Tooth and Claw – Chapter 1

AUTHOR: Francesco Nassimbeni

PUBLISHER: FunDza Literacy Trust


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“Khwezi! You left the water boiling!”

I’m in trouble again.

“What did I tell you about the stove?” This, his voice, before I’ve even reached the kitchen.

“That I mustn’t ever–”

I do not finish because my ear is stinging. He has hit me. I gasp. I try not to cry. He screams at me if I cry.

“The potatoes will be overcooked now.”

“I’m sorry.”

No response. We sit at the table. There is a burn mark on it. Also, the stain of where someone left their coffee.

I have to pour him beer.

“Beer’s warm.”

I don’t answer.

“I said, ‘Beer’s warm’.”

“It’s because you didn’t put it back in the fridge,” I say, trying not to sound like I am correcting him. He hates that too.

His eyes go weird. “Are you saying I done something wrong?” He watches, listens carefully for my answer.

“No,” I say, after a pause.

He softens. I sigh. He is my uncle and I hate him. His name is Piko. He hates me too. He’s told me. He also told me that I’m stupid. I’m not. But when someone tells you the same thing over and over, sometimes you start to believe it.

My name is Khwezi. My mother was Bulelwa Tshibolane. My father was Jabulani. Both of them died in a fire that swept through our township four years ago. It started in one place and then jumped to the next shack, then jumped and jumped, until sixty houses were burning.

I lost everything that day. I lost the people who loved me. Nobody loves me now. I don’t know if I even love me. If you have nobody to love you, it’s hard to love yourself.

After dinner, he watches TV. He just sits there, smoking, like a zombie. I’ve never seen him smile or laugh at the TV once. Most people will talk a bit when they watch a show. They’ll say, ‘I can’t believe it!’ if their team does something wrong. Or they’ll laugh if someone makes a joke.

He watches it as if it’s a wall. He gives me the creeps.

Sometimes he talks on the phone. I can never understand the conversation. Sometimes when he’s on the phone he goes to his room and shuts the door, like he doesn’t want me to hear.

I don’t bother asking if it’s for me. It never is.


Tell us what you think: What role does Khwezi play in her uncle’s life?

38 Responses

  1. Khwezi is her uncle’s enemy.

    22 Feb 2017 at 19:33
  2. khwezi is like a servant to his uncle

    15 Feb 2017 at 12:29
  3. Wow these is truly a nice story….boys will ruin your lyf for real

    13 Feb 2017 at 18:32
  4. Khwezi is an enemy in her uncle’s life bt kwhezi must be strong and pretend like has nothing wrong between them… day god will make a way.

    Bongani mbatha
    13 Feb 2017 at 09:28
  5. She is like a wife to her uncle

    Bênçãos sazuze
    13 Feb 2017 at 07:36
  6. Khwezi for the fact u a woman n u black…be a savage lady the world is not for the faint hearted

    11 Feb 2017 at 17:05
  7. Eish Khwezi my dear be strong nhe, the stone that he hits you with, he does’nt know that hes making steps making steps for you, trust me I know. Slowly but surely you will be free.

    10 Feb 2017 at 02:53
  8. Khwezi is a slave in her uncle’s eyes because she is to do everything he says and not question it, and she is always wrong according to his uncle.

    Siphelele Zulu
    9 Feb 2017 at 22:53

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