It’s the second week of June, a month after the burial. A lot has changed. In fact, everything and everyone has changed. Tabitha has been more impatient and violent lately. The pregnancy she was suspecting the other day when she said it in the table, to MaKhumalo and the family, turned out to be true, but a week after she confirmed, she miss carried. That was the turning point of everything. The last straw!
“Are you sure you’re OK Luhle? You always spend your days here, even when there’s nothing you really busy with” the library assistant says,
“Yes,” she replies, giggling faintly “I am OK, in fact I am going home now, I am done for the day” she packs up her stuff reluctantly. Fear engulfs her, what If Tabitha is not sleeping? What if she is full of the lounge with her bottles of bitter alcohol? She walks home, needy for the long walk and the cold wind brushing on her face. Since the school closed, this is all she ever does, spending her days in the library, walking an hour back home. Anything that will serve a break from Tabitha’s cruel presence!
She opens the door, careful not to make any sound. She tiptoes into the kitchen, Tabitha isn’t there, in the lounge she is not there. Perfect! Luhle can make something to eat peacefully. There are three bottles in the sink, and a broken glass on the floor. Thinking how clean she left the kitchen in the morning, Luhle feels sick, especially at the thought that Tabitha has drank three bottles of wine, today alone.
She cooks a quick dish, savory rice and chicken salad. She dishes up for herself and her stepmother, she places her stepmother’s food in the microwave. Then Luhle eats, quickly before Tabitha storms in here, falling and snapping.
When she is done, she washes her plate and then packs it, and then she locks herself in her bedroom. Tabitha’s drunken cry keeps Luhle awake all night. This is what Tabitha does, drinks and drinks, and then she either weeps the whole night, or shout, “Why did you take my baby? What do you want from me? Why did you take my husband?” Luhle knows that Tabitha needs help, but how on earth do you tell her that she needs help when she is always drunk and never a moment sober. For some reasons, Luhle doesn’t blame Tabitha. She has been through what no other ordinary woman can go.
Things get worse when Tabitha starts beating Luhle up. Some days she is dangerous, and some days she fumbles around falling from here to there, trying to hit her. Luhle is tempted, so many times to call MaKhumalo, but besides insulting and chasing Tabitha away, what would MaKhumalo do to help? Luhle doesn’t want to lose Tabitha, but she doesn’t want herself near her at the same time.
But what if she can deal with this alone? What if she’s got it in her? Daddy was a man full of solutions, why can’t she be that kind of daddy’s little princess?