Thando's Strength

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18

“Babe are you okay?” The more Zama asked that question the more Mandla seemed to lie to her face. They could both see he was far from it but he continued to say there was nothing wrong with him. Even if there was something wrong

But what Zama didn’t understand was what being found guilty of this crime meant? He was too young to go to jail, too smart, too good looking. There must have been another way for him to get out.

“I wonder if Thando is okay?”

“That’s it. Zama was a genius. There were two of them that day when the police arrived. And as far as statements go, they all corroborate when he says he was called over by Vusi to comfort him after discovering that his mother was no more.” Heck, he didn’t know what happened between that time before or during his way over to the Dlamini household. All he knew is that he comforted a distraught man after witnessing the death of his mother in cold blood, that’s all.

He didn’t expect things to get this complicated. They weren’t meant to get this complicated but he had to run the course, at least he had bought half the problem away and the other half was oblivious to what was going on. But the question still remained. If you loved someone would you put them through all of this shit even if things turned sour between or was it more than enough proof that you never loved them, to begin with?

***

Thando came back from work in the early evening. She tried, by all means, to avoid coming back home late of late due to all the unsavoury things that were happening to women of late. And being known around the neighbourhood could only get you so far. She came home to find a frustrated Vusi watching tv. Got dressed and went into the kitchen to see what had been made for supper. The man of the house had only prepared rice as it sat there in a lone pot on a stove, by itself waiting for others to join it before members of the Dlamini family feasted on it. Thando cooked something fast to make, tinned fished and some veggies and the two sat in front of the telly.

“I’ve been thinking.” She began, placing a spoon on her plate.

“If it’s got anything to do with Mandla and me I don’t want to hear it.”

“Why don’t you come work for me?”

Vusi felt as though they’d had this conversation before but decided to entertain her nonetheless. “Why?”

“Well for starters, I’ve got a good inkling that your best friend killed our mother.”

“On what grounds”

“Hey,” Thando shrugged. “What Thabo said, and saw made sense. If the police don’t want to do their job might as well find someone who does.

“Really, so you’re going to take the word of someone who sits on the side of the street all day?”

“Funny how you were such a person not so long ago but let’s move along. Again, you must learn to listen. I said it makes sense, not that it is the 13th commandment in the Bible.”

“Why am I not surprised you were going to bring up my time with Thabo?”

“You speak as though you don’t hang out with him. Newsflash honey. Mandla is just a phase. Just like me, he will wipe you like the shit stain you are and move onto his next victim. So wake up from whatever cloud you’re lying on and come back down to earth. I’m giving you a chance to make something of yourself instead of sitting in the corner of the road until your ass becomes numb before you go around harassing women and for what, money for cigarettes?”

Sbu kept quiet and let his sister’s words sink in. Although it was true, he didn’t want to hear it. “You know Sbu was here earlier?”

His question rendered her mute. No tongue, nothing, nix. Just an empty cavity between her teeth and throat.

“What did he want?” She eventually asked.

Vusi shrugged his shoulders.”I didn’t ask. He wasn’t coming to me so I didn’t bother to find out.”

“Okay,” Thando nodded.

All of this was bullshit but it was enough to get his sisters attention off him. But in the days that followed his premonition did come true. Sbu’s heart felt like it was dipped in oil when he saw his girlfriend all cosy as she walked around with the neighbourhood street rat on her way home. But he knew he couldn’t just bully him because he’d get his ass handed to him. So he approached Thando and Thabo with caution.

“And what do you call this?” he asked, failing his fingers.

Thabo looked at Thando with confusion and she looked at him with the same confused response as Sibusiso put an end to their laughing and giggling.

“Don’t you respect our relationship anymore? Does it mean nothing to you?”

Sbu continued with the questions.

Thando was so confused she had nothing to say, giving off the wrong impression to Thabo.

“What is he talking about?” Thabo asked.

“We used to date and then he left me because I wasn’t making as much money as he thought I was making so, right now… I’m just as confused as you are and still trying to figure out where this is going.”

“Oh… is that what you go around telling the world, that I wanted your money?” Sbu asked. “Really, think about that for a second. A grown-ass man like me, successful as I am, wanting handouts from you when all you do is leach off other people. First Mandla, and then me… my guy.” He turned to Thabo. “If I were you I’d get out while you can before she sucks you dry.”

“What do you want, Sbu” Thando sighed.

“Can I have a moment with you… Alone,” he said, emphasizing the last part of his sentence as he gave Thabo an uncomfortable glance up and down.

“What do you want?” Thando demanded as they stood on the side of the street while Thabo patiently waited for them.

“Listen, I think we may have overreacted with the way things played out when we last saw each o-”

“WE?”

“Shhh, why you gotta put our business out on blast like that. The whole world doesn’t need to know. Okay, fine. I think I might have acted a little irrationally and I’d like for us to sort things out and talk, start over like rational people.”

“No”

“No? What do you mean no?”

“No. Noun. a vote or decision against something. Also known as nay, negative or refusal.” She said, putting her phone away.

“You can’t do this to me. To us. What does he have that I don’t?”

“A massive dick. Now if you would excuse me.” pushing him aside. She returned to Thabo who was patiently waiting for her to return.

Sbu watched in silence as the pair continued to laugh and the street rat grabbed Thando purse and walked her home. His Girlfriend had been scraping the bottom of the barrel this time around, ditching him for this? It hurt his ego, his pride. He’d understand if she went back to Mandla, yes that would’ve hurt but that would’ve been understandable. It would’ve been a take that you scum moment. But then again, maybe she avoided Mandla because he was right. But if that was the case then she wouldn’t be laughing like she was high on laughing gas making her way home after a day at work, while he stood there with itchy balls looking for a place to stroke them.

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