Unscripted love Chapter 88 - B - Mzansi Stories

Saturday, August 27


Unscripted love Chapter 88 - B


The storm raged outside, rain pelted the long windows of the large family room making the usually unperturbed atmosphere cold and ominous. Occasionally, the wind whipped around the corner of the house and the eerie howl could be heard inside.
The crackling fire, bright lights and the other inhabitants working at various tasks around the room didn’t seem to diminish the feeling of doom I was experiencing. Glancing around the large room, I tried to read their faces to gather whether they’d heard anything about the meeting that was supposed to take place at 11:00 but they wore their usual facial expressions. Nothing seemed unusual. Everyone was in his or her customary place.
Sandiso’s mother was sitting at the end of the sofa cross-stitching; the four kids that we were tasked with looking after for the day were either at the dining room table doing their homework or were lounging in a chair glued to their phones. Pholile saw me taking in the scene and smiled at me from behind her magazine, her cigar smoke curled around the room, adding a slight cinnamon smell to the surroundings.
Refocusing on the colouring in book, I bit my lower lip in concentration as I tried to steer Hlelo’s hand to teach him how to colour in the lines. It was 17:00 and I still hadn’t heard a thing, good or bad about the drop. I grew more and more anxious with each minute that passed, wondering if I’d made a mistake by telling Levi everything. What if he knew all along? It didn’t seem plausible that Joel’s family didn’t know what he got up to everyday. I dismissed my uneasiness, attributing it to my imagination.
“Mommy Thando I want to watch Barney.” Hlelo smiled up at me.
“No, not that again. I want to watch Transformers.” Sambulo’s ten year old son, Kwanele, protested before I could answer.
I knew better than to argue with the bully who was naughty beyond his years. I still couldn’t figure out what Kwanele got up to when he bunked school. He was ten. I was playing with my dolls and pulling my mother’s skirt when I was his age. I didn’t like having Kwanele around but we had to stay with him whenever his mother went overseas to visit their first born who was in his second year at Harvard.
I picked Hlelo up with much difficulty and headed to the kitchen to find a sweet to get his mind off Barney. The shrill ring of Pholile’s cellular phone seemed to make everyone jump. The sound echoed throughout the room and rose above the thunder booming outside the room.
For some reason, I wanted to tell her not to answer the phone…to ignore the summons. It couldn’t be good, although I had no evidence to back up my premonition. I heard Pholile’s cheerful greeting as she spoke to the person at the other end of the line. I immediately sensed her change in mood before I noticed the tensing of her shoulders. The kids were still doing their homework and playing on their phones, oblivious to the altered atmosphere. I instinctively knew that Pholile was in pain but I didn’t understand why because silence prevailed.
I kept searching the faces of the rest of the people in the room, trying to decide if my instincts about Pholile were ridiculous or founded on what I had been secretly planning. The gravity of what I’d done hit me for the first time. These men were more than just drug dealers and my ticket out of jail. They were husbands that wives looked up to, sons that parents depended on for basic necessities, fathers…. good fathers. Life as the kids knew it would never be the same. Tears swelled in my eyes as I shuddered to think about the little boy in my arms. What would become of Hlelo?
Sandiso’s mother stood as the phone fell out of Pholile’s hand, landing with a foreboding thud onto the floor. I watched as Pholile’s shoulders began shaking. Her hands went to cover her ears as if she could stop the agonizing information from coming. As I watched, Pholile bent over the table and an anguished wail tore out of her soul. It was as if her life was being pulled from her body. The sound was the most horrific sound I’d heard in my young life.
Instantly, Pholile’s daughter threw down her math book and came over to her mother. Sandiso’s mother held Pholile up as she melted into the security of her arms, sobbing out her pain and anguish but unable to tell her what was wrong.
Sandiso’s mother picked up the phone, attempting to ascertain the situation while I came over and tried to comfort Pholile.
“Hello?” Sandiso’s mother said into the receiver, her voice just recently changing to the deeper tones of anguish.
Apparently the person assumed it was Pholile and repeated the information. My fear intensified as I watched Sandiso’s mother’s face turn white.
But she nodded her head, then calmly put the phone on the coffee table.
When she turned around again, the tears were already rolling down her cheeks. She cleared her throat and put one hand on the back of the inconsolable woman before us, communicating her understanding of her pain. The kids stood to attention, wondering what was going on.
Sandiso’s mother grabbed my hand and pulled me to the bedroom, away from the children. “Danger and Sandiso…” she started, only to stop and push back the emotion, “they died,” she explained. “There was a shootout between them and the police. Sambulo and Pharaoh are in ICU, Danger was found dead when the ambulance arrived and Sandiso died on the way to the hospital.”
I sank on the bed. I was free. This is what I wanted. This is what I worked tirelessly to achieve. But I was blinded by the tears in my eyes. Relief, comfort and peace refused me while the pain continued to abuse me. Not because I felt for those that had left us, but I felt for those that they’d left behind. I couldn’t breathe, I was all choked up. My body was frail and tied into knots as I was swallowed deep into the belly of pain.
Sandiso’s mother dug through the drawers and handed me a letter. “I bumped into this when I was cleaning. Sandiso was writing it for you. I failed him as a mother and I will never forgive myself. You are the one person that loved him the way I was supposed to love him as his mother. He loved you the best way he knew how. He really did, that’s why he went to such great lengths to get you back.” She wept.
Her grief surged with every expelled breath, always reaching higher peaks, never sufficiently soothed by her long intakes of the damp summer air. Tears began to spill from her helpless eyes onto my collar. In that moment the sure knowledge that life would go on without Sandiso, that time was only stopped for her, undid her completely.
All my pretence of quiet coping was lost. My fingers clasped the letter addressed to me. Sandiso caused me immeasurable pain that would take years to work through. However, did that mean he didn't need to breathe? Did that make his human rights null and void? Did that mean that Hlelo had to live his life as an orphan? I cast my eyes to God, I needed his love more than ever now.
Sandiso’s mother whimpered from beside me. “The pain had taken him away a piece at a time. Once he had been the boy that held my hand on the way to swings, squealing with delight and demanding to be pushed higher. He had been generous with his smiles and free with his hugs.
In his early teens the remoteness begun and I chalked it up to hormones. That was my first grieving for him. Soon after that his grades collapsed and I grieved for the future I had hoped he would have. The night the police brought him home with charges of shoplifting and he had screamed obscenities at me before storming into the night, my heart had felt like it was beating in a tight cage. Then his school called to inform me that he had quit, he was sixteen, there was nothing I could do. With no way to break through his silence a chasm opened between us I felt like I was losing him and there was nothing I could do. I was grateful that he met you when he did. You saved his life.”
I huffed. “You thought he was acting up because of hormones? Really?” I looked at her dead in the eye. “You sat on the side-lines and watched that filth you called a husband destroy him. You didn’t do a thing as he took Sandiso’s humanity piece by piece. All you had to go was pick up the phone and call the cops the moment Sandiso told you what that man was doing to him.”
“You don’t understand.” She tried to explain but I held my hand up to silence her.
“There is nothing you could say to sufficiently explain why you let your husband rape his child. Nothing!” I screamed.
“You have not lived my life so you have no right to judge me!” She countered with a growl.
“I don’t give a damn what you went through. There is a special place in hell reserved for horse shit like you. Uyinja! Masende enkukhu.”
“Habe, nayingulube inginonela, don’t you d-”
Our banter was interrupted by a resounding knock on the front door followed by the door bustling open. I ran out of the room. My heart sank to my shoes when a sea of heavily armed police men came storming in the house. They handcuffed Pholile and Sandiso’s mother and hurled them out like dangerous criminals before stuffing them in a police van. The kids were given little time to gather their belongings before they would be escorted out of the house.
My eyes were frozen over like the surface of a winter puddle as I took in the scene before me. I stood still on the spot, with no strength to move. My shaky fingers finally came to stop after running restlessly through my braided hair. I bit down on my cheek, trying not to burst into tears when an officer that wasn’t in uniform walked toward me. I could already see the prison bars closing in front of me and I had nobody to blame but myself.
I expected the man to hold out his handcuffs but he held out his hand instead. “Hi, Thando. We haven’t met officially but I’ve been one of those listening in on the other side. I’m Hlelive.”
I tried to smile as I gave him a weak handshake. “Thandolwethu.”
“You are nothing short of heroic. I’ve worked with a lot of informants but I am yet to meet one that is as resilient and goal oriented. We only knew about the exchange that took place at the strip club but you uncovered so much more. We apprehended the mastermind behind this whole operation and we wouldn’t have done that without you. The force thanks you for your service.”
“The mastermind?” I asked.
“Henze.” He smiled.
“Oh.” What about Joel or Blaze or whatever he was known as? I didn’t ask.
“Smanga asked me to come and fetch you. Your husband and your mother in law are waiting for you at the airport. We were afraid we wouldn’t be able to fly in such bad weather but the storm has passed.” He said.
I think Smangaliso sent him because he knew how much I needed someone. He knew it could have been anyone, but I think he knew that it had to be someone that knew how fragile I could be.
“Do you need anything?” Hlelive asked.
I looked around. “Ummm, there is a bag full of money in the attic. I think Hlelo will need it for school and stuff. But I understand if he can’t keep it.”
Hlelive moved closer and lowered his voice, “Go to the car. I’ll get it, his mother needs it.” He whispered.
My eyes widened. “His mother? I thought she died in a fire.”
He shook his head. “Hlelo’s grandmother asked his mom to drop him off for the weekend and she wasn’t there when she came to pick him up. She kidnapped him on Sandiso’s instructions, that’s why she was arrested today.”
“So, whose body was buried?”
“They are exhuming the body as we speak. We will know soon enough.” He stated. “I’ll meet you in the red car, it’s unlocked.”
“The money is in two duffel bags and a backpack.” I informed Hlelive.
He nodded and I propelled myself forward. The red car was easy to find in a sea of blue.
The drive to the airport wasn’t difficult or unbearably long. It was nice to be outside again, watching the rain covered fields whooshing past the window in a jumbled blur. It made me feel slightly more alive than before. I never realised how much I truly needed that jolt of a sensation.
Crowds of people with suitcases and boarding passes hurried out of their cars and hugged their loved ones. Most of them were too busy to realise the life happening around them. Some seemed frustrated with the weather delays, others were enthused with their phones. I wish I could be bothered by those trivial things.
The February chill ruched past my face and I shivered uncontrollably. Even covered with two jackets, the harsh weather seemed to reach me. All the noise in the background mashed together and became an incoherent haze when I saw Levi walking through the frosted glass.
I looked up with wide eyes. Before he could hand over the gigantic bunch of flowers, I tumbled into his arms clumsily. He pressed a kiss to the side of my head and the coolness of his skin against mine sent a shock through my body. He was too bundled up in layers of clothing to notice my tears falling on his coat.
“I think I am dreaming,” his mouth touched my ear gently.
“I think so too.” I had to stand on my tiptoes as his strong arms wrapped around me tightly, shielding me from the cold.
His skin felt like ice on my lips as I kissed his forehead, but I would rather be freezing than let him go.
“Let’s go home. Mom is waiting on the plane.” I felt his body shift beneath mine.
I nodded slowly, releasing my grip on his collar.
He looked down on me and placed his hand on my huge tummy. “You are sooo pregnant.”
We both giggled and I swatted his arm. “You are an idiot.” I jested and moved back.
I took Hlelo’s hand and brought him closer. “This is Hlelo.” I stated and looked down on the little boy I’d grown fond of.
Levi raised his brow in question.
“Sandiso’s son. I want to drop him off myself and I want to attend Sandiso’s funeral.” I said in Afrikaans, a language the child couldn’t understand because I hadn’t figure out a way to tell him that his father had passed away.
“Sandiso died?” Levi questioned in the language I addressed him in, but he already knew the answer.
I sighed, pursing my lips as he placed his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “I wish I could say I am sorry for his death but I am relieved.” Levi said.
I stepped forward, closer to Levi again, and placed my hand on his cheek. “I am sorry that Hlelo is going to grow up without his father.” I murmured.
“Hlelo deserves better than being raised by a broken man.” Hlelive weighed in as he came and stood beside me. Unlike me, he didn’t struggle to piece together his sentence in Afrikaans.
“We heard Hlelo crying and screaming the day Sandiso attacked you. Such things leave permanent scars and it hurts kids just as much as the mothers who are being abused. I am a grown man but those screams haunt me to this day. I beat myself up for sitting back and not running in there because it would have put the whole assignment in jeopardy.
Don’t feel sorry that Hlelo won’t spend the rest of his life trying to recover from his childhood just like his father. You heard Sandiso, his demons were too strong for him to fight. Death was the best thing that could have happened to him. May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
Hlelive’s words echoed in my head as my eyes met Levi’s eyes again. I didn’t want Levi to find out that way, I didn’t even know if I wanted him to find out now when so much was happening. I fell back under the wave of emotions at the sight of Levi’s broken expression. It was the same defeated look he gave when he found out what Sandiso had done the first time.
Levi took a small step even closer to my body and placed a finger on the edge of my chin, making me look up at him. I tensed as he took his thumb over my cheek. His skin was hot against mine, which made me involuntarily lean into his touch.
“I would have killed him,” Levi breathed, hot air sneaked past his lips. “We are going to go through this and we will get to the point where we emerge as survivors on the other side. I am going to love you through the hurt.” Levi cupped my cheeks and pulled me to his firm chest. The tears fell all too easily and I fell into him, desperate to feel the security he gave. I was home.

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