“Njabulo!!!” Mom’s voice screeched through my eardrums.

The knowledge of what was to follow punched my heart with a wet fist. I puked a little of the previous night’s rice and chicken into my mouth and quickly swallowed it.

“I can’t live like this,” I thought.

My door swung open, the lady of the house walked in and stood over me. I opened my eyes, still half-asleep, and it didn’t feel like I was in bed, it felt like I was on the floor, fallen.

I had such good grades in matric, why didn’t I go to university or look for a job, I wondered.

“Why are you still asleep? It’s 10am you useless bastard! Get up and clean the yard or something, what type of a man are you?” Mom said.

I just stared at her, no response and no motion, and she stared back at me too for about half a minute. Then her face wrinkled up like she’d suddenly tasted a good lemon. She clutched her fists tight in front of her.

At first I thought she was about to pound me with her fists like a rock and roll drummer doing his solo. Then I realized she was trying to hold herself from going crazy and pounding me with her fists like a rock and roll drummer doing his solo.

I had been writing all night and had slept at 5am. The story I was writing was about a Christian lady who always got into fights with strangers because she couldn’t tolerate sin. Every time she saw unmarried people kissing or anyone drinking in public, she would forcefully separate them or take away their alcohol.

Thinking back, the Christian lady character was subconsciously based on Mom and I enjoyed writing that story because people would beat her up sometimes. Useless bastard I was.

“Oh my God! Oh Jesus! Oh nkosi yami!” Mom rushed out of the room with her hands on top of her head.

This was because I had peeled away the blankets to reveal my naked 23-year-old, useless bastard body and she had seen my morning glory and everything. I did that so she could leave the room immediately. Asking her to leave would’ve taken us to the conversation of whose house it was, and I didn’t have the appetite for that again.

“No one my age lives like this, it’s not right, and I’m really being unfair to mom, she doesn’t deserve this,” I thought.

With tears blurring my vision and a headache that felt like a heavy bar of metal inside my forehead, I went and closed the door. As I put my clothes on, I could hear Mom praying in her bedroom. “Father, what did I do so wrong? You know I gave up my life to raise these kids alone… you know the struggles I faced with their father… I’ve stayed in a job I hate my whole life to give them a better chance…”

More tears poured down my eyes and I felt dizzy. And on my way out of the house, I entered her room and said “I’m sorry Ma, it’s all going to end now, it’s all gonna be okay now, I’m sorry.” But she probably didn’t hear me through her prayer.

Before I stepped out of the house, I wiped my face dry and lifted the edges of my mouth into what I believed looked like a smile. The township street I walked out into was always crowded and some of those people knew me. I greeted and faked smiles until I made it to the highway. Finally, it was just me, the open road and the speeding cars.

I had no idea where I was going. But I knew for sure that I didn’t want to go to university, and I knew for sure that I didn’t want to go get a job. The only thing I wanted to do was to sit down and write. But writing wasn’t paying me, it wasn’t lifting the heavy burden on Mom’s shoulder of raising four kids on her own. But writing was all I wanted.

I walked, and I walked, and…

“This truck will do the job,” I thought.

I waited until the truck was close enough, and then I jumped in front of it. My body squashed against the metal and my skull crashed through the windscreen before everything went dark.

As I stood on the side of the highway with my eyes closed imagining the blackness of death and the dullness of not existing anymore, the storyteller in me said, “And that was the end of the useless bastard’s story.”

I opened my eyes, took a deep breath, looked at the road to nowhere, the road to death, and then I looked at the road back home, the road back to life. I maybe was a useless bastard but I had a good sense of story, and I knew that moment would make a great beginning.