Disturbed by his younger son's accident, Themba makes discoveries that shock him to his very soul. Affairs begin to get out of hand, and he starts to live a life that he would never have considered he could conform to. obooko.
"What do you mean my blood is not a match? I am that boy's father!" shouted Themba.
"I'm sorry sir, neither you, or the boy's mother, are a match," said the doctor. Themba looked at Sophia. She was a five foot six, medium sized package of energy.
"What are you looking at me for?" she asked.
"Who is this boy's father?" demanded Themba.
"How dare you ask me that! You are his father."
"Then why don't our blood samples match?"
"How do I know? I'm not a doctor."
"Who is his father?" roared Themba. He felt bigger than his five foot ten size in his fury.
"You!" shouted Sophia.
"I don't have to stand here, listening to hysterics, while my son is dying. Doctor, what can you do for my son?" asked Sophia.
"Are there other family members who can donate blood?" asked the doctor.
"He has an older brother."
"Can he come and test for compatibility? Time is of the essence."
"Of course, I'll phone him now," said Sophia, getting out her cell phone. Themba knocked it out of her hand.
"What is your problem?" she asked, bending to pick up the phone. Themba kicked it away.
"Do you want to be responsible for the death of that boy?" she demanded.
"Who is his father?" demanded Themba. Sophia picked up her phone, and asked George to come to the hospital.
"You haven't told me who that boy's father is," said Themba.
"What's going on?" asked Brian, Themba's brother, as he joined the pair.
"Simon needs blood. My blood is not a match," said Themba, glaring at Sophia.
"They can test my blood," said Brian.
"What's the point? They need immediate family members."
"I want them to test me. Is there any harm in testing?"
"I guess not." Themba spoke to a nurse, then he noticed Brian and Sophia sharing a look. Sophia had never looked at him like that. He approached Brian, and he and Sophia looked away from each other.
"The nurse will take your blood sample," he said. Brian nodded, and left with the nurse. Themba watched Sophia, she was talking on her phone, as if she had not shared a special look with her brother-in-law.
Brian returned. Minutes later, the doctor hurried to them.
"Can I speak to Mr Brian Ndlovu?" he asked. Brian stood, and approached. Themba joined him.
"What's going on?" he demanded.
"Mr Brian Ndlovu is a match. Mr Ndlovu, do you mind donating blood to your nephew?" asked the doctor.
"Of course I'll donate. Can we do it now?" asked Brian.
"Of course. Come with me, please." Brian and the doctor left. Themba turned to Sophia.
"How is Brian a match, when I'm not?" he demanded.
"Why ask me? Am I the one who said they are a match?"
"Tell me who that boy's father is!"
"As far as I know, it's you."
"Stop lying!" Sophia gave him a long look, then she looked away from him.
"I want a paternity test, on both the children," said Themba. Sophia did not even look at him.
"Am I stopping you?" asked Sophia. Themba stared at her. Her voice had sounded tired. He felt his blood going cold. How had Sophia cheated on him? When had she cheated? He looked away from her. Did he really want to know the answers to those questions? He did not have an answer.
Sophia' s phone rang, and she answered it. She spoke a while, then she dialled a number when the call ended. Themba could hear her talking to one of his aunts.
"Themba wants to do paternity tests with both the children," she said. Themba looked at her in surprise. Why would she tell members of his family something like that? Would it not reflect badly on her?
"No, I'm not going to stop him," said Sophia. She listened, shaking her head.
"He's your son, you want him to stop, you tell him to stop. I'm tired," said Sophia, then she cut the call. She closed her eyes, and sighed. She was still beautiful. He had not noticed that in a long time. He wanted to ask her what she was tired of, but he did not really want to know.
Brian returned. He sat beside Sophia.
"They're giving him blood, then the doctor will give us an update," he said. Themba watched Sophia nodding. She opened her eyes, and looked at him. He drew in a breath, the look in her eyes was unlike any look that he had ever received. It pierced through him, and gave him a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"Do the tests, right now. If you don't, I will," she said. His heart was pounding.
"What tests?" asked Brian.
"Themba wants to do paternity tests with both the children," said Sophia.
"What? Why? How can you think of doing such a thing?" asked Brian.
"Because my son does not have my blood type," said Themba.
"Parents don't always share blood types with their children."
"Let him do it," said Sophia.
"They are his children, he's entitled to..."
"No! Do the elders know about this? You can't do this, Buti," said Brian to Themba.
"Why not?" asked Sophia. Themba looked at her in surprise. Surely it was in her interests to keep him from doing the tests?
"Because he's insulting you! Can't you see that he's accusing you of being unfaithful to him?"
"I'm not insulted. I think it's a good idea. Every man should do paternity testing. You never know if the kids you claim are yours."
"What are you saying?" asked Themba.
"Do the tests. Once the test results are out, we will never have this discussion again," said Sophia.
"You see? She's telling you that you are the father, and she's insulted that you'd dare think otherwise," said Brian. Themba looked from him to Sophia. She had lost interest in the conversation.
They all sat in silence. George arrived. He hugged them in turn, then he sat beside his mother, and held her hand.
"The nurse told me that Simon had received blood," he said.
"Your uncle was a match, he donated blood," said Sophia.
"Oh!" said George, clearly surprised. He looked from Sophia to Themba, then to Brian. The doctor arrived, and said that things looked good, but they would have to wait a few hours before being sure of Simon's health status.
Themba was surprised when three of his paternal uncles arrived. He had not even informed them that his son was in the hospital. He wondered how they had arrived so quickly, from the rural areas. He told them what the doctors had said, but they did not seem interested.
They asked Sophia, Brian and George to excuse them. The three stood, and left. Themba would have been worried if George had not been there. He hoped that his presence would prevent Brian and Sophia from carrying on with whatever was between them. The uncles sat round him, and huddled close. He looked at them in surprise.
"Mfana, what's this we hear about paternity testing?" asked uncle Sgonondo. Themba looked at him in surprise. He had not told anyone that he was thinking of doing tests.
"Listen my boy. You are the father of those children. Are you not on the birth certificates?" asked uncle Joshua.
"Yes, but..." said Themba.
"But what? You are the father. What do you need a paternity test for? Your wife says you are the father, do you doubt her?"
"Then what's the problem?"
"My blood doesn't match Simon's."
"So what? Blood types not matching has nothing to do with you being the father of that boy," said uncle Petros.
"Brian's blood was a match." The uncles looked at each other.
"So what? He is your brother, isn't he? There's bound to be some matching of some kind. Do you realise that you malign your wife with this talk of testing? Has she ever proved herself untrustworthy? Has she?" demanded uncle Joshua.
"No," said Themba.
"Then why are you trying to alienate her? She could report this to her people, or leave, because you've accused her of infidelity."
"I haven't accused her of anything!"
"Then why do you want to do tests?"
"Because I want to understand why Brian was a match, instead of me."
"Go and apologise to that woman. She's been a good wife and mother. You don't want her leaving you, so that you have to start looking for another wife. Good women are not easy to find. Let this be the last time we hear this nonsense about testing," said uncle Sgonondo. The uncles gave Themba firm looks, then they left.
Themba stared after them, puzzled. Why would they have come to the hospital to talk about a minor issue, when his son was facing death? Why would they leave before seeing Simon, or finding out about his health prospects?
Brian, Sophia and George returned. They sat down.
"Go with your father to do those tests I told you about," Sophia said to George. Themba watched George look from his mother to him.
"Do you really want to do paternity tests, Baba?" he asked.
"I told you that he does. Are you also calling me a liar?" demanded Sophia.
"Then why ask your father to confirm what I said?" George did not reply.
"Do you two need me to lead you there?" asked Sophia.
"Leave it," said Brian.
"No, I will not leave it. I want this over and done with now," said Sophia.
"I changed my mind," said Themba.
"It's too late for that. You said you're doing tests, and no one is leaving until they've been done."
"I don't want to do them."
"I want them done. I want my name cleared."