Zawadi hummed in the kitchen. She removed the spaghetti from the cooker and drained it. She checked on the chicken she was frying, it was coming along well. It would be done in a few minutes.
Zawadi danced around the kitchen. There was nobody to watch her. Her body swayed to the music of Rafrik who was her current favourite musician. Her thin long braids swished under her maid’s cap.
When she was done, she checked on the chicken. it was ready so she switched off the heat. She poured fresh cold orange juice into 3 glasses. She took a plastic tumbler, poured some juice into it and sipped. It was good, very good. She was trying to make a new blend of fruit juices. She smiled a smile that lit up her face.
Zawadi put the juice on a tray and went towards the sitting room. As she walked along the long corridor that led into the dining room she passed a mirror. The mirror showed her body for a split second before she passed it. Zawadi was a beauty. She was tall, around 5 feet, 9 inches. Her skin complexion was chocolate brown, and she had black eyes with thick, long eyelashes, and full lips that were smeared with Vaseline. She had the kind of face and body that a model would die for.
Zawadi was slender, a size 12 with small breasts but big hips and a nicely rounded bottom. You couldn’t really see her body in the maid’s uniform she was wearing. It was big and ugly, a yellow and white striped dress. It’s like somebody was trying to make sure you couldn’t see Zawadi in all her beauty. It was no accident, Madam Asila had ordered it that way.
Zawadi stopped smiling once she entered the sitting room. Here the music of Rafik was loud, every beat clearly heard on the expensive Kenwood system.
Zosi and Zuwadia, Madam Asila’s daughters were trying to dance to Rafrik’s latest video. They were clumsy dancers and they couldn’t keep the rhythm. Their friend Alex, from next door, was watching them dance. He had an amused expression on his face. He didn’t say anything to the girls about their dancing. He was taking sips from a glass of whiskey as he watched their antics.
Alex brightened up when Zawadi came into the room. She just had that effect on men. They were always rushing to do things for her. He stood up, and started walking towards her to get the tray from her.
Zesi saw Alex heading towards Zawadi and immediately told her off. “Zawadi, we do not pay you to stand around and have guests help you. Can you put the juice on the coffee table and go bring the food? My appetite has even disappeared. You are as slow as a snail and look like one too!”
Zawadi put the tray on the glass table in the middle of the sitting room and walked away.
Zuwadia laughed and said out loud, “that stupid girl. Alex stop smiling with that silly maid from now on. She may start to get ideas. Remember that you are my boyfriend. I know you want to get into her pants. “ she sneered. “Believe me there is nothing interesting you will find there.”
Zawadi bit her lip as she heard those words. She didn’t know why Zesi and Zuwaida were so mean to her. She hadn’t done anything wrong. She wondered why they were so meant yet she was their step-sister. “oh grandma I miss you so much. I can’t believe my father lets his family treat me so badly. I wish I could come back to stay with you.” She sobbed silently as she went back to the kitchen, her shoulders hunched.
Zawadi picked up a basket and headed out to the nearby Githogoro slum to get some vegetables. There was a squatter farmer who grew vegetables near the slum and had some good produce. He didn’t use sewage water; there was a man-made pond next to the shamba which was used to water the plants.
As Zawadi left the compound she met with Maria. Maria was the community gossip. She was a nice lady, not too bright but always ready with a smile and a story for everybody.
“Zawadi have you heard the news?” Maria said. She had a look of excitement about her.
Zawadi asked “what news?”
“Rafik the musician is moving into Runda. He will be here in one week. Isn’t that exciting? We may get a chance to meet him. Maybe he can sign my autograph.” Maria said.
Zawadi smiled and said “maybe!”
“Guess what the most exciting part is. He is having a party one month from now. I hear he will be inviting some of the neighbours. Maybe you will get invited,” Maria said oblivious to Zawadi’s feelings.
Zawadi frowned and said “I don’t think I will be invited. You know that my father has not acknowledged me as his daughter thanks to Madam Asila. Everybody knows me as the maid. I will not be invited to the party.”
Maria started talking about how she would love to work for Rafik. “Do you think he is hiring new staff Zawadi? I could go work for him. It would be so much fun.” She battered her eyelashes. “I need to go find out from the watchman if they are hiring.”
Zawadi just smiled. Maria would not last in a musician’s household. With her big mouth, she would give the press all the information about what was going on inside the house. She would be fired in a week. Which reminded Zawadi of something.
“Maria, have you told anybody that Mr. Mbukali is my dad? You know I told you that in strict confidence and only after you noticed that we look alike!”
Maria said “I haven’t told anybody. I can keep a secret you know!”
That did not reassure Zawadi but she let it go. There was no point of showing Maria that she did not trust her ability to keep a secret.
Maria wasn’t going very far. She had been sent by the madam to a compound not too far away. She told Zawadi all the latest gossip and then left Zawadi on her own.
Zawadi walked alone daydreaming about meeting Rafik. She wondered what she would say if she did. She was a girl from the village and didn’t know what she would talk about with Rafik. ‘Best to stop daydreaming’ she thought, ‘that man is out of my league!’
Thinking of her mother who had died when she was 10 she said out loud, “men are only after one thing and when they get it they will dump you faster than last week’s sukuma wiki. I will not make the same mistakes my mother made. Falling for a man who didn’t keep his promises.”
What is Zawadi talking about? Find out in part 2 of the story about how Zawadi ended up working as a maid in her father’s house. Sexy Cinderella It’s Almost Midnight: An African Love Story – A Love In The Village