Everyone looked at him, with faces that were in total agreement with what he said.
“What? Look, stay out of this. Okay? This is between me and the father of my children”
I looked at her.
“Huh? You want me to let this man walk all over me, again?”
“This man? Mandiphumle, this is my uncle you’re talking about here”
“Tell your uncle to stay out of my hair. I would be at his house if I wanted to talk to him”
“My goodness, Mandy”
Mommy sounded really disappointed.
“Daddy needs to know that, to me, he doesn’t exist. I am in this mess today, because of him. I will never, ever speak to him again, after today”
“Did you hear that? Did you all hear that? This child is disrespectful. All she needs is a good hiding, to remind her that she is still a child”
“Mandy, shut up!”
Sibusiso roared, trying to frighten me. I wasn’t frightened one bit, but I remained silent.
“This is not how this meeting should go. Please, we need to work towards a common goal”
“Tell that to your husband”
The thing about me and such moments, was that I tended to find myself saying things that I shouldn’t be saying. I lose all modesty and politeness and become this aggressive young woman who has been through a lot, but is still standing. I always aimed for the heart with my word bombs.
“Mandiphumle, why are you so disrespectful? How do you expect to see these kids if you carry on like this?”
“I am not carrying on like anything, he started it”
I pointed at Daddy.
“I don’t know why I’m here. I have nothing to say to this rascal”
Daddy got up.
“Daddy, please sit down. We need to reach a conclusion”
“I won’t sit here and listen to this child, reducing me to nothingness”
“Mandiphumle, shut up!!”
Sibusiso yelled. I pressed my lips tightly together and looked away.
“Just shut up man. You are a child, and you are not supposed to be speaking to an adult like this. I don’t care what you’ve been through, but I will not accept this kind of behavor towards my elders”
“I really wish we could stop fighting here, and just resolve this like sensible adults”
“Daddy, please keep calm. I know and understand your frustration,but arguing like this won’t get us anywhere. Let’s rather raise issues in a calm manner, so that we could all walk out of that door, in clear understanding of what is going on”
“I, for one, have nothing against Mandiphumle seeing her children. They are hers, at the end of the day, whether we like it or not. But, I strongly suggest that she remains under tight supervision when she is around for a visit”
Sbusiso’s father said.
“Also, she should not stay for too long with them, at least not yet”
Desmond said. I looked at him.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, who knows, maybe you will disappear on us again. We don’t want them to tighten a bond with you, and have you leaving their souls broken when you disappear again”
He explained. My own father, speaking against me in a room full of people. That man never showed any interest in being in my life, now why would my personal life be of concern to him?
“That’s what I’m saying as well, or better yet, she could lure them into her evil lifestyle”
“So you think I disappeared, even after I opened up and told you where I was? Did you not hear a word I said to you?”
“Oh, yes. Now I remember, the hospital story”
He replied. To me, that was a matter of life and death, but to him, it was just a “hospital story”. Talking to him was bad for my health. He borught the worst out of me, no matter how hard I tried to ignore him.
“Yes, the hospital story. Just so you know, I will not be readmitted into that hospital, ever. As my father, you should not even be that negative towards me and my life”
He remained silent.
“I’m with dad on this one, I see nothing wrong with Mandiphumle seeing the kids. But, I think she should visit them here, not at our house”
Sibusiso’s wife said.
“Yes, that goes without saying. She can’t invade our personal space”
“I was hoping you’d explain why I’m not allowed anywhere near your house”
“Well, for obvious reasons, and also the fact that we don’t want to mess our kids’ routine up”
I folded my arms in front of my chest.
“So, I’ll drop them off, here, every time you need to visit them”
“So, what are you planning to do with your life?”
“Can I see the kids?”
I looked at Sibusiso.Nt future plans were none of Desmond’s business.
“They went out, with Siza”
He shrugged his shoulders.
“Siza? Who is Siza?”
“Their nanny’s son”
“What do you mean they went out?”
“Siza transports them to and from creche, and occassionally takes them out just for fun”
“Oh, okay. You knew I was coming, why did you allow Siza to take them out?”
Sibusiso’s smile faded away.
“I didn’t think we would have this kind of conversation. I was expecting drama and fireworks, so I decided to chase them away because I didn’t want them to see that”
“I’m not stupid, Sibusiso. I wouldn’t do anything crazy around my children”
“Seeing is believing. You can’t really blame me for not trusting you though”
“So I’m not going to see my children?”
“What do you want me to tell you? The kids went out with Siza. I don’t know when they will be back, and I don’t know how long you’re planning to stay. How am I going to know whether you will be able to see them or not?”
“Uhm, how about you visit them next Saturday? We can’t exactly put pressure on Siza now, can we?”
Sibusiso’s wife said.
“Alright. Not problem. Do they ever ask about me?
“I don’t think they remember you”
“They were still babies when you left. Please undestand if they can’t remember you”
I quickly replied.
“I was just asking, since I’m all they knew from the day they were brought into this world”
“We’re all they know now”
Ouch! Sibusiso’s response broke my heart.
“Oh, okay. I should probably get going, since I won’t be seeing my children today”
I got up.
“Okay, we’ll see you next Saturday then”
Sibusiso said. The room was full of people, but only a few people actually spoke to me. I failed to understand why so many people were there. Maybe they just wanted to see the problem child for themselves.
“Aren’t you staying over for lunch?”
I said my goodbyes and walked out. The minute I stepped out of that house, I felt the atmosphere changing. I could breathe. I just didn’t belong there. My spirit was unsettled when I was in that house. I walked down the streets, trying to think of a way I could get hold of a phone, so I could call Alex and ask him to come and pick up.
“Mandy, dammit, is that you??”
Someone shouted, as I was still deep in thoughts. I turned around, to see who it was. It was Wonga.
“Wonga. Oh my goodness. Hi”
We rushed towards each other and welcomed each other with a very tight hug.
“Wonga! How are you?”
We broke the hug.
“I’m good. You know me, I’m always on top of the world”
He snapped his fingers and I laughed.
“Man, how are you? Where have you been? dude, I’ve been asking myself where you went. You know how important you are to me, and how much I’m addicted to you”
“WOnga please man”
“Please? What do you mean?”
I laughed harder.
“Stop it man”
“I’m so happy to see you. Please, don’t tell me I’m this happy because I’m high. Please. I am really happy to see you”
“I’m happy to see you too”
“You’re still very beautiful”
“Thank you. Uhm, WOnga.. Can I use your phone?”
“I want to call someone and ask him to pick me up”
“Who? That foreign boyfriend of yours?”
“He’s not my….”
I cleared my throat.
“Yes, I want to call him”
I cleared my throat again.
“I don’t have airtime”
He took his phone out and gave it to me.
“Here. See what you can do”
I took the phone.
I sent him a “please call me” and he called.
“Hi. Its me, I wanted to ask if you could come and pick me up..”
“Hey. Okay, that was quick. I was expecting you to take the whole day, and bond with the kids”
“I’ll tell you all about it when you get here. I’m using Wonga’s phone, I’ll be with him until you arrive, so that we can communicate”
“Wonga? That drug addict friend of yours?”
He remembered Wonga. Wow. I remembered how Wonga would walk me to his car, back when we were still together. I also rmembered how much Alex disliked Wonga, but tried to hide it. I looked at Wonga, to see his facial expression. It was the only way I could see if he heard what Alex asked. He was minding his own business, so he didn’t hear what Alex asked.
“Okay, see you just now”
He hung up.
I handed Wonga his phone back.
“Pleasure. So, what’s up? How’s life?”
“Life is still a roller coaster ride, some days are better than the others”
“I heard that you ran away. What happened?”
His voice carried so much concern.
“I ran away?”
“I asked Bro Sbu, some time last year, and he told me that you ran away from home”
He explained. I didn’t want to waste my time by trying to make sense of the situation, with an intoxicated person.
“Well, life forced me to run away”
“Life hey. I know exactly what you mean”
“So, how have you been?”
I asked.He sighed too.
“I’ve been okay. Life hasn’t been exactly a bed of roses, but we soldier on”
“Yeah, life is never a bed of roses”
We had a catch up session, while we stood on the streets, waiting for Alex. We mostly laughed, about everything.
“Here’s your foreign boyfriend”
“Stop being rude”
I whispered back as Alex pulled over.
“Let’s go over to his car”
I grabbed his arm and walked towards the car with him. We got there and stood by the driver’s side. Wonga greeted, and Alex greeted back.
“Oh damn, Mandy..”
He looked at me.
I shrugged my shoulders.
“Dude, you didn’t tell me that you are married. So you ran away to get married? Why aren’t you wearing a ring while your husband is wearing it”
“Wonga, no. I didn’t elope. Let it go”
I looked at Alex and squeezed a smile out of my embarrassment.
“I’m sorry about that. He gets a little crazy when he’s.. uhm, when he’s high”
Alex remained silent.
“I’m happy for you man, congratulations”
He patted my back..
“I’ve always known that you two belonged together. It was just a matter of time before you also realize that. What God has joined together, let no man seperate. Nothing will ever seperate you..”
“Uh, Wonga. Knock it off”
I shoved him.. He laughed.
“What? You two belong together. Can’t you…”
“Shut up, Wonga”
I cut him short.
“My brother, please take good care of her. She is of a very special breed, she just hasn’t realized that yet. Please don’t take it negatively, I know you are already doing an amazing job with her. I just want you to continue, because you obviously add value to her life. I’m even happy to see that you guys are still together, after all this time. Take care of her”..
I swear, I died. Not even the fact that I now had access to my children could manage to resurrect me at that point in time.