Tears were rolling down my cheeks like a heavy rain on a Summer day. Her words were exactly what I needed to hear. Love is all I needed.

“Thank you”

I sniffed.

“We’re family, and my husband and I will help in this situation any way we can”

She responded, looking at me straight in the eye. I nodded, looking down..

“I want you to stay strong, just until you give birth to these twins. After that, you will have to reshape your life. If you allow me, I will be with you every step of the way”

I nodded again, sniffing..

“Thank you so much”

Mr Nkomo walked in, while Mommy and I were still talking..

“What’s going on here? Why is Mandy crying?”

He was looking at Mommy.

“Mandy has been through a lot. There is no way she can talk about her life and not cry”

She calmly responded.

“Oh well, she has been through a lot indeed”

He came to sit next to me.

“What matters now is that she is with her family and everything will be okay”

He sounded so confident and proud of his twisted methods. Being with him and his son drove me insane, so nothing was going to be okay for me, as long as I had them on close range.

“That’s what we all want to hear”

Mommy replied, getting up..

“Let me go and help the ladies in the kitchen. I just needed to have a quick word with Mandy in private”

She walked away..

“Are you okay?”

He asked. I looked at him..

“How can I be okay? You brought me here forcefully. I didn’t even get the chance to freshen up. I’m angry and tired”

He shifted on his seat..

“We did what we had to do. Look, one day you will understand why we did what we did”

I sighed.

“Whatever”

I looked away..

“Mandy, let go of all this anger already. It’s not good for you”

I looked at him.

“So am I going to stay here with you?”

He smiled..

“Yes, that will give us time to get to know each other better and bond”

Yuck!

“Seeing that you have my life all figured out, I have one condition for staying here”

“What?”

He shrugged his shoulders.

“I want to go and visit Mommy, before all these rituals and ceremonies”

I saw his smile fading away.

“Mommy? Why would you want to visit her?”

“Because I want to”

I carelessly replied.

“Okay, fine. I don’t see anything wrong with that”

“Anything wrong with what?”

Sibusiso asked, walking up to us. Out of everyone who was chit chatting in and around the living room, he just had to snoop around our conversation.

“Mandy wants to visit Nothemba before the ceremony”

Mr Nkomo looked at him.

“Why?”

He stood in front of me.

“She says she wants to”

He looked at me.

“Hey, you will not call the shots here. Okay? You are a child, so nothing will be heard from you”

“I’m a child? Since when? Because when you tricked me into sleeping with you, you saw no child in me”

Mr Nkomo cleared his throat.

“But I think its for the best. It will give her an opportunity to get to know other members of the family”

Sibusiso looked at his father..

“Dad, are you agreeing with her?”

“It’s not a big deal. We all know how much Nothemba loves kids”

“This is not even about that, dad”

“What is is about then?”

I asked. He looked at me.

“Its about you, knowing your place”

“I wasn’t asking for anyone’s permission. I will go and visit Mommy and her family. End of story”

I got up and walked away. I needed fresh air, away from the two most annoying men in the world. I went outside and stood there. I was so bored. I called Phila.

“Hey you!”

“Hey Phila. Have you guys came up with a plan yet?”

“That’s what we’re working on, friend. Just stay put, we will come and get you. Bazukile is suggesting that you hide here, in his house for a while when we get you out of there”

I rolled my eyes

“Yeah, whatever. Just please, do something”

“Sure. So, how was the meeting?”

“It was okay. They are hosting a welcoming ceremony for me this coming Saturday, and the cleansing ceremony on Sunday”

“Oh okay, let’s hope you’ll be out of there by then
They can host their little ceremonies on their own”

I laughed.

“I have to go”

“Okay, bye.”

We hung up. Later, lunch was served and we ate. After eating, I went to my old room to take a nap, I was really tired.. As I was asleep, someone woke me up. It was Mommy..

“Hey, sorry to wake you up. I just came to tell you that I’m leaving now”

I sat up..

“Uhm, can I come with you?”

Her eyes nearly popped out.

“Now?”

“Yes, please”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea though? I mean, you just got here and-“.

I cut her short.

” Yes, I’m sure. Anything to get out of this house”

“Have you spoken to your uncle about it?”

I nodded.

“I told him earlier”

“Is he fine with it?”

I nodded again.

“Okay, get ready. We’re leaving in a few minutes”

I quickly got out of bed and wore my shoes. She walked out and gave me space to get ready. There wasn’t much to do, but to just fix the bed. I simply wiped my face with the palm of my hands, and I was good to go. Mommy was in the living room, with everybody else.

“Mandy, Nothemba tells me that you want to leave with her”

Mr Nkomo said.

“I told you”

I sat on the couch.

“I didn’t know it was this soon”

“Oh well…”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“So can she?”

Mommy asked.

“Yes, she can. The little problem we have is that she didn’t bring her clothes along”

Mr Nkomo replied.

“We can always go and fetch them”

Mommy sounded excited by my visit, as we continued negotiating with the hard headed Mr Nkomo.

“Mandiphumle is going through so much at the moment. Her emotions are all over the place and she sometimes comes across as rude”

Wow, what an analysis Mr Nkomo had about me and my situation.

“It’s okay, I know all that”

Mommy calmly responded..

“Okay, I don’t see why you can’t go with her”

Mommy smiled. People were leaving already, and Mommy suggested that we leave too. We said goodbye to everyone and went to her car. We got in and she drove off..

“Phew! What a day”

She sighed.

“Mine was ruined by insensitive people”

She cleared her throat..

“Is it true that you are sleeping around?”

Her question made me feel weak on the knees.

“What? Who told you that?”

“Apparently, that’s the main reason they had to fetch you from where you were staying”

“Wow! That’s not true. Sibusiso is doing everything in his power to discredit me”

“Its okay, you don’t have to feel ashamed. When people are going through what you are going through, they yearn for love and affection, they always want to feel wanted. I’m sure its easy for men out there to pick that up about you”

I cleared my throat..

“I hear that, but I am not sleeping around. These people are just badmouthing me”

“Mmhm.. Could you please direct me to where you were staying? We need to go and get your things”

I directed her to our house. I couldn’t believe I was leaving Mama. She played the role of a mother so well in my life. We had a connection, and she understood me. Leaving like that was the worst thing I could ever do, after she opened her home to me. When we got there, she waited in the car while I went in to take my stuff. I was tempted to call Bazukile to come and scare her off, so I could go and hide at his place, but I didn’t want to get her into trouble. She was too sweet for that. After packing, I locked up and went back to the car. She stepped out of the car and helped me get my stuff into her boot.

“Who else stays here?”

“My ex boyfriend and his family”

I replied. She nodded.

“Oh okay. I see they are not home, are you going to call them and inform them?”

We got into the car and drove off ..

“Yes, I will”

She looked at me, and then looked at the road ahead.

“You’re sad, aren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m sad. That house has been my home for a while now. I have made so many memories in that house. I felt like I belonged there”

“I understand. I hope you will enjoy your new life. Your uncle isn’t a bad man. He just wants what’s best for you”

I remained silent .. Mr Nkomo was a bad man. He didn’t want what’s best for me. He didn’t care about what was best for me, all he cared about was pleasing his son. Everything was about his son. We drove the rest of the way, listening to gospel music and she was singing along. We got there, and she clicked the gate open. In the township, a gate that fancy? She drove in and parked right in front of the double garage. The house was really a mansion.

“Wow, is this your house?”

“Yes, this is my house”

“Oh wow, a double storey, in the township”

She laughed..

“I had to build my suburb in my yard”

We stepped out of the car.

“In all honesty, Mr Roskruge helped us a great deal. Our house was small, like all the other houses in this neighborhood”

She opened her boot and I took my luggage out. She helped me carry some of it and we walked into the house through the front door. The living room, I’ve never seen anything like it. As my eyes wandered around the room, a bouncy girl, about my age walked in. She was wearing a pair of denim shorts, a White vest and a pair of slippers.

“Thoko, what are you wearing? What did I say about these types of clothes?”

The girl looked at her shorts.

“But Mommy, I’m in the house”

“So? That give you the right to walk around naked?”

“I’m not naked Mommy, come on”

“Don’t come on me Thokozile, go to your room and wear something decent”

She pulled a firm voice. Thoko rushed out of the room.

“I’m sorry about that. That’s my daughter, Thoko. She is just taking chances because she knows how much we hated those clothes”

I smiled..

“Let me take you for a mini tour around the house”

The house was like a castle fit for a king. Everything was fancy and expensive. They had four guest rooms. Four. She then asked me to choose which ever room I wanted to use out of the four guest rooms. I chose the one with a view of a flower garden. I felt it was the best, because I’d wake up to the flowers everyday.

“Make yourself at home. You can stay for as long as you need to, but please don’t hesitate to tell us when you’re ready to go back home”

I nodded, putting my bags on the floor.

“Thank you”

“Let me leave you to settle in”

She walked out. My phone rang, as I sat on the bed. It was Phila.

“Hey”

I picked up.

“Friend, Bazukile has a plan. He thinks we should-”

I cut her short.

“Phila, I think we should put the escape on hold”

“What?”

“Just for a couple of days. There is just something that I want to try out”

“What is that?”

“I can’t really talk about it. Thank you so much for trying. I will let you know when to continue with the plan”

“Okay”

She sounded so disappointed..

“I’ll call you later”

We hung up.. I got up and put my suitcase in the wardrobe. The built-in wardrobe was empty, so my suitcase had space. Someone knocked on the door.

“Come in!!”

I shouted. The door swung open and Mommy walked in..

“Hey, are you done? I want to introduce you to the family”

“Yes, I’m done”

I nervously replied. She walked out and I followed her. We walked down the stairs, all the way to the living room. Thoko, a man whom I assumed was Mommy’s husband and Trevor were all on their feet, waiting to see me. Trevor was so White, with blonde hair and Blue eyes, with bright Red lips. He was so White. We got there and I greeted, they greeted back.

“Everyone, this is Mandiphumle, but you can call her Mandy. The child I told you about last night”

“You told us about her?”

Thoko asked.

“Yes, the one the meeting was all about”

“Oooh, yes”

Thoko said. Clearly they already knew my story.

“Mandy, this is my husband”

She pointed at the man..

“This is my son, Trevor”

She pointed at Trevor.

“And this is Thokozile”

She pointed at Thoko.

“Pleased to meet you all”

I said, fiddling with my fingers.

“Welcome our house. I’m sorry I missed your meeting, I just got home from a three day conference”

I nodded.

“Its okay, Sir. I understand”

“Please, call me Daddy”

I nodded.

“Pleased to meet you, Mandy. Look at that, your tummy is so round”

Thoko rubbed my tummy. I faked a smile..

“Thank you”

I removed her hand from my tummy.

“Let’s sit down”

Mommy sat down and we all did.

“Guys, I decided to invite Mandy over. The reason for that is that I could see that she wasn’t coping. I saw pain in her eyes”

“You did the right thing, she needs to cool off for a while and get away from everyone”

Her husband replied..

“Yes, things are a bit hectic in that house and Mandy isn’t really in the right space”

“She can stay here for as much as she wants. This is her home too”

Mommy’s husband seemed like a pretty cool guy too..

“Let me go and prepare dinner”

Mommy walked out of the room..

“Guys, let’s go upstairs”

Thoko suggested..

“Aah, you want to leave me alone?”

Her father asked. We laughed..

“It’ll only be for a few seconds, Daddy. Watch one of your DVD’s”

Thoko jumped off her seat. Trevor got up too, and I followed suit. They practically ran up the stairs and I took my time.. We got to a room which I assumed was Thoko’s, judging by the decor and color combinations. She closed the door behind us.

“Welcome home, sis. Sit down”

I sat down, next to Trevor.

“We want to give you tips on how to stay in our parents’ good books”

I nodded as she paced up and down..

“Firstly, did Mommy tell you that she is the pastor’s wife?”

Pastor!??

“Uh,no.She didn’t mention that”

“She’d never”

Trevor mumbled.

“But don’t worry, they are really cool folks. You’ll love them”

Thoko assured me, to ease the shock.

“Rule number one; never, ever go anywhere without telling them where you are going. They need to know where their kids are, at all times”

Thoko said.

“Rule number two; you can never miss any church service and activity. Your life will revolve around church. Bible study, prayer meetings, choir meetings, youth service, girls’ service. Only school can make you miss these”

Trevor added.

“Rule number three; switch your phone off during family time. They believe that we don’t get to spend enough time as a family, so they value family time a lot. Trevor and I just put our phones on silent and sneak out to attend to them”

Thoko added..

“Rule number four; you are not allowed to date. Thoko and I cover up for each other really good on this one. We cover each other’s tracks. So you will join the club, we don’t snitch on each other”

Trevor added.

“Rule number five; Mind your language around the house. They are very sensitive to what comes out of our mouths”

Thoko added. I nodded.

“I think I can do all that”

I smiled.

“You can. Just relax and be a child, they will adore you”

I sighed.

“I don’t know whether I can go back to being a child, after everything that I’ve been through”

“Don’t worry,you will master this”

She came to sit down.

“So, is it true that you’re carrying bhut’Sibusiso’s child?”

“Thoko!!!”

Trevor exclaimed.

“Its okay, Trevor. I have to answer that question”

I looked at Thoko.

“Yes, its true. We didn’t know we were related when it all happened”

She nodded.

“Mmhm, how is his wife taking it?”

“She obviously doesn’t like me, but I think she has made peace with the pregnancy”

“She has no choice, that’s why she made peace with it”

Trevor replied.

“So do you have a boyfriend?”

“Uh, not really. I have a fling with some guy I know for a fact would never settle for a committed relationship”

“So you’re sexually active?”

I nodded..

“Okay cool. I also have a boyfriend, and I’m sexually active as well. Trevor too has a girlfriend and he is so sexually active”

“Whoa! Hey!”

Trevor shut her up and we laughed.

“Nobody knows that except for ourselves. Our parents and the community at large are of the belief that we are virgins”

“I see. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me”

“Thank you. Being a pastor’s kid is the worst that ever happened to me. I hate the fact that I am not allowed to be myself. I have to be what the world expects me to be”

“And there is nothing you can do about it, so just make the best of it”

They both nodded in agreement.

“Look, people are going to talk. Your presence here will bring a lot of drama, a pregnant teenager in the pastor’s house. Grow thick skin and not take anything to the heart”

Thoko gave me a tip, and I accepted it well. My phone rang, while we were still chatting. It was Alex. I cleared my throat..

“Hello”

I picked up.

“Mandy, how are you?”

It was Mama.

“I’m okay thanks, and you?”

“I’m fine, just tired. Is everything still going well that side? I’m just calling to check up on you”

“Uh, something happened, Mama”

“What?”

“Sibusiso and his father came by and forced me to leave with them”

“What? So you’re not home?”

“No, I’m not home Mama”

“Oh. When are you coming back?”

“I don’t think I’m coming back. They say they want to keep a close eye on me”

She remained silent..

“I will come and visit, for a proper goodbye and to thank you for everything you have done for me”

She cleared her throat..

“Where are you? I will come and visit when I’m back”

She sounded so hurt.

“I don’t think that’s such a good idea. Please wait for my visit”

“Fine. Take good care of yourself. Don’t forget to rest as much as you can”

I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.

“I will. Thank you”

We hung up. I sighed.

“That sounded pretty serious. Who was it?”

Thoko asked.

“Can I not talk about it?”

Tears escaped my eyes, and I wiped them with the back of my hand. Someone knocked and Thoko invited whoever it was, in. Mommy walked in..

“Kids, dinner is served”

She announced and we all got up and followed her to the dining room. Daddy was already there. We all sat down and Daddy blessed the food. We then ate..

“So, Mandiphumle, how far did you go, academically?”

Daddy asked.

“Uh, I dropped out at matric. When my mother got murdered, I had to look after my brother and I couldn’t cope at school”

They all looked at me..

“I had just got home from a study session, and I was confronted by blood on the kitchen floor and Uncle Thabo was standing there, looking like he had just seen a ghost. I just knew something bad had happened to my mother, because he was always abusive”

Mommy stretched her hand and held mine.

“He didn’t even deny it. He didn’t care how I felt. He … He asked me to clean the blood off the floor”

“Ooh, Father God!”

Mommy looked up.

“Its okay, you don’t have to give us all the details. We don’t want you to relive the moment”

Daddy said..

“Daddy’s right. You don’t have to share the details. I’m sorry about what happened to you though. You sure are strong”

Thoko added. I nodded. I really didn’t mean to scare them off with my dark stories.

“So, Uhm.. I enrolled for a computer course, and I’m still waiting for the results. They normally communicate with my..Uhm, with Alex. I haven’t heard anything since then”

Daddy nodded.

“So next year, do you want to go back to school?”

He asked again.

“Yes, Sir. I’d love to, but it will all depend on whether I have someone to look after the kids for me”

He nodded.

“Don’t worry.. So, how is your relationship with the Lord?”

Trevor and Thoko looked at me, as soon as Daddy asked me that.

“I pray, but I haven’t been to church in a very long time”

Trevor and Thoko looked at their plates.

“Don’t worry, I will introduce you to the Lord properly. You have to have a strong relationship with God in order to survive in this cruel world”

I nodded. Cute.

 

“Mandy, honey, I just want you to know that you belong here. With us. If you ever feel like leaving, keep in mind that you can visit any day”

Mommy said.

“Thank you, that really means a lot to me”

“Mommy, can she not go? I like her”

Thoko asked.

“Ask her”

“Mandy, can you stay? I need a sister, someone I can talk to”

She asked me.

“So I am not someone you can talk to?”

Trevor asked.

“You are, but I meant a sister”

I smiled to myself. I’ve never felt that wanted in my whole entire life.. Maybe Mommy was right, maybe I belonged there…