I was born on the same month as Mqhele. He’s a Leo too, not that he knows what that is.
But I’m a Virgo, I was born on the last week of August. Hlomu is a Virgo too, at least she knows what that is.
We went to Mbuba for the past two weekends. It wasn’t negotiable, I was just told to pack more dresses because we are “going home”.
These women, all of them, they become totally different people when they’re there. No glam, no diva-ness, nothing. They become wives, rural wives.
It was Zandile and Nkosana’s membeso. Although I didn’t understand it much, it was a beautiful ceremony, except for the creepy old man who kept looking at me like I was meat.
There was a time where he touched my bum when I walked past him. I was so grossed I almost cried. I also had to serve him food and he ran his hand up my arm when I gave him the plate. I felt……violated. I wanted to get out of there right at that moment.
Qhawe noticed I was upset and asked what was going on. I told him the whole story. He was angry! He wanted us to leave there and then but I told him not to cause a scene, for Zandile and Nkosana’s sake.
He was still angry at night. He left me in our room and went to calm himself down somewhere I think.
I only saw him later when we were preparing for dinner and a little surprise we had planned for Zandile. He seemed to have calmed down.
The old man was Zandile’s father. He died in his sleep that night and we had to go back again last weekend to bury him. That was probably my maternal ancestors bewitching his pervert ass, my mother was from Limpopo you know.
And so, I turn 30 tomorrow. Qhawe arrived on Friday and I know he’s up to something. He’s been on the phone non-stop for the past two days.
He’s upstairs and I’m making him breakfast because you know, that’s how I roll now.
I did what he asked me to do. I went and bought furniture for that house. But it was only three beds, couches and a fridge. I need more time. Tshedi said she was going to make time to come here and help me shop. She said I must tell him that we need half-a-million. Who needs that much for just furniture? And besides, nobody lives there so we don’t have to go all out.
We’re staying indoors today. It’s a great Saturday morning.
There’s a knock on the door.
Who could that be?
Qhawe is going to freak out because he told those security guards at the gate never to let anyone in here without calling.
But whoever that is, is here now, I might as well open.
“Naledi,” he says pushing me aside and walking in.
Someone kill me now! Please murder me!
Where’s my phone? Oh shit! I left it upstairs!
“You’re cooking, good, because I’m hungry. You’ve done well with this house. The last time I was here there was no TV stand,” he says making himself comfortable.
“Yes, bring me some water, I’m tired. I left home very early. It took me seven hours to get here, I’m getting really old,” he says.
Everything inside me is shaking. What am I going to do about that man upstairs?
“I didn’t know you were coming,” I say putting a glass of water in front of him.
“Why? Can’t I surprise my youngest daughter on her birthday?”
Lawd! I’m in shit!
“My bags are in the car, you can go get them,” he says.
I’m not leaving this house!
“I’ll get them later, let me make you some food,”-me
“Good because I need to drink my medication after I eat, it’s in the car,” he says.
What the heck am I going to do now?
I keep looking up the stairs praying that Qhawe doesn’t appear, or that he’s heard what’s happening and jumped out the window, I’ll still love him even if he has one leg.
“There you go,” I say putting a plate in front of him.
Now I can run upstairs and tell Qhawe to hide while he eats.
Throw me in a crocodile-infested river now!!
He’s running down the stairs!
And then he stops…..eyes all out!
He turns and runs back up the stairs!
“Boy!” -my dad shouts.
He calls him a boy. Sigh.
I don’t know if he should keep running or come back. But then again, where is he running to?
He comes back.
He’s walking down the stairs, slowly.
He frowns at me. I shrug.
He walks down slowly until he is standing at the bottom of the stairs. He doesn’t move further. He doesn’t want another slap on his face.
My father is sitting there eating his food.
“So you live here now?”- dad
He raises his eyes.
“I’m talking to you,”
“No, I was just passing by so I stopped to say hello to Naledi,”-Qhawe.
He’s such a bad liar.
“Are those your passing-by pyjamas?”-dad
Oh Lord save us.
He doesn’t answer.
“Zulu, I see that you’re still disrespecting me. You’ve turned my daughter into your wife just like that. She’s cooking you breakfast now while you sit upstairs in pyjamas, like a boss?”
Oh dad please stop!
Qhawe shame. He looks like he’s about to wet his pants.
“Are you the head of this house now? You wake up like you’re in a hotel I see,”- dad.
Qhawe scratches his head.
Dad stands up.
I swear not even lightning is that quick. He’s out the sliding door before I can blink! Yeses!!!
Dad sits down and continues eating like he didn’t just almost give my boyfriend a heart attack.
Qhawe wasn’t even wearing shoes.
“Where are you going? Sit down!” dad orders when I walk to the sliding door.
“Sit down Naledi. You are cohabiting now? Did I raise you like that?”
“No ntate he doesn’t live here,”
“Oh really? He looked really comfortable walking around here like he’s the man of the house,”
Why is he doing this? Now Qhawe is stuck in the balcony with just pyjamas on. He can’t go anywhere, it’s too high to jump to the ground. My house has a garage at the bottom, the kitchen and lounge and dining room on the first floor and bedrooms and bathrooms on the top floor. We are on the first floor, so basically, he is stuck.
“Aren’t you going to have breakfast with me?”
You’re so evil!!!!
“No I’m going to change into proper clothes,” I say and walk up the stairs.
Is he trying to ruin my life?
I look out the bedroom window, but he’s not in the balcony.
What the heck?
Oh! There he is. How did he get there? How did he jump?
“Are you okay?” I mime. I can’t risk Hendrik Verwoed downstairs hearing me.
“Keys,” he says. He had to say it three times before I understood what he was saying.
Oh, luckily they are here in the bedroom. I throw them out the window.
He blows me a kiss and runs off.
Really? He’s still blowing kisses under these circumstances?
And where is he going?
Oh crap! His phone is on the charger, now I don’t even know how I’m going to reach him. He’s driving out the gate, but where’s he going in pyjamas? Even his wallet is here. Now I’m worried.
I hope that at least he has the spare keys for the Modder River house. But then, what’s he going to eat there? He didn’t even have breakfast! He’s stranded somewhere in a car and I’m sitting here!
She always answers the phone like this.
“Hey, what’s up?”
I’m waiting for her to laugh at my pronunciation before I continue.
She’s not laughing.
“What happened to Qhawe?”
She sounds intense all of a sudden.
“My dad is here, he just showed up, just like that! Chawe had to run out of the house, in pyjamas and he left his phone and now I’m worried because he left his wallet too, he has no money and he has nowhere to go and………”
She sounds like she’s laughing.
This is serious.
“Naledi, don’t worry, he’ll be fine. I’ll speak to his brother, he’ll know what to do and where to find him. And besides, he knows some people there in Kimberley, some cops I think, so don’t worry too much…..”
I feel a bit relieved, at least they’re going to do something.
“Oh and Naledi, stay with your father this time,” she says and hangs up.
What if they don’t find him? What if he’s cold somewhere with no shoes on?
Okay, it’s hot today, but the thought of him wandering around Kimberley in pyjamas makes me want to cry.
Why does my dad have to be like this though?
“Where are my bags? You said you were going to get them, I need my medication. After that put Channel 183 on. And bring me another cushion, I want to relax. I was on the road for seven hours, seven whole hours……” he says shaking his head and putting his feet up on my couch.
I might as well give up now.
“I’ll make you tea, which one would you like?”
He raises his head, looks at me and smiles.
“Summer tea,” he says.
I smile back. I missed him. He’s determined to ruin my life and murder my boyfriend but he’s still my daddy. And he drove all the way here just to be with me on my birthday tomorrow.
Now, do I have summer tea ingredients?
Summer tea, by the way, is Rooibos with lemon and honey. Winter tea is a normal teabag with milk and sugar.
I must call Tshedi and tell her about this dilemma I’m in. And then I have to make a plan to get Qhawe’s phone and wallet to him so he can drive to Joburg because my dad, he can stay all week if he wants, he doesn’t care if I still want him here or not.
“Sit here,” he says after I put his tea on the coffee-table.
“Tell me about those people from your hospital,”
“Ntate I can’t talk about my patients, you know that,” -me
“Yes, you can’t talk about your patients, but they are your patients only when they are sick physically right? You have nothing to do with their craziness, which means you can talk about it. Now, tell me about that one who thought he could fly……”
I forgot the old man is naturally sly.
Let me settle here as well with my cup of tea.
“He’s still trying to prove and convince everyone that he really can fly. Sometimes they have to tie him down because he’s always trying to fly out the window,”
He’s laughing. He always laughs at my patients, just like Qhawe.
“It’s not funny ntate, those people are ill,”
He sips his tea.
“When was the last time you spoke to Lesedi?” he asks.
It’s been a while. We don’t communicate much.
“It’s been a while but we are planning to see her soon, there’s something we need to talk about, all four of us,”
“We’re planning something, a get together of some sort just so we can reconnect,” I lie.
We haven’t told him about the possibility of bringing my mother back into our lives. But also, we haven’t decided among the four of us.
“That would be a good thing. I won’t be around forever and I don’t want to leave this family in tatters,” he says.
The thought of him not being around anymore makes me cringe. I don’t know if I’d be able to survive without him.
“Where is your friend?”
“Your friend from Limpopo, the other doctor, where is he?”
Oh Tsietsi. I haven’t seen him in a while.
“He’s around, we’ve both been busy so we don’t see each other that much lately,”-me
“You’ve been busy with that big-eyed boy?” he asks
Can he stop calling him a boy? Please?
Qhawe is a respected man in his 30s and my dad is…….well, he doesn’t care who he is.
“Is he treating you well?” he asks.
I’m never comfortable with this conversation.
“Yes ntate, he treats me very well. Please stop being mean to him,”-me
There’s a little smile on his face.
“Why must I stop? He disrespected me,”
What is he? A little bully boy?
Now I’m forced to sit here with him and watch animals running around while my man is a street-kid in Kimberley. I don’t know why he loves this channel so much.
Do not tell me Qhawe is back! Do not!
“Are you going to get that or should I?”-dad
I stand up and rush to the door. I’m sure it’s Qhawe.
And Nqoba, and Mqhele.
What are they doing in Kimberley?
“May we come in?”-Nkosana.
They walk in. I’m left standing at the door.
Hlomu is the first to walk to my father to greet him and shake his hand.
Oh wow! That’s a huge smile on his face.
“Did you travel well ntate?”-she asks.
He still has that stupid grin.
“Yes, it took me a long time. I didn’t think I could still drive myself for such a long distance……”
Now the rest of us are just standing here while he has a conversation with his new found precious daughter……..
“Nice to meet you ntate Montsho. You remind me of my father,” she says.
“Is he an old man like me?” he asks laughing.
“No, he died a long time ago…”
He looks sad.
What the heck is going on here?
His face changes when Hlomu leaves his side.
Now shit is about to get real.
“And you are….?” he asks looking at Nkosana.
“I’m Mqhele, I’m not Qhawe, we just look alike,”-Mqhele jumps in and says
Who asked him?
Nqoba gives him a look.
“What? I don’t want him to kill me,”- he whispers.
Dad is looking at them one-by-one….
They shouldn’t have come here! They shouldn’t have!
Nkosana greets my father in SeTswana. He must think this is going to work, he doesn’t know this old man.
He sits next to him. Nqoba sits on the single couch and Mqhele sits on the ottoman very far from everyone.
He’s one heck of a character.
Nkosana looks at us.
“Come on, let’s go upstairs,” -Hlomu
Oh, so that look was “dismissing” us.
She closes the bedroom door.
Good, because I want her to tell me how the heck she got here so quick.
“Your dad is hectic! Did he really just show up here unannounced?” she asks.
She obviously finds all of this funny.
“Trust me it could have been worse. What are they going to say to him?”-me
“I have no idea. Try to apologise for Qhawe I think. You should have seen him running in barefoot, in pyjamas like your father was chasing him. I’m sorry but it was too funny,” she says.
“Running in where Hlomu?”
She has that “oh shit!” look on her face.
“Nowhere, I just……..ahhhhhh” she says and puts her hand over her eyes.
“What’s going on? Why are you guys here?”-me
“Arrrrrrr Qhawe is going to kill me!”- hand on her forehead.
She needs to start talking.
“Okay, tonight was supposed to be your surprise birthday party…..”
“Not a big thing, just us family and your sisters, a birthday dinner actually. We arrived last night,”
“That house in River something,”-her
“You slept there? But it’s empty,”
“Urgh we made a call on Thursday and more furniture was delivered and sorted yesterday afternoon,” she says and waves her hand like I should have known that.
“Do me a favour pleaseeeee….act surprised or else everybody is going to hate me for ruining everything, especially Qhawe and Tshedi,”
Tshedi is here too?
Hlomu did say they believed in extravagant gifts. I hope he didn’t buy me a mall as a gift, or the whole of Kimberley and its diamonds.
“Did he really do that? Organise a party for me?”
I’m biting my lip because I’m trying to stop this bloody love-struck teenage girl smile that’s trying to ambush me.
“Yes, it’s your 30th remember?”
Still, I didn’t expect this.
But what am I going to do about my dad? I can’t leave him alone here to go party.
I wonder what’s being said downstairs. How are they even going to start apologising for Qhawe? And besides, he’s already been slapped and chased out of the house in pyjamas, that’s enough punishment.
“I think we should give them something to drink or eat,” -me
She agrees, says at least he won’t beat them in front of us.
They watch us coming down the stairs. No, we’re not being “dismissed” again.
“We’ll make you something to drink,”-me
My dad is not even looking at me.
They’re all still sitting where we left them. Mqhele, yes, he still looks scared. He keeps looking at his wife who’s trying to hold a laugh.
“Where we come from culture dictates that we come to your house with an animal, as a peace offering and to cleanse your house for what my brother did. But also, we can’t just go to your house, who are we going to introduce ourselves as? We were waiting for the right time, the official time,”-Nkosana
“But you’re here now, and I still don’t know who you are,”
Mqhele clears his throat.
“He didn’t want us to come here, for obvious reasons,”-Hlomu whispers to me.
He’s such a child.
“Your brother must come to me and apologise. I might hear him out but that won’t give him rights to my daughter,”
Am I 12-years old again?
“That will be the right thing to do. My father would be disappointed at him. But kgosi you were young once, you know what the love for a woman can do to a man, it can turn you into a fool,”-Nqoba
My dad looks at him, he looks down.
Shame, they’re trying but my dad is not exactly a man you can soften easily.
“I like what you did with the Namane Project kgosi, at first it sounded like an impossible venture, but you’ve made it a great success. I won’t be surprised if your area soon becomes the biggest supplier in the country,”-Mqhele.
Huh? How does he know about that?
My father looks at him with a surprised face. I’m surprised too. I had forgotten he was there.
“You think? It’s done very well but we have to compete with the more experienced white farmers from Vryburg,”- my dad. He looks excited.
Nkosana and Nqoba look really confused.
“I know but yours is more like an investment, it’s a business that will feed generations to come but more than anything, everyone contributes and has a share,”-Mqhele.
Is that a smile I see on my father’s face?
“Now we have kids from the village studying agriculture after they finish school, it’s really working. You know we started with only ten calves. Some families didn’t want to get involved at all, they thought I wanted steal take their livestock from them, I had to call a lekgotla and ask for help from the government,”-dad
Now, everyone here is confused, except dad, Mqhele and me.
Mqhele looks at Nkosana and Qhawe.
“You know how North West is rich in platinum….” -Mqhele
“Kgosi Montsho’s area is one of the few in the North West that don’t have mining. Because it’s dry, stock farming is popular, so what kgosi did is he asked every family in the community to give him a calf to start the Namane Project. Long story short, the project has become commercial and everyone who brought a calf is a shareholder,”-Mqhele
The look Nqoba is giving him!
My dad is impressed, the look on his face says so.
As to where Mqhele got all that information, is a mystery. Hlomu is as stunned as I am.
“We’ve started with smaller animals, goats and sheep…”-dad
The problem is he can go on about this all day…….
“Dry lands are good for game farming I hear,”-Nkosana.
“Well if you have open space somewhere kgosi, I think it would be a good investment, and a job creation tool,”-Nkosana
What’s he trying to do?
The look of excitement on my dad’s face!!
I did not expect this at all!
“I think so too. I’ve always wanted something like that, to improve tourism,” ntate.
I think they want to leave now. Yes they do.
“We will see you soon,”-Nkosana.
The old man looks impressed.
Wow! I’ve just been bought with a game farm!
“Naledi, where are you going?” ntate asks when I follow them out.
I guess then that the game farm was not enough!
“I’m seeing them out ntate,”-me
“Game farm? What the heck are we going to do with a game farm bafo?”-Nqoba asks the moment we close the door behind us.
“I have no idea,”-Nkosana
These guys! They’re crazy!
“You’ve just made us buy a game farm! A game farm bafo! What the heck is that?”-Mqhele
“It’s called negotiating…..”-Nkosana
No it’s called bribing.
“And you? Charming with some cow project? How did you know about that?”-Nqoba to Mqhele.
“I didn’t see you helping,”-Mqhele
Okay. Me and Hlomu, we’re just standing here watching the circus. It makes me wonder exactly what their plan was when they left the house to come here.
“Do you think he’s going to like Qhawe now?”-Hlomu to me.
I’m not sure.
“I think it will make some difference,”-me
I’m just saying this.
“Well, if the game farm is going to get us our fifth wife, then game farm it is,”-Nkosana.
They get in the car.
“Act surprised,”-Hlomu whispers before she gets in the car.
It’s going to be difficult.
But at least Qhawe will have his phone and wallet now, I also gave them his bag.
Qhawe is waiting for me outside. He said we’re going out for dinner.
When I asked him if I could bring my father along he said he knows I have many reasons to want to kill him but I must at least wait until I turn 30 tomorrow.
Now I have to find a way to get out of here.
He’s already in the bedroom. He said he was tired and wanted to go to sleep early. But then, it would be unfair of me to wait until he’s fast asleep and sneak out, what if he wakes up and finds that I’m not here.
“Ntate, I’m going out, I won’t be long,” I say.
“Going out where?”
Here we go.
“To a restaurant, Hlomu wants us to….”
“You’re going with Hlomu?” he asks.
Errrrrr but what’s that smile on his face.
“Okay then you can go,” he says.
What the fuck?
He’s in bed.
I made sure he took his diabetes treatment this afternoon.
“I’ll be back soon ntate, but call me if you need anything I’ll have my phone on the whole time,”-me
This means I’m going to have to leave the party and come back here, alone.
My father though!
I’m surprised he bought that Hlomu story. He must really be getting old.
I’m wearing black, again, with gold accessories. I put the weave back on, natural was cute but I was an average girl growing up, I refuse to be one in my glory days.
Now I have to work on my “surprised” look.
And I hate surprises, they make me awkward because I never know what to say after “surprise”.
“Is he sleeping?”
“No he’s right behind me,”
His eyes are all out.
“I’m joking Chawe, he’s sleeping, I told him I’d be back soon,”
I see relief on his face.
I must have a talk with my father, he can’t be traumatizing my man like this.
“You can kiss me, trust me he’s not watching us through the window,”-me
“You never know. You look beautiful,” he says leaning over to kiss me.
I hug him.
“I missed you baby. I’m sorry about all that. Are you okay? How did you jump to the ground? You didn’t hurt yourself did you?”
He shakes his head.
“I’d rather jump off a building than face your father’s slap again,” he says.
LOL, poor thing.
“How is he?”
“He’s fine, just tired from that long drive. So, he has this little crush on Hlomu, so I told him I was going out with her and he was okay with it,”
“I’m serious, you should have seen him when he saw her, he had this huge smile on his face. He was mean to everyone except her,” I say.
He’s still laughing.
“Hlomu has that effect on people. But don’t worry, she’s not about to be your stepmother. I think the old man was just charmed by her natural beauty and humble spirit,” he says.
He’s right. She does have that thing about her that nobody can explain.
Oh, it’s time to act clueless.
“Where are we going? I thought we were going to town,”-me
“No, no restaurants tonight, I cooked for you,” he says.
“At that house you don’t want to live in. The one where your father would never have found me and I would not have had to jump off buildings,” he says.
“Okay, there’s not even a fridge in that house. But, I appreciate your cutlery skills so dinner in an empty house it is,” me.
He looks very impressed with himself.
“Baby, I’ve been thinking, I want to start a private practice, I think I’m ready now….”
“Thank you Lord!” he says raising his arms.
“Chawe I’m serious,”
“I’m also serious, do anything, as long as it doesn’t involve those crazy people I’m fine with it,” he says.
Here we go.
“So I was thinking of doing it in a rural area, or an informal settlement. But I won’t be based there full time because I still need to work. Maybe hire a couple of nurses and do visits three times a week,”
“And where exactly is this informal settlement you’re thinking about? I hope it’s in Gauteng,” he says.
I hadn’t thought about that. It could be anywhere actually, Gauteng is fine too.
“I still have to think about that,”-me
“It’s a great idea, how much do you need?”-he asks.
I take a deep breath.
“What? I’m trying to help, it really is a great idea,” he says.
“I don’t need money Chawe, I need your advice since you’re in business. Besides, it would be very easy to get a sponsor, especially if I’m going to focus on issues like HIV and TB, government would give me money very easily,”
I just know he’s not going to support that.
“You know we don’t do business with government right? We don’t want anything linking us with government tenders or sponsorship or whatever else is linked to “taxpayers’ money”.
He says the “taxpayers’ money”part like it’s annoying him.
But…I’m not trying to start a family business. And besides, since when am I family? The last time I checked I was still his girlfriend.
“I still can’t get over how big this house is. I’ll only move in here if you relocate to Kimberley,” I say
He frowns. I thought he liked Kimberley.
He holds my hand as we walk to the door.
I’m ready to act surprised……
He pushes it open……..
“Happy Birthday……..” they all shout.
I stand still.
I’m surprised because I was expecting “surpriseeeeeee”
“Oh My God!! Chawe!!”
“Happy 30th, I love you,” he says and pulls me by hand to everyone.
It’s noisy, it’s crazy, it’s a party.
“How did you hide this from me?” I keep asking him.
He is so proud of himself it’s written all over his face!
It’s the hugs and greetings and some people I don’t know and…………..
“I spoke to Chawe and he said I could come here anytime I want! And you are going to give me my own keys!”
“Hello to you too Tshedi, I see you are also colluding against me with the Zulus,”-me
As if she’s interested in what I have to say…
“You look gorgeous. You’re starting to look like the rest of them,” she says.
I assume “them” is the wives. Where are they anyway?
“I wasn’t going to miss your 30th. How are you? You’ve grown,” she says.
She always says that when we meet. She just can’t get over that I’m not a little girl anymore.
“When did you get here? I can’t believe this,” I say hugging her again.
“Your boyfriend called, and called, and called…………” she says rolling her eyes.
This is the real surprise.
“Come on, it’s your party……”- Xolie says pulling me to I don’t know where.
Even Chelsea is here?
But…..there aren’t many people here. It’s mostly family, the ones I don’t know I assume are the “plus-one” of the ones I know.
Omphi is also here.
Wow! This was really planned.
The house looks great too, it looks like a home now.
What happened to…….?
“Happy Birthday MaMontsho,”
What is it with him and sneaking up from nowhere…
“Thank you,”- that’s all I’m able to say.
“Please tell the chief that I have this little scar on my forehead so that he looks for it first. Because you know, I don’t want any accidents,” he says.
My dad is making everyone’s life hell.
“Where is Hlomu?”-I ask. I haven’t seen her.
“Somewhere in the house. When you find her tell her I love her,” he says and walks on.
He’s one hell of a character.
And where is my man?
Oh, he’s there, with a beer in his hand.
“Come on Miss Party,” it’s Gugu this time.
She always looks like those girls from fashion magazines.
I remember of all of us, she was the one who had a problem being in Mbuba. She kept complaining about it being in the middle of nowhere. But from what I’ve heard, she comes from a small town and it takes over an hour to drive from there to the nearest town.
There’s a cake written “ Happy 30th Naledi”, It’s a shaped like a shoe, a red bottom shoe. I think they were trying to make a Laboutini cake. It’s nice though.
He wraps one arm around my waist from the back and kisses me on the cheek. I didn’t see him coming.
“Are you enjoying your party?” he asks.
I turn around to face him, my arms around his neck.
“Yes I am….and when did you plan all this? And how did I not catch you?”
“I’m smart, you know that,” he says. The self-satisfaction!!
Now I want to kiss him….and undress him…..and touch him….
“Get a room you two,” –one says
Which one is this?
Oh, it’s the blue-eyed black boy.
“Happy Birthday Dr Montsho,” he says.
I guess then that everyone in this family has their own name that they call me. I’m Dr Montsho to this one I guess.
“Hi Ntsika, I thought you had left already,” –me
“No, I decided to add another two weeks, just to make sure they stay out of trouble,” he says.
He’s the only one that speaks to me in English. The others, well it’s pure Zulu, they don’t care if I understand them or not. And that’s one hell of an accent he has.
I’ve been thinking, I need to learn Zulu if I want to blend in here.
“Why are you standing here with these people, come with me,”-Hlomu.
Where has she been?
“And you? When are you bringing me a daughter-in-law?” she asks Ntsika.
“I think Nkosana is calling me,” he says and rushes off.
I look at Qhawe and shrug as Hlomu pulls me away by arm.
Oh, so this is where they all are? It’s just the ladies though, the guys are taking care of the meat.
Who invited her by the way?
Oh, I forgot, Tshedi has met her before, but it was just once, not enough for her to be attending family gatherings.
I wish Tsietsi was here.
“Hi, I asked Tsietsi to come but he said no. What’s going on between the two of you anyway?”-Chelsea
I really don’t want to talk about it.
The Tsietsi issue is one of the reasons I’ve been thinking about starting my own practice and leaving Kimberley. It stresses me, a lot. It’s hard to believe he was once the closest friend I had.
“I invited some of your other colleagues too but I don’t see them, maybe they’re not coming,”-Tshedi.
She shouldn’t have. I like to keep my work and personal life separate.
I’m glad they didn’t show up.
So, I join the pretty faces in what looks like a temporary bar area, or is permanent? I don’t know.
“You look like one of my students,”-Lesedi.
Who is she talking to?
“I’m serious, I’ve been looking at you all day, you look exactly like one of my kids in Grade-9,” she says.
She’s talking to Hlomu.
“Errr, could just be that we look alike because there’s no way we are related. I look like my father, he died over ten years ago and there’s no way that he had a small child when he did. I have only one brother and he’s gay, so that’s out,” she says.
I’ve heard about the gay twin. Qhawe once told me that he made them model at a fashion show a few months ago. I think he’s still pissed off by that experience.
“Yah but, it’s really strange, she even talks like you,”-Lesedi.
I think Hlomu doesn’t know what to say now because she’s sure whoever that kid is, is not her relative.
Let me pour myself a glass of wine.
Tshedi is gelling well with Zandile. Strange, they are totally different.
Zandile is great and all but there’s something intense about her. I don’t know if it is age or the things she’s been through in life, but she’s not exactly a warm person by nature.
“Where are the kids?” I ask.
Everybody is here.
“With their nannies,” Xolie says dismissively.
I’m going to call my sisters aside soon so we can talk about ntate’s ambush visit. He’s totally inconvenienced me. I’m definitely not getting any sex tonight, that’s how much he’s ruined my life.
“So our plans for tomorrow are dead?”-Gugu
There were plans?
“Yes, we were going to fly to Knysna for lunch by the sea,” –Tshedi says. She sounds irritated.
But we can still go, I think.
“We can still go,” I say
No we can’t actually.
“We can always do Knysna some other time, next weekend maybe,” Hlomu
“No we’re going to the south coast next weekend remember?” –Xolie
Oh yah. Nqoba is treating us to a weekend away.
There goes Knysna. I’ve never been there before.
I hear a laugh that sounds familiar.
It can’t be.
“Happy Birthday,” he says. It’s Stanley, he worked at my hospital briefly.
He tries to hug me but I move away, I’m more interested in why Ndivhu is here. I know they are friends but who invited them?
“Tsietsi told us about the party but he didn’t want to come, we did, so we came,” he says.
Okay. But Ndivhu, why would he come here knowing very well that my boyfriend threw me this party?
I’m looking at him.
“What? You don’t want me here? I thought you were over me,”-Ndivhu
I hear gulps from the ladies.
I don’t know what to say.
“So, where is everyone, are they here?” he asks.
“The guys are outside, preparing the meat,” –Omphi
“Oh, hi,” he says to Omphi
He knows her, actually all of us from back home. But it’s not like we were close or our families are close.
He looks at all the ladies, walks to Gugu first and kisses her hand, and then to Zandile, Hlomu and all of them.
They look……a bit, annoyed if I’m reading their faces correctly.
I know why he’s here. He’s such an opportunist. He’s going to be taking pictures and posting them on social networks just so everyone can see that he hangs out with the Zulu brothers. He’s always talking about his father-in-law too. That’s just who he is. That’s why he and I didn’t work out, he was always telling people that I’m a chief’s daughter.
“The meat is ready,”-Sambulo.
He walks in and says just as Ndivhu kisses Xolie’s hand. He has a frown on his face.
“My brother,” he says looking at Ndivhu.
“Let that hand go,” he says.
Xolie pulls her hand away quickly.
“The meat is ready,” he says again.
We sit still.
He stands still.
“And who are these?” he asks pointing at the two men.
“They’re Naledi’s colleagues, they’ve just arrived and were greeting us before coming to join you,”-Gugu
“The guys are all outside,”-Sambulo. He still has that look on his face.
He stands and watches them until they walk out the door.
He follows them.
“He has to go, now. Unless you want to see flames,” she says.
I’m worried too. I know Qhawe, his jealousy is on steroids.
Suddenly I feel like they’re all judging me for something.
But I didn’t invite him and I refuse to believe Tsietsi is behind this. The problem is Ndivhu talks too much and he might just mention in passing that we were once an item.
But how do I make him go?
We all stand up and follow each other to the kitchen.
There are salads and stuff, there’s even pap, it must be Tshedi.
I’m here but my mind is wandering all over. What if that fool says something stupid? I don’t want anything spoiling tonight, not with all his brothers here.
And I definitely don’t want to have a fight with him tonight.
I can hear him talking and laughing loud outside.
“We have to get that guy out of here,” –Hlomu
She looks and sounds very serious.
“But he’s just an old ex, and he’s married now right? I don’t see how him being here is……”-Lesedi
She stops when she sees all the wives are now looking at her.
I think there’s a lot I still don’t know about how to behave around here.
“Trust me, that makes him an enemy,” –Gugu says walking to the lounge with a salad bowl.
I’m officially depressed now.
I don’t want any drama here. I already know how Qhawe can be through that episode he had with Letswalo.
There’s no sitting around the table tonight, they take their plates and go back outside. The conversation is around soccer, as always when boys are together.
I haven’t seen Qhawe much tonight. I miss him, even though I can see him from here laughing and talking outside, I still miss him.
“Naledi….we’re here, stop looking at Qhawe. You’ll end up like these two,” Zandile says pointing at Hlomu.
“They’ll end up being conjoined twins like you and Mqhele,”
Hlomu rolls her eyes.
“I hear the chief is trying to steal my wife,”-Mqhele says before bending over to kiss her on the cheek.
“Yes apparently he has a crush on her. Don’t underestimate him, he was a charmer in his days,”-Tshedi
“That old man will be the death of us. He just made us buy a game farm,” he says, brushes Hlomu’s shoulders and walks off.
“See, this is what I was talking about,”-Zandile.
“Whatever,”-Hlomu says laughing.
They really are inseparable.
“Can you guys explain the game-farm situation again. They told the story like it was a joke when they came back,” – Omphi
“Long story short, ntate was having fun terrorizing them, and when they ran out of ideas Mqhele started talking about the Namane Project……”
“The Namane project? He knows about that?”- Lesedi
“I was shocked too, we were all shocked, even ntate, but that was a good way in. He started loosening up after that, and as the conversation continued……..boom!! Nkosana mentions a game farm and asks ntate if there was any open space in the village for it. When they were done, ntate was smiling, they were smiling, until we stepped outside the house and they started asking themselves what the heck just happened,”-me
I’m laughing with all of them as I tell this story.
“The conversation went like: “A game farm bafo? What heck are we going to do with a game farm? That was Nqoba”- Hlomu says.
“And then Nkosana says: I have no idea, but if the game farm is going to get us our fifth Zulu wife, then game farm it is,”-Hlomu says.
They’re laughing, but my sisters are not laughing. They look rather shocked.
Tshedi raises her eyebrows at me, she looks serious.
I guess they are alarmed by the “wife” part of it.
“Cheers ladies, we are official game farmers, on top of everything we are,”-Gugu
I think the alcohol is also playing a role now.
“Naledi, I hate to tell you this but soon you’ll be drinking as much as we do…….”-Xolie
“Yep!”-Hlomu says nodding and taking another sip of her wine.
“Life just never gives us a break. If I were to tell you the things we’ve been through just this year alone, you would not believe me. But, we are the Zulus, we are unbeatable,”-Xolie
She’s definitely drunk.
“But nothing is worse than the media. Do you know what they wrote when it came out that I was pregnant?”-Gugu
I shake my head.
“Those Zulu wives are always pregnant, it’s like they are incubators. You’d swear they’re trying to have a baby for each million the family has,”-Gugu
Normally I’d find this funny if I read it in a newspaper. But I guess when it’s said about you, there’s nothing funny about it.
It’s Ndivhu and his friend. Thank God. Sambulo is behind them making sure that they don’t come this way to kiss hands again.
They’re done eating, judging by how they all walk in and sit wherever they can find space. Mqhele finds his next to Hlomu. Qhawe is next to me. Okay, I see what Zandile was talking about.
“Thank you guys for this,”-me
The guys don’t say anything.
“Thank you Mageba,” I say looking at Qhawe.
Everybody laughs out loud.
“Happy Birthday baby, it’s 1am so it really is your birthday now,” he says.
The fools are still laughing.
“I think you should call him that, Mageba, permanently,”-Mqoqi says.
They laughed the first time they heard me call his name.
I decided long ago that I’m going to avoid calling Mqhele, Mqoqi and Nqoba by name. Mqoqi is worse.
We must also leave now, ntate is all alone in that house.
Nkosana and Zandile are the first to go upstairs followed by Gugu and Nqoba.
There seems to be minor tension between Xolie and Sambulo.
“He’s sulking because some guy kissed my hand,” she whispers to me before she stands up.
Me and my sisters, we’re going to sleep at my house. We have to talk about that thing of my mom tonight and if we agree that we want to see her, we must tell ntate tomorrow before he leaves.
It’s going to be difficult, but we can’t do this without his blessing. Also, I have a feeling we weren’t told the full story about why she left.
“You know, we could still go to Knysna, I’m sure ntate will understand,”-me
He shakes his head.
“No baby, you must spend the day with your father. He drove all the way here just to spend time with you. The guys will understand, we’ll cancel everything in the morning,”
“Are you going to leave with them?” I ask. I’m about to be a cry baby.
“I’ll see you before I leave, we flying with your sisters remember?”
Oh by the way.
But I don’t want to go, I want to be with him.
“I miss you,” I say hugging him.
“Really? What do you miss? We should have had sex this morning. When I came downstairs the plan was to shag you on the couch, only to find……..” he stops and laughs.
My sisters are already waiting in the car. We’re driving home in that Jeep, I’ve concluded that it’s his “Kimberley car”.
“I could drive you, I don’t want you girls driving alone at night,” he says.
I already said no to that
“I wish I could stay here with you,” I say kissing him, again.
Okay I’m whining now.
I finally let go and walk to the car. He stands and watches me until I get in the car and drive off. I feel like crying.
Now that it’s just the four of us, the tension begins. We know what we need to be talking about, and we know we are not going to agree on the first try.
“Did I hear the word “wife” being mentioned?”-Lesedi.
Lesedi is the serious one. The responsible one. The one who could have become anything she wanted to be but chose to be a teacher, because it had always been her passion. She likes helping people, she likes seeing the results of what she does. She’s also always been the odd one, the one that didn’t really fit in with the rest of us.
We always thought she’d get married young and have children and build a home and live happily and boringly, but she went and did the opposite. She has three degrees, a house in Nkomazi where she works and a 7-year-old daughter she adopted as a new born.
“I think I heard that too. Is there something you’re not telling us Ledi?”-Omphi
I have nothing to tell.
“Guys, me and Chawe are just dating, we’re in a relationship. He hasn’t said anything about marriage. Besides, we’ve only been together for four months, it’s a bit too soon for that,”-me
I won’t mention that he’s been hinting from day one that this is a permanent union.
“I like him Ledi, I think he has good intentions,”-Lesedi.
“I like him too,”-Tshedi
“Tshedi, you just like his money,”-Omphi
“His money makes it easier,”-Tshedi
This woman though!
The tension again. I know something is coming.
I hear a deep breath being taken at the back seat.
There we go.
“Have you decided?”-Omphi.
I’ve been dreading this question for a while.
“I’m fine with whatever you guys decide. It won’t make much difference to me because I don’t know her, I don’t remember anything about her,”-me
“I think we must go for it. If we don’t, we will always wonder what could have been. Let’s just do it, if it complicates our lives, fine, we are tough girls, we’ll deal with it,”- Lesedi.
I’m still worried though.
“What about ntate?”-me
“We’ll tell him tomorrow,”-Tshedi.
It’s going to be a tough one.
“Shhhhhhhhh….don’t talk too loud you’ll wake your father,”
What the heck? It’s after 3am. I fell asleep just an hour ago.
“Come out,” he whispers.
Why is he whispering? He’s in his car on his phone and no, my dad won’t hear him.
“Downstairs, I’m in the visitors parking,” he says. He’s still whispering. Lawd!
“Okay, I’ll come out through the garage,”-me
This is crazy.
I even forgot to put on a robe, or shoes.
When I open the garage door he’s already standing in front of it.
He comes in when it’s half open and tells me to close it.
“Did you lock that door?” he asks pointing at the door that connects the garage to the house.
He snatches the key from me and rushes to lock it.
What is going on with him?
He picks me up and sits me on the bonnet of the Maserati.
He spreads my legs.
I’m not ever wearing panties, just the nighty which is very short.
He’s kissing me and touching me and…….crap! his pants are on his ankles.
I’m about to be fucked like a cheap Hillbrow street hooker!
I’m not complaining.
I open my legs wider.
“Mmmmmmmm,” he says
I’m holding on to him for dear life while balancing on the bonnet with one hand.
He presses my face on his shoulder when I start moaning louder.
“Shhhhhh” he keeps saying
How does he expect me to shhhhhhhh when he’s pounding me……..
“Ahhhhhh!” I scream.
He puts his hand over my mouth.
I hold him tighter.
He’s getting louder……his grip is tighter…..
No! He can’t do this…..
He’s done. He pulls out, pulls his pants up, opens the garage, kisses me on the lips and runs out. I’m left sitting on the bonnet like a chicken in the oven.
I can’t believe he just did that to me!
And he’s leaving, he’s really leaving me like this!
My phone beeps.
“Thank you”- an SMS from him. Oh I never!!!
I jump off, pull my nighty down and walk back where I came from. I don’t even have the energy to finish what he started.
“Your gift is under the pillow”
“No, poached eggs. And please don’t make the bacon too salty, cut off the fat,”-Omphi says to the waiter.
“I can’t even have proper bacon now?”
“No ntate you have to eat healthy,” she says.
She’s always worried about him and his health. But I think he’s managing it very well. I’m just worried about him having to drive back to the North West all alone now.
“We haven’t sat together like this in a long time,”-he says.
He’s right. It’s been a long time.
He was surprised but very happy to see all of us this morning.
When we woke up he was already on the couch watching Animal Planet.
He almost got a heart attack when he saw Lesedi. I was surprised too.
So we decided to go out for breakfast at the mall. We are planning to take him on a little shopping trip too so he can buy his little things that he doesn’t even need.
I know he’s going to want to buy those plastic boots for when he goes to visit the Namane Project sites.
“So you had a party?” he asks.
I thought we talked about that already.
“Yes ntate but I didn’t know about it, it was a surprise planned by……” I stop.
He raises his eyes to look at me. I’m not sure what that look is but it doesn’t seem like a bad one.
“That boy, I’m watching him,” he says.
But why does he have to be like this?
“He’s a good man ntate,”-Tshedi says.
He doesn’t respond.
About Qhawe, I’m not talking to him. He’s been calling and I’ve been ignoring him. His mind must still be functioning properly for now because he hasn’t started calling my sisters.
“So what are today’s plans?”-dad.
We look at each other.
“Hanging out with our old man,”-Lesedi
“No, you didn’t know I’d be here this weekend. I’m sure you had plans already,” he says.
Can’t he allow us to lie? Just once!
“We were going to go to Knysna, but this is more fun,”-Omphi
“And you cancelled? You should have told me you had plans, I would have left early in the morning,” he says.
“No ntate, Chawe said we could do Knysna some other time, he said we should spend time with you,” –me. I’m trying to score points for my man here.
“So ntate, are you really interested in a game farm?”-Lesedi. He laughs. We’re confused.
“Not exactly, there isn’t enough space. But I was impressed that they were willing to go that far just to apologise,” he says.
He’s still laughing.
My dad though! He’s something else I tell you!
“Ntate, they were really going to do it,”-Tshedi.
He laughs louder.
“I know, they sounded serious,” he says. Sigh.
“They must know that my girls don’t come easy, you have to earn them. I’m not going to allow my child to be with a man who won’t jump in-front of a moving train to save her. I know now that Chawe is serious. He’s a bit of a……..I don’t know how to describe him, probably because I see a lot of me in him when I was younger,”
“And I know these boys. I recognised him the first time I saw him standing there with big eyes like a fool, demanding my daughter, in my house,” he says shaking his head.
That moment is better not revisited.
“Are you going to be nice to him now?”-me
“No, he still has a lot of work to do,” he says.
I give up!
We agreed that Tshedi was going to be the one to talk, because she’s the eldest, but after we finish eating.
“Ntate, there’s something we need to tell you,” she says.
He is not paying attention.
“Can I have more milk with this,” he shouts to the waiters.
Now the whole restaurant is looking at us.
I don’t think he heard Tshedi at all.
We sit quietly and wait for him to finish eating.
“Girls, there’s something I need to tell you,” he says wiping his mouth with a napkin.
“I was going to tell all of you to come home next weekend. But since we’re all here we might as well talk about it now,” he says
It sounds serious.
He sits with his arms on the table and looks at each one of us before speaking.
“I’ve met someone,” he says.
“Why are you all so shocked. I said I’ve met someone. Well, I didn’t meet her now, she’s been around for a while, for years actually. So now that you girls are all grown and Naledi doesn’t need me anymore I think I should make it official. I don’t want to die alone,” he says.
No no no, what just happened here? My dad has had a woman all these years?
“Ntate, you have a girlfriend??”-Tshedi.
He looks at us like we’re crazy.
“Where? When? Who is she?”-me
“She’s back home. Of course I have a woman in my life, I’m a man,” he says.
This is beyond weird.
“I’m going to marry her. You’re all coming home at the end of the month to meet her. Oh and I don’t care if you like her or not, she’s not yours, she’s mine,” he says.
That’s rich coming from him.
I need therapy!
“Tshedi, there was something you needed to tell me?” he asks
We all look at each other.
“No, it was nothing important, I’ve just remembered Sello said he was going to sort it out,”-Tshedi.
“Ohhhh,” he says and continues drinking his “winter tea”.
What the fuck just happened here?