Sasha could not stop smiling. She just finished reading the letter Jamal dropped in her bag earlier in school. She had made sure to do all her chores before going back to bed. She cooked for the house because her mother was still selling in the market. She swept the floor and washed the family bathroom. She put her younger brothers to bed and washed all the plates. Only her mother’s food was left. She was as happy as she could be. She put off the lantern and slept.
The next morning was a routine. She fetched water for the whole family, put breakfast on fire and went to have her bath. She packed everyone’s food and took her brothers to their school. She then headed off to school. Sasha was a beautiful girl who got attention no matter what she was wearing or where she was. So, it was understandable when boys started calling her name once she entered the school compound. She saw Jamal from afar and started smiling. Their eyes met and once she was near him, they started walking together.
“Hey Beautiful, thought you were going to be late today”, Jamal said. Sasha Chuckled.
“No way. I got up earlier than usual. Wanted to look as beautiful as possible for you today.”
“You still remain the most beautiful girl in the world.”
They both smiled and walked towards their class.
Sasha and Jamal were the most popular couple in school. They were in the same class and you could see them together every other place in the school. Jamal was not the most handsome of boys but was surely the most charming. Their physical attributes though, was second in the order of what their admiration was gotten from. They were the top two students in the class.
The bell rung for lunch and the couple walked into the cafeteria. As they settled down to eat their lunch, Kevin entered. Kevin was the big bully of the school and the non-secret admirer of Sasha’s beauty. He moved towards them.
“Hey Sasha, how you doing?”
“You still with this douchebag. Come on Sasha, you know you can do better than this loser.”
“Let me guess, you are the better option.”
“You know this. Sasha, you are still going to come crawling to me one day.”
Sasha started laughing sarcastically. “Kevin, I have told you numerous times, there’s no way anything is going to happen between us.”
Kevin was furious. He liked her but wasn’t going to take anyone laughing at him. He threw his fist at her. Jamal had been quiet since the beginning because he wanted to avoid any kind of trouble. What he was not going to stand however, was his girlfriend being beaten. He held Kevin’s hand and punched him in the face. Kevin returned the gesture with a punch of his own and a fight started. It went on for another five minutes before they were separated by the principal. They were both put into detention and their parents were informed. Jamal walked Sasha to her home before calling his driver to come and pick him.
When Jamal arrived home, he was surprised. He saw packing boxes in front of the house being loaded into trucks. He rushed into the house and met his mother in the living room.
“Mum, what’s happening?”
“We are moving Jamal. Your dad got a job in Britain. It was an immediate order. He left earlier this afternoon. We are going to meet him there. We leave in an hour.”
Jamal looked distraught. He was lost. The first thing that came to his mind was to go to Sasha’s house to tell her but his mother could not allow him as she didn’t want any delay. Jamal thought for a moment and an idea came to him. He got a piece of paper and wrote a letter to Sasha. He boxed it up with a phone and gave it to his driver to deliver it to her. He drove off quickly and met Sasha in front of her house doing her homework. He delivered the box and left immediately. Sasha was booming.
“Jamal couldn’t wait for a moment. Didn’t he just leave a couple minutes?”
She opened the box and saw the letter and phone. She opened the letter and read it out loud.
“I’m sorry that I could not say goodbye before leaving. It came as a surprise to me too. Dad got transferred to Britain and mom and I have to leave immediately. I wrote this as fast as I could. Sasha, I met you three years ago and nothing has been the same in my life. You have helped me change the way I think and feel about myself. Don’t forget the promises we made to each other. The future we planned, the things we said. I will never forget you. I will come back as soon as I have it all together. I will come for you and fulfill my promise to spend the rest of my life with you. Just do one thing for me, wait. If you want to, send a text message to my mum’s phone, I’m with it. I’m waiting. I love you.”
Sasha was not sure about how she felt. She was sad she won’t get to see Jamal every day. On the other hand she was happy about the letter and the promise. She had a huge decision. This was Jamal. The one person she had always loved. She took a deep breath and she was convinced. She picked up the phone and sent a message to him. “I’ll wait.”
Sasha was happy about her decision. She finished up her homework and started walking to her brothers’ school to pick them up. She was humming a song and was hopping a bit. Suddenly someone on a bike went past her and grabbed the phone from her. She screamed, “Thief, thief, help, help…” No one was around and the bike sped off. She was devastated. After getting her brothers back home, she went into her room and started crying. That was the only way she could keep in touch with Jamal. After about two months, she stopped crying. She could only hold on to the promise Jamal made her.
Ten years passed and Sasha was done with high school and community college. Only problem was that she couldn’t get a job. One afternoon, Sasha was in the bank to get a loan. She was carrying her baby. She had been on the queue for about an hour. She was about to go into the office to see the person in charge when she heard someone call her name.
“Sasha”. She looked and she couldn’t believe her eyes. It was Jamal Blackman in flesh and blood. She could not hide her surprise. She moved towards him slowly and they hugged. She started crying. When the hug loosened, she cleaned her face.
“How have you been, Jamal?”
“I’ve been wonderful. How have you been?”
“I can tell just by your look. I’ve been okay. What are you doing here?”
“I was looking for you. I got into the country yesterday night. I went to your house this morning and they told me you moved. I got to your apartment and your roommate said you were here. Hey let me get you a drink.”
They moved to a restaurant nearby and got a table. Jamal chose not to talk about the baby because they were still outside. They sat down and Jamal started smiling.
“You haven’t aged a bit. You are still as beautiful as ever.” Sasha’s face started changing. She started crying. She was beating Jamal on the chest.
“Why, why Jamal? Why didn’t you come earlier? I have been lonely, why were you not here to help me. I know you chose not to ask about the child. Why? You don’t want to know about him or you need me to tell you without asking. I needed you dearly. Why Jamal?”
By this time, Jamal was moody and his eyes were filled with tears. “Who is the father?”
“Kevin”. Jamal was startled.
“After I finished college, I couldn’t get a job. I met him at one of the interviews I went for. He was the one in charge of hiring. We caught up after the interview. He told me later that day that the only was he was going to give me the job was if I slept with him. I had a sick brother, a barely healthy family and I needed the money. I didn’t have a choice. After he slept with me, he told me that he could not get me the job. He was not sorry though as he was merely interested in fulfilling a high school promise he made to himself to sleep with me. I got pregnant and then I had him.”
Jamal was dumbfounded. He could not believe his ears. He had waited ten years to see Sasha. He has dreamt of it happening a million different ways but not once did he dream of this.
“What’s his name?”
Jamal hugged and lapped him. He looked up at her. He cleaned his face.
“Give me a second. Wait here, I won’t be long.”
He went into his car and drove off. After about thirty minutes, he came back into the restaurant. As he entered, Sasha could only imagine the worst. As Jamal got close to Sasha, he went down on one knee.
“Sasha Hart, will you marry me?”
Sasha froze. This wasn’t real. She just told him the worst possible thing she could after ten years apart and his decision was to marry her. But wait, this is Jamal. She was overwhelmed. She started crying again. She stood up and walked towards him.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes…”
Jamal smiled and put the ring on her finger. They hugged for about a minute then Sasha looked at the ring. On it was engraved, “Even Now”. The message was clear. Even when they have been separated for over a decade, even after she had made a horrible mistake, after it all, he loved her. He has accepted her mistakes and the consequences and as much as it hurts, he would share them with her. Even Now, he loved her.