Sbusiso’s daughter Asemahle wakes up early. By 6am she is in the kitchen cooking porridge for Sbusiso. She enters his bedroom with his pills, porridge, and a glass of water on a tray. Most times Sbusiso is still asleep so she knocks once and opens the door.
Every time she sets the tray on the side table she hears his heavy breathing and gently shakes him awake. But today, as she sets the tray down, a chill courses down her spine. A familiar sound is missing today — Sbusiso’s heavy breathing.
She is frantic with worry as she feels Sbusiso’s neck for a pulse. His neck and face are cold to her touch. There is no pulse. She runs out of the room wailing. The whole Nxumalo family wails for hours after being stung by the initial shock of Sbusiso’s death.
As the shock gradually wanes, Sthe makes calls to spread news of his brother’s death. He calls Ntombi several times but her phone is off. Sthe’s friend, Muzi, is the first to arrive.
“Sbu had been well on the road to recovery, Muzi. I actually thought he’d be ready to go back to work in a few months,” says Sthe.
“I know, Sthe. We had been in touch almost daily. I hate to say this, but I have to tell you that I believe Sbu was killed by his broken heart,” says Muzi.
“You can say that again. That woman never loved him. I have been trying to call her for hours but her phone is off!”
“I’m sure she knows by now. I sent her a message as soon as I heard. She was online on WhatsApp then, but as soon as she read the message she went offline.”
“And that’s like Ntombi,” says Sthe.
Ntombi arrives at dusk the following day. She is accompanied by her mother and sisters. There is an uproar in the Nxumalo yard as Sthe fumes at Ntombi.
“You have no shame showing your face here! You never cared for Sbu! You are not allowed here!” Sthe roars. “Get out!”
Sthe is so angry he is shaking. He feels a hand on his shoulder, then his mother’s soothing voice. “Stop it, Sthe. Sbusiso was never a violent person. Let us all respect that. Let us honour his memory by being civil.”
Ntombi plays the role of the grieving wife very well. She doesn’t allow her true colours to show even when she finds out that Sbusiso didn’t make her a beneficiary in any of his funeral policies. Only his mother, brother, Asemahle, and Sambulo are beneficiaries.
Sbusiso is buried in a respectful funeral service befitting his calm, giving nature. Sbusiso’s lawyer arrives a week later. The whole family gathers in the lounge to hear the reading of the will.
“I am Advocate Nhlabathi. I am here to read the will of Sbusiso Derrik Nxumalo,” he says.
Ntombi fumes when she hears that Sbusiso has left half of his estate to his children to be administered by Advocate Nhlabathi.
“This is nonsense! My Sbu would have never agreed to this!” Ntombi bangs the table. “He would have left me everything! I’ll see all of you in court!” She stands up, takes off the black scarf she is wearing as sign of mourning, and throws it to the floor. She gets in the car and drives off, leaving everyone shocked.
The twins are crying, confused about why their mother has left them behind.
Sbusiso’s mother hugs them and says, “Don’t cry. Gogo is here. You are home now.”
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