I’d like this place more if it wasn’t so ancient. Since it’s summer the field are greener, the sky is clear and there is also a breath of fresh air with just the right amount of peace and silence making it easy to listen to singing birds and clucking chickens but in all honesty I can’t live in a place where there is not electricity, no accessible roads and a network that constantly has mood swings, in 2019. After his recovery Thobani helped me with finding Nomandla, “Wait you know her, too?” He asked before laughing out loud. I still don’t understand why he asked me that, he said she looks like someone we know but he wouldn’t tell me who. They first met at Wimpy where this young lady works part-time as a waiteress, he was busy speaking to her like an old friend and she played along because she didn’t want to embarrass him in front of his friends but before they left the restaurant she made sure to call him aside and cleared the air, very thoughtful of her. The first time I met her she looked nothing like I imagined her to be. I don’t know exactly how I thought she would look like but I’m definitely sure not like that, like this. She had the most clear skin you can think of, caramel complexion not dark yet no too light with black short hair, she was wearing a blue denim fitted dress that had gold buttons from above the knee all the way up to the chest. Our meeting was brief but I concluded that she was and still is a very smart, intelligent and polite girl even though she declined my offer to give her R1000 instead of the R200 I was given by her grandmother. It was only when I introduced her to Fezile that she finally believe I wasn’t a pervert or a blesser but I’m me. Fezile is magnetic, everyone likes her which can be both beautiful and annoying especially when random men at the hospital, mall or car wash start staring at her like she’s Eve from the Garden of Eden. They literally just got along so well and before I knew it they were video calling and texting each other. In one of our cuddling nights I told my wife about the old lady who sheltered and fed me when I was stranded in the middle of the night. I didn’t get into details but Fezile is not naive so I really had to find a way to explain to her why it was necessary to visit the old lady back. She looked at me for quite a while before taking a deep sigh, “I’d love to meet her” she said while typing nothing on my chest with her warm and soft fingers. She said it in the most sincere way possible. But then there was Thobani’s recovery and the shops opening to focus on, she promised that as soon as all that was over we were going to visit together with Nomandla. Yesterday was busy I only got to sleep in the early hours of today, she was already asleep when I got home I didn’t even get a chance to see what was underneath that dress. This morning she woke up and asked if we could come and visit here before we go back to our work schedules tomorrow and I said yes. I couldn’t risk saying no because since she’s pregnant you could wake up today and she feels like eating mayonnaise and sleeping the whole day and then you wake up tomorrow she feels like eating hot wings and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Mnqobi is still in Folweni with the rest of his cousins and his grandmother, Fezile’s mother has no life so all she does is babysit when we are busy or watch news channel or attend stokvel meetings. She’s not even that old but she decided to take an early retirement package. So it was a quick drive to Mangosuthu to pick Nomandla up, short left to Mega City Mall and a long drive here. I saw that place where I met those thugs, it was empty, I saw the offramp I so wish I never took the last time. I soldiered on driving suppressing enxiety and my mind recalling nightmares I want it to erase completely. We somewhere left the highway and joined the dusty gravel road along the way passing pedestrians who waved and smiled at us. Most of them were wearing different colours of church uniforms, it’s a Sunday today and Nomandla kept on waving back at almost all of them. Fezile’s white BMW series 6 is the car we are using, it’s small but I love it, I love her and this car just smells and feels like her and since she has a new one which she made it clear that I’m not allowed to drive, she doesn’t care about this no more. She even said I can sell it if I want to, but I won’t besides I haven’t decided what car I want to buy for myself I love big cars but also it has to be a less extravagant one I hate attention. A Jeep or Range Rover would be nice. I think this road ends here, next to this big old house that looks like a tuck shop slash tarven Nomandla jumps out of the car first and goes to speaks to someone whom I assume is the owner of this place, good we can park inside their premises, for free that’s very generous of him, you will never park for free in someone’s yard in Umlazi, people charge you for everything, whether they are changing your tire or carrying your shopping bags to the car. Soon they’ll start charging for greeting you, imagine ‘Hi neighbor’ then boom R5 bill. The people in the bottle store majority of young men keep whisling and occasionally clearing their throats I think they are trying to get Nomandla’s attention but she is ignoring them. We take the plastic bags from the boot and we get going, as much as I am wearing brown cutty cargo pants and a navy blue golf T-shirt I remembered to put on sneakers because we still have to descend a mountain. Fezile is also wearing sneakers, a beautiful floral long sleeves dress and a doek, she looks like a true makoti, my beautiful, sexy and smart makoti. Nomandla is leading the way, still wearing the same dress she wore the first time I saw her with black flat pums this time. She and I are carrying two plastic bags each, from Pick’n’pay and Fezile has one big one from Ackermans. As we approach closer I can already see gogo walking around the yard slowly, I’m sure she doesn’t see us. Fezile stops and looks at me, Nomandla walks pass us. “Are you okay?” I ask, I’m not sure if it’s me or she’s having second thoughts about coming here, she looks uncomfortable. “They live here? In these…” She whispers, she can’t even call them houses. I nod. Fezile has never seen anything like this in person. Being born by a mother who was a high school principal and a father who worked in Durban Bayhead, top that with being able to study overseas she only sees such things on the news. There are shacks in Umlazi and other parts of Durban but those people have limited spaces so they build something temporary until they can afford to buy or build themselves houses. This family has enough land and they’ve been living here probably for as long as this grany has lived as to why the local government is not doing nothing about this situation beats me. We can hear screams and noise I guess the granny and granddaughter have reunited. We approach slowly with Fezile now walking behind me. “How did you get here, it’s a Sunday there is no transport?”_ gogo asks Nomandla, she doesn’t answer instead she turns and look at me, the granny turn her head also to look at me from head to toe and then looks at Nomandla again. I think she doesn’t recognize me and if that’s the case I’ll be sad really. “It’s him gogo, he is here to visit you” _Nomandla says politely I still can’t get over how familiar she looks. Gogo walk closer to me, both her hands on her chest, it’s like she doesn’t believe that it’s really me and that I’m here. I don’t know what to say either we are just looking at each other. “Sawubona ma (hello mother)” I say, her face lights up I think she recognizes the voice. “You kept your promise” She says in disbelief. “Yes I did” I say putting down the plastic bags and reaching for a hand shake. She throws herself in my arms and I hug her. She says she is happy to see me. She pulls away from me and her eyes look over my shoulder, she then smiles at Fezile and looks back at me. “Ma meet my wife Fezile Ntuli, my love this is her” I say stepping aside so they can see each other, Gogo looks very confused right now but she smiles nonetheless. They are done hugging, good we need to get inside the house or find a cooler corner it’s hot out here.
“Is this the new mfundisi?(pastor)” _one asks. “No it’s Malume from Ethekwini”_ The other one says. “But why is he wearing Baba’s clothes?” _ one of them again “shhh, don’t disrespect an elder”_ the eldest one whispers. They’ve been scrutinizing and gossiping about me right here next to me, these kids are little devils I tell you. We are washing the windows together even though I feel like I am the only one who is doing the job they are contributing to the dirt with their finger prints and dirty clothes but they are good company, their smiles and giggles are everything. It’s like they don’t see that there is something wrong with everything about this picture -The picture that is their lives. They live with a granny, I don’t see or hear about their mother or mothers. I didn’t even know there was a male figure in this family until I was offered clothes to change into by gogo when I started to clean around the yard, it was bushy. She said the clothes belong to her son whom now I know is these kids’ father even though I found out in a not so nice way. When we came they had gone to Sunday school, and as soon as they got back they ran to me before going to the kitchen I think that they mistook me for their father nonetheless I carried them in my arms when they threw themselves at me, two at a time, they are true bundles of job. The youngest two must be six years or so the other one maybe a year older and then the eldest one must be ten I’m guessing.
You should have seen them when we were running after the chicken, I couldn’t catch up they run like little springboks, Yes, gogo slaughtered a chicken for us as a welcome gift, not everyone gets that privilege so we are very special guests. I haven’t seen Fezile and Nomandla for the past hour, the last time I saw them they were walking from one roundavel to the other with dishes and brooms. Gogo is in the garden I’m not sure what she’s doing there. My phone rings, it’s Malume “Greetings Malume”_I answer. Silence then a sigh “Sakhile when are you planning to visit Mahlangu again?”_ he asks, softly but definitely not polite. Mahlangu is that sangoma or prophet he once took me to and truth be told I wasn’t planning on going back there. “I’ll go soon” “when is soon?” _he asks, fast. Dude woke up on the wrong side of the bed but I can’t lie to him, that’s one skill I haven’t mastered, yet. “Tell Makoti that we left the keys with the security guard”_ he says when he realizes that I wasn’t going to answer his question. He must be talking about the keys of that house in BB where they were staying. They are going back to the farms today and I was hoping that they stay longer, it’s nice to have them around but trying to separate Malume from his livestock and Malumekazi from her garden is mission impossible. “Thank you, I’ll tell her”_ I say, it’s funny how he hasn’t asked me where are we “Sakhile since I’m leaving you need to man up, behave like a man that I raised you to be, don’t disrespect your wife like that ever again”_he says, so we’re still there? I thought I was forgiven. I took the beating for my sins. “It will never happen again I promise”_ I’m not lying, a part of me still doesn’t really know how things went that far out of control on that day with that woman. I know it sounds like I’m making excuses and maybe I am but I’ll never in a sober mind let anything come between Fezile and I. “Mahlangu said that if you don’t come back in 15 days do not have sex with your wife, it’s not safe for her and the baby”_ he says, his voice has changed he sounds worried and a little scared. At least he heard what the sangoma was saying I was just doing what I was instructed to do. No questions asked. Malume and his unfiltered mouth ‘do not have sex with your wife’ I’m sure there is a less explicit way of saying that like ‘do not become intimate with your wife’ or something. But then maybe this sangoma visit is a serious matter I should make a day to go and see him I don’t want anything happening to my family. “Another thing also I’m not really worried about Thobani getting into politics but I don’t like him cohabiting in my sister’s house” _he says before his goodbye. And I thought that we tried our best to hide Thobani and Nancy’s relationship, is there anything this old man doesn’t know?
“You’re beautiful” I say touching her hand as she takes away the dish of water she gave me to wash my hands, she smiles and turns to go away. Trust Fezile to fit in everywhere she goes, she’s wearing gogo’s new never been worn pinafore that fits her perfectly fine. “How many are there?”_gogo asks coming from behind me, I’m sitting outside on a wooden bench. What is she talking about? She lays her grassmat down and sits on it, I’m a little puzzled by her question so I look at her “The wives, is this the first one?” _she asks with a smile. Oh no this can’t be happening. The first time I came here I was with another woman and today I came with my wife. what made her think that there was something going on between us then? Unless Nonhle told her otherwise. Before I could answer Fezile is here with a tray of food, she gives me first and then gives gogo it’s the chicken and plain pap with no rama or carrots like how Fezile normally makes it, but still delicious as ever I clean the plate and if I could I’ll ask for some more. Nomandla brigs a jug of something she kneels and puts it in front of us. It’s mahewu, can I stay here a little longer? A day or two this food is life. I drink like there’s no tomorrow. My wife comes to pickup the empty plates and jug “I like this one better”_gogo says as we watch her walks away. “That’s my wife”_my mouth shoots without my permission, mind you I haven’t answered that question, but she’s an adult and she should know what my silence means. What does it mean anyway? Nomandla is back again, she bents next to her grandmother and says “She’s here”. She must learn to whisper “Tell her to come outside here with makoti, your uncle will go sit inside”_gogo says looking at me when she said ‘uncle’ I wonder why I’m being chased away but I take my bench and go midway I meet Fezile and another elderly woman who looks at me like she already knows me. I greet and pass. The Little mob is here and those oily chicks and the single bowl on the floor say they were eating, they’re arguing about something “I bet you gogo is going to scream first”_ the ten year old says “no, Lunga’s gogo is going to scream first”_that’s one of the toothless one’s they are not even paying attention to me not that I want one it’s been a long day and we should get going. *Screams* *loud screams* I panic and head straight to the door but the ten year old boy reaches it first “no man are allowed outside” _he says standing in the middle of the door. WTF! Women are screaming outside, my wife is with them and he tells me I can’t get out. I pull the door and pushes it. I’m going to smack the hell out of this kid. “They are performing ukuhlolwa Malume, men are not allowed to see” _he says, calmly. I let go of the door and look at him, he’s not lying I can tell but who tells them all these things and where did he learn to be so protective of his family? Had I forced to go out he would have fought with me I could see the fire in his eyes. Eventually he let’s go of the door and they all run outside, I need to change back into my clothes. When I come back Fezile and Nomandla are ready to go, not yet, my wife wants to wash the clothes I was wearing, the pinafore is already hanging to dry on the garden fence. She’s done in a flash and I’m just going to pretend like I don’t mind her touching another man’s clothes, she doesn’t even wash Thobani’s clothes anymore I told her to stop. Bitter Sweet goodbyes, hugs and tears but all coming from a good place-a loving heart.
I’m normally a shower person but today I settled for a long hot bath, Fezile has already taken hers that was half an hour long. We had to pass by Mega City again to buy some stuff for Nomandla, we also had to quickly get Mnqobi from Folweni I had missed him but I think he did miss us at all he loves playing outdoors with his cousins. He fell asleep the moment we got here which was a good thing because Fezile had a surprise for me, not a good one. She practically came down at me about how useless of a man Nomandla’s father is “Who has seven children with different mothers these days? In this economy? And then he dumps them with his mother and goes back to Joburg to make more babies!” She was furious. Apparently he is that kind, the trash kind. He can’t keep it in his pants, he goes around impregnating every woman he meets. He had Nomandla when he was in matric and then he fooled around not knowing what to do with his life for over ten years and then he got a job in Johannesburg through a friend of a friend of a cousin but every year he comes back with a child. He is too proud and arrogant he won’t allow his children to be raised by their mothers or anyone else yet he drinks his money and let gogo raise the kids with her pension money, Nomandla also contributes with her wages from her part-time job at wimpy. She’s studying through a Nomkhubulwane bursary program and amongst the requirements to qualify for the program you must be a virgin, now three years ago Nomandla did make it and got the bursary but now that’s not all, every end of semester she must undergo virginity testing to see if she still qualifies for the next semester funding. That’s a good thing right? It prevents teenage pregnancy and promotes education. You keep your legs closed, you get a education but Dr Zulu doesn’t see it that way “it’s the worst form of oppression Sakhile, giving the girls the illusion that they have something to gain from it! Who checks the boys if they have hit it or not? No one it’s always the girls because they can deflower themselves, right?”_ she kept on shouting at stove I had to kiss her to calm her down, as for who checks the boys if they have eaten the forbidden fruit there’s actually a way to know that, it’s even written somewhere in the bro code book, and if you get me enough Savanna, a little bit of whiskey and kilos of weed I might just be tempted to… Actually no I am not a snitch besides that’s not even the point. “Don’t you think that maybe it’s not all bad my love, I mean look at Nomandla, she’s what? 19 years old…” “21” _ she said fast. “She’s 21 and still pure, that’s a good thing she gets to focus on her education and forget about the fast life”_ I said and I could tell that she didn’t fully agree with me but it was enough to calm her down. We ended up talking about the good things that happened there, a lot of good things and how great she feels after visiting them, she really liked it there and they loved her too. “Are you drowning in there? Must I call an Ambulance?” _that’s her shouting from the bedroom. “I won’t die, not before you pay up. You owe me!” I also shout from the bathtub, I’ve been so lost in my mind I forgot the real reason I came here was to bath and go to bed. “I owe you what?”_she asks and I can tell that she’s smiling. “You didn’t show me what was underneath the dress yesterday”_ I say, how can she forget such an important debt? She laughs out loud, I swear the sound of her laughter does things to my heart, it’s sharp and melodic like ten times the innocent and heart-warming laughter of Zulu maidens laughing while sitting on the river banks, why am I comparing? It’s like nothing else that exists. “There was nothing”_She says, still in the bedroom. I’m done bathing now I’m in the closet searching for my pyjamas, I’ll settle for pants only it’s a little warm tonight, our bedroom is huge and then there is a passage that leads to the bathroom but in that passage there is the closest that has our swimming costumes, bath towels, pyjamas, gowns and all that stuff. It has two doors, if you open the door on the left hand side it will lead you to the bathroom, “Come-on what do you mean, ‘nothing’?” I say opening the door that leads to the bedroom. Holy cow! Goosebumps, butterflies, erection all at the same damn time, “Absolutely nothing”_she says, her left hand is on her hip and she is literally wearing nothing else except the gold high heels on her feet. For a moment I find myself frozen, just looking and appreciating the beauty that is her, no make-up, no doek or fake hair only her thick black afro and now no clothes she’s perfect. I smile and I’m sure I look like a dog seeing a bone. I throw the pyjamas away and I walk towards her, my hands wonder around not knowing which part of her to touch first, I close my eyes and her lips meet mine, I feel all kinds of electrifying feelings all the way down to my toes.I freeze again and she notices “It feels like the first time” I whisper,she smiles. I stand behind her, kissing her neck, shoulders, back, bums and the back of her thighs until I’m down with one knee. Back on my feet again I put my arms under hers from the back my hands find her chest, her breasts are so full and the nipples are pointing out. I fodle them gently while listening to the slow ‘mmmmmm’ sounds she is making. Her stomach is getting bigger but it’s smoth and warm. She turns to look at me and I see the desire in her eyes, they are a little smaller than normal but ever so beautiful. She grabs my penis, I think she wants to go down on her knees but I have another plan. I pick her up and gently put her on the bed, she lies on her back. I spread her legs apart, take off her shoes and throw them behind me. Oops! That didn’t sound too well, she heard it too. I hope I didn’t break them “were they expensive?” I ask, whispering. I’m being sarcastic really, of course they were expensive. She smiles and shakes her head I wonder what that means. I kneel down on the floor, the tiles are not even cold tonight my lips gently run through her inner thighs, left, right, right, left. There is something wrong with my body tonight, it’s not responding the way it normally does, I feel warm and ready but big guy down there is not getting hard, he should be a rock by now maybe god is punishing me for having sex on a Sunday but I can’t be blamed, look at this right in front of me, freshly shaved and it smells good. She almost sits up when I insert my tongue in there “Don’t move” I say “mmmmm” that’s all she is able to say. I can’t see her face and upper body I can only see the stomach and her hands rumbling with the bed cover as I play with my tongue inside her, I move faster and deeper until I feel something touch the back of my head, it’s her hand It’s soft and warm I must be doing this right because she’s moaning and calling my name. I stand up and my eyes meet hers, all I can see is fire,love and pleasure. A bit of submission too. Her breasts, it’s like they have a life of their own I fix my eyes on her as rub my penis on the top of her vagina with no intentions to insert it in her instead I push my finger in there still looking at eyes and I watch as she gains and looses power under my control, the rhythmic moans aligned with my finger movement, I hear my name whispered over and over again until her toes curl and her whole body vibrates. She says that she loves me before she falls asleep.
This young man needs to get a life, who calls at 00:00? I answer still, annoyed as hell “Please tell your guards to let me in”_ That’s all he says not even greeting, he can be such a spoiled brat if he wants to. I do what needs to be done, I’ve tightened up security after that break in and this new security company is doing a great job, no one gets in without proper identification scanned. Not even family or friends. he gets in and finds the fridge first, still no ‘hellow bhuti’ Nothing. He tries to take the beer, he looks at me and then puts it back and drinks milk instead, a whole 1l of fresh milk in one go. He’s acting very strange but I won’t make it easier for him by asking what’s going on? If he wants to tell me he will, if he doesn’t I’m going back to bed. “Please lend me your car”_ he says when he sees me walking back towards the main bedroom. I stop, so he rocks up in here unannounced, in the wee hour, he drinks milk and acts all shady what the hell is going on? “Where is yours?”_ I am calm, for now. “I misplaced the keys, I’ll explain everything tomorrow where are your keys?” _He asks standing up. This presidency thing is really getting into his head. He comes into my house wanting my things but he won’t give valid reasons why. “I don’t have a car, it was stolen, remember?”_ I’m not calm anymore I want to sleep, now. “Nancy left! she took her things and left me, I don’t know if she took the car keys or she hid them but they are not there I’ve looked everywhere. I need to find her bhuti, I need to get her back! Please.”_ He’s pleading now and I already feel sorry for him but there’s some explaining he still needs to do. “What do you mean she left, when? And why?”_ I sound like a security guard now, don’t I? He sits down on the couch, he bows his head and plays with his fingers. Silence. “She dumped me when we were in the resort in Nkomazi, we spent the weekend in separate rooms until we came back”_ he says, he’s not looking at me in the eyes. I need to sit down for this one, but not before I get a Savanna. It’s already after 00:45am and I have an early morning but I’m the boss so to hell with it. “If she dumped you then, how come you were all lovey dovey last night?” I ask as I take a sip, he looks at me once then looks down again. Oh hell no! “You are actors now Thobani? Huh? You pretend and fake smiles? Who taught you that?” He’s making me angry. “We didn’t want to worry everyone, Nancy promised sis’Fezile that she will be there at the event so we..” “fooled everyone!” My mouth shoots, I don’t even think there is a justification for what they did. But the next question is, “Why did she dump you, what did you do to her?” I ask, yes I already know that the break up was his fault. Nancy is a nice girl. For once since we’ve started talking he looks at me with red eyes, I look at him also and I see flames in his face, it’s like he’s thinking hard about something that makes him angry, furious even. He blinks rapidly and then sits back on the couch, folds his arms and sighs, I move to sit next to him and we both face the big blank TV screen in front of us. Silence. I pick up my savanna again,. “On the night of the break in, the night I got shot…” My bottle slips from my hand and smashes on the floor, there wasn’t much left so it creates no mess. My body always goes numb when ever I think about that day. “… with everything that was happening my phone ended up with her for the whole night and the morning after” He say. Phone? I don’t even have to ask I’m just going to look at him. “She doesn’t know the password, but they called, the other women, they wanted to speak to me” he says, All of a suden he’s the one who sounds angry more than hurt. Well he was cheating so I don’t feel sorry for him there, but also he had kept it a secret for so long and he was still going to keep it that way had I not messed things up and abandoned my responsibilities. Also I never, not even for a second took time to know how what happened that night affected them, it’s my fault and I feel guilty all over again. Either way I go and get the keys of the BMW and give him, he immediately stands up and reach for the door but I stop him, I have questions, not many, just two. “Do you regret coming to Fezile’s rescue that..?” “No” he answers, very quickly before I finish the question, I breathe. “Do you blame me for not being home that night?” I ask, I’m not sure if I want to hear the honest answer though. He looks at me briefly and then looks at the key in his hand “I’ll bring the car back in the morning” he says before rushing out, I’m just going to pretend like I don’t know what his silence means. As for his girlfriend, she left with the car keys so she wanted to be followed and also she made sure that she didn’t disrespect anyone of us even after she found out about his cheating ways, that on it’s own speaks volumes and for the first time ever Thobani is running after a girl, she’s The One even though they both don’t know it yet.
It’s going to take time for me to get used to this, my old office was small and full of papers and files all over the place, it was neat but too small. This new office is to die for, the building has only two storeys and my office is on the second floor, it has glass partition walls which are the best I’ve seen all my life, the furniture is wooden, walnut. To think that just ten years ago I was in a navy blue uniform driving from one business place to another and ensuring that people’s assets were safe and now here I am, a self-made entrepreneur who will stop at nothing to achieve his dream. I find myself looking at the cars on the parking lot outside the windows and watching my employees doing the job in the wash bays. “Do you have a minute?” A voice say behind me and I already know it’s James, I turn around, walk back to my desk and sit on the chair, he’s still standing by the door. Ever since that incident that landed Thobani in hospital my communication with James has been scarce, I think he’s avoiding me,as for why? I don’t know, but then he is annoyingly a great professional. What ever his personal thoughts about you are,they will never affect his job, ever! “This is the final copy of the lease agreement between the car wash and the other enterprises, Mabutho dropped it off on Friday” he says, very calm but there’s an obvious ‘I’m not in the mood for playing games’ look on his face. “Thanks” I say accepting the folder. “James, how many are up and running already?” I ask, I’m trying to lengthen our talk I know we have six spaces taken and one vacant. “Only one out of the seven is still vacant” he says, already holding the door handle. He opens it, looks at me and then closes it and walks back towards my desk. I have a feeling that we are about to talk, like really talk. “Suck…” I clear my throat, loudly. James knows that I don’t want him to call me by that name. Not because I don’t like it, I just hate the way he makes it sound like, it’s Sakhi! Not what he’s saying. “Can I ask you something?” He says and already I’m worried but I nod. “This is none of my business, really and if you don’t want to talk about it I won’t ask again…” “I said, you can go ahead and ask me” I say, firmly. We’re already here so he might as well get on it. Sighs and then silence. “The Uber driver, do you know her?” He asks looking directly at me, “It was a guy, but no, I don’t know him” I say. Thobani didn’t bring the car back so I had to take an Uber to come to work this morning, I don’t know why James is asking about it. “Okay” that’s all he says and heads for the door “Why do you ask?” I have a feeling there’s more to where that question came from. I stand up and walk around the desk to stand next to him, he puts his right hand on his pocket and takes out his phone, scrolls on the screen for a few seconds and then gives it to me “Press play” he says and I do so. The clip starts to play, I see the road so it must have been taken by someone who was driving, the camera moves slowly to the side and I see the trees and mountains it’s a beautiful view it looks familiar too. The person who shot the video must have been a passenger because I can now see the hands of the person who is driving, he’s wearing a hoodie there’s music too playing in the background, Shwi Nomtekhala. I love their music just not this specific song. The camera zooms in on the driver’s watch, it looks like mine even the clothes look like… Wait, I look at James and he’s sitting down on the only couch in this office he’s not looking at me but he is paying attention to my every move and sound. I loosen my tie and unbutton the last button on my neck, I’m wearing suits now, no more track pants and t-shirts at work. This can’t be happening, this video was taken by Nonhle on that day I was using her car to go to Mpumalanga I can hear her voice, she’s laughing and talking in the background while I’m driving and singing along to the music playing in the car, at some point I even wink at her and I’m smiling from ear to ear, I need to sit down before I faint. “There are pictures too where she’s wearing your jacket” he says visibly angry. I don’t want to see them. I’m really embarrassed now and afraid at the same time. I don’t know what to say or how to even explain myself to James, not that I need to but he’s my colleague and friend so out of respect I have to justify this nonsense he had to witness. “Where did you find this James?” I ask, the audacity. “It was on her Instagram story, and under was a caption ‘…and yes,he smells as good as he looks❤🌟❤” with two hearts and a star in between” he says, I didn’t ask about the captain but hey. He’s no longer looking angry he’s evidently hurt, agonized. “Who is she?” He asks, slowly, more like he’s pleading with me. The thing with James is that he’s not an impulsive person at all, he thinks, he plans and he strategize. He’s just asking out of respect for me but he already knows the truth backed up with evidence and reasonable arguments, you can’t lie to someone like him so he becomes the second person I tell the truth about my Mpumalanga shenanigans after my uncle. I still want to know why he had to go to her Instagram page and how he knew her name but I’m not sure how to ask him without sounding defensive. Silence, this is really awkward. “She came here looking for you…” What! This is bigger than I thought, she knows where I work? “… She said that you were high school friends and she needed to thank you for something, I recognized her from the Uber app and I asked for her contact details that’s how I got her name and number, I already knew there’s was more to the story I mean it took you 3 hours to ride from here to town, Allah knows what you and her did with all that time…” 3 hours? WTF is he talking about? It barley took us 30 minutes, he sees the reaction on my face “… I used my app to book the Uber, right? And you only cancelled the trip 3 hours later! Can you imagine how much I paid for that trip? So I snooped around and I found that video and those pictures” He says “How much was it so I can pay you back?” I ask, the look on his face says he’s offended “it’s not about the money Sakhile! I also know about that R2000 you transferred to her account from your account.” He knows everything, doesn’t he? Since we’re in the money talk, how about he explains the money he transferred to Thobani “That’s why you gave Thobah R7000?” I ask, “He took a bullet trying to save your wife while you were busy fucking your high school sweetheart in the jungle so give him a break!” He bursts out of anger! The transfer was hours before that but again he has a point. James sure knows how to hit where it hurts now I feel more guilty. “I called you numerous times and at some point I thought something had happened to you, your family wanted answers, your brother-in-law wanted answers. I called the lodge in Ermelo to ask if you checked in they said no, I called the garage to ask if you took the car they said no…” Geez! I didn’t realize that he had to go through all that trouble. “I didn’t mean for things to get to this” I don’t know what I’m trying to say really but I feel like I should be saying something to show that I’m paying attention to him. “And when you came back you were a mess. I could tell that you were hurt but more than anything you were overwhelmed by the guilt, so I had to find out what went down on that night? so that I’d know what to say to your father and your wife” he says, he calls my uncle, my father. I’m still trying to figure out how to respond to all of this so I walk towards the window with my hands in the pockets, I stand there facing the glass with my heart pounding like it’s about to burst out of my chest and I can feel presence behind me drawing nearer, he walks until he stands a few feets away from me, it’s a little too close for my comfort because I can literally hear him breathing behind me. “How long have you been seeing this Nonhle women?” He asks, he sounds so tired. “We are not seeing each other, it was a coincidence that we met that day” I answer, I’m being honest. “I thought we don’t lie to each other Sakhile” he says “I’m not lying! Yes I used to know her but we broke up before I got married and I never heard from her until that day.” “Do you love her?” He asks “No, I love Fezile” I say. “Did you sleep with her?”He asks, what’s this? A million questions? I don’t know how to answer this question, truth is we didn’t have sex but we tried and had we not been distracted by the snake we would have had it in the forest, my body cringes just thinking about it. The shadow behind me is gone, I turn around and I see him sitting on the couch again, both his elbows are one his knees and he keeps pressing his fists together. “How do I fix this James?” I’m desperate I’d do anything to make sure Fezile never finds out about this. “Go back in time, ignore that uber, cancel the trip, ask me to book you another appointment.” He says, not even looking at me. He’s being sarcastic. Maybe I should call my wife and explain to her, she loves she’ll understand “What are you trying to do?” He asks when he sees me taking my phone. “I’m calling Fezile” I say “And what are you going to tell her? ‘Hey love, I met my Ex 3 weeks ago, I took her out for lunch, drove her car, smashed her in the jungle and lied to all of you…” “Whose side are you on James? Mine or Hers?” I ask “Why are you and your wife on opposite sides Sakhile? How is that okay with you?” He bursts again. I put my phone down and I go back to my chair. I don’t know what to do, I’m scared for her “She’s can’t find out man, it will kill her” I say and he can see that I’m serious “Fezile is a good woman brother, you can’t do this to her….” I know that but what do I do now? “Go to the police station and apply for a restraining order against Nonhle, I’ve already got someone to hack into her Instagram and Twitter account and have all the data deleted including the video and the photos…if I was able to figure this out it means Fezile could also, she knows something went down on that day which makes me think that one of the reasons she went to Mpumalanga with you yesterday was to connect the dots…” Oh hell no. Why I never thought of that? “… Just stop being secretive and play far away from your Ex, she’s bad news” He says before standing up. “Thanks for always having my back” I say but he exits and doesn’t even close the door behind him, he is mad at me he can’t hide it.
I had a rough morning and calling Thobani who is stressed about his ‘missing’ girlfriend made it even worse, I also visited Fezile at work during lunch and that was the highlight of my day, a minute next to her is all I needed to put my heart at ease. She said that she’ll come to pick me up after work and we’ll drive home together. When I got back in the office, Bheki paid me a visit, he asked me if I’ve found the missing cars and offered to also ask one of his cop friends to speed up the process, apparently he’s got friends in the blue and navy bunch. But the real reason he came here was to ask me to be his best man at his wedding which is due early next year, he’ll be 31yrs old next year. I don’t know why people misunderstand him so much, Fezile thinks that he’s creepy, James thinks he’s dangerous, I can also feel that he’s got a lot going on in his life, some of it I can’t put my finger on. It’s like he’s trying to break free or start over, a feeling I know too well, but he’s a cool guy, very respectful and humble. He was not wearing his usual choice of clothes today. I said yes to his offer because I already know that Fezile will be Sonto’s maid of honor besides other than being invited as a VVVIP whatnot I might as well at least have a role to play in that wedding. It’s almost 4pm and I’m going to leave in an hour, what a day it’s been! “Okay I’ve been thinking of a way you can make it up to Fezile and I think I’ve got the perfect idea” He says as he walks in without knocking. I thought he was long gone, I wonder what he’s up to but let me just listen, I’m very good at it. “You applied for a personalized number plate for her new car, right? At first I thought MANTULI-ZN was okay but ah ah, Fezile is smart and sophisticated and modern, I’m thinking DRNTULI-ZN, you know” I’m just going to pretend like he didn’t just praise my wife in front of me, but MaNtuli has a nice tone to it, I liked it “what’s wrong with MaNtuli again?” I ask. “There nothing wrong it’s just that it’s a little domestic, when I see Ma.. automatically I think, kids, mother, wife and all that but when I see DR then I think class, glamour and smart. I know you can make it happen” He says, this guy is always thinking I tell you, but if he thinks it’s important then it’s worth it and I’ll do anything that would make my wife happy. Anything. “Okay I’ll make some calls” I say, you should see the mischievous smile on his face, he can be such a character if he wants to “Oh I almost forgot, I paid R20k for the Uber that day, so when can I expect my money?” He asks, smiling as he exits. What? No ways! That’s day light robbery.
He’s back again “You should just bring your chair and we’ll share this office”I say, he’s been coming in and out of here the whole day. He doesn’t even pretend to smile, what’s going on now? “I found this on my desk”He says handing me an unsealed white A4 envelope, I take it and pull out the documents inside. Damm it! The odds are going against me today, “You said that there’s nothing going on between you and this Nonhle woman, yet I find a bill from your lawyer charging you for the information he’s been feeding you on how the case of her stolen car has been going. What’s going on with you Sakhile?” He’s angry at me again, we must bring cameras and have our own reality TV show, there’s so much drama in this office. “Look James I asked Zweli to keep an eye on the case simply because I think that the same guys who tried to steal Nonhle’s are the same people who broke into my house and stole my cars.” I explain but his facial expressions clearly disagrees “Really? I don’t know what is worse the secrets or the lies” he says throwing himself on the couch and putting his leg on the small round shaped table next it. “I’m not lying!” I shout, unintentionally. “How did they find your house Sakhile? How did get pass security?” He asks, he’s tone is soft but he’s definitely not calm, we’re fighting I’ve concluded. “James they drugged me, stole a car I was driving and left me to die in a fucking bush! They had my phone, wallet, bank cards and everything you need to know who I am and where I came from.” “What time was this?” He asks, a little bit calmer. “It was in the afternoon around 3-4pm” I’m not really accurate but it was around there. “So what you are trying to tell me is that these two guys, stole your side chick’s car…” “She’s not my side chick!” What is wrong with him? “Okay they stole her car, they drove to a certain place where they parked and went through your staff, discovered that you have two cars in the garage and called their third friend to help them steal your cars, they then drove in separate cars and got stopped by the police, through gun fights and them running away from the cops they still had time to drive to Umlazi, a place they barely know and steal your cars, put them in a safe place and went back on the road so that they could be caught by the police and get arrested? Is that your story?” He asks, I don’t know what he drank today but honestly he’s not normal. I shake my head trying to hide the fact that I’m angry at him more than anything. “Sakhile these guys are rookies there is no way they could pull off two robberies in two different cities in a space of 5 hours, it’s impossible. And the people who broke into your house were experienced” He says. One thing I’m sure of is that James is a thinker, he won’t have an opinion on something unless he’s thought about it thoroughly. “What are you trying to say to me James?” I’m not angry anymore I’m fine I can take it. I move to sit down next to him on the couch, he turns and we face each other “I might be wrong, but I don’t think that the guys who hijacked you are the same guys who broke into your house. The hijacking took place in the afternoon and from the time the police stopped these guys to the time they got arrested every second is traceable, there is no way that they stopped by to break into your house without being seen by the police, besides your cars got stolen early Fezile called me around 7pm to say that there were people who had come to fix your car and by the time I figured out what was going on it was too late. There is no way that two guys could steal a car in Mpumalanga around 4pm, then three of them steal two cars in Umlazi at 7pm and then two of them get arrested in Mpumalanga around 8pm” he explains calmly. I stand up, not really sure where I’m going I end up pacing up and down, Zweli did say that the detective on the case said they couldn’t find any link between these two thugs and the cars that were stolen from my house. To think that I almost killed them! It’s almost 5pm and Fezile should be here any minute from now, but if it wasn’t those thugs who broke into my house then who did? “So who took my cars James?” He doesn’t know for sure but he’s had enough time to have an idea who it is. “I don’t know” he says, silence. I stop walking and go to sit on top of the desk with my legs hanging and my arms folded across my chest “You don’t know?” I ask he must tell me what he’s thinking, Now! “But I think you were betrayed by someone you know, someone who knows your house in and out, someone who had their way around the security guard. But most importantly by someone who knew that you won’t be home that day, so the answer to your questions is actually a question itself, who did you tell about your trip to Mpumalanga?” He asks looking at me in the eyes, “I told no one, not even Thobani. Only three people knew. It was you, Fezile and myself” I say, he shakes his head. “And your friend from Boom-Bull?” he asks, boom-bull? Boom… Oh! Umbumbulu, James and his accent I give up. I did mention it to Bheki in our conversation when he came here the day before I left but what does that have to do with anything? “He came here to ask you to give him an alibi just in case the police called asking about his whereabouts but no one ever called because after you told him that you were going away he didn’t carry on with his previously planned trip instead he decided to…” “James Stop!” I snap. I don’t want to hear it. He’s never liked Bheki, ever. I hate how his theory makes though, I did tell him that I was going away on business, he knows my house in and out, he knows how many security guards I have at my house in the night, he has two other brothers who are exactly his height and weight, he also wasn’t there in the hospital when the whole family was there “Sorry I couldn’t come come last night, I couldn’t leave the kids alone hubby didn’t come home, again” his wife said to my wife that morning. But no man he’s a good guy he would not betray me like this. “Like I said I don’t know, but it’s either you think that it’s me, Fezile or him” James says before he leaves. Can I ever catch a break?
I went to the bedroom as soon as I got home, I was visibly furious poor Fezile apologized thinking I was mad because she didn’t pick me up after work, if only she knew how hectic my day has been, I came in here to take a shower but I ended up sitting on the floor and I let the water run on my back, I’m in pain and I’m suffocating, “Babe, Your phone is ringing” Fezile shouts from one of the rooms, I think the kitchen because that’s where I left my bag, jacket and keys “Who is it?” I ask, I don’t feel like speaking to anybody “I don’t know let me check… It’s Zolani!” She shouts, “Answer it and tell him I’m in the shower” I say, I need to rest… “Why are you taking a cold shower?” Fezile asks, I didn’t hear her come in let alone realizing that the water was cold, why is she here anyway? “He wants to speak to you” She says giving me a towel and then the phone, after drying my hands I wrap the towel around my waist while holding the phone with my shoulder “Mphemba… I’m okay what’s up?” He’s sounding so… I don’t know, tired or sick. “As in Now?” He wants us to come to his house in Umhlanga “Okay we’ll be there shortly” I hung up and tell Fezile what her brother wants but she already knows. I get dressed,we call Mnqobi and we go outside, he has sent two cars to pick us up. It’s those big black cars with tainted windows, no network coverage inside and drivers who only speak in codes. Good we’re here in no time, trying to describe how beautiful this mansion is is merely impossible, actually it’s not a mansion, it’s a palace. It’s perfectly white with purple light, two swimming pools, four garage doors, a garden, tenis cour and everything you’d expect and unexpect in a five star hotel. We are parked in front one of the garage doors, normally we park next to a sign written ‘The Zulus’ but I take it this is not a normal invite. Fezile took Mnqobi inside as soon as one of the guards opened the door, I’m going to try and find Zolani before I get in any of the rooms “Good you are here so you can talk some sense into his head, unless you both planned this!” She says standing in front of me, I didn’t know she was here I’d have worn long pants, she’s such a diva let alone her anti-aging secret. A typical female teacher with the iconic wedge footwear and planted dreadlocks. At least I know how Fezile will look like in her 60s “Sawubona Mkhwekazi (greetings mother-in-law)” I say, manners madam principal. She smiles and shakes her head, the kids pass running and she disappears with them I must find Zolani, I already know he is in trouble, there is one open garage door maybe he is inside as I walk towards it I can see three guard running towards me, I arrive first and get inside, it’s dark so I switch on the lights. Two gaurds stand next to the door one is scratching his head the other one his chin they’re panicking. If I didn’t know better I’d say that they don’t want me to be here in this room, they are having a conversation with their eyes but since the person I was looking for is not here I should get out, I see relief in their faces when I step outside there is this weird energy that I’m getting and it’s tempting me to get back inside, I’m now looking for something I just don’t know what exactly. My eyes wonder around the room it’s empty except for something that is wrapped with the tarp, it’s heavy but I manage to unwrap just the Connor, it’s steal, a lot of it and now that I look closely I think it’s car parts and they are not brand new… These rims look like… Okay Sakhile you need to stop being paranoid, it can’t be that this is your Mercedes Benz that has been butchered like this. I remove the tarp completely and I freeze. Just looking at these pieces of my car makes my heart sink, I’m not even sure how I’m feeling right now, my heart is in pieces, I’m so confused. I turn to see if the guards are still standing outside, no they have disappeared. What’s going on with my life? I thought that things were working out for me, that finally I’m going to live a life I’ve always wanted. Why can’t I seem to catch a break, what did I do to deserve all the suffering? Zolani walks in and heads straight for the plug, he’s on the phone busy cursing loudly I think he wants to switch off the lights but his eyes scan the room and he freezes when he sees me sitting down next to the remains of what used to be my ride. His eyes are red but I’m sure mine are worse. For a moment we stare at each other, no word, just the sound of us inhaling and exhaling. He cuts the call without saying goodbye eventually I find my voice “Why is my car a skeleton in your garage?” My voice is trembling I’m angry. “It’s not what you think, come on let’s get out of here I’ll explain everything to you tomorrow” he says stretching out his hand, I don’t take it and I don’t want to wait for tomorrow. “I want to know, now” I say, he looks shocked. “Zulu I called you here for a very important reason, I know you want answers about what you’ve just witnessed and I’ll give them to you but not now… You don’t think I can steal from you right?” He asks, and the truth is he would never steal from me, the man can buy whatever he wants he can even pay the Eskom debt if they ask him nicely but that doesn’t change the fact that my car is in pieces in his garage and he has never said anything about it to me. “No but you know the person who stole from me and you’re are protecting them. Why!” I loose my cool “You know I went through hell trying to get these cars back for you! I had to phone the minister to get the helicopter so we can chase those thieves while you were busy getting arrested in Mpumalanga..” He’s now screaming at me. Red as hell, using state helicopter for personal use is illegal by the way but this is Zolani Ntuli, he does what he wants and when he wants to, and what does he mean I was arrested? “I never got arrested!” I say WTF! “When no one seemed to get hold of you I had your phone traced and it pinpointed in a police station tower in Ermelo, the station commander that side confirmed that your belongings were there but he wouldn’t say why…” Using states resources just to trace your sister’s husband is illegal too, am I the only male adult in this family who has no connection in the police department? “… I didn’t ask you about all this out of respect and I know if you wanted to tell me you would have, in your own time and terms, same as this …” He says pointing at the car parts “… I’m going to tell you about it tomorrow, or you want us to do this now starting with what went down in Mpumalanga?”He says, he’s not looking friendly I can tell you that. It’s been a long hell of a day and endless drama. I guess it all can wait until tomorrow. I give him my hand and he pulls me up we both exit and walk towards the main entrance.