Senzo reaches out to everyone who was close to Zelwande in Tin City. He doesn’t give up, even as days go by and it is evident that Zelwande really has disappeared without a trace. He stays awake most nights wracking his brains, wondering where his sister is.
“Senzo! Senzo!” Aphile calls out in the middle of the night.
Senzo runs to Aphile’s room. “What’s wrong?”
“Is Zelwande back?”
“No, Aphile,” says Senzo.
“She is back, Senzo. I heard her shouting my name, and your name, just now!”
Senzo’s heart breaks when he sees the glee on Aphile’s face. He realizes she was dreaming of Zelwande.
“It was only a dream, Aphile. Go back to sleep. It’s Saturday today; we are not going to school.”
Aphile keeps repeating that Zelwande called their names, throughout the morning.
There’s a knock at the door and Mxolisi appears. He has been checking on them since Zelwande disappeared and phoning the police station every day. As he is asking them if they need anything, his phone rings.
When he cuts the call, he is smiling.
“That was a police officer at Verulam. They got a tip-off. Someone called in to tell them where your sister is.”
“On a disused farm outside of Verulam.”
“Is she … alive?”
“The caller said she was, four days ago, when he last checked. He must have been keeping her captive. I have to go …”
“We’re going with you,” say Senzo and Aphile as they jump in Mxolisi’s dad’s car. Detective Njili has given him the location.
They arrive as the police are approaching a room near the back of the deserted farm house.
Zelwande thinks she is dreaming. She hears someone faintly calling her name at first, then loudly, and then the police are banging on the door.
“Police! Zelwande are you in there?”
“Yes! Yes!” she answers in a loud voice, heavy with both happiness and pain.
The police break down the door. They cut off the handcuffs. She is weak, but she sees Aphile, Senzo and Mxolisi beyond the police tape and finds the strength to run and hug them.
* * * * *
Noxolo is in discussion with Mrs Khumalo and Snothile at the Khumalo mansion in Durban North. They have hidden away on the verandah at the back of the house. They don’t hear Thobani enter the gate, see Noxolo’s car and tiptoe his way through the house to stand within earshot of their conversation.
“There is only one way this marriage will happen, Noxolo. Tell him you are pregnant,” says Mrs Khumalo.
“Yes,” says Snothile.
“I wish I was, but it’s too early to tell from that one night,” says Noxolo.
“So all of you are together in this!” Thobani bursts in and barks at them.
They are so startled that their teacups slip from their hands and break on the floor. Right then the police arrive and spread throughout the yard.
“What is the meaning of this trespassing on my property?” Mrs Khumalo confronts Detective Subramoney.
She turns pale with shock when she sees Zelwande, Senzo and Aphile appearing behind a wall of cops.
Zelwande points straight at her. “She is the one, detective! Mrs Khumalo kidnapped me!”
“Mrs Khumalo you are under arrest for kidnapping this young woman. You will need to come with us right now to the police station.”
“But … Thobani … do something!” she screams as she is pushed into the police car.
But Thobani is in Zelwande’s arms and she is crying from joy. He doesn’t hear his mother. “Zelwande, my love. You are alive!”
* * * * *
It’s been a year since Zelwande’s kidnapping and everything has changed. Thobani’s mother and sister are in prison and his father is alone in the mansion. Thobani visits his father, but his mother and sister no longer exist to him.
The sun is out in earnest today in Hilary. But clouds suddenly gather. The sky turns grey. Cooling rain lashes down.
Aphile, Senzo and Thobani come out to watch the downpour from under the shelter of the verandah. Zelwande is the last to come from the house. She is holding her baby girl on her arm. They all just stand and enjoy the breeze brought on by the rain.
Suddenly “Ma…” comes from the baby’s tiny mouth. They all congregate around the child. “Ma-ma,” says the baby, again, clearly.
They all smile and take turns holding and kissing little Nomvula.
“I thought … hoped … her first word would be Papa,” laughs Thobani.
“You heard her. She wants her mama,” says Zelwande, meanwhile thinking privately, happily, to herself: Our baby has brought the meaning of her name – life-giving rain. New life for us all.
* * * * *
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