We sit there, silent. I wonder, again, how I could make our family situation better. Tears fill my eyes when I realise that there is not much I can do. I look at my mother: a strong woman who went on a hunt for food and almost got killed. I think of utata. What will he say when he hears this?

“What did the man do next Mama?” I ask her, praying that the news is not so bad.

“He… he… . No, you are too young Mphumeleli. I should not tell you everything.”

Hayi mama, thetha,” I insist.

“He pulled down his pants. I lay there, shaking. Fear mntanam, fear that he might infect me with HIV drove me. It drove me to ask him something that would put him off.”

“Ask what? And then, wathini lomntu Mama, what did he do? Ko, uyakubanesono!” (He is a sinner!)

“I asked him if he had a… a… condom. I told him I have AIDS. I thought it might stop him…”

“Yoh! What did he say Mama?”

“He just stood there for a moment. Then he said, ‘You are lying’. I just kept quiet. And then he kicked me hard, again and again. He ordered me to get up. Hayi mntanam − no child, I can’t tell you what else he did. All you need to know is that he did not rape me. He told me he will get another one tonight still.”

She pauses, then asks, “Where is Luxolo?”

“Oh Mama, I do not know where Luxolo is. What did this man do to you next?”

“Afterwards he told me to take my bags and leave. He told me to run. Can you believe it mntanam? A man that young, telling an older lady like to me run? Where is the respect?”

“We must go to kwasibonda, (the village leader) tomorrow Mama.”

“To do what mntanam? How do I report a figure waiting for me and kicking me in the dark? They will say I asked for it at that time of the night, mntanam.”

“And the voice? What about the voice you heard Mama? You could also give the description of the knife, his clothes… something, Mama.”

Mama remains adamant that she does not have enough to tell usibonda, the village leader.

* * * * *

In the morning I wake up early. My brother is asleep in his bed on the floor. I did not hear him come in last night. Mama must have opened for him. I want to wake him up. I want to tell him what happened to Umama. But, I don’t. I go to the kitchen and boil water for umphokoqo. At least, today we have amasi from the nice family yaMatshawe kwaDikidikana.

“Are you cooking?” my mother asks me as she walks in the gate. She drops firewood in the outside fire place. My mother is amazing. She almost died last night, yet she woke up so early to fetch wood. “Yes Mama, I am preparing umpokoqo for umvubo,”I tell her.

Luxolo gets up. I notice blood stains on his boots. He must have made a kill last night. Where is the meat? I am thinking hungrily to myself.

I assume Mama will tell him what happened to her. I must wait. Luxolo puts on his clothes and goes to his friend’s house. He comes back with his share of the meat from last night’s hunting. This Saturday it is like Christmas − we have a dish made from mielie pap, amasi, and meat!

I watch my brother cut the meat egoqweni, at the outside cooking place. Mama goes and talks to him. His head drops. He is silent. No word, no movement. He just sits there on the hard soil. Mama comes back inside. She goes straight to her room. I go to my brother to help him with the meat. Honestly, I want to hear what he thinks about what happened to Mama. We cut the meat and put it in the pot.

“So, ukuxelele, did she tell you?” I ask him. He does not answer me. “Buti, did Mama tell you?”

“Yeka kwedini, yeka!” he says. “Leave it!” He is never good with showing his emotions. He just grabs the three legged black pot and puts it on the fire.


Tell us what you think: How is Luxolo feeling about the whole situation?