she let him rest in peace. He told her that the only peace he'd have beyond the grave was to know that she mourned, and moved on. She was working on it, moving on but it was too much, she delayed. But eleven years made her believe she might not be able to keep her husband's promise and that hunted her deeply as she sat in her sofa. Her thoughts carried her to slumber. Her slumber into an all night disturbed sleep. Around 3 AM, She was up, thinking about the reality of yesterday. Before she could put herself to sleep again, It was 6 PM, the alarm rang. She woke up and prepared for work.
* * *
Felicia's day at work was not as usually, she had the same smirk that failed to cover up all of her brokenness. She was just distracted, she let things fall. She was zooming out of conversations with the little children. They gave her so much joy and they were her escape. Just caring for them, singing with them, and feeding some of them. They were her great escape but not on that day, not when she kept thinking about the reality of yesterday.. the man at the cemetery. Her helper, Mburi told her to take a break and volunteered to take care of the all the kids because she could see how destructed she was.
Her helper knew she was still on the process of healing from her husband's death and not aware that it was the reality of yesterday that haunted her on that particular day.. the man at the cemetery. Felicia persisted on staying to help the kids paint and snuggling some. That's all she could do, she'd die sitting in her tiny office. Mburi, kept asking her kindly to take a break, but Felicia ignored her repeated request by keeping on painting with the kids. Being with the kids helped her to miss the outside sounds of the day, the car hoots of the day and the warmth of the winter sun so sunset would come and so she could go back to the man and ask him what made him such a slow learner. While still stuck at all the questions she was going to ask the man, the children were gone. Her day at work done. She picked up her bag and went home.
She bathed, and cooked a quick meal. She Sat down eating at a small table of four chairs looking across the table to a chair. She began to reminisce of her love, of all the chats they had on that table, when the sunset and the dust of the day settled, all of their laughs. A smile pulled through, a chuckle followed but none flattered her sadness. In every beat, every silence, the man at the cemetery didn't leave her mind. Eleven years was too much to not have been over someone. Then suddenly, she stopped eating and walked to the bedroom.
Felecia put on her winter blazer and went outside. The night breeze was too much, the cold was greater than yesterday's. She went back inside and put on a cotton warm coat and a scarf.
She got there, it was dark. Her eyes searched for the man. He was not there yet - strange. He was always there. Always seated on that tomb. Felicia walked and sat at her husband's grave with all of her curiosity. Why was he not there? why on that particular night? she had questions for him.. With all of her curiosity, Felicia sat down and looked at her husband's name at the tomb. At the stare of his name, She totally erased her questions of the man and the ache of not being with the one she loved raised. She sat there, looking at the tomb.. unsure what to say, ashamed and afraid; she was afraid she might not keep her promise - the promise to move on.
"I promise I will do all I can to keep the promise. I promise I'll be happy, I promise I'll move on and be at peace. I know my peace is your peace my love.. I will try once more" She convinced those words to leave her heart to her mouth. She didn't believe those words.
A brief silence. She took a deep breath of the cold winter breeze. Gained courage to speak the words she believed, "I'm afraid.. that we might never know peace. I'm afraid we might never be happy.. I'm scared.. to disappoint us my love.. to disappoint you" a tear dropped. A startle made her hold her chest, startled by the feeling of firm hands holding her shoulders. "It's okay.. Don't be afraid. You will be okay." A deep manly voice uttered. Felicia turned her face to see Mr Tono behind her. She had questions but not at that moment.. that was a moment for her and her late husband. Felicia tried to stand up but Mr Tono didn't let her. Moved his hands down to her waist and held her tight from behind. While Felecia was lost in translation of what Mr Tono was doing, he already had the tip of his fingers unbutton her coat and taking it off her while she tried to stop him perplexed at what he was doing. He had so much strength and she found herself naked, on top of her husband's tomb with Mr Tono forcing all of his heavy body on her. She cried, she screamed and no one was there to help her. Only dead bodies were there, the trees swaying and the cold winter breeze freezing her body along with the body of a tough man forcing himself to her tiny helpless body.
By the time he was done and gone. Felicia's body was freezing ice with silent tears falling down her face as she picked up all of her clothes from the floor putting them back on with shame to even look at her husband's name on the tomb. She finished putting her clothes and still, with her head down, "It's not what you think it is my love, he forced himself on me." she said turning away trudging briskly out of the cemetery.