The funeral of Moses Mooi, Ntsika’s father, went on successfully. Ntsika recognised new faces, some he knew from the family, some he recognised as the last ones he saw on his wedding day when he and Nambitha tied the knot two years ago. A bunch of old people claiming to be Moses’ friends were in attendance as well, a couple of old women whom Ntsika saw as his previous step mothers were too. So many of them. Moses was really a ladies man on his younger days, one thing Ntsika hadn’t inherited from him. He only had about four girlfriends before meeting Nambitha. Four girlfriends, and that was nothing compared to the amount of fun his old man had on his youth years.
Ntsika and Nambitha had suggested therapy for Mfundo, suspecting that his discovery of grandpa’s dead body on his rocking chair might’ve disturbed him a little, but little Mfundo (or little Mikey) never showed any signs of being disturbed by that sight of his bleeding, dead grandpa.
After the burial, they returned to grandma’s house where they had left her. When they pushed the door open to get in, a smell wormed it’s way to their lost and confused faces, a hot smell from the kitchen.
“Is that what I think it is?” Ntsika asked behind Nambitha as they and kids shuffled in, dressed in black.
“Mama,” Nambitha called out.
“Perfect time! How was the funeral?” Grandma asked as she appeared in the passage behind the kitchen. Less wrinkles showed in her smile.
“The funeral…hambe kakuhle, mama,” Nambitha with unease in her voice.
Grandma stood between her daughter and Ntsika, wrapped her hands in both their arms. “Come on,” she softly dragged them to the table in the lounge and pulled the chairs for them like she’s a waitress. Mfundo and Fezeka followed, smiling on their own. Table filled with empty white plates, a fork and a knife on each side of each pate near the glasses. Even the tablecloth looked new new and gold, like it was from a fancy restaurant.
“Kwenzakalani, mama?” Nambitha asked.
“I don’t hear you. What are you saying?” Grandma Khosi said.
“Ndithi kwenzakalani, mama?”
“Why are you speaking Xhosa all of a sudden. We are not supposed to be too traditional, right?” Grandma said, then she winked at her son in law. “And I’m not antiquated. I’m very much a modern woman, quite sure of it.”
Ntsika immediately looked down and cleared his throat.
Nambitha flipped open her mouth to say something, but grandma Khosi spoke at once. “Little Mikey and his sis. Come, come and sit here,” she tapped the open seats opposite a vacant one. “That chair is for granny. Granny, not gogo,” her smile widened.
Nambitha and Ntsika looked at each other.
“Mama, why…why are you doing this?”
“Oh, silly you. It’s mom, not mama.” Then grandma hurried to the kitchen and came back with a white bowl of lasagne, the steam rising to her face, carrying the smell they encountered when they walked in. Question marks on Nambitha’s face and Ntsika’s face. The kids looked excited with bright grins, and they had already grabbed their own fork and knife.
Grandma Khosi dished up for her black skinned white family. She looked at the kids, “last night I saw that you two dumped your dirty plates in the sink without washing them,” she said. “But don’t worry. Do you know that granny can change into a dish washing machine? Like the one you have at your home?”
“Really granny?” Mfundo said.
“Yes, little Mikey. Just dump your plate in the sink without washing it again then you’ll see,” said grandma Khosi with a smile.
After she was done dishing up, she went to the side and pulled out her phone from the green apron she was wearing. She dialed and called someone. Ntsika ate his food in silence like he wasn’t even there.
Nambitha couldn’t eat. She watched Khosi on the side as the old woman spoke on the phone. Whoever she was calling had answered. Nambitha could hear that she was speaking to her older daughter Nontombi, Nambitha’s sister. And grandma’s smile was gone as she spoke. She told Nontombi how much she misses her, her kids and her husband, and how she wishes they were here right now with her. And grandma said that all of that in Xhosa.
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