Hours later, in the afternoon, Ma’khulu and Ta’mkhulu sit at the kitchen table. They are drinking tea that has been prepared by Ma’khulu. Ta’mkhulu peels bright green apples with a sharp kitchen knife.
MA’KHULU: I am worried about Lusanda. She doesn’t seem like herself.
TA’MKHULU: I tried to ask Thando about it this morning but she avoided my questions. Have you spoken to Jackson?
MA’KHULU: He’s away overseas. Maybe they had a fight before he left.
TA’MKHULU: I’m going to call him.
MA’KHULU: No, don’t do that. When I tried to speak to her about him she got angry. Maybe she needs some time to calm down and they will speak.
TA’MKHULU: I hope they get a divorce.
MA’KHULU: Yhu, don’t say that.
TA’MKHULU: I never liked that man. Look at what is going on now! Our daughter is hiding something from us and he is halfway across the world.
MA’KHULU: Calm down, she will tell us when the time is right. She obviously doesn’t want to worry us.
There is the sound of a key turning in the door.
TA’MKHULU: That’s probably her right now.
MA’KHULU: Please calm down. Don’t worry her about this, she’s had a busy day today.
TA’MKHULU: I won’t worry her.
Mama walks into the kitchen.
MAMA: You two look so suspicious. (laughs) What were you gossiping about?
MA’KHULU: Old people don’t gossip, they share facts about the world and other people.
They all laugh.
MA’KHULU: How did the job interview go?
MAMA: I don’t know. They did not seem interested in me.
TA’MKHULU: They will call you, trust me. You are the smartest daughter I have.
MAMA: I am your only daughter, Tata.
They all laugh.
TA’MKHULU: But I am serious, they are going to give you the job because you deserve it.
MAMA: Thank you, Tata.
MA’KHULU: I hope uThando had a good day at school today. What time is she coming back?
TA’MKHULU: She said she wanted to learn the taxi route so she isn’t walking back, she’s going to the taxi rank first.
MAMA: Are you serious? Isn’t it dangerous?
TA’MKHULU: No, many school children use the taxis. I have my old friend Ta Mvano working at the rank. He’ll look out for her.
MAMA: I’ll go meet her halfway.
TA’MKHULU: Don’t worry. She will be home soon enough.
MA’KHULU: We should have gone to fetch her, at least on her first day.
TA’MKHULU: She must get used to walking and taking the taxi. She’s a big girl now.
Thando rushes in through the door. She has been running. She tries to catch her breath.
MAMA: (shocked) Thando! What’s wrong? Why are you running?
THANDO: (trying to catch her breath) We have to go!
MAMA: Go where? What’s wrong?
THANDO: Mama, we need to go right now. He is here!
MAMA: What! Did you see him? Is he following you?
THANDO: I got off the taxi and I saw him across the street. I could only see his back but I’m sure it was him. I started to run as fast as I could. I don’t think he saw me but that means we’re not safe.
MAMA: How could you be so sure? You haven’t seen your father in two years.
TA’MKHULU: Two years? Where has he been?
MAMA: He has been away.
TA’MKHULU: Then why are you running away from him?
MA’KHULU: Why don’t you want to see him?
MAMA: There’s nothing wrong.
Mama goes to hold Thando and whispers in her ear.
MAMA: Go pack your things. We are going to leave.
Thando walks out of the kitchen and goes to the bedroom.
MA’KHULU: Are you leaving us?
MAMA: Yes, it’s for your own safety.
MA’KHULU: Why are you running away from Jackson?
MAMA: We are not running.
TA’MKHULU: Do not lie to me, my child. I can smell trouble.
MAMA: There is no trouble here.
TA’MKHULU: I wasn’t born yesterday. Tell me what is wrong. What is going on with you and Thando’s father?
MAMA: Nothing at all.
MA’KHULU: We knew you were in trouble from the moment you returned home. You looked like you were worried about something.
Thando walks back into the kitchen with a suitcase full of clothes.
THANDO: She was worried about my dad finding us. Now he is here and we have to leave.
MAMA: Don’t listen to Thando.
TA’MKHULU: Thando, why is she hiding from your father?
MAMA: He used to hit me.
MA’KHULU: Yhu! I am going to call the police.
MAMA: No! Don’t do that.
MA’KHULU: No, I will call the police and they will arrest him. You cannot run away like you do not have a home.
MAMA: The police will not help us. He is a well-known business man. No one believed us in Joburg and no one will believe us here.
TA’MKHULU: We will make them believe you.
MAMA: I do not want you to get involved in my problems.
MA’KHULU: You are our daughter. It is our job to be involved in your problems.
MAMA: We’ll have to leave tomorrow morning at the latest. If he was at the taxi rank then he knows we are here.
THANDO: We need to leave before he finds us here.
MAMA: I knew he was going to find us sooner or later. I didn’t think it would be so soon.
MA’KHULU: Where are you going to go now?
MAMA: We have nowhere else to go but I will figure it out.
TA’MKHULU: Do you have any money?
MAMA: We will be fine, don’t worry about us.
TA’MKHULU: I know you don’t have any money because you came here to live with us.
MA’KHULU: Let us help you. We will call the police and they will help you.
MAMA: The police will take Thando away. They will say I am the one who has been
trying to steal her.
TA’MKHULU: When will you stop running then?
MAMA: When he has given up on finding us or when I have found a place where we can be truly safe away from him.
A loud bang is heard outside the house. Everyone is shocked. Ta’mkhulu fetches the broomstick from behind the door.
TA’MKHULU: Who is it?
MA’KHULU: Who is at the door?
They hear a window breaking from behind them then loud footsteps coming nearer to the kitchen door.
TA’MKHULU: (to Ma’khulu) Call the police.
MAMA: Jackson! Is that you?
The footsteps get louder until the kitchen door swings open. Jackson walks into the room.
MAMA: How did you find us?
JACKSON: I always knew that eventually you would go to your parents’ house. Although you started hiding in places I couldn’t find.
MAMA: We can talk about this away from my family’s home. Let’s talk about this
outside, you are scaring Thando.
JACKSON: (to Thando) Are you afraid of me, my girl?
Silence. Thando doesn’t answer.
TA’MKHULU: I always knew you were trouble but we’ve called the police now. They are coming to get you.
JACKSON: The police can take me but they mustn’t forget your precious daughter, Lusanda. She is the one who took Thando away from me.
MAMA: It was only to protect her.
JACKSON: I would never hurt her. I wouldn’t hurt a fly.
MA’KHULU: Lusanda says you were abusive towards her.
JACKSON: She’s my wife, what happens in our home is our business.
TA’MKHULU: If it hurts my daughter it is my business. Thando and Lusanda are going to stay here with us and you are going to rot in jail.
JACKSON: Thando is my daughter. You cannot take her away from me. You want her to have a father in prison?
MA’KHULU: The police are on their way. Leave now or else I will make sure they arrest you.
JACKSON: I’m not leaving without Thando and Lusanda. I’m taking them back to Joburg with me.
MA’KHULU: They are staying right here in this house.
The police siren is loud and sharp, a police vehicle is heard parking outside the house.
TA’MKHULU: Here they are. The police are here to get you.
JACKSON: I am not leaving without my family.
Jackson reaches for the knife on the kitchen table and threatens Lusanda with it.
MAMA: Put that down! Jackson please don’t do this.
Ma’khulu and Ta’mkhulu cry and shout while Jackson walks closer towards Lusanda with the knife pointed at her throat.
JACKSON: (to Lusanda) If I can’t have Thando, neither can you.
MAMA: Please don’t do this.
THANDO: Tata! Please leave Mama alone. I will go with you. I will choose you. Please let her go!
A police officer looks through the kitchen door.
THANDO: Tata, please don’t hurt Mama. I will go with you. Please.
JACKSON: Let’s leave now then.
THANDO: Yes, my bags are already packed.
The police officer watches from the kitchen door. Jackson puts down the knife and the policeman runs in to arrest him. They drag him away. Lusanda sits hugging Thando in a corner, crying from the shock. Ma’khulu and Ta’mkhulu comfort them.
MAMA: I thought he was going to kill me. I was so afraid.
MA’KHULU: You are safe now. They have taken him away.
TA’MKHULU: He won’t be back here again.
MAMA: Thank you mama, thank you tata.
The family shares hugs and kisses.
Tell us: Do you think Thando was brave?