By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa:
The second time I was 10 years old. My breasts were starting to develop, so was the pubic hair. I grew up very quickly, my body became old when my mind was still very young. That night I had fallen asleep on the chair. My room has a study desk where I spend most of my time either watching cartoons on the TV on top of it or sketching. The man walked into my room, I was woken up by his hands touching me. I slowly opened my eyes. I was a very calm child, I didn’t get frightened easily. At that point I wanted to see his face but I couldn’t because he was standing behind the chair. His hands moved from the thighs to the breasts and I couldn’t take anymore. I screamed.
His voice sounded a bit coarse but I still couldn’t identify it. He was a stranger in every sense. I screamed louder, calling for my mother. He quickly let go of me and ran out. There was only one door in my room so I knew my family would see him going out. My mother rushed in seconds after the man ran out and turned on the lights, dad followed her in. I was still sitting in the same position when they shook me telling me to wake up. I couldn’t understand, maybe I had closed my eyes after the man left my room. Because I knew I wasn’t asleep, he woke me up. They wouldn’t believe me. My mother said it was a bad dream and helped me to bed. My father didn’t say anything about the incident, he told me a funny story about where he grew up. He wanted something to distract me and make me think of something lighter. That became my favourite story, he would tell it to me every time I was sad.
“You need to rest Nono, you’re expecting now, remember?” Sipho says disturbing my chain of thoughts.
I’m taking out his dirty clothes from the laundry basket when he comes in. I need to keep busy, so I can forget about my sad reality.
“Washing clothes isn’t hard work, Sipho. Are you hungry?”
“I’ll cook,” he says quickly and then walks out.
He’s a good cook, way better than me. The best thing is that he enjoys it. Cooking does to him what needles do to me…
What I just found in this basket will give me a heart attack, I swear. He barges in wearing an apron. He knows I only call him by his full name when I’m angry. He sees the t-shirt in my hands and says;
“Calm down, Nonkosi, I can explain.”
He only calls me by my clan name when he has done something wrong. Sipho hardly uses my surname, me neither. It’s one thing I don’t like about my identity. I start feeling lightheaded, I sit on the floor and put the t-shirt on my lap. The smell is even fresh… I need an injection, I can’t pass out now. He sits next to me, I can smell it on him too. He probably just changed and didn’t take a bath.
“Calm down, I need to tell you something.”
“I need an injection,” I whisper.
He stretches and opens the lower drawer. He knows the dosage of my medication by heart. It’s funny how scared he was of needles when I met him, poor thing had no choice but to overcome the fear. He injects me and I instantly feel calmer. I study him as he puts everything back in its place and then sits quietly next to me. We’ve been through a lot together but this is the first, and it scares me.
“Explain,” I say after a brief silence. “Whose blood is this?”
“I had a nose bleed.”
“You know I’m not stupid, right?”
He rubs his nose. I know Sipho never has nose bleeds.
“I don’t think you’re ready to hear this…”
I look at him and not respond.
“It’s Zweli’s blood”
I can’t express my shock, the medication numbs my facial expressions along with my mood. I stare at him hoping he reads my disbelief.
“How?” I ask softly.
“I was moving his body…”
“Moving it where? Why?”
“You killed him.”
That can’t be!
“Zweli is in Newcastle, Sipho”
“No he’s not. Okay, now he is probably, but he lied to Lebo about going there because he had that girl over. You don’t have to worry about it though…”
“Is she dead?”
“And the bodies?”
“A friend helped me move them. I sent Zweli to Newcastle, don’t worry it won’t come back to you.”
I’m a murderer… how can I not worry?
“Why are my clothes not stained?”
He puts his hand over my shoulder and says; “I changed you”.
When did he find time to do all this? How long was I out of it? Wasn’t it Lebo who found me?
“Was Lebo there?”
He shakes his head and says; “It was just me and Bobo”.
Oh that friend!
“How about you give me another tattoo?” He says with a grin on his face.
I know he is trying to distract me, it’s working. I smile, only that can lighten my mood now.
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