The following day Namhla decided to cook to give Lwazi a break from cooking. Lwazi came to the kitchen.
“So how are you feeling today, Mama?” he asked, as he put his cellphone on the kitchen table.
“I am just numb. I am just happy to be alive.” It could have been the onion she was peeling or the bleeding wound in her heart, but her eyes started to water. Still she smiled, looking at him.
“Thank you, Lwazi. Thank you, mntanam,” she said shyly, rubbing her hands against each other. She stopped and looked at the sparkling engagement ring that Bheki had given her.
“As long as you are safe, Mama, that is all that matters to me. I never liked him anyway. You can take that stupid ring off your finger now.”
‘Ring … ring … ring … ring.’
Lwazi looked at it. He did not recognize the number.
“Answer it, hear who it is, and hear what is it that he wants.”
“Arg, I don’t have time for these marketing people, Mama.”
He picked it up nevertheless and answered.
“Is that Lwazi? Lwazi Sandla?”
“Who are you?”
“I am Kholekile Sandla, your father. I need you, my boy. Come here urgently.”
Lwazi was too shocked to answer. His eyes bulged out, his mouth remained wide opened. Namhla grabbed the phone from his hand. Lwazi could not even recognize his father’s voice.
“Hallo, who is this?”
“Ndingutata kaLwazi, uKholekile.” (I am Lwazi’s father, Kholekile.)
“Please Namhla, I need to talk to Lwazi.”
“It’s your father, Lwazi, please talk to him. I will go to my room,” said Namhla and handed the phone back to him.
“Mfo wam, I am sick. I suffered a stroke a few days ago. I am alone in the house,” said the shaking voice of a man on the other side.
“You are alone in the house, what do you mean?” Lwazi was thinking about the young woman he left his mother for.
“She … she … I will explain everything when you arrive here. Please my son, I need to talk to you today.”
“Today? What do you mean today? Are you not in the Eastern Cape?”
“I know. Book a flight and come over right now. I need you. Please, Rhadebe, please Mthimkhulu.”
Something melted in Lwazi’s heart once his father addressed him by his clan-names. Only his father did that, he remembered that, though it had been years ago that his father sang his clan-name praises. Something inside him moved, a tear fell down his face. He was sad but excited to hear his father’s voice. He wished he could grow wings right there and then; the plane was going to be too slow for him.
“Go well, my son, I trust everything will be alright,” said Namhla as she waved goodbye to her son that evening.
On the plane he was quiet the whole hour and a half. When he landed in East London, one of his father’s employees was there to pick him up.
“Kwekh, ukhulile ndoda. Ukhulile nyana. You look just like my father, your grandfather,” his teary father said, while embracing him tightly as he entered the house.
Lwazi was shaking, he had mixed emotions: joy, sadness, anger, bitterness, but he remained calm. He looked around for the woman who had taken over from his mother. She was not there. His father was alone in the house except for a few young men. He was struggling to walk, his speech was slurred and difficult to comprehend.
“I am sorry, son. I am sorry.” His face was rugged; he hadn’t shaved for days. His mouth had twisted to the side, his left arm and leg shook uncontrollably when he tried to stand on his own.
He had suffered a mild stroke that had left him semi paralyzed, he told Lwazi.
“I want you to take over. Take over my businesses nyana, the taxis, the farm. Everything belongs to you. You are my heir, Rhadebe.”
Mucus ran down his father’s nose as if in competition with the tears that were flowing down into his unkempt beard.
“I failed you, Lwazi. You and your siblings, but I want to correct all of that before I die. Do you hear me, my boy?”
“Yes, Tata. I hear you.” Lwazi wanted to know more so he asked, almost in a whisper, “Where is the woman you were living with here?”
“She left. She left a few months before I got sick. She stole my money. She sold some of my cattle behind my back. I think she is one of the reasons I suffered this stroke. She broke my heart.”
“Were you married?”
“No, I was not married to her,” answered his father.
A few days later Lwazi met up with his father’s associates, the lawyers and the workers. He visited the farm and saw the multi-coloured Nguni cows that his father specialized in. He counted the fleet of taxis and was left in awe.
“I will do this, Father. I will take over from you, but I need my mother to come as well.”
The old man was content. His son, his heir, had forgiven him.
Lwazi called Namhla and explained to her about the situation his father was in, and how they all needed to be around him as a family.
“Your nursing experience, Mama, and the love you once had for my father, is needed deeply now. I will drop out from school for now, Mama, and take care of my father’s business. I may go back and finish my chef training later.”
“So you want me to resign as well?”
“Please Mama, Tata needs you here. Please, do it for me, Mama. Do it for us, your children. You know I would do anything for you.”
Namhla had never stopped loving her husband. Within a month the whole family had moved to East London. Namhla and her kids were back with their father and husband. Everything was legally handed over to Lwazi. He was now the man of the house, while his father recuperated.
The presence of his family seemed like the needed remedy for Lwazi’s father. He regained his strength. All of this was like a dream to him.
This was a dream for Lwazi too. After hating his father all of these years, now he had ended up being the manager of every cent that his once-estranged father ever worked for.
Lwazi was leaving the farm in his new Range Rover. He was going to a cattle auction. As he drove out the gate, he waved to his father’s employees. “Come back soon, it is better with you here, Little Boss,” said one of the workers.
“Life is just a mystery, no formula, nothing. You just live. Live until you live no more,” whispered Lwazi to himself.
Tell us: Did you enjoy this story?