“Whoever said keep your enemies closer never had many foes” – Michael “Mike” Mntanjana, the leader of PAC 2044 (major opposition party), contradicting the philosophy behind unity and the so-called rainbow nation in an unequal state of South Africa.
27 Summers melted, 27 Autumns shredded, 27 Winters shivered, 27 Springs blossomed. The country advanced technologically, making it a powerhouse of African Economy yet again, flocked with investors. Manufacturing its own Motor brands and accessories to feed its own herd. With the housing development from Khayelitsha to Alexandria, making shacks a thing of 2017. Schools, Clinics, Hospitals and fields, were highly improved and well diversified. Tight laws strengthened against sinners, making the country more secure. A piece of heaven compared to the Apartheid and the corrupt politicians’ eras, some may believe.
Culture and traditions however, remained a golden statue in the minds of the old. As it is well known, Xhosa people believe and value their clan system. One can marry any person including those he shares a surname with as long as they don’t share the same clan. That is considered incest, a taboo and shame. The only cure to appease the ancestors and cleanse the name of the doer is by slaughtering either a black goat or cow. With more than 30 clans and other tribes belonging to the Xhosa Kingdom, that sounds like no problem until a seduction of contrast questions your morality and ethics.
A situation Monwabisi Ntusi found himself drowning in; gasping for wind in thin air. Monwabisi was a 29 year old MBA holder, a poet, author and an entrepreneur who hailed from the neighbourhood of Khayelitsha. Monwabisi loved reading and writing about everything from politics to love short stories, having published quite a few including his gold mine “A Breathing Corpse Novel”, a book which was popularised and marketed by FunDza Site. A marvel it became, a breakthrough he believed.
That’s when he attracted a young woman, Thandi, who was also a writer on the same site. He started writing after he was involved in a gruesome car accident 4 years ago in 2040. Doctors told him that a spike cut through his vas deferens which would make him unable to reproduce. Ashamed, as he had he never told anyone regarding the treachery caused by drunk driving, he only found hope with a prayer and pen.
He lived with both of his parents as the elderly brother of his three siblings, Sabelo, Siya and Sive. Both of his parents were deeply submerged culturally, grooming and brewing them into a glowing notion they thought was God’s will. Something all four brothers knew.
Thandi was a 25-year-old Financial Consultant Intern at Old Mutual. She was the only child her parents had. They protected their flower against every wolf or jackal called men. They raised her to be a lady. Monwabisi and Thandi shared a lot in common from ideologies of thesis to the feelings they had for each other. The blind needed no eyes to see that, then again some visions need no eyes.
He asked her about her family and she only gave him her mother’s side; something most girls do before marriage. His parents gladly accepted her vaguely while her parents were a bit sceptical regarding their relationship. Much like most parents with a daughter do, they ignorantly believed that he only wanted the cookie then break her heart. He proved them wrong.
He planted a seed on fertile soil, she turned it into a flower, hoping to harvest in 9 months’ time. He couldn’t believe it at first, even though he experienced the symptoms when they were together. Something no science could explain. Instead of burning his head about it he thanked God for his untimely blessings.
He gratefully verbalised with his family, expressing his joy and pride. Even though they were happy for him, they failed to understand the spectacle he made it to be. Understandably, Thandi’s parents were not as pleased as the young couple was since Monwabisi ruined her chances of proper marriage with someone else. And thus he had to pay for the ‘damages’, something Monwabisi gladly longed for.
Thandi’s father drafted a letter to the Ntusi household regarding the meeting they needed to host. He didn’t care about knowing them as long as they paid for the damages. Monwabisi’s father gathered his brothers before date to aid on their defence. The day came. Wind breathed, sun rose, like any other day; the date was normal. Thandi’s father took out his knobkerrie and shouldered his jacket before heading to the Ntusi household with his brothers and his daughter.
They marched down the streets of Khayelitsha, displeased without reason about the Ntusi family. They couldn’t wait to show their displeasure. Finally they arrived at the colony. The journey seemed closer than it actually was for Thandi as she stopped near the gate gesturing they arrived. Her uncle opened it, inviting themselves in.
Monwabisi’s father heard the screeching sound, thus they lounged in on their seats, awaiting storm. Monwabisi sat quietly, mildly nervous as it was his first encounter regarding the matter he was told would never happen. Thandi’s uncle knocked on the door assertively, they all kept quiet. He knocked again with a bit of thud. Monwabisi’s uncle replied. They got in, all 6 of them looking at the group of men staring at them, 7 to be exact.
Monwabisi’s father offered them a seat. Seeing how his daughter blended in, Thandi’s father knew they were indeed at a right place. After sudden gazes they shared, Monwabisi believed to have found the one. The feeling was mutual for Thandi. Both families snouted love in all angles replacing oxygen, making it hard to breathe at times.
Thandi’s uncle shared their gratitude by introducing himself to the Ntusi household, something which changed the atmosphere inside the house permanently. Monwabisi’s father looked at them in disbelief while Monwabisi remained entrapped on a void of unconsciousness. A realm nobody wants to lose himself in. Monwabisi’s uncle interrupted him before he concluded so he can‘re-hear’ what he just said.
Thandi’s uncle praised her clan again before he continued to introduce himself to them. Monwabisi’s uncles shook their heads, mumbling and growling while his father gave him a blank stare. Having no words to utter as Thandi’s family was Monwabisi’s traditional family because of common clans they both shared. Monwabisi knew not, Thandi was also clueless as she never asked him about his clan. Thandi’s family remained confused regarding the sudden change in expressions, mood and postures before they even began talking about the order of the day.
Monwabisi’s father stood up and left the room while his uncles tried to explain the situation by using euphemisms, which flamed the situation further as harsh words were thrown at Monwabisi, belittling his manhood for the incest he caused. They barged out, insulting the Ntusi household as a whole. Thandi lost touch with reality as she was in the middle of it all. Monwabisi’s heart sunk, his body felt numb. He couldn’t believe he actually impregnated his traditional cousin with a baby he was told he’d never have.
Confused and upset with himself, one of his uncles, Uncle Steve, told him not worry since it can be fixed by slaughtering either a black goat or cow. He knew it could be fixed but he doubted he loved her anymore. Meanwhile Thandi recovered from the shock quicker than the men and realised it was just a law on morality, nothing much. She thought there was nothing that can stop their love. Even after her father shouted at her, calling her names by expressing how filthy she dusted their family’s name, she didn’t care as her love for him never changed.
Three days passed without communication, something which never happened before.
She tried to video phone him but he kept on rejecting her calls. It was too soon, he felt, while she felt like she carried a burden. Her parents were ashamed of her, Monwabisi wanted nothing to do with her and their child. Another single parent looming. Her life turned upside down.
Monwabisi’s father told him to make her abort for now, since he was still fresh, he would meet someone else to start a family with. The only child he almost never had. He failed to agree with him, putting on a brave offer to the Gods, to curse himself instead of his offspring. He vowed to leave everyone and everything for his child, a crack his family knew would break the family apart. His mother tried to reason with his stubborn father while Monwabisi headed to Thandi for their love escape.
A journey short lived, only to find a tent covering her yard. His adrenaline oozed heavily as he felt something was wrong. Thandi aborted her life by overdosing on her mother’s sleeping pills. It was too much stress for the emotionally frail body to handle. Monwabisi blamed himself entirely for ignoring her. He broke down, watching her soul breastfeeding their son in another dimension. He felt like a murderer. He felt like a failure. His life ended while his body was fully functioning.
Thandi’s family blamed him for the incident, barring him from them. He left yard defeated, nothing mattered to him anymore. Thus he locked himself in his house in the back yard for days without talking or eating. His father felt his pain and tried to reach out but he was too far to be found. Not only did he lose his grand child, he lost his anchor as well. His mother and brother also tried to share his agony as they saw his soul pass away.
Knowing they couldn’t do anything for him, they only hoped and prayed he found peace again. As he then started to read and write again, using the FunDza site as his friend. The only way he could talk to his girlfriend and son. By taking one step at a time, FunDza writers found him counselling as he was still part of the family.