Years went by and Nomtha never did get out of the sham. I tried to look for Nomtha in every girl but she was nowhere to be found. She was sleeping next to my brother. Every night I went crazy wondering if she made the same silly jokes with him. I wondered if he got her sense of humour, wondered if he laughed at some of her jokes she found amusing but really weren’t but I laughed because I loved that goofy person.

These questions went unanswered. I went to the bottom of every bottle, in every woman’s bed without any answer. Although the years passed, her memory remained fresh because I saw her every Sunday at the family lunch. We’d steal glances. In her eyes I could tell she was screaming for help.

One Sunday we our usual stole secret looks, and she signalled me to the kitchen. I went first and she followed me. She walked in and I embraced her. It had been years since I last held her like this, but this time I was vulnerable, I could not hold myself back, I wanted her in my arms. She was still the same. The same scent, the same one with awkward hugs. She pushed me away after she realised I had been holding on for too long.

“I’m sorry,” I said holding her hand.

“I’m dying, Luu,” she said. “Your brother wants kids, and for a long time I thought I couldn’t give him them but I went to the fertility clinic and I’m not the problem. But every night he makes sure to remind me that I’m failing as a wife, I can’t bear children. Sometimes I wanna blurt it out but I’m scared. When he says this he just gets this certain look in his eyes,” she said fidgeting.

I tried to bring her closer but as I was about to hold her, mom walked in.

“What’s going on here?” mom asked. She just had this look that she already knew. I walked out not wanting to lie to her, or even worse tell her the truth.

I guess Nomtha told her about my brother’s infertility and not our history because a week after our kitchen encounter my mother and her sister in-law, my aunt, approached me.

“Luphelo mntaka bhuti, it’s tradition that if the brother is infertile his brother lies with his wife to help him father children,” my aunt said with sincerity in her voice.

“What will happen when my brother finds out? And what if I want my kids?” I asked with a lot of confusion.

“This is not just about the children, you know why your father wanted this marriage to happen. It’s also about the business, this for something bigger than just your egos. Our family legacy     ,”      said my aunt who was the MD of Maduna Mining. She was like her brother, my father. Ruthless in the world of business and would do anything for the business to succeed.

“Geez! Another business arrangement and it’s coming from you, why am I not surprised? You’re just like your brother!” I scoffed.

“Luphelo!” my mom reprimanded me.

“Luu, it’s not your children – you are merely helping your brother and that’s about it from you,” my mother said with a stern voice.

“Would you do the same to dad?”

“Luphelo sana lwam, this is not the time to be selfish,” she pulled me to the side, “You saw how distraught Nomtha was over your brother’s behaviour – if not for Sicelo and I, do this for her. Yes this has some business implications but it’s not merely business,” she added with sweeter tone. And that was her talent, my mother could persuade the devil into doing good with how gentle she was.

This idea made me happy momentarily until the realisation that I’d be strengthening my brother’s marriage. But the idea of holding Nomtha again was enticing, not to mention my mother and aunt begging.

“Okay I’ll do it, I’ll do for Sicelo. He wants to have children and if I can help I will,” I said.

“Slow down on the bottle and the women Luphelo. You need to keep yourself safe and healthy. You should change your diet too,” my mom added as I was headed for the door.

I looked back, nodded and left the room.


Tell us: What do you think of this new plan concocted by Luphelo’s mother and his aunt?