Five year old Njabulo and his littls sister Pumpkin chase each other around the yard of a house in Mpumalanga Township in Hammarsdale. They stop and turn when they hear the squeak of the opening gate. They see Thulani entering with his backpack slung over his shoulder and a plastic bag with groceries in his hand.
“Daddy! Daddy!” The kids sprint to Thulani and hug him.
“Woah, wait, you’re making me dirty,” Thulani says.
He ties a loose knot on the plastic bag, puts it down and then crouches to the kids’ height with a huge smile on his face.
“Did you buy us chips?” Pumpkin claps her tiny hands in excitement.
“And yoghurt?” Njabulo tries to go for the plastic. Thulani blocks him with his arm.
“And cakes?” Pumpkin asks.
“Stop! Stop!” Thulani forces the smile away from his mouth, but it lingers in his eyes. “What did I teach you to do when you see a person for the first time in a day?”
“You greet!” The kids says.
“Good,” Thulani extends a hand to Pumpkin.
Pumpkin grabs Thulani’s hand and shakes it. “How are you today?”
“I’m good Pumpkin, and how are you?”
“I’m good,” Pumpkin smiles.
Thulani turns to Njabulo and extends a hand to him. Njabulo shakes Thulani’s hand and greets him.
“And now we can see what we have,” Thulani opens the plastic bag and takes out two large bags of chips. “Go and show grandma,” Thulani says after handing them the chips.
Njabulo and Pumpkin race inside the house calling out to their grandmother.
Thulani suddenly feels annoyed with reality as he watches Pumpkin and Njabulo run into the house. The kids are both Zothani’s. Pumpkin looks more like her mother but Njabulo looks exactly like Zothani. Thulani recalls instances where he treated Njabulo unfairly because of this fact and it hurts him. He makes a promise to himself that from now on he’ll put in more effort to being nicer to Njabulo. The kids deserve to have someone who’ll truly and completely love them, unlike their real father who probably doesn’t even know how old they are, and their mother, Celiwe, who almost burned them to death in that shack down the road when she was drunk. Thulani is willing to do all he can to make sure the kids never feel fatherless, or even motherless. That’s one of the reasons he doesn’t want to let go of Lindiwe, she really loves them too.
A few hours later, at around 9 pm, Zothani and his friends enter a nightclub on Florida Road in Durban. The heist went smoothly – they were in and out of the jewellery shop in less than a minute. As far as Zothani is concerned, the police have nothing that can lead back to them. The red Polo Vivo is being repainted black at Bra Max’s place just to make sure. Bra Max is Zothani’s old friend who started out as a car hijacker but now owns a panel beating shop. Although Bra Max no longer physically hijacks cars, he is still an important part in car stealing crimes because he sometimes buys hijacked cars and sells them.
“I can’t remember the last Friday I had real money, man. It’s been too long!” Rasta says as they head to the bar.
“Yeah man!” Zothani scans the tables in the nightclub. “Tonight I’m hitting at least three hot girls!”
Zothani winks at a coloured girl seated on a couch. She is drinking cocktails with her friends. The coloured girl has long black hair, a nose ring, and is folding her legs in a way that makes her thick thighs look thicker and her short yellow dress look shorter. She smirks at Zothani and looks away.
“Four bottles of Hennessey for starters, bring them to the VIP,” Mlu says to the bar tender.
“Right now! We have money to burn!” Zothani adds in a booming voice.
Tell us: do you know brothers – or sisters – who are so different from each other?