“No! No! No! You’re lying to us, why would you lie to us? Ma is just sleeping!” Ntombi screams at Sibusiso.

Ntombi feels her heart thudding in her chest. She jumps off the bed. Sibusiso tries to hold her and comfort her but she slips out of his hug and kneels by Thembi’s dead body.

“Ma! Ma! Ma wake up!” Ntombi shakes her mother’s body. She even pinches her frail arms. She can’t hold the warm tears rushing out. “Ma, please wake up!”

Sipho jumps off the bed and runs sobbing to the corner of the room. He always runs to that corner whenever he is overwhelmed by heavy, dark emotions. Sibusiso also sobs and constantly shakes his head in disbelief. No, this cannot be happening, he thinks.

As he weeps, memories of Thembi flash through his mind, like a dream. Her smile was the most perfect and her words were a command for life events to manifest, but she couldn’t command death to spare her life. These memories are are a great consolation to Sibusiso. Even though she is gone, it feels as if she is still one with him. No, my niece and nephew are not orphans; they have me now, he thinks. I will look after them, be a mother and a father to them, like I was to Thembi.

Sipho sniffles in the corner, Ntombi wails by her mother’s body. Sibusiso is trapped in this state of delirium – he doesn’t know what to do. Rain pelts down on the roof, burying Ntombi’s screams. The roof wails. As Ntombi kneels by her mother’s body, she feels alone, lost and renounced by the world. Her uncle’s hand on her shoulder assures her that she still has someone who cares.

“Let her be Ntombi, I…I…I share your pain. Even more…I feel your pain,” says Sibusiso.

“Uncle Sibusiso, how could this be? Mom was fine in morning, I talked to her, she, she, she talked back…she told me how lovely I—”

“Shhhh. Don’t you cry now.  You hear me? Don’t you cry,” says Sibusiso, trying to hold his own tears.

Simultaneous sorrow and relief sits on Sibusiso’s face. He feels sorrow for his niece and nephew, but relief for his sister. It was her time to rest; Thembi had suffered enough.

Sibusiso hugs Ntombi and Sipho tighter to his chest. “Your mother has gone to a better place. I’m here for you now. I’ll always be here for you.”

The evening is wet, muddy and gloomy. But there is a silver lining in the dark clouds hovering in the sky. Sibusiso, Ntombi and Sipho share their pain. As Sibusiso sees Ntombi and Sipho comforting each other he knows they will grow up to support each other. Thembi will be proud of them, wherever she is.


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