A week later

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I was starting to settle down at Mr Nkomo’s house. I almost felt at home, especially because I was reunited with my baby brother. I don’t know, maybe it was just my imagination, but I thought he had lost a lot of weight. He seemed like a happy baby though, just as I remembered him. Mr Nkomo did everything in his power to make us feel at home.

Uncle Thabo on the other hand has been taken in, while the case was being investigated. He applied for bail on his first court hearing, but was denied bail, because the case was sensitive and more evidence needed to be gathered. Mr Nkomo was quite confident that uncle Thabo was going to rot in jail. The justice system operated on its own terms, which is why I didn’t want to raise my hopes for justice to be served.

Mr Nkomo also tried getting me back to school, so I could finish my matric, but my teachers gave me a hard time. Since I missed some of my exams, they couldn’t take me back, blah blah blah! “God will help you, my child” my mother would have said that. She always knew how to make me feel better about everything .. I made peace with the fact that I was going to try again the following year .

Since I had nothing better to do, I offered to accompany Mr Nkomo as he was going to buy his stock. I woke up and got myself all bathed up, and then bathed the little one and dressed him up in an adorable denim outfit. It was a fairly sunny day, so I was also dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. When we were done, we went to the kitchen, where Mr Nkomo was preparing breakfast. “My two favorite people in the world” he proudly said, and I laughed. “Good morning, Sir” I said as I walked in.. “Morning my angel, please sit down. Breakfast is almost ready” he said. Sitting down and letting him serve me didn’t seem right to me. He was an old man, he needed to be served. “Can I help you with anything?” I politely asked. “No, no, no! Sit down” he said. I pulled a chair and sat down. “Did you guys sleep well?” he asked. I nodded. “Yes, we slept well. How about you?” I responded. “I slept well. I slept a little late though, because I was doing my calculations” he said. “This must be exhausting, working with numbers all the time, and having to make sure that you don’t run your business at a loss” I said. He laughed. “So you hate numbers? What do you love then?” he asked. “I love helping people, medically, so I’d rather be a nurse, if not a doctor” I said. “Wow! My baby, that’s huge. How old are you, again?” he asked. “I’m 18” I replied. “Oh, you’re still a baby. Don’t worry, you will achieve all your goals. Next year, we have to fight for you to go back to school, so you can get that matric” he said. I nodded. “My friend, the one I was staying with, was going to take me to a college, so I could do something with my life” I said. His smile faded away. “The Nigerian?” he asked.

Mood changer. I decided to brush the subject off.. “Yeah, my mother always wanted me to be a nurse. She said that profession would suit me” I said. We then talked about nursing and how it would suit me, blah blah blah.

He dished up and we ate. Enkosi was no fan of eggs, and the breakfast was eggy .. I gave him bread, with just margarine and polony. When we were done, I did the dishes and cleaned up in the kitchen. Mr Nkomo was quite messy. While I was cleaning up, he was preparing to leave. When I was done, we left.

We got to town and did a whole lot of shopping. I didn’t know buying stock was that exhausting, so much calculations and stuff. “Mr Nkomo, can I ask for a little favor?” I asked, extremely bored out of my skull. “Yes?” he asked, with his eyes fixed on the products he was buying. “Uhm.. Can I go to Chukwudi’s house?” I asked. He looked at me. “I just want to say goodbye, a proper goodbye” I explained. “Why? You don’t owe those people anything” he responded. “I know, but I feel like telling him what happened. I don’t want it to look like I disappeared on him” I said. “And the baby? I can’t take care of him now, as you can see” .. He was trying his utmost best to get me to change my mind, but none of his excuses worked. I was even willing to go there with Enkosi. He agreed, offering to take us there, so he could know where to look when we “disappear”. I did not mind him taking us there, minding wasn’t going to change anything, anyway. We got there , and he parked outside. He wanted to wait for us, but I insisted that he left us there. Finally, he did.

I had my own key, so I used it to get in. Alex gave me a fright, as usual. He was doing the dishes. “Dude, you’re scaring me, again” I jokingly said. He turned to look at me. Excitedly, he jumped up to me for a hug. “Dude!!!!!!” he hung on to me for a dear life. After a while, we broke the hug and he stared at me in the eye. “What happened to you? Where did you disappear to?” he then looked at Enkosi.. “And who is this cute chap over here?” he flooded me with questions. I laughed. “One question at a time, dude. I’m so happy to find you here. I was prepared to leave you guys a note” I said .. “What happened?” he asked. I went over to the couch and he followed me. We sat down and I told him everything. “Oh, I see. Its a good thing though that things are working out. If anyone deserves a break from pain,its you” he said. That was sweet, or so I thought. “Chukwudi is hurt, thinking that you got mugged or something” he said. “That’s why I had to come here, so that you guys can relax” I said. He nodded. “So, who is this little champion now?” he asked. “Its my brother. My mother’s baby” I said. “Ah man, he’s adorable. Kids are the cutest creatures I’ve ever came across. Their innocence bring a wave of peace in my heart.” he said. I smiled. “I heard you’re going to be a father, congratulations” I said. He rolled his eyes. “Zizo!” he said, and I laughed. “She was just telling me, for me to know” I said. “Why didn’t she wait for me to tell you? Geez” he responded. I laughed. We talked about anything and everything, for what seemed like forever. He even made us something to eat, and personally fed Enkosi. He was so fond of him.

“So, when are you coming back?” he asked. “Chukwudi would surely love to see you, one last time before you walk out of our lives” he added. “I don’t know, but you have to write his number for me, I will call him” I said. Someone knocked on the front door. Alex and I looked at each other. The knock persisted, and Alex went to open up. It was Mr Nkomo. He walked in, looking like he was searching for drugs or prostitution, like he knew foreigners to be big on those. “Mr Nkomo, we were just about to leave” I uncomfortably said. He looked at Alex and said his greetings, and Alex greeted back. “I’m here to fetch these children” he said. “Oh yes, they were also thinking of leaving, Sir” Alex said. Mr Nkomo picked Enkosi up.. “Let’s go, Mandiphumle” he ordered. “Sir, could you give me a minute? I’ll be with you just now” I asked. Without a word, he walked out with the baby. Alex and I looked at each other. “So, this is it?!” he said. “Yep” I nodded. He held both my hands and stared at me in the eye. “I.. You know, the little time that I’ve spent with you has changed my life” he said. “I’ve learnt a lot from this, and from you as well” he added. I smiled. “I’ll forever be grateful for your warmth and loving nature. If it wasn’t for you guys, I would have died on the streets” I said. “It was all part of God’s plan that our paths crossed. What melts my heart about this whole thing is that you bring the best out of me. You bring out the child in me” he said. That almost felt like he was getting too attached. I maintained my smile. “Yeah, I really have to go now” I said, removing my hands from his. “Mandiphumle, I wish you didn’t have to leave” he said. Same here, but I still had to leave. “I know, but there’s nothing we can do about it” I said. I planted a light feather kiss on his cheek and turned to walk away. He grabbed me by my arm and turned me around. “I love you, Mandy” he said. My heart hit so hard against my chest. “I love you, seeing you leave, breaks my heart” he added. “Alex, can we please not do this? We don’t need any complications in our lives” I responded. “Complications? How is loving you a complication?” he asked. “You have a fiance and a baby on the way” I said. “I have a baby on the way, yes, but I have no fiance” he said. I rolled my eyes. “You really don’t have to do this” I said. “Do what?” he asked, as he held my hand again. “This, Alex. This!” I said, snatching my hand away. “Mandiphumle!!! Time is money!” Mr Nkomo yelled from outside. “I have to go” I said as i walked away. He rushed up to me, held my hand and pinned me against the door. He then kissed me. In my whole life, I’ve never been kissed that passionately. I broke the kiss.. “What are you doing???” I asked. “What I should have done, a long time ago” he said “Mandiphumle!!” Mr Nkomo called out, again.. “I have to go” I said. “Wait here” he said, as he ran to his room. “Why?” I shouted.. “Just wait” he shouted back. I was running out of time, but i waited anyway. After a minute, he rushed back in. “Here” he handed me a phone. “What is this?” I asked. “Its my old phone. I want you to use it, until you get yourself a brand new phone. It already has a sim card, along with a memory card” he said. “Why must I use it?” I asked. “Because I want to be able to call you” he replied. Before I could say anything, he gently placed his lips on mine. The way he explored my lips with his tongue, wow. Even if I wanted to stop him, I couldn’t. “What the hell is going on here?” Mr asked, as he walked in. We broke the kiss and both looked at him. “You, son of a bitch. What are you doing to this child? Can’t you that this is a baby?” he asked, as he rushed towards Alex. “I’m sorry, Sir. We were just…” before he could even finish his statement, Mr Nkomo slapped him across the face. “Stay away from this child” he said, pulling me out of the house..

We got to the car and drove off.. I could feel anger in the air that Mr Nkomo was breathing. “Mr….” .. “Shut up!” he cut me off. “So you were these boys’ sex toy? Huh? Is that why they let you stay in their house?” he angrily asked. I was not sure whether it was safe to respond, so I kept quiet. “Look, I will not tolerate this kind of behaviour. No child under my care will be a sex toy to some filthy Nigerian boys. Choose between me and them, so that I won’t feel guilty when their AIDS is killing you” he said. They even had their own AIDS, wow! “Choose, Mandiphumle” he ordered. “I choose to stay with you, Sir. I’m really….” again, he cut me short. “Good, I don’t ever want to see those bastards again. They will only ruin your life and leave you on your deathbed” he said. Alex’s phone beeped with a text. “What was that?” Mr Nkomo asked. “Oh, its my old phone. I left it at their house when I was going shopping that day” I calmly answered as I opened the message. “I’m sorry for complicating your life, but I can’t help how I’m feeling. I’m right behind you, following you to where you stay” it read. As much as I liked him, but there was a pile of reasons why we couldn’t be together. If only our hearts understood….

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