I swallowed the lump that was forming on my throat. I was doomed. I was dead.
“I must admit though, that I’m very disappointed in you both. All this time, I’ve been trying to come up with a better way of saying this, but I can’t find it”
She added. I swallowed again.
“Uuh.. Aunty.. Uuh…”
Ntsiki walked in, while I was still mumbling.
“Good morning everyone”
“Good morning sisi”
Aunt Veronica greeted back.
I greeted back, not knowing whether to smile or not.
“Why are you up so early, Mandy? You’re supposed to be resting and bonding with the kids”
“They are already up and about, you know how they are”
I giggled nervously.
“So I decided to make breakfast, just to give aunt Veronica a break”
“Oh, okay. That’s very thoughtful of you. Alex tells me that he will be taking you to your parents’ house during the day”
She said. Aunt Veronica looked at me.
“Uuhm, yes. He offered, because the kids are here and everything, so he…”
“I can look after the kids”
Aunt Veronica said.Ntsiki and I both looked at her.
“I will look after the kids while Mandy goes to view the house. Alex doesn’t have to drive her there”
“Alex offered. You know how good hearted my husband is, always ready to help”
Ntsiki replied proudly.
“I told him he didn’t have to, but he insisted”
“Don’t worry, I know him”
Ntsiki replied. I didn’t know what Aunt Veronica was trying to do, but I was not comfortable with it. Ntsiki took an apple and a banana, and rushed off. I looked at Aunt Veronica.
“Aunty, this is not what you think it is”
“What is it then? Because I’m seeing lies, betrayal and dishonety. Please enlighten me”
She folded her arms. I took a deep sigh.
“Look, Alex and I were an item, way back. I was eighteen at the time, and didn’t know any better. Things didn’t work out between us and we called it quits, but we still continued being in good terms and he continued helping me out”
“Then why did you two lie? Why did you trick Ntsiki into agreeing to let you into her house?”
“And did you tell the truth?”
“Aunt Veronica, Alex dropped this on me as well. Trust me, I was furious. Okay? I was mad, and that is why I want to move out, because I can’t live with the lie anymore”
“Running away from this will not make you a better person, you need to tell the truth. Ntsiki doesn’t deserve this”
“Mama, mama!! Uyinkwenkwezi won’t let me watch cartoons, because he wants to watch a movie”
Uyingelosi bounced into the room.
“I’m coming, Angel”
“Mama, you have to come now. He is not giving me the remote!!”
“I’ll be right back”
I told aunt Veronica as I walked out, following Uyingelosi. When we got to the living room, Uyinkwenkwezi and Junior were watching a movie, just as Uyingelosi reported.
“Boys, why are you watching a movie, instead of cartoons?”
“Because cartoons are for kids, mama. We want to watch a movie”
“What do you mean? You a kid yourself. And besides, you are not allowed to watch action movies”
“You know why, Uyinkwenkwezi. We’ve been through this before”
“So you went to report us? You’re such a baby!”
Uyinkwenkwezi said to his sister.
“Mama!! Uyinkwenkwezi is calling me a baby!!”
Uyingelosi cried. My goodness.
“Uyinkwenkwezi, why must you always be rude towards your sister? Stop this, before I punish you”
I threatened. He remained silent.
“Now, you kids are going to watch cartoons, and you will enjoy them. No child is going to watch any action movie here. In fact, give me that remote, Uyinkwenkwezi”
I ordered. He got up and handed me the remote.
I changed the channel, back to the cartoon channel.
“Now, enjoy these cartoons. I will finish up making breakfast and serve you shortly”
I walked out. I didn’t know which one was better, facing the chaotic kids, or facing the judgemental lady in the kitchen.
“Your phone rang”
Aunt Veronica reported, as I walked into the kitchen.
I went to check who was calling. It was brother Lwando. I smiled as I returned his call.
He picked up.
“My brother, how are you?”
“I’m well, God has been faithful. How are you?”
“By God’s grace, I am doing okay, thanks”
“I called you, to inform you that sister Akhona has passed on”
“Oh my goodness. When?”
“What happened to her? Was she sick?”
“No, they were involved in a car accident, on their way home from work last night, and she only passed away this morning at hospital”
“That’s really sad man. May her beautiful soul rest in peace. So are we going to her home?”
“Well, I’m informing people for now. I will get back to you on that one”
“Oh okay, I understand. Wow, I still can’t believe that Sister Akhona is no more. I mean, we were together just last week and she was looking forward to tomorrow because the choir will be showcasing for the youth”
“I know hey, its really sad, but it was all part of God’s plan”
“You’re right. We need to make peace with it and let her rest in perfect peace”
“Yes. Its not going to be easy, but we need to be strong”
“I agree. Thank you so much for letting me know. I have to go now”
“Okay, I’ll keep you updated”
We hung up.
“Aunt Veronica, can we finish this off some other time? I just received disturbing news about a friend of mine, so I need a moment to myself”
I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. She looked at me for a while, and walked out. I pulled a chair and sat down, and cried so hard.
“Hey, Mandy. What’s wrong?”
Alex asked, as he walked in. Before I said anything, he pulled me up and rested my head on his chest..
“Sssssh… Whatever it is, its going to be okay. Don’t cry”
He gently rubbed my back.
“She was such a beautiful soul. She didn’t deserve to die. She was so young and full of life”
I removed my head from his chest, with tears still dripping down my cheeks.
“Akhona, a friend of mine from church”
“Akhona? The lady I went to dropped off that night?”
“What happened to her? She really was a beautiful soul”
“She was involved in a car accident, and passed away this morning. She was so young”
“She was so young indeed, and so full of life”
He added, and I nodded.
He handed me a tissue.
“Wow, so you keep a tissue in your pocket?”
I asked. He laughed, and I laughed too while tears were still rolling down.
“Ntsiki puts one in my pants when she prepares my outfit for the day”
“Ntsiki prepares your outfits?”
I asked again, and he laughed again.
“Not all the time, but mostly, yes. Ntsiki is mothering me sometimes and I think that makes her feel good about herself so I didn’t want to take that away from her”
“Next thing, she is going to carry you on her back”
I joked, and we laughed.
“The kids are hungry, please make sure you serve them breakfast first, and continue with what you are doing later”
Aunt Veronica said, as she walked in. Alex and I stopped laughing.
“Wait, who are you talking to?”
Alex asked, looking at Aunt Veronica.
“She’s talking to me. I’m the one making breakfast”
“I offered, Alex”
I replied, trying to calm him down.
“So what gives you the right to address Mandy like that?”
He asked, looking at Aunt Veronica again.
“She was making breakfast, and the kids are hungry now”
“Listen to me, and listen to me very carefully. Okay? You don’t order anyone around, here. Okay? Your job is to make sure that everything is under control and that the kids are well taken care of”
“Oh, believe me I know my job. Protecting my employer is also a part of my job”
She turned and walked away.
“What? Hey, get back here!!”
Alex shouted after her.
“Alex, leave her”
I said. He turned to look at me.
“Leave her? How can I leave her? Did you hear what she just said?”
“I heard her, but leave her”
“No, I’m not leaving her. She is crossing the line and I will not let her”
He took a few steps away..
“She knows about us”
I said. He stopped on his tracks and turned to look at me.
He asked. I nodded.
“She knows. She just told me that she overheard our conversation, and she is not happy about it”
His mouth hung open.
“Is she going to tell Ntsiki? She can’t tell Ntsiki. Mandy, Ntsiki can never find out about this”
“I know. Okay? That’s why I need to disappear, as fast as I can”
“What’s the point? that won’t erase what she knows, and I will still be here, serving as a reminder”
He replied. My day was starting off on a very bad note. I was going through a roller-coaster ride of emotions…