Blood. There was so much blood, all over him. Blood carried bad memories for me. It once served as a confirmation that my mother was no more. I hated blood, I still do. What freaked me out the most that evening, was the amount of blood that I saw. “Mandy, please. You cannot watch this” Wonga begged, as I stopped and tried to look back, even though I couldn’t see anything. I looked at him. “There’s so much blood” I said. “I know, which is why you need to get away from here” he said, wrapping his arm around my waist and helping me walk. “I hope those motherfuckers would rot in jail for this. Uncle Thabo didn’t deserve to die like that” he said. I stopped on my tracks and removed his hand from my waist. “That man killed my mother, in cold blood. I was there, Wonga. I was there when that man hid all the evidence. I am the one who washed my mother’s blood off the floors” I said, with tears dripping down my cheeks. “I’m sorry, Mandy. I didn’t mean to sound insensitive. I was just saying” he apologized. “Shut up, Wonga” I said, continuing to walk and he wrapped his arm around my waist again..

When we got home, Sibusiso was standing by the gate, carrying Enkosi. “What is going on? Why is everyone heading that direction?” he asked. “Those motherfuckers killed uncle Thabo” Wonga replied. “What? Which motherfuckers?” he asked. Without a word, I walked right past them, heading to the house. My stomach was in knots, and I could feel my insides turning. I ran to the bathroom, with my right hand covering my mouth. I got there and threw up, into the toilet seat. I felt like throwing my insides out. The image of blood was too much to stomach, literally. I was making those vomiting sounds, as I was still trying to throw up but nothing was coming out. “Mandy, are you okay in there?” Wonga asked, softly knocking on the door. I wanted to shout and tell him I was okay, but I lacked the energy. I was on my knees, holding on to the toilet seat for a dear life. I was sick. I was really sick. “Mandy?” Wonga called out, again and I ignored him. Couldn’t he just leave me the hell alone? Like, we were not even friends or anything. After knocking for a while, he pushed the door and walked in. “Mandy, what’s going on?” he asked, nearing closer to me. He tried to pick me up, and I’d be lying if I say I didn’t appreciate that. I did not know how else I was going to get up from that floor. “Let me brush my teeth, before going to my room” I said. He nodded and let go of me. I went over to the sink and took my toothbrush, which was amongst the others. I took the tooth paste as well, and lightly smeared it on my toothbrush. When I was done brushing my teeth, I walked to my room and Wonga followed me. “I’ll be fine, thanks” I politely said, suggesting that he should just leave me alone already. “Are you sure?” he asked. I nodded, carrying a wild smile. “Okay then, go and rest. All of this will be history one day” he said. I sighed, if only it was that easy to believe. We said our goodbyes and he left.

I went to my room and threw myself on my bed. My mind replayed the scenario as I tightly closed my eyes. Just when I was slowly finding ways to cope with the pain of losing my mother, I had to relive the trauma of murder again. Like, why is it easy for someone to take another person’s life? My phone rang, as I was asking myself questions, like I normally did when the going got tough. It was Alex, calling.

“Hey” I pulled the lowest of tones. “My angel, how are you?” he asked. “I don’t know hey,” I said. “What do you mean?” he asked. I told him everything, to avoid him asking one question after the other. “What? They killed him in broad daylight?” he shockingly asked. “Yes, in broad daylight. I was there, I saw the fear and regret in his eyes” I said. “Baby, you really don’t deserve these things. Maybe I should book you sessions with a psychiatrist” he said. “I will be fine” I said. “Mandy, will you let me do this for you?” he politely asked. No psychiatrist was ever going to take the pain away. The pain I felt was deep seated and was tattooed in each layer of my heart. After trying to oppose for a while, I finally agreed. “Thank you. I will call him first thing tomorrow morning” he said. We talked about general stuff, in his attempt to lift my mood levels up. We then hung up. I could still feel like my tummy was still upset, but I tried to ignore it..

“Mandy… Ma.. Mandy.. Pl.. Please help me” uncle Thabo begged. His soul was yearning for a second chance, it was quite evident through his eyes.. “No. you killed my mother. Die. Die like the monster that you are!” I shouted. “Help.. Help”.. he moaned. Blood was oozing through his mouth and nose as he spoke. ” You killed my mother. You took away my only chance of ever making it in life” I said, looking away. He cried, like he was in great pain. “Help!!’ he shouted and his voice echoed in my ears. My eyes shot open and I realized it was only a dream. I was sweaty, and almost out of breath. I took my phone from the bedside and checked the time. It was 00:30 and Enkosi wasn’t next to me. I got out of bed and went to look for him. ” Enkosi???? Enkosi?’ I shouted, running around the house, from the kitchen, down to the bathroom. “Hey, what’s with all the noise?’ Sibusiso asked, as he appeared from his room. ” I’m looking for Enkosi. He was supposed to be sleeping next to me, but he not there. I’m worried that he might be out there, all alone” I replied, panicking. “Enkosi is in my room. I didn’t bring him to your room because I thought you needed to rest a bit. Wonga told me you were not feeling well” he explained. If it was someone else, the deed would have been so cute- but because it was him, whatever. “Okay, thanks” I said. He turned and walked back into his room, leaving me standing there. I went back to my room and changed into my pyjamas, before getting into bed.

The following morning, Mr Nkomo came to wake me up. I opened my eyes and looked at him. “My dear, I just wanted to talk to you” he said. “Mmhmmm” I moaned. He sat on my bed. “I just couldn’t sit and wait for you to wake up” he said. I was still silent, still waiting for him to get to the reason why he felt the need to talk to me.”Firstly, I want to apologize for what you saw yesterday. You were not supposed to see all that” he said. “Its not your fault” I said. “I should have chased you away” he continued beating himself up. Knowing him, he wasn’t going to stop punishing himself for it, so I decides to let him be. “Those people are heartless and cold. Yes, I know what Thabo did, but to kill him like that? No man” he said. “It was really the most cruel thing I’ve ever seen. It gave me nightmares” I said. “I can imagine. I had my own fair share of nightmares hey. I still can’t believe what those people did” he said. “Did the cops arrest them?” I asked. He shook his head. “No, no arrests have been made. Nobody owned up to doing anything, so they will investigate” he replied. “Its mob justice, it might take years to get to the bottom of it, especially when nobody is willing to talk” he added. “As much as I hated him, but watching him die like that was very traumatic” I said. “It was, but this is all over now” he said. I wish it was that easy. For me, it was far from over. My heart was left with open wounds and scars that had no guarantees of ever healing. The whole drama may be over, but it left an emotional survival battle. Mr Nkomo told me how none of that was my fault, and how I needed to focus on my future. Easier said than done. “So, what are you going to do with that house?” he asked. “The house, I haven’t thought about it” I replied. “I think we should sell it” he said. I looked at him. We? “Uh, I’ll need more time to think about it” I said. “Please think about it. I know you will never be able to stay there, so we just have to sell it” he responded. So that was the main reason why he woke me up, to convince me to sell our house. He was right though, I wasn’t ever going to stay there again.

At breakfast, silence filled the room. The only sound that was heard was the sounds of spoons, hitting against the bowls as people were enjoying their cereals. I was just staring at mine, like I was searching for reasons not to eat it. “Mandy, eat” Mr Nkomo instructed. I could hear him, but my body and mind were trapped in the depth of my thoughts. Uncle Thabo’s voice still echoed in my ears. “Mandiphumle!!” Mr Nkomo called out. I snapped out of my thoughts and looked at him .. “Eat. You’ve been staring at that bowl for so long” he said. “I’m not hungry” I said.. “Mandy, please eat something.” he begged. I pushed the bowl away from me. “I’m really not hungry, Sir. I just want to lie down for a while” I said. “But you didn’t even eat supper. You can’t starve yourself like this” he said. “Oh dad, please. If she’s not hungry, leave her alone. She is an adult” Sibusiso said. I cleared my throat. “When are you leaving?” I asked him. “I’m not leaving. I’m here to stay. Why?” he responded. “Because having you around sucks” I said, pushing my chair back and getting up.He laughed. “Deal with it, because as from next week, I’ll be working closer so I’ll stay here” he added. Mxm. I walked away ..

I locked myself up that whole day, hosting a pity party for myself. Really, the universe must have been mad at me for some reason, because pain followed me like I attracted it in any way. I spend my whole day, locked up. I was hoping that the silence and stillness would soothe my spirit, but all it did was to depress me even more. Alex called, but I didn’t pick up. I wanted some time to confront my situation and face my fears. I was crying, not because I was weak, but because I was stronger than I thought I was. I wasn’t falling apart, yet.

Later, I decided to pick up when Alex called. “Hello?” I picked up. “Baby, what’s going on?” he asked. “I’ve been trying to get hold of you the whole day” he said. “I .. I just wanted to be alone” I said. “But I told you I was going to book you a session with Doctor Mhlola” he said. It completely slipped my mind. “Oh no, I forgot” I said. “Baby, I’m not calling in any favors here, I pay for these sessions. I paid for today’s session as well, because doctor Mhlola missed out on clients, waiting for you” he said. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know” I said. “Will you be ready tomorrow morning? I can get someone to pick you up because I’ll be at work” he asked. “Yes, I’ll be ready. At what time?” I asked. “Say, at 9. I’ll get someone to be there at around 8 though” he replied .. “No problem” I said. He sounded relieved, so we talked about other things..

The following day, my alarm woke me up at 7 and I went to the bathroom to take a quick bath. When I was done, I made my bed and went to get myself a glass of water in the kitchen- I was still not hungry. “How many times must I tell you? These kids bring nothing but bad luck here” I heard Sibusiso’s voice. “Bad luck? Sibusiso they are just kids. How can kids bring bad luck?” Mr Nkomo asked. I stood by the kitchen entrance and listened. “They are not just kids, dad. They are kids with clouds of darkness hanging over their heads. They are kids with a lot of burden. We don’t need them in our lives” Sibusiso said. “I have made a vow to myself to take care of those kids, and I will do just that. I love them, and I am committed to helping them” Mr Nkomo said. “Even if that breaks us apart?” Sibusiso asked. “Break us apart? Why would it break us apart?” Mr Nkomo asked too. “I don’t want these kids here, and you’re committed to helping them” Sibusiso replied. “These kids are broken. All they need is a bit of love and acceptance” Mr Nkomo said. “I am getting married soon, I don’t need forces of darkness around me” Sibusiso said. Forces of darkness, wow! I thought I had heard it all. I walked into the kitchen, making sure that my footsteps made a bit of statement, so they would keep quiet. “Good morning” I greeted. They both turned to look at me. “Good morning, my baby. How did you sleep?” Mr Nkomo asked. “I slept well, thanks” I replied, walking towards the sinks, to get myself some water. “That’s wonderful. Are you going somewhere?” he asked. “Uhm, yeah. I want to go to the clinic. I have a terrible headache” I replied. “Oh okay, I’ll drive you there” he said. “No, I will not go to the local clinic. There are clinics in town,” I announced. Mr Nkomo gave me a stare. “I don’t want people talking about me behind my back. The clinic is where members of this community gather and discuss people” I explained. “I understand, my baby. Let me give you some money then” he said, digging into his pocket. “No, thanks. I still have some money on me” I declined. If Sibusiso wasn’t around, I would have taken the money and used it for airtime or something.. I drew myself a glass of water from the tap and downed it at one go. When I was done, I said my goodbyes and left. I didn’t want what Sibusiso said behind my back to mess up my day.

Alex’s car was parked a few houses away from our house. It was driven by someone else, just as Alex said. The guy looked like he was in his late 20’s and said he was Alex’s colleague. We had a pleasant drive to Doctor Mhlola, and he dropped me off. Alex called, apologizing for not being able to attend with me, and hold my hand- but really, it was okay. He was doing so much already.

My session didn’t go well. I struggled to open up. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I was scared. The trip down my memory lane had avenues that I didn’t want to visit. It almost felt like I was going to rip a healing wound open. In my belief, my wounds were eventually going to heal. I was scared of the pain and bleeding that came with opening a “healing” wound. Doctor Mhlola urged me to visit him again, until I’m ready to talk. He was really patient, that one..

Alex’s friend picked me up and drove me home.. He offered to buy me something to eat, but I refused. We got home, and he dropped me off a few houses away. I thanked him and stepped out of the car.. I saw Wonga, walking towards his home which happened to be next door to the house I was dropped off in front of. He smiled. “Mandy, hey” he greeted, and I greeted back. “How are you?” he asked, walking towards me. “I’m good, and you?” I responded. “I’m good too. Who was that?” he asked, pointing at the direction in which Alex’s car went. “That’s my boyfriend’s friend. He took me to some psychiatrist” I explained. “Whoa! you sound so White right now” he jokingly said, and we laughed. “Did it help?” he asked. I shook my head. “I see no difference” I replied. “,Exactly. Those things are just a waste of money. I know you’re not paying for these sessions, but think of all the clothes your boyfriend would buy you if he didn’t have to take you to these stupid sessions” he said.. “He believes these sessions will help me” I said. “Do you know what will help you?” he asked. “What?” I asked too. He reached for his pocket and took out a little banky, filled with a greenish thing.. “This” he said. “What is this?” I asked. “Its called, the holy herb. It will heal you, I promise you.” he said “Holy herb? Isn’t this weed??” I asked. He laughed. “Let’s call it the holy herb. It will heal you. I also use it to feel good” he said. I folded my arms.. “Please try it. I promise you, you will never regret it. Look at me, forever happy and positive about life. Its affordable, and it works wonders. Please try it”….