Thando's Strength

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7

If you have what you deem to be true friends, they would allow months to go by without the two of you keeping in contact regardless of how busy life gets. This is an excuse Ayanda couldn‘t use even if he tried because it was bullshit of the highest level. But even though things had been awkward between them, he was there for his bestie… until he threw a glass at the wall out of frustration. Mandla wasn’t an angry person per se, but he was an emotional being that held onto grudges, probably one of the reasons why they’d stopped hanging out. “Every time I want us to hang out, enjoy some quality time together, there’s always an excuse.”

“Maybe she’s genuinely busy.” Ayanda shrugged.

“Every single time?”

“I don’t know. Have you asked her brother?”

“Her brother doesn’t know. Or wouldn’t know rather. If he’s not at work, he spends most of his time with me, or at home masturbating I’m sure. But he doesn’t involve himself in his sister’s issues.”

“And what does that make you?” Ayanda asked.

“I’m an exception.”

“How so?”

“We’ve become good friends.”

“Right I’m sure. All he’s doing is grooming you to take advantage of you because you decided to pay for his mother’s medical bills.”

“Probably why this bitch acting funny too,” Mandla hissed. “Well, she’s going to pay for it, one way or another.” clicking his knuckles.

Ayanda couldn’t just sit around and watch his friend torture himself because of a woman he desperately claimed to love while she enjoyed the very thing he wanted in another man’s arms. He had a decision to make… did he intervene and show Mandla the pictures on his phone and put a stop to this but potentially push his friend to the brink of suicide or stay out of it and let nature take its course. He wanted Mandla to be happy, he seemed happy, but if she wanted to hurt him, then so be it. Let him learn the hard way that women aren’t to be trusted. The last thing he wanted to be known as was a snitch. The best course of action would be to do the right thing once Mandla had calmed down and then they could talk like men.

***

Thando could only avoid her man for so long and her absence had revealed a completely different side to him. Even Vusi who tries to stay out of her love life as much as possible had given an opinion which to her, meant that things were bad. Or at the very least try to change the way she went about things even though she was at a crossroads. Sbu’s words kept repeating themselves over and over in her mind whatever chance they got. Mandla seemed even shorter than he already was when he was in a foul mood, she didn’t know how this was possible but it just was, but the more time they spent together the more things seemed to get back to normal.

But she’d finally come to a decision. She knew who she wanted to be with, the person who kept blowing up her phone even when she was with her boyfriend or the person who kept showing her the cold shoulder because her business had suddenly picked up and she needed to put in more hours. An excuse she used far too often when she was with Sbu and now that it was no longer an excuse it sounded like one. Thando came back from work to find a note letting her know there was pizza in the microwave and that if she needed him, he’d be out with Vusi. The note was a thoughtful gesture because it saved her from cooking or ordering another pizza, but there was no need for the last part. If she wanted to know where he was she would’ve called to find out, that’s what cellphones were for. When she did call to find out what time he’d be coming home, so he could bring some baguettes on his way back. She was shocked to find out they were hanging out at home, with her mother, which meant that things could only go downhill from there. When Mandla came back home, he was vague about what he was doing there other than spending time with her brother. Her brother directed all her queries to her and her mother insulted her for not being able to handle Mandla. Using his name for the very first time since she learnt of his existence, which set off alarm bells immediately. But she also told her that if she was with Sibusiso she wouldn’t have to do this because he’s older and more mature so there was the element that she was reading more into things… but her gut feeling told her otherwise.

***

“There’s something I have to show you.” Those are the words of someone drowning in nothing but guilt. The words came out of Ayanda’s mouth over a coffee table on a lunch date. Seven words that were meant to set him free did nothing. The main reason why Ayanda chose a public place to tell his friend the gut-wrenching news was because he’d keep his emotions in check. Yes, he’d be angry and it would hurt, but he wouldn’t throw his drink at the table beside them. Boy was he wrong.

“What is this?” Mandla stared at the picture before scrolling onto the next one.

“I’m sorry,” Ayanda said softly.

“Who is this?”

“I don’t know.” Ayanda shrugged.

“How long has this been going on?” he asked, while he kept scrolling.

“I don’t know, the timestamp on the pictures is as far as my knowledge goes.”

“Why do you have these?”

Ayanda didn’t answer. It was a stupid question. How could he ask him that when he brought him proof that his girlfriend was cheating on him.

“I said, why do you have these?” Mandla asked, raising his voice and attracting attention to them.

“She’s cheating on you. You needed to know, that’s what friends are for. I kept quiet and you acted weird around me. I tell you the truth and you get angry at me and not the right person. I’m not the one who’s cheating on you, I’m not the one sleeping around, so please direct your anger at the right person.”

“So you’ve been following her around to get these pictures?”

Silence.

“Well, fuck the both of you!” Mandla shouted, throwing Ayanda’s phone across the restaurant before leaving.

Ayanda was left to field stares, broken plates and ruined meals while his friend was nowhere to be seen after causing a scene.

Later on that day.

Mandla confronted Thando about her cheating and she denied it and he wished he had photos to prove it. He did think of asking for them, but then he remembered that he destroyed the source of them out of anger. But I’m sure they were backed up somewhere, everything used Google docs and apps nowadays. Even if he did, Mandla was sure that Ayanda was still too pissed off to help him, so it would be his word against hers. But it was fine, if she wanted to continue lying to his face then it was okay, she could go ahead, at least he knew the truth. One thing that was certain amongst this, he said, she said was that he wasn’t going to be made a fool of by her or anybody for that matter.

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