The three adults enjoyed a meal together. One which Thando had missed, to be honest. It’s not that she didn’t enjoy rice but eating it because she had to and not because she wanted to was a bit straining. Mass media had carved out this niche that ex-girlfriends and current ones should hate each other for no particular reason other than the previous partner wanted to ruin things even if there wasn’t any proof. What many people failed to realise is that not all relationships ended with houses on fire and police taking statements from partners in distress. Case and point, Mandla. His current and previous love interests were enjoying each other’s company, having constructive conversations and even laughing at his expense. But he still remained adamant that he didn’t have a signature face he pulled when his sperm came out to play, to put it nicely. He felt uneasy with Thando’s presence as the night wore on, almost as though she were about to tell Zama something she shouldn’t hear and was only spared the awkwardness of saying something and rude by the darkness outside.
“Yoh guys, look at the time, why didn’t you guys say something.”
“Relax, it’s not that late. You can even sleepover, “ Zama grinned, looking at the reactions of the ex-couple before her.
“Not to sound rude, but no thanks. I appreciate the gesture but I wouldn’t feel comfortable,” Thando smiled.
Mandla shook his head disapprovingly, although the gesture wasn’t specific to whose comment it was directed at.
“I hate to ask you this but can I ask you guys to call me an uber, my phone is basically flat?” Thando asked.
“It’s fine, we’ll take you home,” Zama said.
“We will?” Mandla asked
“Yes, let me just grab a jersey,” Zama said, disappearing into the bedroom.
“Why are you here?” Mandla asked in a rushed whisper
“I need you. I mean, I need your help, I wouldn’t have come if I wasn’t desperate, Please”
“Okay guys we can go,” Zama grabbed her purse and led the way as they made it out the door.
Sibusiso assured Mam’Sonto that this month’s rent would be paid and that she had to talk to Thando. He, on the other hand, had to go back home and attend to his mother who was ill. Mam’Sonto could empathize with what he was doing because she was doing the exact same thing, with the exception of the extra rooms she’d built in her mother’s backyard and was now profiting off of. But she let Sbusiso go, after all, she was still going to get her money from his partner. While Mam’Sonto was left to her thoughts, Sibusiso was cleaning up shop. What was the point of staying here with a person who couldn’t provide? She’d clearly lied about being independent from Mandla and if there was one thing Sbu wasn’t going to tolerate it was a liar. If she had the nerve to lie about being… dare he say it, a golddigger dependent on Mandla’s money to fund her lifestyle she was portraying to live, what else was she lying about? Even if he asked her, how would he know that the answers he got back were the truth? Sbu gave Thando’s problem one last look, checking to see if he’d left anything of his behind before dragging his suitcases and sports bags out behind him. After leaving the key with Mam’Sonto and as if on cue, the black x6 pulled up at the front gate and surprise, surprise, guess who jumped out? Thando with a smile on her face before it disappeared when her eyes connected with her partners.
Mandla’s car was almost invisible as it cruised in the night, being given away by the street lights that loomed ahead. The mood in the car was no different to how it was in the house, the only difference being that it was now mobile. When they got to Umlazi, they navigated through sections named after letters of the alphabet and those who had affairs to have children to have their alphabetical letters repeated twice. Zama wanted to surprise her cousins and it wasn’t that far from where Thando was going but the term, not the far was relative, after all, this was B and P section. However, this did allow for Mandla and Thando to get what was on their mind freely.
“What do you want from me, you were clear about what you wanted during the funeral.”
“Mandla please listen, I’m not here to ruin your happiness, I’m happy for you I really am. But I’ve got nowhere else to go and no one else.”
“What about that hunk of a boyfriend of yours?” Mandla asked with so much disgust, it left a bad taste in his mouth.
“He’s part of the problem,” Thando sighed.
“What did he lay his hands on you?” Mandla raised his voice, switching his eyes from the road and Thando.
“Then what is it? I Don’t have time for your guessing games.”
Thando took a moment but eventually summoned up the courage to tell Mandla what had happened to her financially and asked Mandla to help her financially. The longer he kept quiet the more insane it seemed to drive her and she felt like pulling her hair out one by one. “Say something please?” She asked in a hushed tone.
“You said you need how much?” he repeated
Mandla returned to silence.
Thando sighed. At least she tried. She’d officially exhausted all her options. But trying was better than not trying as she’d said. She didn’t know what she’d do but something ought to happen, I mean she lived with Sibusiso and he was a hustler, she might as well pick up the skill before she went to jail.
“Thando,” Mandla said, calling her name for the third time as they pulled up to the gate.
She looked up at the road in front of her in surprise before looking at Mandla.
“I’m really sorry about what happened to you, I know how much you loved that bakery and how much work you put into it.”
“If I give you this money, I want one thing.”
“What?” She asked, almost excited.
Mandla paused. “If I give you this money, I want you to leave me alone. I want you out of my life. I do no longer exist to you, if you see me in the street you keep walking, you don’t wave, you stop to say hi, nothing.
Before Thando had a chance to reply her phone beeped.
“That’s all I can give you now. The rest I’ll have to call the bank to authorise.”
“Do you want the money or not?” Mandla asked.
“Thank you” Hugging Mandla tightly. She didn’t expect him to reciprocate the hug but he did and it lasted longer than it should’ve but she left the car with a smile on her face. A smile that was soon replaced with confusion and then dread when her eyes locked on with Sbu’s. What he saw and what he thought he saw were two different things but more importantly what was he doing with all these bags.