“Mandy, Mandy wait up!” Chukwudi called out, but I ignored him. I could hear his feet hitting hard against the floor as he rushed after me.. “Mandy, listen” he grabbed my arm and turned me to face him. “What?” What more do you want to say?” I asked, folding my arms in front of my chest. “Let’s talk about this. You can’t just walk out on us like that” he said. “What’s there to talk about? You have made your point clear enough” I replied. “Whoa! What’s with the attitude?” Zizo asked, walking up to us.. I looked at her. “What attitude? I should be asking you that, since you’re the queen of attitudes” I said. “Hey, you can’t walk in here and act like you own the place” she said. I let out a slight laugh. “I wouldn’t dare. I mean, you do that better anyway” I said. She looked at Chukwudi.. “Mandiphumle, you don’t have to be rude” Chukwudi said. I looked at him. “Whatever” I walked away. “Mandy, come back here” he called out, but I ignored him.. “Baby, let her be” Zizo said..

I got to my room and slammed my door shut behind me. I was fuming with rage.. I started pacing up and down, trying to plot and plan my next move, before they officially kick me out.. Phila was not an option. She was staying with her man, and they had so many unresolved issues- so I didn’t want to intrude. Thando was also not an option. He was “happily” married, so I couldn’t turn his world upside down. And then there was Sibusiso whose marriage was at a verge of hitting rock bottom- so I couldn’t consider him as an option as well. What I’m trying to say here, is that I had nowhere else to go.. Being kicked out of that house would mean that I’d end up on the streets, as pregnant as I was..

I changed into my pyjamas and got into bed. I could not sleep, a lot was on my mind.. My phone rang, as I was tossing and turning.. It was Thando,calling. “Hello” I picked up, wondering why he was calling that late.. “Mandy, hey. I hope I didn’t wake you up” he said. “No, I’m still up. What’s up?” I responded. “I’m on my way from the hospital” he announced. “Why? What’s wrong?” I asked. “Can I come over? Please, I need someone to talk to” he begged. With all the drama that was going on in the house, maybe his late visit would be the last straw. As much as I hated everyone in that house, I still needed a roof over my head. “Can’t we meet tomorrow morning instead?” I suggested. He remained silent, all I could hear was his breathing.. That man was always there for me, always ready to go an extra mile for me. That night, he sounded troubled, and the least I could do was to let him come over and offer my ear.. I sighed. “On second thoughts, you can come over” I said. “Thank you” he said, hanging up.. A few minutes later, he called and told me he had arrived.. I got out of bed and wore my slippers..

When I got to the car, he pulled me closer and hugged me.. The hug lasted longer than our hugs usually lasted. Finally, he broke the hug.. “Hey, what’s wrong?” I asked. “Its my son. He suffered severe burns earlier in the evening” he told me. “Oh my God, what happened?” I asked.. “His nanny was boiling water in the kitchen, and he pulled the cable” he explained.. “Ouch!” I cringed.. “Is he okay?” I asked. He just got burnt, of course he wasn’t okay.. “He’s really not okay. The water fell on his head, down to his face and neck” he said. “Oh no man, poor baby” I said.. “This hurts, so much” he said. “I can imagine” I replied.. “So where is your wife now?” I asked. “She’s at the hospital, with him. She’s really hurting, especially because the nanny is her cousin sister whom she trusted to be careful around the child” he replied. “I know it’s an unfortunate case, but I’m sure the nanny didn’t plan for it to happen. You know how touchy-touchy kids are” I said. He looked at me.. “I just hope my baby makes it. I hope he fully recovers from this” he said.. “I know, he will be fine. Just be strong for him, that’s all” I responded.. I almost sounded like I knew what I was talking about.. I knew Thando to be this strong and resourceful man. Seeing him that weak and helpless made me so sad.. “Don’t worry, the doctors will do everything in their power to heal him” I said. “Will he be completely healed though? The burns are all over his head and face. My poor baby, how will he face the world?” he hit his forehead with the palm of his right hand.. “He is still very young, his skin will recover from this” I said.. “I don’t know man, I really don’t know” he shook his head.. We sat in silence for a while.. “I’m sorry” I pulled the lowest of tones.. He nodded.. “Thanks. I just.. I don’t ..” he sighed. “You don’t have to say anything” I said.. “I don’t want my child to be blind, or deaf because of this. I don’t want him to suffer for the rest of his life, because of this” he said. “You have to be positive, Thando.” I said.. “Maybe if we were more careful, he wouldn’t have got burnt” he said. “Thando, there is no way you could have prevented this from happening. Nobody knew this was going to happen” I replied.. Again, we sat in silence.. Time flew by, and the next thing we knew, it was 6am and we never slept a wink.. “I have to go” he announced.. “Yeah, you should” I replied, opening the door. He held my free hand and I turned to face him.. “Thank you” he said. I smiled. “Its no big deal, really” I replied. “No, it is. You sat with me here, the whole night. You showed me you care. Thank you” he added.. “Its a pleasure. You’ve helped me a lot over the past few days, I can’t thank you enough” I said.. We said our goodbyes and I stepped out of the car..

Zizo was in the kitchen, when I got back into the house.. I walked in and acted like she wasn’t there.. “Whoa! Lady!” she shouted. I stopped on my tracks and turned to look at her.. “See why we want you out of here? You left the doors unlocked, the whole night. What if someone had broken in?” she said.. “I was just outside, its not like I left the door unlocked and went away’ I replied. “Still, you continue to put our lives at risk and you see nothing wrong with it” she threw her hands in the air.. “Zizo, I don’t have time for this” I walked away. “Oh no you won’t. You won’t walk away from me like that” she ran after me.. She got to me and blocked my way.. “What is wrong with you? Are you trying to get us killed?” she asked. “I was just outside. Who was going to kill you?” I responded. “How were you going to protect us if someone had broken in?” she asked.. My mouth just hung open.. “Exactly! You were not going to do anything about it. You are putting our lives at risk and we can’t stand this. We have a pregnant woman in this house and she needs all the protection in the world” she pointed at me. I removed her finger from my face.. “This is not your house, so I will pretend we didn’t have this conversation” I replied.. She laughed. “Who do you think you are? Nobody wants you here, the sooner you get the hell out of here, the better” she said.. I couldn’t say anything else after that, so I just silently walked away.. I got to my room and threw myself on the bed..

“Little Miss Sunshine, wakey wakey” someone shook me.. I opened my eyes from the deepest, most peaceful sleep. Phila was standing there, looking at me.. “Hey” I said, sitting up and rubbing my eyes.. “Why are you still sleeping? You scared me” she said. “Scared you?” I asked, looking at her.. “I’ve been trying to get hold of you, but you didn’t pick up when I called. You’re pregnant, and pregnancies come with a lot of complications” she explained. I smiled. “Well, I’m fine. I was just tired” I replied. “Tired from what? I took you out, so you can be refreshed” she asked. “Thando was here, and we spent the whole night together” I told her. She excitedly covered her mouth with her left hand, and clicked her fingers with the right hand.. “Not like that. He is going through some stuff, and he needed someone to talk to” I explained. She sat on the bed, almost disappointed.. “Oh” she said.. “The poor guy’s child is in hospital, suffering from burns” I told her.. “Oh no, the cute little prince? What happened?” she asked. “Boiling water fell on him” I replied. “Damn, that’s really bad. I hope he makes it hey” she said. “Yeah. He has to make it, or his father would fall apart” I replied, almost imagining how shaken he was, the previous night.. “Anyway, who is that old lady who let me in?” she asked. “Alex’s mother” I replied. “The way she stared at me, no man man” she said. I laughed. “She’s really weird. I always try and avoid her” I said. As we were chatting, I let it slip that I was about to be kicked out, and told her why. She was so frustrated, because she was in no position to help me. It was okay, really. I wasn’t telling her all that so she could offer me a place to stay. I just needed to talk about it, and get it off my chest. She promised to help me look for a place, even though we both knew that it wasn’t going to be that easy..

Later, I took a bath and walked her out, because her man had arrived to pick her up.. I was still dressed in my pyjamas, so I didn’t go beyond our gate. I passed my greetings to Vuyani, through Phila.. Mama was standing by the kitchen counter, with her arms folded when I walked back into the house.. I greeted, and she greeted back.. “Sit down” she ordered. Without wasting any time, I sat down. “So you are still continuing with this?” she asked. “With what?” I looked at her.. “This. You are being disrespectful” she said. Oh, she was talking about the cars.. “I’m sorry. I’ll tell my friends not to come here anymore” I apologized. “I have no problem with the number of cars that visit you, but the people you’re staying with, have a huge problem. Its only a matter of time before they all decide to kick you out” she said. “Mama, these people are not kicking me out because of these cars. They’ve always wanted to kick me out. They don’t want me here, and I know it” I said.. “Then why are you still here?” she asked. I looked away.. “Because I have nowhere else to go” I replied. “Your people want you. They need you” she announced. “My people?” I looked at her.. She pulled a chair and sat down. “They are not happy with your loss of identity. They want you to reunite with them” she said. Oh, here we go again.. I got up.. “Mama, I have to….”, before I finished, ” Sit down!” she yelled. I threw myself back on the chair. “You are not a Soldati. Your people are struggling to recognise you because of this last name” she said. “But..But I don’t know them. I’ve always been a Soldati” I replied. “Now it’s time to go back to your roots. Your people are trying to reach out to you” she said.. “What must I do?” I asked. “Tomorrow, I will cleanse you, so that they can be able to recognise you. Stay away from men and sex, until this little ritual is performed” she ordered. I nodded. “Be prepared, this is going to be the worst time of your life. I’m even seeing a shadow of death looming over your head” she told me.. That woman just knew how to freak me out.. “Please cleanse me, Mama. Wash all this bad luck off. I just want to live a normal life, like everybody else. Please help me” I begged.. “Don’t worry, as soon as I cleanse you, I will connect you to your people. After being connected with them in spirit, it will be a matter of time before you connect with them physically” she said.. “I don’t even know where they are, I’ve never seen them before” I replied. She screamed and covered both her ears with her hands. “Mama, are you okay?” I asked.. Her eyes shot open as she stopped screaming.. “No, no, no! Please. She is only a child.. She didn’t know.. Please, don’t hurt her.. No, please. She didn’t know.. She will make it right. Please” she mumbled. I was sitting there, confused and scared to the max. She looked at me.. “They are mad at you, and the young man who impregnated you. They want to kill you both” she told me.. “Why? Because he’s married?” I asked with a shaky voice. “No, because you’re of the same clan. You’re of the same bloodline” she replied. .