Chapter 3

Khosi says Senzo has been trying to reach to me and he's asking to be unblocked. Apparently his car and all his belongings were left outside his house by the hijackers. I don't know what kind of a prank he was playing on me and I don't care to find out.
I haven't even healed properly from Saturday’s embarrassment but Khosi is already suggesting that I agree to the second guy's date. I need a month or so to catch a break.

My Wednesday was very short I have decided to take myself out with Bab’ Mbambo for an evening snack and a couple of drinks. He'll knock off around 4pm so long I'll be in the house and refreshing my mind.
I find Hloni grilling something on the stove I greet her and walk past. I guess Andiswa isn't home yet which is even great.

I kick off the high heels slip into my sandals and exit through the balcony door to stand over the rails and watch the quiet street. I notice him working next to the pool in his dungaree and instantly remember that I haven't seen him since Thursday.
He probably won't hear or see me waving at him over here I quickly turn back inside the house and follow down the stairway.

Gosh not this title!
“It's Ndondo….is everything okay?” I ask.
For a moment she looks puzzled. Obviously my relationship with her hasn't improved as mine with Mam’ Zodwa and Ndabuko. Ndabuko never started on this “madam" title on our very first interaction I was Hlasekazi to him. And Mam’ Zodwa has gone from “Madam" to my name Ndondo.
“Andiswa just called a few minutes ago she'll be home late” she says.
“Why didn't she call me directly?” I ask.
“I don't know.” She shrugs her shoulders. I release a sigh of defeat I have a bad feeling about this. Didn’t that tall boy disappear as I told him to? When was the last time I had “the talk” with Andiswa? Nowadays children forget easily I need to remind her again.
“Okay thank you for letting me know” I say and walk out.
Maybe this time I need an intervention; Khosi and the joined force of her twin sisters. I need to be practical instead of trying to prevent nature she's obviously in the stage of sexual cravings and the best I could do is make sure that she’s well-informed about the whole thing. As the eldest one I never got anyone teaching about those things my mother's Christianity didn't allow her to hold such sacred conversation with a child. But from a very young age I was a success-hungry girl I had no time for boys until that day a strange man decided to protect me at the taxi rank during some taxi fights and professed his love for me in a low whisper a month later. I never got to see him again and Khosi advised me to let go of fantasies. My trip to Japan released me from a lot of things one of them being a fantasy that one day somehow somewhere I'll meet that man and we'll have a fairytale love story.
“Ndondo you don't even know his name. He probably died or got married or even left the country” Khosi would say with a defeated look on her face everytime I tried to excuse my abstention by saying I had a man waiting for me somewhere. Before leaving for DUT back in 2011 to further my studies I went back to the taxi rank where I had first met him and he wasn't there. I didn't know his name nor his surname. Finding him was a mission impossible since I didn't even have his picture. And I kept asking myself; what kind of a girl turns the town upside down for a man who showed interest in her only twice? I'm still backwards like that I believe in a man sweating to initiate the relationship not me.
“Mngomezulu” I greet and lie back on the sun lounger that's facing the pool. 
He takes his gloves off puts down the leaf rake and joins me.
“You never get dirty?” I ask and look up at him with my eyes shielded by the hand.
“I'm just careful. How was your day?” he asks.
“Not bad. I have a date with Bab' Mbambo at 5pm we'll have a snack and drinks. That will brighten everything up.”
“You love going on dates?” he asks.
“I love going out with Bab’ Mbambo. Not these Durban chancers” I say.
He's looking at me with a slight frown on his face. I release a sigh and take him through my date with Senzo.
“Maybe he really got hijacked” he says and keeps his eye narrowed at me. He's a man obviously he wants to defend his gender.
“I really don't care Ndabuko. I'm not interested in going on a second date with him or even see him again” I say.
He balances his elbow on the top slat and lowers his eyes to me. His curving lip gives me some bubbly feeling that unsettles my nerves.
“If I were to ask you out on a date show up looking decent and settle the bill would you say yes?”
Oh hell no. I laugh and look away. I hoped he was going to laugh along with me but he's dead serious.
“Ndabuko you're my employee. Obviously I wouldn't even think about it” I say.
For a moment he's just staring at me and not saying anything. Being around him is starting to feel different. I want to look at him but at the same time I feel like if I keep looking at his face whatever it is that pulls me to him will become stronger and I can't have that.
“Is that the only reason?” He lowers his eyelids.
I nod my head before I even think through.
“Let me get back to work. Enjoy your date with Mbambo” he says and leaves.
I just lie there and watch him as he walks away. I haven't been attracted to any man since...since him. My next interest can't be my own employee someone who cleans my yard and garden!

I drag myself back inside the house and soak myself in a bath. What's wrong with me? Khosi will ask if I left my brains in Japan Ndabuko is my yardner for Christ's sake!
It's almost 4:30 I lotion up and get dressed. I don't want to keep Bab’ Mbambo waiting and after what just happened outside I need a lot of drinks.

I find him sitting by the gate with his lunch bag he's with the night shift security guards and entertaining them with his stories.
I'm in no mood to climb out and do the greetings I just hoot and wait for him inside the car.
I know he's going to begin with his stories as soon as he gets inside the car and I'm not in a good space right now. I turn up his favourite Hhash'elimhlophe and he's bouncing his head as soon as he gets in.

I drive to my favourite Pub &Grill as if God knows that my soul is too heavy for crowds today the bar lounge is almost empty; only a few customers sitting separately and minding their own business.
“I'm ordering a salad mild chicken wings waffles and a whole bottle of Moet” I say staring at the menu in my hand.
I don't drink during working days I take my job seriously more than anything I'm only making an exception for today only.
“Is everything alright ndodakazi?” 
I look up and find him staring at me.
“Yes” I say and nod my head.
He doesn't believe me. I heave a sigh and sit up straight. 
“Is it about the boy you went out with?” he asks.
I let out a chuckle and shake my head. That one is enjoying his warm chair in blockville.
“It's just one of those days when I feel like there's a flame burning inside me and I just want to explode for no reason” I say.
“What did they do to you now?” He looks up at the waiter recites his long order then releases a sigh and looks back at me. I always talk to him about work related issues my family and friends goals and general gossip. But I've never talked to him about this only Khosi knows and she has convinced me that it's madness.
“I think I'm falling for a wrong person” I say.
He relaxes and breaks a brief chuckle.
“I always thought you're those Miss-Know-It-All Ndondo. Are you scared of men?” he asks.
“Noooo! I'm not scared of anyone.”
He likes it when I'm bossy. He's smiling.
“Then what is it?” he asks.
“He's my employee. And you know what's confusing Baba the fact that it feels okay. I don’t have that soft knock in my conscience and I don't….” I stop and take a huge breath. This is madness.
“You don't do what?” He narrows his eye.
“I don't feel guilty about having those type of feelings towards him. The only thing I feel guilty about is that he's my employee and he's at his lowest. You know he's a qualified engineer and he's not employed. He works for me to make end-meets” I say.
“But why would you feel guilty about falling in love?” He snaps his brows and scratches his hairy chin with a finger.
I can't tell him. It's madness. I can't!
“Ndondo?” He's staring at me.
“I…I…I have…” No Ndondo you can't do it. But he's staring at me and his eyes give me no choice but to spill the beans.
“I was kind of holding on to someone. I don't know his name or where he lives.” There I’ve said it. My deepest secret. I lift my eyes up expecting to find him judging me with his eyes. Khosi always does when I mention this.
“You’d feel guilty when you're mingling with other men?” he asks.
“Yes like I was letting him down or something. I know it's silly” I say. Luckily our food is here. I open the bottle and fill my glass up.
“When did you meet this person and how did you meet?” His food is in front of him. He hasn't even touched his beer. I guess he finds this “madness” interesting because the Mbambo I know would be half way through his meal by now.
“Taxi rank back in 2010. I was hoping that he’d make more efforts but he didn't” I say.
“Tell me about your relationships. I remember you once had a thing with that big-headed boy who rode a scooter.” He picks the knife and slice his steak. The big-headed boy is Sphamandla the one who took my virginity three years ago I hate everything about him.
“I left him. He was annoying” I say.
“Annoying? How?”
Deep sigh!
“He was just annoying. I don't know what I saw in him. He made me angry most of the times” I say.
“You’d be angry with him for no solid reasons right?”
I give him an innocent look and nod my head. I don't want him to think I'm a madwoman it was just those Ndondo moments that nobody can understand.
“Were you at any point angry with him to the point of getting violent?”
I choke on the drink. I can't tell him that. I have a reputation to maintain revealing these things….no I can't.
“Did you ever fight boys that showed interest in you?”
I take another deep breath and nod my head. 
“Violently?” he asks.
“I did slap Sphamandla” I say and hold back the details of that eventful night. Even Khosi doesn't know she thinks we just broke up over an argument if she was to find out about this she'd send me straight to a psychiatrist. It was the second time after he broke my virginity we did it before going to bed it was off but I let him finish his race. It was the next morning when I woke up to a man trying to insert his penis in me with his hands caressing every part of my body. I flipped and attacked. He wasn't supposed to. It wasn't his place to do that. I slapped him so hard that my own finger joints ached. Then I grabbed my clothes ran to the bathroom and dressed up and I ran off.
I won't mention that incident where I screamed at a guy for merely asking for my contact details. I nearly bite the poor guy's head off. That’s when I realized that this thing was becoming more than just a fantasy of a taxi driver I was slowly losing my ability to function and so I started putting my work before everything else. I depended on work to mentally survive.
“I'm crazy right?” I ask and look at him.
“No you're not crazy” he says and lifts his beer and sips. Then he looks at me again with pity lining up his eyes.
“Why you didn't tell me this?” he asks.
“I don't want people to think I'm crazy” I say and shrug my shoulders.
“Ndondo yegolide! I'd never think that of you. I know that I’m old and boring but I understand these kind of situations.”
“These kind of situations?” I ask.
“Carrying the spirits of the dead.”
What?! I'm not carrying dead spirits. I'm simply holding onto someone and it has killed my ability to love.
“It's anxiety and…” He lifts his hand up before I can even finish telling him what Dr Makhoba told me.
“You're not a fighter there's a spirit fighting men through you. I don't know what it means I don't want to scare you but it is against you falling in love.”
“What does that mean?” I ask. It's too late for him to hold anything back he's already scared me by assuming that I'm carrying dead spirits.
“It's either you have a calling to tie yourself to the work of the ancestors before tying yourself in any romantic relationship or you have been chosen for a specific person.”
I was raised in a Christian family the ancestors and all these “chosen” things are not familiar to me. I have never dismissed my African roots I just have never considered myself to be someone who'd be affected by such things. Work of the ancestors? I can't be a sangoma. Chosen for a specific someone? I want to choose my own husband.
“What if I don't commit to those demands?” I ask. My nerves are scattered all over the place.
“You will pay thousands for your western doctors and they'll diagnose you with those mental illnesses with long-ass English names” he says and throws the fork down. He's done acting fancy he digs in using his hands.
I just lost my appetite. I keep filling up my glass and thinking about what he just told me. I can't ask Aunt Vumile for advice because she'll tell my parents and they'll take it to the pastor and then the whole United Kingdom church will bring a special prayer to my house.
Khosi will take me to a club force whisky shots down my throat and tell me to get laid. And the twins will speak at the same time whatever the other one thinks the one will agree. I know they're not into these “ancestors” thing as well.
“Things will fall into place ndodakazi. Don't let this burden your soul don't even think about it” Bab’ Mbambo says.
I just nod my head and fill up my glass. I have to find a way to get control of my life. I can't be controlled by dead people's spirits. This is my life I'm entitled to make my own choices.
I take out my phone and review my block list. Deep breath! I click on Senzo’s number and unblock him. Then I send him a text he responds instantly.
I won't be going home tonight. Whatever it is that haunts my soul needs to realize that I'm a woman responsible for her own life. It can't control me. It can't control my emotions. It can't control who I talk to who I sleep with and who I fall in love with.
“Baba I will call the driver to come and pick you up.”
He frowns.
“You're leaving already?”
“Yes I'm tired.”
He nods his head but the lines on his forehead are still creased. I settle the bill and leave. I hope he has shaved all his hair and he’s wearing shoes today.

Now I'm feeling the Moet settling in my system and slowly messing with my head. I feel a bit lighter and happy about my upcoming night. I'm not going to let anything spoil this night for me not even spirits or whatever they're.
WTF! I turn around slowly. It's him in flesh. What is he doing here with Mr Ngidi's sons? How do they know each other?
“Ndlalifa what are you all doing here?” He's the eldest so I expect him to explain. Aren't they supposed to be at the taxi rank? Mr Ngidi was always complaining them. If they're not fighting with the drivers they're fighting with the associations.
“We were hired by some ladies. They're somewhere doing their things and we are just chilling and waiting for them” he says.
“Ndabuko?” I look at him. He's in a Tom Ford stretch-linen T-shirt Denim jean and black kicks. He looks way too different from the yardner working in my house. What brings him here with the ever-havoc Hlomuka sons?
“New job. New bosses” he says and glances at Maqhinga.
“He's our new driver” Maqhinga says and empties a packet of peanuts inside his mouth. What are they saying? Ndabuko is their driver? Since when? He refused my offer to find him a better job only to be a taxi driver?
“I don't understand” I say and stare at him.
He gives them a look and they step back and give us space.
“What is this?” I ask.
“I have resigned as your yardner” he says.
“I see but why? Taxi drivers don't earn that much. Allow me to find you another job something you're qualified to do” I say.
He chuckles and leans on my car. I don't like how he's looking at me like he has something huge planned in his head.
“The goal is to get a date with you. I hope you'll give me a chance as well because I'm no longer your employee.”
“Ndabuko!” I can't believe this. He took my words way too practical.
My phone rings. It's Senzo. I reject the call silence the phone and put it inside the bag.
“That's not what I meant Ndabuko” I say.
“You can't say that. You can't change what you said when I've already held onto your word and gave up my job for you.”
I release a sigh and ignore the soul-gripping stare he's giving me.
“Take your job back” I say.
“No I want you. Not the job.”
My heart might've skipped a second or two. My moist grip tightens on the bag and I stand frozen on the same spot.
“Saturday 17h30 be ready. I also deserve a chance to shoot my shot.”
Say no Ndondo. Say no!
“Okay” -my mouth.


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Alusani Thabelo Vanessa Mafune 2021-01-15 23:42:48

🤣 As for day no