So much for wanting to drink tonight that son of a… deep breaths… Tshilidzi has ruined my night. I haven’t seen him since he practiced his martial arts on me. I’m slouched on the couch wondering if everyone in this party is as dejected as I am.
“Oh Zitha I am so happy.” A vivacious drawl from my friend. I turn to see her happily pouncing my way. Well that just answers my question. Different people different dlozis. Look how content this girl is.
A buzz in my pocket startles me it’s my phone. Sizakele should have said so if she wanted to tag along. She won’t stop calling doesn’t she have homework or something?
When Liyana throws herself on the couch she falls right on my lap and laughs like a drunkard. There’s a problem with that the only thing she can drink with her father around is water.
“What do you want Kele?”
“Zitha hurry it’s aunt she’s not breathing.” There is absolutely no alarm in her voice so I’m failing to untangle what’s really going on.
“Don’t tell me you fought with your mother and killed her.” It’s the only conclusion I can come up with. Liyana smiles and shakes her head that’s resting on my lap.
“You’re such an idiot” did she just call me an idiot? This child is disrespectful. “Your mother is the one who’s not breathing.”
“What?” Disbelief clings to my voice as I jolt to my feet the quick move nearly throws Liyana to the floor. “What do you mean she’s n… not breathing?”
Sizakele is explaining gibberish her voice slowly fade away into the background. The only thing I catch in her muddled speech is the word ‘dead.’ An excruciating pain consumes me at the realization that I might have lost my mother an ear-splitting sound tackles my ears and my body gives in to shock. It has me staggering backwards I virtually fall but Liyana grabs my waist and helps me to sit back down.
Tears stream down my face while my whole body trembles with fear.
“Babe what’s wrong?” Her hands are gripped on mine.
“That was Sizakele my mother is not breathing. I have to go to the hospital now.”
“Let’s go” she’s on her feet before I could dispute. Orange Farm is far from Johannesburg north her father will have a problem with her driving me considering that it’s dark outside.
“Can’t you ask one of the guards to take me? It won’t be safe for you to drive back alone.” I don’t want to get in trouble with Mr. Okolie.
“Let’s go Zitha we’re only wasting time.” The order is uncompromising she’s taking long strides to the door. I run behind her after checking if her father is anywhere close by.
My friend here is a slow driver she’s trying shame. Nevertheless I’m subsequently growing anxious. My mind is scrambled mostly filled with thoughts of my mother.
“I shouldn’t have left her alone Liya” I’m an idiot my aunt has been saying it and I called her bluff.
“She’s going to be okay” she doesn’t look at me she never looks sideways when driving unless it is required. That’s how much she fears driving right now she looks like a tortoise with her back hunched and head leaning forward.
“I’m sure those witches did something to her how is it that she suddenly can’t breathe? We just came from the hospital the doctor had permitted me to take her home. I can’t lose my mother she’s all I have.”
“She’s going to be okay” this is how Liyana is. That awkward look on her face comes during such situations it’s because she doesn’t know what to do or say. Let me keep my thoughts to myself not everyone is born to be Dr. Phil.
We arrive an hour later my butt hurts from sitting for too long. I’ll complain another day right now I need to find out where my mother is. We meet a nurse who shows us where to go. The room is not that far ahead.
“Time of death 9:58pm.” Someone says when we dash into the big ward there are a line of beds on both sides of the wall each filled with patients. My mother’s bed is close to the entrance door the doctor who muttered those dreadful words is standing next to my aunt and Sizakele. These two look impassive that it worries me.
I shift my gaze to my mother her eyes are shut and she looks… I don’t know… she doesn’t look alive. I’m not familiar with this burning feeling in my heart I’ve never lost a loved one before. It’s always been just the two of us.
“Doctor how is my mother?” I ask the plump woman in a white coat she shakes her head indifferently and I feel a surge of heat rush through my body.
“I’m sorry we couldn’t save her.” That’s all she walks out as if she will be implicated in my mother’s death. She is probably more worried about that long weave on her head. My feet give up their job to hold me still Liyana is here to catch me again.
“Zitha are you okay?”
I’m not there right now I want to know what happened to my mother. She was fine when I left the house.
“What did you do to her?” I shout at my aunt and her daughter their eyes speak of repulsive things. They lack remorse and grief.
“Stop being dramatic please we all knew this day was coming.” Sizakele barks I feel the animosity and hear the sadism in her tone. The windows to her soul are no better she is as cold as the woman stationed beside her.
“You bitch!” Everything causes me to do something new something I have never done before. Her hair is in my grip in seconds I’m pulling with all my might while she screams for her mother to help her.
“Don’t touch her let her go.” I can’t see Liyana with how busy I am but that is her voice probably pulling my aunt back. The old woman’s arms are wrapped around my waist lugging me backwards.
The chaos in the room is obviously not allowed there is sudden noise and many voices. A strong force accomplishes in getting my hands off Sizakele's hair as I look up I see a security guard.
The man is fuming and glaring so is my aunt.
The guard gives us a warning and goes to stand at the door. Liyana moves to my side when I try to jump at my cousin again I need to release this anger that’s eating me inside.
“Let me go Liya I’m going to kill this witch.”
“Zithobile!” That’s my aunt chiding me like a child Sizakele cries on her chest. What is going on? He sister just died her cold heart won’t let her shed a tear. Even one will do…
“Zithobile yani aunty? My mother was fine when I left. Something must have happened she wouldn’t give up like that. She wouldn’t stop breathing just like that.” I’m still screaming I would crumbled to the floor if Liyana were not here holding me.
“How do you know? Are you God?” If I were God I would wipe you and your frog of a daughter off the face of the earth. I’m about to retort when I notice a nurse drap my mother with a white sheet.
“NO NO. NO!” I shout as I push her away and hover over my mother’s lifeless body. She can’t be dead not my mother. How am I going to live without her? “MAMA MAMA.”
Pain knocks on the door and twizzles in like a hurricane uninvited it sinks through my veins causing me to howl out in its arms. Tears well from deep inside and course down my cheeks as I shake my mother’s body desperate for her to open her eyes.
“Mama” my hands cradle her face. Her eyes are tightly shut she’s irresponsive. “Mama vuka ngiyacela mama Ungangishiya.” (Mom wake up please don’t leave me.)
I can’t get her to wake up her body is like that of a dummy. Why can’t I get her to wake up?
“Zitha…” Liyana’s voice doesn’t get through to me I have shut out everyone and everything. I’ve lost track of her words that abruptly sound like clanging cymbals.
“Mama ngiyacela. Ngizoba yini ngaphandle kwakho?” (I can’t live without you)
My soul is bleeding and I’m having a hard time breathing. She’s not supposed to be dead there has to be a mistake. Liyana's arms enfold around me the embrace is tight and comforting.
“I’m sorry babe” I fall back into Liyana’s chest unable to curtail my screams and cries.
What is Thandaza doing at an expensive hotel like this? Do interns earn so much? I have to double check the address just in case and… this is it. I don’t bother going to reception so I rush to the lift just as it opens.
A woman walks out she regards me with a soft shifty smile and I return with a weak nod. The familiarity she holds tickles my curiosity when I turn to double check if I had seen her before she’s already gone.
I make it to the 8th floor in peace one knock and the door opens. Thandaza looks like she came out of a tsunami evidence of tears are tattooed on her face. She’s wearing a white bathing robe and her eyes tell a story of misery and torment.
“Amara please come in.” The stare she gives me is notifying and probing she steps aside paving the way in for me. My brows knit together at how she’s scanning the foyer fear overspread on her. Impatience knows me best mainly when I’m kept waiting.
“What happened Thanda?” She has a habit of biting her nails when anxiety claims her.
“He found me Amara.” She locks the door goes to sit on a chair situated by the window and curls up. I’m standing in the middle of the room unable to grasp everything that is happening.
“I thought you said he couldn’t get a visa because of his criminal record.”
“That is the truth” she answers without granting me a single glimpse. Her eyes are engrossed outside the huge glass window. “I don’t know how he came here I found him waiting for me when I got home last night. I don’t know what he would have done if I wasn’t with a friend.”
“He can’t hurt you here Thanda he’s an immigrant in this country. He can’t do as he pleases.” Thandaza is from Malawi she came to South Africa after her husband tried to kill her many times. She says he’s abusive and very manipulative.
“You don’t Know Nthunzi he’s very smart. He can outsmart the law he’s going to kill me. You have to help me Amara.” What can I possibly do to stop that man? If he is as insane as she says then he will most likely kill us both.
“The only way I can help you is by going to the police.”
“No Amara you don’t know that man. He’s probably bribed them by now I wouldn’t be surprised if he knows my current whereabouts.”
Thandaza seems to be giving this man credit he can’t be that good. We’re startled by a knock at the door her face alters a prolonged flicker of dread dances in her eyes as she glances at the door. Eyes out on stalk Thandaza sits up her hands palmed on the chair.
“W- What if that’s him?” Her voice quavers I can hear her rapid breaths from where I’m standing.
“Room service.” Oh! Thank God.
Thandaza runs to open the man smiles upon seeing me and I don’t have the zeal to return it. I’m away from my husband on our anniversary he probably hasn’t noticed my absence or he would be blowing up my phone.
That reminds me I have to text Randall and tell him. As I bring my face up I catch the waiter staring Thandaza is too busy sniffing the food to notice. He averts his intent look and leaves closing the door behind him.
“You had time to order food?” So much for someone who is running for her life.
“This is for us I thought you might be hungry when you get here since I dragged you out of your celebration.” She tells me I am dazed by how she has an appetite at a time like this.
“I’m not hungry” the truth it would be weird dining here. Thandaza wheels the cart to a table by the bed the food does smell nice but I don’t plan on staying.
“I need to go back will you be okay?” Great she gives me that look that makes me feel like a bad friend.
“Please for a few more minutes Amara I’m still scared. I never told you this but your presence makes me feel safe. You’re the best friend I never had.” Best friend is taking it a little too high we have known each for a while but not enough to wear such big titles.
“I didn’t tell Randall I was leaving he must be worried. I have to go I’m sorry”
Sadness is wiped off her face as disappointment takes over how long do I have to ride this train of guilt? It can get exhausting. I know I don’t owe her anything but Thandaza is a good person. She doesn’t deserve whatever is happening to her.
There’s a persistent silence as she starts nibbling on sticky ribs she looks up at me her lips glazed with source.
“Don’t just stand there join me.” Her order.
“I’ll just have a sip of this then I’ll go.” I pick the bottle of water on the table.
“Okay” she grabs one as well and pops it open. “We’ll toast with water.”
“What is the occasion?” This woman can be strange.
“Life clearly I’ve got a few days left in this world.” She laughs… alone like she cracked a joke which I don’t find funny at all.
“Don’t say that Thanda.”
“Okay I’m sorry here’s to our friendship.” She lifts the bottle up before taking a long gulp while I manage a few sips.
“You know Nthunzi was never a bad person” Thandaza starts how do I tell her I need to go without sounding rude? In addition I don’t have time to listen to her story.
For some reason the room suddenly feels hot I have to remove my shoes as my feet feel sweaty.
“What happened to the air con? It wasn’t this hot when I got here?” My query is snubbed by a sweltering Thandaza dribbles of sweat are oozing down her face.
“Amara…” she heaves hand covering her mouth I think she’s going to vomit. In a split second she’s on her feet sprinting to the bathroom I hear her throwing up. I have to check on her but I can’t move. My body feels heavy the dress as well so I strip it off. It’s not long till my knees fail me they bring me down unexpectedly I can’t get up and my head hurts like hell.
“Tha… Tha…” My voice has given up on me it’s unreachable and so is my phone. I can see my bag on the bed if I could get to it and get my phone. I need to call for help… anyone… Randall.
Thandaza comes back to find me trying to get up she looks like a mess. Her eyes heavy-lidded through my blurred vision I notice how she’s struggling to walk as her feet move slowly and reluctantly.
In a very small amount of time her eyes roll to the back of her head before she comes crashing down I mentally scream for help. Trying to keep my eyes open becomes a mission I’m trying so hard with all my might but something is pulling me into darkness. Gravity pushes me down clothing my body with immensity. All of me complies as my eyes give in and my world becomes dusky.
“Mr Mkhize your appointment is scheduled for Monday 10am. Are you sure you want to have your vasectomy reversed?”
“I’m not getting any younger doc.”
“Well whoever will mother your children will be one lucky woman.” Hold it right there doc let’s control our hormones. Kenneth frowns like there is no other expression he can conjure up. Suddenly a heart wrenching cry of a woman catches his attention she’s on the floor screaming like a mad person while two nurses are trying to restrain her. The hospital lobby is clothed with her lamentations for some reason her cries get to him they touch his soul and nothing has ever tickled his soul like this. Not even her… the one that got away. Her name has been archived somewhere in Kenneth’s heart the man wouldn’t remember where he put the keys if you were to ask him.
“What happened?” Curiosity nudges him he questions the female doctor who is observing the same scene. His eyes remain on the woman as her exclamations of agony continue to dig deeper into his soul.
“Poor thing she just lost her mother and she’s all alone now. It’s strange how she was sick but her results always came back clean each time.” The doctor tells.
“What do you mean?”
“Her test results showed that she was perfectly healthy but she couldn’t speak walk or even move a finger. The young lady has been caring for her for years her body finally gave up. Poor thing is an orphan now.” If pity came with bags of money the world would be a rich place.
“Mmmhhh.” Kenneth hums adding a head nod of some sort.
He fails to understand Dr. Linda’s explanation. Is that even possible? There must be an enlightenment to this sickness doctors must have missed something. He feels a great force pulling him towards the wailing lady and an urge to go comfort her. Something just doesn’t sit well with him watching her rolling on the floor. Clearly the nurses are struggling to keep her restrained.
Woah! Where are you going Kenny?
He’s moving towards the strange girl and stops as the doctor injects her with something. He sees how she flinches at the slight pain and slowly fades into oblivion. She is put on a stretcher and wheeled away.
“Thank you doc.” He doesn’t wait for the doctor to say anything but takes a different direction.