MAK­ING AMENDS

Some bad news forces Ndeshi to take a long, hard look at her life, and she doesn’t like what she sees

DRUM - - Fiction -

SOME peo­ple be­lieve in karma – if you do bad things to oth­ers, bad things will hap­pen to you. Ndeshi was one of those peo­ple. She’d done some things in her life she wasn’t proud of, things that had hurt other peo­ple. She was a lec­turer and on her bad days would yell and scream at her stu­dents. She didn’t get along with her col­leagues ei­ther. She didn’t have many friends and stayed in a small, quiet sub­urb of the town.

She even had prob­lems with her hus­band who tried to avoid tak­ing her out for sup­per or go­ing to watch movies or shows just in case she be­haved badly in pub­lic.

Re­cently the un­pop­u­lar Ndeshi hadn’t been feel­ing well and she de­cided to go and see her doc­tor. He ran some tests and a few days later gave her a call.

“Your re­sults are ready. When can you come in?” he asked.

“Do I have to come in? Can’t you give them to me over the phone?” “No, I’m afraid I need to see you.” Ndeshi knew that meant bad news. Why else would she need to come in?

The first thing she did was call Duma, her only friend.

“What’s hap­pened?” Duma asked as soon as she heard Ndeshi’s shaky voice. “My re­sults came back and I’m very ill.” “Did the doc­tor con­firm it?” “Not ex­actly. He said the re­sults are ready and I must go and see him. But we both know that can only mean one thing – I’m sick.

“I haven’t even told my hus­band yet. I guess I de­serve this, for be­ing so dif­fi­cult,” she sobbed as Duma tried her best to com­fort her mis­er­able friend.

AC­CORD­ING to peo­ple who knew her, Ndeshi was a happy child un­til she turned 13.

This was when her fa­ther di­vorced her mother and left home. She’d been close to

him and his de­par­ture hurt her deeply.

She was an only child and she be­came even more iso­lated and lonely af­ter he moved away. Hurt turned to bit­ter­ness and she blamed every­one for her par­ents’ sep­a­ra­tion. She only had two friends, Duma and Thando, who stood by her un­con­di­tion­ally. But even that re­la­tion­ship be­came com­pli­cated.

Thando met Lungile in high school and they fell head over heels in love. But af­ter school Ndeshi and Lungile ended up at the same univer­sity, and Lungile made an ef­fort to help his girl­friend’s friend.

The more time Ndeshi spent with Lungile, the more she re­alised how spe­cial his re­la­tion­ship with Thando was. But in­stead of be­ing happy for her friend, she be­came jeal­ous.

She had no one to love her and take care of her, and she de­cided to em­bark on a plan to sep­a­rate the happy cou­ple and claim Lungile for her­self.

She made up all sorts of sto­ries about her friend and pro­duced pic­tures of her with an un­known man. Lungile fell for Ndeshi’s lies, and into her arms.

“Why? I don’t un­der­stand. Why did you do it?” a dev­as­tated Thando de­manded.

“Sur­vival, my dear. My par­ents di­vorced when I was 13. My mother is an al­co­holic and has never been a mother to me, and my dad left me all alone. But you don’t see me sobbing about it. I know how to get what I want.”

“You can’t pun­ish every­one be­cause of what hap­pened to your par­ents,” Thando re­sponded. “Maybe it’s time you re­alised you’re sick in the head and need help. I ac­tu­ally feel sorry for you.”

Ndeshi ig­nored Thando’s words and af­ter grad­u­at­ing she made sure she mar­ried the man she’d stolen from her friend.

Lungile only re­alised the mas­sive mis­take he’d made af­ter the wed­ding, once Ndeshi’s true na­ture was re­vealed. A few months later he asked his wife a di­vorce.

“I don’t love you and I know you don’t love me – you just want some­one by your side,” he told her. “It’s not right.”

“And what will you do af­ter di­vorc­ing me? Run to your pre­cious Thando?” Nde­shi replied.

“Yes, she’s the only woman I’ve ever loved.”

“Then why did you be­lieve the lies I fed you? You messed up, Lungile, and the wise thing to do is stick with me be­cause Thando is never tak­ing you back. She loved you, she was ob­sessed with you, and there was no way she would have ever cheated on you. The man in that photo was her cousin!

“But I’m not giv­ing you a di­vorce and if you go ahead, I’ll kill my­self. I won’t let you and Thando be happy when I’m alone.”

Lungile thought she was bluff­ing and moved out the next day. A few hours later he re­ceived a phone call from the hos­pi­tal – she’d tried to over­dose with pills. If the house­keeper hadn’t been there, she’d have died.

And so Lungile ac­cepted his fate and stayed with Ndeshi.

NOW Thando’s words had come back to haunt her – she re­ally was sick in the head. She woke up with a heavy heart the day she was due to go to the doc­tor and po­litely asked Lungile if he’d come with her.

“The rea­son for those headaches is you have a tu­mour on the right side of your brain,” the doc­tor be­gan his di­ag­no­sis. “If we op­er­ate your chance of sur­vival is only 5%.”

“How long do I have?” she asked.

“It could be a day, a month or maybe even a year. We can put you on med­i­ca­tion in the mean­time.”

Back home, Lungile took Ndeshi’s hands in his.

“We’ll deal with this to­gether,” he as­sured her. “I won’t leave your side.”

“No, there’s no time. You of all peo­ple know I’m no saint. I’ve done some very bad things in my life, in­clud­ing sep­a­rat­ing you and Thando, and now I’m go­ing to make things right.”

Lungile was stunned – he was happy to be re­leased from a love­less mar­riage but he also felt sorry for Ndeshi. “What will you do?” “I’m go­ing to re­sign and I think I’ll go to Zanz­ibar. I’ve al­ways wanted to go there. I can cash in my pen­sion.”

BUT first things first. Ndeshi called Thando and con­fessed her sins. Then she re­signed with im­me­di­ate ef­fect and ad­mit­ted to an­other crime. “I failed one of my statis­tics stu­dents, Sindi Maz­ibuko, as I had a per­sonal grudge against her,” she told the univer­sity chan­cel­lor.

“She should have grad­u­ated last year but had to re­peat the mod­ule. Please make sure she’s awarded her de­gree.”

She vis­ited her el­derly neigh­bour, Mrs Moyo, and ad­mit­ted that her beloved cat hadn’t run away – she’d ac­ci­dently run it over so there was no point in the heart­bro­ken old lady look­ing for it any­more.

Ndeshi also vis­ited her mother and apo­lo­gised for blam­ing her for the di­vorce and feel­ing ashamed of their poverty.

In the weeks it took Ndeshi to or­gan­ise her life, beg­ging par­don for her many mis­deeds and pre­par­ing for her trip, Thando and Lungile rec­on­ciled. Al­though they were sym­pa­thetic, they’d wasted too much time apart al­ready. To her sur­prise, Ndeshi was gen­uinely pleased to see them back to­gether.

Just days be­fore she was due to leave for her is­land par­adise the doc­tor called her again and asked her to come back to the hos­pi­tal. He looked pale but re­lieved some­how.

“The day you came for your scan we had an­other lady in for tests just be­fore you. It turns out the re­sults were mixed up.”

“What are you try­ing to tell me doc­tor?” Ndeshi asked calmly.

“It’s she who is sick, not you. In fact, you’re per­fectly healthy. I can­not apol­o­gise enough for putting you through this hell and I un­der­stand if you want to dis­cuss this fur­ther with the hos­pi­tal’s man­age­ment.” She couldn’t help laugh­ing. “Yes, it’s been hell, but it’s also made me a bet­ter per­son. Lucky for you – the old me would have sued the pants off you.”

Ndeshi left the hos­pi­tal with a new bounce in her step.

“What shall I do now?” she pon­dered. “Well, a lit­tle hol­i­day won’t do me any harm . . .”

‘I’m no saint. I’ve done some very bad things in my life’

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