I believe I may partly be responsible for giving my mother her first grey hairs. Like any other child I was mischievous and thought I was clever, but it caught up with me.
My brother and I were sitting at the kitchen table around dinner time, waiting for my mother to dish up for us.
“Where is that movie my colleague lent me? She wants it back tomorrow,” my mother asked.
“I don’t know,” I answered rather too quickly, and so did my brother.
My mother put the pot she had been cooking in down on the kitchen table. I could smell the aroma emanating from the pot, it was delicious. She had made a hearty chicken stew that could cure and heartache anywhere in the world. As we waited for our plates to be filled with what we knew as love, she paused and put her hands on her hips.
“I can’t believe you two just said you know nothing! I am not playing. Find that DVD! I need it by the time I leave for work tomorrow.”
My brother stood up and went to the living room to search for the DVD, but of course he couldn’t find it. I knew the truth. I had lent it to my friend a day earlier. I was afraid to come clean in that moment. I sat there trying to evade the daggers my mother was shooting at me through her stares. It felt as though the pot of chicken stew was a ticking time bomb and the woman who prepared it, the detonator!
I thought I’d get the DVD after school the next day before mom could get even angrier. My mother had been rolling out questions like a machine gun, to which I replied ‘yes’ of ‘no’ trying to cover my tracks.
“Are you sure you don’t know where it is?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Weren’t you the last to watch it?”
“No!” The grave I was digging was halfway done and I kept on shoveling.
My mother sent us to call our older brother on one of those old pay phones to ask if he knew anything about the missing DVD. She gave my brother two rands and a number on a piece of paper. When we got to the phone my brother dialed the number.
I was too short to listen in on the conversation while my brothers spoke. Surprise, surprise when my brother asked if our older brother knew where it was he didn’t. The money ran out for the payphone.
“He also does not know where it is?” I asked trying to look innocent.
When I got home Mom was waiting.
I wanted to say, “Hey mom, I know where it is! ” but I couldn’t. I was in too deep. I had to go through the motions of trying to find it and keep up the lie until the following day. My mom was sitting on a kitchen chair as she continued her interrogation. She already knew the answers to her questions but she still asked.
“So he said he doesn’t know where it is?” she asked us and we shook our heads.
“Okay, so that means it’s between the two of you. One of you knows where it is, and they better find it by tomorrow.”
This threat gave me hope, although I knew what was at stake, it gave me an opportunity to right everything!
School went too slowly the next day. I knew that what I did warranted a whipping but I didn’t need that in my life. The stakes were high. I could almost feel the belt smacking my behind.
I went straight to my friend’s house after school, but to my horror she said she had lent her uncle the DVD and he was not around. In that moment I felt the world turn. Yes, my mother was going to kill me. I knew this for a fact.
When I walked through the front door my mother was livid.
“Mom, I’m sorr…” my mom cut me off.
“Can you believe how stupid your brother is? He gave that DVD to his friend,” she told me.
“Wait, what?” I said sitting down on the sofa with my back pack still on.
“Yes, he said he took it to his friend’s house and they were smoking dagga over there. But now the friend doesn’t have it.”
“Well you better bring it back,” was all my mom said. His confession didn’t spare him a whipping though.
So my brother had taken the fall, he even confessed to smoking drugs. Why? I guess the Lord was looking out for me. And so my mother gave my brother the most notorious whipping of his life, for losing the DVD and smoking. I felt so bad but it was his own doing. I still needed to get back the DVD and make up a story that would sound legit of how it had miraculously returned.
My brother had not had his wits about him, clearly. After he took the whipping he went to sit outside on the lawn. I joined him shortly after just to comfort him and get more Intel on why he said he knew where the DVD was.
“Does it hurt?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said without looking at me. I put my hand on his back to show sympathy also to coax him into talking.
“So, mom says you need to get the DVD back…” I asked. I knew there would be more trouble if he didn’t.
“The thing is I don’t remember that night clearly. My friend doesn’t have the DVD but he can’t remember anything. I just couldn’t handle mom’s constant questioning. I was feeling guilty about the smoking, I suspected she knew already and I just cracked…”
My brother had bad friends who had pressured him into smoking. He was often dazed and confused after they had been hanging out and I could see how the strain had got to him and made him confess. But I still needed to fix things before they got worse for him.
The next day my friend’s uncle had given her the movie back. I was elated, this nightmare I had created was about to end.
I got back home. I did not notice how clean the house was and rushed into my mom’s room with the DVD in hand.
“Mom, look what I found,” I said.
She did not look relieved at all. “Where?” she asked
“At the back of the room divider, it was there all along.” When I told her that my brother had been confused and hadn’t taken the DVD after all she gave a threatening chuckle.
“I cleaned behind the room divider today, there was no DVD. Where was it really?”
It’s one thing when your mother is shouting and another when she is calm. I knew at that point that I was about to get the whipping of my life, the kind that would set me on the straight and narrow forever. She slowly stood up from her bed. It felt as though everything was in slow motion. She fetched her belt from the wardrobe. I still had my backpack on and was standing in the middle of her bedroom. She took my hand ever so gently and I saw the belt lift as high as her arm allowed. I let out a scream before the belt hit me and at that point confessed to everything, with my eyes wide shut and clenching my butt.
I still got whipped for lying and getting my brother in trouble, being clever did not save me at all.