Growing up

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Chapter Thirty

Don might be a gangster but I know he would do anything for me. I catch Don looking at them, smiling. When he notices me looking at him I look away. He comes closer and hugs me. Then he kisses my forehead and says: “Where do you want to go pumpkin? We are done here.” I hug him back and tell him I don’t know, but I would love to have a warm bath and supper with him.

A lump grows in my throat; I close my eyes and rest my head on my father’s chest. This is everybody’s dream: to find their long lost parents. To make peace with the past and move on. I am going to give this father-daughter thing a try. I hope for the best. I know I don’t know much about Don but I know damn well that he loves me; he will never hurt me and that’s enough for me.Fez breaks the hug and kisses Buhle on the forehead before going to his car. Buhle looks at her father as he drives out of the gate and out of her life. She cries so hard. Nolwazi gets up and goes to hug Buhle but she gives Nolwazi an evil look and pushes her away. She goes to the kitchen and leaves her mother standing there looking like she was struck by lightning. She looks down and brushes her hands together, slowly approach Don and me. “Ummm, I heard you want to take a bath Aviwe. I can run you a bubble bath if you want?” Nolwaz says.With my head still on Don’s chest, his arms wrapped around my shoulders, I smile and calmly say, “No thank you. I am going to bath at the hotel. We are leaving now.””Leaving? This is your home Aviwe.” ”You kicked me out, remember?””It wasn’t me. It was Fezile. Come now, Aviwe you heard everything. It was all Fezile’s fault.””You did not stop him, did you? Mothers should protect their children but you; you threw me to the dogs and watched me begging for my life.” I say still holding my father.Nolwazi shouts: “Were you not listening, Aviwe? Are you dumb or deaf or both? Fezile was controlling me; he fed me with all the nonsense and turned me against you. It’s over now. Fezile is gone for good. You can come home now, baby girl! Come to mommy.””I don’t think so.” I look up at Don. “Let me go say goodbye to Buhle and then we can leave, ok?””Ok pumpkin, you’ll find me at the car. Babalo must be sleeping now,” my father replies.I go to the kitchen where I find Buhle drinking warm milk and looking at her phone.She is surprised that I am leaving, “I have a child to go back to,” I tell her.”You mean you have another family,” she replies coldly. ”Pretty much.””I understand. Four years is a long time. I am really sorry for everything, Vee. I wish I have done something to help you”.”It’s okay nana. It wasn’t your fault.””How will I contact you? I want to see your baby.””I don’t have a phone right now; give me your number so I can call you.””Alright. I wonder who doesn’t have a phone these days.””Well, you are looking at her right now.” I say laughing. She giggles and shakes her head and then she goes out to take pen and paper. Her mother enters the kitchen.”I want you to stay; this is your family. Your father is bad news, Aviwe. Trust me,” she says.”I know but he is good to me. I don’t know if I can say the same about you.””I gave birth to you; you are still my child and you are going to stay here. You’ll do as I say.”I look at her and just shake my head; thinking that this woman needs professional help. Buhle comes back and gives me a paper. I hug her and leave.

At the car I find my men both sleeping. Don wakes up when I open the door and when I am about to get in, somebody holds the door and pulls me out. I turn around. It’s my mother. She looks at Don angrily. “You dare drive away with my child and I will call the police and tell them you kidnapped my daughter. I will take you down, Bulelani.” I snatch my arm away from her, “For your information, I am 18 years old and I can legally do what I want and live with who I want. So shut up, Nolwazi,” I say as I close the door. Her eyes pops open when I call her by her name instead of calling her mother. I then roll down the window.”So you know, I would have stayed if you had apologised. But no, you couldn’t say one, simple word: ‘SORRY’. You kept shifting the blame to your husband. You could have said no to whatever your husband was feeding you; you were not a child then. It’s funny how you say my father kidnapped me while you and I did not talk for four years. While you watched me being rapped; being physically and emotional abused by your husband. But it’s ok Nolwazi, I forgive you.”

I look at Don and softly say: “Please drive, father”. He doesn’t hesitate. He starts the car and as we drive away, we leave Nolwazi standing there. I can hear her crying out like a mad woman.”I am so sorry pumpkin,” my father says.”It’s ok, it’s not your fault! And please stop calling me pumpkin!””Ha ha ha no, I won’t! You are my pumpkin.”I frown and he looks at me and laughs.”You look so cute when you do that. The madness is over now. Where to from here?” he asks concentrating on the road.”To my other parents and my child, please.” ”Nice, God I am a grandfather!”

“Apparently,” I smile a little to myself.

When we approach a bridge we see ambulance, police, many cars and people on the road and under the bridge! When we stop, a policeman approaches us and tells us that the road is closed due to an accident. It will be opened in 30 minutes or so.”What happened?” my father asks.”Some guy drove over the bridge,” the policeman replies.”What? He committed suicide?””That’s what the eye witnesses say! They say it was not an accident.”

The policeman leaves and I get out of the car to get fresh air. I am not familiar with this side of E.L. I take a little walk, singing my favourite song. I am happy. When I look at the car under the bridge I see that it is a black Toyota Yaris. Oh my God! This is impossible! I notice the number plate. It is Fezile’s car! I can see the paramedics pushing a stretcher to the back of the ambulance. I find myself running to the ambulance. Don runs after me, calling my name. He tells me to stop. ”Stay back, stay back!” People hold me, shouting.”He is my stepfather damn it!” I scream and they let go of me! I go to the stretcher and uncover is face. It’s indeed Fezile. I feel a sharp pain from the bottom of my stomach makings its way to my heart. I bend over and cry out in pain. It doesn’t matter how much you dislike a person; seeing them not breathing washes away all the hatred. There is nothing as painful as seeing someone you know lifeless. Don arrives and hugs me. ‘Shhhhhh. I am so sorry sweety,’ he whispers in my ear as he holds me tighter. “I want to go home; please take me to my daughter,” I murmur between sobs. Fezile was not my favourite person but he was a good father to my sister. Don and I go to the car and when we get there, Babalo is awake.” Am I in hell?” Babalo asks but no body responds.”Ok, what did I miss? What’s up with the long faces?” he continues.”Fezile committed suicide.” I say.”What? Who? You mean your stepfather killed... oh, my God I am so sorry!””Thanks.”

We get to Milady’s house after what felt like a lifetime. I pull myself together as we park outside the gate. We enter the yard and I knock at the front door.”I’m coming,” Milady replies.She comes to open the door after a few seconds and I swear her heart stopped beating for a few seconds when she sees me.”Oh, oh my God.” Tears escape her eyes and she gives me a very warm hug. I hug her back; she breaks the hug and looks at me trying to see if I am hurt or something. “Oh my child, come on in.” I go in with Don and Babalo. Milady doesn’t pay much attention to them. She just greets them and asks me questions as we make our way to the lounge. When I get to the lounge I find Mr Mali playing with my Vuyolwethu. I run to Vuyo and pick her up. I cannot help but cry when I see my baby girl happy and healthy.

After shedding some tears and settling down I hear Milady saying: “I am so sorry to be rude to your guests. I am just so very happy to see you again; I thought I have lost you forever. We hired five different high profile private investigators but they all came back with blank papers and dull stares in their eyes. It’s been a long tough four months for us.”Mr Mali adds: “What happened Aviwe? Where were you for four months?”When I open my mouth to respond Milady cuts me short and says, “You look exhausted. Let me run you a bubble bath and make you all something to eat and then you can tell me everything. I want to hear every single little detail.”Milady runs me a bath. I go to my room and take my towels and then I go take a bath. As I soak in the water my mind is at ease. There is a happy ending after all. I have everyone I need and love under one roof. A lot has happened and I have learned a lot.

After bathing, I go to the lounge and have something to eat with everyone. Then Milady tells me to prepare a spare room for my father and Babalo because I am not going anywhere until I tell her everything. I laugh and go upstairs. I do as I am told. Around 23:45 Milady, Vuyo and I go to sleep in my room and leave Don, Babalo and Mr Mali chatting in the lounge. I share my bed with Vuyo. Milady pulls a chair next to my bed and tells me to tell her everything from the beginning; from the day I was kidnapped. She listens to me attentively as I bare it all.

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