NTOMBI A few week have gone by and I'm still living with Mrs B and Zim comes home occasionally. Bonga did go to Zimkhitha to confront her about hiding me apparently he suspects that she took me to one of those safe houses for abused women and children. Well he is not really wrong Mrs B's house has been a safe house indeed. My situation has also forced Zim to stop coming to her mother's often because we don't know if Bonga might be following her every move. The only problem is that I can not explore the beautiful suburb at all because I fear that I might run into Bonga. He knows a lot of people so if someone spotted me out and about they would run to him and tell. Zim said Bonga looked like life has been treating him rough. She said that he even has bruises on his face and judging by the way he walked his body seems to be in pain. I felt guilty when she told me about that because my mind thought of all reasons why he might be like that. Could he have been in a car accident? I would not be surprised because he likes to drink and drive. I also thought that maybe he was depressed and tried to kill himself. A part of me felt sorry for him so sorry that I wanted to go check on him. Mrs B and Zim used all their persuasion power to convince me not to. They were right I can not go back because he will kill me. Knowing Bonga he blames me for all his misfortunes. I have been at peace here at Mrs B's. One can even say that I am slightly happy. Mrs B spoils me rotten and because I have always been told that I do not deserve good things in life by my father's wife and boyfriend I feel unworthy of her kindness. Mrs B is still my therapist but we have sessions when she comes from work. She said she spotted a dodgy car outside her offices a few days saying that it drove off when she got closer to it. I know it is Bonga. I'm sure he wants to see if he could get an opportunity to grab me on my way to my therapy sessions little does he know that my therapist has opened her home to me. He wouldn't follow Mrs B home because he does not know that we have grown so close. I'm so thankful that I did not tell him that she is an old friend of my mother's or he would have known that I live with her. Zim and her mother have a church gathering in Paarl apparently it's a huge convention where all members of the Methodist Church in the Western Cape will come together in praise. They have been trying to convince me to go with but I can't for various reasons. Firstly I haven't been to church since my mother's funeral. Secondly Bonga might see me. Thirdly I don't really believe in this whole prayer and church business. I could see that Mrs B is trying her best to not add pressure on me but I could see that this is importans a lot to her. I finally agreed to go and their eyes literally lit up. They promised that nothing would happen to me even if Bonga finds out about my whereabouts somehow and I trusted them. Mrs B bought me a beautiful blue dress. My curves have now started to show too. Zim drove to Paarl last night since. I think she holds an important role at her church. Mrs B and I got ready and I'm a nervous wreck. I'm sure people will notice that I'm an odd one out. They will see that I'm not used to the house of the Lord. Mrs B looked beautiful in her church attire and I could see that she takes pride in wearing in. She was busy putting her essentials in her handbag while I stood by the window biting my nails I don't usually do that but today it seemed like it was an old habit. I felt her hand on my shoulder I turned to face her. Mrs B: "You can stay here if you don't want to go Ntombi. I would love for you not to but if you are not up to it stay. If you want I can stay with you" she said while brushing my arm. Me: "I'm just nervous Ma.I can't even remember what the inside of a church looks like. I want to go though and see people I can't remember the last time I was with a crowd of people. Let's go I want to hear you sing" my words left her laughing. She is such a beautiful woman. She's petite her skin looks like it had been dipped in caramel. Mrs B: "Let's go then. Zim has been calling non stop. I need to buy you a phone my baby so she could bother you as well" she said and we laughed. Me: "Thank you Ma. Let's go before you miss out on all the good seats. I will sit at the back in the corner" she laughed Mrs B: "Whenever you feel comfortable just sit in a corner where I can still see you. I don't want you to disappear from my sight because it will be packed there." she said with a look of concern. Me: "Ma!" Mrs B: "Don't dare Ma me. I'm overprotective and I'm not going to try to hide it. I can't wait to show the ladies my other beautiful child. When they ask say I'm your aunt don't be explaining long stories to them. Just say I'm your mother's sister unfortunately church ladies are nosy" she said and I laughed. Me: "I'll remember that" She gave me a warm reassuring hug. Zim called again and we lied and said we are in the car when we haven't even left the house yet. Mrs B is great but she never seems to finish on time. Just when you think she's done she suddenly remembers something she still needs to do. I just sit and wait patiently but Zim doesn't have as much patience. We finally made it to the car and onto the round. She was playing gospel music all the way and I could not help but hum softly. There is just something that gospel music does to a person. It's almost like it doesn't go to the ears but straight to the core the soul one's being. We finally arrived and the number of cars and people outside make me feel a bit anxious. Bonga had locked me in the house so much that I don't know how to be with other people anymore. After Mrs B reassured me for the millionth time that all will be fine we finally went inside. There was just red and blue clothing everywhere you looked. Zim came running to us in her blue church attire. She gave us both a tight hug. Her mother couldn't even say much when Zim took me by my hand and let me through the crowd to the front. Her second was just blue everywhere you looked she's what her church calls a guilder. She introduced me to her friends with such excitement. I've never felt this important. Someone started a song and soon enough most people where in their places and singing along. Zim insisted that I sit next to her I felt so odd. Everyone was in uniform. Nobody seemed to mind me though because the song was too good. Mrs B sat with the other women her age who wore their red jackets. The church service started and I was not really present. I somehow felt exposed in a way. There was a gentleman on the side of the men who wore red waistcoats and black suits who started the hymn "Siyakudumisa. I couldn't see him but his voice was too magical. Soon everyone was singing. My mother used to love this hymn too. She didn't want anyone to make noise when Siyakudumisa Thixo was sung. She used to say that the hymn is a prayer and it's disrespectful to speak while it's being prayed. I could hear the voices of others around me but this particular gentleman's voice was the one that cut deep into my soul. Its as though the other voices were singing softly. I could see my mother in her church attire singing along with her eyes shut. I moved with the soft rhythm of the hymn

left and right it was as if I'm not in control of my body. I felt an arm wrap around my waist not even that made me snap out of my weird state. I saw Mama lifting her arms in praise while she is singing. She looks so beautiful so at peace. I felt tears roll down my cheeks yet I didn't open my eyes. I started to sing along softly only moving my lips. I felt myself get lighter in a way. This gentleman's voice seemed to have gone a bit louder and I loved it. It was like he was singing for me it was as though the more powerful he was in song the more my soul got moved. The song came to an end even "Amen" sounded angelic. I opened my eyes when the Reverend spoke. I was back to reality and felt embarrassed. I wiped my tears of quickly and realized that I was not the only one. I went to the toilets outside to rinse my face. I felt better afterwards and went back inside. I could see Mrs B was concerned but I smiled to show I'm okay. The service went on and the Reverend preached the word of God as if it was his last service. I loved the singing so much and how active everyone is when singing. The gentleman with the great voice started a song again he came to the front leading a group of other young men while they danced to the song in a circle. I finally got a chance to put a face to the voice. He was a handsome man tall and dark skinned almost like mine. He was tall and was clearly working out too. I stopped looking at men in the house of God. I apologized to God for getting distracted. After a few hours the church service ended. Mrs B introduced me to as many people as she possibly could and so did Zim. The tall dark and handsome man got into his car and left. We also got into our car and Zim joined us while we just sat in it. Zim: "Did you enjoy the service?" Me: "I did." I said with a smile. Mrs B: "I was worried when you were crying. The way you moved it was as though you'd fall and I wanted to come shake you but then I though who am I to interrupt the Holy Spirit when it's its work" she said with a smile. Zim: "I wouldn't have allowed her to fall Ma. I've got her always" I smiled. Me: "Thank you. I don't know how to explain what was happening to me. It was...it was as if I lost control over my body. I saw Mama singing Siyakudumisa in her uniform too she looked like she was at peace. It was a strange moment" Mrs B: "It's God my child." Zim: "Let me go to my car and go home. I love you guy. Drive safely" Me: "Zim I'm sorry that you can't see your mom much anymore out of fear of Bonga seeing you together and putting two and two together" Zim: "Girl I'm no free because mom is overprotective of you. So I hope it lasts as long a possible" she and her mom both laughed. Mrs B: Just get out of my car before I drive off while you're in it" she said and we all laughed. Zim: "So the other guilders are asking when Ntombi will join the church attend classes and be a guilder too. I told them they shouldn't worry my recruitment game is strong. We are yet to make one out of her" we both laughed. Mrs B: "Don't push Zimkhitha. One fruitful service doesn't mean that Ntombi is ready for such a big step please my baby." she pleaded with Zim. Zim: "Oh Mama and being serious. Ntombi knows that I'm not putting pressure on her. Let me go now I gave people a lift so they are waiting for me. I love you guys" she gave me and her mother both kisses. Me: "I love you too" Mrs B: "I love you more. Zimmy while you're here with us your future mother in law called asking when we are starting wedding plans. She..." Zim: "Bye" she said rushing out of the car before her mother could finish talking. Mrs B: "Hawu this child. Zimkhitha!" she shoutef but Zim just waved while running to her car. Me: "She'll plan when she's ready Ma. As long as her fiance is okay with the delay" Mrs B: "I hear you Nana but her in laws are calling me non stop. Her future mother in law even accused me of not wanting my doctor daughter to marry her son. She needs to sort it out. I hate being accused of things I'm not guilty of." she said with frustration. I decided not to say more because she is right Zim has to sort out her business. I want to talk to her and ask why she's delaying. I think she migt have trust issues or fears commitment. Perhaps she waa hurt by an ex. I didn't ask Mrs B about the man with the great voice. I feared she'd shout at me and say I've got unfinished business with Bonga but I'm already looking for a replacement. I'm not looking for replacement. The day I get Bonga off my back for good will be the day that I swear off men. I don't trust any man and I doubt that I ever will. I can't wait to dump Bonga and finally be free go move as I please. The first thing I'll do is apply for a certificate and ID. I have a feeling that my life will start falling into place afterwards. Today was a good day for my soul. I don't know whether it was the Holy Spirit Mrs B talks about but all I know is that I feel better spiritually not healed just better than I did before the service. I'm glad that I didn't allow my fears to stop me from going. It was good to be with other people. We stopped for takeaways and went home. I've been sleeping so much better too. Knowing that I won't find someone slapping me awake just because they are hungry. I wish I could say that my troubles are over just by leaving Bonga. It would have been had Bonga been a "normal" person but he is not so I know he won't just let me go. He sees me as his "lifeline" in some sick way. I'll just enjoy the moment while it lasts because church was so full today someone who knows him might have spotted him and can't wait to tell him. I will not think about that now and make myself sad though. Today is a happy day and I'll hang on to this moment for the longest time possible because it'll be over someday when I'm forced to deal with reality. Mrs B has been wanting to take me to my maternal grandparents bur I'm afraid they won't be accepting. I can't go home either because I'm sure I'm dead in my fathers eyes for what I did. I'll deal with Bonga and then get a job and study part time. I can't sponge off Mrs B forever I'm sure even her kindness will start to fade if she feels I'm taking advantage.

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