My image, my reputation, my dignity- basically, all the elements that contributed to the formation of my existence were on the edge of being destroyed. Uncle Thabo lied so naturally, like he had the lies prepared and rehearsed. If I didn’t know any better, I’d believe him and doubt myself too, that’s how “true” his lies sounded. I couldn’t just sit there and watch him paint negative mental pictures of myself. He was lying, and someone had to tell him. Unfortunately, that someone had to be me. “Young lady, this is a court of law, not some playground” one of the policemen said, as he aggressively shoved me against the wall. My shoulder hit hard against the wall, and I fell down. I was lying down there, screaming in agony. “Hey, can’t you see you’re hurting the poor child?” Mr Nkomo shouted, as he appeared from the direction of the court room. “She is turning the court room into a circus” one policeman explained. “And that gives you the right to hurt her?” Mr Nkomo asked as he picked me up. “We did not hurt her, she just fell” another policeman explained. “If she sustains any injuries, you two will suffer the consequences of your heartlessness” Mr Nkomo threatened, brushing the dust off my clothes. “How could they? How could they take his side, after everything he has done to me and my family?” I asked, in great despair. “See? This child is out to cause chaos here and we can’t allow that” one policeman said. “Chaos? You call this chaos? You call this chaos?” I asked, jumping on to him and hitting him with my fists. “How’s this for chaos? Huh? How’s this?” I asked again, hitting him hard. Mr Nkomo and the other policeman stopped me, by removing me from the policeman I was hitting. “No, let go of me. Let go of me! I want to show him what chaos looks like” I screamed. “Let go!! I want to give him a sweet taste of chaos” I yelled. At that time, Mr Nkomo was holding me tight, making sure that I couldn’t beat the policeman up again.

People were staring at me, and as usual, I didn’t care. “What is going on here?” Three security guards arrived, to attend to the matter. Mr Nkomo tried explaining to them, but the cops wanted us out of the premises. They called me crazy. From being called a drug addict, I was called crazy. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on my character. The security guards had just arrived a minute ago, but they knew and believed that I was crazy and had to be thrown out. Mr Nkomo and I were thrown out, and were ordered to stay out. Mr Nkomo was so angry, and I, on the other hand, was feeling numb. I had no trace of feeling, whatsoever, because my feelings were always going to waste. Nothing was ever going to change, no matter how or what I felt .. We got to the car and Mr Nkomo helped me to get in. My shoulder still hurt like hell. “Mandiphumle, what you did in there was wrong. I don’t care what your reasons were, but you were wrong” he said. I felt a lump forming in my throat. All I needed was a bit of understanding, and maybe love too, but certainly not judgement. He got into the car and drove off. He was angry, angry at me for failing to stomach the lies. My mother though, if only she listened to me when I begged her to leave the man. Ever since I was a little girl, I searched for valid reasons why my mother struggled to leave that man. She was beautiful and smart, and I don’t doubt that she would have coped well without him. Because of her “love” for him, we had to suffer and endure abuse. Seeing my mother’s face bruised and swollen was abuse to me. Lying awake at night, listening to my mother’s screams was abuse to me. I suffered. I endured, because she loved. Even from her “grave” she was the reason I was abused. We got home. I stepped out of the car and walked away, leaving Mr Nkomo behind. “Hey, Mandy” Sibusiso greeted, as I walked in. I ignored him and walked towards my room. “If I could give you your virginity back, believe me I would” he said. I stopped on my tracks and turned to look at him. “What did you just say?” I asked. “I mean, I hate this tension between us” he explained. “You bastard! If I could kill you right now, I would” I said. Mr Nkomo walked, just as I was uttering those words.. “Whoa! What is going on here?” he asked. “Ask him” I replied and walked away. I got to my room and closed the door behind me. The way I was feeling, I could just scream at the top of my voice, and maybe I would have felt better. I had a lump on my throat and every time I swallowed, it felt like it was getting bigger. My phone ring, and it was Alex calling. “Hello?” I picked up. “How did it go?” he asked. “He insulted me, in front of everyone. He called me a party animal and a drug addict. They threw me out and called me crazy” I mumbled. “My love, calm down” he said. “Fuck! Don’t tell me to calm down. Why must people always tell me to calm down?” I exploded. “Mandy, I’m on your side here. I am just trying to understand what happened” he politely said. I sighed, upon realizing that I wasn’t being fair on him. I told him everything. “My love, I’m so sorry. Those people are always like that. Its their job to be heartless” he said. I wiped the tear that escaped my eye as I was listening to him. “How’s your shoulder now?” he asked. “It still hurts” I said, wiping my tears again. “You need to see a doctor” he said. “No, I’ll be fine” I said. “Mandy, please stop being stubborn. I’m coming to fetch you. I will have someone check your shoulder for you” he said. “Alex, Mr Nkomo…” he cut me short. “Forget about Mr Nkomo, your wellbeing is at stake here. ” he said.

He sounded like he wasn’t prepared to take “no” for an answer. “What am I going to tell Mr Nkomo?” I asked. “Tell him you’re taking a walk to clear your head” he advised. We agreed that he would come and take me to his friend, who was on duty at that point in time. I went to freshen up, because my face and hair were messy. When I was done, I went to the living room, where Mr Nkomo was feeding Enkosi. He looked at me, probably waiting for me to apologize for what happened earlier. “Uhm, I’m going to take a walk” I said. “Where to?” he asked. “I don’t know, but I just need to clear my head” I replied. “Mmhmm” he softly moaned. I took a few steps away. “Mandiphumle, Sibusiso and I are only trying to help” he said. “What do you mean?” I asked, still looking away, but not walking. “What you did earlier, threatening to kill him, that was really out of line” he replied. I turned to look at him. “Did he tell you why I snapped at him?” I asked. “No, but…” I cut him short. “I didn’t think so too” I said, and walked away. I walked a few houses down the street, until Alex’s car appeared. He stopped right next to me, and I stepped into the car. “Hey” he greeted, planting a light feather kiss on my cheek. “How are you feeling now?” he asked. I silently shrugged my shoulders. He started the car and drive off.. “Mandy, everything will be okay. I promise you” he said. “Uncle Thabo sounded so sincere, like he meant every word” I said. “I can imagine, but let’s rather focus on you for now” he said. “That shoulder needs to be checked out” he said added. “Are you going to lay a complaint against those cops?” he asked. I shook my head. “Like, who would believe me?” I sarcastically asked. “If they failed to believe that uncle Thabo killed my mother, how would they believe that one of their own, hurt my shoulder?” I asked. “If you have sustained any injuries, we are going to take legal actions” he said. “Whatever man, I’m not ready for all the drama” I said. I wanted nothing to do with the law, I did not want to be failed by the same system, twice. “Stop being negative. Nobody said Thabo will walk free” he said. “Can we talk about something else?” I asked. He agreed, and tried talking about the weather, and nature, and music- all the things that he knew I loved, but I wasn’t responding well. He decided to let me be. We got to his friend’s surgery, and he took me his friend’s office. After hearing how I got injured and scanning me in search if any bone damages, he told me I was going to be okay, and gave me some pain killers. Alex and I walked out.. “Thank you so much for everything” I said. “Don’t mention it” he said, holding my hand.. “Let’s go home, just for a few minutes. Chukwudi and Zizo are not back yet” he suggested. Because I also needed to get away from Mr Nkomo’s house, I agreed. “Tomorrow, I’m off. Can I take you and Enkosi out?” he asked. “Where to?” I asked too. “I don’t know, you’ll decide” he said. “I don’t know, we’ll talk tomorrow about it” I said.. We got to their house and hanged out, talking about a whole lot of ish. I found myself laughing, just when I thought I’d never laugh again. I wished I could stay for long, but I couldn’t. “I have to go” I announced. “Aah, already?” he asked in disappointment. “Its late, Alex” I said. “Okay. Come, let’s go to your old room” he said. “Maybe some other time man” I declined. “Come on” he playfully picked me up, careful not to hurt me. He carried me to my old room, and I was laughing all the way. He put me down and gently closed the door. We held hands and went to stand by the window. “Missed this?” he asked, resting my head on his chest while we were watching the beauty of trees as they waved to different directions with branches so leafy and green. “A lot” I responded. “You know, every time I walk into this room, I feel closer to you” he said. “That’s so sweet, this view is so refreshing” I said. That room was where we felt a connection between us. Our mutual love for nature kind of played a role in us “falling for each other”.

We were weird and we loved it. After fooling around for a while, I really had to leave. He held me by my waist and spined me around, as I was trying to walk towards the door. ” Hey” he softly said. He stared at me in the eye. “I love you, Mandiphumle. We’re in this together” he said, cupping my face in both his hands. “I.. Uhh..” I removed his hands from my face. “Let’s go” I said. He laughed and let me go.. We got to his car and he drove me home.. He dropped me off a few houses away, and I went into the house. Mr Nkomo and Sibusiso looked like they were having a rather serious conversation. I greeted, with my eyes hopping from the one to another.. “Mandiphumle, you’re back” Mr Nkomo uncomfortably said. I wasn’t sure whether I was disturbing or not, so I silently continued walking. “Mandiphumle, please come and sit down” Mr Nkomo politely asked, and I went to sit next to him. “Mandiphumle, my child, I want you to know that we are on your side. Whatever happens from now onwards, I want you to know that you’re not alone” he said. I could feel my heart pumping hard against my chest. I was really not ready for any bad news, or any news that would shift me from the happy zone that I was in, after spending time with Alex. “My baby, I have been given a detailed update about what went on in court, after we left” he added. I nodded, signaling that he should continue talking. “It is said that.. Uhm.. My dear, you have to be strong. God is with you” he mumbled. “Mr Nkomo, please get to the point” I said, with a shaky voice. “Thabo was granted bail….” my mind switched off right after hearing those words. Anything else that he said fell on deaf ears. I knew it. I knew I shouldn’t have listened to Mr Nkomo about laying charges and all that shit! I knew it. “The case is still in progress, Mandy. He is not entirely a free man yet. And besides, his bail is two thousand rands, and we’re not sure if he will have that kind of money” Sibusiso said. “And don’t worry, this will not affect you in any way” Mr Nkomo said. “I knew it. I shouldn’t have listened to you” I said. “Mandy, please” Mr Nkomo pleaded. “No, but its true. This will only complicate my life and that man will hunt me down and kill me, like he killed my mother!” I yelled .”I promise you, it would never get to that’ Mr Nkomo said. “How do you know? Or let me ask, what will you do to stop him? Huh? Sell him sweets?” I asked. “Dammit, Mandiphumle!” Sibusiso exclaimed. “This is my father you’re talking to, and I will not allow you to address him like that” he said. “He’s the one…” Sibusiso didn’t even listen to what I had to say. “Shut up!” he shouted and I pressed my lips tightly together and looked away. “My father didn’t let you to stay here so you can disrespect him in his house. If you feel you don’t need his help, get the hell out of here” he said. I turned to look at him. “Get your act together, because I will not sit here and watch my father being treated like trash by a bloody orphan”….