In the gorge, Sqiniseko too wakes up. For a few seconds he thinks all that happened was a dream, a nightmare, but looking at the dried blood on his hands he realises it is all too real. He is thirsty and disoriented. He climbs up out of the gorge and sees a building beyond a mesh wire fence. There is a tap on the side of the building.
Sqiniseko trudges on. He climbs over the fence. He opens the tap, washes the blood off his hands and drinks water. Events from last night flash through his mind: the blood, the screams, a cloud of dagga smoke, his getaway. He has no idea where he left his car. He is trying to recall, when he hears a heavenly voice singing beyond the building.
“Can it be?” He stands, listens intently with the tap still running. “That sounds exactly like Nobuhle.”
He closes the tap and heads to where the voice originates. He is amazed to find a church rising beyond the building. He enters, following the singing voice. Nobuhle is sweeping near the pulpit, her back to him.
“Hello, Nobuhle,” says Sqiniseko.
Nobuhle knows this voice, she can never forget it. She is startled. Nobuhle takes a step back for each forward step Sqiniseko takes.
“I said hello, Nobuhle. Please don’t be scared, I come in peace,” says Sqiniseko.
Nobuhle decides to stand her ground, but she can feel her knees begin to tremble.
“How are you, my love?” Sqiniseko says and slowly comes towards her.
Nobuhle is scared now; she wants to scream. She knows screaming will anger Sqiniseko, or give him the satisfaction of seeing that he can still terrorise her. She finds inner strength.
“What are you doing here, Sqiniseko?” Nobuhle looks straight into his eyes. She sees something she has not seen there for a long time. A vulnerability she thought he’d long lost. Her stare makes him shy, ashamed. He looks down at the floor.
“Nobuhle I have come to apologise,” Sqiniseko says and continues to look down at the floor. “I don’t expect you to accept my apology in a flash, but I’m begging you to at least consider the possibility of one day forgiving me.” Sqiniseko wipes away a tear. “I know it’s hard for you to trust me again, I’m begging you to do it for our son. Sthembiso needs you, Nobuhle.”
Nobuhle doesn’t believe a word of it. “You, Sqiniseko, are apologising to me, ‘Nobubi’?”
“I’m so sorry, Nobuhle. I don’t know what had gotten into me. It breaks my heart that you are reminding me of how I insulted you.”
“Sqiniseko, you made it your job to break my heart and kill my joy. You did this daily, without fail. You don’t want to see me happy. You chased me out of your house, nearly killed me. Now you are hunting me down? Where is my child? Where is Sthembiso?”
“Sthembiso is home, my love. I promised I’d bring you back to him.” The lie is so blatant Sqiniseko himself does not believe it.
“Do you agree that I take Sthembiso?”
Sqiniseko nods. “You can come with me now.”
“No, I don’t trust you. I’ll come with Mrs Nkwanyana when she returns. Sqiniseko, when you came into my life I had a home and a loving family. You separated me from all of that. I was a happy girl; you turned me into a miserable woman. However, the Bible says to forgive those who trespass against us, to love our enemies. So I forgive you.”
Sqiniseko beams a smile.
“Don’t rush to be happy. I’m only forgiving you so I can lift this heavy load off my shoulders. I want you to carry it from now on. God will avenge me for all the things you did to me.”
Sqiniseko feels a chill coursing through his body. “Please don’t curse me, Nobuhle,” he says.
“I’m not cursing you, but I’m passing everything you did to me to the Almighty. He will do with you what he sees fit.”
Sqiniseko walks out, dejected. He sees his car parked a few hundred metres from the church. He is the embodiment of a lost soul as he walks to it. Nobuhle watches. Sqiniseko turns and runs towards the church. He stops at the gate and runs back to his car then drives off at alarming speed.
Nobuhle is in the church praying, celebrating her heart’s victory, when she hears a car driving into the church yard. Its Sqiniseko again, now bursting through the door.
“Nobuhle!” Sqiniseko sounds delirious. “Nobuhle!”
“Yes,” Nobuhle looks him in the eyes. She sees a mad streak, similar to the look he’d have when beat her. But this time there’s something darker.
“Please fetch Sthembiso right now – because if you don’t you’ll be sorry,” he says in a trembling voice. “You’ll never see him or me again if you don’t do as I say.”
“What are you going to do to my baby?” Nobuhle screams at him. “Don’t even think–”
“It’s over. I’ve had enough of this life. Come take him right now because … because I’m not sure what I’ll do when I get home.”
A sinister darkness has befallen Sqiniseko, much worse than the anger Nobuhle is used to. She fears he is going to commit suicide.
“OK, Sqiniseko. I’m coming with you. I’ll take Sthembiso.”
Tell us: Is this a trap Sqiniseko has laid for Nobuhle?