Chapter 6

AMARA-


What normal person calls at this time of the night? I should know better than to sleep with my phone not on silent mode. I stir on the bed a couple of times in hopes whoever is calling would stop. Seconds go by and I have counted two missed calls it rings again I want to scream. 


I’m so used to having Randall sleep beside me that I pat his side of the bed with my eyes closed so I can ask him to answer the phone. The emptiness instantly reminds me that he hasn’t slept in our room in days. I flick my eyes open and blink away the murkiness blinding my vision to meet a darkened space the blaring phone is right on top of his pillow and the caller ID just puts me in a gloomy mood. 


What does Uncle Jonas want now? He usually calls when something has gone wrong or there’s a family meeting. 

“Hello” my salutation is glazed with boredom. Why call me at this time? 

“Give the phone to your husband” no greeting whatsoever. 

Randall is sleeping in the guestroom but of course I can’t tell him that. 

“He’s sleeping malume” I tell him. 

“Wake him up” I don’t think I like the tone of his voice. Something is up. 

“What happened malume? Is everything okay?” I wasted my breath this uncle won’t tell me anything. Jonas is too old school patriarchy becomes him.

“Amara you know I don’t mind driving over there at this time.” He says in a chastising tone. I believe this is a threat either way I have to run to the guestroom.

I tell him to hold my feet are slightly wobbly as I scurry to Randall’s current room I knock twice and the door slides open. His eyes widen a little when he sees me and fall back to normality in seconds my presence is shocking to him. 

“It’s uncle-Jonas.” Hesitantly he takes the phone as I hold it to him. His eyes are filled with questions I don’t have answers to. So I shrug my shoulders and cross my arms.  


Randall hardly has the phone on his ear a jiffy before he gradually hands it back to me this dark skinned man ladies and gentleman has suddenly become pale. He is staring at me as if an alien stands before him I’m waiting here stunned as to why he didn’t say a word to my uncle. 

“Did he drop the call on you?” I might as well ask or we’ll stand here till morning. 

“He wants us at the house first thing in the morning” is his chest heaving? Trust my uncle to terrify the likes of Randall I’m not okay with this. He’s still my husband and sure the sight does not sit well with me. 


“You hardly held the phone against your ear how…” 

“Your uncle can be a dictator when he wants to his exact words were ‘I WANT YOU IN EVERTON FIRST THING IN THE MORNING’ and hung up.” Randall says. 

Ordering people around is uncle Jonas’ favourite thing to do.  

“Did he say anything else?” I need to know so I can sleep like a baby. 

He shakes his head crosses his arms on his chest. The eye contact is too intense almost intimate that my body yearns to be in his arms. A voice at the back of my head urges me to ask him to come to bed with me it is what I want. Him close to me and never far. What good will come out of that though? I will wake up in the morning with no answers and a broken confused heart. 

“I’m going to bed” my eyes blink to avoid his sensual stare. “Good night.” My last words to him as I take a step back and tiptoe my way back to my bedroom. 

 

*****


‘You’re not Amara when you come to our home but Mashenge. So I expect you to dress accordingly not tight dresses or those pants you’re fond of. Wear a head wrap and cover your scrawny shoulders. You’re a wife act like one. Don’t shame the Buthelezi clan please.’ 


That’s the message I woke up to this morning and that time she’s a Buthelezi by marriage. Aunt Petunia knows how to ruin one’s day. It’s the scrawny shoulders that got to me and the implication that I’m a skimpy dresser. Okay it’s not undisclosed that I prefer pants over dresses. However the anger infested in that text message was redundant.


“You know why we are here right?” I might have an idea he looks as nervous as I am. We’re parked outside the gate in Everton this is where I grew up where my childhood was taken from me. I’ve been here a couple of times over the years to visit my aunt and uncle it doesn’t scare me as much as it did before.

“Maybe” I answer browsing the outside. However I can feel his eyes on me… heavy probing and lingering.  

“Amara…” His hand is on mine and that has me turning to him. There’s a look of desperation glazed in them he wants to grovel again. This is not the time uncle Jonas has most likely sensed that we are here and is on his way out. I hear the gate open and quickly claim my hand back. Thank God I did my aunt would call this an atrocity. Her daughter and son in-law holding hands is something that should be done in the bedroom. 


She smiles and waves as our eyes meet I hear Randall release a sigh undoubtedly aggravated. He hates being summoned by my family he says uncle Jonas is too nosy. I know my aunt to be forward and her opening my door proves it. 

“Mashenge.” I was always Amara to her until Randall put a ring on it she takes my marriage too seriously. 

It could be that I’m married to royalty aunt is as rural as they come. She and uncle Mhambi lived in Pongola all their lives until nine years ago when my kidnapping saga began. 

I’m greeted with a reprimanding glare while Randall gets a handshake mixed with a smile. All thirty two teeth out I try to converse with her as she ushers us towards the house. My efforts are tossed away when she acts like I’m not here. 


There is absolutely no need to use the front door we could have entered through the kitchen. It would have given us time to breathe before meeting these six eyes stabbing us. The two brothers Jonas and Mhambi are seated on a two seater and I am dazed by Maphikelela’s attendance. He’s their cousin from their father’s side. Looks more like uncle Jonas skeletal and naturally rude. 

No one can ever take him seriously with that bright yellow Skhothane two piece that’s plastered with Sponge Bob’s face. He’s complimented the outfit with orange Carvela shoes and an orange cap. In point of fact this is his life. Spends money he doesn’t work for on expensive clothing. Has someone told him how he looks like a clown in that outfit?


Randall sends his greetings as he settles down on a couch Jonas and Maphikelela nod in return. Only uncle Mhambi is human enough to ask about his wellbeing. The two engage in a short conversation about work and life nothing serious.

I’m perched up next to Randall waiting for whatever this is to begin so we can go home. This is not how my Saturday should be going as I listen to Randall and Mhambi’s miniscule conversation I feel heavy eyes on me. They force me to lift my gaze and turn to my left my heart twitches when I meet my aunt’s judgemental stare. Why is she sitting next to me? There are enough seats in here.  


“Are you going to sit and not serve your husband something to drink?” Am I not a guest as well? She’s burning holes into my forehead looking at me the way she looks at a live chicken before she slaughters it. 

Turning to Randall I clash with his furrowed brows eyes mysterious. His forehead is boiling forming dribbles of sweat. Good I’m not the only nervous one here. 

“Mashenge” she pinches my thigh and that gets me on my feet. I scuttle to the kitchen without giving Randall a once over. Jonas and Maphikelela look ready to chow him I hope they grill some sense into that big head of his... grill him until his cagey eyes give out every little secret he’s holding in.  


“Is this what has become of you mntaka Vusamazulu?” I pivot on my heel with a wet cloth in hand to find her standing in the doorway looking blankly inscrutable. Searching her eyes is pointless because there is nothing except the raised brows that paint me with displeasure.

“Aunty?” I’m confused honestly maybe I’m not. I might have a clue as to what she’s on about somebody snitched on me and Randall. Not that I wasn’t going to tell them I needed time and the story would have sounded better coming from me. I was going to paint Randall with all shades of gold and not taint his image in their eyes. He’s still the father of their grandson. 

“Nywanti nywanti.” She sputters. 

No one prepared me for the ambush that’s coming her lips curl in disgust while sneering at me. 


“Tell me Amara. How does it feel to walk around without your wedding ring on?” Ah! There it is… She’s spitting fire making me feel like I’m the evil queen of the housewives of Johannesburg. Her eyes should pierce my left hand right about now… she’s still staring sweeping my figure with her fiery glare. I hide my hand with the dish cloth why am I feeling shameful? Randall is at fault not me. I don’t have a riposte for her so I stand ground leaning against the kitchen counter and wait for her to hit me with her best shot. 

“Finish up here and come to the lounge” her voice is sharp she’s gone before I can answer. Jerrr… it’s too early to be snappy. 


I should be able to hear the conversation from here

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she’s gone before I can answer. Jerrr… it’s too early to be snappy. 


I should be able to hear the conversation from here but all that’s brushing through my ears are mumbles and laughter. Randall is laughing as well way to go uncle Jonas… However I’m most certain it’s as fake as Maphikelela’s gold tooth. 

Randall doesn’t drink tea a glass of water should be good but Petunia will definitely slit my throat. She is back minded that aunt believes in treating a husband like a god.

 

Too many eyes are looking at me when I enter the lounge did they think I’d cook a feast? This tea will do just fine it has milk and that’s better than nothing. 


“All I’m saying is my sister should not have married outside the country. Living in Joburg was a bad idea to begin with it’s infested with foreigners. There was nothing wrong with Pongola.” Oh it seems the meeting began while I was in the kitchen. Firstly I am not his sister. He thinks he can call me that because we are two years apart him being older. As for that toothpick sticking between the seams of his lips. Argh! Maphikelela is a joke and a half.    

“I don’t understand why you’re here Maphikelela” I twitter positioning myself next to my aunt my life has nothing to do with him. The same man he’s looking down on is the one who helped him when he was down and out… you help a stranded lion and it eats you once you have set it free. 

“Why are you here Mashenge? Your husband is the only one that was summoned this matter should be discussed amongst men not women.” He says using his tongue to twist the disgusting toothpick in his mouth.

“Oh please you’re a boy not a man.” I will not let this kid stand on my head the bastard doesn’t know anything except stocking boxes of Ultra Mel.


“You see uncle this is what I’m talking about. OMashenge are not this disrespectful we don’t nurture impudence in this family. This arrogance comes from somewhere” an unfilled smile and it’s directed towards Randall. And Randall... well he’s lofty. He hasn’t said much and that’s out of respect for these men. He’s acting normal when in all fact this is an ambush. He should have been warned that there would be three men against one and let him bring his plus one. Wait till his brother hears about this… 

 

“Maphikelela…” I almost jump to my feet his name sizzling out of my mouth. A hand pulls me back down. It’s my aunt her eyes are narrowed reproaching me as if I am a child. This fool they call a cousin is practising his xenophobic shit on Randall I won’t allow that. 

“Shut up Amara” she hisses beneath her garlic breath. “This all your fault why is your husband the only one wearing his wedding ring?” 

Great! Might as well call Moja Love and put me on one of their shows.

“That is beside the point Petunia” uncle Jonas chirps in his voice lifting a little. “Amara is a child what does she know? She was by a hair's breadth into the outside world and this man tied her down before the wind could touch her. I was against her getting married young I knew what I was talking about. Now look at the results.” 

“I agree with Jonas” Maphikelela does a two-step into the conversation. “I support this divorce” he says. 

Irritation drapes every edge of my skin making me want to lash out on him. Randall is calm too calm for a person who hates being trampled on.  


“What divorce?” That’s Randall my aunt clears her throat and joins her hands together. The motion shows reverence which is so typical of her. A husband is a deity you don’t question nor argue with him. This is the mantra she lives by meditates on it like bible verses. 

“Kwame called me last night the boy could not speak due to tears.” My aunt introduces Randall and I exchange dazed glances. This was not meant to be out there yet especially here. My family is crazy if that is even the right word to use. 


“I don’t know what Kwame told you but my wife and I are not getting a divorce.” Randall again there is sincerity in his voice. He’s looking right at me and his eyes tell me he means what he’s saying. 

“That is not what we heard.” Uncle Jonas a twinge of arrogance in his voice.

I know Mhambi will not be budding in unless needed to. He’s the angel of the family the quiet one who prefers to raise the flag than wage war.

  

“With all due respect gentlemen” Randall starts and I am afraid of what might come out of his mouth. He shifts on the chair eyes roaming about between Jonas and Maphikelela. He gives the yellow two piece- wearing guy a warning look and looks at my uncle again. “My squabbles with my wife have nothing to do with you will I be summoned each time we engage in conflict? I do not run a circus but a customary household like most of you here.” Randall.

“Are you saying the boy lied?” Jonas questions voice unpleasant. 

“That is exactly what I am saying sir Kwame is a child. He probably eavesdropped on a misinterpretation between his mother and me and came to his own conclusions.” Wow! He sounds convincing.  

“Okay” Jonas nods doubtfully. “Tell us then why your bride is not wearing her wedding ring?” 


One more question… How did I forget to put my wedding ring on knowing we were coming here? Everyone looks at Randall for an answer and get nothing only I can answer that. 

“I took it for cleaning malume” my tongue does not even falter when I spew lies. I get an endearing look from Randall he’s a jerk. However he is still the man I have always loved and I will not kick him while he’s down. The couple Petunia and Mhambi are persuaded it’s Mordecai and Rigby who need further convincing. While Maphikelela is giving my husband dirty looks Jonas shakes his head in disapproval before he stands to leave the room. His doppelganger follows him bouncing with each step he takes. 


“I think we are done here” uncle Mhambi says. 

Why did his brother feel a need to meddle in to begin with? Aunt Petunia could have come to me privately and I would have dished her with a bunch of lies I bet my bed in hell is getting bigger with how I have just lied to my late father’s brothers. 

“My son” she’s referring to Randall by the way. “Forgive us for wasting your time we know you are a busy man.” 

“It’s okay aunt I understand your concerns. Amara is your daughter and it’s normal for you to want the best for her I assure you that our marriage is not on the rocks.” He looks me in the eye from across the coffee table and continues “Till death do us part right Amara?” 


The tone of his voice says he’s not asking but telling me. A confirmation that he will never let me go and I have no say in it. 

“Ah! That’s good that’s the way it should be.” Petunia adds. 

Why is she giggling? 

“If there is nothing more aunty we will take our leave.” I’m in a hurry to get out of here I know she has a speech for me. Her smile fades when she looks at me. 

“Go ahead and please behave Mashenge.” Hehehe! This woman does not know anything. “This marriage is not only about you but your children as well respect your husband.” 

I have done nothing but respect him. I’m exhausted hence I settle for a head nod. We are excused we send our goodbyes and head out of the house. 

My… I don’t if he’s a cousin-uncle or uncle-cousin… whatever he is is standing at the gate. He smiles upon seeing us looking way different from the arrogant bastard who had a smart mouth inside the house.  


“My in law how about a hundred rand there?” Maphikelela extends an open hand towards Randall. Seriously? I am not staying for this I leave them conversing he’ll find me in the car. 



*****


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Andile 2021-05-31 20:59:18

I'm here after reading this chapter on fb😅