“No, I am not going anywhere. Whatever you want to say to my son, you can say it in front of me”

“Mandiphumle, please. Now is not the time for this. Please”

I shook my head.

“No,Sibusiso, I am not going anywhere”

I folded my arms in front of my chest. He took a sigh.

“Son, Mama and I cannot be together because.. uuh.. because Dad is with someone else. All you need to know is that we love you, and that you mean the world to us. Never, ever, doubt my love for you”

Uyi shook his head.

“I don’t want two mothers”

“Maybe you can come and stay with me for a while”

Uyi looked at me.

“No! Uyi is fine where he stays”

Uyi looked down.

“No, he’s not. Can’t you see?”

I pointed at the child who was evidently drowning in sorrow.

“This has been going on for a while, but none of us ever noticed”

“Who are you blmaing for that? Are you trying to say that I’m a bad father?”

“I said NONE OF US NOTICED. Why are you taking it to the heart? Or maybe the shoe fits so well?”

“Son, can I have a word with your mother in private?”

Sibusiso asked.

“Are you going to fight?”

He asked.

“No, son. We’re not going to fight. I just want us to have an adult conversation with her”

Sibusiso replied. Uyi got up and walked out.

“Was there a need to chase him out? That child is directly involved in this, and needs to feel like he’s part of the solution”

I said as he rushed to close the door behind Uyi.

“Are you out of your mind?”

He turned to look at me.

“Huh?”

“Don’t huh me, Mandiphumle. What are you trying to do? Huh? Are you trying to steal my son?”

“steal your son? Really?”

I asked..

“That child is mine. How many times must I remind you of that? He is mine. Okay? They are mine. I am the one who carried them, and I am the one who gave birth to them. So, that makes them mine”

“What have you been telling these kids? It is clear that you’ve been feeding them some information, and now that its getting out of hand, you need my help to calm the situation”

“What?”

I laughed in disbelief.

“Me? So you’re blaming me for this? Sibusiso, open your eyes. This has been going on for a while now. Accept it. We failed as parents”

“No. I did not fail. I raised those kids up, and I did a great job at it, together with your own brother. I will not agree with you when you say we failed, because I did not fail”

He replied.

“The child is broken. This child has been angry for a while now, especially towards his sister. Now he’s fighting at school, and he just bursts into tears with deep questions. Last night, he wanted us to just talk, instead of reading the bed time story. He is troubled, and we didn’t notice”

“Why is he the only one who is broken? Why are the others happy and normal? Whatever you’ve been feeding my children, but you are not taking them away from me that easily”

He said.

“Sibusiso, now is not the time to fight. We have a problem here, and we need to find a solution, together”

“Will you stop making a big deal out of this?”

“What do you mean?”

“Uyinkwenkwezi is a child. In case you didn’t know, children do have these episodes, every now and then. They just demand attention for a while, and it goes away. Its really not that deep”

He replied.

“I can’t believe you. So you’re taking this for granted now? You saw how miserable that child is”

“It will go away. Give it a day or two”

“No. A day or two will result in us raising a broken soul. We don’t want that. Please, let’s get help for our child”

I begged.

“Mandiphumle, you may work for a doctor, but you are not a doctor. Okay? You know nothing about this. Stop psychoanalysing my son, and stop trying to tag me along to your guilt trip. You failed your kids, and left them to be raised by their father and his wife. If we are accepting things, how about you accept that and leave me and the kids alone?!”

He said.

“I may not be a doctor, but from where I’m standing, you are just as clueless. This child is clearly not coping with the situation, just like Enkosi couldn’t accept his situation. We need to pay attention to this, because these kids are more miserable than we think”

I replied. He sat on my bed and covered his face with both hands, resting his elbows on his lap.

“Accept it, Sibusiso. Please. We can’t act like nothing is going on, while we can see that our baby is dying. Please, help me help our baby”

He removed his hands from his face and looked at me.

“Mandiphumle, I want you to listen to me. Okay? I want you to listen to me very carefully”

He got up.

“You are not stealing my kids away from me. I don’t care what type theory you have built in their minds, but you will never take them away from me”

“This is not about…”

“I don’t care what its about. Okay? I don’t care. I am taking my kids now and I am leaving with them. I want you to stay away from us. Do you hear me?”

“Whoa! Who do you think you are? These are my kids too. I have a say on what is going on in their lives”

“I don’t care what you have or don’t have. All I am telling you is to stay away from my family”

He grabbed the kids’ bags..

“Sibusiso, you can’t do that!!”

I yelled behind him as he walked out that door. I ran after him..

“Sibusiso! YOu can’t do this”

I got to him and grabbed his arm.

“Let go of me!”

He snatched his arm away.

“You can’t do that. We have an agreement”

“Had an agreement!”

He replied.

“What do you mean?”

“I want you out of our lives, for good this time. I trusted you and allowed you to bond with the kids, and you saw an opportunity to poison their little minds. I trusted you!”

“What? Why are you blaming me for this? Why is it all my fault?”

“Of course its your fault. Uyinkwenkwezi was fine, until he got here”

“Uyinkwenkwezi was not fine, Sibusiso. He was not fine. The child has been angry for a while now. Can’t you see how he treats his sister?”

Because we were now raising our voices, the kids came to check what was going on.

“You’re causing a scene”

Sibusiso whispered.

“Why is everything my fault? Why do I have to take the blame for everything that goes wrong?”

I asked, almost falling apart.

“Because you are to blame, for everthing that is going wrong in our children’s lives”

Tears streamed down my cheeks.

“How could you say that to me, in front of my kids?”

“Because it’s true. You are the reason why they ended up staying with me, because you were out there galavanting. You are the reason your brother couldn’t cope with his reality. Your negative influence is to blame for what is going on right now with my son. Everything that you touch becomes rotten”

I stood there, like I was suffocating from traces of my own existence.

“Kids, come. Let’s go”

He ordered.

“Are we leaving Mama crying?”

Uyingelosi asked.

“Mama will be fine. We have to go”

“I am not going”

Uyinkwenkwezi replied. We all looked at him.

“What?”

Sibusiso asked.

“I am not going with you”

Uyi replied.

“Son…”

SIbusiso walked up to him and knelt before him..

“son, whatever Mama told you is not true. I love you. Okay? You are my world”

He begged.

“Sibusiso…”

“Shut up, Mandiphumle!!”

He screamed.I wanted to take him on, but I didn’t want to paint that kind of picture in my children’s minds.

“Dad, why are you shouting at Mama?”‘

Uyingelosi asked.

“Did Mama make you angry?”

“Angel, Dad is not angry”

He replied, without even looking at her.

“Uyi, come son. Let’s go home and talk about this”

Uyinkwenkwezi shook his head.

“Why not? What did Mama tell you? What did she say?”

He asked. gently rubbing Uyi’s shoulder.

“Mama didn’t say anything”

Uyi replied.

“Then why are you like this, all of a sudden?”

“Its not all of a sudden, this child has been depressed for a while”

I hopped in..He turned to give me that “shut up” look.

“Uyi, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to. I am your mother and you have every right to spend time with me if you want to”

“Mandiphumle…”

“I am talking to my son!”

I yelled and he kept quiet.

“Baby, you are not going anywhere. You are staying here, with me. Come”

I stretched my arms out and Uyi ran up to me.Sibusiso got up from kneeling down. I don’t know how, but it felt like our souls connected.

“Angel, let’s go”

Sibusiso ordered.

“Okay Dad”

Angel walked up to Sibusiso and held his hand.

“This is not over”

He said, pointing at me, and then walked out, dragging Angel out with him.

“I’m sorry baby”

I gently rubbed his back..

“Mama,”

He broke the hug and looked up at me.

“Thank you for not allowing Dad to take me”

“It’s a pleasure baby. Come, let’s go and take your bags to our room”

I held his hand while going to pick up Uyi’s bag which was left on the floor, where Sibusiso was kneeling down. We got to my room and I closed the door behind us..

“Yeah. Uhm, are you still up for that conversation? I’m really sorry about what just happened”

He nodded.

“Great! Let’s sit down and talk my baby”

I carried him and made him sit on the bed.

“I’m here for you. You can talk to me about anything. I am your mother and I love you so much. I want what’s best for you”

“I know, grandpa told me”

He replied. Desmond was the “Grandpa” he was talking about, and Sibusiso’s father was “Granddad”. My kids’ terms were a little confusing.

“You talked to Grandpa about this?”

He nodded.

“He said that you love us, and that you have always loved us. He said that you fell sick when we were really young and were taken to a hospital with the sam illness you had”

I nodded..

“What else did he say?”

“That he loves you so much”

I swallowed.

“Oh okay”

“Granddad doesn’t believe that you were in hospital. He says you were having fun with a bad man”

I was fuming, enraged even.