Jam Doughnuts 1/3

By Drum Digital
31 December 2013

Simphiwe would do anything to help his struggling mother - but there are somethings he really can't stand.

Things hadn't been the same  since Siphiwe's father had died the year before. He remembered the funeral as if it were just the other day. It was a dark and gloomy afternoon. The black suits, the hearse, the coffin ? even the food had that sad taste about it. He'd always hated funerals.

Then there were the Christians, the

abazalwane, with their sad songs. He hated them.

Amagugu alelizwe ayosal'emathuneni/ Ngiyolala ngingedwa ethuneni lami (The treasures of this world will be left in the grave/I will sleep alone in my grave).

As if things were not bad enough: why did they have to sing a song with such words? Siphiwe shuddered. The songs just made his mother cry more.

The Christians had been coming to his house ever since the funeral to comfort her, trying to win her over to the Lord.

??God is the God of all orphans and widows, Jesus is your husband now dear,'' they said.

They seemed to be nice people, too nice.

Siphiwe hated them all the same. They kept saying things would be okay. But things were not okay. Whenever they came they brought back all those sad memories of his dad.

Why can't they leave us alone, he thought. But his mother seemed to like them. This church stuff was taking her mind off things. She went around the house singing and humming those hymns as she cleaned the house or cooked. But he knew deep inside she was hurting.

The truth is they were struggling. Sometimes there was no food at all. His younger sister Ntoko, who was in Grade 6, was the only one who seemed unshaken by all of this. She still woke up late for school and mom would shout at her until she left.

??Ntoko, did you polish your shoes? Ntoko, where's your uniform? You lazy girl! You'll never get married like this!'' she shouted.

Siphiwe's mother didn't earn much from her job. She sold second-hand clothes for an Indian woman for a small commission. If she didn't sell any, she wasn't paid. So far they had survived on donations from the abazalwane, especially Mr Msomi, the church deacon.

Bab' uMsomi owned a tuckshop a few blocks from their house and often gave them food on credit. He knew they couldn't pay him back but he gave them the food anyway. He was a funny looking man with a big belly and a bald head and the hem of his trousers hung well above his ankles.

Although Bab' uMsomi was a nice person Siphiwe still hated it when it was his turn to go shop. He wished he had the money to buy like everybody else. All he took with him was a small note with a list that his mother had given him. The lady at the till point would make him stand there and wait for Bab' uMsomi. He stood there and endured the pitiful looks from the other customers.

??What are you looking at, walk on, can't you just mind your own business? Haven't you ever seen a boy in your life?'' he would say ? inwardly of course.

??Ah, Siphiwe, my son let me see,'' Bab' uMsomi would say as he took the small note and read it. Then he would call  the cashier. ??Precious! Help the boy with these items and write it in the credit book.''

??Ngiyabonga, baba,'' Siphiwe would say as he followed Precious.

Mr Msomi's visits to their home had become more frequent and Siphiwe only liked that because he always brought nice jam doughnuts from his shop as well as groceries.

He was nice to them, too nice. Siphiwe was old enough to see what was going on.

Whenever Bab' uMsomi came over his mother behaved like a schoolgirl. She took off her apron and tied her hair up with a ribbon.

These Christians, Siphiwe thought bitterly. They were playing matchmaker with his mother. Mr Msomi had lost his wife years before. Although he enjoyed the jam doughnuts Siphiwe didn't like having this father figure in the house. Bab' uMsomi wasn't his father and he could never take his place. But Siphiwe had never seen his mother happier…

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