The dinner is quite amazing, the chats and everything is going according to the plan. The earlier stunt that grandmother was trying to pull, has faded as if it never happened. That’s only until she begins again.

“So…” She clears her throat, “my lovely son’s wife, Are You pregnant already?” She says, making an irritating sound of fork against her plate. Dad clears his throat, he then moves his tie about, then throws a “is that necessary” look on grandmother. Tabitha’s hands are under the table now, her eyes are scanning around for any rescue. This time Luhle can’t be the savior, she tries thinking of something to say to break the freeze, but she fails.

“I think I am. I have not yet tested, but I’ve been suspecting”, Tabitha says, her voice as low as someone’s asking for forgiveness. “I will test very soon”

Grandmother laughs, the kind of laughter that’s not laughter at all. “Itโ€™s been five years, five years into the marriage and this has been your song since.”

“Ma Stop it please, please, can you be nice just for once!” Dad says, in total annoyance. “Can we please enjoy this meal in peace” he continues.

“Oh well, I mean, you have a daughter somewhere else, you surely can bring someone else of more potential to…”

Dad bangs the table, the plates crackle along, “Ma Stop it! Please!” It is now so cold, it seems impossible to save the moment. Tabitha has been facing down.

“No brother! YOU stop it! You can’t talk to our mother like that, simply because of your Barren wife! When she happens to give birth, she kills the babies! Come on, must we all suffer now because of this female you call a wife!” Says the other aunt, the words Pierce Luhle’s heart, she can barely take it when it’s her grandmother, but her aunties! It’s worse than the worst of everything on earth. She loves them, and she loves Tabitha, she desires a world where her aunties get along with her Mom and actually love her, but currently…!

“I hate her, she must know” grandmother says within her teeth, but Luhle could hear.

“I am sorry; I’ve had a long day, can I…” Tabitha says in her heavy and cracking voice.

“Not while we’re still having dinner, you want people to say we’re abusing you in this house?” says Aunty Zannie herself just before Tabitha could finish her sentence. Luhle has always known that they don’t like her stepmother, but she hadn’t realized that the hate has gotten this far.

Dad stands up, he slaps the napkin into the table, “This is my house, I will not stand here and listen to all of you insulting my wife as if I’m not here!” He snaps, “She’s had enough of all of you! If anyone wants a child, they must bear a child with their own wombs; you’re all siting here pretending like you ever loved my late children. I will not have this, Ma, it stops now. Mam Sokhulu, You stay here, and enjoy the food with us”

He sits down slowly, snuggling in his chair, just like the authoritative Man he should be in his house. Everyone is now quiet. The words that dad has just said are eating Luhle up, why would the family hate their brother’s children simply because of their mother. Is this woman having a shady past or what? Luhle recalls that since she came, Tabitha has never narrated her story to her, all she does each time when Luhle asks, is ignore or motivate her, to flee completely from the topic at hand.

Luhle Knows there’s something about her, whether too bad, or too good. However, the truth remains installed in Luhle’s heart, Tabitha has never ever hated her, or done something bad to her. She has loved her as much as she loved her three children before they died. A boy and two girls! The boy died on the second year of their marriage, when he was only two weeks old, that’s when Luhle had been expecting a change, probably abuse from Tabitha, but none, and after everything that happened, Tabitha still remains so strong and loving. She is a prayerful woman yes, but this kind of strength she has must have had a difficult training process, she wonders what it is, as always, she wonders, Tabitha doesn’t seem like someone to say it anytime soon.