“Here, push this baggage trolley. I want to see if you’re sober enough to drive us home”

“Are you serious right now?”

“Yes,” Vathiswa replied, handing the trolley to her brother “I’m too tired to drive. No, I’m lying. I’m just lazy, I don’t trust the old man because of his age, so you have to do it and since you’ll have my life in your hands I want to rest assured you’re not going to kill me. So, push the trolley and convince me you’re not going to kill me,” she said slapping her brother across his back.

Mdu growled as he led the way towards the parkade where he parked the car, his family following him close behind like giant toddlers as they barely made it into a cramped elevator.

“You know what would suck right now?” Vathiswa asked, ignoring the unspoken rule of keeping to yourself while the lift did its thing. “I’m talking to you,” she continued, nudging Mdu in the ribs.

“What?”

“If someone farted right now. Those silent deadly ones too.”

As she said this it caused a kid in the corner who was trying to mind his business to giggle.

“See, she gets it,”

While his kids were busy making a noise in the cramped metal box, all their father could do was remain quiet and keep a low profile, the last thing he needed was the embarrassment of being associated with such a rowdy bunch. But his attention was fixated on other things than his noisy kids such as ignoring his past.

He recognised someone who he hadn’t seen in a long time, long before Mdudzi was even a thought, even though he had recognised him, he hoped the feeling wasn’t mutual. Despite trying to avoid him they were stuck side by side as they descended at what felt like to hell.

“Dad, let’s go,” Vathiswa said as she waited for him outside the lift. “Haibo dad, you two looked rather cosy. I know we were cramped in that lift but we weren’t that cramped.”

“Vathiswa my child, I’ve never laid a hand on you but trust me when I say, it’s not too late to start”

“Iyoh, okay, sorry,” she answered with her head hung low and voice missing its swank. “So …” turning her attention to Mduduzi, “What are you taking us home in? Is it the Range Rover, the Porsche, ooh please tell me you guys ended up buying that Rolls Royce SUV, it’ll look amazing on my Instagram?”

“The Audi,”

“What is that thing? It doesn’t know whether it’s an A3 or A7?”

“It’s an RS6”

“I don’t care, it’s ugly” Vathiswa sighed.

The ride home was the opposite of being at the airport, with much of the trip taken up by the sound of the radio, and the occasional smoker’s cough from Mduduzi Senior. Mdu deserted his family in his house like a call from a telemarketer before going to fetch the real kids. Although he was early, he was prepared to wait, anything to get a breath of fresh air and besides, it’s not like he had anywhere else to be.

After all, he was a househusband, a term used to identify dads who stayed at home while moms went to work, but it was somehow used to belittle them. Sure, he got some insults hurtled his way, such was the case when you subvert gender stereotypes but what most homes lacked is that he made millions of dollars from writing children’s books, and that’s dollars with a D, not Rands. The only reason his wife still chose to work was because she couldn’t stand doing nothing and looking like an idiot with nothing but shopping bags, that didn’t intrigue her.

***

Tell us: Who do you think is the person that Mdu’s father was trying to avoid in the elevator and why?