There is nothing that evokes fear more than a fire because all of us have been burnt at some point. It hurts and we know what it does so when someone cries fire we know what we are on about. It is not child’s play and normally it happens in Joe Slovo Informal Settlement which is actually not too far away from here. Fire is something you really see in the surbubs but regardless we all stir. Now it was in my home. First there is panic then there is action. When you are in a neighborhood or estate and scream that you are being robbed or raped even, no one comes. Black people are not curious like that! We don’t want to get involved nor be seen as part of the problem. Scream fire on the other hand and see how quickly we jump to his or her aid. Why? Simple, we don’t want the fire to spread to our own homes because most likely we are not insured meaning we will lose absolutely everything. I screamed as loud as I can that fire and true to what I had said people immediately started coming out. The security at the gate called the fire department. This fire really was possessed by Lindiwe’s ghost because most of the ‘white’ neighbours came out with fire extinguishers to fight but failed. The black neighbours (inclusive of Coloreds) we had hosepipes but the flame would not die. Eventually the fire department came but it was too late. In fifteen minutes the house was down. It was over.
I looked at the mess that I was certain Asthandile had done. This is bad. This is really bad. I sat down on the side skirt of the road. You cry. The tears just come. It was not even my home yet I was this devastated. Everyone just looks at you because they don’t know what to do. There were so many people around us but I had never felt so alone in my life. People were staring at me as though I had shit my pants. I did not not know anyone here because I was a guest myself. The fire department group leader on site came to me.
“I understand you were in the house! That was a close one!”
He said. Close? That’s wrong. The house was gone and there was nothing more to it.
“What caused this?”
I asked with a hoarse whisper.
“Come with me!”
He said as he pulled me up from my ground sit. It was painful walking through the shell that was the house. He walked me to some exposed wires in the garage.
“It was most likely an electrical fire sir! The wires am looking at suggest that but obviously a fire investigator will say more!”
“One thing is certain though, you were very lucky because your garage was open meaning the fire went out as opposed to being inward. If that was not the case you would have been trapped inside and most certainly dead!”
I swallowed spit, scratched my head and sat down! He tapped me on the shoulder then walked away. Fuck, it was about to rain!
I had lost my car but insurance am sure would cover it but Khanyi, poor her, she had lost everything and now I had to call her!
Where do I even start?
I had been on the phone with and hung up when I smelled the fire. Funny enough she had not called back when I did. She picked up almost immediately and said,
“Sorry I didn’t call back, I was about to but I got another call and blah blah”
She said. She was obviously cheerful so what ever phone call she had received it had put her in the right spirit,
“Khanyi I have some bad news…”
I said when she kept quiet,
“I ddont know how. To say this but the house, your house, burnt down!”
She paused then she went totally quiet I thought she had hung up,
“I am still here! Was Asthandile there today!”
She asked very calmly.
“Yes but the fireman said that it…”
I responded trying to explain but she hung up. I think there was about to be a showdown. Had I just thrown Asthandile under the bus. Why would she think she would do something like that though. Fire is not something we play with as black people. It’s not us! Ten minutes later I got my response. My phone rang, it was Asthandile.
“What the fuck Mxolisi firstly how do you burn a house down then secondly how do you then blame me for it? Is that really how low you think of me? I can’t believe you would think that low of me!”
She said before she hung up the phone. I was not even given a chance to speak.
Where was I going to sleep tonight but more importantly, must I tell the police and investigators my suspicions?
This could mean jail for Asthandile and for a long time at that!
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto
I’m a fan of your work , I’ve been meaning to send you this for the longest time,I just didn’t know what to write and how to write it,I was raped years ago and this is how it happened,
” NO , don’t hurt me, No please don’t please, I promise I won’t tell anyone if u let me go , please don’t do it”
I kept screaming and screaming hoping he might let me go , hoping he might feel sorry for me , hoping he might stop tearing my panty, he just tore it off at once , I remember him spreading my legs wide open with one hand and covering my mouth with the other..I couldn’t control the tears , I couldn’t breath properly, he pulled down his jean he wasn’t wearing any underwear I guess he planned what he was doing to me .He told me to shut up, he said he’ll be gentle he said he won’t hurt me, he said it will hurt a lot less if I stopped screaming , he tried getting it in and failed at 1st attempt, I couldn’t breath he kept forcing it in, blood on the floor was all I saw, ” you hurting me” I said, but I guess he knew that already , “uyangilimata” I said, he had a huge smile on his face I guess he was proud of himself. “Sengiyacedza” (I’m almost done) he said , I wasn’t crying no more, I had no more tears, I cried all my tears, I couldn’t feel my legs , blood is all I saw and his face, he had blood on his hands, my blood, my innocence in his cruel hands,. “Sengicedzile,hamba ekhayikini” (I’m done you can go home now) my cousin said, Yes that’s right, my cousin is the monster I hate with every cell in my body, they say “time heals all” well they lied, I was raped when I was 8 I’m 23 now and it feels like it happened yesterday. “Forgive him” I was told but how do u forgive someone who will forever be in your mind, how do u forgive a man who is the reason why u’ll spend your entire life looking over your shoulder?? Where do u even start??
I prayed about it , went to therapy about it nothing worked, I’ve been living with it , I’ll still live with it till my grave,
“What did I do wrong? What sin did I commit ?did I have ” abuse me ” written all over my forehead??”
I’ve asked myself such questions for the longest time until I realized that, I did nothing, my only crime was being born a female , my only crime was being Born in South Africa where cases get thrown out of court cos “lack of evidence” , …