It’s four months later. Ntombi has not been welcoming at all to Asemahle and Sambulo. Today Sbusiso has returned from work to find both his older children sitting in the garage, crying.
“What is the matter, Asemahle? What happened, Sambulo?”
“It’s Mam’Ntombi,” says Sambulo.
“What did she do?”
“We were in the kitchen, making sandwiches. We were slicing polony when she said we were a burden to this home. She said we were wasteful. She said we were slicing the polony too thick.”
“She said she wants us gone when she comes back.”
“Baba, please take us back to Gogo’s house. We can take care of ourselves, just send us money, we will be fine.”
“Yes, Baba. She swears at us when you are not home. Says we are nothing! Please, Baba, take us back home, we can’t live like this!”
“That won’t happen! This is my house. This is your home. A home I have built with my hard-earned money. Go back to your rooms. I’ll handle Ntombi.”
Sbusiso takes a drive around the township. He is part looking for Ntombi and part trying to calm down. He dials Ntombi’s number.
“Ntombi, what did you say to the kids? Why would you say something like that to our children?”
“Our children? Your children. I told you I can’t look after your children. You forced them on me. You didn’t ask for my permission.”
“What permission? Anyone with a heart understands that when children lose their grandmother who was looking after them, whom they loved dearly, they need to be around relatives in the grieving process. Worse, they are my children and you are my wife! You can’t find it in your heart to just be civil towards them?”
“There you go again! Covering everything with your words. It doesn’t change the fact that you forced them on me!”
“I can’t believe that you want to justify your cruel actions.”
“I don’t have time for this. We’ll chat later. Bye. Order takeaway, I’ll be late.”
Sbusiso is hurt more than angry. He thinks deeply while parked in front of a bottle store. He has a mind to buy vodka and drown his sorrows. He is tempted but resolve wins. He made a promise to himself to stop drinking five years ago.
He keeps his promise and goes in, but to buy orange juice instead. He sits in his car, sipping orange juice and thinking about Ntombi. He has done everything to show how much he loves her. He has provided a home for her and their twins. He has given her a life of luxury where she doesn’t want for anything. She is the only housewife in the neighbourhood.
Sbusiso feels excruciating pain in his belly. It hits so sharply that he knows it is something serious. He drives himself to the hospital.
The doctor gives him an injection for the pain and runs some tests. Sbusiso thinks it is the pain medication playing tricks with his mind when he hears the doctor say he has intestinal tuberculosis.
“How did I get it?” asks Sbusiso, after recovering from the initial shock.
“It is common in people with diabetes. Are you taking your diabetes medication?”
“I use the injection but only when necessary. I have not needed to use it for a whole month now because my blood-sugar levels have been OK.”
The doctor nods. “I’ll give you pills for the TB. You have to take them every day as directed for six months. You have to stick to these pills because it won’t go away if you skip taking them even for one day.”
Tell us: What do you think Sbusiso should do about Ntombi’s behaviour?