That old man had no right to die in my presence. I was not ready to rot in jail for witnessing the death of an old man. You know how twisted our justice system is- the innocent serve severe sentences while the guilty walk free.. “Mr Nkomo!!” I screamed, dropping the glass of water I was carrying. “Mr Nkomo, can you hear me?” I rushed to him and shook him, but he didn’t respond. “Help!!! Help!!” I screamed, panicking like a headless chicken.. Two men rushed into the house.. “What is going on here?” one of them asked. “Thank God you’re here. Mr Nkomo just collapsed” I explained, pointing at him.. “Let me call an ambulance” another one said, taking his phone out. “Is he going to be okay?” I asked the one who was standing next to me, looking at Mr Nkomo. He looked at me. “I don’t know, he doesn’t look promising” he replied, fixing his position.. The other one finished on the phone. “The ambulance will arrive shortly” he assured us. Indeed, the ambulance arrived shortly .. I locked the house, shop and bakkie, and rode on the ambulance with him.

We got there and he was rushed in, while I was asked to wait in the waiting area. They gave me his phone to keep, while they went in with him. I sat on the bench, tapping my fingers on his phone. I then decided to search for Sibusiso’s number, and inform him about his father’s health. I browsed through his contacts, and found Sibusiso’s number, saved as “My son”. I dialed it. ” Dad, hey. I was just about to call you” he picked up. “Hi, its Mandiphumle. Uhm, your father is in hospital” I said. “What? What happened?” he asked. He sounded shocked.. “He collapsed” I replied. “Which hospital is he in?” he asked. I told him. “I’m on my way” he said, hanging up. I sat there for a while, waiting. A part of me wanted to just get up and walk away, but another part of me wanted to finish what I started. Those people needed to know about my pregnancy, and they had to do something about it. I was not about to raise a child on my own, at that age. I was barely an adult and I needed a parent too. As I was still sitting there, toying with whether to just walk away or stay, Sibusiso rushed in. It was almost like he was just around the corner. I got up, so as to catch his attention. He rushed up to me. “What happened to him?” he asked. Not even a “hello Mandy, How are you doing?”. ” He collapsed ” I replied. “Is he gonna be okay? What did the doctors say?” he asked again. “I don’t know. I haven’t spoken to the doctors” I replied. He sat down, and jumped off his seat, only to sit down again. I sat next to him.. He was loudly tapping his right foot on the floor. “Uhm, Sibusiso?” I softly called out. “Mmhm?” he responded, with his eyes fixed on his tapping foot. “Your father didn’t just collapse” I said. He looked at me, as his tapping slowly faded away.. “What do you mean?” he asked. I cleared my throat.. “I told him something, that got him really upset” I said. “What?” he shrugged his shoulders. I cleared my throat again. “I told him that I’m pregnant” I announced. His eyes widened. “You’re what? Who.. Who’s the father?” he asked. Who is the father?? How could he ask me that?? “How could you even ask me that?” I asked back. “Mandiphumle, I don’t have time for your childish stunts. Who is your baby’s father?” he asked in a very commanding voice. “The man who feasted on my innocence, promising me a better life” I replied. “I didn’t promise you anything. You were just naive, like you still are” he said. “Well, you are the father” I said. “Look, I don’t know what sick game you’re playing, but I really don’t have the energy” he said. “Sick game? So you think this is all just a game?” I asked. “Honey, how is dad?” someone asked. Sibusiso and I looked up, and there was a dark skinned lady, with an expensive looking weave and a blood Red pair of stilettos. Sibusiso got up.. “Honey, you’re here. I haven’t seen dad yet” he replied, planting a light feather kiss on her cheek. “Oh, okay. I came as soon as I heard” she said, looking at me. “Oh, honey, this is Mandiphumle. She’s Enkosi’s sister” Sibusiso said. “Oh, hi. I’m pleased to finally meet you” she said. I nodded. “Enkosi is such a sweetheart” she added. I looked at Sibusiso, and he looked away. “Uhm.. Mandiphumle, thank you for informing us about dad. You can go now” Sibusiso said. I looked at him in disbelief. “Can I have a word with you before I go?” I asked. “Uuh, let me go and get us some snacks” the wife said, and walked away. “What?” he asked. “I just told you I’m pregnant. Why are you acting like nothing happened?” I asked. “Look, I really don’t have time for this. Okay? Stay the fuck away from me and my family” he said. “So you are not going to help me with this baby?” I pointed at my tummy. “That’s not mine. Go and look for the bastard who got you pregnant and leave me the hell alone” he said. “Okay, fine. I see you don’t want to help me. Let me go and have a word with your wife. I’m sure she’d be willing to listen” I turned and walked away. He grabbed my arm and turned me around. “Are you out of your mind?” he asked. “No, I’m just doing what I should have done a very long time ago” I replied. “Okay fine” he let go of my arm. “What do you want?’ he asked. ” I want your support. I want my child to be well taken care of” I replied. “And in return, you will stay away from me. Right?” he asked. I nodded. “With pleasure” I replied. He sighed. “I don’t even believe that this thing is mine” he pointed at my tummy. “But to avoid drama, let me agree to help you. You have to agree to let me get it tested when its born” he added. I nodded. “Whatever” I replied. “Now go, before my wife starts asking questions” he said. “Take my number, and use it” I ordered. Without wasting any time, he saved my number and begged me to leave. I walked away, feeling like a boss.

Phila called, asking where I was and I told her. She asked me to pay her a visit, and I did- anything to stay away from that house. We talked for a while. She was frustrated because she was forced to choose between her life and her happiness. Her life was all about spreading legs, while her happiness was wrapped around a man who was willing to accept her for who she was. A man who was ready to love her, with her past. Knowing myself, I would have chosen my happiness over anything. Everyone needs that sense of belonging.. I told her all that, but she still had her doubts. I don’t blame her though. We live in a world where nobody can be fully trusted. People only love us when its beneficial for them.

Later, I went home. It was already late, but the cab dropped me off at the gate. The kitchen lights were off. I used my key to open up and walked in. I got the shock of my life when I saw a woman, sitting on the floor. I screamed and tried opening the door, but I couldn’t. You know how evil doors are. You can never open a door when you’re panicking- or when your house is on fire. “Relax, I won’t hurt you” she said, in a very weird accent. I stopped screaming and looked at her. She got up, using the wall for balance.. I was still standing by the door, scared to death.. “I’m sorry to scare you” she said. “I was just trying to connect with my people,” she added. “Your people?” I asked, slowly loosening up. “Yes. They asked me to come here. Now I feel like they are not here with me. I can’t feel their presence”, she explained. What was that woman talking about? I blankly stared at her. ” I’m Alex and Chukwudi’s mother” she introduced herself. “Oh.. Uhm, I’m Mandy, their friend” I introduced myself too. She nodded. ” I’m sorry to scare you .. My people asked me to come here, for a reason. What frustrates me now is that I can’t connect with them” she said. “You mean your ancestors?” I asked. ” They are my people,” she replied. I nodded. “Its either they are mad at me, or this place is filled with evil spirits” she said. She was too creepy for my liking. I didn’t know what to say. “Yes, maybe there are evil spirits around here. Maybe that’s why I was ordered to come here” she said. “Where are the others?” I asked. She mumbled something I couldn’t hear.. Okay, maybe that was my cue to leave. I walked away as fast as I could. I got to my room and locked myself up.

The following morning, I woke up at 8. I knew by then, everyone would be at work. I got out of bed and wore my slippers. I then dragged my feet out of my room, to the bathroom. I needed to pee .. When I was done, I flushed, washed my hands and walked out of the bathroom. Alex’s mother was walking towards the bathroom. She was even scarier during the day, with her slightly wrinkled face and big Brown eyes. She greeted, and I greeted back.. “I’m sorry about last night” she apologized. “Its okay” I said. “Please don’t tell anyone about what you saw” she asked me. If only she knew that I had nobody to tell in that house. “I won’t. I promise” I said. She smiled. “Thank you. The thing is, I only realized last night that I have a lot of work to do before the wedding” she said. “The wedding?” I asked. “Yes, there is an evil spirit looming around this house. There’s something unholy and impure going on and I have to deal with it, before preparing for the wedding” she added. “Who is getting married?” I asked. “My youngest son, Alex, and his girlfriend, Thobhi” she replied. I almost laughed at how she pronounced her name, but the news tore my heart into pieces and ripped my soul into half. I knew right then that I had to return all the dreams he sold me, but I just didn’t know how, because I had already bought them…