Growing up

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Chapter Twenty Eight

Don exits the room, I go take a bath and then return to my room. I go to the closet. I almost faint when I notice that the closet is full of girly clothes. I see a folded paper which reads: “Welcome home Viwe, Love grandpa,” I roll my eyes and put it back where I found it.Luckily I come across a grey Nike sweat pant and black vest. All the clothes here are brand new. I guess they were bought just for me. I smile a little to myself and think back when I was hated and abused while there are people who truly care about me. You really cannot predict the future. I make my bed and go to the kitchen. When I get to the kitchen, I make myself a sandwich and an orange juice. I eat while looking outside the window. After I finish eating I put my plate and glass in the sink then I go to the lounge. I find a note on the couch. “Gone downstairs.” I remember that I don’t even know what date it is. I remember I used to be a law student and I had a very sensitive bursary. One mistake and they kick you out. I guess I have been kicked out long time ago. I go to the library to take a lift but all I see are books. There is no sign of a lift. I try looking for a button or something but I get nothing. I give up and just scan my eyes through the books. A book titled “Akwaba” catches my attention. The cover is catchy and the book is thick. I love thick books because at least they keep you company for a very long time. I take the book, sit down and read the summary on the back of the book. I am disappointed to find that the book is about HIV/AIDS. I have read enough books and watched enough plays about HIV and AIDS. I look for another book. While going around, I am shocked to see one of the shelves moving and Don comes out of the lift.

“What are you doing here?” he asks.”I wanted to go downstairs but I couldn’t find the way.” He laughs. I can see he is hurting but he is covering it up. He moves two books and shows me a button to press when you want a lift. Then we both take a lift together. When I get there I go to the doctors’ room and find Mongikazi and Babalo sitting in one bed; chatting.”Hey guys how are you feeling?””Alright, thanks to you,” Babalo says.”Thank you babe,” Mongi adds, holding my hand.

“Don’t mention it.” We all laugh.”What now?” Babalo asks.”We are all going home,” I reply.”Where is my sister?” Mongikazi asks.

”I have no idea. I will ask Don.”“Vee, what’s the relationship between you and Don?” Balo asks.”He is my father.”They both act with shock and say “What!” at the same time. I look down and shrug.”You are kidding right?” Babalo asks, still shocked.”Nope.” I respond calmly.”Wait. Who is the man that we were staying with? ’I’m lost now,” he asks looking even more confused.I start from the beginning, I tell them everything I know so far. When I finish talking, Mongi claps once and looks away.”I give up baby, your life is complicated.”

“I know; all I want is the truth now.””So now it’s your parents’ word against a person you just met.” Babalo says.”Nolwazi was never a parent to me. And this person I just met let you live because I said so. This person I just met is so excited to know me better and to be my father. Oh this person I just met tucks me in bed and wants to read me a bedtime story because I am his little princess. He would do anything to keep me in his life. I don’t know if I can say the same about Nolwazi who gave birth to me.””It’s your call. Seems like you have made up your mind, you have already chosen sides.” He adds, not looking pleased. A door opens and Don comes in.”It’s time,” Don says calmly.”For?” I ask. “The injection.””Is there a need since you are going to burn this place? And these are the closet people I have. I know they will never say a word; even if they do there won’t be any proof,” I say. “Where is my sister?” Mongi asks impatiently. ”Home.” Don replies.”You took her home?””Yes.” Tears run down her cheeks. “Oh my God thank you, thank you Aviwe.”She hugs me and kiss me. ”Thank you Vee, we would be dead if you were not here,” she says holding my hand.”True story,” Don says casually. We look at him and laugh. Every slave including the doctors left.

Only I, Don, Babalo and Mongi are left so we pour petrol and place bombs all over the place by midnight. Don takes his land rover and parks it outside the gate. We all stand by the gate as Don burns the house and everything inside and underneath it. We watch the fire. Don’s old life burns down with the house. We go to the car I take the front passenger seat while Mongi and Balo sit at the back. Don drives.”Put on your safety belt Aviwe.””Ok Daddy Don,” I put on my safety belt, he looks at me, smiles and shakes his head. “Are Ta Yung and Don your real names?” I ask and everyone in the car laughs.”Really Aviwe? I give up on you, shame!” Mongi marks.”I really have been wondering.” I say.”My name is Bulelani and my late twin’s name was Siyabulela.” my father replies.”Where does Don and Ta Yung come from?”“I have no idea dear””Where are we going? We have been driving for about 30 minutes now,” I ask.”I am taking Mongikazi back to school where I took her from, Babalo back to the streets and you and I are going to see Nolwazi.” I can hear rage in his voice when he mentions my mother’s name.”Do you know where she lives?””No but you are going to show me. I saw her about 19 years ago.”

Babalo asks how is Don can be my father if he saw my mother about 19 years ago and I am 18 years old. “I was born at the beginning of the year. Which means my mother was pregnant 19 years go and gave birth the following year.” I explain. All this time Don is dead quiet, he is focused on the road and seems deep in thought. Mongikazi is sleeping; she placed her head on Babalo’s lap. Well, maybe Balo put it there when he saw that she is sleeping. We drive in silence. By the morning we arrive in Port Elizabeth.”Wake your friends up,” Don says. I realise that we are in Melodi residence parking lot. A sharp pain stabs my heart. I realise how much I missed this place. I know I only stayed here for two months but I loved it! As much as it brought so much drama in my life but I loved it. Here I met a love of my life - Mongikazi. I miss my normal life. I am so fed up of this life full of death, drugs, guns, drama, bombs and everything in between; I hope today is the end of everything.”Mongi, Mongi.” I say as I shake her shoulder.”What is it now?” she says aggressively. “Where are we?” she asks as she tries to open her eyes and her loud voice wakes Babalo. He opens his eyes, looks around and yawns. He then asks to go to the bathroom. Don gives him a dirty look; Balo rolls his eyes and sits back.”Time is a luxury we cannot afford! Mongikazi, your trip is over! Remember to keep your mouth shut or I’ll cut your throat,” Don says then I give him a side eye.”I thought you are over making threats. No need to scary her. She knows what to do and what not do.” I say. “I just have to make sure.” He then unlocks the doors and we all get out to get fresh air.”What now?” Mongi asks looking at me.”You go back to your life; no need to look over your shoulder anymore,” Don replies. ”Thank you for being human at last.” She says mocking my father.”No, thank you for getting me in touch with my long lost human side.”Don gives Mongi a nice warm hug. The surprise in Mongi’s eyes is hilarious, she opens her eyes wide and stands still. She doesn’t hug him back. Balo and I cannot help but laugh. Finally she hugs back. Don laughs and softly says: “Don’t worry, I won’t bite.” After a few seconds they break the hug. Mongi comes to hug me and whispers to my ear: “I love you.” We both blush. “I love you more” I whisper back. She looks at Balo. Mongi says her goodbyes. As she heads to Melodi residence main entrance, I sigh in relief. My boo is safe. She found her sister and she is going back to her books. I smile to myself go back to the car, I take a back seat with Babalo and Don drives away.”Where should I drop you Babalo?” Don asks.”He is coming with us.” I say.”Pardon?””I said Balo is coming with us.””Why is that and why are you speaking for him.””If you don’t understand now then you’ll never understand but Babalo is going wherever I am going.””No need to fight me kid, I did not say I am against that.””I am not fighting you.””Do you kids want anything to eat?””Yes please.”“And you, Babalo?””Yes, Sir.””Call me Don.” I look at Babalo, he looks down. I don’t know if he is shy or just silly. Don stops at McDonald and buys us something to eat and then we drive off to East London. We eat in the car. Don keeps his serious face all the way; his charm is gone. He looks hurt, angry but calm. We get to East London after a long 3 hours.I am home. I have not seen this place in ages. This is where I grew up; this is where I got hurt; I bled; I cried; I smiled; I fell pregnant; I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Yes, this where I met my guardian angel - MiLady. This is where I belong; I did not think I would ever see this place again.”Are you okay?” Don asks.”Yes, why?””You are crying.””What?” When I touch my eyes they are wet. I didn’t even feel a tear when it escaped my eyes. “Oh... but I am not crying,” I say awkwardly.I direct Don from town to a place I used to call home. When we get there, Don parks outside the gate. We get out of the car and usher ourselves in and knock at the front door. Buhle opens. I swear she stopped breathing for a few seconds when she realised who it was.”Aviwe?” she says in disbelief.”Hello little sis” I smile a little.”Oh my God is this Babalo?” she ignores me and pays all her attention to Babalo. “Where have you been? What are you doing here?””Can we come in?” Don says annoyed. Buhle looks at him like he is a ghost.”All off a sudden she is deaf,” he says and pushes Buhle and the door aside to go in. Babalo and I follow. We leave Buhle standing at the door. She looks so grown up now. She is tall and a yellow bone. She has thick lips just like her father who I grew up thinking he was my father too. I think Buhle traded her butt for her tummy because her butt is flat and her belly is huge. Only when I pay close attention I realise that she is pregnant. But you cannot tell that she is pregnant when you don’t have a shape eye and good instincts like me.”How can I help you?” she asks. Don puts her hands in his pockets as he looks at the paintings around the lounge. Babalo and I sit on the couch, not knowing what to do. We look at each other, shrug and look away.”Where is your mother?” Don asks looking at Buhle.”She is at works; it’s Thursday.””At what time is she coming back?””Five.””What time is it now?””The time is 4:45, sir.””Thank you dear.””Can I call my parents?””No need thank you. They are probably on their way. Is your father also coming at five?””Yes Sir.””You can now switch on your T.V.” he then turns around and looks at the paintings again. He looks at the painting of an England queen for a long time. Buhle slowly puts the remote back on the coffee table. She takes out her phone from her pocket and gets glued to its screen.Still feeling awkward, thirsty and bored, just as I was about to ask for water, the front door opens. It’s Nolwazi. She pushes the door open, enters but has all her attention on her handbag. “Hey, where did I put my medical aid card?” she says irritated. She has not noticed that there is a crew in her house.

“Dear Nolwazi. Beautiful as ever,” Don says. Only then Nolwazi lifts her head. When her eyes meet Don’s, she drops her handbag and slowly moves backwards to the door. She shakes her head and whispers: “No, No!” She is so scared, her whole body shakes. Babalo, Buhle and I stand up when Don gets closer to Nolwazi. The anger in Don’s face is indescribable. I swear if he gets to Nolwazi he is going to rip her apart and redecorate the house with her organs. I run and stand next to Nolwazi.”Calm down, dad.” He breathes very deep and press the sides of his head. He tries to control his anger. “That’s it dad, just breath it out, ok?” I say as I watch him breathing his anger out. His anger tries to take over but he tries so hard to fight it. “I am trying,” he screams as he kneels down, veins popping in his head. His hands shake. Babalo runs to the kitchen and gets 5 litres of water. He comes back and pours the whole 5 litres over Don. Only then he calms down. Nolwazi sighs. After a few seconds Don picks himself up and looks all collected. His charm is back even though his black suit and navy blue shirt are wet. He gets up and sits next to Buhle. He then commands Nolwazi to sit opposite him. I sit on the same couch as Babalo. Nolwazi sits down, trying to hide her shock and fear. How do you hide something when it’s written all over your face?

“Just start talking Nolwazi, just talk.” He continues.Nolwazi’s lips tremble. “What is there to talk about?””You don’t want to piss me off,” Don says softly.”You are right, I don’t.” She looks down at her hands.”Why didn’t you tell me about our baby?” Don says with his eyes pleading and hurting”You told me to get the hell out of your life, Bulelani. What did you want me to do? Huh?”

“It was all for your safety, you know that Nolwazi.””In that case, keeping Aviwe away from you was for safety.””Oh so I do have a father; I am not a product of rape?” I burst out and ask.”Yes, Aviwe. Yes, you have a gangster father.” My mother replies annoyed.

“I cannot even look at you right now Nolwazi. The only thing I want is to reach to your chest and rip your heart out. You are disgusting.” My father says looking disgusted.

”Why did you lie? Why did you lie like that? I mean you could have said my father died or something. Why did you lie about being raped?” I ask not believing my ears. She shows no remorse for what she did. She shrugs her shoulders. “I don’t know; it just seemed like a perfect lie that can make you hate yourself for the rest of your life.”The hurt! How can a mother hate her own child this much? “Did you just say that? Why do you hate me so much?””I don’t hate you, I hate your father. You just happened to have his blood in your system,” she says calmly.”What did I do for you to hate me this much Nolwazi? What did I do? I kept you safe! Didn’t I?””No! Now all of a sudden you don’t know? Stop acting dumb Don. It does not suit you. I prefer the confident, commanding and always in control Mr Phakade.””Tell me what did I do?””Remember that?” She points at the Queen Elizabeth painting, Don nods. “You used me to steal it from the Cape Town museum. You used me. You never loved me Don. You used me to get the security combinations for my father’s safe box. I was your ladder to your success. That’s all I ever was to you. A sex object and a puppet. You told me to keep a low profile; you told me it was not safe to be around you! You were just getting me out of your sight, and the worst part is that you killed my father. You killed my only family. When I found out I was pregnant with your child, I was tempted to get rid of ‘it’ but I figured it would be a great revenge to watch a little you suffer just the way you made me suffer.”

She pauses and giggles a little. “I knew about you and Afika, how could you sleep with my best friend? Oh Don, so sad that your child had to pay for all your sins. You never know, my grandchildren might suffer for how I treated Aviwe. It’s sad isn’t it? It’s sad how we mess things up and not pay the price only to find out that our loved ones pay for our sins. So to answer your question of why I hate you. 1. You kept me on the dark side; you used me to steal from my family and work. 2. You told me to get lost. I got lost like you instructed and then you came back and killed my father. For what? Oh wait, this gets better. The 3rd part: You ’’fell in love with my best friend and you didn’t have the decency to be upfront about it. Now tell me one reason, just one reason why I should have told you about the baby? How did you meet anyway? And isn’t this Babalo?”She pauses and all the fear of Don’s sight disappears. Now all I can see in her eyes is satisfaction. I guess her plans went accordingly. Don and I are exactly where she wants us. I can see Don is finished; he covers his eyes with his hands. According to my mother, Don was never in love with my mother. He used her to steal from the museum and her family. He was in love with her best friend and she believed that my father killed her father. Wow, then I paid for my father’s sins. Where does my “step dad” fits in this mess? When I am about to do the maths, Buhle’s father enters. Nolwazi runs to him, kisses him then she says: “Surprise!” and points at Don. Don lifts up his head; he opens his eyes widely and stands up slowly.”Fez,” my father says and throws back his head. “Oh wow, now it all makes sense.” He continues.

“My love, look who decided to show up after 19 long years,” my father says.”Is this? Oh my!” my stepfather says being sarcastic. I sit tight waiting for a bomb to drop. All enemies under one roof and then there is me who just happened to be a victim to their war. I cannot help but feel like something huge is about to happen.

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