His lips gently rubbed against mine, like he was scared mine would break or get torn. His gentleness sent cold sensations down my spine. Yes, Sibusiso was once gentle with me, a little too gentle- but Alex took the cup. He kissed me like his life depended on it. He ran his left hand down the left side of my face, while his right hand rested on my right shoulder. After what seemed like forever, he gently pushed me to lie on the bed. He climbed on top of me and kissed me some more. In the middle of the kiss, he would stop and look at me straight in the eye like he was searching for my soul. I would blush and look away, but he would softly turn my face to look at him again. The connection our eyes created was out of this world.

After connecting our souls through a sexual intercourse, he got out of bed and picked the condom that we used up from the floor. He was still naked as he wrapped it with a 2 ply toilet paper that he found on the bedside. “Would you like anything to drink?” he asked, looking at me as I was lying on the bed, with my legs slightly apart. “Water, please” I replied. He nodded, taking a towel which was hung on the door and wrapping it around his waist. He then walked out of the room, with the used condom. Moments later, he walked back into the room, with a glass of water. “Here” he offered. “Thank you” I said, sitting up and taking the glass of water. He sat next to me. “How are you feeling?” he asked. I took my sweet time, slowly drinking my water and mentally constructing my response. He patiently looked at me.. Honestly, I had no trace of regret, none whatsoever. I enjoyed myself, and I believed that he enjoyed himself as well. We did what we felt like doing, and we were at peace with it. I finished drinking my water. “I’m okay” I said. He silently looked at me, still waiting for me to continue, but I didn’t. He laughed. “Okay. I’m also okay. I also want to thank you for creating that soul tie with me” he said. I looked at him, soul what? He smiled. “What are you talking about?” I asked. “I mean, when two people engage in a sexual intercourse, their souls connect. That is called a soul tie” he explained. Oh flip, the term was self explanatory man why didn’t I just think? “Oh, okay. That’s a very deep way of looking at it though” I responded. “Yeah, but it is deep. We go around, creating soul ties with people, and we end up carrying their spirits around” he said. The thought of me, creating a soul tie with Sibusiso made me cringe. “Can we not talk about that?” I asked. He gladly changed the subject and pulled a more lighter subject. We lied on our sides, facing each other and talking. He was playing with my hair, and I was uncomfortable because my hair hadn’t been treated since forever.

“Alex, we spend a lot of time, talking about me and my problems. I think its time to talk about you” I suggested. He let out a lazy laugh. “What’s there to talk about?” he humbly asked. “There’s a lot to talk about man, come on” I insisted. “Okay fine. I’m from Nigeria, as you already know” he said. “But your accent is so normal, even Chukwudi’s” I pointed out. ” Well, that’s because we spent most of our lives this side. Our father studied here, and also worked here. We were raised by our mother in Nigeria, until they felt we were ready to join our father in South Africa” he narrated. “And when was that?” I asked. “I was still in primary and Chukwudi was about to get to his high school level” he replied. I nodded, showing him I was still listening. “So since then, we stayed here. We only go back home once a year” he continued. “Our father retired and joined our mother in Nigeria, so its just Chukwudi and I, with a couple of cousins” he added. “Why didn’t your mother join you guys this side” I asked. “She’s a traditional healer, so she had some duties to fulfill that side” he replied. “It mustn’t have been easy for you guys though” I said. “I won’t lie and say it was easy, because it wasn’t. What helped us to stay focused though was our father’s support. He kept us grounded and goal driven” he proudly announced. That was the sweetest thing ever. It was heart warming to hear someone pouring out words of gratitude to a father who was hands on during the person’s childhood. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it was like to have a father. “You had a very easy childhood” I said. “Easy?” he asked. “There was nothing easy about growing up in South Africa. let alone the fact that I grew up without my mother. South Africa is brutal to us, foreigners. I was called names, not because I was darker than everyone, or even had a weird accent. I was called names because I was not South African. Some hated me for it, while some just generally made fun of me” he said. I could imagine how it must have been for him. “What made me stand out though was my dedication to my books. I worked extra hard, because I didn’t want to make my academic performance a thing they’d laugh about too. As a result, I was an A student. That’s how I gained respect from my schoolmates.” he added. “And Chukwudi? What was his survival plan?” I asked. “Chukwudi is a natural genius. To him, being an A student came naturally. I just don’t know how the other kids treated him and how he was coping” he responded. “You never talked about it?” I asked. “No. Never. Even with my father, we never discussed such things” he replied. I nodded, signaling that I understood.. “So how’s your relationship with your mother?” I asked. “Its okay, I guess. We don’t have those pillow talk type of conversations though, we talk about general stuff and I make sure to call her at least once a week” he said. “Oh okay” I softly mumbled. “The only person I am really not close with is my sister. She stayed in Nigeria with our mother, because of her health issues. When she got a little older, she got married and moved to London, with her husband” he said. “Health issues? What kind of health issues?” I asked. “Apparently, she was bewitched our father’s first girlfriend. She would get sick and doctor would fail to diagnose her. It was only our mother who could find people to help her and stabilise her condition. She was healed by a man from Malawi” he said.

While I was getting to know him better, his phone rang. He got up and looked for it. “Hey, bro” he said, picking up. He laughed. “I’m in the spare room.” he said, laughing louder. “No, don’t come. I will come to you” he said, hanging up. “That’s Chukwudi” he announced. “He’s back already? What time is it?” I asked .. “Its 6” he said. “Oh my word!!!” I exclaimed, jumping out of bed. “Mr Nkomo must be worried sick” I said, wiping myself up with his towel, and quickly getting dressed .. While I was getting dressed, he was tidying up and quickly getting dressed too. When we were done, he held my hands and stared at me in the eye. “I love you, don’t you ever forget that” he said. I blushed. “I love you too” I responded. We shared a warm hug and he planted a light feather kiss on my forehead, then we walked out of the room. Chukwudi was watching TV in the living room, with his feet hanging on the coffee table, and a glass of juice in his right hand. He turned to look at us as we walked into the room. His eyes widened when they met mine. “Mandy???” he jumped off his seat and came to hug me. He held me so tight. “Mandy, I’ve missed you so much” he said, breaking the hug. “When Alex told me you were gone, my heart was bleeding.” he added. I could see how emotional he was. “I couldn’t even come and say goodbye properly, everything happened so fast” I explained. He understood, and insisted that I stay over for dinner. I refused, telling him that Mr Nkomo would freak out, but he wouldn’t back down. I had to choose; it was either I stood there and argued about it, or just accept it and get it over and done with. I accepted. “Dinner is almost ready, let me go and inform Zizo” he excitedly announced, bouncing out of the room. The minute he walked out, Alex stole a sweet kiss on the lips. Chukwudi walked in, just after we finished kissing. “Guys, let’s gather around the dinner table.” he said, and we went to gather around the dinner table. Zizo walked in, carrying a tray with our food. “Mandy, hi.” she coldly greeted. ” Hello, Zizo” I greeted back. “How are you?” she asked, as she served us. “I’m good, thanks. And you?” I responded. “I’m okay thanks. This is a nice surprise” she sarcastically said, pulling a chair and sitting down. I nodded and smiled, totally not interested in entertaining her. “So, Alex. Where were you guys hiding?” she randomly asked. “We were in the spare room.” Alex answered. “We were here since 4, so you guys were really quiet. What were you doing in there?” she asked again. “Zizo, please!” Chukwudi stopped her. “I’m just asking, baby.” she said .. Chukwudi wouldn’t let her continue with the drama that she was trying to cause, so she remained silent throughout dinner..

After dinner, Alex rushed me home. I could see that Chukwudi had millions of questions too, but he chose not to ask. Alex and I agreed that we would break the news to them, when the time was right. We got home and Alex dropped me off. I walked into the house, and found Mr Nkomo, pacing up and down the living room. He ran up to me when he saw me walking in. “Mandiphumle!!” he yelled, holding me by my shoulders and shaking me. “Where were you? Do you know the trauma you just put me through. ” I’m.. I’m sorry” I said. “You’re sorry?” he shouted, letting go of me. “You disappeared for the whole day, and that’s all you’re giving me?” he angrily asked. “I’m sorry,Sir. I got held up, somewhere” I explained. “Do you realize the things that went through my mind? Mandiphumle I thought he found you” he said, turning around and facing away. “I created scenarios in my mind. Scenarios of how he must have killed you and hid your body” he added. I went to stand in front of him, looking at him in the eye. Really, he was worked up. “I’m sorry, Sir. I lost track of time. I promise you, this will never happen again” I pleaded. He nodded. “Where did you go?” he asked. “I.. Uhm” I cleared my throat.. “I went to the park and, Uhm, also went to the movies and stuff” I replied. “Don’t ever do that again, please” he asked. “I promise I will never do it again” I said. Without a word, he pulled me closer and hugged me with the tightest of hugs.

We heard a loud bang on the door. Mr Nkomo broke the hug and paid attention to the knock. “Mr Nkomo! Mr Nkomo! Help!” the voice of a man shouted from the other side of the door. Mr Nkomo rushed to the door and opened up. Wonga stormed in, looking like he had survived a hurricane. “Wonga, what’s wrong?” Mr Nkomo asked. “They’re killing him, Sir. They’re so angry. Please, you have to come and stop them” he said. “Who?” what are you talking about?” Mr Nkomo asked. I sat on the couch. Knowing Wonga, that was probably all up in his head. “Mr Soldati, Sir. They’re killing him” Wonga’s words slipped out in great panic mode. “What?” Mr Nkomo asked, as he grabbed his jacket. “Come, show me where they are” he said, rushing out. I silently stormed out of the house too, and followed them as they almost ran to my old home. The whole yard was filled by people, some were shouting “kill him” at the top of their voices, while the others were rumbling things we couldn’t hear. “Everyone, everyone!! What is going on here?” Mr Nkomo asked, at the top of his voice too. I was watching from a distance, as I was nearing closer to the scene. Mr Nkomo was struggling to get their attention. By the time I got there, “This bastard has to die, we cannot stay with a cold hearted murderer in our community” Mr Mzimkhulu, a senior citizen explained. Uncle Thabo was helpless on his lawn, naked but covering his private parts with both his hands. “Yes! Yes! He must die” some members agreed. “People, whoa!! You can’t be doing this. Please, you need to calm down. Let’s resolve this without resorting to violence” Mr Nkomo begged. “There is nothing to resolve, this man must die” one lady boldly said. “He must die, just the way he killed his innocent wife” another one added. Sizwe, a young man from the hood, threw a stone at him and everyone cheered for him, while uncle Thabo was moaning in agony. “No.. No. Sizwe!” Mr Nkomo yelled. “People, this might get you arrested. Please, let’s let the police deal with this” Mr Nkomo begged again, but nobody cared to listen. They beat him up. Some were kicking him, while the others were throwing stones at him. He was screaming for help. That image still haunts me. “Everyone, Please.. Please, you have to stop” Mr Nkomo screamed too, trying to get to where uncle Thabo was. He got to him and stood right next to him, with both his hands held high as a sign of peace offering. “Everyone, I’m begging you. You’re going to kill this man, please stop” he sincerely begged, and I was just standing there, dumb. “Mr Nkomo… Please…. He… He.. Help” uncle Thabo pleaded. “Go to hell, you murderer” one man said. One of them saw me.. “Mandiphumle, thank goodness. Come and closely watch this monster as he takes his last breath. As from today, your life will go back to normal” the guy said, pulling me to stand closely in front of Mr Nkomo. I looked at uncle Thabo. His eyes were begging for mercy. “You’re right, Mandiphumle’s life will never be the same again. The poor child will have nightmares after this” Mr Nkomo said. “Mandiphumle, what are you doing here? You’re not supposed to be here” he asked me. I remained silent. Everything was happening a little too fast for me. People pushed Mr Nkomo to the side and continued beating uncle Thabo up. His hands were now covering his face, and his private parts were on displayed. Mr Nkomo tried stopping them, but they wouldn’t listen. I saw him talking on the phone and I assumed he was calling the cops. “Guys, I have an idea” one of them said. Some stopped to listen to him, while the others continued beating uncle Thabo up. At that time, Mr Nkomo and I were shoved to the side. “My dog just died. I will bring it here, for him to eat it” the guy said, and the others laughed. “Good idea, good idea” they said, looking at the guy with brilliant idea. He ran off, with two other men who were probably going to help him with the dog. “People, its really not to late to stop what you’re doing” Mr Nkomo said. “Why must we stop? We’re sick of these criminals who hurt our people and spend two minutes in prison. We will not let Thabo live to see another day” one lady said. “Yes! My daughter was raped, but that bastard is still parading on the streets. He better thank his ancestors that he relocated before I could lay my hands on him” one man said. “See? My sister was killed by her jealous boyfriend, but he only got 5 years imprisonment, only for using a car that was said to be stolen, and they failed to prove that he killed my sister. I’m waiting for him to be released, I am going to slaughter him like a goat” another man emotionally said.”Ma.. Mand…Mandiphumle.. Please… Help.. Me” uncle Thabo mumbled, coughing in between his words. “Shut up” one man said.. “Please.. Please tell them.. Tell them I.. I didn’t kill your mother” he added. That called for more stoning. People got so upset and continued beating him up. They got tired of waiting for the dog that was said to be fed to him. His eyes met mine. Eyes full of fear and regret. His face was covered in blood.. I turned to look away. “People, please stop. You’re killing him” Mr Nkomo begged, trying to stop them, but they wouldn’t listen.. Wonga dragged me away from everyone..

“Mandy, you shouldn’t be watching this” he said. “Come, let me walk you home” he added. “He killed my mother, Wonga. He took my mother’s life” I said. He hugged me. “I know, but you can’t watch this. Its too much for you” he said, whispering in my ear. “Noooo!!” Mr Nkomo screamed. Wonga and I broke the hug and I looked at what was going on. I couldn’t see anything. There were just so many people around and everything was happening so fast. “Mandy, come. Let me walk you home” he insisted. At that point, my mind couldn’t do much thinking, so I agreed to be walked home. I was literally shaking, and tears were flooding down my cheeks. While Wonga and I were walking away, we saw the police vehicles, appearing from up the street. “You killed him! You killed him and I told you to stop!! You killed him” I heard Mr Nkomo yelling from afar. I looked at Wonga. “They killed him” I said. “Mandy, please. All you need to do is to get the hell away from here” he said..

The image of that day still haunts me. Facing a man who was about to be brutally killed. Hearing him beg for my mercy. Seeing pain clearly portrayed in his eyes. A part of me died too…