Lesedi was back, and the room was again warm and jovial, and the child, so magically woven from our strands of DNA, brought the house to life. Her bewildering cries between dusk and dawn, the constant mess she’d make of herself, gave my legs plenty of good physiological exercise.
And magically, my legs had some new spunk about them. Although still weak, I started steadily making progress.
But lack of income, and being too reliant on Mr and Mrs Khumo’s shared pension, constantly stabbed into my manhood. There I lay, with a daughter and wife I couldn’t provide for, and a gloomy prospect if my progress didn’t pick up pace anytime soon.
“Love, what do you think I just go and find an odd job somewhere? We’ve been way too strenuous on the Khumos,” Lesedi suggested, while she balanced her head against my chest one damp afternoon, as we lay in bed.
“Let you go to work and deliver on your father’s word of being incapable of taking care of his daughter?” I leapt upright, so that her head fell off my chest. “Don’t you believe in me? You’ve seen my progress baby. Just some patience and I’ll be back on my feet, ready for the world, just like any man in it.”
“I didn’t mean to insult you, sweetheart. It’s just that we can hardly do anything for ourselves. And the baby has made our living conditions all the more dire.”
“It’s the insinuation, Lesedi … Can you just be patient with me? I will soon be back on my feet.” I quickly rushed for my wheelchair, slammed the door behind me, to get some air, however poor the conditions were outside.
A month passed since the conversation. And I could now take more than 10 steps without help. But my muscles had undergone atrophy due to the lack of use. The visits to the physical counsellor, and every three months to the physiotherapist at the local clinic, were pointless.
But the baby’s ever-growing cost demands were gnawing at me, pressuring me to progress further, along with the constant feuds between Lesedi and me.
One afternoon, as the sun dipped, and the sky became darker, we encountered a new battle in what we’d thought was a war already won. At our doorstep, Hiroshima dropped.
I was standing adjacent to our entrance, having a fluid conversation with Mr Khumo, while he watered his garden, Suddenly we heard the gate clinking violently, and it was drawn wide open, without caution …
“You thought you could go on hiding from us forever, you peasant!” Lesedi’s father yelled, looking ready to tear my head off as he drew ever so close.
The two men who were beside him tried to hold him back, and cool him off, like a cobra being tamed by the melody of the flute player.
“Let me go dammit! This boy crossed the line the very day he laid his eyes upon my daughter. And I’m here to take her with me, no matter what! Lesedi! Lesedi! Where are you baby? It’s Daddy! Lesedi!” he shouted at the top of his lungs, and a crowd of neighbours started gathering, one after another.
I stood there helplessly, immovable, trying to compute and process the data that was unfolding before me. Lesedi appeared from the small passage to the front of the house, and her jaw dropped at the unimaginable scene.
“What are you… How did you find us?”
“Is that what’s only concerning you, after all this time? I’m here to fetch you, girl. I can’t let you stay in this pigsty.” Chief Mampuru’s tone changed from sweet to a thick bellow instantaneously.
She quickly drew close, hugging and brushing me in assurance. “I’m happy with Kamogelo, Papa. Why can’t you finally accept it?”
Chief Mampuru was livid. From his bulging eyes, you could tell that it was only a matter of time before he began boiling over like water.
“You are coming with me whether you like it or not! Do you hear me, little girl? I’m through playing with you,” he said firmly, accelerating towards where we stood.
I held Lesedi tight, ready to defend her. “Do whatever you might with me, sir. I love your daughter, and I won’t let go of her, no matter what!”
We tugged and tussled, and his men soon followed and joined in with punches and kicks. I abruptly hit the floor, and I still did not let go of my love.
But as the wave in the ocean gains more energy, its height and magnitude increases, and devastation is inevitable for everything in its path.
“Commendable, young man. But you’re fighting a fight you won’t win. Conrad. Lieutenant Conrad! Kom hier meneer.”
A big white man, with a neatly combed linear moustache, in police regalia, appeared into view from outside. He stood erect in the middle of the gate, waiting to bite into his prey at the command of his momentary master.
“You see boy, you’ve punched above your weight. A man of power and stature like myself – you thought you could elude me, huh? Ha ha ha! Thought we wouldn’t find you? Traced your whereabouts to your workplace, with the help of Sergeant Neil over there. And they told us where we’d find you. We know you’re out of a work permit, and you know the pass laws of the state about that, right, urchin? I can make it seem you were caught in Joburg CBD without a work permit, and that you were preying on white civilians, and you’d be locked up for a long time. Do you know that?!”
He smirked, and his teeth shone with saliva, like a hyena in seduction of the prey before it. I still latched onto Lesedi, while the white cop that had accompanied them made a grand appearance, to further strike fear in my heart. He was there to bring to life the severity of the chief’s words.
“I don’t care if you throw me in jail. I’ll fight and protect her and my daughter. Yes – we have a baby. And I’ll die before I see any harm brought to them!”
He became subdued for a moment, but after processing the information the chief laughed devilishly, further fuelled to squash me like a roach.
“Sabata, go inside and fetch my granddaughter for me.”
Outnumbered, outpowered. The walls of resistance came tumbling.
“Please Kamogelo, let go. Let go sweetheart. Spare yourself from the confines of prison. Please baby. Now they have our child; our child! Let’s live to fight another day please. I love you very much, and I will take care of her. Please, baby, let go,” Lesedi said, her voice a shrill song of bitter heartbreak.
And I let go of all the hope, a zealous believer driven in the moment to dissipate his faith.
Tell us: What do you think of the actions of Lesedi’s father? Wrong or right?