Growing up

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Chapter Twenty

We don’t have much time to waste and they give me my stuff and the spying pen. I open the briefcase and put the tracker between the money. Then they leave, I take a cab to Central where Nandi is. She calls me asking why I stopped at the taxi rank and I tell her that’s where the taxi dropped me and she should have came with me if she wanted to know every single damn move I make. When the cab drops me off, I see Nandipha standing across the street. I put the pan on my pocket and I make sure it’s hidden. I cross the road and go to Nandi. “You’ve made it.”“Now it’s time to keep your part of the deal.”“I’m impressed I thought you’d do something stupid. Is this the one and only silver briefcase?”“I guess so, where is Mongi?””She is inside, come on in. I’m sure she will be happy to see you, she was worried sick about you.”Inside, she leads me to the basement where I find Mongikazi tied up in a chair. I see the same two guys I saw in Cubana the night I found out that Nandipha is a fixer. I run to Mongi still holding the briefcase. “Hey are you ok?” I ask looking at her.“So far, do you have the briefcase? I thought you had a plan Aviwe, I thought you had a plan,” she raises her voice and tears roll down her face. I can smell fear on her skin. I cup her face with my left hand. “I’m so sorry, this is all my fault.”“It’s ok, it’s not your fault. I just thought you had a way out.”“Shhhhhh.” I look at Nandipha. “What is this?” /she smiles and walks towards me. “What? How did you think this was going to end?” She takes the briefcase. I stand there feeling like I am being struck by lightning. “Let’s see what’s in here. What is the code?” she asks. Nobody answers. “I’m talking to you Aviwe.”“Remind me how am I supposed to know?”“So you don’t know what is inside? You have never opened it?”“You said it all.”“Like I believe you.”“I did not ask to be believed. I was told not to open it and I followed the order, is that a crime?”“Not at all, doll.” She opens the briefcase, her eyes glow and her smile grows bigger and bigger. She turns around and looks at the two guys behind her.“Sir, it looks like everything is in place. Here is the list, gun, drugs and money. So now what do we do with these?”Yung smiles, his gold teeth show. “You know what to do, I came down here to watch your first killing mission. Oh, I am so impressed. I knew with you on the job it was not going to take long to find this briefcase. You know if that had landed in the wrong hands we would have gone down the drain. Well done, my daughter, you keep on making me proud.” Nandi smiles and bows to the guy. “I learned from the best,” she says.“And you are the best student,” Yung says and smiles again, takes a gun from inside of his blazer and hands it to Nandi. “Now finish it my love, we can go celebrate. Ok?” he adds.

Nandipha hesitates to take the gun. “They are just kids, we don’t have to take them out. I know they will not talk,” she protests. “Exactly, they are kids, kids cannot shut up. Besides they don’t have value in our country; they don’t even pay income tax.” Nandi bites her lower lip, her eyes shows that she has doubts and is scared, she slowly reaches for the gun. I look at Mongi. Her eyes are closed, tears are rolling down her cheeks and her body is shaking. I am calm. I know Milady and her team are right outside and the fact that Nandi is changing her mind means I somehow got under her skin. Deep down she has a heart and it’s still beating and it can bleed. She is not that damaged after all.“Did you change your mind? Let me shoot one of them so I can show you how it’s done,” says Ta Yung taking the gun.“No, no I will do it myself, I have not changed my mind,” Nandipha refuses.“I thought as much, you have two brothers to look out for.”“I know, trust me I know.”“That’s my girl.” Nandipha points the gun at me; I shake my head a little. Suddenly, a door is kicked down and a firm female voice shouts at her to drop the gun. In a blink of an eye Ta Yung takes out a gun and shoots Mongikazi. Nandipha turns around and shoots Ta Yung in the chest three times. He dies on the spot. Ms Bandzi and the other cops take the guns. Another cop cuffs Ta yung’s guy. Mongikazi is shot on the shoulder and they call in an ambulance and she is taken to Greenacres hospital.

Nandipha is taken into custody. Port Elizabeth police are called; they crowed the place in less than 20 minutes and before they take Nandi, I go to her and thank her for not shooting me. “I am so many things, a thief, a manipulator, a bully, and liar but I am not a killer. Nobody deserves to die. I did the right thing. I think you would have done the same thing if you were in my position so no need to thank me. I did what a friend would do.”“So you do have a heart after all,” we both giggle.“And I have you to thank, you showed me I don’t have to live this life. I just wish I had listened last night; things would not have gotten so ugly. The time you were standing there so calm waiting for a bullet in your head, everything you told me started to play in my head. Thank you for double crossing me. I still wonder how you did it. Visit me in prison and tell me about it, ok?”“I will visit you my friend.”“Now go to Mongi, but she is going to be fine, trust me.” I go to Milady and then she tells Malinga that I have to go to hospital. They drive me to hospital. I dodge the police. I know I have to give a statement but I don’t want to put Babalo in more trouble. I have to calculate everything; I have to talk with Milady about the statement. If I tell the truth to the police then Balo will face a long sentence.Mr Malinga drives me to hospital along with MiLady. We park in Greenacres hospital’s parking lot. I say my goodbyes and then I ask to talk to Milady for a few minutes. She gets out of the car and walks me to the hospital.“Are you ok? You don’t look pleased, I thought you were going to lighten up a bit after taking down Nandipha and her crew. Your roommate is going to be fine my love.” She holds my hand.“It’s not that, I am worried about Babalo.” Looking a bit confused, trying to read my mind, she says: “Ok?” I don’t reply; I look down instead. “I can see you have a soft spot for the boy, tell me what is on your mind.”“I have to give a statement right? If I tell the cops that I found the briefcase in Babel’s hotel room then they will have a portable case against him. I cannot do that. I cannot throw him under the bus. I know it’s against the law but I understand why he did what he did. Trust me, Balo is a good person, if he had a choice or another way to survive he would not have taken the drug dealing path.”She smiles a little. “What are you saying Aviwe?”My lips forms a smile but my eyes remain dead serious. “I need you to make a plan, I need him to walk free.” She puts her right arm around my shoulders. “No, sweetheart it does not work like that. He has to learn that in every choice you make there are consequences and he has to face them. If you come in and clean up his mess for him then he will never learn his lesson. Jail is going to be his lesson but I will make sure he gets lenient sentence.” I smile and put my arm around my old lady’s waist. “You the best. About the statement: I honestly don’t want any cops around Mongi and me.”“Don’t worry Malinga and I will handle it.”“As long as it won’t blow up in your faces.”“We are old dogs, don’t you worry about us. Go check on your friend, I wish her a speedy recovery and hey I want you to promise me you’ll stay out of trouble.”“I promise.” she smiles and then she cups my face. I’m sure as hell about to get a lecture. “You know, you can’t seize to amaze me. You are a good person Aviwe, Vuyo is blessed to have a mother like you. This Nandipha person had a gun to your head, she made you sweat and not sleep but you still call her a friend. You see the good in people and that my child will take you far.” “Thank you. You made me who I am.”“You were born like this. It’s in here,” then she touches my left breast where the heart is. “I love you ... take care.” She adds.“Right back at you.”“Who do you think you are talking to,” she says pinching my cheek and gives me a hug. Then she walks back to Malinga’s car and I go to the hospital. I go to the reception, I am told where to find Mongi and then a nurse takes me to her. I am so surprised by how warm and welcoming the nurses are here, they all wear big fat smiles, the atmosphere in this hospital is different, and patients are being taken care of. I find Mongi sitting on the bed getting ready to leave; the nurse gives her pain killers. The nurse says she is fine and they took out the two bullets in her shoulder and there is no further damage.“You are being discharged already?” I ask.“Yup, I’m fine.”“Oh thank the Lord.” I hug her.“Yhea I just hope this nightmare is over.”“So I pray, but I think it’s over. Ok why aren’t we leaving now?”“I’m still waiting for Chumani to bring my medical aid card. This isn’t free.”“It explains why every worker is so nice in here.”“They can’t let me leave without paying.” “We can always sneak out, kill a nurse and take her uniform....that kind of escape.”“You are crazy! I don’t want to do anything against the law anymore. I almost died!”I wink at her and smile; she looks back at me and our eyes lock. Then I hear someone clearing a throat, I look at the door and find Chumani standing there looking at us. Then she comes in.“Hello strangers, I am sorry for intruding. I came to give you this as you asked; it was damn hard to get a master key from the Res manager. You can thank me later,” Chumani gives Mongi her wallet. Then Mongi goes to her nurse. Chumani and I go outside and wait for Mongi.“So, Vee where have you been?” asks Chumani trying to make a conversation. “I went home, I only came back this morning.” “Thanks for waiting. I am honestly not in the mood for taxi drivers nor waiting for a bus. Can’t we just take a cab?” says Mongi as she stands next to Chumani.“Says the rich girl. If you have cash, then why not?” I say in a mocking way, Mongi looks at me and frowns then we walk to 777 cab that was parked at the hospital among other cabs. On our way back it is so quiet in the car, we get to res without saying a word to each other. When we walk up the stairs, going to our room, Chumani breaks the silence and says:“Are you going to talk about it?”“About what?” Mongi replies as she opens our room, she enters and I follow. Chuma enters after me and closes the door. Mongi puts her bag on the table and throws herself on the bed. I go sit on my bed. Chuma takes a chair and sits in the centre so she can see Mongi and I. “I am listening.” Chumani says.“To?” Mongi asks.“Both of you telling me what happened, tell me what is going on, guys; come on now.”“I got shot. That’s what happened and the rest is in the past. I need to sleep.”“I thought we were friends. When you called, Mongikazi, I was in class; I left everything behind and ran to get your stuff and made my way to the hospital. The least you can do is to tell me what put you there in the first place. ‘I got shot.’ Really? Is that all you have to say?”“Calm down, little miss, things are pretty bad and you don’t want to be a part of this, the less you know the better. But we are fine, we are here. We are friends Chuma which is why we kept this from you. It was for your own safety, and please stop shouting. Mongi is in pain; she got shot!” I say a bit irritated.

Chumani looks shocked and shakes her head in disbelief. “Oh wow. So unbelievable,” she stares at me for a long time then she stares at Mongi. After a few minutes of silence she gets up and leaves without saying a word. Mongi, who was pretending to be sleepy, gets up and locks the door. Then she comes to my bed and sits next to me. She holds my hand and smiles. “Thank you,” she says.

“For?”“You saved my life back there.”“What? No, I did not! I got you shot, and I put you in that situation. It was my fault; I had to make it right.”“No, you did not and none of that was your fault. You were the starring out there!”“I am just glad that Nandi changed her mind, it means somewhere she still has a little bit of humanity left.”“But she would have made the situation better, made a deal with us and get her boss arrested. That was the right thing to do. I wonder what changed her mind last minute.”“So do I,” she gives me a side eye. “What?” I ask. “Nothing, maybe the night she spent with you had a little effect on the rise of her humanity. Don’t you think?”“What are you on about?”“I see you. Look at her: she is blushing,” she says brushing my cheek.“Stop it!”Later we go to the cafeteria to get something to eat. Mongi takes her pills and dozes off. I call Mrs Mali and thank her one more time for her help. She tells me not to mention it.

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