Sbusiso’s brain is in knots as he drives to pick up his children from creche. He is not happy about Ntombi’s behaviour. 

He is thinking about how Ntombi wants nothing to do with his other two children from a previous relationship, Asemahle and Sambulo. He always tries to force the issue, to have them visit so they can get to know Ntombi and one day come to live with them as one big happy family. But Ntombi wants nothing to do with them. Sbusiso is satisfied that Asemahle and Sambulo are happy with their grandmother, who doesn’t want to let them go because they remind her of their mother, her only daughter who passed away eight years ago. Sbusiso sends money and visits them in secret, hoping that over time, as Ntombi matures, she will learn to love all of his children.

Sbusiso remembers his sister’s response when he told her he was ready to marry Ntombi: “Don’t rush to get married, Sbu. Get to know Ntombi first.” But Sbusiso was smitten blind by love, and hurried into marriage.

His cell phone buzzes, bringing his thoughts back to the present.

“Hello,” Sbusiso answers.

“Hello. How are you? Is this Sbusiso, Asemahle and Sambulo’s father?” asks the woman at the other end.

“Yes. Who is this?”

“You are speaking to Mrs Ndwandwe. I’m MaMkhize’s neighbour.”

“Yes, Mrs Ndwandwe.”

“My son, I’m sorry to tell you that MaMkhize has passed away.”

“When? How?”

“This afternoon. 10 minutes ago.”

“What happened? Where are the children?”

“The children are in school. She got sick after they left. She called me complaining of chest pains. I took her to the hospital. It was a heart attack. The doctors tried but lost the battle just a few minutes ago.” 

“That’s bad news. I’ll make sure I’m there tonight.”

“Great. The children cannot be alone at a time like this. I know she didn’t have many relatives. She told me about Sizwe, her son who lives in Cape Town, but I don’t have his number.”

“Yes, Ma. Please keep the children company until I get there. They can’t be alone at a time like this. Their grandmother was everything to them. I’ll try to contact Sizwe. We have only chatted briefly on Facebook but that was some time ago.”

“Please do that.”

Sbusiso is at the gate of the creche as he drops the call. The twins see his car and run over, all smiles. They get home and Sbusiso asks to speak to Ntombi in the bedroom.

 “Ntombi, I have terrible news. Asemahle and Sambulo’s granny passed away about an hour ago,” says Sbusiso.

“Oh!” says Ntombi.

“So I have to go to Jozini to be with them and help with preparations for her funeral. She didn’t have many relatives.”

Ntombi just looks at Sbusiso. She is emotionless.

“And I have to bring them here to live with us after the funeral because they can’t live there on their own. There won’t be an adult to stay with them any more.”

Ntombi shakes her head. A sinister expression overcomes her face. “No, Sbusiso. Never! I can’t live with another woman’s children in my house! You work out another plan but you can’t bombard me like this!”

“Have a heart for once in your life! Think of someone besides yourself!”

“No! You can’t force me to look after your other children!”

“I’m not asking you! I’m telling you! They are coming to live with us! They are both in high school. They can take care of themselves.”

“Fine!” Ntombi says. She stands up and bangs the door on her way out of the room.

Tell us: Why do you think Ntombi is so unhappy with this new arrangement? Do you think it has anything with her own history?