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Color Blind – Heartbreaking romantic suspense, now live on Amazon!

The law declared their love a crime and imprisoned them both.

Now, one of them must risk all to save the other.

Happy to announce that the wait is over!
Color Blind is now live on Amazon! 

0. 99 cents
for a limited time,
so click on the image below to get your copy!

ColorBlind – A heartbreaking romantic suspense book by Eve Rabi – Excerpt 5

 

Apartheid: noun, historical, a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race. 

Decades before Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa, the country was rigorously governed by various pro-apartheid acts, including the Immorality Act, where sex between white and other ethnic groups was a criminal offence. Both parties contravening the Immorality Act would be imprisoned for up to ten years.
Under that law, Shabba and Sarie’s love was declared a crime and both of them were imprisoned. Now, one of them must risk all to save the other. A heartwarming tale of love, loss, redemption and … revenge!

EXCERPT 5

If you haven’t read the first FOUR excerpts in this series, please click on the link below:
https://everabi.wordpress.com/2019/04/18/colorblind-a-romantic-suspense-book-by-everabi/

(NB: This is a raw excerpt, not yet professionally edited, so please overlook any errors in this piece)

The story continues …

Cape Town
1969

 SARIE

“Boo!” I said, barging in on Katrina and Fendi.
“Hai, Sarie, why you spying on me?” Katrina demanded, rushing to the door, pulling me in and shutting it.

“I’m not. I’m –”

“You tell no one about this, you hear?” She shook her finger in my face as she threatened me.

“About what?” I asked, as I took in the rags in Fendi’s hands.  “Why?”
“Because why, I say so, Sarie!” Katrina said in an impatient voice.

“Because why is not the correct way to speak. School says –”

“Hai, Sarie! Don’t tell me, school says this, school says that … elsewise, I will klup you if you blerry rude to me, okay?”

I backed off and silently watched Fendi tie the rags around Katrina’s stomach, tighten them, then pull her top over them.

“Sarie just wants a flat stomach,” Fendi said in a gentle voice, when she saw the confusion in my eyes.

“Oh.”

“Can you tie my stomach too?” I asked.

Fendi jerked back in surprise, then smiled and said, “Sure, Sarie. Come closer.”

So, Fendi tied rags about my middle, making it really flat. Then, she gave me a hug and sent me off. Fendi was very sweet and kind, and second to Katrina, I liked her a lot.

“Where were you?” Shabba asked when I got to him.

“Flattening my stomach,” I said.

“What?”

I lifted up my top and showed him my stomach.

“That’s just silly,” he said.

“No, it isn’t.”

“Yes, it is!”
“No, it isn’t!”
“Yes, it is!”
“Sarie! Shabba! Stop it you two,” Fendi called from the other room. “You two are always arguing. Just stop it!”
I glared at Shabba. He stuck his tongue out at me. I stuck mine at him. He made ugly faces.

“Your face is going to look like forever!” I said. “You wait and see!”

He quickly stopped his ugly faces, then said, “Hey, you wanna see the tadpoles?”

“Okay, but we have to walk slowly, because these bandages around my stomach is making it hard for me to breathe.”
“Want me to take ‘em off?”
“Ja, but … don’t tell Fendi and Katrina.”

“Okay,” Shabba said, removing the bandages from around my stomach. “Oh, man, you’ve got red tyre tracks around your stomach!”

I looked at my tyre tracks and frowned.

“Here, let me …” He gently rubbed the marks away. “My dad used to do this for my mum when she had a stomach ache,” Shabba explained. “Then he would do this.” Shabba gently kissed my stomach. “Better?”

I nodded.

Then, he bent down, put his lips to my stomach and blew bubbles on it, tickling it and causing me to scream with laughter. He grinned, then blew more bubbles on my stomach, more vigorously, causing me to shriek and squirm with laughter again.

“My mum used to do that to me all the time,” he said. “Didn’t your ma ever do that to you?”

I shook my head. I didn’t remember my mother or father being that kind and affectionate and playful toward me. Katrina, Mama Tsela and Agnes cuddled me from time to time, but not my parents.
Perhaps my disappointment at my parents showed, because Shabba’s grin was replaced by a look of sympathy. He pulled down my top, planted a tender kiss on my forehead, took my hand in his, and together, we skipped over to the tadpoles.

Months later, Mama Tsela rounded up all the children, and in an excited voice said, “Come see Katrina’s baby girl. She’s soooo beautiful!”

“What? A baby? Katrina’s baby?” I was totally stunned. I had no idea Katrina was going to have a baby. I knew that she was getting fat, I knew she was cranky, I knew that she was always eating soured figs marinated in vinegar, which Mama Tsela made for her, but her stomach, it just didn’t look big like the other servants did when they were pregnant. Then I remembered the bandages she tied around her stomach. Could she have been trying to hide the baby? I wondered. My mind, as little as it was, worked overtime to figure out why she would hide such a thing.

I ran ahead of the other children, all the way up to Katrina’s room and barged inside. There was Katrina in bed, a little bundle of pink and white in her arms.
I gasped at the sight of the real-life porcelain doll with eyes as blue as mine and masses of curls the color of lit-up copper. “Ooh, she’s so beautiful, Katrina! What’s her name?”

“Agnes,” Katrina said.

I looked up at Katrina. “Agnes? Your ma’s name?”
Tears welled in Katrina’s eyes as she nodded. Not knowing what to say, I stared at her, and watched a big fat tear roll down her cheek and plopped over Agnes.

Fendi, who was in the room folding clothes, walked over, gave Katrina a hug, then wiped away the tear from the baby’s face.

I scratched my head, affected by Katrina’s tears, but when I looked at the baby, I forgot about all about Katrina’s tears and smiled. “You are my l’il poppie (doll),” I said, falling instantly in love with little Agnes. From that moment on, Agnes was called ‘Poppie’ by everyone around, because she was as beautiful as a porcelain doll.

After Poppie was born, Katrina was a changed girl. She stopped running and jumping and hanging upside down on trees. She dressed like Agnes used to, wore a scarf around her head all the time and an apron. She also took her mother’s place and began working inside our house. (The only thing that didn’t change was the threat to klup us all at the drop of a hat. That continued regardless of age or maturity.) With Poppie slung around her back and secured with a blanket, African style, Katrina carried out her chores, humming songs to Poppie as she did. She was a wonderful mother even though she was so young. The way she looked at Poppie – it was the same way Agnes had looked at her. It was the way Mama Tsela looked at Fendi and Shabba. It was the same way pa had looked at popsicle-loving Laurika. It was the way Shabba looked at Baba. It was the way Baba looked at Shabba. As I watched Katrina hug and kiss her baby over and over again, pangs of envy engulfed me; everyone had someone to look at that way, and someone who looked at them that way, but me. I was the outsider, the afterthought, the superfluous little girl.
As I watched them all, I said a prayer – Dear God, please send me someone to look at. You know, the way Katrina looks at Poppie. And make sure they look at me like that too, with teeny tiny eyes. Oh, but make them like, older or my age or younger, I’m not fussy. I just want to be able to also play with them. And please make them white, so that they will be allowed to live with me in the Garden of Eden. That’s all, thank you God.

God answered my prayers right away, because within seconds, Katrina pulled me in for a hug and kissed the top of my head several times. “You are still my number one kind,” she said, planting kisses all over my face “Don’t ever forget that.” I hugged her back, and clung to her, relieved that I was number one and Poppie was number two. Well, I assumed that Poppie was number two.
Then, Poppie began to cry. Katrina hastily released me to pick up the baby, and began to use a voice reserved strictly for Poppie. I got mad with the doll for interrupting my cuddle. Not too mad, though. It was Poppie, how could I possibly be mad at her?

God was obviously on the job, because moments later, Fendi reached for me, pulling me in for a hug. “Come here, Sarie,” she said, “You are our baby sister and you will always be our baby sister. Don’t ever forget that, okay?” I hugged Fendi back, and stayed in her arms for a while, basking in the love of my big sister.

All the servants fell in love with Poppie, and she soon became the local mascot. She was so loved, the servants fought to babysit the little doll.

“Blerry dronkies,” my mother said at the dinner table, when she heard about the baby. “She don’t know who the father is. I betchu she doesn’t. I betchu. Blerry barbarians, that’s what they are. Pregnant at the age of thirteen. ’Magine that.” Shaking her head, she took a big sip of her vodka.
As young as I was, I didn’t appreciate her talking that way about Katrina and Poppie, so I spoke up. “Eh, ma, you said you were fifteen when you met Pa.”

“Ja, but that’s different. I knew who the father of my baby was, okay? And we got married quickly, okay?” She pointed her vodka glass at me as she defended herself. “I was a beauty queen, too, so it was different, okay? I was mature and responsible, ay? So hou jou bek, ‘kay?” She shook her glass so hard, some of her vodka spilled out of her glass and ran down her hand. She hastened to lick the vodka off her hand. Maybe losing her vodka angered her more, because she said, “Big people’s business, Sarie, big people’s business. Didn’t your father say not to get involved in big people’s business? Ay?”

I snuck a look at my father. As usual, he simply swirled his red wine in his goblet, his eyes focused solely on it.

Even though she had called Katrina a dronkie (which didn’t make sense, because I had never seen Katrina drink alcohol), my mother didn’t care that a baby was around – she was just relieved that Katrina could replace missing Agnes in the kitchen and take care of me, so that she could enjoy her ‘me’ time. Enjoy her champagne breakfasts, and afternoon cocktails pre siestas and sunset drinks and pre-dinner drinks, and dinner drinks and after dinner drinks and nightcaps. I was a distraction, asking umpteen questions and constantly meddling in big people’s business. Katrina’s reappearance left her free to handle those recurrent migraines with the potent medicine that she had drank in crystal glasses, and sometimes from the bottle itself. As for my father, the man of God, he said nothing – whenever he saw the baby, he just stared, sometimes turning to look at the child. Luckily, he had no problem with the child being around.

 

SHABBA

I think it’s fair to say that the highlight of my childhood, was the treehouse Baba built for us. It was just awesome! You must remember that during apartheid times, for children of color living on a white man’s property, there were no recreational amenities available to them. No parks, swings, public swimming pools, skateboard areas, libraries, basketball courts, nothing!

Why? Well, during apartheid times, the South African government didn’t think it was necessary for children of color to have such amenities. Now, don’t get me wrong, there were parks and swings, and public swimming pols and basketball parks, and skateboard parks and libraries etc., but they all had a sign that said, ‘Slegs Blankes,’ which meant ‘White’s Only,’ or ‘Blanke Gebied’ which meant ‘White Area.’

If a child of color used those facilities, he would be breaking the law, so the police would be called. How often did that happen? It rarely did. Why? Because, before the police were called, the whites in the facilities would probably band together like some kind of neighborhood watch and kick the shit out of the poor child of color for ‘daring’ to use that facility. The police would not be needed. If that child was accompanied by a parent, that parent would also be beaten up for not restraining their child, for not knowing their place. They would be considered arrogant, cheeky and in need of a lesson. So, rarely did a child of color break that law. They would simply stand and watch white children from afar, enjoying amenities that they weren’t allowed to use. Unfair? Unjust? Morally reprehensible? Yeah, well, that my friend was the apartheid government for you.
The beach? Oh, yeah, there was a beach about twenty minutes away. Unfortunately, that too had a sign saying ‘Sleg’s Blanke,’ or ‘Blanke Gebied.’ There was another beach that black people or people of color could frequent. However, a child of color would have to take three modes of transport to the venue and three modes back. That was a lot of bus and train fare for servants who didn’t really get paid – they just got board and lodge from their bosses, and they were allowed to keep their children with them while they worked for the white man. So, going to the beach was out of the question for us. As a little boy in South Africa, I visited the beach twice in my life. That was it. Swimming lessons? First of all, they would cost money. Second, why take lessons when you aren’t going to use them? What’s the purpose? So, yes, I couldn’t swim and I still can’t.
Yet, as a child, I loved the beach. Loved splashing in the water, running toward a wave, then running away from it, changing my mind and running into it, laughing with delight. Fendi told me a story once about me and the beach. Apparently, my late mother and father had promised to take us to the beach. Something happened, and we couldn’t go. I demanded to know why. Someone told me that the beach got burnt. As young as I was, I threw a tantrum, and told them that the beach couldn’t burn. They argued with me, tongue in cheek, that the beach could. I disappeared for a while, only to reappear struggling to carry half a bucket of water. I put down the bucket of water and looked at my father. “Go on, dad, light it up. It won’t burn. Go on.”

“It’s not beach water, Shabba,” my father said.

“It’s the same thing, daddy!” I protested. “Water can’t burn.”

“Beach water is different, it does burn, Shabba!”

I got so frustrated with everyone, I kicked the bucket of water and started to cry.

According to Fendi, that is the story. I cannot remember any of it.
As you may know, apartheid laws governed where people could live. They restricted people of color, corralled them in inaccessible areas, while white people got to live in prime land. It was the law, and if you ever lived in a white man’s area, you would be imprisoned, because you were breaking the law.

Now those people of color who worked for companies and big businesses, they would live in their designated areas, usually an hour’s drive away from work. For their children, there would be one public swimming pool for about fifty thousand or more residents. It would jam packed, so you had to visit the pool either in the mornings, or in the afternoons. Once it was full, children were turned away. Also, children of color had to pay to enter the pool too.

Now, in white areas, there would be one public swimming pool for every fifteen thousand residents. Even better, entry to those swimming pools were free to white children. How about that?
Look, if the white government didn’t think it necessary to provide people of color with indoor plumbing and running water, or a stipulated minimum wage, do you really expect them to provide you with plumbing for a multiple swimming pools? Do you really think they would provide you access to public libraries like they did in white areas? Oh, and by the way, the apartheid government frowned upon public libraries. Why? Well, think about it now; libraries mean education, and an educated person of color was the oppressors biggest fear. Nelson Mandela was an educated man, an attorney, and look at the havoc he wreaked on the white oppressor when he demanded equality for all? When he declared that no person should be treated unfairly because of the color of their skin? Mandela was such a troublemaker to the apartheid government, they jailed him for twenty-seven years. Blame education, they did.
So, since we children of color had no amenities to entertain our young minds, the tree house that Baba built was the most exciting project I have ever worked on in my life. We kids scoured the land and neighbouring lands for logs and sticks and large leaves and stones and discarded rope and anything that we could possibly use to build our beloved tree house. It took us hours and it was a complete labour of love. It would be our park, swing, beach, library, swimming pool, all rolled into one, and we couldn’t wait for it to be completed.
For three weeks we toiled on it, because Baba could only build it when he was not at work. We worked side by side with Baba, passing him tools, helping him lift, helping him tighten stuff, helping him with every single thing. As he worked, Baba explained why he did what he did, why he added double the number of nails to one section, why he cut the wood the way he did. With great patience he taught and explained and gave us a lesson in woodwork and building. So, in essence Baba was my first teacher. My first woodwork and construction lecturer.

When the project was completed, we children were thrilled. The treehouse had two rooms, a balcony, (because we ran out of wood to add more roofing to one side of the tree house, we called it a balcony) a rope ladder, a tyre on another rope so that we could swing on it, some vines so we could move through the air like Tarzan, some discarded books from Sarie’s house and a make-shift swimming pool made out of a discarded bathtub we found on someone’s property.

“Baba, I had no idea you could build a house,” I said, looking at our beloved tree house in awe.

He said, “You know Shabba Baba, I had no idea I could build a house too. Do you like it?”

“I love it!” I said putting my arm around my grandfather’s waist and hugging him toward me.

Baba looked at Sarie.

“Ooh, Baba, I love it too!” Sarie said in a breathless voice.
Sarie had every toy you could think of, but she loved the treehouse the most. She actually helped build it too, so it was special to her!

Problem was, we had no furniture to decorate the tree house.
“Go ask your mother for furniture,” I said to Sarie. “Tell her … um … tell you don’t like your bedroom furniture and you want new … no, no, no – tell her someone said your furniture is old or broken. Or … “
“She won’t like that Shabba.”
“Ja, that’s why you say it. Say something like that. Then we can get your old furniture, Sarie.”
What a silly thing to say to a child. What a silly thing for a child to tell her mother. Dumb me.

Well, it was the best we could do. That night just before dinner, Sarie said, “Ma, what’s old fashioned furniture?”

Since I had a lot riding on how Sarie handles our furniture situation, I hid outside the window and eavesdropped, a favorite pastime of mine.

My drinking buddy Mazda, paused with her fuel injection and frowned at Sarie. “Who … who said that? Who got old-fashion furniture, ay? We? Who told you that? Ay? WHOOOO?” Her voice had a thread of panic to it.

Sarie lifted and dropped her shoulders. “Can’t remember, ma? I think I heard Tante Estrie or Tante Elzette say that our furniture is arme (Poor). Or maybe it was Oom Gar–”

Vroom! Vroom! Mad Mazda slammed her glass onto the table and exploded into high gear. “Blerry bitches! Blerry goffles!” The Mazda jumped to her feet and revved with fury, flames shooting out from her exhaust. “They are foking dying with jealousy because I married money and they don’t got what I got. I am rich! Rich! You hear? I married a rich man and their husband must  work in a tyre factory and meat packaging plant, packing boerewors, morning to night. Blerry goggles! Blerry …”

That’s all it took – a silly, dumb comment from a servant’s child caused my happy hour buddy to make an announcement at the dinner table that night. “I am throwing out all the old furniture in Sarie’s room and buying new ones. I am also throwing out our sitting room and our dining room and our … everything!” (She meant she was throwing out the sitting room and dining room furniture).

“Why do you need to do that, Magda when we just redecorated the whole blerry place two years ago?” Schoeman, who had two families to feed from the Garden of Eden’s funds, grouched.
‘BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE TALKING, SCHOEMAN!”

“Calm down, Magda!” Schoeman said. “I’m just asking a question.”

Mazda slowly took her foot off the accelerator.

“People are saying that I married a poor man, Schoeman. They say I poor. That we poor. Ay? This is so embarrassing, Schoeman. I was a beauty queen and now I poor?” Mazda burst into tears.

“Magda, please,” the older man who married a striking beauty queen, a trophy wife, pleaded.
Mazda responded by throwing herself over the dining table, over the mashed potatoes and Porterhouse steak and mushroom and pepper sauce and sobbed like the way a heroine in a black and white movie would.

“Okay, okay, okay!” the pastor placated in a panicked voice. “You can do it, okay?”

Mazda stopped crying, sat down in her seat, poured herself a large glass of vodka, took a sip and said, “I want to change the bathroom tiles too.”
Two weeks later, a group of servants’ children carted Sarie’s old bedroom suite to the tree house. Along with the bedroom suit came chairs, a table and some cupboards – all the things we needed. It was awesome! Our tree house looked treemendous!

Oh, and we also received a box of used bathroom tiles, which we couldn’t use in the tree house, so we used them as brick pavers in muddy areas of the servant’s quarters.

From then on, whatever we needed for the tree house, Sarie and I would steal it from her house. It was like a real house, minus the bathroom. And electricity. And flooring. And plumbing for water.
Sadly, we children fought about who gets to play in the tree house, forcing Baba to assign us shifts. It worked, but it was pure agony waiting for your turn to play in the tree house.

Baba warned us in no unspecific turns that the tree house was out of bounds at night. He was stern about that and everyone listened to him. Except me. Some nights when I couldn’t sleep, I would creep into the tree house, lie on the balcony and watch the stars in the dark sky. Once I was lonely, so I thought about my partner in crime. Are you awake, Sarie?

I decided to see if I could reach her. Since the tree house faced her bedroom, I stole Baba’s work torch, took it to the tree house and shone it into her bedroom, using the light from the torch to write my name on her bedroom wall. Please see this and come to me, Sarie.
Within minutes, to my delight, I saw a figure in white hurtling toward the tree house.

“What are you doing, Shabba?” Sarie asked in a breathless voice as she climbed the rope ladder to the tree house.

“Signalling to you,” I replied, shining the torch in her face.  “When I shine my torch, you must know that I am looking for you, and you must come, okay? I will write my name in lights. Like the way I did.”

“Sure!” she said in an excited voice.

“Pinkie promise? I put out my little finger.

“Pinkie promise,” she said, looping her pinkie with mine.

After that, whenever I was in the tree house at night, I would shine my torch into the wall of her bedroom, and she would come over with snacks and drinks. We would spend hours in our precious treehouse gazing at the stars and talking about everything. Sometimes, we’d snuggle up and fall asleep, only to wake up with the sun and the birds. Sarie would then creep back into her house before her absence was discovered.

One day she said, “I don’t wanna go home. I want to stay with you.”
“All the time?” I asked.

She nodded. “Forever.”
“Oh, well, okay,” I replied after thinking about it for a few seconds. “But maybe we should get married, then we can always be together?”
She shrugged. “Okay.” She looked around. “We will need more rooms if we want to have children.”
I followed her eyes around the treehouse.  She may have a point, I thought. “How many children are we going to have?”
She held up five fingers.

“Sarie, you are mad? Five? That’s too many!”
“Well, then how many, Shabba?” she snapped.

I shrugged. “Three? Four?”

She narrowed her eyes at me.

“Okay, fine, Sarie. We’ll have five children, then!”

And that’s how I first proposed to Sarie.

“And a puppy.”
“Now, that’s a good idea,” I said. “Hey, you should ask for a puppy now.”
“A tiny little one? A girl puppy?”
“No! You need a puppy that grows up into an attack dog.”
“Mm.”

“This is what you do – tell your mother, Tante Esterie got a Rotweiller puppy for your cousin.”

“Okay.”
Woof! Woof! A week later, the Vorsters got four Rotweiller pups. We helped name them – Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo.

We had no idea which was which, but it didn’t matter, because when we called Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Mo! all four pups hurtled toward us.

End of Excerpt
More excerpts coming next week, so make sure you’re following this blog.

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ColorBlind – A heartbreaking romantic suspense book by Eve Rabi – Excerpt 3

Apartheid: noun, historical, a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race. 

Decades before Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa, the country was rigorously governed by various pro-apartheid acts, including the Immorality Act, where sex between white and other ethnic groups was a criminal offence. Both parties contravening the Immorality Act would be imprisoned for up to ten years.
Under that law, Shabba and Sarie’s love was declared a crime and both of them were imprisoned. Now, one of them must risk all to save the other. A heartwarming tale of love, loss, redemption and … revenge!

EXCERPT 3

If you haven’t read the first two excerpts in this series, please click on the link below:
https://everabi.wordpress.com/2019/04/18/colorblind-a-romantic-suspense-book-by-everabi/

(NB: This is a raw excerpt, not yet professionally edited, so please overlook any errors in this piece)

 

Cape Town
1968

SARIE

Most children get bored, restless and even fall asleep at church. Not me – Sunday was my day, the day I get to shine. The day when the reverential Pastor Schoeman Vorster would look at me and beam with pride. That moment was fleeting, but I lived for it. I would sit and listen intently for my name to be called, because it was the only time my father really looked at me. The only time my father would utter my name. Other than that, he would talk to me when necessary, but he seldom looked at me or used my name. I had no idea why he did that, but he just did.

People said that when my father shone those blue eyes their way, they felt as if they were levitating. I believed them, for my father had the gift of making you feel as if he was talking just to you when he delivered his sermons. Even though I was his daughter, I too was in awe of him, so I too waited for the crumbs of attention he dusted my way every Sunday, when I made him proud (and made him money).

I would have done anything to get my father’s attention and hold it. I wanted to be like him, talk like him, preach like him, rapture audiences like he did. I longed to have the rust-colored birthmark etched above his eyebrow, the one that resembled a map of South Africa. My father had always boasted that he had been blessed with his country’s stamp on his face, right above his eye. I longed for his stamp on me too, but God did not give it to me for some reason. When I expressed my disappointment at not having my father’s birthmark, my mother said, ‘What rubbish are you talking? Are you stupid? Beauty queens don’t win titles with marks on their faces, you silly girl!”

I did not care to be a beauty queen like my mother, I wanted to have the stamp of South Africa on my face too.

After the church service ended, the members of the congregation lingered and socialized over wine, beer, coffee and snacks, while my brothers went around collecting money from the donation buckets and contribution boxes.
Jacob, my eldest brother, half-brother, actually – my father had six children from a previous marriage, oversaw the collection of money. He was my father’s right-hand man and spent hours with my father on the road, recruiting white members for our church, and collecting donations for our Garden of Eden. Jacob was a replica of my father, down to the stamp of South Africa above his eye.  

The money was then taken to my father’s office in the church. There, my father’s ex-wife Torti, and their six children would line up in front of my father’s desk. My father would then hand them cash from the monies collected from the contribution boxes. He must have been generous, for I remember their broad smiles as they filed out of his offices. Maybe that’s why they all never missed church.
The rest of the money was handed over to my mother. With the help of Boy, our driver, also called ‘Baba’ by the servants, my mother would load the money into the boot of our car and take it home.

After the service, I played a little with the other kids, accepted their praises as to how much they enjoyed my song, then looked around for my mother. She and my father were smiling and whispering in a corner of the church.

“Pa! Did you like my song?” I asked, skipping up to them and interrupting their conversation

“Schoeman, I’m sick of this foking kak!” my mother screeched.

 “Shhh!” my father said moving his body to block out everyone else. “I got things to do, Magda. We are going on tour, remember? We have to talk about all of that. The details … It’s big money, Magda, so don’t nag now. And keep your voice down.”

I was a little confused – they appeared to be arguing, yet both were smiling at each other? Weird.

I ran circles around my father, “Pa! Pa! Pa! Tell me how much you liked my song.”

My father’s smile never dipped. “Take Sarie home, have a couple of drinks, take a nap and I will see you later.”

“Pa, did you –”

“Sarie!” my mother snapped. “Shut your mouth!”

I froze and looked at my father, who was now looking past my mother.

My mother and I both turned in the direction of his gaze and looked at Laurika Bezuidenhout, who was eating a popsicle. Laurika was different from the other women in church. Not because she had big hair and wore tops that showed off her big breasts, or because she wore red lipstick all the time, even in the morning, but because, while the other woman had cake and biscuits at church, Laurika ate popsicles in the churchyard. Judging by the expression on her face as she did, angling her head, closing her eyes, she enjoyed popsicles a lot more than ice cream. The funny thing was, whenever she ate the popsicle, the men in the congregation immediately flocked around to watch her eat it. However, I was always baffled when women in the church pulled their husbands and sons away from Laurika and stopped them from watching her. In fact, I don’t think the women cared for Laurika, because they seldom invited her to events outside the church.   

I looked back at my father. The look he gave Laurika, it was the same look he gave me before I sang a song. A pang of jealousy shot through me. That was my look – how dare he share that my look with her? That was it – I too was not going to invite Laurika to any of my parties.
That was the thing that confused me about my father – he didn’t notice me unless I was on stage. Unless there was an audience around. Other than that, I was invisible to him. As young as I was, the realization hurt, and maybe that’s why it caused me to constantly seek his approval and attention.  
Laurika waved a gloved hand at us. I raised my hand to wave back.  

My mother slapped my arm down, stopping me from waving.

“Magda!” my father chided. “Not … here!”

With her nostrils flaring, and her eyes blazing, my mother whirled around to glare at my father.

“She’s helping me with my recruitment tour, okay?”
“So she’s going with you on tour? What about me, Schoeman?”

My father cocked his head at her, trying hard to keep his smile in place, his eyes turning to slits. “Magda, get out of here, before I get really mad!” he finally said through clenched teeth.

With her chest heaving and her eyes bright with anger, my mother grabbed my wrist and marched me out of the church.

“You’re hurting me, ma!”  

“Shut up and walk!” she snapped, as she bundled me into our waiting Jaguar.

“Good afternoon, Sarie. Good afternoon, Mevrou,” Boy, our driver, said, before he shut the door of the Jaguar.
My mother sat with her arms folded tightly across her chest, her lips turned downwards, her chest rising and falling rapidly.

“Boy, did you hear my song?” I asked.

“Yes, Sarie. It was very nice. Good tune too. You were the star act in the church today, Sarie.”
A thrill snaked through me at his complimentary words, even though I didn’t know what ‘star act’ was. “Really, Boy?”

“Oh, for sure, Sarie. You were twinkling like the little star you are.”

My soul twinkled with joy at being called a star.  

“I have a hundred more songs like that,” I lied.

“Really? I would like to hear them sometime, Sarie. When I am not working, of course.”

Encouraged by his words, my lies compounded. “My daddy said that I was the best singer there too.”

Boy smiled at me in the rear-view mirror. “He did? See what I mean? You were wonderful, Sarie.”

I nodded and sat back. I liked Boy. He knew exactly what to say to make me happy. He spoke well, he was respectful, and he dressed neatly all the time. Even when he was washing our cars, he wore a tie. Boy drove me around and kept me safe from all the black people who hated our church and shunned the Bible – all the savages who didn’t want to speak Afrikaans. So, in essence, Boy, who was black, kept me, a white girl, safe from other blacks. I didn’t question it because my father said so, and whatever my father said was … gospel.

SARIE

Sunday afternoon after church was a pretty boring time for me. I had nothing to do, no siblings to play with, and I was bored of all my toys.

“Can you color in with me, ma?”
“No!” she said, walking toward our bar and bringing out a bottle of vodka.

“Why not?”

“I’m tired.”

“But I’m bored, Ma. Please!”

“Go play with Katrina, Sarie. Stop worrying me. I have a migraine.”

“What’s a migraine, ma?”

“You ask too many questions, Sarie. Go play with Katrina. Please!”

“Katrina doesn’t wanna play with me, ma. She said I am too little to play –”

“Sarie, stop telling lies, okay?”
“It’s the truth, I swear on God!”

My mother’s sapphire eyes narrowed at me.

Yes, I was a seasoned liar – an attention-seeking little girl who would make up stories in the hopes that they would paint me out to be more interesting than I was. A lonely, poor little rich girl, even though I had six half siblings.

Shaking her head, my mother picked out a crystal glass and walked away. That was her Sunday afternoon ritual.

Since we lived in a mansion – ten bedrooms and seven bathrooms, with rolling lawns, and horses, we needed a fair amount of domestic help. Hence, the fifteen servants living on our property.

After changing out of my church clothes, I went in search of Katrina, daughter of Agnes, a maid who worked inside our house. At eleven, Katrina was five years older than me. Her job was to be my constant companion and keep me entertained. Most of all, she had to keep me from bothering my mother. Sometimes she’d bath me, tuck me into bed, tell me a story, or even sing me a lullaby.
I cannot remember my mother ever doing anything for me. I cannot remember her bathing me, feeding me, reading me a bedtime story or even comforting me when I was ill. Between Agnes, Boy’s wife Mama Tsela, and Katrina, they took care of me.

I found Agnes hanging up washing at the maid’s quarters.

 “Hai, Sarie, how was church?”

“Good. Pa said I was the star singer there.”

Agnes paused to stare at me, her eyebrows elevated.

“Ja. He said … he said … he that I was his twinkle, twinkle little star and that he would like to hear all my songs, when he wasn’t busy with work. He said … he said, that I was the apple of his eye and that he loved me the most in the whole wide world.”

With a condescending smile, Agnes ruffled my hair, before pointing at the back of the servant’s quarters.

I ran off in search of Katrina. “Katrina! Katrina! Katrina!”

I found her playing with someone’s baby. She was always playing with babies because she just loved babies.

“Inga binga banga boo

the elephant said to the kangaroo

I bet you boy I’m bigger than you

Inga binga bango boo!”

Katrina smiled at the baby. “You like that song? Ay? Ay?”

The baby gurgled at her. Katrina laughed and gave the baby a hug and a kiss. A pang of jealousy shot through me – Katrina was my maid; she should be giving me all her attention.  
“Katrinaaaaa!” I yelled. 

She looked at me, arms akimbo. “Hai, Sarie, what are you screaming like a siren, ay? I’m going to klup (smack) you if you shout me like that. Do you think I’m deaf? Huh? You scaring the blerry baby. Because why, her eardrums, it will bust like that!” She snapped her fingers for dramatic effect.
“Ma’s got a migraine,” I said, eyeing the baby’s eardrums and picturing it ‘busting’. “She told me to play with you.”

“Hai, another migraine?” She shook her head. “Let’s go to Mama Tsela, then,” she said, kissing the baby several times before she took my hand. “She is making cake.”

Baking cake,” I corrected. I loved it when Mama Tsela baked cake in a pot over an open fire. The place smelled warm and pleasant whenever she did.

“Katrina, your scarf!” Agnes called.

With a labored sigh, Katrina wrapped her scarf around her head and pulled it low over her forehead.

“Why is Mama Tsela baking cake?” I asked, as I hopped around Katrina.
“Because why, her grandchildren come to stay, and she be happy.”

“Katrina, the clay!” Agnes shouted.

With another sigh, Katrina stopped to scoop up a little clay from the ground and painted her forehead with it, something she was forced to do before she ventured out of the servant’s domain for some reason.  She hated doing that, but her mother insisted she do.

“Grandchildren? Why have they –?”
“Hai, Sarie, I dunno. You ask too many blerry questions, you know. I’m gonna klup you if you keep asking questions.”

That was Katrina – always wanting to klup me. She never carried out her empty threats, though, just sprinkled the word klup around like a coma.
I fell silent and tried to keep up with Katrina. The silence didn’t last.

“Katrina, what’s a migraine?”

Katrina scratched her head and looked at the ground. While she did, I studied her. Even though Agnes was a black, Xhosa woman with brown eyes, Katrina had the same color skin as me, and her eyes were as blue as mine. Her hair was different though – it was curly and brown, with copper flecks. She did not resemble her mother at all.
“A migraine, it is … it’s like a … a vision of God, Sarie.” She nodded. “A vision.” 
“Oh.”

I had great respect for Katrina, not because at eleven she knew a lot – knew it all, actually. Not because although she’d never been to school, she knew more than most of the kids around. It was because she took the time to explain things to me. When she wasn’t threatening to klup me, that is.

“Race you there,” I cried and bolted ahead.

“No, no, not fair!” she yelled holding onto her scarf and running after me. “Cheater! Cheater!”

I laughed and ran ahead of her.

“Stop, Sarie! I’m going to klup you when I catch you!”

Katrina could never catch me. I was too fast a runner.

SARIE

To my surprise, Boy was seated at a wooden stump that served as a table, arm wrestling a little boy. The same boy I spotted upstairs in the church, making funny faces at me. Boy was big and strong and was always showing the other men around how to box, how to fight, how to use a vuvu, which was a big stick used in self-defense. He could easily win the arm-wrestling competition, yet he was contorting his face, making all sorts of noises, acting like he was struggling to keep his arm up.
Nearby, a young African girl around Katrina’s age, rolled her eyes. Katrina joined the girl, and the two of them moved away, whispering and giggling.  

Finally, the little boy managed to bring down Boy’s arm. “I win! I win!” he sang, dancing around and showing off his little biceps that weren’t quite biceps. “I am the champ, Baba!” 

 I watched with envy as Boy laughed and pulled the showoff into a hug. “You are the champ, Shabba! One day, you are going to be a famous champ. The greatest. Like Mohamed Ali. You are going to dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee, Shabba!”

The little boy began to box the air, adding sound effects as he did. Then suddenly he dropped to the floor and lay flat on his back, facing the ceiling.

Baba laughed and left the room.
When the little boy didn’t move, I grew concerned – was he dead? I tiptoed over and peered down at him.

The boy’s eyes were closed, his arms limp.

I stared at him, unsure what to do.

The boy opened one eye and looked at me. I smiled.
“He let you win,” I said in a sneering voice to the little show off.  

“No, he didn’t,” the little boy said, jumping to his feet. “I am really strong!” He flexed his muscles. “See?”

“Yes, he did!”

“No, he didn’t.”
“Yes, he did!”

“Shabba!”

We both looked toward the sound of the reproachful voice. The young African girl talking to Katrina gave Shabba a drop-it look.

Shabba stuck his tongue out at her.   

“Who is she?” I asked.

“Fendi. My sister. She’s a pain here.” He pointed at his neck. “And here.” He pated his butt.

I chuckled at his cheekiness. “What were you doing at our church today?”
“Church?” With an impish smile he said, “Wasn’t me.”

I had never met anyone as audacious like him before, and I was somewhat fascinated. “How old are you?” I demanded.

“Twenty-five,” he replied without hesitation. “And you?”

I was a little taken aback. Twenty-five? He was pretty short for a twenty-five-year-old … man? Boy?  

“Shabba!” It was Fendi again.

“I’m nine,” he quickly said.

“Shabba!” 

“What, Fendi? What?” Shabba snapped, clearly irritated at his sister for outing his lies. He looked at me. “Okay, fine, I’m seven,” he said in a defiant voice. “Seven and a bit. A lot of … bit.”
I was elated. I could handle seven and a bit. A lot of bit. Still, he was older than me and for some reason, I wanted to dominate with age.

“I’m eleven,” I lied in a smooth voice.

“Hai, Sarie!” That reproachful voice belonged to Katrina.  

“I’m eight,” I quickly said with a shrug. “Still older than you.”

“Hai, Sarie!” 

I looked Katrina, then at him. With a pouty voice, I said. “Okay, fine, I’m six.”

“Ha ha!” he said, whirling around, a look of triumph on his face. “I knew it! I knew it! I’m way older than you.”

“Not way older. You’re just a year older. When’s your birthday?”
“The first of September. I’m a spring baby.”
I jerked back. “Me too. First of September!”

We smiled at each other, and the bond that would prevail between us for years, was formed over a mutual birthday.

Fendi brought us cake, which was actually bread with sugar sprinkled on top. “Don’t mess!” she warned.
“So, where’s your ma and pa?” I asked as we tucked into Mama Tsela’s cake.  

“My mom is in heaven, and my dad is in New –”

“Shabba!” Mama Tsela and Boy chorused, before they hurried over. Mama Tsela clamped her hand over her grandson’s mouth.  

 “So, Sarie my darling, you meet my grandchildren, then?” Mama Tsela asked, her voice bursting with pride. She hugged Shabba and smothered him with kisses. I’d never seen Mama Tsela this happy before. She was simply beaming. Mahogany-skinned Mama Tsela was the matriarch to all the servants on our property. She was plump and bosomy and gave hugs at the drop off a hat, but she was also respected and feared by the other women, so when Mama Tsela spoke, they listened, or she would think nothing of whacking them over the head. However, she was loved by all, because she had a soft centre and she cared about all the servants and their children.  

Shabba tried to dodge his grandmother’s kisses so he could eat his cake, but she persisted. “I haven’t seen you in years, Shabba, so don’t stop me from kissing and hugging you,” she said with a laugh.
As I watched Mama Tsela show affection toward Shabba, a pang of envy shot through my six-year-old self. Both my grandmothers had never hugged and kissed me like that. My own mother had never hugged and kissed me like that.  

“They will be living with us,” Mama Tsela announced.

“For a while,” Baba yelled from outside. “For a while!”

Mama Tsela gave a dismissive wave, rattling off something in Xhosa to Baba. She turned back to look at me. “This strong boy is Tshabalala, and that beautiful young lady there is Fendiwe. She looks just like her mother, God bless her soul.”
Fendiwe, or Fendi, blushed beautifully, then appeared to be trying to blend into the furniture to avoid being seen.
“They are very smart too,” Mama Tsela gushed. “So smart. They can read … they can write, they can speak very good English you know. But not too much Afrikaans.”

“How come?” I demanded.

Now Shabba, who did not try to blend into the furniture, answered in a cheeky voice. “’Cause Afrikaans is the white man’s language, so you shouldn’t speak it any –” Mama Tsela’s hand clamped her hand his mouth again.   
With a nervous laugh, Mama Tsela said, “Say something smart in English, Shabba.”

“Something smart,” Shabba retorted.

Everyone laughed.

“Say something really smart,” Mama Tsela coached.

Shabba scratched his cheek. “Something smart … “We are all born equal, and –” Mama Tsela’s hand clamped over his mouth once again. “Never mind,” she said with a nervous laugh.

Shabba turned around and tried to lift up his grandmother. “See how strong I am Mama Tsela?” 

Mama Tsela laughed. “Ja, ja, ja! You are really strong, Shabba!”

Shabba ran over to Fendi and tried to pick her up.

“Shabba, stop!” Fendi cried.

“Shabba’s a skelm (rascal), ja?” Katrina said in an amused voice, when Shabba put Fendi down.

Shabba ran after his grandfather and tried to pick him up but failed. Yet, he said, “See, Baba? I’m strong! I can lift you up.”
Baba lifted one foot to humor Shabba and said, “Ja! You are the strongest boy in the world, Shabba!”
Fendi rolled her eyes. “Such a skelm.”

Shabba turned to me. “So … you live in the big house?”
I nodded.

“How many bedrooms you have?”
“Um … fifty?”

“Whoa! How many bathrooms do you have?”

My eyes shifted from left to right. “Forty. I think.”
“Whoa!”

“Wanna see it?” 
“Ja!”

“Shabba!”

We both turned to look at Baba.

He shook his finger at Shabba. “The inside of the big house is out of bounds to you, my boy. Never go inside, okay?”

“Okay, Baba,” Shabba said, and turned to me.

The moment Baba’s back was turned, Shabba grabbed my hand and together we sprinted toward my house.

 

SHABBA

A house? Sarie didn’t live in a house, she lived in a mansion! To a boy like me living in a stable, sleeping in a manger like Baby Jesus, her house was a palace. It was massive, modern, and furnished with huge crystal chandeliers, expensive furniture, plush carpets and six fireplaces. The place was so huge and so beautiful, I said, “Hey, why does your father want to build a Garden  of Heaven, when all the people from the church can move into this? It’s big enough?”
Sarie looked around, a thoughtful look on her face. “Maybe they will,” she said.
I continued poking around. The place was big, spacious, opulent and … quiet. The place screamed money, yet, it was cold and lonely, reminding me of a museum, it was that quiet. I tiptoed around, somewhat intimidated by what I saw. Compared to the noise, laughter and cheerful chaos at the servant’s quarters, Sarie’s house was like a haunted house out of a Grimm’s fairy tale.

“Where is everyone?” I whispered, as we crept through the place.

“Ma is asleep, and Pa is doing God’s work. The servants …” she shrugged, “It’s Sunday.”
“Oh, okay.”
“Hey, you want some ice cream?” Sarie asked.

Ice cream, twice in one day? I could hardly believe my luck. “Ja, ja, ja!! What flavor you got?”

She shrugged. “Any flavor.”

Any flavor? Well, by then I had discovered Sarie’s tendency to exaggerate. The house did not have fifty bedrooms, it had ten. There were only seven bathrooms too. However, it did have three living rooms, two dining rooms, two kitchens, a pantry the size of a massive kitchen, an olympic size pool, as well as a kiddie pool, five garages, a tennis court, a row of stables and a playroom that looked like it had never been used.

“Chocolate? I like chocolate?” I said, getting back to important issues.

She nodded and gestured for me to follow her.

I smiled with delight as I hurried after her. “Mint chocolate?”

To my surprise she said, “Ja, okay.”

My eyes grew large. I ran faster behind her.  “Strawberry? Do you have straw –”

“Ja.”

She’s lying, I thought, slowing to a halt.  She had to be. How could she possibly have chocolate, mint-chocolate and strawberry ice cream in one house?

She stopped walking and turned to look at me.
Despite being convinced that Sarie was lying, I decided to push my luck.

“Mango? You have mango?” I held my breath as I waited for her answer.

After a moment of deliberation, she nodded.

What a little liar she was, I thought.  That was cruel to a seven-year-old kid who hadn’t eaten ice cream in … well, more than three hours. It was cruel to a seven-year-old boy living in the servant’s quarters.
However, we were talking ice cream, and I really wanted to give Sarie the benefit of the doubt. In fact, the thought of that many flavors of ice cream in one fridge made me dizzy with excitement.

The kitchen! Oh man, was I in for a surprise! There were three fridges in the kitchen, all industrial sizes. In one fridge were rows and rows of ice cream, and all kinds of desserts. It turned out that Sarie had not been exaggerating – there really was chocolate, strawberry, mint, mango and a number of other flavors, most of them unopened. Ice cream heaven – that’s where I was. I started having difficulty breathing. I must have died and gone to heaven, I thought. Either that, or this really was the Garden of Heaven.

In the second fridge were all kinds of drinks – wine, beer, fruit juices and soft drinks. Some in bottles, some in cans, some in jugs. In the third fridge, were meat, vegetables, butter and such kinds of food stuff.

“Take what you like,” Sarie said as I stood frozen in front of the ice cream. “Me, I’m having … this! It’s my favorite.” She took a stick of rum and raisin ice cream and sat on a chair.

Still in a daze and unable to believe my luck, I helped myself to a stick of chocolate ice cream, and sat on the floor. The chairs looked expensive and well, I wasn’t used to sitting on furniture like that. In fact, I wasn’t used to sitting on chairs, period!

Sarie stared at me for a moment, a confused look on her face. I patted the floor next to me. Reluctantly, she sat down next to me.

“It’s got real rum,” Sarie said as she ate her ice cream, so I’m going to be drunk after this. Have you ever been drunk?”

I shook my head.

“I get drunk on rum and raisin ice cream all the time,” she declared.

All the time? I have never been drunk in my entire life. I began to feel really underprivileged. When it was time to get another ice cream, I decided it was also time to get drunk. 

“One day, when I grow up, I am going to make lots of money and buy a house like this,” I announced, as I helped myself to rum and raisin ice cream. “Bigger than this, and I am going to fill the fridges with every flavor of ice cream in the world.”

Sarie stared at me. 

“Are you feeling drunk?” she asked, peering at me.

Turned out the rum did nothing for me. I didn’t feel really drunk. I wasn’t going to say that to her though. “Oh yes,” I lied. “Very.”

She nodded.

“I am going to make so much money, I will be able to buy six fridges,” I warned, helping myself to strawberry ice cream instead.

By the time I got to the mint chocolate chip, I was feeling drunk in my stomach. That did not stop me from finishing it.

“Maybe buy me an ice cream … shop,” I said helping myself to some honeycomb and caramel flavored ice cream. “A factory – a ice cream factory. A big one! Like huge!”

Shortly after my fifth ice cream, I began to turn the color of the mint ice cream and struggled not to throw up.

It was then that I began to rethink my ambition to buy me an ice cream factory. That’s how drunk I got. I ran outside, threw up, then returned inside the house, on my way back deciding that I was no longer going to invest my money in an ice-cream venture. In fact, I made a decision never to touch another ice cream, because being drunk was nothing like I imagined it would be.

SHABBA

“Wanna see something cool?” Sarie asked, oblivious to my queasiness or my changing ambition. 

I nodded, eager to get away from all the ice cream.

“Come!”
I could no longer stand even looking at the ice cream. Yet, before I left, I turned and looked at the ice cream. Fendi

Despite my new-found attitude toward it – I grabbed four sticks of ice cream. One for Fendi, one for Katrina even though she wanted to klup me all the time, one for Mama Tsela and one for Baba. It was hot, they would enjoy the ice cream, I reasoned.

“Hurry!”

With the ice cream firmly in my grasp, I followed Sarie upstairs. We stopped outside a bedroom door, where she put her finger on her lips. She slipped into the room and returned a few moments later with a key. Using the key, she opened another room door, and pulled me inside.
Hallelujah! A roomful of money, that’s what it was. How could my jaw not drop at the sight of it? Never had I seen that much money at one place! Never had I seen that much money. Never had I really seen money, period.
The room itself, which was as large as a bedroom, was lined with steel, so it was a vault masquerading as a room. I looked around in awe, took in the shelves from floor to ceiling, the fact that every shelf had wads of banknotes tied with rubber bands. I took in the jewellery – gold necklaces, watches, rings, earrings and bracelets, all laid out with price tags on them, and the boxes and boxes of coins on the floor of the vault. On the top shelves were about a dozen assorted firearms and boxes of ammunition. On another shelf were bunches of keys – house keys, car keys and all sorts of spare keys, I assumed.

“How much is in here?” I whispered, still a bit drunk.

Sarie shrugged. “Gazillions.”

 “Whoa!” I began to move cautiously through the room, touching the money, then pulling back my hand. I had to be dreaming. This Garden of Heaven was filled with treasure. It actually reminded me of a Hansel and Gretel house, but made of banknotes, coins, jewellery, guns and spare car keys.

“This the church money for the Garden of Eden,” Sarie said, but you can take some if you like.”

I jerked back at her words. Then I looked at the money and licked my lips. Baba would kill me if I took the white man’s money. Fendi would twist my ears, and Mama Tsela would scold me rapidly in Xhosa – I knew how it would go down. Yet, I heard myself say, “Okay.”
“Just don’t take the jewellery because ma says pa needs it for bribes.”

“What’s bribes?”
Sarie shrugged.
After handing Sarie my four ice creams to hold, I helped myself to a bundle of banknotes. How much was in there, I had no idea at that time. Later on, I worked it out – there was at least three thousand rands in that batch. We’re talking 1968 – that was a lot of money to a seven-year-old kid then. To a black, seven-year-old who called a windowless stable in the back of someone’s property his home.

After stuffing the money into my pockets, I took back my ice creams from Sarie and we began to leave the room. When Sarie opened the door to the vault, we both collided with a ghost. I screamed and jumped back in fear.  

SHABBA

The ghost had long blonde hair, sticking out in all directions, red lipstick smeared across her face and black rings around her eyes. Across the ghost’s body was a white sash that said, Miss Boxburg 1962. On the ghost’s head was a somewhat battered tiara.
“Sorry, ma,” Sarie said in a scared voice.
Ma?
I peered at the ghost – could this be the same woman who the pastor said, “… as beautiful as the day I met her.”?
Well, it was Mazda Vorster, the pastor’s wife, who appeared to have trouble walking.  

I froze as she looked at us. I was in deep, deep trouble. I was inside the house, a wad of stolen money in my pocket and the four ice creams in my hand. Baba had warned me that the big house was out of bounds, yet I had failed to listen. I was busted by Pastor Schoeman’s wife.
With her hand on her crown, the woman looked directly at me. This is it! I thought. I’m doomed. Baba will be so disappointed. And Mama Tsela … damn! And Fendi – oh shit!

She struggled to keep her head from wobbling. “Me! Not … Laur … ika. Me! I am the beauty queen, you hear?”

I nodded, my eyes shifting to Sarie’s, who stood frozen.  

“Fif … fif … teen,” Magda said. “When I meet him. Best years of my light … life, g … gone!” She almost lost her balance trying to snap her fingers. “G … gone!” The hiccups didn’t help either.

I looked at Sarie. Her eyes urged me not to move.

I nodded and remained frozen as Magda rambled on. “He’s taking her on … tour? I will kiiiiiiill her! C… cut her tit … tit … throat!”
Again, I had no idea who she was talking about, but the cutting of the tit, or the throat, I wasn’t sure, made me sober again.

Then, a look of fear appeared in her eyes, as she looked at me.  “My c … c … clown! My clown!”

What clown?

“It’s there, Ma,” Sarie said, pointing at the plastic tiara on her mother’s head. “See?”

Magda felt for her ‘clown,’ nodded, then said, “Go get me my … med … i … cine.”
Sarie got up, Sarie ran downstairs to the bar, fetched a bottle of vodka and handed it to her mother.
Magda smiled lovingly at the bottle, opened it, took a giant swig, then thrust it at Sarie. “Have some. Have a driiiink with me.”

Sarie shook her head, moving her face away.
“C’mon! Have … a driiiink, Sarie!”
Sarie refused.

Magda lunged at Sarie, grabbed her by the hair and forced the bottle to her lips. Sarie pushed her mother away. Magda pushed harder, spilling vodka all over Sarie’s face and clothes.
“Stupid shit!” Magda muttered, eventually stumbling back. “Think you’re prettier than me, riiiiight? Wong! Wrong! Wrong!” As she spoke, she pointed her bottle at Sarie. “I am the beauty queen here, you hear? Not you! You … are … ugly! Ug … ly.” She took a giant sip of her vodka.
Sarie stood like a statute, her eyes brimming with tears, her bottom lip trembling. I felt so bad for her, I forget to act like a statue. I walked over to Sarie, put my arm around her shoulder and whispered, “You okay?”
Sarie nodded and put her finger to her lip.

Magda suddenly looked at me with surprise in her eyes, as if she was seeing me for the first time.  “I’m Ma…zzzda,” she said in a coy voice. “What’s your name?”
“Me? Eh … Shabba?” I said. I thought her name was Magda, but I may have heard wrong – it was Mazda; she said so.  
Mazda smiled at me, her glazed eyes almost closing as she did. Slowly, she tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and said, “Have a drink with … me, Chubba.”
“Okay!” I said without hesitation, taking the bottle from her.
“Don’t!” Sarie whispered.

Despite her calling me ‘Chubba,’ I thought Mazda was a nice car. I mean, nice person. So, I took the bottle from her and drank from it, ignoring Sarie’s disapproval. The vodka was so awful, I spat it back into the bottle. I did it without thinking, and immediately I regretted it. But I couldn’t undo what I did, and the bottle turned murky.

I looked at Sarie with eyes the size of the wall clock – How do I fix this?
Her eyes were equally large, so she was of no help to me.  
Crap! Crap! Crap! I couldn’t help it – after the sweetness of the ice cream, the vodka tasted bitter and disgusting.
To my surprise, Mazda smiled, took the bottle from me and took a huge gulp of it.
I was stunned to see her do that.

“How old are you?” Mazda asked, wiping her mouth with a sleeve and smearing red lipstick all over the white fabric.

“Twenty-five!” I answered.

She smiled. “You are so much f … fun!”

I puffed my chest out and gave Sarie a did-you-hear-that? look.

 “Miss Junior B … B … Boksburg …” Mazda said to me, pointing the vodka bottle at her sash. “I was the most beautiful gi … gi … gi … girl in the room!” The hiccups made it really hard for me to understand what she was rambling on about, but it didn’t matter – I intended to be a great listener, because despite the mess she was, she was still a good looking woman.  
“Eh, ma, come,” Sarie said, “Come, I take you to your bed.”
Mazda Vorster shrugged off Sarie, and cradling the bottle of vodka, began to dance in the narrow passageway, humming a tune as she did. Well, it was more like swaying drunkenly around the passage, giggling as she did, pausing only to sip from the bottle of dirty vodka. Then, she looked at me and extended her bottle to me.

I shook my head. No way was I going to drink from that disgusting bottle.

She shrugged, then said, “Come dance with me.”

So, I did. I began to dance with Mazda Vorster. She smiled and tried to clap, so I rewarded her cheers by dancing harder, by dancing like a butterfly, even though Baba hadn’t as yet taught me how to dance like a butterfly and sting like a bee. I flapped my arms like a butterfly would and moved swiftly around the corridor. The more I danced, the harder Mazda cheered and clapped.  

Sarie the spoilsport did not join us, she just stood around with her arms folded and watched us dance, her mouth turned downward.

I frowned at Sarie. What?
“Stop dancing!” she said through clenched teeth.
Although I didn’t understand why she was mad at me, I slowed down my dancing to just swaying, moving my butt from side to side, mainly because I didn’t want to stop dancing altogether and disappoint Mazda. She appeared to be having so much fun. Besides, the woman bought me my first drink, know what mean?
With bulging eyes and gnashing teeth, Sarie motioned for me to go back into the vault, which was unlocked. So, while Mazda danced with her bottle of vodka, bumping into the sides of the walls and almost falling as she did, Sarie and I backed into the vault and out of the Mazda’s sight.  
I was confused – why was everyone making a big deal of me being inside the house, when Mazda was so happy to see me? I mean, she had seen me emerge from the vault, seemed to have no problem with it, told me her real name, told me about the best of years of her life that she had given to Him, whoever he was, offered me a drink, asked me to dance, and even declared that I was fun! People could really make a big deal about nothing, if you asked me.

Once inside the vault, I picked up a .38 Special and played with it for a while. “Is it loaded?”  

“Ja, they have to be,” Sarie said. “In case the bad people come to take away our land.”
“Cool!” I said, putting it down and picking up a 9 millimetre.
“What is this for?”
“It’s the safety catch.”
“Oh, what happens if I do this?”
“No, no, no! You must not touch that.”
“Why not?”

“Because it will go off.”

“Oh, okay. I’ll push it back then.”
After a while we got bored with the fire that we were playing with, and decided to go outdoors. We peeped out into the passage, and when we saw that it was empty, Sarie and I crept outside the house. Not before I helped myself to another two wads of cash from the vault.
“What do I do with all the money?” I asked, as I stuffed them inside my shirt. Taking it home was out of the question.

“Mm … hide it?”

“Where?”

She shrugged.

We eventually put the money in a plastic bag, and using our hands, buried it in the garden. It wasn’t a very deep hole, as you can imagine. By the time I had finished with my burial, the ice cream was just a soggy mass inside its packaging. I stared at it in dismay.

“If you took it home, Boy would know that you were in the house,” Sarie pointed out, in a things-happen-for-a-reason voice.  

She was right. I had never thought about that. I looked at the ice cream and nodded. Leaving the four ice cream packets near the money grave, Sarie and I skipped off in search of something else to entertain us.

End of Excerpt
More excerpts coming next week, so make sure you’re following this blog.

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When Arena’s car is stolen with her toddler in it, she points at Tom, her abusive ex-husband. The police point at Bear, her cop boyfriend, who adores both her, and her children. Trouble is, Bear cannot be found. In fact, according to the police, Bear’s comrades, he does not exist!
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FREE for a limited time -My Wife’s Li’l Secret

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“I had it all – the loving and supportive wife, two precious girls, a

thriving business. I believed I was the luckiest bastard on earth. Turns out

I was wrong. Totally wrong.” Ritchie MacMillian

My Wife’s Li’l Secret. FREE 28 Jan to 01 Feb 2016!

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Description
She called me the miracle in her life, I called her my little treasure. Sounds corny, I know, but I really believed I was the luckiest bastard on earth. I had the loving and supportive wife, a nurturing mother to our two precious girls, a thriving business and the future looked rosy. I was a contented man.

But overnight everything changed. My wife withdrew from me, ignored our children, and made it clear she was no longer interested in playing the role of wife and mother. We had two children under five, they needed her. I needed her.
When her dressing began to change and she disappeared for hours, I suspected I was not enough for her. Thinking she was having an affair, I placed my wife of five years under surveillance. What my surveillance revealed shook my world, broke my heart and went on to expose a web of lies and deceit.

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My Wife’s Li’l Secret (A book by Eve Rabi Coming soon)

Love and Seduction

Synopsis

She called me the miracle in her life, I called her my little treasure. Sounds corny, I know, but I really believed I was the luckiest bastard on earth. I had the loving and supportive wife, a nurturing mother to our two precious girls, a thriving business and the future looked rosy. I was a contented man.

But overnight everything changed. My wife withdrew from me, ignored our children, and made it clear she was no longer interested in playing the role of wife and mother.

We had two children under five, they needed her. I needed her.

When her dressing began to change and she disappeared for hours, I suspected I was not enough for her.

Thinking she was having an affair, I placed my wife of five years under surveillance.

What my surveillance revealed shook my world, broke my heart and exposed a web of lies and deceit.

My Wife’s lil Secret

Coming soon!

 

Excerpt from My Wife’s Li’l Secret:

Since my wife was out partying again, bedtime routine for our girls was left to me. Again.  I tucked Ally and Becky into bed and began to read a story to them. “Once upon a time…”

“Dadda?” Ally said placing her hand on the storybook and stopping me from continuing.

I paused and looked at my daughter. “Yes, Alleycat?”

“Dadda, what’s a hooka?”

“Whaaaat?” I peered at my daughter wondering if I had heard correctly.

“The teacher at preschool, she said, ‘Here comes the hooka,’ when she saw Mummy.”

Slowly, I lowered the book and stared at my daughter. “It’s …it’s …”

How do I explain what a hooker is to a four-year-old? I shouldn’t even be in a position where I had to.

“The lady shouldn’t have said that, Ally,” I muttered.

“But, Dadda …”

Two-year-old Becky spun around and clamped her hand over Ally’s mouth. “Shhh! Let Daddy read the story, Ally!”

Becky hated anyone interrupting a story, so to prevent her from getting mad with us, both Ally and I fell silent. I continued reading even though I was terribly distracted by Ally’s words.

“Talk about it tomorrow, Ally,” I muttered when the opportunity arose.

Ally nodded.

After the kids fell asleep, I sat in my lounge in the dark and pondered Ally’s teacher’s comment.

Liefie had great legs, a great figure and I had no problem with her wearing whatever she liked, but people were talking and clearly her dressing needed to be …addressed.

Of course I expected Liefie to become angry when I confronted her about it, accuse me of controlling her and after the number of arguments we had had, I was reluctant to talk to her about it.

But when I saw her the following evening, all dolled up and ready to party without her family again, hooker was the word, alright.

Her red skirt was the size of a large belt, her white top strained across her breasts and ended above her belly button, her fake tan looked like she’d dipped herself in food coloring and that garish, face paint with that dominating electric-blue eye shadow…reminded me of Braveheart.

She didn’t look pretty; she looked like an aging prostitute. Harsh words, I know, but they weren’t out of malice, they were simply an observation. (People were talking, remember?)

Tarty make-up aside, to my absolute surprise, she sported two piercings above her left eyebrows. My jaw fell.

When did that happen, I wondered? How could that happen? Why hadn’t she told me about it?

Of course it was her body and she was free to do what she liked to it, but facial piercings weren’t something I liked. She knew that.

She could have at least mentioned it to me before she pieced her face. We were husband and wife; it was reasonable to expect her to talk to me about something like that before she did it.

“What’s with the piercing?” I asked, both mesmerized and irritated by them.

She shrugged, flashed me a deal-with-it look and turned away.

With a weary sigh, I walked around to face her. “We need to talk.”

A guarded look flashed in her eyes before they hardened.

“Liefie, you need to dress more like a mother,” I said in a quiet voice. “You have two children and …”

“What?! You want to tell me how to dress now? You want to CONTROL ME?”

Just as I had expected.

“Hey, keep you voice down, will you? I’m talking to you, that’s all.”

“There is nothing wrong with my dressing, okay?! Nothing!”

“Yes, there is, Liefie. Your skirts are too short, your tops are way too tight and the people at Ally’s school are talking about it. You need to …”

“Ally’s school?” Her heavily-lined eyes slanted.

“Yes!”

Her painted, pillar-box-red mouth twisted into a sneer. “You’re lying.”

“I’m not. I swear!”

She cocked her head and looked at me. “Who told you that?”

“Ally told me. She said one of the mothers or teachers, I can’t remember, after seeing you, used the word hooker.”

Her body stiffened. “Ally said ….THAT?!?”

“Yea…”

“That bitch! Where is she?!” She turned and strode off in search of Ally. Even though she was in heels, she almost ran.

“Liefie stop!” I cried running after her, shocked she would call her little daughter a bitch. “Leave her alone!”

She found Ally playing with Becky in the TV room. “Did you call me a hooker?” she demanded, putting her flaming face in Ally’s.

“Liefie stop this shit!” I warned.

Ally’s eyes flitted between Liefie’s and mine, a terrified look on her face.

“Lief…ie! ” I hissed. “Stop this …”

Liefie suddenly backhanded Ally across the face, sending her crashing into a doll’s house.

Ally lay on the floor so stunned, she didn’t even cry. The only thing that showed her distress was puddle appearing around her waist.

For a moment, I too was stunned. Liefie had never ever hit our kids before.

Then fury overtook me – I grabbed my wife by the hair and slammed her against the wall.

Putting my face in hers, I snarled, “You ever touch my child like that and I will fuck the shit out of you, understand? UNDERSTAND?”

Her attempt to look defiant failed and I saw fear flicker in her eyes.

I had never hit Liefie before, never even called her names, so this wasn’t something she was used to.

“Don’t ever lay a finger on any of my daughters. Understand?” I pushed my face further into hers, resisting the urge to head-butt her.

“Daddy, stop! Daddy!” Ally cried, while Becky started to whimper. I looked over at my two children clinging to each other, terror on their little faces.

What am I doing?!

Quickly, I released Liefie and took a giant step back.

I walked over to Ally and Becky, scooped up both of them and hugged them to me. “It’s okay, it’s okay!”

They looked at their mother who stood holding her head with both hands, but did not try to go to her.

After a few moments, Liefie ran out of the room, shouting, “Your father is an abusive man! He just abused me in front of our children. That’s the kind of man I married!”

I looked at Ally. “Sorry, hon.”

“Why did you tell her, Daddy?” Ally whispered, holding her tear-stained cheek.

“I’m sorry, Al, I was trying to get her to do the right thing. I’m sorry.”

“You knew she’d hit me, Daddy. You shouldn’t have told her.”

I peered at Ally. “What are you talking about? She doesn’t hit you, Ally. Usually. Right?”

No answer.

“ALLY?!”

“I need to change my pants,” Ally muttered, ignoring my questions.

My head jerked to look at little Becky.

Becky’s head bobbed, her eyes opening wide.

You can’t be serious?!

My eyes shifted back to Ally. “This is the first time she hit you, right? Or does she hit you? Tell me, Ally.” I shook her. “Tell me!”

Becky’s head continued to bob.

“All the time, Daddy,” Ally finally muttered. “Yesterday she hit me because I took too long to get Uncle Viggo’s beer. From the fridge.”

“WHAAAT?” She had my four-year-old daughter fetching alcohol for her brother?

Ally nodded.

“Mummy hit Ally here,” Becky said, slapping the top of her head.

I was mortified at what I was hearing.

If Liefie could hit my daughter that way in front of me, backhand her, what would she be doing behind my back? Aghast, I looked at my firstborn who I idolized. “Ally, honey, why didn’t you tell me this?”

“You weren’t here, Dadda. And Mummy said if I carry tales she’ll make me sorry.” Fat tears coursed down little Ally cheeks.

I drew my girls closer, feeling absolutely gutted to know they were being silently abused by their own mother. “I’m sorry,” I said. “Daddy will make it stop. I’m so sorry. This is not going to happen again. I promise.”

End of Excerpt

Release date will be published soon.

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YOU WILL PAY – for Leaving me

COVER YOU WILL PAY 26 Aug 13

Happy to announce that this book, which is now FREE is number 4 on amazon.com!

http://www.amazon.com/You-Will-Pay-Leaving-ebook/dp/B00CPSGLEE

This is what readers are saying about this book:

“This is a love story more than anything else and it was funny too!”

“Excellent, held my attention, eager to find out what Arena would do next…”

“Brilliant. Felt real. Wanted to know more.”

“Revenge can be soooo sweet! Loved it!”

“Overall You Will Pay is an engrossing read, which I stayed up until the early hours to finish, holding my breath at the awesome ending.”

“a cracking good read, has elements of a thriller, although it does contain some sweet romance.”

“…a great story and steamy sex scenes!”

“Wow. Rabi does it again. Fantastic but disturbing.”

“There was so much strong emotion it was like a physical work out! My heart was racing at the tense moments, and melting at the tender ones.”

http://www.amazon.com/You-Will-Pay-Leaving-ebook/dp/B00CPSGLEE

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