Seven.

I’m waiting for the staff so that we can all leave. Today we are going to MaCele's house I’m quite nervous. I’m also ashamed what we did to her was wrong in so many ways. We should have gone to her house long ago I wonder what she thinks. 


I’m leaving with a few people because others have to keep the hotel running. I hired a taxi and it’s full. I brief them as they get to me right now we will contribute with whatever money we have. Then on Saturday the funeral day all the workers will contribute and we will put all the money in an envelope. I inform them that the taxi is already waiting I’m hungry so I get muffins and coffee. I meet with Nicholas on my way out.


“Can I tag along?” he asks. He looks sizzling hot in a white long sleeved t-shirt Nike track pants and Nike sneakers. Another turn off though I’m sure that this guy is over thirty years old and he is wearing branded clothes. I don’t like it it’s like a person is showing off when they do that. It only suits teenagers it’s even worse when they wear them from head to toe. Yes I know I’m being selfish and unnecessary. Please don’t judge. It’s how I feel. I guess me being single for years has made me notice a lot of things. I notice every little thing. Like now there’s a guy passing by and his perfume is too strong it's like he showered in it. His girlfriend is probably dying of nose block. It’s none of my business and I know I’m forward.


“Tag along to where?”


“To your employees house. I heard you talking and well I’m free and bored” he shrugs. He wants to go with us? I’m sure he thinks it’s all fun so I nod and chuckle. 


“The taxi is full though I don’t know how you will travel” I say. 


“We will both go with your car that’s if you don’t mind of course” I nod. It’s better that we are inside the hotel so if it happens that I go missing everyone will know who I was last saw with. Human trafficking is like a trend nowadays. 


I inform the taxi driver that I’m no longer traveling with them so we will meet there. He takes off without even responding. I understand though I kept them waiting when I went to buy coffee and I’m suddenly ditching them. I head back to my car and Nicholas takes the driver’s seat as soon as I open the car. He leans on the chair and opens the passenger’s front seat door from inside I look at him.


“You need to eat so I’ll drive” he says. I'm hungry shame so I obey and take my seat. It’s a good thing that I got directions or else I would get lost because the taxi is long gone now. 


I finish eating and throw the plastic out of the window he looks at me and laughs. I think he wants to say something he opens his mouth but closes it again. He keeps quiet for a while.


“Now that you have finished eating can we talk?” 


“Yes you can talk” I say.


“Do you have a boyfriend?”


“No I'm married. I have a husband” 


“Where’s the evidence?” he looks at my hands. I shrug and look out the window. We drive while talking about the places we’re passing. It’s his first time in this side of Durban and he’s fascinated by what he is seeing. 


-----


I’m seated on a bench with Nick beside me yes he has upgraded and has a nickname. I still call him Nicholas the Nick name is between me and you. We are having freshly baked scones with a cold drink they are soo good I even close my eyes enjoying the taste. I open my eyes and find Nick looking at me amused. 


We sang and prayed gave our condolences and had little chats. Now we are eating so that we can leave. MaCele was so happy she didn’t think I would come because ‘boss’ only likes me for herself. Not her words though she said “I’m so happy that you are here madam I’ll be at work Monday morning and I’m sorry that you had to come in here” 


I was heart broken Phili did harm more than I imagined. She’s making me a person that I’m not and it’s not good now because people will start thinking that I think highly of myself. When she explained her husband’s death I found myself crying in Nick's arms taking in his scent. His husband just collapsed at work and that was it no goodbye; nothing. 


“Bhuti’s insurance should have paid out by now you’re hiding the money qha! You want to give your fancy friends scones and drinks while omama that are brewing umqombothi eat brown bread and tea” a short old lady shouts. The room goes silent and I can see the hurt in MaCele's face.


“Not now sisi

you’re hiding the money qha! You want to give your fancy friends scones and drinks while omama that are brewing umqombothi eat brown bread and tea” a short old lady shouts. The room goes silent and I can see the hurt in MaCele's face.


“Not now sisi please” MaCele pleads. 


“When MaCele? When? When people laugh at my brother’s funeral because you don’t want to send him off with dignity? We all know that my brother had insurance so give us the money” the old lady shouts.


“Don’t talk to my mother like that don’t! I’ll stop respecting you and give you what you deserve! You know how baba was he only thought about alcohol. It’s not enough that you’re all gossiping about her outside pretending to help out. You're talking rubbish in her face. If you don’t stop I’ll beat you up and throw you out of here this is my mother’s house. Everything in this house is hers so don’t bullshit her. You won’t shout at my mother in my presence!” MaCele's daughter shouts. I’ve forgotten her name I want to scream ‘YES GIRL' but of course I can’t and won’t. I love the way she stood up for her mother. This old lady couldn’t even wait for us to go so that she can roast MaCele. Hhayi she’s embarrassing her.


“You’re speaking to me like that now? Heee! Izingane zobhuti zikhuluma nami kanje?” (our brother’s children speak to us like this)


“Yes! If you can’t stand the way I speak to you ukhululekile ukuthi ungahamba” (you’re free to go) 


“Ahem! I would like to help out wherever I can” Nick barges in to the conversation and they turn to look at him. Wow Nick! You just had to interrupt this short movie. I give it to this girl though she is brave. Standing in front of all these people defending her mother. 


“That won’t be necessary ndodana I’ll manage. I have already called the bank to make a loan I’m just waiting for a call to confirm” MaCele says shyly.


“No ma I want to do it. I couldn’t bury my father so please allow me to do this. Funeral arrangements need a lot of money if I get short with money you will help. You can’t take care of the food transport coffin and everything by yourself” Nick says. I can’t help but feel a pang of guilt wash over me. I’ve never done right with my children. My mother buried my girl for me I had no money then. My boy was also buried by his father I let him take on the responsibility alone I failed my children. And Nick I wonder what’s the story with his father. I won’t ask him though maybe he died when he was a little kid so that’s why he couldn’t pay for his funeral. I don’t know a thing about him anyway.


They finally decide that Nick will help. MaCele thanks my ‘friend’ and we all leave. He did a good thing and I’m glad that I went with him. 


-----


“Are you okay?” I ask Nick. We are having lunch he didn’t eat those scones. He only drank the cold drink. He said that his heart wouldn’t allow him to eat them and that’s because bad things had been spoken upon them by that aunt. I couldn’t feel anything so I don’t care I ate them and I would eat those scones again given a chance to. I think he’s making up an excuse though when we started eating that aunt had not said a thing.


“I’m fine. I’m just thinking about my father” 


“Ooh I’m sorry for your loss” he chuckles.


“I don’t even know if those are the right words to use on this situation. My father just disappeared! Just like that! He left my mother with five children and decided to marry a gold digger of a woman. That bitch milked him dry! She knows where he is I’m sure but she doesn’t want to talk” he says and his face has suddenly turned red along with his eyes. He’s fuming! I don’t know what to say to him so I take both his hands in mine.


“I’m sorry. Maybe he’s okay wherever he is just like you said. The woman is a gold digger so maybe he decided to run away from her. He was tired so he left. And maybe the gold digger took all of his money and he was ashamed to come back home to you” I hope I make sense. I’m not good with this comforting thing.


“I hated him for leaving my mother but I would have forgiven him if he came back. I love him and I miss him it’s been yeas now and I miss him” he looks down. I raise his face using my finger to raise his chin. He looks at me with those red eyes and red face. It’s like his lips have turned extra pink I want to run my tongue on them. I want to lick them and suck on them.


“I’m sorry okay? But please let things be. You are only worrying yourself and you will get sick if the police had information about him I’m sure you would know so please relax” I say and he smiles.


“Please be mine. Please Nobuhle I want you” 



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