The illness came from nowhere like a ghost traveling without knowing the end of the journey. When Maki realised this, she went to seek help from traditional healers. The bones were thrown, but the only message the bones revealed was that the disease had been inside her body for decades. Some healers believed that it was congenital. There was just no medicine to get rid of that disease easily. Maki was indefatigable though, she went to public and private hospital to seek help and the only answer she got was that she had high blood.

She was impervious to the doctor’s words when they told her that she had high blood. She couldn’t fathom why traditional healers couldn’t identity her disease but doctors did. She obstinately adhered to the fact that her disease was a congenital kind of disease because she strongly believed in tradition more than anything.

Neither the traditional healers nor the doctors were wrong, because indeed Maki’s disease was that of birth. With a little bit of high blood pressure in the process to make her even more weaker, including the toll of age on the on the other side.

She arrived home melodramatic about the news she received from the doctors. She started garnering wood from the nearby bush to make fire so that she could cook.

The doctor had told her to take two pills in the evening after having supper. The pills were black, orange, yellow, green, and purple like a whole bunch of kid’s candies.

She knew very well that she had to take those pills each and every day because it was part of her treatment to cure this high blood disease – which she never believed it would ever be cured… The better part was that she was earning barely enough to keep body and soul together. She was earning a social grant and the money took care of her four unemployed children and two grandchildren. In total she had six children and after their father’s departure a year ago, life had been the hardest for her. Her other two children were at least employed at various places in Gauteng province.

Her first born, Nnuku, was a domestic worker and her money also helped to purchase basics at home.

Maki’s second born, Makonyane, worked in the mines. He was the only one who was earning enough money but he was just a useless alcoholic. Every time Maki saw him entering the gate, intoxicated, she would say to him fatuously: “Fetela kamoreng wena Pele ore tena.” Those were her words and poor Makonyane would reluctantly head to the bedroom and sleep, regardless of what time it would have been. Makonyane always caused Maki to have neuralgia because he was always drunk, and the worst part was that his money never purchased anything in the household.

That was the main reason why Maki sometimes hated her own son. Sometimes, Maki believed that her own son was responsible for her incurable and devastating disease. Makonyane would have a lull and wake up to demand food which he never bought.

Most of the time he would find pots filled with water. This was Maki’s plan to get back at her son for not buying anything whilst he knew that they were struggling. The plan worked like a charm and before anyone knew it, Makonyane was then always buying bread in the morning before he went to work and return to purchase what was needed to balance the stomach round about supper.

Maki felt very indolent to congratulate her son. Somehow she believed it was just a temporary thing, you know, just to get himself out of everyone’s lips.

One evening when the whole family was eating supper, Maki broke the silence and told her two grandchildren to go to their rooms. She was fervent when she told Makonyane that what he was doing was helping the family a lot.

Makonyane smiled and said, “Kea Kebona Mme.”

However, on the other side Nnuku became hostile, but not in a physical way, rather emotionally. She later confronted Maki as to why Makonyane should get all the credit for good things whereas she had been putting food on the table for a long epoch but never got a single compliment.

Maki started to see that Nnuku was threatened by Makonyane. Simply she said to her, “Nnuku ngwanaka, kele rata kaofela. Ke lebohisa le makonyane ha tlohetse jwala, hase taba entle so?”

Nnuku was now sterile to attack her mother. However the thought of being threatened by her brother still lingered in her mind.

Mali’s household began to have that special kind of peace, with Makonyane contributing to some of the household basics. Makonyane would go to the cinema almost every weekend, just to spend some quality time, and to relax since he had quit alcohol. He would return home late in the evening carrying one of those KFC’s family feasts. Sometimes it would be 3 boxes of large pizzas.

Nnuku started to think, harder than she had ever done, on how to compete with her brother just to be in her mother’s good books as well. It was like the survival of the fittest, but again it was hard for Nnuku to compete with her brother; Makonyane earned three times Nnuku’s salary.

After a number of days that turned into weeks and into months, she realised that it was very complex to even try to compete with her brother. She decided to give up what she had planned for a long time, which was competition.

It was purely jealousy she felt towards her brother, although she tried to keep it on the down low. Maki started to see through her daughter’s emotions that she was jealous of Makonyane. That didn’t treat Maki so well to see her own children disintegrating before her eyes, and it also affected her health.

One particular weekend Makonyane was invited to a bachelor’s party by a colleague. They were still getting to know each other as his colleague was still new there. Makonyane planned to go, as he would be going to a bachelor’s part for the first time after a long time. When he arrived his colleague welcomed him in. The place was milling with women and men of his exact age, and alcohol was abundant, it was there in the open for everyone to see.

It was evident to him that it was not going to be hard to lay ones hand on it. And the women were many too. One of them came to him and introduced herself. He froze same time as he was not a women’s person, yet he became a man. What kind of a man would he be to freeze from a sight of a woman? He also introduced himself.

When the party started he realised it was a party about nothing. No one was celebrating anything. It was just a bachelor’s party about alcohol drinking with women invited just to joll around. Makonyane obviously got tempted and grabbed himself a beer, his old-time favourite: Black Label. He finished the first one and grabbed another one, forgetting that he was sober and clean for almost a month. During his second beer he got up from where he was sitting and started to dance with some of the women who couldn’t get their eyes off him while he was still sitting down.

The women were alluring and beautiful; dressed to kill, some even wore miniskirts, flashing their thighs like prostitutes.

Makonyane knew prostitutes very well. In the mines where he was working, him and some of his colleagues use to occasionally go to the nearest brothel just two kilometres from their workplace. So by seeing women with miniskirts, he assumed that the very same women could be invited by his colleague from the brothel, just to lighten up the party. Unwillingly he touched one woman on her thigh without mentioning a single word. The woman turned and slapped him on the face. But because the music was playing so loud, nobody except the other women who were close by heard the slap.

Makonyane got angry, he looked around to see if anyone saw what just happened. But everybody, including his colleague who invited him, were busy dancing to the loud music that was playing.

“Why would you touch me as if I’m your girlfriend?” The woman who slapped him asked angrily. Her voice was so loud that it grabbed other people’s attention.

Makonyane didn’t answer, instead he heard the volume of the music lowering down and suddenly all eyes were on him. He became pallid. Behind him was a daub hanging on the wall, he grabbed it and hit the woman on the head without any admonitory.

The woman fell down, blood coming from her nose.

Trepidation hit him. He quickly grabbed his jacket and ran out of the house as if mob justice was chasing him.

He arrived home in a flash, opened the door and went straight to bed. Maki was still awake together with Nnuku. They were waiting for him to arrive home so that they could lock the door and sleep peacefully, knowing that everyone is in the house. After a couple of minutes they slept, oblivious of Makonyane’s trepidation.

Makonyane didn’t sleep that night, regretting what he had done. Many thoughts crossing his mind: What if I go to jail for assaulting that woman? What was I thinking? What if she’s dead? These were the three questions he was asking himself the night, but he couldn’t find the answer.

At the break of dawn he woke up, went outside and made a small fire. He was going to warm up yesterday’s dinner which he found on the kitchen table wrapped neatly with a cloth by his mother Maki.

He was shocked by the lights of a car stopping at his gate and before he knew it, he was greeted by two policemen wearing uniform. The thought of running away did occur to him, but it was too late to do that…

The policemen were accompanied by Makonyane’s colleague, the same colleague that invited him to that disastrous party. It was quite clear that he was the one who had showed those policemen Makonyane’s homestead.

“Are you Makonyane Motloung sir?” One of the policemen asked.

“Yes sir, I am Makonyane Motloung,” Makonyane replied with a low voice. By the time he answered, Maki was opening the kitchen door to inspect whose car it was in her yard.

“Well,” the policemen continued, “you are under arrest sir for the murder of Sophy Mofokeng whom you killed last night at a party when you were drunk.”

Maki couldn’t believe her ears. What she was hearing about her son being at a party filled her heart with pain, not to mention that her son had killed someone.

She pinched herself, hoping that maybe she was dreaming. But unfortunately she wasn’t dreaming… It was true. Her son had killed a lady. It was purely culpable homicide. But in the eyes of the law, a murder is a murder.

The two policemen took Makonyane and threw him behind the back of the van. It was on a Sunday morning and the following day Makonyane went to court where he was sentenced to 18 years in prison without parole.

The verdict didn’t sit well with Maki of course. She never got to hear her son’s side of the story and what worried her worse than anything, was that the bread-winner went to jail. So it was like they, as a family went from 100 to 0 in a blink of an eye.

The sentence of Makonyane troubled Maki very much, it was all she would think about, day and night. And this over thinking led her to a heart attack that ended her life.


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