“Alex, my baby is broken. I still need to get to the bottom of this. He needs me”

He nodded.

“I don’t know the full story here, but I can tell that there is a lot going on here. The question at hand though, is, are you ready for this? Are you up for thi? The last thing you need is to take this child away from his father, only to destroy him even further”

“Alex, I want to help my son. He needs me. Whether I’m ready or not doesn’t matter. All that matters now is that my baby needs me and I have to be there for him”

I replied.

“Okay. What happened just now is sort of a sign that you might not really be ready for this”

“What happened just now is a sign that I need to sit my child down and explain everything to him”

“Everything?”

“Yes, everything”

“What about Angel? When is she going to get the same attention?”

“Angel left with her father, and S’busiso would never allow me to take them both away from him”

“But you are not taking them away. He will still get to spend time with them”

“I know, but you know the guy”

“Okay then.As long as you are ready for this, I am behind you hundreds”

“Thanks. Let me go and get his stuff, so we could get out of here”

“Okay”

I walked away. Siza came to open when I knocked on the front door.

“Mandy, hey”

He greeted.

“Hi Siza”

I greeted back.

“Please, come in”

He made way for me to walk in.

“Thank you”

I walked in.

“How are you?”

He asked.

“I’m good, and you?”

“I’m okay”

“Is anyone home?”

I looked at him.

“No”

“Okay. Look, I came to fetch Uyi’s stuff. He will be staying with me for a while”

I explained.

“Okay. Why?”

He asked.

“What do you mean?”

I asked too. Uyi was my child, and I didn’t understand why I had to explain to a random person why my child was going to be staying with me.

“I mean, Uyi has always stayed here. Why are you taking him all of a sudden?”

“Its not all of a sudden. Its a decision we took as a family”

I replied, trying to shut him up.

“Oh okay. Just so you know, Uyi is a very bad liar”

He said.

“What?”

I looked at him.

“I’m just saying. That child is a lair. He lies about everything”

“Look, Siza.. You may be Pam’s brother, but you are nothing to me. Okay? You have no right to talk about my child like that”

“I’m sorry Mandy, but its true. He lied about the fight he was involved in, and Angel told the truth. He lies about eating his lunch at school, and Angel tells the truth that Uyi always gives his food away. Uyi lies, about everything. I am not saying this in a bad way, but I just want you to be aware and be careful around him”

He replied. I wasn’t happy with hearing anything from him about my child.

“Okay. Let me go and get her stuff then”

I walked away. I knew my way around that house, so I went to Uyi’s bedroom and packed his clothes into one of his old travelling bags. When I was done, I went back to the living room. Siza was still there, watching TV.

“Can I have his bicycle as well?”

I asked.

“Let me go and get it for you”

He got up and went away. I sat on the couch and waited for him, on a bit of a panic mode. Clearly, something was terribly wrong with my child. I just couldn’t seem to forgive myself for the fact that I didn’t notice any signs of brokenness in my child, while I spent so much time with him over the weekends. I was a bad mother. I should have known. I should have seen the signs. The front door swung open and Sibusiso rushed in.His eyes wandered around the room, and he saw me. Our eyes met. I got up as he banged the door closed behind him.

“Mandiphumle, how could you?”

He asked, walking towards me.

“How could I what?”

Confused, I asked.

“Don’t!!”

He pointed at me.

“Don’t play dumb with me. Okay?”

“What are you talking about?”

“What am I talking about? Mandiphumle, you are trying to steal my son, and now you want to play happy families with him and your ex? What kind of a person are you?”

I sighed. I just knew that I was fighting a losing battle.

“Alex is helping me because I have to take Uyi’s stuff. I couldn’t carry them on my own, obviously”

I explained, taking a few steps away from him, because he was too close and I wasn’t comfortable.

“Look, I don’t care why that man is driving you around, but I don’t want him anywhere my son”

“He stays with us. How can you not want him anywhere near my son?”

“I am Uyinkwenkwezi’s father, and I will not allow another man to play daddy to my son while I am still alive and able to do so myself”

“So what exactly is your problem? The fact that Uyi is going to stay with me, or the fact that Alex drove me here?”

I asked. Really, I needed clarity because SIbusiso seemed to be against everything, and his arguments were not making sense to me but were rather too selfish.

“I will not explain myself to you. All I’m saying is that you are not going to steal my son away from me, and you are certainly now going to raise him with that man”

“Sibusiso, if you could calm down so we could discuss this as adults, we would reach an agreement”

“Oh, now you want to reach agreements with me? You went and convinced my son without talking to me, and you came here to fetch his belongings without talking to me. What’s there for us to talk about? What’s there for us to agree on?”

The Lord knows how much I didn’t want to entertain his drama, but he was making it so hard for me to contain my anger.

“You are already turning my son’s liffe upside down, and I know that you will call on me when this whole happy family that you are trying to build is falling apart. I am tired of being used by you. I am done being taken for granted”

Siza walked in.

“Oh, bra Sbu. You’re here”

Sibusiso looked at him.

“Yes, thank you for calling me”

He replied.

“Here’s the bicycle, Mandy”

Siza said, leaning the bicycle against the couch.

“Thank you”

“So you are really taking my son away from me?”

Sibusiso asked, almost in disbelief.

“He is my son too. The sooner you get that through your head, the better for everyone”

“Do you have any idea how this will destroy these kids? These kids are not used to being apart. They have never been apart before, Mandy”

“I know that, but would you allow me to take Angel as well?”

“Over my dead body!!”

“Exactly my point”

“How are we going to explain to her why you only took Uyi?”

He asked.

“You are the one who doesn’t want me to take her too, so figure this one out yourself”

He sniffed. I looked at him and saw a glitter of a tear, escaping his eye.

“I really don’t want to lose my child. You know, I was very young when my own mother passed away. I know how it feels like not to have a parent. Yes, I knew we would never stay together to raise our kids, even if I wasn’t married. We just donn’t get along that much, but I knew we would both be in their lives and things would go well. I won’t lie, I never imagined that I would actually raise these kids on my own. I had this crazy idea that you would behave and stay well with Mommy and Daddy, and raise our kids there. My heart sank for my kids when you disappeared. I didn’t know how I would even begin to explain to them what happened to their mother. I didn’t want them to grow up wondering, so I went all out of my way to make them feel loved and appreciated. I did everything in my power to make sure that they grow up well, knowing just how much I love them. When you came back… I was angry at you for leaving, but I was happy that you were back, to help me raise these kids. Now, now you are telling me that my child is broken, and that you want to take him away from me. You are telling me that we failed him. It breaks my heart to hear you say those words.But now, now I am seeing that you are serious and that my boy didn’t hesitate to agree to stay with you. He actually appreciated your offer. It hurts me, because it makes me feel like he really was dying, under my wathc. I just can’t bring myself up to admit to myself that we’ve failed”…
“Well, that’s easy. Tell her you refused to let me take her as well”

I went over to the bicycle and picked it up.

“Let me help you”

SIza offered.

“Thank you Siza”

I put the bicyce down.

“Mandy. can we sit down and talk about this? Please. Please. I don’t want to lose my son. I don’t know what I will do without him. Please, don’t take him away from me”

I smiled at the fact that I had him right where I wanted him- down on his knees.

“Yes, we can sit down and talk about this”

I agreed, Sitting on the couch. He sat down too, and Siza was left standing alone. I just had hope that we would have a meaningful and positive conversation.