THE RING FIRE
Every baby is born with their tiny hands folded. That, right inside that folded little palm, is the gift the baby carries into this world. Not everyone gets married because not everyone is born gifted with marriage. Not everyone becomes a successful businessman too, because not everyone was born with that gift. We cannot all become healers, some of us weren’t born with that gift. We all have different purposes in life, different journeys and footprints to leave behind. I swear to God, this world could have been a better place. Only if we didn’t have people who interfere with other’s lives. You can study hard, hustle until you sweat a storm, know people who know people in high places, but if someone is holding your gift and blessing in your life you’ll never say; “keep the change,” or “drinks on me”. Sadly, people who block your blessings are never too far. We usually stand in the ring of fire and dine with the very same people who struck a match.
I was born for the glitz and glam. Luxurious bags, overseas trips, bacon and eggs every morning. Top Billing kind of mansion and expensive cars. Lamborghini or nothing. Bank balance that looks like a cellphone number.
I worked hard at school, I always came top in every subject, I was every teacher’s favorite student, you know the type that washes the teacher’s lunchbox and takes her books to the staff room after class. I was charming as well, every boy wanted a piece of me, you know the “eat diamonds and shine all day” type. I was never too busy to be beautiful, I was 16, of course I got carried away and made a few mistakes. Well, maybe not a few, a lot of them actually, I have an 8 year old with no dad to prove it. But that- my son- didn’t stop me from chasing my dreams. I left him with his grandmother, my mother, and went to University Of Cape Town. I may have been born in the township but that didn’t limit me from dreaming big, out of the box of professions that were considered to be tickets to well-paying jobs. I’m not going to name names, you know teachers and nurses and social workers. I went there and studied BSc in Biochemistry and Biology. My cousin, Salabenzeni, settled for Elangeni College studying God knows what. From that name you must’ve already established that I come from a very dramatic family, they’ve always had constant feuds and they didn’t hesitate to give their children names to send strong messages to one another. My father and his brother were at odds when Salo was born, it was just a week after they had a physical altercation. Apparently my father had gotten a massive ass-whooping and the clown that his brother was decided to name his daughter Salabenzeni, meaning ‘what did they do after I left’. Well, nothing, my father did nothing, he licked his wounds and went back to his wife to create me. I was born a year later and guess who I am…let’s attend to that later, shall we?
Moving on, five years later I had graduated, I was back in the province job-hunting between Pietermaritzburg, Durban and Richard’s Bay. A cum-laude graduate like myself didn’t have to draft CVs and show up for interviews, my academic record was too colorful, companies just needed to send me date and time to show up for work. But this world is not my oyster, it never was, I had to run from company to company begging pot-bellied managers wearing Identity shirts to take my CV. Time was running out, I had a son to feed and my mother was getting impatient, people were asking; “Elizabeth when is your daughter going to start supporting you? Didn’t she graduate from Cape Town?” I had to make ends-meet for a short period of time- it has been 3 years now.
Luckily in Tongaat they had just opened a new company that manufacturered wiring harnesses for the Auto Motive industry. Salo was also struggling to get a job, she tagged along when I went there to drop my CV. There were a lot of applications, they were starting off and hiring everyday.
I was confident, very confident. My CV was juicer, thicker and colorful-ier inside. I had nothing to worry about, I sat at home and patiently waited for the interview call. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months. Salo was already hired and in my head she got hired early because she was just a general worker and they were going to hire for my position probably at last. As dumped girlfriends would say when comforting themselves; one man’s one trash is another one’s treasure…something along those lines. Well, I was just making a quote, I wasn’t any man’s treasure unfortunately, every door closed on my face.
I had to be humble and lower my standards. I had to frame my degree and hang it on the wall next to my late father’s picture. It’s called humble beginnings, sometimes you just have to start from the bottom to make it to the top. I haven’t made it to the top though, I’m just saying- sometimes I’m a motivational speaker. I’m currently a cum-laude graduate employed at Shoprite, never make a mistake of leaving that ‘cum laude’ behind when addressing the kind of a graduate I am, it’s a matter of life and death.
It’s 6pm and I’m heading home, it’s 20 minutes away from town. I’ve always looked down on VW cars but they’re not that bad. I’m a Lamborghini kind of girl but the Polo Vivo is okay as well, it gets you from one point to another, that’s better than walking. It’s just not as fast as I want it to be. I’m watching it from the taxi window, I’m the girl being scolded by the taxi driver for being R1 short. The Polo driving slowly in front of us belongs to Salo, they promoted her at work, she comes home every Fridays with her mother’s groceries.
Life has proven me that there isn’t always a light at the end of the tunnel. Being poor today doesn’t mean you’re being prepared for something big by God. Trust me, I know.
Oh fuck it!
“Eringin driver,” I yell from the back.
He clicks his tongue first, he’s still angry about the R1. So much drama, the taxi was coming this side anyway.
“I want my money tomorrow Nondumezulu.”
Oh well, the name, I prefer Nondu.
THE RING FIRE
The taxi drops me outside the gate, my son is already waiting for me and suddenly everyone inside the taxi is peeping through the windows and greeting him. Nzuzo is the star in the community, he’s famous, everybody knows him. He was named by my mother, she said she’s naming him Nzuzo because one day he’s going to become successful and give us everything we want. But I’m not stupid, here they don’t just make names up like that, she named him Nzuzo because he was the profit I got from my ‘hot girl’ lifestyle. I love my son though, I believe most of the things I do now are for him, he’s my whole world. Nzuzo was born with Autistic Disorder. He’s only learning some words now at 8, he attends a special public school in Majuba Reserve, Ethel Mthiyane Special School. If it wasn’t for the school I don’t know what I would’ve done, he’s an expensive child even with his education taken care of by the government. I think people love him for his mischievous behavior and because he’s a funny child. His deficient speech just adds the humor spice. He’s very talkative when he wants to talk, and when he decides not to he’s very moody. Today he’s not in the mood, the taxi passengers are greeting him and he’s not even lifting his head to look at them. Everyone understands him, the taxi driver who was scolding me not so long ago for R1 hands me the slab of chocolate and asks me to give Nzu- that’s what everyone calls him.
I greet him, he doesn’t respond to me either, he just walks in front of me with his hands inside the pockets of his trouser. I tell him about my day, he loves hearing about it, he thinks being a cashier is a cool job. I ask about his day at school and he just dashes inside the house and goes to his room without uttering a word. Right. My mother is watching TV in her sleepers and gown, she still acts like a housewife even when her husband is dead and I’m the sole breadwinner. Sometimes I wish she can look for piece jobs and help me out, but then I’d remember the role she plays in raising Nzuzo up. I’ve never been too present in his life, I conceived him in Grade 11 and birthed him in early matric. Before he turned 1 I was leaving for varsity, after graduation I was job hunting and now I’m a cashier at the mall working 6 days a week. Since education is the key to success maybe I got the wrong one. Or is it rusty? Nzuzo’s father is a subject I’d rather not indulge anyone on, for now. All I can say he’s alive and kicking, doing pretty good in his life; owning a chain of businesses and a gorgeous wife by his side whom he shares a daughter with. He didn’t go to the tuck-shop to buy milk and never came back, nope. He pretty much denied his own sperm from the word-go.
I greet my mother and go to my room to change into my casual clothes then I go start on the pots. I’m making pap, cabbage and roasted chicken. Nzuzo loves chicken, I always hold long Roots queues for cheap packs of frozen chicken. Hopefully he’ll talk to me after eating.
There’s a knock at the door, I lift my eyes and it’s my uncle, my father’s brother Delani. He’s younger than my father by two years, he moved out of the main house when he got married and left my father behind. Unfortunately my father passed before I finished high school, he died after a short illness and Babomncane has filled in his shoes since then. He doesn’t support us financially, not unless we ask him to, but he’s been my father’s eye since his death. He did not let the beef he had with my father drag on even after his death, the family reconciled. He’s the man I now look up to as a father.
“Hey Babo, unonyawo oluhle yazi,” I say referring to him arriving just when I’m about to dish. I’m always happy to see him, he’s one person who’s never judged or put pressure on me for anything.
He walks in, “What can I say ndodakazi? The aroma drew me all the way from across the street.”
“Two pieces for the king, right?” I ask.
He chuckles, “You know your father, add more pap on my plate.”
Yes, he can eat for Africa.
I dish up, Nzu is now standing in front of me and trying to hack the pattern of my phone. I ask him if he wants to help out. He agrees, thank God the mood has improved. There’s no dinner table to serve on, we serve Ma and Babo on the couch. I join them while Nzu eats on the floor, he’s comfortable there.
“Nondu, your uncle has a request,” Ma says.
I look at Babo, he’s already dug into his plate and it doesn’t look like he even remembers that he wasn’t here for food. When he lifts his eyes to me staring at him he laughs and blames it on the delicious cabbage. His wife feeds him a lot of fast foods, he eats like a hunter everytime he comes here and gets home-cooked meal.
“I was telling your mother that I’m doing a goat ceremony for the ancestors on Sunday before Salo leaves. But I cannot do it in my house, it has to be here,” he says.
“Is it not short notice? I mean, we cannot make umqombothi today and get it ready for Sunday,” I ask.
“Don’t worry about that, they already made umqombothi in my house, we can just present the goat and slaughter it here and then finish the rest of the ceremony in my house. They’re like one house since we both share one ancestors and alter,” he says.
It doesn’t make sense, I still believe we should have made umqombothi here where the slaughtering will be happening. But I get that it’s short notice and there’s nothing we can do about it now.
“Okay, is there anything you’d want us to help with except cleaning the houses and getting the pots and meat trays ready?” I ask.
“You said it all, you just prepare the place and pots!” He smiles and slides to his left hip to take out his wallet out his right pocket. Him and my father looked so much alike, sometimes it’s like I’m seeing another version of my father. Maybe a finer version of him, a bit darker than he was. Babo is one of those men who become more handsome as they grow and he advances it with a good taste in clothes. His wife does a great job taking care of him, I guess.
“Please take this and see what you can get,” he says giving my mother a couple of R200s.
“Are you sure Njomane?” Mom is going to cost us by this unnecessary modest. He’s sure of what? The man is giving her money and she wants him to doubt his decision.
“Yebo sisi, do anything that needs to be done. Soap, dishcloths and whatever you’re going to need.” He turns to me with a warm smile and cocks up his eyebrow. He has something for me too?
Is this my lucky day? I recite a short prayer by heart and return the smile.
“I know you’re struggling, here is something for you and my grandson.” I count the money he’s given me and it’s R1800. Wow, I’m rich.
“Thank you Babo,” I kiss the money, a part of me wants to spray it on my face but I remember that I’m not on that level yet; these are just hand-outs.
I wake up the next morning looking forward to my Saturday. I’m going out with my son, I know I should be responsible and saving the money Babo gave me for rainy days. But one only lives once, I cannot deprive my son soft life for one day because of my financial problems, he much deserves it.
I cook porridge and serve him, my mother is still busy with her chickens outside. I plug water for his bath. I take a cold bath, I always prefer it over wasting electricity.
I put on my jeans and knee-length leather boots matched by a black jacket over my white T-shirt. Before I do my face and hair I need to pour water for Nzu before he decides to do it himself. He can be very naughty and reckless.
“What are you going to wear?” I ask him as he strips his clothes off.
He hates being controlled, that just frustrates him, so I always try by all means to get his opinion before doing something. I also love giving him freedom to be who he wants to be, that’s the least I could do since I don’t have much to give him.
“My Spiderman T-shirt and…and my red short. I want my black shoes and vest.”
I nod, “You’re going to look amazing. Are you sure there’s no girlfriend you want to impress in town?”
He’s in stitches.
A small boy from our neighbor’s house, Mvelo, runs in. I hope he’s not here to play so early in the morning, you know how these kids can be.
“Hey Aunty, where’s Nzu?”
“He’s taking a bath, we are going to the mall, you must come back to play later.”
“No, I’m not here to visit Aunty, Mkhulu said give him R1.”
I’m confused. Which Mkhulu? And since when do I give R1s randomly? I’m not Mother Teresa.
“Which Mkhulu?” I ask.
“Babo,” he says.
Oh…But why would Babo need R1 from me? Is Salo suddenly broke?
“Okay, wait here.” I go to my room and check my purse, the only money I have is the R1800 he gave me yesterday. I go outside to my mother. He only needs R1, nothing much, maybe he wants to buy something and they don’t have the change at the local shop.
“Ma do you have R1?”
She frowns, “No, what do you want it for?”
“Babo wants it,” I say.
“I have the money he gave me yesterday and R10 that I got from MaMzimase.”
“R10 is fine, he will bring back the change,” I say.
We give Mvelo the R10, he runs to Babo’s house across the street. A few minutes pass, he’s sprinting out and making his way here again.
“Mkhulu says he wants R1,” he says giving back the R10.
What’s up with this man and R1? Yes we are broke but we don’t have coins.
I try the last person, Nzu.
“Baby do you have R1?” I can imagine the mockery people could make out of us if we fail giving someone a mere R1.
Nzu runs to his room and comes back with his school backpack. He empties his pencil case, there’s R1, finally! !
“I will pay you back baby, okay?”
He smiles and packs back his pens.
I wanted us to go to McDonald’s but the king said he wants the chicken street-wise two, so we are at KFC. We did some shopping, I got him shorts and a few toys, he’s happy. As he grows older I’m getting more comfortable being out with him in public. His condition was never a problem for me, I accepted him as soon as I found out that he was different. The doctor told me autism is not an illness or disease, it’s just that his mind works differently. He can have friends, he does have them, and he will find a girlfriend and work perfectly fine as he gets older. He just needs extra help doing all that, someone to always be there and patient with him.
He doesn’t throw tantrums like he used to when he was a toddler. He’d show me flames everytime we were in public, I remember this one time I almost got into trouble with a store manager after he kicked a shelf and broke over 5 plates.
He’s walking around people’s tables with his chicken. He can be very talkative, but when he chooses to be quiet you wouldn’t recognize him. I stay on guard at my table while he entertains people and answers their questions.
Someone walks in with a group of young boys wearing soccer jerseys. It’s the one and only Solwazi Dlomo, he goes over the counter with his boys. He doesn’t see me and I don’t want him to because I don’t trust what I would do to him if he dares breathes the same breath as me. I sit in my corner and watch him opening his wallet and paying for his order. He never struggled, he’s one of those people who had their future paved by their parents. There was no way he wasn’t going to make it in life with all the money his parents left him. But that’s not the part I envy for my son the most, I don’t care that much about Nzu having a father who gives him money, even though that would make his life much easier. But I wanted him to have both his mother and father, I know there’s a role only a father can play in a child’s life and Nzu deserves that love more than anyone.
They’ve never met, he said it wasn’t his child right from the start and he made it clear that he wanted nothing to do with what I was carrying. Eight years later he hasn’t regretted his decision, he’s never reached out or done anything to show that he remembers being in a relationship with me for three months and sleeping with me without protection throughout the course of our relationship.
I may have zoned out while thinking about everything that this man put me through at 16 years old, when I snap out I see Nzu standing between a group of boys and the man whose DNA he carries brushing one of the boy’s head, not even looking at his direction.
I know I should let Nzu mingle whenever he wants to, but this time I’m getting off this seat and fetching my son. He has no idea who that man is, no idea!
I’m not fast enough, Nzu has grabbed him by his expensive suit and it looks like he’s about to get a scolding of a lifetime.
“Nzuzo!” I yell.
He turns his eyes to me; he looks scared, maybe because of the tone of my voice.
I stand almost frozen as the sperm-donor’s eyes meet mine. Nzu runs to me and wraps his arms around me. I lift him up but my eyes are still on his dead-alive father.
He’s got a junior soccer club, this is his team, probably coming from a match. He’s here to feed them, to splash his money on other people’s kids, yet his own doesn’t even have enough flash cards to help him improve his language.
He pulls the edges of his suit and looks at me again.
“Keep an eye on your child in public spaces,” he says.
I feel tears burning my eyes but I don’t let motherfuckers make me cry. No, not me, I don’t cry.
“You can go fuck yourself!”
There are gasps around, how dare she insults the wealthy Solwazi? I collect my purse and give Nzuzo his shopping bags and pull him out.
He looked that disgusted because a son that his sperm created grabbed his suit? Fuck Solwazi, fuck those chipmunks team of his and KFC!
I’m shaking with anger crossing the road and heading to the rank. How dare he looks down on my son in front of his stupid soccer team! Nzu talked to everyone inside there, well almost everyone, nobody had a problem with him being at their table. But as soon as the motherfucker walks in I should ‘keep an eye on my child in public spaces.’ Well, fuck the public spaces I’m going home.
There’s a loud hoot coming from one of the parked cars on my left. It’s loud and seemingly calling for my attention.
Turning my head I see a very displeased man coming towards us with an empty can of drink. Holy shit, Nzu threw that can with half content inside at this man’s car window. Things like this happen, Nzu does them, but I do not need this shit right now!
“You need to keep an eye on your child in public spaces,” he says as he gets closer.
I feel every hairy part of my body itching. My anger goes from 80 to 100. If one more motherfucker tells me this I swear I will be sleeping in jail today.
“You don’t know me,” I say glaring at him.
He’s a beautiful idiot with thick eyebrows and caramel skin with a mustache connecting to his grown beard. He’s in a long black coat, black pants and boots. Handsome, but not too handsome to distract me.
“You don’t know me but your son just threw a drink on my car. You owe me an apology,” he says squashing the can in his hand like it’s a piece of paper.
Is that supposed to scare me? Trust me, I’ve seen worse.
“You’re not going to squash me, I’m not a can. I don’t owe you anything, he’s autistic and you’re freaking him out right now,” I say.
He looks at Nzu, there’s some sympathy in his eyes. Then he turns to me, looking a bit calmer, or apologetic, I don’t know.
“You can take some responsibility and say sorry,” he says.
“Okay, I’m sorry I’m a powerless woman with a child she can’t control in your private space, son will never throw a can on your expensive car ever again sir.” There, he has his apology!
I pull Nzu and walk away.
I regret that reaction as soon I get inside the taxi. Why am I taking my frustrations out on strangers? I have a problem with Solwazi, not every men in the country. I look around, there are still six empty seats.
“Baby do you mind if I go away for a few minutes?” I ask Nzu. I need to go and apologize to that man, he didn’t deserve that.
Nzu shakes his head. I have to ask twice to confirm. I leave him with my phone unlocked and rush back to where the man’s car was parked. He was right, I do owe him an apology. It was very low of me to use Nzuzo’s condition to avoid taking responsibility. Had I been keeping an eye on him he wouldn’t have thrown that can.
The parking space where the car was is now empty.
I look around, confused.
Then I see the white Ford Ranger driving away. My apology is late, he’s already gone with an image of me I don’t want anyone to have. I don’t talk like that to people, I’m not an asshole like Solwazi, I take accountability for my actions. It’s a company car- Banguni Construction. I guess that’s where he works, as much as I wronged him I don’t think I’ll be hunting him down to give apology. I will just give the apology to God.
I’m not in the best mood getting home but I don’t want to burden my mother about it. She’s healed from having a grandson who was denied, I don’t want Solwazi to ever become a part of our conversation again. We are done, over him.
“Come and show Gogo what your mother bought you,” she’s talking to her grandson walking through the door.
Nzu is happy to show his new clothes and toys. But he wants to wear the clothes right now, I can put my foot down and tell him how that is not a good idea. But I don’t, I let him be. Mvelo is running in, it’s about to get crazy in here.
But he comes to me first and gives me R1. It’s from Mkhulu, he’s paying it back. This was not necessary, imagine if we start paying back all the money he’s ever given us too. But I know he’s stubborn, he will insist on paying it back so I take it and return it back to the owner.
THE RING FIRE
I love last minute errands, maybe because I’m going with Salo, I don’t have to stop stupid taxis and count the change. Babo says there’s no enough alcohol, we only had one crate of beer because it’s just a goat ceremony, but people keep pouring in. So we are going to the mall, this gives us the opportunity to buy our own liquor and hide it in the car for later.
Salo and I do get along, we are not best friends or that close because she lives far from home and she has her own rich squad. But there’s never been an issue whenever we meet, there has never been any bad blood between us even when we were growing up with two fathers who hated one another. We didn’t interfere in elders feud.
“Guess who I saw yesterday?” I say.
We have joined the main road, driving to town.
“Buhle?” she asks.
I roll my eyes. “No, even if I saw that one I wouldn’t have noticed.”
That’s our common childhood enemy by the way.
“Who did you see then?” she asks.
“Solwazi. And guess what he did when Nzuzo grabbed his suit at KFC?” I’m calm now, I don’t care about the motherfucker, he can go to hell.
“Oh gosh, did he see Nzu? What did he say? Did he look remorseful?” She needs to be slowing down. My imitating voice is ready. You got to speak like the person you’re gossiping about to make it believable, that’s the Mhlongo rule.
“Keep an eye on your child in public spaces,” I say in Solwazi’s hoarse voice.
Salo’s eyes widen; she’s in disbelief.
“He said that to you?”
I nod, “Yep.”
“Sis, I hope you told him where to go off.”
“I was dumbfounded, I wish I said more than just telling him to go fuck himself because I know he fucked his wife.”
She laughs, I’m laughing too.
“That was weak, we need to have an insult lesson. I might also have a babydaddy like him one day, I need to prepare my insults in advance.”
I look at her curiously. “Are you dating an asshole?”
“He’s not an aashole, for now. But you know men change, for instance your beloved Solwazi who used to pick you up from school with boxes of pizza and flowers,” she says.
I release a sigh thinking back to those days. Solwazi was once a man of every girl’s dream but only I was living in it. I was 16, he was 27 at the time. I was lured by gifts and blinded by his love, I forgot the lessons my L.O teacher had given me. For someone who passed Life Orientation with distinctions every term it was very disappointing when I added to the stats of teenage pregnancy in schools.
We left guests at home, so we have to hurry, when we arrive at the mall we go straight to the liquor shop and buy another crate of beer and packs of ciders and two wine bottles. She’s the one paying, so I’m pushing the trolley to be useful.
“I heard they might start hiring again in June at work, hopefully they’ll consider you this time,” she says to me randomly as we push through the crowd exiting the block of stores.
“I doubt, I think I have bad lucks, that’s it,” I’m hopeless. It’s been years since I graduated, there’s nothing I haven’t done right for me not to get even one good job. Something is wrong with me, not with the companies.
“Don’t say that, look at me, I was a failure throughout my childhood years, I completed my course at Elangeni after 5 years, literally I’m just dumb. But look where I am now, I’m a whole operating manager in a big company driving my own car.”
“Babo was taking you to traditional healers, maybe that’s why your things brightened up,” I say.
She rolls her eyes, “I don’t believe in those, they were just milking his money. One said I will meet a rich man and get married before turning 25.”
I can’t help but laugh. Still, I think she has a chance of meeting that rich man now, not that she even needs a rich man in her life, she’s stable on her own.
“Maybe I should ask Babo to take me to a sangoma too,” I say.
She gives me a suspicious look. “What happened to praying to God? Look mntase, I also think you intimidate those in power.”
“How so?” I ask with my brows snapped. Me and intimidating?
“You’re literally a genius. Imagine what your presence can do to big managers of the companies? Sometimes they don’t hire you simply because they’re intimidated by you.”
“Like they think I’ll be promoted and take their jobs once I’m in?”
“Yes, have you listened to yourself when you speak? You sound so fuckin’ intelligent, some people would be shaking and fearing for their positions.”
I release a deep sigh. I doubt that’s true, if it is then it’s not fair.
I stop the trolley and pass the crate to Salo to put in the car boot, as well as other booze packs. Then I drive the trolley back to the entrance where they stay. This is the only driving and parking experience I’ll ever have in this life; parking a trolley. I’m careful doing it, I don’t want to park wrongly, I make sure that it’s parked the right way with others. I may have taken my sweet time, when I finish parking there’s someone standing behind me waiting for me to move so that he can take one and do his shopping. One look and I recognize him immediately, it’s the man whose car was thrown with a can by Nzu yesterday.
“Are you done?” he asks.
I’m embarrassed thinking he was watching me changing gears, reversing and parking a mere trolley like it’s a damn car. He must be thinking I grew up without enough toys.
“Yes, I’m done. I was just trying not to stress the trolley service boys and leave everything in order.” And why the hell are you explaining yourself Nondumezulu?
“You have a good heart,” he says and walks past me to pull the trolley. I can’t help but feel that his statement is not genuine at all. He still remembers me from yesterday’s incident, I wasn’t.
I’m still standing, he’s wiping the trolley handles.
“Ummm, sorry about yesterday, I shouldn’t have spoken to you that way, my son wronged you,” I say.
“Mmmm, thanks.” He doesn’t buy it, he’s not even looking at me.
“I came back to apologize but you were leaving,” I say.
He wipes his hands and now looks at me. I look away immediately.
“I’m sure you did,” he says.
I take a deep breath and sum up courage to look at him. Today he’s wearing green working uniform with the same company name; Banguni Construction.
“I really did, I even noted your company name and car registration number so that I can apologize if ever see you again,” I say.
This time it looks like he believes me.
“I’m not angry about it,” he says.
“But still, I owe you an apology.”
He nods, we are now standing side to side and by the strong smell of his cologne and uniform’s spotlessness I can tell he wasn’t doing any construction hard labor. Maybe he’s not a general worker.
“Where’s your son?”
“He’s home,” my answer is a bit too quick.
“I didn’t mean to scare him,” he says with a pinch of remorse.
I crack a smile to put him at ease. “He’s fine, he’s already forgotten about it.”
“When are you coming with him to the mall again?”
This is an odd question. Why does he want to know? I can’t tell strangers my moves, especially if my son is involved.
“I would like to meet him again, if that’s okay with you.”
“Why?” I ask.
“I don’t know.”
Okay, this is funny and strange at the same time.
“I also don’t know when I will be coming with him to the mall.”
“Alright,” he sends his hand to his top pocket and comes back with a wallet from it he pulls R50. “Please buy him something and tell him it’s from me, the uncle who shouted at him, tell him I said I’m sorry.”
What? No, no.
“You didn’t shout at him. You talked to me as his mother and I was the one who blew it out of proportion,” I say.
“No, I understand what you meant when you said I was scaring him because he did look scared. For that I’m sorry,” he says forcing the money into my hand.
“Okay, thank you.” There’s no point in me acting like Nzu won’t benefit from this money. I’ve been praying for lucks and this is one of them but I’m now challenging my ancestors.
“From Nkalipho,” he says with a kind smile.
Nzu will be so happy. I can’t believe I was nasty to this kind-looking man.
“His name is Nzuzo Mhlongo, thank you very much.”
Salo is standing outside the car staring at me as I make my way back.
“Who is that?” she asks.
I glance back and catches the green uniform before he disappears.
“Someone I snapped at yesterday,” I tell her.
“And nothing Salo, we had a misunderstanding and we both felt bad about it, now we have bumped into each other again and sorted it out.”
She gives me a suspicious look accompanied by a wide grin.
I get inside the car and take a deep breath. I wasn’t looking for him but I’m glad we met again. He’s a good person, in both personality and looks. Salo gets inside and takes her seat, she’s still looking at me.
“What?” I ask with a frown.
“What’s his name?”
My eyes widen; she thinks me and him have something going. Gosh, he’s good looking and all that but I’m not looking for a relationship. I’m sure he is not either.
“You need to calm down,” I say.
She laughs. “Okay, I’ll wait until you’re ready.”
I roll my eyes, she’s really convinced that I’m hiding something from her.
We get home, everyone looks busy, which gives us plenty time to hide our alcohol and only present the crate of beer. Ma tells me to mix the dough, Salo sits with the guests and does nothing. Benefits of having money! I’m not complaining though, I didn’t contribute anything towards the ceremony, I might as well mix doughs and do all the kitchen labor. So Babo has been having dreams, bad ones, concerning his grandfather, he’s here today with the goat to appease to him. Apparently there’s a ceremony required that my father skipped, now the old man is not pleased with Babo.
“Mommy!” Nzu runs inside the kitchen, I’m sure he just noticed now that I’ve come back.
He’s wearing the Spiderman T-shirt that he wore yesterday to the mall, I had to wash it in the morning because it was it or nothing.
“Hey baby, did you see the goat?”
“Yeaaah! Mkhulu cut the head with a knife.”
He looks very happy about the slaughtering part. Animal cruelty, SMH.
“You’re going to eat the goat meat?” I ask.
I laugh, he’s in a good mood, which automatically puts me in one as well.
“Mommy you know the goat is eighteen hundred?”
I pretend to be confused. Wait, I’m really confused.
“How?” I ask.
“Its mother gave it the name; eighteen hundred.”
“How do you know?”
“I know because its mother wrote on her skin,” he says. Before I can say anything he’s called me again. “Mommy why do goats have number names?”
Lord forgive me, I’m not sure I get this one.
“Ummm…because goat mothers love number names.”
Well, he’s confused.
“Like eighteen hundred?” he asks.
This is what motherhood looks like, just a glimpse of it.
“What is eighteen hundred?” I ask filling a bowl with water to wash the flour from my hands.
“One eight and zero zero,” he says.
“That’s one thousand and eight hundred, not eighteen hundred.” We’ve had this Maths talk so many times before.
“One thousand and eight hundred?” He gets it right right away. I’m super proud.
“Yea baby, so the goat had 1800?” I ask.
“Yes, Mkhulu said it’s the goat’s name.”
I laugh, “No, that’s the price of the goat. You know sometimes goat sellers write their prices on their skins so that they don’t forget and sell with the wrong price and get into trouble with the farmer.”
I’m making this up, I don’t know why they write goat prices like that. This is one expensive goat, R1800? I hope it was fat, ribs are my favorite part. This just proves that Babo doesn’t have money problems, yesterday he gave me the exact amount of money he bought a goat with. 1800, maybe that’s my lucky number.
“Okay, so what’s the goat’s name then?”
“I will ask Gogo,” I say.
He’s not happy with my unintelligence, you can tell from that look on his face. I should tell him about his parcel from Nkalipho, maybe he will forget about baby names.
THE RING FIRE
Babo leaves as soon as the last round of local uncles leave after emptying all the calabashes. It’s around 6pm, everyone is tired. All I want to do is give Nzu a bath and jump into my bed. Don’t tell me about my own bath, I did not fall at anytime today and I did take a bath after cooking the goat’s stomach.
Ma walks in with another pile of dishes, she dumps them inside an empty bucket.
“We will see the dishes tomorrow. What time are you going to work?”
“Nine,” I say.
“Okay, we will wake up early.”
I’m tempted to call her lazy ass out. Her and waking up early in one sentence? My mother was meant to be a rich housewife with maids running around and money rolling in without her lifting a finger. It’s tough in this household, especially since Nzu’s grant and my little wage is the only source of income that we have. I’ve been thinking about taking her to SASSA to fake any illness that could qualify her for disability grant. I know it’s corruption, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I’m still trying to get the right connections, one needs to bribe a doctor to get the patient file and letter referring her to SASSA.
Nzu finally comes out of his room ready to take a bath. I don’t always bath him, sometimes I just watch and coach him, he’s growing and learning to be independent.
“Do you want me to wash you?” Please say no!
He nods, “Yes.”
Phewww! I take his towel and put soap on it while he gets inside the basin and sits. He’s outgrown it, I need to buy a bigger one.
“Did you have fun today?” I ask.
“No,” he says.
Well, it looked like he was having fun when his friends were here and every local uncle hovering over him and asking him to dance.
“What happened? Why didn’t you have fun?” I ask.
He doesn’t answer.
I haven’t told him about his money.
“Do you remember the uncle of the car you threw a can at? Well, I saw him again and he said he’s sorry for shouting at us and gave me R50 to give to you.”
“R50?” he asks.
“Yep, five ten rands. What are you going to buy with it?”
“A goat,” he says.
I laugh at the little aspiring farmer.
“Really? A goat, why do you want a goat?”
“Because it has meat,” he says.
“Mommy,” he calls me.
Here comes the rain of goat questions!
“If the leaves are dry Mkhulu takes them. Why?”
“What leaves?” I ask.
He points at the roof.
I’m not always understanding him, especially if he doesn’t even try to articulate what he wants to say. I think he’s talking about the plants they cut to create a temporary kraal at the end of the yard before slaughtering the goat.
“Because dry leaves cause dirt,” I tell him.
He wipes water from his face and turns to look at me. One thing God blessed me with was giving me a son who looks exactly like me. From the slim face, to the chestnut skintone and concave nose, he’s just me. He took nothing from Solwazi, that’s one thing I’m thankful for; I don’t have to see him in my son everyday.
“But Gogo loves them,” he argues.
I don’t remember my mother being obsessed with plants and leaves, but if Nzu says she loves them then she loves them. They know each other better than I do, they spend more time with each other.
“Okay baby, let’s forget about leaves and get out of the water before you catch cold.”
He stands up, I squeeze water from the towel and wipe his body.
He’s lucky to be my son because even though I don’t afford expensive skincare products with the little that I have I make sure we always have our body lotions and other cosmetics. His skin is good as mine; flawless and always glowing. The trick is to add baby oil into his lotion and glycerine into mine, and make sure the skin is dry before applying it generously.
I put him in his pyjamas and then in front of the mirror.
“How do you look?” I ask. My mother always talk me against beautifying a ‘man in making’. She says I give him too much mirror time, which is too feminine.
“Handsome,” he says smiling at his reflection.
I give him a hug and lift him up and take him to his bed.
“Yes, you’re handsome baby. Now be a sleeping beauty,” I say.
He sits up on the bed and asks, “Where’s my money?”
“Seriously Nzuzo? It’s not going to multiply because you’re sleeping with it under the pillow,” I say.
I’m too exhausted to be making trips between our bedrooms to get his R50. But he doesn’t care, he opens his hands; he wants it.
I wake up at 6 am to get Nzu ready for school, his school is about 10 minutes away, he can walk there but I prefer him not to. My neighbor who works at the same school goes with him and I pay R150 monthly for petrol. He’s ready by 7 am, he’s doing Grade 1, so far I’m happy with his progress.
I see him out of the gate and come back to the pile of yesterday’s dishes, pots and trays. I’m not unfamiliar with domestic work, it doesn’t take an hour for me to finish washing everything and packing dishes inside the cupboard.
Ma comes in, still in her sleeping gown.
“You’re already done?” The shock in her voice is almost genuine.
“It’s 8:10 Ma,” I say.
She yawns, “I overslept, I’m sorry.”
“Never mind, yesterday was busy.” I push the two big pots on top of the cupboard and fill the 5l bucket with water and soap to soak dirty dishcloths.
“So Ma, I’ve been thinking,” I say.
She’s plugging water, probably for tea.
“I think we should raise money to bribe a doctor so that you can fake illness and apply for disability grant,” I say.
“It will make a difference if you have something coming in too.”
She shakes her head, visibly disappointed.
“You know that’s fraud and people go to jail for it. What is wrong with you? The effort you want to put into bribing doctors you can put into bribing companies that could hire you.”
“If I had connections I would’ve done that long time ago,” I say.
I’m actually offended by her response, if it was that easy I would’ve done it a long time ago. They’ll want large sums of money that I don’t have, or even something more than money.
“No, I don’t agree with that. I’m too old to be going to jail for fraud. I’m going to be 60 in a few years, I will wait until I qualify for old-age grant.”
Few years? She’s yet to turn 50, that’s like a decade away.
“Okay,” I say with a slight shrug.
I leave for work twenty minutes early, I always walk if I’m not in the opening shift, it saves me money to take a taxi after work when I’m tired. I know all the short-cuts around the township, in no time I’m already walking past the police station.
The white Ford Ranger stops next to me, there’s a group of men in green uniforms at the back wearing white safety helmets. I know this car, I see the company name, but why is it stopping next to me?
The window rolls down, a man I don’t know tells me to go to the passenger door. I’m getting a lift, these are my ancestors coming through for me, but I’m nervous because I don’t recognize anyone I know among these men.
I walk around to the other door, I’m on high kidnap-alert, this is South Africa, but I’m also putting my trust in God and my ancestors.
The door opens immediately when I get closer to it. Guess who climbs out? I shouldn’t be shocked because this is the car that introduced me to him, if that’s a way to put it. He gives me a little wave and rushes to join the group at the back. So he’s giving up his seat at the front and going to the roofless back in this cold weather for me. Can anyone be this kind for no reason?
The man on the steering wheel looks old when I’m closer to him. He’s grey-haired, even though he’s muscular as they come you can still tell he’s approaching his retirement age. He’s not wearing the green uniform like others, he’s wearing a white shirt with two top buttons undone.
“Are you good ndodakazi?” Damn, his voice is deep.
“I’m good,” I say.
“You work at the mall or plaza?”
“At the mall,” I say.
“Okay, I will drop you at the robots because we are late.”
That’s outside the mall, I can’t be more grateful for this lift. I’m embarrassed whenever I think of how things went down when I first saw Nkalipho. Ever heard of the saying; kill them with kindness? That’s his motto, I guess.
“Are you friends with my son?” the man asks as we drive past KwaNkoko
I almost choke on my saliva. This is his father? Why didn’t I match their faces? He’s old but I can see Nkalipho in him.
“No baba, we are not friends. I just know him from one random encounter. No, two encounters,” I say.
“Oh, okay,” he says.
This is super awkward. Like he told his father to stop and lift me while transporting workers to work? I don’t know what to think of that.
He stops me after the robots, I say an awkward loud ‘thank you’, I don’t know why I’m suddenly uncomfortable.
“Okay ndodakazi, have a great day at work,” he says.
“You too baba, thanks,” I close the door.
They drive off, I don’t get a chance to thank Nkalipho as well.
She’s the first born daughter from her parents, there’s another girl, 15, who comes after her followed by a boy, 13. Both her younger siblings are at the boarding school; benefits of having a financial stable sister. Things did turn for the best for Salo, she was once that girl in the township who didn’t have a promising future. Most thought she’d end up in the factories, nobody expected an operational manager making six figures annually from her . Her mother cannot be more proud of her princess. Her mother, Busisekile Khumalo, married Delani Mhlongo when he was nothing but a doormat of his late brother. Times used to be tough, until she wised up and turned things around for her family.
She walks into Salo packing her lunchbox, she couldn’t drive back to Tongaat yesterday because the ceremony ended late, she’s rushing to work now.
“Did you eat the pancakes I made you?” she asks, this is with no doubt her favourite child. Not that she loves the younger ones less, Salo holds a special place in her heart for all the sacrifices she’s made for this family.
“I packed them, I will eat at work,” Salo says. She’s not a fan of pancakes anymore, she’s outgrown them but obviously Busisekile is still holding on to the old Salo.
“How was your trip with Nondumezulu?”
Salo frowns, “What trip?”
“Yesterday when your father sent you to buy alcohol with her,” she says.
“Oh, it was good,” Salo says filling a bottle with icy water.
“I worry about her, she doesn’t seem to have any progress in life, which is bizarre because she’s a smart girl,” Busisekile says eyeing her curiously.
Salo exhales heavily because she’s been thinking about that too after the conversation she had with Nondu.
“She thinks it’s bad lucks, she wants to seek from a sangoma, she thinks it could help because Baba used to take me to them before I had my breakthrough,” she says.
Busisekile coughs and reaches for a glass of water.
“Really?” she asks.
Salo nods and takes a sip of her water before closing the lid.
“But I told her they might start hiring at work, I’m pretty sure they’ll take her this time.”
“Hha, that’s risky!” Busisekile says with her pupils dilating. This child wants to destroy everything her and Delani have built for this family.
“What do you mean Ma? She’s not going to come for my position, they’re hiring for other positions,” Salo asks.
“You trust people too much.”
Salo gives her a look, “It’s my cousin, not ‘people’.”
“Hurry up, you’re going to be late talking about cousins who used to outshine everyone. I don’t know why you are bothering yourself, this person went to study in Cape Town while you went to Newcastle.”
Salo knows her mother, she overthinks and reads too much into things. One thing that her and Nondu have been mastering since childhood is to blue-tick any feud between the elders. This has nothing to do with Nondu actually, her mother is just taking out her frustrations on her.
She takes her bags, bids goodbye and leaves.
Busisekile enters the bedroom where her husband is with a tray of breakfast. She’s not in the good mood she was in when she left the bedroom to make pancakes for Salo. She drops the tray on the bedside cabinet and sits next to her husband.
“Your daughter wants to go to a sangoma,” she says.
Delani frowns, “Nondumezulu? For what?”
“She thinks she has bad lucks.”
Delani sits with a slight frown on his face.
“When does she plan to do that?”
“How do you expect Busisekile to know? I heard this from Salo, I couldn’t ask too many questions because she will suspect something.”
Delani sighs heavily.
“How do we stop her?”
“I don’t know Delani, but we cannot afford any mistake now, not after executing yesterday’s ceremony so perfectly.”
He nods, looking thoughtfully. Yesterday they successfully fetched his late brother’s spirit and brought him here. The good part is, Nondu helped them bring him here- without knowing. Since she couldn’t afford the goat to perform the ceremony of transferring her father to her Babo’s house, to work in their favor as an ancestor, Delani made things easy for her by buying the goat on her behalf and all she did was to open the way with an offering of silver money. When he left after the ceremony he left with his brother’s leaf from their alter, which he replaced with another one.
It was a clean job, when he got here he burnt impepho and told his brother that he’s here now, this is where his spirit rests, so in whatever he does as an ancestor he should protect their alter and bring them good lucks.
“You know there’s something called ukusitha, Mkhulu Makhanda does it,” Delani says after a moment.
Busisekile’s pursed lips stretch into a smile. Now this is the man she married; a man with a plan.
“What exactly is this ukusitha?” she asks.
“Veiling yourself with someone else’s shadow, so no matter where she goes to seek instead of that sangoma seeing our faces she will see whoever we put as our shadow.”
Busisekile nods, looking very pleased and hopeful.
“But the question is, who do we put as our shadow?”- Delani.
That’s very easy, Busisekile thinks for a second. “How about her mother’s sister who usually comes to visit? I feel like she’s a better option, it’s not abnormal to have your aunty bewitching you.”
THE RING FIRE
You know when you feel anxious for no reason, that’s how I’ve been feeling since I came back from my tea-break. The store is empty, I’m feeling drowsy and tempted to close my eyes and drift to sleep right here on the counter.
Someone drops a shopping basket, I immediately lift my head and look at him. I don’t know why I’m smiling, these are just too many encounters. Yes, it’s Nkalipho. He empties his items from the basket, I pull them closer and scan them. Two full roasted chickens and three packets of rolls and two cold 2Ls of cold drink. Construction workers menu.
“Buying for the team?” I ask, it’s not part of my job to ask questions, I’m just trying not to be awkward.
“Yes,” he says with a chuckle.
“You’re kind. Thanks for the lift in the morning, your father is kind too.”
“You’re welcome,” he’s paying cash.
I count it with trembling hands, I don’t know why I’m feeling so uncomfortable with him staring at me. Customers stare at cashiers all the time, right?
“How’s Nzuzo?” he asks.
“He’s fine,” I say.
“He’s at school?”
“Yeah, he’s doing Grade 1.”
He nods, his eyes lock into mine for five seconds then he looks away. Today it looks like he’s been doing some work, his sleeves are dusty, in a very sexy way. It’s crazy to even think a dusty working uniform can suit someone so well.
I give him his change and receipt, he pushes the coins into his trouser’s back pocket and slides notes in his black wallet.
Nondu stop staring! I pull the cloth and wipe the counter for the next customer.
Well, he’s still here.
“My brother is in Grade 3, they’re around the same age, maybe they can link up for games one Saturday,” he says.
I’m stuck on him having a brother who’s around Nzuzo’s age. I don’t get it, his father looked old, I doubt he’s younger than 50. He still shoots active sperms?
“My stepmother is still young,” he says.
Oh Jesu, did I look visibly curious?
“Yeah, they can hang out one Sartuday,” I say without giving it much thought.
If he has an 8 year old brother, as tall as he is, then…you know what, never mind.
“Thank you for shopping with us, have a nice day.” I don’t know when was the last time I used this line to a customer, I’m rarely friendly, I just do what I get paid to do and pray for hours to turn into minutes so that I can go home.
“Have a nice day too Nondumezulu,” he says before walking away.
My eyes are bulging out of their sockets. I don’t remember telling him my name, I only told him Nzuzo’s because he happened to be the subject of our conversation.
“He read it on the receipt,” Enhle, the packer working with me today, says.
Obviously, duh. How else could he have known my name? I read too many novels. My eyes follow him to the exit door. We’ve been bumping into each other three days in a row now, what a pleasant coincidence!
“His father was just a scaffolder when Sibusisiwe Hall was built but now he owns a whole freaking construction company. This is the shit our parents should’ve done to make our lives easy. I mean, look at him!” Enhle has a pretty smart mouth, most of the times I’m not interested in her little rants, she’s unhappy more than anyone working here.
But today I’m curious.
“You know them?” I ask.
“Yes, my cousin used to work at their house in Padianager, cleaning after them and washing their clothes for R4.5k,” she says.
“That’s so much money, I would have wiped their walls and roofs as well.” We both laugh, the next customer is here.
So I know a few things about Nkalipho now; his father owns a construction company, they live in Padianager and there’s an 8 year old brother. Him and his father are down to earth. Now I only have one question; how young is the young stepmother?
They have a plan in motion, now they only need the picture of Nondu’s aunt before Delani goes to Mkhulu Makhanda. That’s their dilemma for now, they can’t just go to MaNkosi or Nondu and ask for the picture.
Delani is in the lounge watching TV, she’s fixing him lunch and trying to figure out how they’re going to get hold of the needed picture. Her hand goes under her blouse, she retrieves a small sachet of powder and pours some into the liver she’s cooking for Delani. It’s not witchcraft, she’s just ensuring that they’re always on the same page, men can be very weak and unpredictable. She got this man to be who he is today through sweat and many trips to traditional healers. He wasn’t always like this, he had no backbone, he was weak and putting everyone’s needs before his own, hence his late brother used to step on him like a doormat. They’ve had their breakthrough but she still needs him to be on her side. Morals don’t pay bills.
She dishes up and adds red chillies and salt at the side, just the way he likes it. Delani’s face lights up when he sees her walking in with a steaming plate of food.
“Mzilikazi wami,” he adjusts on his seat.
Busisekile smiles and sits next to him.
“I think I have an idea,” she says.
Delani is choking on the chillies and liver, he gulps down a glass of water and looks at her. “What did you think of?”
“Remember we took pictures at our anniversary party last year and MaNkosi was among our guests with her sister Thembelihle, there’s definitely a picture of her in Salo’s phone,” she says.
“You have a point, but how do we ask for the pictures from Salo? You know how our daughter is, she’ll demand an explanation,” – Delani.
Busisekile shakes her head looking very disappointed. She reaches to the TV stand and disconnects his phone from the charger and scrolls down to Salo’s number.
She hates being called while she’s at work unless if it’s urgent, but this time she’ll have to deal. She answers in a hushed voice after a few rings.
“Hello sisi, it’s your mother here.”
“Ma, what’s going on?”
“Your father needs all the pictures from our anniversary party last year.”
Delani coughs, “Whaaat? Why are you saying…”
She gives him a look- STFU.
“I’m at work Ma, what’s so urgent about the pictures? You have some in the photo album at home,” Salo says, very displeased.
“We can’t find the album, I think your sister left with it. Send them to my Whatsapp, hurry baby!”
“Okay,” she drops the call.
Busisekile turns to her husband with a cheerful face.
“Sorted! You just need to drive to town before going to Mkhulu Makhanda, there’s a place that prints pictures from the memory card,” she says.
“You’re a mastermind, hey!” Delani compliments with a flattering smile.
“That’s why you need me by your side.”
“And on top of me too,” Delani says, his eyes flitting with playfulness.
She smiles and looks away blushing like a newly-wed. They have a lot of privacy with all the kids gone, which gives them time and space to experiment things they never did when they were younger.
“Are you going to ride me tonight?” Delani asks with his voice lowered and stare fixed on her.
“It will depend,” she says.
“On what?” He raises his eyebrow.
“You know what I like Njomane,” she stands up and turns around to leave. Delani’s hand connects to her butt in a light spank, she chuckles and quickly moves away when he grabs her big butt. Not now, he will have this after supper.
Coming home to the pots colliding in the kitchen is strange to me. I just know Ma either has a guest she wants to impress or someone else is in the kitchen. And indeed I’m walking into Aunt Teekay- as we call her. She’s Thembelihle Nkosi, my mother’s young sister. My mood improves instantly, I almost scream at the door, it’s been three months since she came to visit us.
“Please don’t scream and give me headache,” she says.
I laugh and engulf her in a tight hug from behind.
“Aunty, when did you get here?” I ask.
“About an hour ago and I had to start cooking because there was no food in this house.” She’s pretending not to like doing this but the truth is, she loves being in the kitchen and doing domestic work more than anything.
“Aw shame, if you told us you were coming we would’ve left some food for you because you don’t like bread,” I say.
“It’s fine, I have cooked, you can change and come eat. How was your day at work?”
I roll my eyes and drag my feet walking away.
“You need to be grateful Nondumezulu, you know there are thousand of unemployed youth who’d kill to work at Shoprite like you.” She’s always like this; preaching positivity even when there’s none.
My legs please carry me and make me disappear quickly!
I change into my leggings and T-shirt and go to my mother’s bedroom to greet. She’s with Nzuzo ironing his school shirts. Now that her sister is here she’s going to live a full potato-couch life.
“How was school baby?” I ask Nzu.
“Good,” he says.
“What did you learn?”
“Numbers and fruit words.”
I ask him to take me through the words he learned and he’s more than happy to fetch his book and teach me everything he learnt at school. I’m still hungry, we’ll do more once I’ve eaten.
I go to Aunt Teekay in the kitchen, she’s already dished up for me. Whenever she’s around I pray for her visit to keep extending because she doesn’t allow anyone to lift a finger.
“Eat fast and collect your laundry. I know your baskets are full of dirty clothes, children of today!” She’s saying this taking everything out of the refrigerator. I’m not even going to lie, the last time this refrigerator was washed it was when she was here, three months ago.
“Look at this fridge, there’s ice everywhere!” she mumbles.
I focus on my chicken stew. It’s so delicious, I’m licking my fingers.
“Knock, knock layikhaya!” Someone is at the door.
I hate people who walk into me eating, food is expensive.
Luckily it’s Mam’ Busie, I doubt she still eats this kind of stew.
She walks in, “My eyes weren’t deceiving me MaNkosi, you’re here indeed.”
Aunt Teekay puts the bucket with our frozen meat on the table and wipes her hands.
“It’s been a long time, pull the chair and sit. Yoh, awusemuhle ntombi kaKhumalo!”
“The credit goes to Njomane, let’s not go into details MaNkosi there’s a child here.” They both crack up and laugh. I’m tempted to roll my eyes, I know what the details are. Dicktamins, obviously.
“Sorry you are finding me busy, everything is a mess here. You know my brother-in-law spoiled my sister, now if Nondu doesn’t do anything nothing gets done.” My aunt has always been blunt, she’s the complete opposite of what her sister is.
Mam’ Busie laughs, “That’s how the Mhlongo men are, even mine doesn’t allow me to move a lot around the house, he asks me to save my energy for later.”
They’re laughing again.
God help me not become obsessed with dicktamin in my late 40s, it’s gross.
“Let me throw this outside,” Aunt Teekay says taking out dirt.
Mam’ Busie and I are not close. There’s no animosity between us, we just lack connection, even when I was growing up I never gravitated towards her as a mother figure at the Mhlongo premises. My mother is not coming out of her room to attend her sisterwife, she’s probably here to visit her, which happens once in a full moon.
“Your aunt is funny Nondu but you shouldn’t let her talk like that about your mother,” she says, so randomly.
This is very strange. She was laughing with Aunt Teekay just a minute ago. I know it may have sounded like Aunt Teekay was gossiping about my mother being lazy but both me and my mother know how blunt she is. Trust me, she’s told my mother this to her face a million times.
“Unmarried siblings tend to be jealous of the married ones, trust me I know. I know one who almost killed her own married sister because of jealousy,” she says.
“No Ma, she was just kidding, that’s how she is.” I can’t believe we are having this conversation behind my aunt’s back, I feel even more bad because I know why she decided she was never going to enter in any marriage. She cannot have kids, she knew this since she was 18 and accepted it as her fate. Her comments about my mother or me have nothing to do with her situation.
“Let me tell my mother that you are here.” I fill my glass with water and leave the kitchen before Aunt Teekay walks in and thinks I’m gossiping about her.
Thembelihle walks in after Nondu has abandoned their guest
“She’s left you alone?”
Busisekile chuckles, “You know what these kids think of us; old boring people. Even Salabenzeni, she never sits with me in the room for more than 10 minutes.”
“They have been spoiled by social networks, they spend more time with strangers online than their families.”
“You’re right MaNkosi, these kids are spoiled by social networks too much. We had a ceremony here over the weekend and they were busy on their phones, not even helping. I’m sure the hut hasn’t been cleaned even now, calabashes and meat bones are still lying on the floor.”
“Yeah, with Nondu waking up and going to work, I doubt anyone cleaned.”
Busisekile looks at her with her head tilted to the side. This woman was brought here by the ancestors.
“If you don’t clean there today, trust me tomorrow that hut will be smelling like a dead rat, even the ancestors will run away,” she says.
“You’re right MaKhumalo, I will clean there now and then come back to do this girl’s laundry, she works too hard.”
Thembelihle takes a broom behind the door. She’s always been free to move around as she wishes in her sister’s house, even when Mhlongo was still alive. They treated her like she was part of the family. Of course she’s not going to go anywhere near their alter, she’ll just clean around.
Nondu’s mother finally comes out of her bedroom to attend her sisterwife. Nzu is behind her with his drawing book and coloring pens.
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting MaKhumalo, I thought my sister was keeping you company,” she says looking around.
Busisekile exhales heavily.
“She just left to clean the ancestral hut.”
“Oh, never mind her, she has an itchy butt. She never sit still, she’s always moving around.”
“People like her are good to have around. She even clean people’s ancestral huts. I wish my sister was like her but ewu, our siblings are the ones stabbing us at the back nowadays.”
“Don’t tell me you and Ntombenhle are fighting!” MaNkosi says as she fills the kettle with water for tea.
“I’d rather trust a stone than to trust a human being,” she says.
“You don’t say!”
“I’m telling you MaNkosi!”
THE RING FIRE
For me Fridays are like any other day of the week because there’s nothing spontaneous that I do. This one is even worse because tomorrow I’m working, there’s no ‘weekend vibe’ for me. I’m just thankful that Aunt Teekay is still around, I come home to a warm meal and clean kitchen. She even does my laundry and wakes up every morning before me to iron my uniform and pack my lunch. If she had a child that child would’ve been spoiled, she’s a blessing to have.
I buy some kitchen necessities and Nzu’s favourite chocolate after my shift. It’s 3:40pm, still early, I could just walk home but I’ll catch a taxi because I’m tired.
I’m dragging myself out of the store, I don’t realize that my lazy walk is slowing those who are behind me, until someone clears his throat. I move to the side before turning my head to look at him.
No ways! He’s stalking me.
“Hi,” I say in a shaky voice, my feelings are all over the place.
“Do you need help?”
I look at the shopping bags weighing my arms down, yes I do need help.
“No, I’m good,” I say stubbornly.
“Okay, do you need a lift home?” God has sent me an angel again.
“I’m going to take a taxi but thank you for the offer,” I say and feel a sharp ache on my back. The taxi rank is fuckin’ too far.
“I’ve been waiting for you to knock off,” he says.
Okay, that does warm my cold heart.
“Why?” I ask, we are still walking towards the mall’s exit.
“I spoke to my stepmother about the playdate, I want us to finalize that,” he says.
I don’t even know why I agreed to that without talking to Nzuzo first, I don’t know the child or the mother, he might not be comfortable with them.
We are on the pavement next to the ATMs about to cross the road when he slowly grabs the two shopping bags from my hands.
“My car is that side,” he points across the ATMs.
I follow him, I wasn’t refusing the lift by the way, I was just being a girl. I’m broke, not desperate.
He’s not driving the company Ford Ranger today, he’s loading my shopping bags at the back of the Hyundai Creta. Then he opens the passenger door for me, I glance at him and catch him staring at my face but he looks away in a second. I don’t know if he’s not comfortable with eye contact or it’s just me he doesn’t want to lock eyes with.
I really don’t know what to do with myself; sit and look outside the window or play with my phone. Which one is less rude when you’re sitting next to someone you’re not familiar with?
“You stay in Ireland?” he asks.
“Yeah. You stay in Padianager?”
He chuckles, “Yes.”
“We both did our assignments.” Fuck me for saying that. I didn’t do any assignment about him, Enhle just happened to tell me a little bit about him.
“Are you comfortable with Nzuzo coming to Padianager to play with my brother?”
I still can’t believe he’s a brother to an 8 year old, his father did a number on him.
“I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it nor talked to him,” I say.
“Masintle thought maybe you’d want to come over first and meet her and Sphiwe before allowing Nzuzo to come over,” he says.
“Masintle?” I ask.
“Oh, maybe that would be better. Not that I don’t trust anyone, I just prefer to know who my son hangs around with.”
“She looked at it as a mother too. Is it okay if I fetch you later so that you can meet them and then tomorrow Nzuzo will come over?”
“Yeah, that’s okay.” I still need to report to my mother, she’s Nzuzo’s guardian, but I know she won’t have a problem with it. We are trying by all means to encourage him to make friends and be more social active.
I’m not sure about me being dropped off by a strange car, people talk around here. But I direct him to my gate, we didn’t talk much, things are a bit awkward between us, you’d swear there’s a big elephant we don’t want to address whereas we don’t even know each other that well.
“Can I have your number so that I can call when I’m coming?”
I’m out of my mind, I know none of these people. Imagine a mother who arranges for her son to go play at the house she doesn’t even know. What if they’re witches and they kill babies for their body parts?
“Are you not comfortable with that?” he asks.
I’ve been hesitant for a moment now. I take a deep breath and call out my number for him. I’ve already agreed, backing out now will make me look stupid. It could be that I watch too many Mzansi bioskops.
“You can come with a friend,” he says.
I think he knows exactly what’s going on in my mind right now.
I crack a shallow smile. “No, it’s okay, I will come.”
“What time should I pick you up?”
“In two hours,” I say.
“Okay, see you then.”
I open the door and climb out.
He comes out and helps me get my shopping bags at the back.
Such a gentleman!
I walk in to my aunt standing with her hands on the hips. Her face tells me I need to explain myself. Fuck, the kitchen window faces the gate, she saw the car.
“Hey aunty,” I say dropping the shopping bags on the table.
“Who was that?”
“A friend from work,” I say, hoping she’ll let it go.
But she doesn’t, she wants to know more.
“What kind of friend?” she asks.
“Male friend, we are not dating.” I hardly commit to relationships and at this point in my life I just want to take care of my mom and Nzuzo, I don’t have time to nurture men’s lust and their big egos. The last relationship I had was with a guy I thought was monied, I wasn’t looking for love.
“Nzuzo is 8 now, going to 9, you need to have fun before running out of time.”
I can’t believe she’s actually giving me this advice, where’s the blackness in her, she wants me to date.
“Have sex, it’s part of growing up as a woman,” she says.
I choke down a laugh. Isn’t she the fine one to talk?
“You’re also single and you are okay,” I point out.
She chuckles, “You don’t know what keeps me happy. Listen to me, I’m your aunt, enjoy your youth years, you’re not forced to commit to anything, just live a little SAFELY.”
“Okay, but I haven’t met any guy I’d want to have fun with.” Or maybe I had a lot of fun in my teenagehood and it didn’t end well.
My mother is in bed listening to Ukhozi FM, Nzu is playing on the floor. This woman is lazy, to think she used to call me the lazy one growing up.
“How was work?” she asks as I lower myself below her.
“It was okay. I’m actually here to talk to you about Nzuzo visiting my friend’s little brother at their house in Padianager tomorrow,” I say.
“That’s far, which friend is that?” This question!
“He’s a mutual friend, I know him through a co-worker. But I will go with Nzuzo to their house today and see if he’s comfortable with them then I will decide if he goes there tomorrow,” I say.
“I don’t have a problem, as long as you can confirm that my grandson will be safe there.”
Nzuzo is watching us, he’s stopped playing his car, I can’t tell whether he’s happy about this or not.
“Do you want to make a new friend? His name is Sphiwe.” I’m crossing my fingers here because if he says no there wouldn’t be anything I can do except canceling and disappointing Nkalipho and his stepmother.
“Yeah,” he nods.
I exhale in relief.
“Okay, come and choose what you’re going to wear when his brother comes to pick us. Today we are just going to see your friend and come back, then tomorrow you’ll go and spend time with him. Is that okay?”
He nods and abandons his car to follow me to his room to choose an outfit for the day. I’m raising a little fashionista, there’s nothing he loves doing more than choosing what to wear.
Him and I are getting ready in the bedroom, I don’t know why I’m putting so much effort on my looks because this is about Nzuzo. Nkalipho will be here in 45 minutes, that’s if he’s the type that respects time.
Babo is in the kitchen with my mother and Aunt Teekay. I can hear his laugh from here, I think the last ceremony got us closer as a family. Even Mam’ Busie has been coming to visit my mother frequently this week. I’m loving this, I don’t even know they even hated each other in the first place. Babo is a cool uncle, he’s always been good to me, the same way my father was good to Salo.
I go to the kitchen with Nzuzo, I want to feed him before we leave, I don’t want his stomach to rumble in front of rich people. He stands next to Babo’s chair while I get his bowl. Then I hear him demanding his money from Babo.
Everyone is confused.
“Ngifuna ishumi lami!” he says.
As young as he is, he can be very aggressive when he’s angry.
I stop what I’m doing to reprimand him, he shouldn’t be raising his voice at an elder.
“Nzuzo stop that, Mkhulu paid back your R1, you put it inside your pencil case.”
He kicks his feet and starts screaming. I haven’t had these tantrums in two years.
“I want my R1!” he keeps saying.
Babo pulls out his wallet with a calming smile and takes out R10 and gives him.
“No, I want my money, not this one,” he’s still screaming and messing his T-shirt with tears and saliva.
“Nzuzo, stop it!” I yell.
He doesn’t care, he’s pulling Babo’s clothes and demanding his money with tears flooding his face.
“Okay mzukulu, calm down,” Babo says and gives him R1.
He should be calming down because he wanted his R1, that was already paid back by the way, and now he’s getting another one that looks exactly like the one he gave.
He takes it and looks at it, then he throws it across the room and wails on top of his voice. I don’t do this but now I’m compelled to take off my sandal and remind him why mommy hates disrespectful children.
I pull him to the bedroom, my mother is yelling behind me, if I listen to her this child will cry until his chest dries up. I close the door and give him several spanks. Now he can cry for a valid reason. I sit on the bed and watch him rolling on the floor and wailing.
The door opens, his lifesaver is here to rescue him.
“Woza kuGogo khehla,” she picks him up and walks out with him.
I continue sitting on bed feeling devastated and hopeless. Motherhood is hard, sometimes it becomes too much that I feel like it would’ve been better if I wasn’t born. I do everything right, but still nothing is enough. But I’m not going to cry…well, at least not too loud. I’m stopping tears before they drop to my cheeks and ruin my make-up, talk about classy crying.
Nzuzo is still angry at me, I know, but he knows better than to give me another tantrum. We changed the T-shirt because he messed it, he’s obedient and ready to go.
“Say goodbye to Gogo and Aunt Teekay,” I say.
He only waves his hand at them. Attitude!
I pick him up and go to the car parked outside waiting for us.
Nkalipho is a gentleman, he’s opening the door for me.
“Hello Nzuzo,” he says holding Nzuzo’s hand. There’s a genuine smile on his face.
There’s no response from Nzuzo.
Nkalipho puts him on the seat and fastens his belt.
I’m a bit concerned because he’s still quiet, mad-quiet.
“Is he okay?” Nkalipho asks, taking his seat.
I nod, “Yeah, he’s okay.”
“Maybe he will relax if I give him this.” It’s a tablet, he opens CandyCrush and passes it to Nzuzo at the back.
I’m holding my breath…
He takes it, I breathe out.
“We are going straight to the house?”
I frown, “Yes.”
Where else could we go?
I can’t believe I just had a whole 15 minutes drive with someone in silence. This is a quieter side, far from the noise and crowd. The concreted yard we are driving through is big enough for three township houses. It’s not a Top Billing type of property but it’s still a house only a few can afford. Built modernly, connected to a double-door garage with a swimming pool at the back. It’s spacious and glamorous, when you enter from at the front door you feel the warm touch of a woman.
Nzuzo has forgiven me, I guess. He’s holding onto my dress tightly, he can see we are in a different area with different people and I’m the only person he can trust.
“This way,” Nkalipho says, leading us towards the sitting room.
There’s a glamorous woman sitting on her phone with a glass of red wine in front of her. I’m not sure if she’s coming from a photoshoot or this is how women dress while sitting at home this side.
“We are here,” Nkalipho announces.
She lifts her head, looks at me and at Nzuzo, then she smiles.
“Finally! Is this the little Nzuzo?” She throws the phone on the coffee-table and takes a sip of her wine before standing up and coming to Nzuzo.
“Look at you sweet-pie! Oh my goodness, he allows you to cut his hair?” She looks at me.
I’m still caught by her glam.
“Yeah,” this is a very typical women first encounter, we are already discussing motherhood.
“What is your trick?”
“I don’t have one, he usually asks for the haircut himself.”
“Wow, can we swap?”
I laugh, what else can I do?
“Let’s go and call Sphiwe, alright Nzuzo?” She’s pulling him and walking away with him.
Then she looks back and exhales with an eye roll.
“Pardon me, Sphiwe has been so excited about this. I’m Masentle, their mom.”
Their mom, yet Nkalipho almost looks her age.
“Nondumezulu,” I say.
“Let me fetch Sphiwe then we’ll talk.”
I’m still on my feet, so is Nkalipho. When they disappear he asks me to take a seat.
He remains standing, not looking at my direction.
It’s awkward, I reach for my phone in the purse and focus on it.
He walks away and disappears in the passage we came through. I release a breath I wasn’t even holding and put my phone away.
Masentle comes back with the boys. Sphiwe is almost Nzuzo’s age, he’s a very light-skinned boy with a lot of hair but you can still see his father in him. Nzuzo still looks uncomfortable but Masentle is holding his hand.
She instructs Sphiwe to greet and introduce himself. English, okay.
I’m tempted to ask if he speaks any Zulu because there will be a language barrier if that’s not the case. But his mother asks him about the balls and he replies in Zulu like he was reading my mind.
“Is there anything Nzuzo doesn’t eat?”- Masentle.
“Cheese,” I say.
“Okay, noted. Does he have any phobias?”
“None as far as I know, but he can talk, he’ll tell you if there’s something he’s scared of,” I say.
“Let me give them ice-cream and leave them to bond. What do you drink? Wine, water, soda?”
They’re off to the kitchen, I’m alone again.
I hear loud footsteps coming in and lift my head. My heart almost leaps out of my throat. Did I come to his house and expect not to see him? He looks different in casual clothes. In fact he looks less old than he was in the car.
“Oh, okay,” he says walking slower with his stare fixed on me.
I’m not sure where to look or what to say to him.
“It’s nice seeing you again ndodakazi. I thought you said you and my son were not friends.” There’s a mocking tone lying underneath.
“Yeah, we are not friends,” I say.
He chortles, “That’s the spirit!”
I’m not sure what that means.
“Did he leave you alone here? Go to the kitchen and grab yourself a drink, I’m sure he’s still strategizing,” he says and walks away chuckling softly.
Nkalipho appears just as his father disappears to where his wife is.
“Hey, can I get you something to drink?”
“Your mother is getting it,” I say.
He stands, now it looks like he doesn’t know what to do with himself.
I break the awkwardness and ask, “Did you tell your father that we are friends?”
“No, what did he say?”
“Nothing, he keeps asking if we are friends.”
These are their two signature words, oh okay.
Masentle is back with my water. Nzuzo and Sphiwe are behind her with bowls of ice-cream, they’re chatting like old friends now.
“So he talks?” Masentle.
“Yeah, he’s bubbly at times.”
“They’re going to be best friends. One black friend for a change.”
I’m not sure how I feel about that statement but I smile and sip my water.
“Your skin looks good. So does your body, it doesn’t show that you have a child. How long is your hair?”
“It reaches below my neck, I’ve grown it for two years,” I say.
“Wow, so you don’t need a weave like us. Minus one expense!” she laughs.
I laugh too.
“You work at Shoprite?”
“And job-hunting,” I say, almost defensively.
“Oh okay, what are you looking for?”
“Any good-paying job, I have bills to pay. But I’m looking mostly in laboratories, I did Biochemistry and Biology,” I say.
“Wow! And you’re working at the mall counting people’s change?”
“It’s life, but I’m sure something will eventually come,” I say.
She looks at Nkalipho, there’s a silent argument held by their stares.
“You have friends in different industries, right?”
He clears his throat, “Yeah, I’ll see what I can do.”
Am I getting connections? This could change my whole life.
Masentle looks back at me, she’s unbelievably gorgeous, she looks nothing over 35. I’m wondering how old she was when they started dating, she must’ve been in her twenties and Nkalipho’s father in his 40s.
“Let me get you a snack,” she says and leaves.
I’m left alone with Nkalipho again.
Well, he stands up too.
“I’m going to check on the boys.”
I let out a short chuckle.
“You don’t like me, do you?”
He’s taken back by that question.
“Or you don’t like talking to strangers that much?” I say trying to control my first question, I didn’t mean it as in him liking me as a woman.
“You’re not a stranger to me,” he says.
“Do you want me to sit?”
“No,” I say with an awkward chuckle.
“Let’s both go and check on them.” He pulls out his hand to help me off my seat.
I appreciate the gesture, but holding his hand?
“I’m fine, thanks.” I stand and follow him to the room where the boys are.
They’re busy with drawing books, I guess Sphiwe is introverted, he’s not much of an outdoor child. Nzuzo only looks at me once and continues with what he’s doing.
Nkalipho chuckles next to me.
“They got along quicker than you and me.”
“We are not getting along?” This is news to me, I thought we were besties.
He doesn’t answer, I turn my head and look at him.
Our eyes lock for a minute, then he does what he always do; looks away.
He clears his throat, “Is his father around?”
“No, he’s not,” I say.
“Is he late?” What a funny question.
“No, he’s alive and well.”
He nods, no further questions.
Masentle calls my name, she’s one bubbly person, I’m still reserved around her and she’s acting like she’s known me for years.
“You can go, I’ll watch them,” Nkalipho says.
It turns out snacks is the whole pantry and all sort of sliced fruits laid on the table with her bottle of red wine and a box of fruit juice for me. I’m trying not to eat like I’m a starved hunter. She’s doing most of the talking, telling me about the house, how they moved from the other side of the road to build a bigger house here. It’s a lot of stories, apparently the old house belongs to Nkalipho now. I don’t want to change the mood with my sad stores, so I just listen to her. Time flies, before I know it’s almost 7pm. Nzuzo needs to be in bed, I hope he will sleep after all the sugar he’s been eating since we got here.
I also need some rest, tomorrow I’m working.
Nkalipho’s father comes out to say goodbye. I think this highlights my evening, he’s such a warm man. I can say they’re all kind, Nzuzo clicked with all of them. He’s on Nkalipho’s tail as we approach the door.
“We hope to see you soon,” Masentle says.
“Hopefully,” I say.
Nzuzo says his goodbye to his friend before Nkalipho lifts him up at the door. Boys bonded, all three of them. Nzuzo is now chatting his heart away and calling Nkalipho ‘Lume’, which is Malume. I have no doubt that tomorrow will be good. He’s telling me about ‘Piwe’ all the way home.
Ma hasn’t locked the gate yet, even though 7pm has clocked. Nzuzo runs in without even saying proper goodbye to Nkalipho, now all he cares about is telling his grandmother about Piwe.
“Thank you, he had a good time, I’m sure tomorrow will be good,” I say turning to look at Nkalipho who’s leaning by the car, staring at our gate.
He takes a few steps towards me and stops just a foot away.
“Take Masentle’s number, just in case you want to talk to her tomorrow when Nzuzo is with her and Sphiwe,” he says.
I didn’t even think of that. I take the number from his phone and save it.
“It’s late, I have to go inside, thanks for today,” I say.
“Nondumezulu,” he calls my full name.
I panic everytime someone does this. Nondumezulu- it sounds like I’m in trouble, because why else would someone waste their breath calling such a long name.
I’m looking at him, this time he locks eyes with me without a flinch.
“Why are you hitting him?” he asks.
I did not expect this. I feel interrogated, by the wrong person for that matter. We haven’t known each other for a week and he’s here questioning me like a policeman.
“He showed me the bruises, why would you do something like that?” he says.
I allow myself to breathe before I respond.
“He was throwing a R1 tantrum, it’s a very long story that I’m not interested in telling, I was reprimanding him, unfortunately he has a sensitive skin.” I’m explaining myself to this man who knows nothing about me, must be nice!
“Is that how you are? You hit people if you’re not happy with their actions or it’s just him because he can’t hit you back?” Okay, he needs to stop.
“You don’t know me Nkalipho, so don’t stand here and judge me. It’s my child, my responsibility!” Now I’m angry.
“So that makes you right?”
“Nkalipho, no! You’re not going to judge me, I do this alone, without any help. I discipline my child, I don’t abuse him.”
“Okay, I’m sorry to think you could’ve handled it better. Children get frustrated when they’re misunderstood, his case is even more complicated because he may want to express himself and not know how to.”
Now he’s a child expert?
“The problem is you think about things that don’t concern you.”
“Okay, have a goodnight.”
Can’t say the same about him, I walk away.
There’s a sting of pain and regret tugging at my heart. I get inside the house, Nzuzo is on my mother’s lap telling her about his new friend. I pull him and go to the kitchen with him. I do what I should’ve done earlier.
“Baby, why did you refuse the money Mkhulu gave you? It was R10, that’s ten times what you borrowed him,” I ask holding both his hands.
“Mkhulu doesn’t want to give me my R1, he gave it to the goat.”
I’m confused. It’s been a week since the ceremony was held, he didn’t have a problem all along, now all of a sudden he wants his R1, not just any the exact one he gave them.
“Do you want mommy to give you another R1?”
He shakes his head, no.
“So you’re going to throw another tantrum when you see Mkhulu?”
He folds his arms with his lips pursed. Yes, he’s going to throw R1 tantrums everytime he sees Babo.
(I see the requests on inbox, I’ll be only able to take sponsors and provide more inserts a day from next week, Zibulo will be sent tomorrow)