Tears trickle down Nothando’s cheeks. Soon her face is engulfed in a flood of tears. It takes a long time before she can even start to think of a reply.

“And worse you cry as if I’m abusing you. I love you and no other man will love you as much as I love you. And I’ve never spoken like this in another relationship. I speak because I love you. I never spoke because I didn’t love all those other girls. But it is different with you, I feel bad and say it when you do wrong.”

“Is this what you call love, Xolani?”

“I’m a man and I have needs. So if you fail to satisfy those needs I seriously don’t see the need for you to be here.”

“What do you mean, Xolani?” Nothando voice is heavy with sadness. 

“I mean if you don’t want to sleep with me tonight then you should leave right now and never come back.”

“So you never loved me in the first place? All I am is something you use for sex? And money?”

“Money? What do you know about money when poverty is written all over your face?”

“But why, Xolani? Why must you speak such hurtful words to me?”

“Stop with the questions, woman. Just leave.”

It’s been three hours since Xolani asked Nothando to leave. It is silent in the room. Xolani is still adamant that Nothando should leave. Nothando is considering being stubborn and staying put. Xolani has been abusive for years now. She has been sleeping with him for three years, giving him money that he spends with other women at taverns.

“Do you want me to drag you out of here?” Xolani sneers.

Nothando shakes her head and grabs her black refuse plastic bag with all her stuff.

“No need,” she says. “I’ll leave on my own because that is what you want. But, Xolani, where will I sleep? You know my aunts won’t open the door for me this late at night.”

“You’ll knock. They’ll open the door.”

“But you know they won’t open the door for me. You know how they are.”

“Well there it is. Why should I want you when your own family doesn’t want you?”

“Please go with me, Xolani. I’m scared.”

“Fine, let’s go.”

Xolani leads the way. Nothando follows him. 

“Please help me with my things. Why do you hate me so much?”

Xolani grabs the refuse bag. “Stop acting like an angel. You are to blame for all of this! And I’m tired of talking. Walk faster. I need to go back to my room to sleep.”

They walk on in silence. The lights are off at her aunts’ shack. Nothando wonders if her aunts will open the door. She thinks how embarrassed she will feel and how much they’ll ridicule her when they open the door. Xolani drops the refuse bag by Nothando’s feet at the shack door.

“Here are your things. Never call me again,” says Xolani and then takes off running.

“Xolani!” Nothando shouts. “Xolani! Please wait until they open the door!”

Xolani doesn’t stop, he doesn’t even look back. He runs faster than before.

Nothando crumples to the floor and cries. She feels for her diary and poetry book in the refuse bag. She feels a great surge of inspiration as she cries outside her aunts’ shack in the middle of the night. She thinks of a poem. She also thinks about writing her life story.

She envisions her life story. She imagines writing about the lives and deaths of her mother and grandmother. The harsh life she lives with her aunts will also feature. A large part of her book will have to be about her father. 

She is sad now thinking about her father and how life dealt him a harsh, heavy blow. Her father was a loving, God-fearing man. He was looking to buy a car and start building a house in Folweni. He was not going to need a builder because he was a builder by profession. The problems started when one day they woke up to find that he had lost his sense of hearing. Soon after that he lost all power in his muscles and became wheelchair bound. He was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy and passed away just a few months after diagnosis. 

She misses her dad at this very moment more than at any other times. She picks herself up and knocks on the shack door.

Tell us: How do you think Nothando must feel at having to ask Xolani for his help to get safely to her aunts’ house?