It was a long drive. I lost direction when we entered a tar road it might've been a two-hour drive or more. I have no idea where I am but it's a huge house with a couple of rooms. Maybe not as huge as I make it to be but it's better than most Mpofana houses. It's built better a bit modern and well furnished. There is a small screen television and all other electronics that make life easy.
I didn't have someone to show me around Ngcwethi left after seeing me in. He told me to stay indoors and keep the phone on. I'm going room to room in just my underwears. There is a small taste of freedom in this. I can do anything I want nobody is watching me.
I'm not in an island I can hear neighbours yelling at their kids and cars hooting. The road must be nearer which is such a relief. He didn't throw me on the deserts.
The phone rings just as I step out of the bathroom. I still have his phone it's locked. I only take calls and watch the time. He instructed that I switch mine off.
“It's Ngcwethi” he says when I pick up.
As if it could've been someone else.
“I'm here” I say.
“Please open the door.”
My eyes quickly go to the door. Fuck I'm half naked. I really thought he was gone why did he come back.
“Zano?” I swear his voice is the most awful thing I've ever listened to.
“Coming…Just a few seconds.” I rush to the bedroom where I put my bag and put on the first dress my hands grab. I unlock the door. It soothes my heart that he doesn't have a spare key. Now I trust him wholeheartedly even though I don't know the reason behind his goodness.
When the door opens his face transforms into awe. He has this frown on his face. I look around to see if there's no alien behind me.
“You…..” He stops himself and walks in with a big box. “I brought you this just in case you want to be busy with something productive while you're here.” He changes to another subject and pulls his face into place.
I open the box and find books. Civil Technology study guides and Building Science prescribed books. It's my N6 study material a whole of it and some fictional books.
“How did you know the course I was studying?” I ask.
I narrow my eyes. I never told him anything related to my school for him to bring exactly what I'll need for examination next semester baffles me. “Ummm...I just did” he says.
This has to be the dumbest answer he has ever given. His weirdness is starting to unsettle me.
“I see thank you.” I lift the heavy box and go to the bedroom and place it in front of the wardrobe. It's those wardrobes with mirrors on doors I rise up to the reflection of a stupid girl wearing a dress backwards.
Lord! This is why he was awestruck when I opened the door for him. On top of that the dress is ugly I'm just a disturbing sight. I quickly change to a floral one and put shoes on for decency. A ghost of a smile flitters across his cold face when he sees me walking back to what I'll call a living room.
“You didn't tell me I was wearing a dress the wrong way” I say.
“Were you?” He has his left eyebrow lifted.
I don't know why I have to notice the colour of his eyes. Brown eyes are common but his are earthly brown with a deep soul reflecting in them. His face defaults to normal. But his normal is not so normal. He stares at me until I occupy a seat at the opposite side.
“How did you recover so quickly?” I ask.
I swear if he does this again I'll not repeat myself.
“How did you recover so quickly? I heard that you were shot.” I'm sure he heard me the first time he just had to frown so that the broken record can keep going.
“I haven't recovered I have a bandage around my stomach.” Oh that's not easy to tell.
“Are you going to avenge yourself?” This sounds stupid he has 1000 reasons to want Mazwakhe dead but a part of me expects him to just forgive.
“No I will defend myself” he says.
I'm not satisfied with that answer. I have a lot of questions. How did they know that I was going to my uncle's house? Did the meeting solve anything? And mostly why is he saving me?
“Whose side are you on?” I ask.
“NgikoJama kaMnisi wemvula izulu libalele.”
I can't control myself I roll my eyes. Did he really need to recite his clan names? I only asked whose side he is on.
“Then why are you saving me?” I ask.
“I’m not saving you.” It sounds more like he's telling himself than he's answering the question.
“Really?” I ask.
He gets up and pick his keys and cellphone. I was just hallucinating when I said he had a cold cruel face. Now I see the real Ngcwethi’s cold face. When his eyes dart to mine they emit fire he quickly looks away giving me the sight of his clenched jaws.
He leaves without saying goodbye.
Maybe I shouldn't have questioned him. He is already doing so much for me he has gone against his family twice for me. I cannot call him the phone is locked he's the only one who can call me. I don't know why I wait for his call I stay up with the phone in my hand watching some show.
I might've fallen asleep right there on the couch when I wake up my whole body is sore. I look around in realization of where I am and thoughts start trailing in. I hope nothing happened to my uncle Ngcwethi said I must trust him. And if Mazwakhe doesn't do anything he will be safe.
I stand under the shower and turn on warm water. If we had showers at home I'd bath ten times a day. They shower off all the fatigue and refresh you. I can live this life.
I wonder whose house is this. It doesn't look like a family house nor does it look like anyone ever permanently lived in it. I wrap my body in a towel and go peek throughout the window just to have a look at my surroundings.
There are people on the road the neighbour is a few yards away doing her laundry. And there is a car right outside the house I'm in.
I don't know how long it's been there if it was Ngcwethi he would've knocked and came in. Could it be his brothers? What am I going to do? They can't see me here.
I go back to my bedroom and put decent clothes on and wait by the kitchen for a knock. Time goes the person isn't coming in. Three hours later I haven't eaten anything I'm in the kitchen holding my breath. Finally the phone rings.
“There is a car here” I say with my voice kept low. In my eyes the door handle is moving.
“You said I'll be safe here.” I lose control of my tone and snap at him. He shouldn't be so calm my life could be in danger.
“But we are talking I assume you're still safe” he says.
He is an idiot of note. Why is my voice kept so low if I'm safe? I'm trembling on this chair and seeing his brother Busikhaya breaking the door any minute in my head.
“You have to eat” he says.
“What?” I ask.
“Eat Zano people eat to stay alive. You are not Jesus Christ living by the holy spirit.”
Am I on the call with Mndeni? Because this is something he would say.
“I will eat I'm just….wait how did you know that I haven't eaten?” Silence.
He is frowning where he is and I have to repeat myself. Lord knows how much this annoys me but it's a part of life I have to accept.
“How did you know that I haven't eaten?” I try not to sound as irritated as I am.
“I assumed” -Him.
“Do you have cameras here? Are you watching me Ngcwethi
Mthembu? Because that's the only way you’d know this!” Now I don't care about the car outside. I'm shouting the person can do what he wants.
Who does Ngcwethi think he is? Planting cameras and watching me like a thief.
“No! There isn't anything like that I promise you.” That's not how he speaks he is guilty.
I end the call and start searching for hidden cameras.
The phone keeps ringing that alone confirms my suspicions. I don't find anything and that infuriates me even more. He is probably watching me even now.
He finally stops calling.
I leave the phone on the kitchen table and go to the bedroom to lie down a bit.
I ended up napping. When my eyes open it's almost sun set and I haven't eaten. My stomach is groaning and even aching to the emptiness.
When I enter the kitchen a man in black leather jacket and navy pant is occupying the chair. I thought he didn't have a spare key I even applauded him for that.
He turns his head and looks at me.
“You're finally awake” he says and climbs off the chair. How did he know that I was asleep? I remain by the door with my arms folded.
“You still think I planted cameras here?” “Didn't you?” -Me.
“No I have no reason to.”
He must be thinking that I'm a fool.
“Oh you just assumed that I haven't eaten coincidentally?” He comes closer and stands just a few inches away from me. That cologne again! He smells so good. But it mustn't distract me.
“I felt it and you sound different when you're hungry.” He thinks for a moment. “You sound like an old ocarina.” What the fuck is ocarina? And I sound like an old one great! “You become angry without realizing it. That's you when you're hungry” he continues.
“And you know this because you once kidnapped me and starved me” I say. That must've hit the nerve.
“What else do I sound like? A sick bee?” He frowns.
God take me now!
“Zano” he grabs my arm and pulls me back. I nearly bump onto his chest. We are both shocked. I’ve never been so close to his glare. My heart is pounding it's like his eyes are digging through my soul. His hand is still on my arm holding me strongly and safely.
“Are you going to eat?” he asks.
My head involuntary nods. He lets go of my arm I feel powerless. He goes to the fridge and takes the margarine out. I sit on the chair and watch him. He sets the plate on the counter and lay bread slices on it. I didn't know making a sandwich was such a hard job. The margarine is everywhere on the bread.
“Do you know how to make food?” I ask.
He looks at me with that annoying frown.
“What?” he asks.
“Do you have a hearing problem? I asked if you know how to make food” I say.
“You are not the only person I listen to and no I don't know how to make food.”
I'm not the only person he listens to? There is no one else in this house unless if he has voices in his head.
“Then let me do it.” I take the knife from him and take some margarine off the bread. I'd die if I ate it with so much fat. I make another sandwich for him and pour juice into glasses. Usually I pour half and drink before I pour the real one. But I have to bring my manners and not act like I'm not used to juice.
I don't like to have someone watching me while I’m eating but I'm hungry so I have no choice.
“Are you not going to eat?” I ask halfway with my sandwich. He hasn't touched his plate.
“No” he says.
Gosh he hates the sandwich I made.
“I don't really eat wheat” he says.
His face is full of guilt.
“This is a sandwich not wheat” I say.
He doesn't say anything. I really sound stupid he meant that he doesn't eat food that is produced from wheat and that means he doesn't eat bread.
“Must I make you something else?” Embarrassment is washing all over me. Why didn't he tell me from the start.
“No thank you I'm not hungry” he says.
Now this is awkward. I pick my juice and sip.
His phone rings he stands up and leaves the room. I finish my sandwich quickly and clear the table.
He comes back after a while. I notice that he doesn't look okay.
His face is puffed up and he can no longer keep the eye contact.
“Is everything okay?” I ask.
He sighs heavily and stands next to me. His sighs are extraordinarily heavy. “You're scaring me” I say.
He is really scaring me. The way his face and eyes have just changed.
“I don't know how to tell you this” -Him.
Oh no it's bad news. My mind is on Mazwakhe maybe his brothers were telling him that they've got him.
“Your father…he was shot” he says.
“And???” I ask.
His eyes widens.
“He was shot Zanamuhla and he didn't make it.”
That's sad I mean I'm an orphan now but I'm still waiting for more bad news. “Anything else?” I ask.
“No it's just that.”
I sigh out I can’t say in relief but there's that sense of relaxation. Mazwakhe is the only person I truly care about. That man haven't seen me in months even though we stay in the same yard. He couldn’t even check on me after being kidnapped.
When I remove hands off my face I find him staring at me.
“Do you want to go home?” he asks.
“Is it safe?”
“Well then no just find out when the funeral is and I'll go say my goodbyes.”
I guess this makes us and them even. Mazwakhe killed their father and now they have killed ours. I know deep down Ngcwethi is happy he is just sorry for me who now doesn't have both parents.
“How are you feeling?” He sounds really concerned.
“I don't know” I say.
He goes out and comes back wearing a black beanie. You know beanies make black guys look like hood-thugs. I love it on him it gives him another look.
“What is it?” he asks.
I give myself a huge internal slap. Why did I stare?
“Nothing….Are you supposed to be here?” I change the subject. “No but some things can wait.” He shrugs his shoulders and sits on the chair.
“I don't need a shoulder to cry on you can leave” I say.
“What do you need?” he asks.
That caught me off guard. He is staring at me patiently waiting for an answer.
“My brother's life” I say.
He looks down. That's not what he expected. It's not something he can promise me.
“I cannot give you that Zano” he says.
I guess he can't do anything for me then except keeping me here until God knows when.
There's some long silence. He is not looking at me and that gives me a chance to study him.
“You're looking at me” he says without lifting up his head and I bite myself in embarrassment.
“How did you know?” I ask.
“Your eyes are piercing me and you have a heavy thing around you.”
He lifts his eyes and finds me with my eyebrows raised. First of all my eyes have never pierce anyone about the heavy thing around me he is crazy.
“I'm sorry” he says.
“Well I'm glad you take account for your offensive words.” “I’m talking about your parents especially your mother I'm sorry” he says.
I don't like talking about my mother it revives old wounds for me. Mazwakhe wasn't like this mother’s passing changed him. He was there makings calls and trying to get help. The ambulance wouldn't come the road was too bad. It was sunny that day he kept giving her water and wiping her with a wet towel as her temperature was too high.
“Your farm costed us the road and the road costed us our mother. You don't have to be sorry it won't bring her back and as long the farm is there the Ngwanes will never live a fair life” I say.
“The farm is our main source of income.” Oh wow! He is still a Mthembu greedy as hell.
“And our source of pain” I say.
We stare at each other. There is some pity in his eyes. I think he can see things from our perspective he is not as cruel as I made him to be.
“How old are you?” -Him.
How does that relate to the conversation we are having? “About to turn 24 years and you?” “I'm older” he says.
Age is a number other than that we are all older than someone out there.
“Do you ever give clear answers?” I ask “Yes” he says undoubtedly.
“Why are you saving an enemy?” He owes me a clear answer to this one.
“An enemy?” he asks. “Yes me.”
For a moment he doesn't say anything. But this time he isn't angered by the question.
“Because I've never been guided wrongly. I listen to my heart and the guidance of my ancestors” he says.
“Is it?” -Me.
“One universe 9 planets 204 countries 809 islands and 7 seas.” He must be thinking out loud but he is looking at me and I don't know where this geography is going.
“And I had a privilege to meet you even if it was under distasteful circumstances but you have turned my life upside down.”
My heart melts. I feel a hot rush heating my cheeks and I find myself looking away from him. Nobody wants to be caught blushing over stupid things.
“So don't ever think I'm breaking any rules. I'm doing exactly what I should be doing it may displease some people but it is well with me” he adds.
I swear backstabbing has never sounded so honest and sweet.
“You are good with words” I say.
“Thank you” -Him.
“It's not a compliment” I say He frowns.
I don't repeat he heard me.
He laughs for the first time. He doesn't have a good laugh his voice doesn't do him justice but the way his pupils dilate makes it cute.
“Little things annoy you. You're so dramatic!” he says. Oh now I'm dramatic? If he didn't frown instead of answering simple questions I wouldn't be annoyed by ‘little things.’
His phone rings he drops it and sighs.
I bet he is needed back home.
“I need to leave before Busikhaya tracks me down thinking that I'm dead” he says.
Tracking down doesn't sit well with me. Can he track Mazwakhe as well? Me?
“Are you going to be alright or you'll starve yourself and search for imaginary cameras?” he asks.
I'm not going to be alright. I've had the strangest amazing hours of my life in his company. It felt so normal. Now I have to go back to that feeling of being in hiding again.
“I will see you in a few days.” He gathers himself up and walks towards the door.
A few days is too far for me. I'll be all alone here.
“Keep the phone on” he says before opening the door. I nod my head he nods his and disappears.
Why is my heart so sore? I lock the door after him and look around with my arms folded.
There is no sign of him. Only his cologne is left and his scratchy voice in my head.