Escape – Chapter 5
The sunshine waves its last rays on Inanda township before it hides behind clouds that have grown to be huge dark-thick blankets.
Catherine shakes her head at the dark sky. In her heart, she knows the rain
will fall today, one way or the other. Swiftly, she leads her chickens with a broom into the chicken coop. She then fastens her yellow pinafore with blue spots and unpegs her laundry, and limps back to her house.
She hears the rumbling of the sky, and when she looks out of the door, she sees frightening flashes of lighting. She lays down her straw mat, puts a blanket over her shoulders and sits down on the mat with her legs crossed. She listens to the rumbling of the thunder. It is not long. Soon the rain pounds down and digs the ground.
It’s been two weeks since she was at Vus’umuzi’s gate. She’s thought about calling the police about the situation, but what would she tell them? That she lied about the two boys kissing? She should now mind her own business, she thinks to herself.
After an hour, the rain stops. Catherine hears heavy steps as if someone is running towards her house. A shadow falls on her door. It is her neighbour, Mam’ Zonke. The lightning flashes a crack in the sky and there is a huge thunderclap that causes Mam’ Zonke to run to her friend’s mat.
“Forgive me, Mam’ Catherine. I just couldn’t be alone in that house in weather like this,” says Mam’ Zonke, folding her legs.
“That’s fine,” says Catherine, “I don’t like to be alone when it’s like this anyway.”
“I saw you the other day,” Mam’ Zonke did not hesitate, “so do you now believe me?”
“Awu, but Zonke, that’s why you are here?” asks Catherine.
“I have to know; did you see the boy?” asks Mam’ Zonke, frowning.
Catherine sighs heavily. “Maybe you were right, maybe!”
“I am right. He killed the boy and ran away!” says Mam’ Zonke, tersely.
Zethembe hears the heavy drops of rain on the corrugated metallic roof. He’s grown scrawny, being kept indoors and refusing to eat almost anything.
“I have no choice,” Vus’umuzi says to the boy.
“Vusi, you do have a choice,” says Zandile, from the other room. Her voice is dry from all the crying. “May God show mercy on your soul!”
“Shut up, woman! You don’t know anything, anything, you hear me? Nothing!” says Vus’umuzi, turning his head to Zandile’s room.
Vus’umuzi’s phone rings and he slides it out of his jeans pocket.
“Hello? Yes, I’m still coming. I’m just waiting for the rain to stop.” He hangs up the phone and takes a quick bath. Then he locks Zethembe’s and Zandile’s bedroom doors. “I will be back! Don’t try and make a move.
He knows in his heart that they are drained. They have lost their voices, and screaming won’t help. He locks the windows and makes sure the front door is locked before he leaves.
On the street, people are shocked to see him. Some avert their faces.
He waits at the taxi stop before getting on a taxi to Durban.
There’s a huge shopping centre called The Workshop in Durban. The taxi drops him there. He takes his phone out and dials.
“Where are you? I’m here now. At KFC? Alright, I’m coming.”
When he gets to KFC, Vus’umuzi sees his lover drinking juice at one of the tables drinking juice. He is light-skinned with the beginnings of a beard. The man stands up and walks over to hug Vus’umuzi, which brings him shame.
“Don’t…this is a public place,” says Vus’umuzi, pushing Sphiwe away.
“Hawu Vusi, relax. We are safe here,” says Sphiwe. “I miss you; you don’t call any more.”
Vus’umuzi sits down. “I’ve been busy. Forgive me.”
“I was just thinking about going to your house. I was worried,” says Sphiwe, winking at Vus’umuzi.
“No, don’t ever think about that! From now on, I will be the one to call you,” says Vus’umuzi, looking into Sphiwe’s eyes.
“But what if I miss you?” asks Sphiwe, moving his hand to hold Vus’umuzi’s.
“I will call you,” says Vus’umuzi, tersely.
As he travels home, uncalled-for memories invade Vus’umuzi’s mind. He tries to push them away to no avail. He sees himself at 15 looking up into his father’s face and seeing the disgust and anger there. His father had caught him kissing a boy in his class.
His father knew one way to deal with his son. Prayer! But when prayer did not work, he isolated Vus’umuzi and sometimes beat him up, claiming to be whipping the devil in him. After years of isolation, Vus’umuzi was liberated, not because his father approved it, but because his father died from a terrible heart attack. But now he was doing the same thing to his son, his mind a swirl of shame and confusion.
Tell us: Did you suspect that Vus’umuzi was gay and had been abused by his father because of it? Does that help to explain some of his extreme behaviour?