Growing up

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Chapter Nineteen

I look at them and close the door behind me. I take a taxi to town and when I am in the taxi, I get a text from Nandi: ‘What are you doing in Enjoli? I told you not to be stupid.’ How does the she know I am here?Does she have someone following me? But I would have noticed. Oh wait, she is tracking me. Where the hell is the tracker? Is it in my phone? Wallet or clothes? This woman thinks she is clever; it’s time to prove her otherwise.

“Calm down Nandi I am going to get the briefcase in East London. I am not going to ask how you know my whereabouts.′ I reply and after a few minutes she replies with: “I have eyes everywhere, my love, you didn’t think I was going to let you go unmonitored, did you?”“I didn’t think you trusted me this little. Take care of my roommate, I will be back with your stuff tomorrow, ok?”“Perfect, Mongi is panicking so set her free. Be back tomorrow.”“Stop worrying. I will give the briefcase and you will keep the end of the deal.”“So you are taking the deal? You want me to fake your death? Brilliant.”“What choice do I have?”“You are smart.”

Mongi must be worried sick about me; I have to make things right. It’s my time to play, she has been one step ahead and now it is time to switch the game and be ten steps ahead. I cannot simply hand over the briefcase and wait for a bullet in my head. Her deal doesn’t sound legit. And even if I choose to believe that her deal is legit, I can’t leave my baby and my family. I am choosing myself, Mongi, my daughter and Mr+Mrs Mali over this Nandipha, I am pretty sure she would do the same if she was in my shoes.First I have to get rid of the tracker. I have to get new clothes just in case the tracker is in my clothes. After buying the clothes I go to a Nigerian container where they fix, buy and sell phones. I used to be friends with them when I was still in high school. The name of the owner is God’sWill.“My friend!”“My friend, are you still alive? Where have you been?”“School in Port Elizabeth, how is your baby mama?”“She is moody, you know her. We just fought and now she is not talking to me.” “I need you to check a tracker in my phone.”“Who is tracking you”“My parents, they are over-protective!”“You want me to take it off?”“No, I just want to see if it’s there. I’m not sure where the tracker is, but they keep calling, telling me where I am and asking what I am doing there!”“I see.” He takes my phone and opens it. It turns out that a tracker is in my phone but I cannot take the risk. What if she put in more than one tracker? And when did she put in this tracker? “What do you want me to do?” my friend asks after finding the small device.“Can I have another phone and leave this one here so that they will think I am here?”“What are you going to do when they call?”“I am going to take out the sim card and put it in my new phone.”“They will know when you remove the sim card.”

“Buy a new sim card, use a new number and divert your calls from your old phone to your new phone! Done!”“See this is why I love you. You are Michael Scofield of some sort!” I say in excitement. “I hope you don’t want to go clubbing.”“Worry not, my friend! Do your thing I am going to the bathroom.”I run to the toilets to change everything I am wearing and put on the clothes I just bought. When I am done I go back to my friend.“What’s with the new clothes?” he asks confused.“I just want to smell brand new,” then I wink at him. “Done!”“Really?”I take his phone and call my old number. The call goes straight to my new phone. I take my new phone and tell him I will give it back tomorrow, then I tell him he can keep my phone whilst I still have his.“So you want your parents to think you are here?” he looks at me with disapproving eyes.“Kind of. Can I leave this bag with you? Just in case they have put a tracker in my clothes too.”“Whatever you want to do today is huge.”“You are a darling.”I take my new phone, and delete WhatsApp on my old phone. I promise to buy his baby mama something nice and leave everything that can possibly have a tracker with God’swill. I then take a taxi to Ntsane. I get home after 5.I ring the bell. “Knock, knock, anybody home?” I shout.“Is that who I think it is? Mrs Mali shouts coming to open the door. She opens the door and she screams, gives me a warm hug and plants kisses all over my face. “Oh my God what are you doing here? Oh, look at you, you’re so small. Don’t tell me you are eating noodles every day?”“Hello Mam.” I say, shyly.“What’s wrong? You don’t look so happy, or did you miss us that much?”“Yes, I guess, where is the old man and Vuyo?”“He has evening class and Vuyo is asleep. Come on in. What’s eating you, my child? And don’t say it’s nothing because it’s written all over your face.”I enter and go to the lounge, she follows. Somehow I feel like I am a burden to Mrs Mail, I feel they have given me a hand and now I want an arm. Without noticing, my eyes get watery.“Have a seat love, tell me everything. You came to the right place. I have these ears to listen. What is it kid?” she comes and sits next to me and holds my hand. I manage to say: “I am in big trouble mam. I thought I was going to sort it out myself but the more I try to solve it the deeper I sink. I don’t know what to do anymore. You are the only person I trust that can help me but I feel I am taking advantage of your kindness.”She puts my head in her shoulder. “Nonsense, there is no such thing, you gave me something I always wanted - family. My family is complete today because of you. You are my child. Calm down and tell me everything. I promise I will do everything to help.”

She goes out to get me a glass of water and sits next to me. I take the water and drink. “You know Babalo? The one who was my godbrother?”“You mean the one Azola accused of sleeping with you and got kicked out?”“Yes, him. I met him in P.E a few weeks ago. ” I tell MiLady everything from the day I met Babalo ‘till today. When I am done I hear her saying:“Ok just to make sure that I understand: you are telling me that Babalo is a drug dealer; you found his briefcase in his hotel room. On his way to get the briefcase he got arrested. You knew the briefcase has illegal stuff but you wanted to be a friend. You didn’t give the briefcase to the police; you hid it. Now his gang is looking for it, the person they put on the job is your friend and somehow your friend got under your skin so you confessed that you do have the briefcase. You heard her boss telling her to take out any witnesses who are you and your roommate. Now the killer has your roommate and she put tracker on your phone. This girl is good. You told her you are going to get the briefcase but instead you came here, so you are double crossing her. Smart move,” she gives me a goofy smile.“Yes, and she offered me a deal, she said she can fake my death, I will have to disappear.”“What did you say?”“I pretended to like the deal but obviously I don’t want it. Tthat’s why I am here. She can’t be trusted. Besides, I can’t just fake my death and leave my family just because she said so.”“Yes, this is huge; she cannot be trusted! She is smart and we just have to be smarter,” she agrees. My phone rings, its Nandipha. “What now?” I say as I pick up.“You have been in that container in E.L for over five hours now; should I be worried? And what happened to your WhatsApp profile?”“Don’t worry. Everything is under control. My WhatsApp needs to be upgraded.”“Don’t forget I have Mongikazi here, you don’t want anything to happen to her, hey?”“I know. Chill. I won’t screw this up okay?”“Good.” “Was that her?” MiLady asks.“Yes, she thinks I am in town.”“So we have less than enough hours to think and to think fast. What did you say is in the briefcase again?”“Money, drugs, and a gun and I heard them saying there is an important list.”“Important list?”“A list that has their names, missions and names of their targets.”“This really is huge. So you obviously came here with a plan, what do you have in mind?”“I don’t know. How about we just arrest Nandipha?”“Your friend?”“Yes.”“But that will not take the gun away from your head. Her boss will still be out there and when he sees Nandi is not pulling it off, he will send someone else. We are not even sure if this Nandi thug hasn’t told him about you.”“If she had told him, we wouldn’t be alive.”“They wouldn’t kill you because you have something they want. But, trust me, they are going to pull the trigger after you give them the briefcase.”“You’re right,” I say resting my head on my hands.“I have something in my mind but I have to make a call first.”“We can’t involve people in this; we don’t even know who to trust.”With a smile in her face, she says: “My love, we cannot do this alone, we need help and there are people I trust. People I have been working with for decades. Trust me.”I shrug my shoulders. Mrs Mali tells the person on the phone to come to our house ASAP. She says it’s important and that it cannot be discussed over the phone. It cannot wait. After the call she tells me she was talking to the police detective and that he will be here in 30 minutes time.While waiting for the detective I go to the kitchen and make myself something to eat. After I am done eating I go back to the lounge. I ask if I can wake Vuyo up and when the old man is coming back.“Please don’t wake her up otherwise we will stay up all night. Umtata will be back after 9. He is worried -he says there is no potential A-learner this year. He is worried that you were the last one to put his school on the map.”“Come on it’s still early’”“I have been telling him.”“I think I heard someone knocking.”“Oh, that must be detective Malinga,” she says going to the front door.“No, you can’t be too sure; I don’t trust Nandipha and her gang.”She takes out her phone and makes a call. A phone rings outside the door.

“See? It’s him, I called him and his phone rings outside.” Then a man’s voice shouts: ’I’m here!’Mrs Mali opens the door. I hear them exchanging greetings and making their way to the lounge. Mrs Mali enters first and then a tall black man follows. He is in a black suit, his eyes are big and bright and kinda scary. His eyes demands respect, he is the kind of man that scares the shit out of kids. He must be worse when he is in his police uniform. “Hello,” he greets me and then looks at MiLady. “I thought you had a daughter not such a fine young man.” “Where do you see a fine young man?”“Are you female?”“Yes sir, it’s a pity I cannot show you the evidence.”He bursts into laughter. “I am sorry, I honestly thought you are a guy, how are you? I’m detective Malinga” “No problem, you’re not the only one. I’m fine, thank you, Sir.”“Don’t be silly; this is my daughter I told you about.”“Aviwe dearest,” he says in a mockery tone. Mrs Mali smiles a little and rolls her eyes.“Can we get to business now?” she says.

Mr Malinga looks at me. “Don’t worry. She is the reason we are here.” MiLady explains the situation...

“I see.” He nods. “I thought these things happen only in movies, how old are you my child?”

“I will be 18 in March.”“And you already involved with drugs?” he shakes his head.“I’m not involved with drugs, were you listening to Milady?”“Hey, no hard feelings. I am just thinking how we are going to play this out.” He says raising his hands.“This is what I have in mind: we put a tracker on Aviwe that can be tracked only by us. From what I heard Nandipha is smart, but we are old dogs, we have been in this industry before she was even born. After putting the track on Vee, she goes back to the Nigerian shop to take her things and go back to P.E to get the briefcase. She gives the briefcase to Nandipha. Obviously she won’t leave them alone. If she does, Aviwe you will have to be smart. You’ll have to provoke her, push her to the edge. Press where it hurts ’till she calls her boss. This girl wants to prove herself to her boss, so killing you would be an achievement and she will want her boss to see that. My plan is that you take the briefcase to Nandi and then she leads us to her boss. We will stay close,” says MiLady.“That’s too dangerous. What if Nandi doesn’t fall for the trap of taking Aviwe to her boss? What if she kills them right on the spot after taking the briefcase? And leave them there and disappear?” Mr Malinga disapproves.“Nandipha wants the briefcase. How about we also put a tracker in the briefcase in case she doesn’t fall for the trap. I’ll pretend to be going with the ‘fake death’ plan of hers and after that she will take the briefcase to her boss. The thing is we don’t know what Nandipha will do after giving her the briefcase. We don’t know if she is going to honour the deal or kill us or take us to her boss,” I suggest. “Hey, don’t worry we will be there, we will be close. She won’t kill you! Time is ticking, we have to move but I first have to go fetch Vuyo’s nanny.” Milady goes to get Vuyo’s nanny. While she is gone her husband comes back. He finds Mr Malinga and me in the lounge. He is unbelievable happy to see me. He asks what brings me here and Mr Malinga tells him what he has been told by Milady. When Milady comes back, she finds her husband ready to hit the road.“My women cannot go to war alone. If my daughter is in trouble I want to be part of the solution,” says Mr Mali looking at his wife.

“Sweet, but we are not going alone. We are going with the detective and we will have a backup. Besides you don’t even own a gun and I wouldn’t want anything bad happen to you,” MiLady says and then she smiles. “You are not going anywhere honey, look after Vuyo and her nanny okay?” she adds.“Women go to war and men stay home looking after babies!” he complains but complies.“Thank you, honey.”“Be careful.” “Always”. Mr Mali goes upstairs. Milady goes to her study and returns with a beautiful small golden gun. Then we go to the detective’s car. He gives me a beautiful silver pen saying that it has a tracker and they can hear everything. He calls for back up.

I call Godswill to I tell him I need my stuff, but he says I can only get them in the morning because he is not around. I tell him it’s a matter life or death. He tells me to make a plan and make sure everything is locked afterwards. I tell the elders. When we get to Godswill container, Malinga takes out his small toolbox, some small silver tools and within 5 minutes the padlock is open. I go inside, take my stuff; we lock the container and leave. On our way to Port Elizabeth I get a call from Nandipha.“And now? Where are you going?” “I’m coming to you doll.”“Do you have the brief case? Take a picture of it.” “The briefcase is under the seat and its safe. Even if I take its picture, how do you suggest I send it? I told you my WhatsApp is not working.”“I hope you are telling the truth.” I cannot wait for this to be over.“Don’t worry, today is the end of everything. Then you’ll go to class like every other first year student.” MiLady reassures. After some time I break the silence and ask MiLady what she thinks will happen to Babalo. She says it will depend on what he already has told the police.“There is no evidence that he owns the drugs. He might have hired the car with drugs in already. Unless if he confessed. This will depend on how strong his lawyer is,” she adds. I nod. I think of asking her to get Babalo the best lawyer she knows but I protest against the thought. Balo is a drug dealer; he should deal with the consequences. I should not rescue him. I know maybe if I was in his shoes he was going to rescue me but I am not him. He must learn. I make a promise in my heart to always be there for him when he is serving his time.Mr Malinga drives like an 18 year old boy who just got his driver’s licence; it takes us only 4 hours to get in Port Elizabeth. I am nervous. My life and Mongi’s life are in danger. I am playing with fire; I double crossed the smartest girl I know. What will happen to Mongi if Nandipha finds out I have played her? But this is no time to be a coward and back down! I have to be strong not only for me but for Mongikazi as well, I cannot fail her! I can’t afford to fail her. Balo would never forgive me for putting Mongikazi in danger and play hero.When are close to Blue waterbay Nandipha calls again and instructs me not to go to res, and that they are waiting for me in Central. So far I don’t have the briefcase. Central is halfway between where I am {Blue water bay} and where the briefcase is buried {South Camp Rag farm}. I have to get to rag farm without her noticing that I have passed Central.“What now? I have to get the briefcase. If I pass Central, she will see the tracker and will definitely know that something is up.” I ask with a shaky voice. “My partner is right behind us, this is what is going to happen: You’ll leave the stuff that has her tracker. Then you’ll go with my partner to get the briefcase and we will meet in town.” Malinga says.“Which means I’ll pass through town without them noticing?”

They both say yes. He pulls over and I get into the partner’s car. To my surprise it’s a woman, she says she is detective Bandzi. We drive off to the rag farm and go straight to the place we buried the briefcase.

She has the flash light but it’s not that dark because of the moon and stars. Miss Bandzi helps me dig up the briefcase and it takes us 15 minutes. I wonder what took us so long to bury it. After taking the briefcase we head back to the car. She drives off to town. I am tempted to open the case and steal the cash, but I chase the thought away. I tell Mrs Mali to wait for us at the Summerstrand taxi rank We arrive at the same time as Milady and Malinga.

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