The Lamolas owned many taxis, some ranked at Joburg. Most of the taxi drivers shunned me after they found out I was a university graduate. I knew it was nothing but jealousy. At first it bothered me, but then I learnt not to care. I wasn’t looking for a friend, I had Kamogelo, she was my best friend and she always accompanied me to work. All the other male taxi drivers as well as my boss, Mr Lamola, always complimented her beauty every time they saw her.
Things were going well, I was managing to save a bit of money and I had a beautiful girlfriend, or so I thought …
One night I took a gospel choir to Burgersfort to sing at a funeral. I was meant to spend the night there and return with them after the funeral, but then I decided to come back, just to spend the night next to my baby.
On my way home I saw my boss’s car parked on the roadside in a lay-by. It was dark and there were no lights on. What if something was wrong? I took my torch and went to check.
A woman’s groans welcomed me. But they were not groans of fear or pain but of pleasure. I shone my torch through the passenger window and froze. There was Kamogelo, just in her bra; but she wasn’t with my boss, she was with Mojomana, one of the taxi drivers. He was fondling her breasts.
Mojomana looked up and shouted insults. A gigantic wave of anger rose inside me and I slammed the rod I had brought along for protection into the glass.
Kamogelo shouted as she wound the window down.
“Dammit, Gift! What have you done? Baby, calm down. I’m sorry,” she cried, trying to yank up her dress.
Heartbroken and frustrated, I went back to my taxi and drove off. I cried the whole night and only fell asleep at 5 o’clock the following morning. It was not a peaceful sleep, though. I kept on tossing and turning, dreaming about what happened. It was as if there were needles in my heart.
When I woke up, it was to the sound of my ringing cellphone. It was my boss, Ledimo, fuming. The choir was stranded. It was midday. I was supposed to have picked them at 10 o’clock.
“Bring back my keys. You’re fired!” he shouted down the phone. I dropped it.
It wasn’t a joke. He fired me and never paid me a cent. He said he was going to use my pay to replace the windscreen that I had smashed. Apparently, Mojomana had told him that I had been drunk and had fought with him. He was our senior driver, our number one supervisor and Ledimo’s best friend, which was why he sometimes drove around in the Lamolas’ private cars.
That was the end of me. I had lost my job and my girlfriend and I was stuck in the village with no hope.
I chose the marula tree because it was the place where I had composed most of my songs growing up. It was my creative spot and I wanted to compose one last song before I hanged myself, a song that would give me courage to do it. But I was too hurt to think about anything except death.
Silently, I stood up, stacked stones on top of each other, threw one end of my rope around the thickest branch of the tree and made a noose with the rope. I felt the warmth of tears on my dark cheeks as I yanked on the rope twice to test it.
I shut my eyes and pushed my head through the rope. Then I kicked the pile of stones that I was standing on.
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