Short Stories, Tale Africa

The Maiden and The Bear (Finale)

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By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa:

“We need to quickly go to the Mbhele’s, come on.”

Makhosi grabs me out of bed by my legs. It’s very early in the morning and I don’t want to get up. I kick her and crawl back to bed.

“Ntombi come on, it’s urgent”

What could be so urgent? I’m so over the Mbhele drama, seriously. I drag myself out of bed and slowly get dressed.

“Quickly!”

Makhosi says throwing my shoes at me. I give her a frown and pick the shoes. She is already fully dressed and looking panicked. I get the feeling I won’t even be able to brush my teeth.

“Makhosi are we not supposed to go to Durban today?” I ask as we walk out of her room.

“Xoli is already here.”

Mbongeni is waiting for us at the gate in Mzuvele’s car. He also looks anxious. Whatever is happening must really be urgent for him to come fetch us so early. Or maybe they just came for me, maybe Makhosi didn’t sleep here last night. She wasn’t back when I fell asleep.

“Where is Mnqobi?” I ask as the car starts moving. I know he is always the one involved in trouble, one way or the other.

“He’s okay” Mbongeni says dismissively.

I turn to Makhosi, “When did Xoli arrive?”

“Last night. Let’s go.”

Oh we are here already. They both rush out and run towards Mzuvele’s hut. Mnqobi comes towards me and says;

“Please talk to her baby, you’re the only one who can get through to her…”

He pulls me by my hand and we barge into Mzu’s hut. Goodness!

“What’s going on?” I exclaim.

Xoli screams, “Get out Ntombi! Please”

I cannot believe my eyes, what has possessed her. Mzu’s room is upside down, it looks like it was hit by a tornado. Mzu is tied on a chair. Everything seems to be out of their places; clothes, dishes, DVDs – everything. Mzu is tied on a chair!

“Xoli, calm down, sisi. What’s wrong?”

You’re probably wondering why two guys as strong as Mnqobi and Mbongeni are not holding Xoli up and freeing Mzuvele? Well, the whole place smells of paraffin, she is holding a matchbox. One wrong move, this whole hut burns with Mzuvele inside. I can’t think of anything other than taking that box from her hands.

I try calming her down again, “Xoli please don’t do this. Whatever is going on can be sorted, let’s just talk about it.”

Mnqobi and Mbongeni closed the door and stood against it as soon as we came in. I don’t know why they are not waking up the whole Mbhele clan, this would be over within seconds. Maybe Mzu asked them not to, things would end badly for Xoli if the rest of the family saw what’s going on here.

Xoli; “Did you also know Ntombi?” She sounds a bit calm.

“Know what?”

“That they killed my father and terrorized my brothers? Did you know that this family has been a real life nightmare for my family?”

I can’t respond. If I say I knew she will think I was in it too, I’m not ready to die.

“Mzuvele here must’ve found pleasure in sleeping with the enemy’s stupid daughter…”

Mzu interrupts, “Xoli you know that’s not true. I love…”

“Shut up!”

Xoli shouts so loud even I get startled and jump a little. Who told her about this anyway? Whoever that person is, they are stupid. Why did they call me here? I don’t want to be part of this.

“So this is what this family does huh? Do you know how difficult my childhood was? How could you? You’re all living happily with blood on your hands…” she takes out a match stick and continues, “This should be fun, you all enjoy hurting people right?”

I walk towards her and she says softly, “I like you, Ntombikayise, I don’t want to you to die. Why did you come here?”

I know Xoli isn’t ruthless, she is hurt and feels betrayed by her lover-man. I will just reach out to the Xoli underneath all the scariness. Heck, I didn’t know a person could act this crazy. Makhosi is usually the one solving issues but I don’t see her even trying to solve this one. She is holding Mbongeni who has his one hand on her tummy and the other over her shoulders. I hug Xoli, she is a bit damp and has paraffin smelling all over her. Oh my God! She poured it on herself. She tries to push me back but I hold her tighter and whisper;?”Mzu would never hurt you.”

She cries and I continue, “Their father made a mistake, a mistake that cost you a father and a happy childhood. Here is a guy willing to love you and make you happy, let him.”

She starts talking and with the crying I cannot hear what she is saying. This goes on for a while and then suddenly she violently pushes me back and light the match stick. I quickly move backwards in shock. I look around; Mnqobi has the rope Mzu was tied with, Mzu is standing near him, Mbongeni is at the door and Makhosi is outside. They moved quickly but this is getting out of hand. Mzuvele comes closer to Xoli as he says,

“Love please don’t do this. I’m sorry, I…”

Xoli throws the burning match stick at Mzuvele and his tshirt quickly catches on fire. I scream as Mnqobi jumps Mzu to the ground and drags him outside. I think I’m dizzy, I’m shocked out of my mind. The bed is burning, I don’t know when she lit that. The room is suddenly filled with smoke as the things on the floor start catching fire. I feel a hand grabbing me from behind, I run out. Almost immediately the roof of the hut is burning, it is made of grass afterall.

The yard is buzzing with people with buckets of water trying to put out the fire.

Mnqobi whispers to me, “This is like dejavu. Not so long ago her brothers burnt a hut here, now…”

I scream, “Xoli is inside! She’s in there!”

Mzuvele drops the bucket on his hands and runs into the hut.

I hear screams, “MZU…”

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