A thud on the door opened it and in came the rain and a trail of charcoal smoke. He asked to come in until the storm had passed. I removed his muddy shoes and hung up his wet jacked on a nail behind the door. I warned him about the storm inside me over a hot bowl of beans. He was lucky; I had just done heating some pork ribs too. The food was great and everything seemed quiet for a while except the now steady drumming of rain on the corrugated iron roof. The absence of the ceiling made it sound worse than it actually was.
The room was dark and cold with one candle in a cup to light up the four meters of space. Load shedding usually took three hours at most and I was hoping there would be light soon, so I could see this stranger’s eyes without the shadows that made them look like empty hollows.
With one lie, a day the storm inside me began to stir. He had never said anything significant. He was an orphan. I knew nothing about him. No mother, no father only a sister and his name. I was so lost in his lies that when one day he decided to narrate a baby he had with another girl six months before I believed him. His face had no usual smirk; his eyes looked straight into mine without the usual shifting. I had to believe him. I was hungry for the truth.
The truth was bitter to swallow. I swallowed anyway. Usually a glass of water calmed the storm but this time the bitterness had clogged my throat. Instead, I emptied the glass upon his head. His fingers curled into fists but he had once told me he would never hit a woman. I wished he had because physical pain usually healed but what he was doing was damaging me. I could not tear it out of my skin. The storm started at 23:09 and ended at 04:30.
Glass after glass his body was drenched, the pyjamas and the bed too. I felt okay in that pool. My whole body was boiling, the cold water on the bed helped to calm the volcano inside me. The lies, the bed was uncomfortable. No matter how many times he tried to convince me to let go of the lies, the storm had turned into a hurricane and it only wanted to stab the life out of him. We were afraid. Both our eyes stared at the old wooden kitchen knife in my hand and the cat which lay motionlessly on top of the wardrobe. It stared back at us, its eyes like little stars in the night and a little hum of purr was constantly shaking its fur.
“Mumu, you know I have no eyes for anyone but you, so if you ever find them looking at any one else, take them out with a fork and feed them to the cat,” he had said once, trying to convince me that he hadn’t winked at the sales lady at the till at Pick ’n Pay.
I usually let those slide. I don’t know if it was because of his dark deep-set eyes that sent me reeling with sympathy whenever he looked at me. Or was it his nearly trembling soft voice that made me believe he could be sincere. Or could it have been the constant reminders that nobody would love me like he did with my cat-scratched body and the breasts like fallen soldiers?
“Mama wengani zam, please!” he begged as I brought the knife down, missed his shoulder by an inch and pieced his blue checked pyjama-top to the bed.
“We have a special thing going. Please, don’t rob Tino of a father,” he continued with that soft trembling voice that deceived and passively insulted me for the past six years and three weeks that I had given myself to him.
“One thing I can assure you is that you are very special and so are the boys that came before you,” I said removing the knife out of his shirt.
A few rays of light were shooting through the window drapes when I laid on my back on the wet bed and closed my eyes for the night. Thabiso was relieved to get out and prepare for work like he usually did at 4:30.
“And so are those that will come after you,” I thought as I dozed off.
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