Sbu stood there. Waiting, wondering what would happen next. Who was to say what was real and what was feigned? Was it him that did it? Seeing the weapon in Maya’s hand let the reality ooze all over his withering mind. No. He didn’t do it. She did. He was petrified as his eyes darted from Maya to the gruesome corpse that lay on the floor. He watched her wipe the weapon and move towards him. Her face shed remorseful tears for she had not only killed a man- she had killed a brother. Her own. She put the weapon in his hand as the sirens got nearer.

He thought about how this started. She was a rich socialite, and he was the garden boy that worked for her. Maya’s brother came in, and he was furious. Sbu didn’t know why. The siblings fought, and she poked her brother. Yes, it was self-defence, but it would be easier to blame the garden boy. “You have to say you d-did it,” she cried. Sbu couldn’t even protest because his voice was enslaved by his pharynx. He was misled to take the blame for this malicious melancholy of misfortune.

When the police came, her words consummated his worst fears. The only certainty he held was his insecurity. She betrayed him. She didn’t say it was self-defence, she said premeditated murder. She said the garden boy killed her brother, and she had witnessed the whole thing. They didn’t even ask why or what the motive was. They just accepted it. Is this what he was born for? They didn’t rough handle him, no. They saved the torture for closed doors. Handcuffed to his doom, the police took Sbu away. He pleaded his innocence. No one indulged in his mercy cries.

He spent the first 24 hours being water boarded for the sole purpose of torment. The next 24 was spent getting thrashed. He begged for a lawyer but none was given to him. They spat on him and called him a kaffir. One policeman in particular took a whip and bashed him until he bled. He thought about all the times the blistering sun hit his bare skin as he pulled out the weeds. The pain he felt now wasn’t even close to that. This was so intense that he feared he may die from the injuries. But he didn’t. They made sure that he lived to suffer even more.

They made him share a cell with a tattooed man who said he was going to kill him when he falls asleep. ‘Maybe it would be better if he did,’ Sbu thought silently. He was the guards’ new punching bag. He was subjected to life in prison and never got a fair trial. Covered in scars, burns, and wounds, he was now unrecognisable. Maya never visited him. He was nothing but her expedient scapegoat.