“Uyingelosi, you’re the one who forgot to pack your slippers, own up to that mistake in order to learn from it”

I said. She looked at me.

“Learn from it?”

She asked as I cleaned up after our mess.

“Yes, you should learn from it. It was your responsibility to make sure that all your stuff was packed in time, nobody is expected to do that for you”

I added. I knew she was still very young, but we were teaching them responsibility.

“Okay mama, I’m sorry. It’s just that Mom sometimes helps us pack when she has time”

She said.

“She’s doing a great job by helping you, but you need to learn to be independent”

I replied, holding her hand as we walked out. We got to my room. Uyinkwenkwezi was already in bed.

“I’m sleeping next to Mama”

Uyingelosi announced.

“You guys will take turns sleeping next to me, tomorrow its Uyi’s turn”

I replied, getting Uyingelosi into bed.

“Mama, are you going to read us a bedtime story?”

Uyingelosi asked. I sighed, because I already forgot about that.

“Uuuh, yeah! Let me quickly look for your book”

I went over to my book shelf and fiddled through my books.

“Okay babies, get ready for story time”

“Mama, can we just have a conversation instead?”

Uyinkwenkwezi suggested. I looked at him.

“No, Dad said its important for us to read a story before bed”

Uyingelosi opposed.

“I was talking to Mama”

Said Uyinkwenkwezi, and they started arguing about it.

“Okay, okay!!”

I shouted, and they stopped and looked at me.

“Why do you guys fight over everything?”

I asked.

“Uyinkwenkwezi always starts a fight, Mama”

Uyingelosi repied.

“No, you always start fights”

They argued again.

“Okay guys, can we call Enkosi instead? And have a long conversation on the phone with him, I’ll even read you guys the story then”

I suggested. Since Sibusiso and his wife took him in, during the most difficult time of my life, they became very good parents to him. However, Enkosi struggled dealing with a lot of issues, and he was still very young when everything happened in his life. Sibusiso and his wife decided to send him to a boarding school, so he could be able to create his own world. By the time I got discharged at the hospital, he was already at the boarding school, as young as he was. I only heard about him on my first official visit at the Nkomo household, after the meeting. He would come home during school holidays and visit me as well. He was pretty stable, and very happy like that. It really bugged him to hear other kids on the streets talking about how his father was killed. It really tore him apart. As much as having him grow away from us was not nice, but it was for the best. He created his own world, where nobody knew him or even how his father died. He was living a peaceful life, and was still seeing his psychologist. He was doing really well.

“Oh, I forgot. Mr Khumalo is off this weekend and you know James would never allow that, especially this late”

“Aah, James is not cool”

Uyinkwenkwezi replied.

“I know hey, but its fine. We can always call him some other time”

“Enkosi was going to enjoy your reading”

Uyongelosi said.

“I’ll make sure I read to him, during the week”

I replied.

“So Mama can we just have a conversation?”

“But Mama was going to read, why do you always do this?”

“Do what? I don’t want to listen to a story”

“I want to listen to a story. Mama always tells us stories before bed”

Uyingelosi replied.

“Uyi, why are you saying that you don’t want to listen to a story?”

I asked.

“I want Us to have a conversation instead”

He replied, with the lowest of tones.

“Okay, we’re going to make this work. So today we will read the story, and tomorrow we will just talk. How’s that?”

I suggested. He nodded.

“Its okay mama, tell the story”

I sensed loads of unhappiness in his voice.I read the story and left them to sleep. I got to the kitchen and poured myself a glass of water. I took a sip and closed my eyes, facing the ceiling, with my neck slightly tilted to the left.. It had been a very long day, and I was exhausted.

“Hello!! Earth to Mandy!!”

Alex said, walking in.. I opened my eyes and looked at him.

“Oh hey, I didn’t see you there”

I said, sipping on my water again.

“You were in a world of your own”

He went to put the kettle on.I laughed.

“WOrld of my own, hey”

“Yeah, like you’re not here, with us”

I sighed,

“I’m tired, and the twins fight about everything, so…”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“They are kids, and kids do that all the time”

He took out a cup and a teaspoon.

“I know, but its just so exhausting sometimes, especially when I want to do something with them both and one of them wants a different thing”

I replied.

“I can imagine. They may be twins, but they are still two diferent people”

He said.

“..And they are expected to be themsleves”

I added. He nodded.

“Exactly”

“See, just now, they were having different tastes on what we should do before they sleep. Uyi wanted us to just talk, and Angel wanted us to read the bedtime story”

I told him. He laughed.

“And how did you solve that?”

“We read a story, and tomorrow we’ll just talk”

“Nice. I like how you always have a solution to these problems”

I smiled.

“I try”

I replied.

“You’re a very smart lady”

He looked at me. Our eyes met. I cleared my throat and looked away.

“Uuh, I should probably go to bed too. I’m exhausted”

I emptied the glass in the sink and .

“Oh, before I forget, I’m thinking of going home tomorrow, to check the condition and everything”

I said, looking at him.

“Oh, okay. So you want me to take you there?”

He sat down with his hot cup of coffee.

“No, I’m just telling you”

“Oh okay. I can take you there if you want”

He offered.

“Is Ntsiki going to be there as well?”

I asked.

“She’s going to a funeral tomorrow, and she knows I only attend family funerals, not just any funerals”

He replied.

Okay, I’ll tell her in the morning”

“Tell her what?”

He asked, as I walked towards the door.

“That’s what I always do when I will be going anywhere with you. I tell her if she wasn’t there when the arrangement was made”

He laughed.

“But why do you do that? Its not even like she doesn’t trust you”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“I just do it. Goodnight”

I walked out. The following morning, I woke up as early as 6am and took a shower. I knew that, when the kids wake up, my life will be all about them and them alone. When I got back into my room from the bathroom, Uyinkwenkwezi was up.

“Hey baby”

“Good morning mama”

He sat up.

“You’re up early”

I said.He smiled and nodded.

“How did you sleep?”

I asked as I went over to my wardrobe to choose an outfit.

“I slept well mama. And you?”

I slept well too, baby. Even though Uyingelosi becomes a wrestler at night, but I survived”

I said, and he laughed.

“Mama, can I ask you something?”

He said.

“Yes baby, ask”

I responded, holding the dress that I was planning to wear.

“Uhm, what does it mean to be a twin? What is a twin?”

He asked. I went to sit on the bed, next to him.

“Being a twin, baby, means that you and your sister were born on the same day. Unlike me, who was born alone, I had two babies at the same time”

I explained.

“How does that happen?”

He asked again.

Uyinkwenkwezi was such a little thinker.

“You see, during the time you and your sister were created, it happened at the same time. You developed into babies, at the same time and were born on the same day”

I explained.

“So that means none of us is older than the other?”

When I was starting the parenting journey, Sibusiso told me that they never told the twins which one is older or younger, because that was not important. What mattered was the fact that they were born on the same day, and that was that.I cleared my throat.

“Baby, why are you asking about this?”

“I’m just asking mama”

He giggled, evidently trying to show that he really was just asking.

“You and your sister were born on the same day, that’s all that matters”

I said, and he nodded.

“Okay mama”

“I’ll go and get dressed and come back, okay?”

He nodded as I walked out. After getting dressed, I went back to my room.

“So, where were we?”

“Mama, are we going somewhere?”

Uyingelosi asked.

“Yes, but we’ll only go in the afternoon”

I replied.

“Great, can I go and watch the cartoons now?”

She asked.

“Brush your teeth first”

I replied as she jumped out of bed.

“Okay mama”

She took her toiletry bag and rushed off.

“Don’t you want to go and watch cartoons?”

I asked Uyinkwenkwezi.

“No mama, I’ll go and play with Junior”

“Oh okay, go and brush your teeth too. I’ll make breakfast”

He got out of bed and I made it. I went to the kitchen to make breakfast. Aunt Veronica tried convincing me that I didn’t
have to make breakfast, but I insisted.

“You are in such a good mood today. You? Offering to make breakfast?”

She joked, and I laughed.

“But Aunty, you know I always leave so early in the morning for work. Now that I’m off, I have to spoil you guys a bit”

“Nice. Mandy, listen. I’ve been meaning to talk to you about something”

I looked at her.

“You and Alex”

She said. My heart skipped a bit, but I maintained my calm.

“What about us?”

I asked.

“The other day, in your room, I heard you two agreeing that Ntsiki should never find out that you two were once an item”

She replied. My throat went dry..