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Prologue

Prologue


Everyday he sat under the shelter built a few yards away from where the taxis ranked in the mornings. It was his favourite spot he liked watching the morning traffic and passengers pushing each other in the queues and the taxi conductors trying to intervene and calm everyone down.
The first time he saw her she was climbing out of a school bus. There was a feud between the municipality buses and them the Mkhuba taxi association.
He fired shots in front of the bus and the driver hastily pulled up at the side of the road and asked his passengers to alight.

Most of them were school children but he didn't feel bad. They had warned the parents it was their stubbornness that put their kids in the middle of a war.
But before the bus driver closed the door a girl holding her backpack closely to her chest and her braids let down over her lean shoulders climbed out and looked around fearfully.

She looked nothing over eighteen and by the look on her face she had never been to the Mkhuba taxi rank before.
She was in matric. She had a name tag loosely hanging beneath her blazer’s pocket and somewhere near the school badge was written; Matric Class of 2010.
He didn't feel bad when most of them scattered on the road and tried to find directions to their schools. But with her it was different. He wanted to go closer to her and maybe offer her a lift in his Golf 6 but she didn't look naive.
So he just followed slowly behind her and sent a threatening look to the dagga-boys who were starting to throw their dirty eyes at her direction.

He didn't speak to her that day but he had something to take home; her name Ndondo Sibisi. A grade 12 student in Greenlake Secondary School.
He wanted to go to her school maybe just park outside the gate and watch her from a distance but that would've been creepy. He was bad everyone in the industry was it was an essential element to survive the streets. But he wasn't a stalker and he was definitely not a pervert.

It was only a month later when he saw her again. She was with her parents wearing church uniforms and carrying Bibles. They were walking on Magagula Street coming from church. Right there and then he knew that it was going to be hard to get close to her. A church girl was going to ask him to quote a few Bible verses to support his love confession and he wasn't a church person. In his lifetime he had been inside the church twice that was during the Easter season when goodies were served after church services and he was still a little boy. He was familiar with pastors only because he attended a lot of funerals. People died like ants in his industry.

He had met her twice; at the taxi rank and on Magagula Street. But she only met him for the first time a day after he saw her with her parents coming from church.
His taxi had a leaking pipe and he was standing with a few other taxi owners trying to fix the problem.
She looked around the rank a few times and then walked straight to him.
As dangerous as his line of work was some people especially women found it safe to be around them. And she saw him

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out of all people in the rank and decided that it was him who was going to show her the taxi to Mangethe without trying any funny move on her.
“Sawubona Bhuti. Can you help me? I'm looking for a taxi to Mangethe” she said and innocently looked into his eyes with hope.
He didn't say anything he just took her hand and crossed the road with her. It was a battle to breathe and act normal while she was just a few inches away from his skin.
“Who are you visiting?” he finally managed to ask.
“Study group” she said briefly.
“Oh good luck.”
Awkward silence fell between them after that short conversation.
He wished to say more but he didn't know where to start or what to say.
Maybe as the day went by he was going to sum up the courage to ask her out. He cleared his throat and stopped just a few feet away from the taxi that was loading to Mangethe.
She also stopped and looked at him.
“Can I have your cellphone number please?” he asked.
She sighed; ‘There he was being a typical taxi man.’
“I don't have a phone. By the way thank you for your time.”
It was just a common line all girls used to avoid giving out their numbers.
“When are you coming back? I'd like to fetch you.” His question was met by furrowed eyebrows. He swallowed as he realized how impossible it was going to be to even get a chance to introduce himself to her.
She turned around and walked towards the taxi. The conductor ran to her and helped her with the bags.
“I love you” he said breathily without even realizing it. He had never said those words to any girl in his life. His life was all about working and surviving the industry.
Her head turned back to him for less than two seconds and then she carried on with her life. She could've heard him and she could've just turned her head to see if he was still there.

He wasn't a patient man but with her he was going to try. No matter how long it was going to take. One thing he was sure of was that she was going to be a Mngomezulu wife. Ngidi was even tempted to take him to the doctor for a mental analysis when he started planning his future. His future that had her at the centre of everything.
“Nhlanzeko this was supposed to be your legacy. You worked this long and this hard to get out of here. To leave this life and start afresh.” He was in disbelief and he was mad. He loved him like his own son and it drove him crazy to see him waste his time and money on someone he wasn't even sure that he was going to get.

Nhlanzeko tapped his fingers and looked at the documents in his hands carefully. He had no regrets and he had no doubt in his heart that things were going to work out in his presence or in his absence.
“Things are getting worse around here. Ndabuko is still too young. If anything happens to me I want you to run this company and when she's ready to take over you'll step down” he said in his unfazed commanding voice and looked up at Ngidi.
“You cannot speak like that son” Ngidi pleaded. He didn't like people who randomly spoke of death because most of the times their words turned into reality.
“You know I love being two steps ahead of everything. I want Ndondo to be comfortable to live the life of her dreams even when I'm no longer around” he said and stared into space for a moment. His lips curved into a smile as thoughts crossed his mind. He glanced up at Ngidi who was still worried about his earlier statement.
“If I'm not here she'll live that life with Ndabuko.”
“Nhlanzeko!” Ngidi exclaimed. What was wrong with him? First it was the bursary. He created the bursary for a girl that didn't even know his name and bribed whoever he bribed at her school to reward it to her under pretense. Then it was the company Bantwana Holdings registered under Ngidi’s name but belonging to her.

12 January 2011 he got in his Golf 6 and headed to KwaNdamase. Someone had seen her sitting in the tuck-shop with a group of friends and alerted Nhlanzeko. He was going to confess his feelings he wasn't going to hold anything back and he was going to prove it to her right there and then.
Ten minutes away from reaching KwaNdamase a taxi stopped in front of his car. Shots were fired directly to his seat. The one that took his soul went through his skull and he died within six seconds.
He was 26 years old when he died and it only took one bullet and six seconds for him to succumb to death.

Six years later he visited his brother Ndabuko in his sleep just a day after his huge 26th birthday celebration. There was someone he needed to bring home….his wife Ndondoyamahlase Princess Sibisi.

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