I made us some tea, and we had a general conversation over a cup of tea. He sounded so loving and caring, like he wasn’t capable of killing innocent people. He seemed like he was trying so hard to make me loosen up and be happy, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t sit there and be happy around a man who took the only person I had in my life. I hated him, with every fibre of my being, but I had to roll over and play dead. When we were done, he started preparing dinner. I wanted to go and lie down, but he begged me to stay with him and keep him company. I was so annoyed, but I stayed and kept him company.

“You know, I’ve always loved cooking. When I was growing up, my siblings would make fun of me when I cook with my mother” he said. I looked at him. That was the first time Uncle Thabo ever mentioned his family. I never met any of his family members, as much as I have never met my mother’s side of the family too. “Oh?” I said, not knowing what else to say. “I’m telling you. My mother taught me a lot, and I’m happy to get the opportunity to apply my knowledge” he said. That was Uncle’s Thabo’s side I never knew existed. Since I was forced to keep him company, I decided to make use of his soft side, and ask him more about his relationship with mother.

“So, how did you and my mother meet?” I randomly asked. He looked at me. “I’m sorry, I just.. I was just…” he laughed. I paused and looked at him. “Relax,” he said. I silently exhaled in relief. “I met your mother on a very sunny day, 25 years ago” he said. I nodded, making him see that I wanted him to continue. “She was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. She carried a warm and welcoming smile, and she walked like a super model” I saw a trace of a smile, forming on his face. I nodded again. “It took her about a year to finally agree to be my girlfriend” he added. “That’s so cute. Where did you guys stay at the time?” I asked. “In a very small village. She was every guy’s dream” he proudly added. For me, the conversation was over- I got so annoyed, because the conversation wasn’t contributing to filling in the  piece of my life puzzle. Anything he said after that fell on deaf ears. I wanted to do more research about the village he was talking about, and see if I could find anything, or anyone.

We had dinner, and I offered to help him with the dishes. He was in a very happy mood, and I was wondering how he managed to carry on as if nothing happened, after killing my mother in cold blood. “Thank you for helping me out, but I don’t want you to overwork yourself. You still need to heal, remember?” he said. I smiled and nodded. He took Enkosi and walked to the main bedroom with him. Enkosi was slowly settling down, and cried a lot less. Kids adapt easily to environments, and Enkosi did just that.

The following morning, Uncle Thabo and Enkosi woke up and Uncle Thabo prepared Enkosi for the day ahead. I could hear him, chasing Enkosi around the house, annoyed to the max. They were making a lot of noise so I could not sleep. Just after they left, I got out of bed and made myself a bowl of cereal. Uncle Thabo went grocery shopping while I was still recovering. He bought everything that we needed to last us a month. As I was eating, someone knocked on our back door. I got up and went to open. It was Olwethu, dressed in her school uniform. “You shouldn’t be here,” I said as I stood by the doorway. She pushed me to the side and walked in. “Mandy, you need to get out of here” she said. “Where will I go?” I asked. The thought of leaving crossed my mind every minute of everyday, but where was I going to go? .. “We’ll think of something, as long as you’re out of this place. I took a deep sigh. “Olwethu, I need to plan this carefully. I can’t just pack and go, without knowing where I am going” I explained. She paced up and down, on panic mode. “You don’t have enough time. Mandy, its only a matter of time before Uncle Thabo hurts you again” she warned, and she was right. The caring and loving front that he was putting up was not going to last, and I had to escape before the monster wakes up from its sleep. “I think I have a clue” I said. “A clue?” she asked. I held her hand and led her to my room. She stood there while I bent down and looked for the letter I found in my mother’s room. I took it out and handed it to her. She took it and read it out loud. When she was done, she looked at me. “You have a sister” she happily said. I nodded. “We have to find her before I escape from here, for safety sake” I said. She nodded, almost like she understood what I was going through.

“This letter has no address though” she said. “I’ll look for its envelope, maybe its written there, somewhere” I said. “Okay, cool. I have to get going now. I will see you tomorrow morning. Please find that envelope” she said. She grabbed her school bag and rushed off. I went back to the main bedroom and thoroughly looked for the envelope, and I found quite a number of envelopes. I didn’t know which one belonged to the letter I was holding, but I took them all and went to hide them in my room.

Early in the afternoon, I decided to prepare samp and beans, I knew how much Uncle Thabo loved his samp and beans. I wanted to keep him happy, so he could trust me and let his guard down. For the baby, I prepared mashed potatoes. They got home, while I was still cooking. “Mmmh, that’s samp and beans,” Uncle Thabo said. I looked at him and smiled. “I prepared it just the way you like it” I announced. He thanked me and went to his room to rest, leaving me with Enkosi in the kitchen. Later, I dished up and took Uncle Thabo’s food to his room. I first fed the baby and ate, while watching TV. When I was done, I did the dishes and took the baby to bed, in Uncle Thabo’s room, then I went to bed too.

The following morning, Olwethu arrived before going to school. I showed her the envelopes, and she was as confused as I was, as to what needed to be done. “Maybe you should  write to all these addresss” she advised. “That will take forever. I need  to get out of here soon” I said. “What do you have in mind then?” she asked. “I want to visit these towns, and ask around when I get there” I said. “Mandy, these are four different towns, and they are distant from each other. How are you going to visit them  all?” she asked. “I don’t know. I will see. I really have to get out of here” I said. “Ok look, we will continue this conversation tomorrow morning. I have to go to school” she said. I nodded as she rushed out.

I took a bath and got dressed in an old pair of jeans and T-shirt with flip-flops. I was calculating the money I thought I needed for my journey, and it seemed like quite a lot of money, and nobody in our neighborhood would give me that kind of money- not even sis’Thandi. I knew Mr Nkomo to be a very warm and welcoming shop owner in our neighborhood, so I decided to go to him and ask for help. When I got there, Mr Nkomo wasn’t there, but his son. “Hi, ” I said as I leaned against the counter. He giggled. “Now you’re greeting” he playfully said. I maintained a straight face. “Is your father around?” I asked. He shook his head. “Why? you want to be served by him?” he asked. I was so annoyed, but I hung on to my calmness. “I wanted to talk to him” I explained. “Oh, okay. Well, he will not be here for the next three weeks” he said. Three weeks? I couldn’t wait for three weeks. Infact, I didn’t have three weeks.

“I wanted him to borrow me some money” I said. He stared at me for a few minutes. “Money?” he asked, and I  nodded. “How much?” he asked again. “Two thousand rands. I need it urgently, its a matter of life and death” I said, with no sense of shame in the world. His eyes widened in shock. “What are you going to do with that kind of money?” he asked. “I want to go somewhere. I promise, I will pay it back” I said. He shrugged his shoulders. “I’m sorry, he is not around” he said. Without a word, I turned and walked away. “Hey,” he called out. I stopped on my tracks and turned to look at him. “I can give you the money” he said. I smiled. “Really? Thank you so much, I will pay it back” I assured him. “On one condition” he said. “Condition?” I asked as my smile faded away. “I know you are a virgin, and every boy around here dreams of spreading your legs. I will give you the money only if you allow me to visit your island of pleasure” he said. “So you want me to sleep with you??” I asked. “Call it what you want to call it, but you will not pay back the money if you agree to this. My father is never going to give you that kind of money, knowing that you are only a school child with no personal source of income.And, every girl needs financial freedom, and I can give you that. I can give you money to do your hair and doll yourself up, take you out, buy you clothes- if you only let me be the first man to experience what you’ve been keeping between those legs” …