Like a lightning bolt, they all rushed out of the car and there was no need for us to tell each other what to do. Like bullets we flew. Unfortunately, something bad happened and she tripped and she was lying there helpless. I paused, confused, not knowing whether to go back and rescue her or to continue running for my life.
“Lucia!” I shouted. “Get up!” My shaky voice disappeared into the dark night when the three tough men dragged her to their car.
“Run! Run!” Lucia moaned, crying.
I did not run. I stood there watching as they beat her, as they tore her clothes. My heart was shattered and torn. My face covered with tears and pain; half of me wanted to go and let them hurt me too. I watched as they took turns on top of her, hurting her and calling her all sorts of names. What surprised me was that they did not care about me; all they wanted was her, Lucia, to rape her. I prayed to the Almighty to protect her, to save her life, but my short prayer was in vain. A tall muscled guy carrying a gun grabbed Lucia by her hair and I started to realize that this was real. In panic, I ran.
While running, someone came out of the blue and held my hand tight. To my surprise, I did not scream. I was numb and accepted that tonight was the night to meet my ancestors. I felt no pain anymore; I did not care. All I asked was for God to take care of my granny.
“Ayanda!” the man whispered my name. “I told you it was not safe out there. Why did you not listen to me ha?” I looked up and it was him. It was Thomas and he was both furious and scared.
“Thomas! What are you doing here?”
“Let’s get out of here before they hurt you. Those men are dangerous!”
“What about my friend? Let’s save her!”
“I’m sorry! It’s too late now. There is nothing we can do for her besides calling the police.” He carried me to his warm car, and we heard two loud gun shots. He quickly got into the car and we drove away.
I was in a deep sleep when Thomas woke me. “Good morning angel!” He stood before me with a cup of a tea.
“Please take me home. I need to see Gogo, she must be so worried,” I said getting up.
“Yeah, you’re right. The death of Lucia is all over the news. I wonder how her parents are feeling?”
“Yesterday was a pure nightmare. The worst part was it was my first time going out. What if it was me who got killed?” I sighed deeply. “Let me take a shower first.”
On our way to my village, we passed the tavern and those three bastards were sitting outside drinking. I shook my head: “It’s them. Those are the guys who killed my friend.”
Thomas looked at me and said: “They are dangerous; we can’t report them. When the police ask you questions, don’t even mention that you saw their faces.”
I did not care about police asking me questions. I wanted to go home and sleep to erase this nightmare. In my village, we passed Lucia’s home and I could not help it as the tears ran down my cheeks like the flow of a river. Her little siblings were playing outside and I was confident they had not been told yet about the death of their older sister. Some relatives were already there wearing long skirts and covered heads. It was heart-breaking. My friend was gone.
He pulled off and parked the car outside my home. Gogo came rushing to the car, I ran to her and we hugged tightly. “Do you want to give me heart attack? Are you okay, Nunu?” she asked.
“I’m fine, Gogo. Just tired…”
“They did not hurt you? Please tell me they did not?”
“They didn’t. This is the man who saved my life,” I said, pointing to Thomas.
“Thank you so much, Son. May the Lord bless you and continue saving others.”
“Gogo, I’m so sorry for sneaking out of the house last night. It will never happen again and I have learnt my lesson. From now on, I will focus on my books.”
“It’s okay, my child. The police want to see you and your mom is here!”
“Really? Mom is here?” I asked, shocked.
“Come inside…” she said smiling.
Inside I was welcomed by the police, my mom and Lucia’s uncle and my heart started beating faster. Mom hugged me and she introduced me to her two other children. I was so pleased to meet them and I was no longer angry at my mom for leaving me for ten years with granny and never looking back. I forgave her. Who am I to judge her or even Lucia for having three boyfriends?
They all disappeared into the kitchen, leaving me with the police. “So, tell us what happened last night?” the one policeman asked, taking out a pen and a book.
I told them the truth about how I sneaked out of the house, how beautiful Lucia and Zack looked, how Zack drove along the dusty road and how excited we were about going to the township’s tavern. How Lucia played those tough men for money to buy booze… I told them how we ran for our lives in the middle of the night in the veld and how Lucia tripped and that they took off her clothes to rape and kill her.
I told them how Thomas saved my life, but I never mentioned that I saw their faces. I knew them from their big muscled and tattooed bodies, their angry voices and the car they drove, but I never mentioned that for my own safety. I wished my friend had been more careful, but it’s all in the past now. May her soul rest in peace. I will always love her.
“Take care!” said Thomas. “I never want to see you near a club or tavern again, okay angel?”
“I promise. I will take care,” I said smiling.
“I will make sure of that. You will see me more often. I’m coming to check up on you,” he smiled. He kissed me on the cheek and he was gone, leaving me fluttered and breathless. There was no denying it; he loved me and I had loved him from the very moment we talked at the tavern.
Gogo’s voice brought me back to earth and back to reality “We have to go to Lucia’s place to give our condolences, come on…!” Lucia was gone for good.
Tell us: Do you think it’s right that these men get away with murder just because everyone is scared of them?