Broken Heart - a short story by LJ Kundananji
She ditched me…just like that? This story is for her…
My heart beat faster as I turned the corner. The room was not far away now. I could clearly see the sign, “Meeting in Progress,” hanging loosely from the door. I knew there was no meeting. It was one of those clever machinations of hers; that is, she was seriously studying and did not want to be disturbed. In other words, she was ‘Gorrillaring’. But she would let me in. I knew it.
I tapped lightly on the door and placed my ear against it. My heart was beating so hard that I could hear it. Everything was dead quiet. The narrow dimly lit corridor was empty, adding to the sombreness of the situation. My stomach was churning heavily. I gulped loudly.
Nothing. I tapped again. Still nothing. Then I quite remembered. She was not going to open unless…yes, that’s it—unless I used voice data!
“Madalitso…it’s me—Frank…” I called almost too softly. But it was enough.
There was a sigh. Then footsteps walked towards the door. I stood back; almost jumping, almost panicking. The key turned. The door swung open—wide open. A gust of cold wind hit my face and the sign fell off the door and slowly fluttered to the floor. Madalitso, with clear exasperation on her face, bent to pick it up.
“So much for the deceit!” she said as she stood upright. Avoiding my anxious glance, she stuck it back on the door with a hit from her fist. Arms akimbo, she now stared straight into my face; into my eyes. Her white penetrating eyes bore through me. I shivered…She was not smiling like she usually did upon seeing me. That said a lot.
“Mr. Frank Kuzyalwa,” she began, blinking rapidly and continuously, “why have you disturbed me? Can’t you see I am studying?”
“Something serious I need to tell you.”
She gaped, pulled a face and finally said, “Come in, sir!”
She made way. I stumbled into her room. The door shut behind me with a bang so loud I thought I had been shot.
“Take a bed,” she said, pointing to her attractively made bed.
I slumped onto the bed. I was surprised at how hard it was. She stood looking down at me with her arms folded. She reminded me of my mean Physics lecturer, Mrs. Horrender. Anyway, that aside…
That was it…the time had finally come. It was going to take all I had…even though I had never envisaged my self doing it, I did it—fell to my knees and looked straight up to her face. She seemed noncommittal, nonchalant as she stared at the ceiling. With the words emanating from the deepest part of my heart, I found myself doing what I had only dreamt of.
“Madalitso, after spending five years with you; sharing in your joys and sorrows; your successes and failures; I have come to know that you’re a truly beautiful person inside.
“I have noted keenly that you deeply love Jehovah and that you
always put him first no matter what happens. Your personality closely
resembles that of Christ; your growth manifest to those who are
likewise grown; your spiritual beauty discernable to all; having goals
irresistibly similar to mine; having qualities that are almost a
replica of mine; having a vision to serve God infinitely like I do; I
have reached a conclusion that we would have better rewards, better
results, combined successes, tripled happiness, if we work, live, stay
“Many are the words I can say, but to say in a few words that
clearly articulate how I feel: I love you, Madalitso.
“Will you please marry me…?”
I stared at her with pleading eyes. I felt exhausted after emptying out myself like that. Moving her leg from side to side, she slowly lowered her face and stared at me. I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw her facial expression. Her eyes were red with rage; her face contorted with anger.
“What do you take me for?” she screamed, pushing me away.
I hastily stood up and retreated towards the door like a cowardly dog.
“What do you take me for, Frank? Do you honestly think that I could marry someone as immature as you?” Her chest was heaving with rage.
I felt devastated ad insulted. How could she belittle me so grossly?
“Besides that,” she continued, “I was baptized four years before you—you’re still a babe…I will marry some one that has been a Christian longer than I have!”
She pointed at the door. “Leave!” she squealed vehemently. I picked myself up. She might have had a point but this was way too much! I was disgusted by her lack of respect and her brutality.
“Anyway—I was just joking,” I said as a way of getting back at her, “I wanted to spice up your day!”
“Silly jokes! You! Leave this instance!” she showed no change
in her disposition.
I scurried out of the door. I felt something slip out of my pocket. It fell to the floor and rolled back into the room. I did not care—after all, I had failed in my mission. Nothing else mattered.
“What a proud girl!” I said in disgust as I ran along the corridor. I did not want anything to do with that mad girl again—never!
Later that afternoon, I received a parcel. A shy looking girl knocked on my door and thrust the parcel into my hands.
“What’s this?” I asked in bewilderment.
She just smiled in an insolent manner and said nothing. She turned and walked away.
“Hey! What’s this all about?” I shouted, but she was gone.
“Anyway,” I shrugged and went inside.
“I have had enough of silly, stupid jokes,” I murmured as I opened the parcel. I started in surprise, for there was my little box—the one containing the ring I had meant to give to Madalitso, the mad girl. This did not make sense. I opened it but the ring was gone. I sat for a while thinking…
Then it finally began to make sense. The something I had dropped that had rolled back into the room was this box—the box containing the ring. But where was the ring? I suddenly felt scared. I went through the box and found a crumpled piece of paper. I straightened it out. It was a note written by Madalitso. It read:
Thanks for your efforts. You have no idea how close you came to success. I was about to say ‘yes’, but you blew it up when you said you were just joking. However, in the box is a ring. Put it on your finger. If you do this, it is a sign that you are serious and that you have agreed to my proposal.
P.S: I never joke.”
I stared at the empty box again. I smiled, but with tears in my eyes. Tears of joy? Sadness? I could not tell.
“That mad girl,” I mused, and for a moment, I could not tell whether it was a joke or if it was a communication break down. But one thing I knew was that she never used to joke—never.
After a great deal of thinking, I finally got up in a fury and made for her room. I was going to put an end to all this nonsense. I had had enough of jokes. She was supposed to realise that I was serious. I really wanted to marry her. I decided to be straight with her—I did not care what she said or did anymore. She had to know the truth.
I was no longer timid this time. I was actually very angry at this immaturity and wanted to put an end to it once and for all. I pounded her door furiously. She quickly opened it and was not so surprised that it was me.
“You don’t easily give up, do you?” she asked with a smile. Frankly, I was stunned with her reception. A few minutes ago she was fuming with rage; but now, she was gentle and caring. This was the Madalitso I knew and loved. Somehow, this calmed me down and gave me a glimmer of hope.
“I need an explanation,” I stammered with emotion. “I thought
you don’t joke.”
She laughed and urged me in.
“I’m sorry, my dear friend.” She said softly after we had sat down. “Please don’t be angry.”
I tried not to look angry. She actually made it easier for me.
“You are the one who was fuming with rage a while ago.”
“I’m sorry again.” She stared at the floor shyly. “Well, you see, I thought about it after you left. Even if you said you were just joking, I knew you were serious. That is why I sent you the box with that paper so that you could come back and talk it out.”
I sniggered. “Why were you so angry?”
“Frank,” she hit my thigh playfully, “I thought you would figure out I was just playing. You know we ladies like playing hard-to-get.”
“Well, it was cruel,” I was almost bursting into tears. She noticed this and looked very uncomfortable.
“I am very sorry. I want to make it up to you.”
“Let’s take a walk, shall we?”
“I don’t know how to put this,” she said as we walked towards the basket ball court. I looked into her eyes, she looked really distressed. Instinctively, I knew where it was heading and my heart beat faster.
“Shall we have a seat?” I said. We sat down on the seat facing the basketball court, giving us a good view of those who were playing.
“You know, when you come telling me all those words, I felt
“Basically, I am angry at myself. I feel angry for having given you the wrong impression.” She sounded very apologetic.
“What do you mean?”
“I should have told you earlier instead of making you think that I am in love with you. It is my entire fault.”
“What are you saying?” I asked with a lump in my throat.
“Frank, I am already seeing someone back home. We are childhood friends and intend to marry as soon as we complete school. I’m sorry.”
I was dumbfounded by the revelation. I felt my anger
returning. I felt betrayed.
“Why, Madalitso? I asked. “Why did you not tell me?”
“I liked the attention you were giving me and all those gifts that you were buying me. I did not want to chase you away.”
“Well… now you have chased me away!” I got up to leave but she pulled me back down.
“Don’t walk out on me. I know you’re hurting but please lend
me your ears.”
I consented. She hardly stared at me while she talked.
“Frank, you’re a fine brother; really you are and I am sure one day you are going to find a fine sister. But you must understand that it’s not everyone that you can fall in love with, no matter how nice they are.”
I nodded my head painfully. I could feel tears welling up behind my eyelids and tried to hold them back. It was impossible. They streaked down my cheeks and splattered onto the seat. She held my hand. Her eyes were full of tears too.
“I tried to fall in love with you but failed. You are just not my…” she restrained herself, perhaps assuming that it would hurt me.
“Go ahead—say it,” I urged her, “at this moment, anything apart from the truth would hurt terribly.”
“You do not have what I look for in a husband. You are too much of a boy and too soft. I just can’t live with someone like that…I’m sorry.”
“I wish I can change.” I said with a plastic smile. “Just for you.”
“Please…don’t. You’ll find someone who will be all over you because of your personality.”
“But no one like you.” My throat was terribly dry.
“In, short, all I am saying is that I am really sorry. I love you like a brother and nothing more. I really wish I could love you more but I can’t.”
“I understand,” I said, trying to sound manly.
She suddenly leaned forward and gave me a hug. It was the first and last time I ever received a hug from her. I always cherish that moment till this day. I will never forget it.
After the hug we were both sobbing. Passersby were watching us with amusement and then again with sympathy.
“We have to leave,” I said, rubbing away my tears. I helped her up.
We slowly walked away.
“You have no idea how much I love you,” I said, “and I will always love you. Even if I am supposed to hate you, I just can’t.”
“I know. I see it in your eyes. Frank, it is not easy to let go of someone you dearly love. But I will help you.”
“I will literally disappear from your life. You will only be
seeing me from a distance.”
“That’s going to hurt a lot—I won’t make it.”
“You will, I believe in you.” She held my hand and put something into it. I stared down at it with big eyes. It was my ring. It looked even more beautiful.
“I am sorry it could not fit,” she folded my fingers over it. “It’s very beautiful, but it doesn’t belong to me.”
“Who do you think it belongs to?” I asked trying to return my sense of humour.
“That’s for you to find out.” She said, looking deep into my
eyes. “Thanks for understanding. I have to leave now. You’re the best
brother I have ever had.”
She turned to leave, but I gently pulled her back.
“Madalitso, don’t leave just yet. Lend me your ears. I remember saying to myself that if I cannot marry Madalitso then I won’t get married.”
“You want to take back those words now?”
“No,” I said with determination. “I am serious.”
“Frank,” she smiled, but only for a few seconds. I loved seeing her smiling. “One day, you will come running to me saying you did not know what you were saying. I won’t laugh at you, because I have been there. Goodbye, my friend.”
“No—not goodbye,” I said, “it sounds too sad. I won’t say that. Instead, I will say; see you soon.”
“See you soon, my dear brother.”
“You have broken my heart,” were the last words I said to her. She walked away with tears in her eyes.
I cried as I watched her leave. It was an eerie feeling. But I was glad for one thing; I had told her how I really felt. It’s no good holding in such feelings. They can kill you. I looked at my ring and felt like throwing it away.
“If it’s not Madalitso’s, then it’s not anybody’s,” I said to
myself. But I held on to it.
Once inside my room, I slumped down miserably onto my bed and stared at the ring in my hand. I turned it this way and that, and finally slipped it onto my finger. It looked so beautiful, and I believed that that is how it would look if it were on Madalitso’s finger—perhaps even better.
“If it’s not Madalitso’s, then it’s not anybody’s,” I repeated as the tears streamed down my face.
I gasped and shuddered several times as I put the ring back into the box. I squeezed the box between my hands and with a great deal of effort, managed to spit out the words:
“Some are made eunuchs by men, and so it shall be.”
© Kundananji Creations 2006