Growing up

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Chapter Twenty Nine

Fez reaches for my father and demands a hand shake. “How is my old Almighty friend doing?” he says with a huge fake smile on his face.Don stands up and smiles from ear to ear. I cannot believe he buys Fezile’s smile. Don looks at Fez and, instead of a handshake; he gives him a nice punch right on the nose. This causes Fez to fall down immediately. Wow, that was unexpected. Really, with Don you’ll never know. “I am doing just fine thanks, how are you my partner in crime, my 2nd twin, my brother and best friend?” My father says.Fez picks himself up and tries to stop is bleeding nose. His wife runs to him and gives him some toilet paper. “You son of a bitch.” he says as he goes to his bathroom. Nolwazi and Buhle follow.”Was that true? Is everything my mother said true? Did you kill her father? Is that why she was so bitter towards me? Did you fall in love with her friend? Did you steal the painting and steal from her family? Oh dad all I want is answers. I want this to be over and move on with my life,” I say. Don paces up and down the room. Babalo gets up and goes to the car. “You want the truth Aviwe?” he asks.”You heard me the first time.””Yes I stole the Queen Elizabeth painting and yes I fell in love with her friend. Afika and I were in love, we were not playing hide and seek. You don’t choose who you fall in love with. When you are much older you will understand what I mean. But I have never stolen from her father; I did not kill her father. Even if I wasn’t in love with your mother I cared about her. She was Afika’s best friend and hurting her that way was going to hurt Afika. I never hurt people I love. What I tell you right now is nothing but the truth. This is me nude, baring it all. This is me telling it as it is. Thi…” I interrupt him and say: “I believe you father, I believe you. Now I have everything I want. Let’s go and build our new lives. We have each other. All I wanted to know is how I was conceived. Now I know the truth and I have made my decision. Take your car keys.” I take his car keys from the coffee table and give it to him. “Thank you baby. Nolwazi, Nolwazi,” he shouts. I hear footsteps making their way from the bathroom to the lounge. It’s Nolwazi and Fezile. “What do you want Don?” my mother asks.”Nothing but to apologise: I’m sorry I brought out the worst in you.I’m so sorry I made you the monster that you have become.I’m sorry I made you this bitter and shallow.I’m sorry I ripped out your humanity; that you couldn’t even be a mother to an innocent child.I’m sorry you went through all the heartache because of meI’m sorry that you lost your selfI’m sorry I fell in love with your friendI’m so sorry your father diedI’m so sorry I made you blind to an extent that you cannot solve a simple equation, you cannot connect the dots, you cannot complete the puzzle while everything is right in front you.I’m sorry for your stupidity. I really am. Look around Nolwazi, close your eyes and think of all the events of the past. I have never had a close relationship or problem with your father, but your husband Fezile, who happened to be my best friend, was very close to your father. If anyone would steal from your father it’s him - Fez. Besides, that’s his style. He keeps his enemies closer. Tell me one reason why I would kill your father; just one reason. You know I don’t hurt people I care about. Fez, correct me if I am wrong.” My father then sits down.

Fezile snaps and says, “Baby you know how Don plays; don’t listen to him. He is trying to get in your mind. He is playing us. You know how much I loved your father, why would I want to kill him?” my father cuts Fez short: “Every murderer has a motive. Maybe he was getting too close to the fact that you were stealing from him and he was going to blow your cover of being all sweet and innocent to his only daughter and you figured the only way to shut him up is to ‘shut’ him up; literally.”Nolwazi looks confused and tries to think. “Shut up, both of you!” she screams at her men. They both shut up, looking at each other like angry lions.”Let me ask you one question Nolwazi?” my father says, quietly.”What?” she yells. “Why did you never sell that Queen Elizabeth painting? I mean it costs a minimum of R400 000. Why did you keep it?””Because it’s a mark of our success; it represents our break out from your control freak spell.” She stutters.”Is that what Fezile told you?” Nolwazi looks at her husband and looks down, Don giggles a little and goes to the painting.”Let me tell you why he never allowed you to sell the painting. You stole this painting from my family’s collection, but it doesn’t matter because it was stolen anyway. After that you both disappeared. But sweetheart, this is not an original painting, which leaves me thinking that Fezile sold an original painting and made you this fake. This explains why he never wanted you to sell it. Because when you were to sell it, the buyer would scan it and they would know that it’s fake. Well done Fez, you really are my father’s creation. You are not much of a disappointment after all.” Nolwazi stares at Fez. Judging from what I see, she believes what Don just said. Fez’s tongue is tied, he doesn’t say a word.”Is it true? Fezile?” Nolwazi screams. “Is this painting a fake? Oh, God how did I not see this coming?” she puts her hands on her head.”You cannot tell me you don’t believe me! Come now! The man killed your father for goodness sake.” Fezile defends himself. Nolwazi paces up and down. Fezile tries to hold her. “Don’t touch me. Don’t you dare touch me, Fezile,” she screams. “I don’t know who killed my father; you fed me all the anger against Don. You told me Don killed my father but we never had any evidence. My father was found shot in his car. For all I know it can be you; it can be anyone.””What? I cannot believe you just said that! See? This is what Don wants to do to our family. He is playing with your mind Lwazi, don’t let him,” he tries to hold her again.”Get away from me! Please,” she takes a deep breath. “I need you to answer me honestly, is this painting a fake? Did you fake an original painting? Truth please.” She says pointing at the painting in the wall.”It doesn’t matter Lwazi. Look at us; look at where we are. Do you want to end all this because of a stupid painting? Look at our daughter. She’s growing so big she’s beautiful. Can’t we not talk about the past and let it rest?””Answer the damn question Fezile!” she shouts. “If you can’t manipulate just don’t try because you look ridiculous when trying to manipulate me.” My mother adds.”So you choose Don over me?””I asked you a question.””Yes Nolwazi, I sold the original piece! There you have your damn confession. What does it change? Nothing,” he shouts letting emotions take control of his existence. I see the words piercing through her bitter heart. “Did you kill my father?” she asks, teary.”Stop it Nolwazi. Just stop!””Get out of my house. She points at the door. “Lwazi, don’t give Don the satisfaction. Please.” `Nolwazi screams at the top of her voice. “I want you out of my house now.” Buhle comes to the lounge, tears rolling down her cheeks.”What’s going on, you are scaring me, mom you are scaring me?” she cries even harder, there must be nothing more hurtful than seeing your parents fighting.”Take my car and drive to your friend; you can sleep over.” Nolwazi says.”No mother, I am not a kid any more. Tell me what is going on.””Your father is a crook that’s what is going on. Now go to the damn car and go away,” Nolwazi shouts with her hands in the air.”Are you divorcing?” Buhle asks, painfully.”Like hell we are.””I am pregnant; you are going to be grandparents. Our family is growing; nothing cannot be fixed. My elder sister and my godbrother are back. I need you to give this broken family a second chance. We all deserve a second chance. I want us to be a family; a real family this time with no one being treated better than the other. Aviwe I am so sorry about the past. I was a child; I did not know any better. I would love us to start over. My friend died last week; she died of a blood infection. It made me realise how short life is, we should treasure one another. We shouldn’t let stupid fights break us apart. I miss you even though I never really had a sister relationship with you. I’d love to know you better. I don’t know what’s going on. Nobody cares enough to enlighten me, but I figured we have different fathers. The man you came with is definitely your father, no questions there. But we are still sisters. I want to have a family, a real family. I don’t want my child to grow up in this mess. I don’t want mom and dad to divorce - no matter what your problem is; you can sort it out.” Buhle says, passionately.

Right now I am speechless. That’s so grown up of her. She comes and stands in front of me. I get up and we hug while she cries on my shoulder. I let her cry. She whispers in my ear that she is sorry. I whisper back that it’s okay. Then she looks at her parents and Don. Her being pregnant changes the whole atmosphere in this house. I can see the joy and fear of losing everything in Fezile’s eyes. He is terrified he is going to lose his wife, his daughter and his unborn grandchild. I would be scared too. I hold Buhle’s hand and speak softly. “It’s going to be fine little sis, today is the end of all this madness.” She looks at me and gives me a warm hug again. Nolwazi assures Buhle that everything is going to be fine. When Buhle asks if her daddy is going to stay. Nolwazi looks down and shakes her head; trying to think. Fezile moves closer to Nolwazi, holds her hand and goes down on his knees.”Nolwazi I have made mistakes. I have betrayed you. I have lied to you. I know I don’t deserve you but I am begging you Bhelekazi, don’t shut me out. I am a changed man, the man you are looking at right now is not the same man he was 19 years ago. You changed me; you made me a better person. You showed me life when I had nothing but my little brother. That life I was living with Don’s family was not a life. Stealing and hurting innocent people. They made me a monster but you, my darling, you made me a person. I can go on all day giving reasons why I hated Don’s family; why I wanted to be out of their lives, why I chose you over them and why I married you. I am sorry. I know I should have told you the truth about the painting a long time ago. I know I should have told you about your father.” After a few seconds of silence, Nolwazi breaks it.

“Tell me why you did all the things you did. I want to know it all; bare it all Fezile.” he puts her hands onto her head. “Oh my God what have I done? And it’s your entire fault; you made me hate my child. You made up all those lies to hurt my girl! Why Fezile? Tell me damn it, why did you put us through all that? All this time I blamed Don for everything, meanwhile the dog is the man I am currently sharing a bed with!”

This time she screams like a mad black woman. Fez gets up and slowly goes to sit on a couch. Nolwazi doesn’t move a muscle. She looks at her husband. “Don’s father is the only parent I know. Don, Yung, Azola and I grew up like brothers. I grew up thinking they were my blood brothers. There was a time in my life where I would have given anything and everything for Don and Yung. Things went wrong when I was 19. I was sent in London to deliver drugs and I got caught at the airport. But you know Don’s father gets away with everything. He gets everything he desires. Whoever said nobody is above the law definitely haven’t met David Phakade’s kind. His men broke me out of prison. Daddy came to my rescue. That’s the day I will never forget in my entire life. I was so happy when I saw the crew taking me out of that horrible smelling place, but it was my turn. I happened to be not as special as I thought I was. They took me to the warehouse and stripped me. Then he hit me with a chain. I watched my flesh falling off my bones. They made my little brother watch. And the twins - who I thought I meant everything to them just stood there and watched. They just watched. That’s when I made a promise to myself to hate them with everything I have as long as I live. After beating me, I was taken to their doctors. After a few months I was okay. That’s when John told me that Azola’s life depended on me. He said I will continue being a drug mule and if I dare mess up again I will pay with my little brother’s life. That was a shock because I thought Azola is also his son. That’s when he told us that he bought us for R200 from a cheap whore who couldn’t take care of us. Then everything changed. My brother and I became their slaves. Then Don took my girl Afika. I told myself one day I was going to get them. Then I started stealing from them so I can get the hell out of their lives and build my own empire. When I met you and found out we had the same enemy I was over the moon. You were my getaway plan. Dating you was just a way to get back at Don’s family, but I fell in love with you. It’s hard to resist such charm. I faked the panting and sold the original before I fell for you. After we moved from CP you told me you were pregnant and my heart danced. I figured keeping their family member away from them would be a perfect revenge. I know for a fact there’s nothing they value more than blood family. That’s when I convinced you to keep Aviwe away from her father. When I looked at Aviwe all I could see was her father, her grandfather, her uncle and the whole gangster crew. It wasn’t easy. Seeing her happy hurt me. I know she was just an innocent child but I couldn’t help how and what I felt. I am so sorry I turned you against your daughter. I know she deserved better. I know all you want to hear is about your father. He was an intelligent man; he was excellent in art - paintings to be exact. He caught my forged painting and he figured out I had hidden agendas. He told me to leave you alone or he was going to tell you everything he knew. He knew enough to break us up. I couldn’t let him do that. Then I shut him up forever. I had to; I couldn’t let him separate us. I most definitely sound crazy and I’d understand if you don’t want to see me again. I turned your life around and made it all a lie. I made you hate your daughter, a very bright and humble kid.I am so sorry Nolwazi. If you want me out I will walk away. I promise I will not cause you any more trouble but before you make your decision just know I have changed. I am wiser now and I love you. I adore our Buhle.”

When he finally finishes speaking, Nolwazi says: “Thank you for the long speech Fezile. It was touching. I forgive you.” He jumps up; excited. “What? Oh my!”

“Wait, let me finish before you get all excited. I forgive you but I can’t go on with this fake marriage. We are done.” She takes off her wedding ring and puts it on the coffee table. “This cannot be fixed. There’s no new chapter in this book. It’s time to turn the last page and start a new book. You can see Buhle, she is your daughter too but you and I are history. This is the last time we talk or lay eyes on each other. Even if you are a changed man that doesn’t change the fact that you killed my father. For goodness’s sake you killed my only family and made me believe that he was killed by my baby’s daddy. Not for a second do I buy the ‘changed man’ speech. If you really had changed you would have told me everything a long time ago. You would have wanted me to have a relationship with my daughter who your bloody brother raped!” Now she yells. “You disgust me if you care to know. Now please take all you belongings and go where the road ends.” She adds.”No need, you can give them to charity.” Fezile says politely and grabs his car keys. “See you soon Buhle. I will be a grandfather your child deserves; that is a promise. I am sorry, Aviwe. I put you in hell for some stupid revenge. I promise I will be a better stepfather in our next life. Don, it was nice seeing you again after a long time. I am sorry I kept your daughter away from you for this long. I know there is nothing you value more than family. Nolwazi, I understand, I really do. If I was in your shoes I would have done the very same thing. I wish things were different. Pity we cannot change the past.”

He kisses Nolwazi on the forehead and Buhle on the lips and then he leaves. When he is about to exit the door he looks back at Buhle and smiles. Tears roll down his cheeks. Buhle runs to him and hugs him. They share a very long hug and cry on each other’s shoulders. Fezile can be a monster but he is a good father to Buhle. The good thing about this moment is the fact that I have my good father in the house too.

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