Early the next morning Bantu knocks on my door loudly. My head feels like it is exploding with each rap of his knuckles.
“What?” I yell out, annoyed that he is already starting with his antics.
“The king would like you to come out,” he says calmly, with no hint of the previous night’s argument.
“I’m living with lunatics,” I whisper to myself as I realise it is before dawn. I kick off the blanket and grab my gown.
“Glad you managed to pick up the pace this morning,” Bantu mocks as he leads me to the kitchen where the king is.
“Sizzly, good morning!” the king greets me, as I walk past him to the kettle. “I’ve already had a cup of tea; don’t make one for me.”
I roll my eyes behind his back. I had no intention of making him tea.
“Who is taking you to the airport?” I ask, trying to fill the silence.
“Bantu will drive me there and then come back. I’m leaving the car here, so Bantu can drive you to and from university, and anywhere you would like to go. With regards to household chores…” he begins then drifts off.
“Bantu will handle that,” I say without a second’s thought about it.
“Who? Me?” Bantu says, shocked to suddenly be a part of the conversation.
“Yes, Bantu,” I say as warmly as possible. “You’ll be here all day without anything to do, won’t you? I’ll have early morning lectures and late lectures, so obviously I won’t have time.”
“She’s not asking for too much, Bantu. She will come back tired from her lectures and she can’t be expected to do household chores too.”
“Then you’ll do the cooking.”
“When I have time,” I respond, not making things easy for him.
“Siziwe, you’ve got to contribute. I’m not your maid.”
“Sizzly, Bantu is right. It’s better if you do the cooking, don’t you think?”
“I suppose,” I say, defeated.
“I have to go.” The king gets up. “No parties, no girls nor boyfriends! No late nights out. Bantu, when Siziwe is home, no loud music, you hear me?”
“Siziwe, study hard. Don’t lose focus, OK?”
“Yes, Sir. Can you please excuse me now? Orientation begins on Monday. I need to sleep.”
Before I can leave he requests a hug. I grudgingly give him one, feeling how far I am from accepting that he is my future husband, and my benefactor.
I stand by the door waving goodbye just long enough to make it polite. I head straight up to bed to sleep more.
I dream about Lizo. In my dream he is crying as he watches me leave; he cries till his eyes are red and swollen. He tries to stop the car from driving away with me, but monsters come, and they resemble the king and Bantu. They mock him as they drive away with me in the back seat.
“Siziwe,” Bantu calls behind my door.
“Yesssss,” I say, trying to sort reality from dream.
“Breakfast is ready.”
“Put mine in the oven. I’ll eat later,” I say throwing the blanket back over my head.
“I was hoping…” he begins, then pauses.
“That we could catch up. It’s been long since we talked as friends. I really miss that.”
“I’m sleeping, Bantu.”
“It’s already past nine, and it’s a beautiful day.”
“For who? You or me?” I ask, unconvinced of his motives.
“Please, Siz. I just want us to chat like we used to.”
“You are such a pain. But OK, I will be right there. I need to freshen up.”
“Shall I go to the shops quickly to get us some movies?”
Better take time to relax before orientation starts I think, as my stomach begins to churn at the thought of starting my studies. I’m both nervous and excited – a feeling I recognise. It is how Lizo had made me feel.
Tell us: Can Bantu and Siziwe mend their friendship, despite him conspiring with the king against her?