Reflections

For the Love of the Game (8)

 

By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa

“If you weren’t already married I’d say marry her son, such a beauty!” Jokes the old woman who has been the sweetest host since their arrival.

Sibongile blushes while Njabulo laughs out loud.

The Rock scans Sibongile up and down as he says; “Son, are you really going around with a beautiful woman like this and you’re not doing anything to her. Child!” Njabulo’s father looks dead serious.

Njabulo laughs even harder, he is obviously not taking what his parents are saying seriously.

“Don’t speak rubbish Jabulane!” reprimands the old woman. She turns to Sibongile; “Child this is a wicked old man! You don’t know how many children he collected during his soccer player years.” She shakes her head.

“All those women forced me,” jokes the old man.

“Women forcing an ugly old man like you, I really don’t know what I saw in you”

The two lovebirds continue with the arguing, throwing laughter and kisses in between. Sibongile can’t help but feel envious of this old couple. Will she ever find such love? Njabulo seems indifferent about his parents, he has a fake smile plastered on his face now. Sibongile is confused. She suspects that his relationship with his father isn’t at all rosy. Njabulo’s mother serves them food and they leave immediately after eating.

Sibongile’s mind is occupied the whole way. She hasn’t said anything since they left, she’s been staring at her hands as if they are foreign objects in her body. Njabulo seems to be consumed by his own thoughts as well. A peaceful journey, you may think, but the intensity of their faces say otherwise.

“So I guess this is it” Sibongile says, breaking the silence.

“At least he was helpful for once in his life.” Njabulo responds as though he is speaking to himself.

“Things are not so great between you right?”

He glances her direction briefly before responding; “A father I barely even know”

“Your mother seems nice,” Sibongile remarks trying to move away from the father issue.

“Stepmother”

“Oh?”

“Yes,” Njabulo says thoughtfully, all his attention is on the road as if he is driving there for the first time.

“Where is your mother then?”

“Don’t know…I’m one of the children he collected during his soccer days”

This troubles Sibongile. How can he not know his mother?

“So you’ve never met your mother?”

Njabulo let’s out a little laughter and says; “I have, I’m just not sure where she is these days. My mother was very young when she had me; she’s only living her life now.”

Sibongile sighs in relief and this makes Njabulo laughs even more.

“My mother would never neglect me, ever! My grandfather took me to live with them so that mom could continue with her studies, even then she came to visit during the holidays.”

“So how come you don’t know where she is?”

“She recently resigned from work so she is traveling all over. I don’t even know if she’s still in Africa.  It’s difficult to track her movements, she only checks in when she wants to so…” He shrugs.

Sibongile suddenly likes that kind of lifestyle. She imagines how it would be to be free to travel wherever, whenever she wants.

“My mother is a free spirit, you’ll love her once you meet her.” Njabulo disturbs Sibongile’s fantasy.

“This was our last meeting remember? I’ve got everything I need for the book, now all that’s left is completing the writing process and sending it for editing.”

“Now that the research is over you won’t see me?”

“There won’t be a need to”

“Hmm”

Sibongile looks around at their surroundings for the first time since leaving the Zulu residence. She doesn’t recognise the road or the place they are at.

“What route did you take? The trip is taking too long”

Njabulo doesn’t respond.

“Back to irritating me I see.”

“I have a surprise for you,” he says softly.

They seem to have arrived at the surprise destination because he takes a sharp turn but somehow loses control of the car. Njabulo’s head get hit through the window as the car carelessly turns and swerves out of control. He holds his head and in turn letting go of the steering wheel. Sibongile panics and lift the handbrake. The car stops abruptly on top of the hill, on the verge of falling over.

“Njabulo?” Sibongile whispers.

She didn’t scream or shout during the whole accident and she is still in panic mode. She’s scared to move in case the car rolls over.

“Njabulo” she whispers again, this time accompanied by sobs. “Njabulo come on wake up” she is crying now but Njabulo isn’t moving.

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