Thando's Strength

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15

Mandla gave Zama a call to let her know he was waiting outside for her, and then patiently waited for the never-ending goodbyes to begin. He sat there wondering if he was doing the right thing. His priorities should be focused on Zama and not Thando. She’d chosen what’s his face over him and therefore, she was no longer his problem. But Thando wasn’t a second-hand car and he wasn’t about to do this to himself, not again. The truth was he knew exactly why he gave her the money, he just wasn’t ready to accept it.

“Ready to go?” Zama asked, closing the door behind her.

“Yes,” the dull thud snapping him out of his thoughts.

“I feel like Mcdonalds”

“That makes two of us,” he smiled. “I wouldn’t mind their chips.”

***

Thando and her partner were back in their humble abode. The wind outside kicking up dust and grains of sand tinkling against the metal sheets being the only noise that filled the space inside their home. An exposed lightbulb above them swung gently from side to side waiting for a commentator to introduce the fighters that waited in each corner.

“Okay, let’s try this again, and this time I expect an answer. Where were you off to?”

“Can we not do this now.” Sbu huffed.

“When would you like to do it, please let me know so I can pencil it in?” Thando folded her arms across her chest.

“Thando, I’m tired.”

“Of doing what. Packing?”

Sbusiso had had enough. And there was no use in hiding it anymore, why would he? He was leaving anyway. Thando had lied about everything and he wasn’t prepared to live a life built on lies. That wasn’t him and he wasn’t going to stand for it. Even if he loved Thando as much as he did, he wasn’t going to change his morals, not even for her. If she had been honest from the beginning and told him that everything she owns was paid for and a result of… Mandla then sure, it would be a bruise to his ego but she would have told the truth and they’d have worked things out from there. As a team. Not now when things have fallen apart and all of a sudden she wants him by her side and she’s now calling him names because he won’t do it. It doesn’t work that way. Life doesn’t work that way. If she could handle all those disappointments, she could handle one more. And so… he told her.

***

When Vusi was asked to help his sister move back home a few weeks later, he was both taken by surprise and happy. It was about time she saw how much of a leech Sbusiso was but then again her sister’s choice in men wasn’t exactly the best. What sucked though was that she’d move from one shack to another because if she thought she would go back to their mother’s home she’d be dreaming. When Thando got home. To the place she’d grown up, the only home she ever knew was gone. Taken by the bank and when she got there, her brother had done a pretty good job of taking all the valuables that still belonged to them and hid them in boxes, ready to go. She looked at Vusi and he gave a sympathetic shrug of his shoulders like there was nothing he could do. And he was right, there was nothing he could do. Thando peered into a box that hadn’t been sealed and saw mink blankets in black plastic bags. The more she looked the more the reality of what was happening set in

“And then. What’s going here?” Even though she already knew the answer she still asked the question.

“The bank is repossessing the house, because.. Why are you asking me, you know what you did.”

“You do know they can’t take the house. That’s illegal, it’s got nothing to do with my business. Besides, I’ve got their money, so they can chill. Unpack this shit.” She said, twirling her finger.

Vusi raised his eyebrows. “And what about you?” he asked, watching her disappear into the master bedroom.

“I wasn’t here when you were packing.” Closing the bedroom door behind her.

When Thando woke up from her nap, she was dying of hunger, she left her bedroom and returned to reality. But the silver lining to all of this was that her brother had done what she’d told him to and had started the task of unpacking boxes.

She ordered dinner and the two siblings had dinner, in between their casual conversation, it came out that her brother was no longer working and he was back to sitting in the street corner and being a nuisance with what he called his friends. That night she slept with a heavy heart but woke up the next day with a clear conscience. The first thing she did was save the house, then her beloved business. Sure, it would take a while for her efforts to show any visible change but she wasn’t her mother, she didn’t care what people thought of her. What mattered was the long game. She’d almost lost it all, not once but twice… it was about time she woke up or else she’d deserve what life was coming to her. But unlike all the men that surrounded her in her life, she wasn’t an egg, she was a chicken and that’s what came first. So… house, check. Business, check. With the little money that was left over she needed to decide what to do.

A few months later

“Thando, this is an unexpected surprise” Zama smiled welcoming her with a warm hug. “I’m afraid if you’re looking for Mandla he’s not in.” She laughed.

Thando faked laughed as well, entertaining her. The two ladies found a quiet spot, the word quiet being relative and talked as though they’d known each other for ages and were catching up. The only thing missing from their conversation was, “How are the kids?” But for Thando, this was the perfect time to break the news of what was going on. To tell her the truth. She knew if she was in her position she’d want to know.

“This is such a beautiful place, food is great and so is the vibe. You’d never be able to say that it’s a bakery.”

Thando shrugged as she watched Zama stare around in awe, focusing on a few art pieces she managed to pry off some fussy artists.

“I wonder who owns this place. I’d really like to meet them one day.” she continued talking to herself.

“Look to your left,” She mumbled.

“Hmm, what was that?” Zama asked.

“I said, me too” Thando smiled sheepishly. That was it. Zama had to know what kind of man she was dating. Enough was enough. How long would women go on watching other women make the same mistakes they made instead of giving them a heads up? If she chose to ignore it then so be it but then she couldn’t then come back and say Thando knew how deep a hole she was getting herself into and didn’t tell her she didn’t have enough rope. “Zama.”

“Hmmm,” she said, giving Thando her full attention after ordering a weird combination of vetkoeks, chocolate cake and trifle. Clearly it was something only she could explain or enjoy.

“There’s something I have to tell you.”

“What?”

The longer Thando remained quiet the more awkward things became before none of them could take it any further.

“They have a discount on selected desserts. 45% on Persian Pavlova, 35% on Tiramisu and 15% on Gin & Tonic tarts.”

“Wow, you know a lot about this store’s product.”

“What can I say. I’m a huge fan.” Thando smiled.

“Damn straight.” Zama agreed, giving her a high five.

“But seriously, there’s something I got to tell you.”

“What?”

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