THE ONE

INSERT 50

MANDIWANA

Haaaa! Clap once!
Vho Nengwenda needs to go back to Venda now. This woman vha a kutedzela mulilo. She can really put petrol on fire. I now feel bad for Khathu who seems nothing but traumatised about everything that has been going on this past week. He is not the desirable man that he was when I first got here. He seems stressed. Worse, because he cannot even see this Lufuno lady of his.
How cruel can the police be?
Heeeyy, before I forget, lets discuss Khathu’s women! Where does this man get these sexy and beautiful women from? I mean, Lufuno is a damn gorgeous woman who has money written all over her. She looks like money and smells like it too, huh? Tshepo on the other hand is a beautiful coloured woman who speaks Sotho perfectly and who looks so sexy while pregnant. I want to know where Khathu fishes these women from. Heee…and what was Mrs Nengwenda thinking? Making me compete with such gorgeousness? I don’t have time for all of that. I can’t wear long hair that flies when I walk. I cannot be pregnant and walk in inches of heels like I am paid to do so. Ebo…I cannot!
On a serious note, this man’s life is torn apart right now and I am afraid I cannot be there for him without looking like I want him for myself. Even if I did, Khathu has so much to deal with and I don’t think I am strong enough to be with him. Where am I going to take two children? My mother would get fits just by knowing that I am marrying a man with two children. That shouldn’t be a problem though. I for one cannot handle him.
It is Saturday morning and he is already up and reading newspaper in the porch. I hope there is no story about him in that paper, but the way he is glaring at it…there is something that hit him.
He is also trying to be strong for Michelle but no one is strong for him. His mother is just here giving orders of who he should marry and who he shouldn’t.
“Khathu, would you like some tea?” I ask and he quickly looks away. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah…I am fine,” he says and I sit on an empty chair. Haaa shame, I cannot just watch him break down even more.
“You haven’t been fine since last night.”
“She doesn’t want me to be part of the baby’s life until birth,” he says. Hao!! Is that all? I thought he is stressed about something mooorreee…important, you know? This is also important but Tshepo has valid reasons that Khathu needs to understand.
“Did she say why not?” I ask.
“She says she doesn’t want to stress…something like that…” he says. Okay, I can tell him that I overheard him and her arguing; and I take her side because of what she said but he will think I eavesdrop all his conversations…so No…I cannot tell him. But honestly speaking, she made sense to me. She doesn’t want to cry over him or stress or be angry and all sorts of emotions that pregnant woman suffers from…because that might just complicate her pregnancy. I understand, I second her. But you cannot tell that to a man like Khathu. He wants in and he means it.
“I think it is for the best, don’t you think?”
“What? Why?”
“Because you don’t get to complicate your relationship with Lufuno,” I say and he smiles. Give me Bells somebody…give me Bells. I made Khathu smile.
“Maybe you are right,” he says after a sigh.
“So what are the police saying?”
“I don’t even want to know…I have so much to deal with right now. Like that boy’s face keeps flashing in my face. I feel responsible for his death and I don’t know what to tell his parents.”
“But it wasn’t your fault?”
“What if the same guys are after me or Lufuno? I can’t help it…I am worried…but I swear I would kill them with my bare hands if they ever try to come close to my family…I dare them.”
With the way he is saying all of these, I believe he would kill for his family.
“Ezwi azwo ngo naka? Isn’t this beautiful?” Mrs Nengwenda comes to the porch with a huge mug of tea. I wonder where Michelle is because she is supposed to be having breakfast with her right now. She always says Khathu is confused. I say he is way better than her. She was the one insisting that Khathu marries Tshepo but she is here telling us how beautiful we look together right now. Mxm.
“Please Ma…I don’t have the energy,” Khathu says with no interest to entertain his mother. Who is taking care of her fashion shop by the way? Those old ladies in Venda might be needing her services but she is here complicating the poor man’s life.
“Mulandu? What is your problem?” Mrs Nengwenda asks.
“No…I just don’t want you to start telling me what I need to do about anything,” he says. He sounds pissed today.
“Okay…hai…I wanted to tell you that I am leaving later today,” she says and Khathu stares at her.
“How are you going to travel home? The buses are gone by now,” Khathu asks.
“I know I am not needed here…so I asked someone to organize me a lift home.”
“Okay…fine.”
“Haaa Khathu,” I say.
“What? She wants to go…let her go, please.”
“Hai…let me go and pack up. Mandiwana…please help me get ready,” Mrs Nengwenda says while leading the way to the house. I quickly follow behind, trying to catch up with her to the house. She leads the way to my room. Her bags are packed and laid on the bed. I wonder what she needs me for.
“Mrs Nengwenda…musi your bags are all packed.”
“Yes. We needed to talk.”
“Oh…okay..” I say while sitting on the bed. She is also seated aswell.
“I am worried about Khathutshelo.” We are all worried about him. “Please take care of him.”
“I will try.”
“I have faith in you. You are the one for my son…I know it very well,” she says and I chuckle. This woman!
“Mrs Nengwenda, you want Khathu to marry Tshepo because she is pregnant with his child…have you changed your mind?” I ask, for the fun of it.
“See, I pitied that girl…I wanted to make her feel better. How am I supposed to hurt a pregnant woman?” she says. This old woman has to leave. She has to leave and never come back here.
“Okay…but I think Khathu knows who he wants to marry…he loves Lufuno…even his baby momma mentioned it.”
“You know I don’t like that girl,” she says and I fold my arms to my chest. Her face has changed from happy to annoyed.
“What is wrong with Lufuno?”
“She is just…just not perfect for my son.” Heee! Vho Nengwenda is hard to please. What is not perfect about Lufuno?
“I think you should stop stressing Khathu about useless things you know? That man needs to get over this traumatic week, please Mrs Nengwenda. I think the best we can do is to be there for him and lend him an ear when we have to. Right now…This thing of telling him what is right or wrong for him is stressing him more.”
“You see? You are the only rightful for him. He needs a woman like you to stand up for him.” Haike! I give up on this woman. “Now go to the salon.”
“Excuse me?”
“Go to the salon and do something about that hair of yours,” she says and I turn to the mirror. What is wrong with my braidings? Okay they are a bit old…okay maybe too old but what does she mean I should go to the salon. I don’t need to.
I am counting minutes and seconds before her lift arrives. She is becoming too much.
“I am leaving for Venda and I want you to take care of Khathu for me.”
Haibo!
“He has Lufuno for…”
“Is aunty Lufuno coming?” Michelle asks from the door. She has a warmest smile ever. This happens whenever she speaks of this woman.
“No, Lufuno is not coming,” I say and she drops her eyes. “But we can go see her if she is not busy.”
“Really?” she asks. Heee… what did I get myself into?
“Yes,” I say with a fake smile. I was trying to cheer her up and I ended up just blabbing.
“Let me go change into something nice.” Michelle runs out of the room and Mrs Nengwenda gives me an evil eye. I rush out of the room to let Khathu know of what my stupid mouth announced to Michelle. The kid is honestly happy. Khathu doesn’t mind at all so I call Lufuno for a meet up. She says she is home but doesn’t mind to have us over. I cannot drive so I have to call Uber to pay them hundreds of rands just for a forty minutes’ drive.

Michelle is so excited. The Uber drops us by the door.
“You made it,” Lufuno says while opening the door for us. She still looks angelic with just a t-shirt and leggings. Michelle jumps on her with a hug and Lufuno receives her with a warm hug back. I am just here watching, awkwardly.
“You didn’t come to my dinner,” Michelle says while following Lufuno inside. She is not over it yet.
“Why don’t we prepare lunch together?” she asks and Michelle nods.
“Aunty Mandy, are you joining us?” Michelle asks while taking off her jacket.
“No…I want to taste your food today,” I say while sitting on the couch. I can still be part of them while seated here. There are no walls in this house…I forgot what they call this set-up.
“Thank you for bringing her,” Lufuno says with her eyes on my hair. She is saying nothing about my hair but she has her eyes on it. You know that eye that one gives you when something is wrong somewhere? She is giving me that eye and I regret not doing my hair.
“It’s my pleasure,” I respond.
“Would you like something to drink?”
“Not now…I am fine.” I lie. I want something to drink but I am afraid that if I even ask for water, she will ask me what kind of water. Now I have to mention that I need blue or white water or whatever is there. I rather go thirsty.
She goes back to the kitchen to start making lunch with Michelle. I have never seen Khathu’s daughter so happy and lively. She really loves this Lufuno’s girl. I have been trying to cheer her up this past week but here she is, singing and dancing with the woman of her dreams.
“My father was in jail. Did you know?” she says and Lufuno glare at me. She overheard the conversation between me and Oscar…Pistorius.
“But he is out now…isn’t he?” Lufuno says in a cheering voice. She is trying, shame.
“But he is not happy anymore. I want to go home to my mommy but she is not there. There is no one at my old home,” Michelle says.
“Why do you want to go to your old home?”
“Because…daddy is always sad and I cannot ask him anything. He doesn’t sleep too,” Michelle says and my heart is broken. I didn’t know it was affecting her this much.
“Uhm…daddy will be fine.”
“Are you going to be my other mother?” Michelle asks. I clap my hands once in my head. These kids of these days. I am never allowed to ask things like these. Even today at almost thirty, I cannot ask my mother if her boyfriend loves her or not.
“Uhm…God willingly.”
“What does that mean?” trust Michelle to ask you everything.
“It means if it is God’s will.”
“If you are going to be my new mom…then, why don’t I stay with you for now until daddy is okay?”
“Uhm…no…” lufuno tries to say.
“You don’t want me?”
“No…no…it is just that…uhm…”
“You don’t like me?”
Hai, I am not going to be part of this. I am not getting myself involved. Michelle can give you headache when she wants.
“I like you baby…but I don’t think it will be wise to…”
“Why not?”
Yes Michelle…ask her why not? I want to laugh at how Lufuno looks scared and intimidated by a kid. She is glaring at me to help.
No. I am not getting involved. If she is in Khathu’s life, she has to deal with these. She might aswell start practicing by Michelle before the new born comes, LOL.
“Uhm…” she sighs, “…you know what? I don’t mind,” Lufuno says and I raise my brow.
“Really…Aunty Mandy…can we call dad that I stay with aunty Lufuno until he gets better?” she asks and I shrug.
I pull my phone from the bag and give Michelle to ring her father. She walks out of the room just like how her grandmother does. I walk to Lufuno.
“Are you sure?” I whisper.
“Well…I love Khathu and I should learn to…do this…you know?” she says with panic in her voice.
“Ohhh Okay…” I say and turn back to sit.
Let the step-mother take over.
I burry myself on the couch and wait for the step-child to come back with the response from the father.