Her father was sitting on her only chair that was just under the small table that she used for her schoolwork. He had dragged it to the middle of the room and sat there. He had his cap placed on the floor on his right side together with his walking stick that he had always took when he was on a long journey from home.
As Thandi entered, he raised his head and looked her straight in the eyes. Thandi didn’t close the door, just in case. She stood near the door and put her bag on the floor.
“Hello Papa,” with her eyes on the ground, she forced the words out of her mouth. Only it sounded like cracking glass.
Her father did not answer. He kept looking at her without any movement. Thandi looked up to him and saw something very different from what she was expecting. Tears were flowing down his face. Thandi couldn’t understand what was happening and her conscience couldn’t allow her to take a step to her father. But the tears started coming down her eyes.
“Papa!” She said through a cracked voice.
At that moment a knock came at the door and immediately the door opened. It was Richard and he ran straight onto Thandi.
“Are you alright?” Richard asked as he was already touching her and checking if she had anything on her.
Thandi nodded her head but Richard was already off her and he went to Thandi’s Father, who was suddenly sobbing inconsolably on his knees. Thandi watched as Richard comforted her father. It was a terrific sight for Thandi. Her father, who was always mighty, was suddenly crying like a woman who witnessed the death of her child. It was wrong.
Suddenly it didn’t matter how much he mistreated her but it was wrong for her to see her father cry. He opened the door and stepped outside. She sat down on the stoep and started to freely whimper.
It took Thandi only ten minutes to clearly calm herself down and her father the whole thirty minutes before he could finally step out of the house. Thandi rose up when the door opened but her father blindly passed her. She watched him go straight in the car and started the engine.
All this he did without even setting one eye on her.
He drove out of the yard and Thandi watched the car until it joined the massive Friday afternoon traffic and vanished in the long line. Thandi felt empty. She just didn’t feel any emotions in her, just her eyes staring after the long gone car.
Neither did she hear Steve calling on her, nor the sound of the bird singing just above her on the roof. She tried to make sense of what just happened but nothing could come. Then she felt a hand on her shoulder and she turned to find Richard standing behind her. She had completely forgotten about him.
She opened her mouth but then Richard put his index finger on her and hugged her.
She let herself into Richard’s arms and decided to stop worrying about what would be said. Her father had finally made peace with her, though he couldn’t admit to himself in front of her. He was too proud to ask for her forgiveness. Well, a man is not a man without his ego, she thought.
At least she was free.
If she was free from her father, she sure could face anything else, even her mother and the villagers. She didn’t know what has been said about her and Richard and she didn’t need to know, as long as it ended with them together, it was all good. Finally she could live forever in their fantasy world, and she knew that her father approved.
Tell us: How does it make you feel when you see a man cry?