15 June 1989
His arm swung high, the badly designed tattoo dancing in front of her eyes for a second before his fit slammed into her face. The force of the blow spun her around and she fell hard.
‘Bitch. You strut yourself around demanding the world, making yourself out to be better than everyone. And now you are pregnant with that black bastard’s child? What do you think your brother will say, huh?’
‘Please. I’m sorry. Don’t hurt me. I love him. Diego will understand. Please.’ The woman cowered on the floor cradling her stomach, blood trickling from her mouth.
‘Diego will not understand do you hear me bitch? When I am finished with you I am going to find that black bastard and I’m going to kill him. You are not going have a half-caste baby.’ He kicked her hard in the stomach, his face contorted.
The woman screamed, pain coursing through her body. She pulled her arms tighter around her growing belly and curled up, trying to protect her treasure. Blows rained down on her, his kicks connecting with her face, back, legs, shoulders. She knew she was going to die.
As she slipped into unconsciousness, she could feel her baby’s heartbeat, as strong as her lover’s, pounding in her belly. The blows stopped and a sense of peace enfolded her.
The sound of a woman singing woke her. Her whole body was on fire, head heavy with pain, her belly tight, an urgent need to defecate overwhelming her. She opened her eyes, and gazed at the tin roof above her, dots of moonlit glinting through a few rusted holes; the smell of an open fire and that far-off sound, a woman singing in a language she didn’t know. There was a shuffling somewhere close to her but she couldn’t seem to move her head. She tried to speak but her throat was too dry. Someone was telling her to shush; a damp cloth wiped her brow. Just then a rolling wave of pain shot through her body and she slipped once again into oblivion.
Sometime later the sound of a baby’s first cry rang out in the hills of KwaZulu. A wizened old lady held the baby out to a young man whose face was suffused in grief. ‘Take her my son. Go now. I will do what is necessary.’
The young man, whose shirt was stiff with blood, gently took the baby and walked away, silent tears rolling down his face. A white man appeared on the foot path and put his arm around the young man holding the baby. ‘It’s done my friend.’
The two men walked slowly down the dirt path together, an odd couple, bedraggled and dirty.
21 June 1989
It was a quiet night, the black sky blanketed in too many stars to contemplate, the moon not yet risen. The two men stood side by side, each with a cold beer in his hand. For a long time they were silent, each caught up in his own thoughts. One white, one black. But brothers for all that.
‘Thanks bra. You’ll watch over her? You know she’ll look for me; but you know they’ll hurt her. She has to believe I’m dead.’
‘I’ll try. Fuck man, are you sure this is the only way? It’s going to kill her.’ The black man tried pleading one last time, even though he knew it wasn’t going to help.
‘You know it is bra. And she’ll be okay – under all that vintage lace, she’s actually a tough cookie. Did I tell you about the time she gave me a black eye? She’s strong; maybe she doesn’t know it, but she is,’ the white man’s voice didn’t betray any regret at his decision.
The two men were quiet for a while, staring again at the stars above, and the white man shifted slightly, clearing his throat. ‘I must go now.’
They embraced, holding on for longer than either felt comfortable with, but unwilling to let go.
Finally the white man walked away, quickly melting into the dark night. The black man swore quietly, taking one last sip of his beer before going indoors.