Mkhuseli and Gloria agreed to share some responsibility over raising Cwenga...
Teko's uncle, Blessing and Lindiwe sat in a hut, in a rural village, just outside of Jikaville.
A sour looking Blessing couldn't find any comfort in it. The entire affair left a bad taste in her mouth.
They sat inside a smoky hut, listening to an old man yapping on about amazing he was. He was known by the villagers as Xaba - a popular dirty looking short man with dreads and a scruffy beard.
His hut was spooky, with animal skin and horns all over the place.
Teko’s uncle, Vusumzi had had to get special permission for the ladies to enter the hut, and discuss ‘manly’ matters.
"Not a single initiate has died from these hands," Xaba explained displaying his dirty palms. "I can turn boys into men in my sleep."
Lindiwe sat there, quietly, just as skeptical as Blessing.
"He's been doing this for over forty years," Teko's uncle explained to Blessing, trying to ease her concerns.
"Forty six years in October," Xaba boasted."
"Okay, Sir. Do you have certification, from the Dept of Health?" Blessing demanded.
Xaba pulled out an A4 size envelope, lying beside snake skins and beads. "I'm the only one licensed to circumcise in these parts," he bragged, handing Blessing the envelope. "If I wasn't doing this, I'd be a gynecologist. I have a brilliant surgeon's brain." He laughed loud at his own joke. "Not to worry folks. I don't just circumcise the boys, I also do weekly check-ups, making sure that all is well."
"Obviously you'll check up on them, I thought that'd be a given." Blessing examined the certificate with X-Ray eyes.
Nobody was to touch Teko without a proper qualification.
Lindiwe sat there glad it is not in the Zulu tradition to take boys to the mountain. For the Zulu's, it depends to a boy if they want to be circumsised or or not. If they decide to it's done in hospital. There was something sinister about the whole environment, she felt.
"Okay guys, unfortunately I have another family to deal with. We need to wrap this up."
"The event is on Friday morning, Xaba. Can we please have you early, at around 06:00," Vusumzi asked.
"That's a perfect time - just before the sun rises. The ancestors have just woken up at that hour."
"And what's the damage, Sir?"
"Because I know you well, Vusi, it'll be just R650."
Blessing dropped her head, annoyed. She'd bought clothes, liquor, Teko's traditional attire, a sheep and more. She'd already had it up to her wits end as she dug in her purse, pulling out R650.
She gave it to Teko’s uncle, who in turn handed it to Xaba.
"Thank you so much, folks. We'll meet on Friday, then. Don't worry, Themba is in good hands. He’ll be strong and healthy once I'm done with him."
"It's Teko, not Themba," corrected Blessing, standing up to leave.
"Oh yes, Teko. Bye now, my friends."
Mkhuseli had travelled to Pietermaritzburg, to visit Gloria. His excuse was that he wanted to pay her a happy visit. Their last encounter had been tense. He felt like they needed to bond, laugh and just chat randomly for a change. Plus, Fati was at home for the school holiday so Cwenga was in good hands.
Mkhuseli stood beside his car waiting for Gloria to finish up with someone who'd come to visit her.
He wasn't at all impressed.
It was a male someone, with a red flashy Audi sedan. It didn't look pretty.
He'd come prepared. Mkhuseli wore his best pin-striped shirt with linen pants. He felt well groomed, smelling of Old Spice aftershave. He also made sure to buy a six piece KFC meal for them to snack on.
He'd ticked all the boxes, at least he thought.
Gloria approached him as her visitor drove off.
Mkhuseli's heart raced. Here she comes. Here she comes.
"Good afternoon to you, Mkhuseli," Gloria greeted, hugging him.
He held her tight, thinking that she smells great.
"When you called, I wasn't sure you'd come - we're so far apart. I kinda thought you were just considering it."
"No, I had to ... I mean ... I wanted to come see you. We're basically family now."
Gloria smiled. "Would you like to come in?"
"Yes, sure. Let me lock the car up," he said, also pulling the KFC meal out from the passenger seat. "I got us something to nibble on. I hope you like chicken," he said as they walked to the house.
"Are you sure everything's okay, Mkhuseli? I'm still trying to come to terms with you driving all the way here."
"Everything's perfect, dear, honestly. I just wanted to come see you. Maybe we could get to know each other, better."
Gloria raised an eyebrow, suspicious.
Soso stood in the kitchen drinking milk out the carton as they walked in.
"Stop that, boy!" Gloria yelled. "How many times have I told you to stop drinking from the carton? What the hell are glasses for?"
Soso swallowed, turning to Mkhuseli, shocked. "Mr Bande!"
"Hello Soso boy, how are you?" said Mkhuseli not pleased to see him at all.
"I'm fine, Sir," responded a confused Soso, turning back to his mom and closing the fridge. "I wasn't expecting to see you, Sir. Is everything alright with Cwenga?"
"Yes the boy is perfect, replied Mkhuseli."
"Fati's dad decided to pay us a visit - how gracious of him, right?"
"Yeah, it's cool."
"Please dish up for us," Gloria asked Soso, taking the food from Mkhuseli and handing it to her son.
"Sure. I'm taking one piece, just so you know."
The grown-ups walked over to the dining room.
An anxious Soso followed behind. "Mama we were still discussing ..."
"NO WE WERE DONE!. Now please go and dish us up something to eat. Quit annoying me."
He grumbled, dragging his feet back to the kitchen.
"Sorry about that."
"Is everything okay?" Mkhuseli asked, showing genuine concern.
"Everything’s fine. He's just stressing me out, a bit. He wants to go to the bush, now, because his friends have. He must think I have money lying around, just waiting for him to need something."
Mkhuseli pondered a while, thinking of Teko. Oh, he doesn't want to be overtaken by Teko - the bugger.
"So anyway, how've you been, Mkhuseli? Is everyone back home okay?"
"Yeah, we're all good, thanks."
There was an uncomfortable silence.
"I wanted to buy you chocolates or flowers, but I opted for a meal instead."
Gloria smiled, with a tinge of a blush. "Mkhuseli, I think we need to talk about ..."
"Do you mind if I ask who you were speaking to, earlier, outside?"
She sat up, fidgeting now, clearing her throat. "That's my boyfriend."
The words hit Mkhuseli like a truck to a deer. It was a clean TKO. "What? I mean ...oh ... is that so?"
"Yes. He's Kwezi's father."
Soso walked in and placed the food on a table beside them. "Enjoy!"
"Thanks boy," said his mom, hoping to cut the evident tension.
Mkhuseli was elsewhere, needing answers, immediately. "Kwezi's dad. So Kwezi and Soso have different dads?"
"Yes," was Gloria's response, feeling a little interrogated.
Mkhuseli sat back, deflated. He felt angry and beaten. "Why didn't you tell me all this before?" He was referring to his time and petrol money.
"It didn't come up, you didn't ask."
"You could've hinted that you're dating. I mean, you know how I feel about you."
She smiled a crack. "I don't know."
"C'mon, yes you do." He tried to compose himself.
"I might've assumed, but you know what they say about assumptions."
Mkhuseli felt mislead. It was NOT on. He stood. "Okay, Gloria, no harm done. Let me leave, then. Don't bother walking me out."
"What, no. Let's eat, let's chat. You're making me feel bad now."
"I've lost my appetite. Have a good afternoon, bye." He walked off, past Soso, who'd seemed to be eavesdropping.
"Leaving so soon, Mr Bande?"
"Goodbye Soso," he hissed, stepping out, furious and embarrassed.
Soso walked over to his mom.
"What the hell happened? Fati's dad looked like he wanted to punch me."
Gloria smiled naughtily. "Just a minor misunderstanding, that's all. Come here, let's eat." She found humour in it, chuckling.
A suspicious Soso sat, staring at his mom sideways.
"What?" Gloria asked.
Mkhuseli sped his car back to Fort Beauford. He grinded his teeth, furious.
In his mind, Gloria was a lying tramp that’d teased and mislead him.
Will Mkhuseli quit pursuing Gloria?