“Are you ignoring my calls, Spha?” Mdu barked into my ear as soon as I answered.
“I was … I was taking a bath, Mdu.”
“Taking a bath? Do you think this is a joke? Do you think we are playing? Where are you?”
“Home!? Didn’t you say you will come to my house?”
“Yes. But … but I was trying to organize food for my baby first. She hasn’t eaten since last night!”
“What do you mean? You go to work every day but you can’t afford to feed your family?”
“Things are bad, Mdu. I don’t have a cent!”
“Can’t you get something from a tuck shop nearby? You can pay them when we come back from the job. I mean, we are going to get a lot of money today!”
“No, Mdu. I owe the guy too much money already.”
“Okay, I’m coming over there right now. I’ll give you some money but as soon as we finish the job I want it back. With interest!”
I couldn’t believe Mdu was calling a robbery a ‘job’.
“Why are you quiet? I better find you ready when I get there.”
“Okay, Mdu. I’ll be ready.”
I came out of the bathroom to find Linda standing at the door. Her eyebrows were arched in anticipation.
“And?” she inquired.
“I’m getting some money, Linda.”
She exhaled pure relief and broke into a smile.
“Did your friend Langa have a change of heart? I could tell from his voice he is a good pers–”
“No, Linda. I got the money from Mdu.”
“I didn’t know you have a friend called Mdu.”
I guess what I really felt inside was obvious in my facial expression because the disappointment in Linda’s face was instant and deep when she connected the dots.
“Don’t tell me it’s that Mdu, Spha,” she said. “What brings you together with that Mdu?”
The roar of an engine ripped through the silence. I peeled the curtain and saw a BMW screech to a stop, kicking up dust on the narrow gravel road between houses. Mdu stepped out. He threw up gang signs as he was greeted by men of all ages on the street.
“There is nothing else we can do, Linda. He is the only one who can help us at the moment.”
“How do you know him, Spha? Mdu is a gangster. You know as well as I do that the stories we hear about him are true.”
“Stop with these questions, Linda? We can’t wallow and die of hunger! I’m driving him somewhere!”
“But, Spha,” Linda shook her head.
“Lower your voice! He is right outside.”
We waited for him to knock on the door. Owethu sniffled, quietly crying. Her eyes had become slanted, closed, her cheeks red; my baby had run out of energy and tears.
Tell us: Why do you think all the men in the street greeted gangster Mdu?