“Oh My brother’s daughter! You are here. How was your day at school?” Aunty Rebecca asks, the day was long and draining, but it feels more like a complaint to say it.
“My day was perfect. I was extremely happy the whole Day, that’s why I am so drained.” The smile dissipates immediately, why would she lie like that? Like a professional!
“Wow I’m so happy that you are happy. Maybe you need to sleep. What time is Tabitha coming back?”
“She usually comes around six, but this week she said she has outdoor activities and she might be back earlier or later than usual.”
“Mmh, outdoor activities!” She curves her lips downwards, “we can’t disagree can we?”
“Aunty Not today please. Where is grandmother and aunty?”
“They are in the balcony.”
Luhle runs towards her bedroom. She drops her schoolbag in her white carpet, and closes her bedroom. She takes out her blazer, white shirt, and marron scorch skirts, she throws the shirt into her blue violet basket that matches her curtains, and bedding. Her ex friends had said her style is too girly and childish, but she loves it just like this. It belongs more to her than anything else. She hangs the skirt and the blazer in her white wardrobe. She remains with white socks, vests and panties on. She pulls her light blanket that she mostly uses in cozy winter lounging in front of their TV. She covers herself up and she nods off.
She is in her previous home. Her mother’s home. The whole family is in the thatched round house. Her Mother is shouting on top of her voice, “I don’t want her in my house! I am not taking her, I can’t risk my marriage because of her. She must either go to her father’s or remain here!”
Then there’s a woman’s crying voice, sounding afar, like she is outside. “Oh child, you have spoilt my intestines! I never left you, why are you leaving your own?” The coarse, old, and pained voice of an old woman says. Then suddenly there’s a voice of a man, “Stop it all of you! No one is leaving!”
“I am leaving!” The voice that was her mother’s says, but now on a stranger, she can’t recognise it. Then the voices are shouting all at once, the cry of the woman outside the round, sounds closer now, closer and closer. She drops to reality, her eyes open. She realises she has been dreaming, but besides the thatched round, her maternal grandmother and her mother, everything else is real and happening. She pulls the white towel, and covers her bottom and legs, fastening it around her tiny waist. She opens the door, the huge noise of controversy waves into her room, it’s coming from the parents’ bedroom. She marches towards it, still trying to settle. She realises that it is already dark outside. Too dark it’s probably eight pm.
The door to the parents’ bedroom is open, her aunties are there, shouting, her grandmother cursing and yelling, Tabitha siting on bed, not crying. Who might the woman who was crying in the dream be? It was probably just a dream.
Before Luhle could even try and pour oil on troubled waters, the aunts march out, followed by the grandmother, and dad. They pass her, they go downstairs, Luhle follows them, only to realise that they have packed up. They all grab their suitcases, and off they leave. Not even a word to Luhle. The thought of dad’s last night’s words nags her mind like a bee in a bonnet. How could they just turn and leave. Dad! How could he be driving them home. What happened? She totally has no one to ask, Tabitha will never say anything personal to her any day. But she’s got to try, hasn’t she? She runs back upstairs. The door to her parents’bedroom is opened, just like it has been.
Tabitha is not inside, but her balcony door is opened, she is standing in front of her beautiful view in the back of the houses, different lights from streets and house buildings. The wind is a mixture of cold and warm, perfect just the way it should be after an afternoon’s nap. Perfect, it will be much easier for Luhle, now that Tabitha isn’t seeing her getting in. She can search the energy first before attempting anything. Ok, she knows the plan. She stands quietly next to her. She stays silent just like her. They stay like this until they are in one accord. They both sigh simultaneously. Luhle rests her head on Tabitha’s shoulder, Tabitha rests her cheek on Luhle’s short haired head.
“I wish to ask what happened. But I think I know. I am sorry. I’m didn’t know things were this bad now” Luhle says, her mind recaps everything she had thought about earlier, things that Tabitha did for this family since she came, Luhle’s eyes suddenly fill with tears. This can’t be right. Tabitha may be a stranger and not her blood, yes, but she deserves better. She too is a human, a kind-hearted human.
“It’s Okay Baby. We should be grateful for life. Some people right now are in hospitals, looking with envy at those who have food and visitors. We have it all can’t you see? Everything else is just a bonus blessing” Tabitha says, stroking Luhle’s back.
“We had an argument about me not having kids, again. Your grandmother said that I killed my…” She sighs, “it is all over now. We just go inside and I make you and your dad something to eat. He will be tired when he gets back.”
“Who did grandmother say you killed?”
Tabitha sighs again, deeply this time. “my children. don’t worry about that. Forget I said it. She probably didn’t mean it”
“Oh My word”, Luhle turns to look Tabitha in the eyes, she covers her mouth with her both hands, “I am so sorry, I don’t know what has gotten over…”
“Shhh don’t worry baby. Listen, there’s something I’ve got to teach you hey… When people are mistreating someone all at once, the problem is not them. Sometimes God has to watch you go through hatred so you can master love. You can’t master the opposite of something you have never experienced, yes sometimes you can, but somethings are just intentionally let to be. I am telling you so you will know that there’s nothing wrong with your family. They can’t be all wrong and I be the only one who is right. Sometimes you’ve to be wise enough not to be carnal in everything.”
“Wow, Tabitha…” Luhle magnets back to Tabitha’s shoulder. “I don’t know what to say. You make me scared of losing you everyday”
“I also can’t afford to lose a fourth child. But we don’t know what might happen in life. We’ll just let the time lead.”