I’m sitting here with my brother’s blood on my hands, feeling guilty. I disrespected my brother’s marriage and that led to his death. I can’t breathe just thinking about this. How could I have done such a thing?
I lift my head, Nomtha is crying. I can’t hold my tears back either, I start to regret not telling everyone about our relationship. Would it have been better if they knew that Nomtha and I were together and the merger was done by Nomtha marrying me? But then I wasn’t my father’s Golden Boy, I wasn’t CEO of Maduna Mining Inc.
Nomtha’s sobbing voice brings me back to this moment. “What are we going to do?” she asks.
I try to be strong and wipe my tears. Nomtha puts her hand on my back trying to comfort me as I make the call I have to make.
“Sana lwam,” my mom answers with a lively voice. I can hear my father laughing in the background, they have no idea what they are about to hear. I can’t help but think about how this would hurt my father. “Luu say something” my mom says and I snap out of it.
“Mama!” my voice cracks. I just didn’t want to be the one who told her this.
“Luphelo what’s going on?” she says now with worry.
I can’t help myself. I cry. Nomtha takes the phone from my hand, “Mma there’s an emergency please come to my house,” she says to my mom and puts the phone down.
It isn’t long until they show up. “Luphelo! Nomtha!” my mom calls out for us in a frenzy of worry and fear. We are sitting there next to Sicelo’s body. We even forget to call the police. We are still half-naked. My mother looks at us with disappointment.
“Luphelo what have you done?” she asks already crying. I can’t answer, I start crying all over again. My father looks at me as if he wants to kill me and has to restrain himself.
“Have you called an ambulance?” he asks his voice breaking, trying to hide every ounce of emotion.
“It was too late, I thought of calling mom first, ” I answer wiping my tears and hiding my emotion.
“I’ll call the police and the ambulance.” mom says, breaking the moment between my father and I. She makes the call and there is an awkward silence, until my father starts shouting.
“For crying out loud put some clothes on, or do you want the whole world to know you were sleeping with your brother’s wife! You want the media to have a field day with this? This will taint our family image.”
“That’s all that matters to you!” I snap and shout back. “All that matters to you is the family image, what the press thinks, what will the board think. Your son is dead and all you can think about is the media?”
“Hayi Luphelo,” mom says, again the mediator. I can see my father wants to have the last word or strangle me.
The police arrive. Nomtha tells the story. It is the first time my parents hear it too.
The police ask questions, Nomtha and I answer honestly.
“Were you two having an affair?” Nomtha looks at me and I see she is reluctant answering the question.
“We were,” I answer.
My dad gets up and walks out of the room.
Sicelo’s death is ruled an accident.
The press have a field day with the story. I am painted the bad brother and at some point I convince myself that I am too. Nomtha is slut-shamed in the media and on social media.
A week later at the funeral I’m standing next to my mother. My father is standing over the grave crying, he can’t even look at me. I think he hates me, he hasn’t said a word to me since that night.
“Luu sana lwam, I’ve already lost one son may I please not lose another one,” my mother says squeezing my hand tightly.
I shed tears for the first time since that night. She embraces me, and says “Never not tell me anything.”
I think she knows. I look back and see Nomtha, she looks up in tears. My mother walks over to embrace her, she lets it all out – she cries. She cries tears she has been holding back for years. I think to myself, Is this the price we have to pay? A life for love?
Maybe it is, because here I am on a Cape Town beach, watching my wife Nomtha, and our son, Sekani run in the sand. We chose the name Sekani for him. It means joy; we hope he brings us joy and ushers us into this new journey of our life. A life as far away as possible from the memory of Sicelo’s death.
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