Posted by Eve Rabi Author
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!
If you haven’t read the first THREE excerpts in this series, please click on the link below:
(NB: This is a raw excerpt, not yet professionally edited, so please overlook any errors in this piece)
The story continues …
From that day on, every Sunday, Shabba and I would wait for my mother’s migraine medicine to kick in, before we would creep into my house, overdose on ice cream, enter the vault, play with the guns, and steal wads of cash and hide it in the garden. This went on for months, and I have to admit, not once did Shabba or I consider the congregation members of Die Goed Afrikaner Kerk, who gave their hard-earned money to build a whites-only city/state/suburb/Garden to keep out black people and preserve the white race. We were that inconsiderate.
One day, Shabba and I overheard the adults talking about a robbery. Some thieves had made an imprint of a store key on a bar of soap, and then cut out a spare key using the soap imprint.
Shabba turned to me and whispered, “We should do that.”
The next thing I know – I was in front of a locksmith with a bar of soap bearing an imprint of the vault key.
“For my Pa,” I said, trying not to sound like a six-year-old.
I realize now that Cornelius, the man behind the counter should have questioned me about it, refused to cut a key, called my father, called the police even. He didn’t. I was Pastor Schoeman’s daughter, the one who sang inflammatory songs at their church every Sunday; I could do no wrong. So, Cornelius cut me a set of keys for the vault containing money, jewelry, guns and ammunition.
When I got home, I handed Shabba a key. He nodded and pocketed it, as if it was expected, as if getting a key to the vault was just one of those things. In hindsight, Shabba was a skelm (rascal), as Katrina pointed out. In the short time I knew him, he had me stealing money and cutting keys to my father’s vault. It was such fun. He was such fun!
Shabba and I became inseparable. We played together after I returned from school, but whenever Boy drove me to my extracurricular activities and lessons – piano, ballet, shooting, math, modelling, violin, jazz dancing, swimming, tennis, French, voice coaching and singing lessons, Shabba sat in the car with Boy and waited for me. When I returned home, I would teach him all that I had learned, including my ballet moves. He would follow my lead and plié in a pair of my mother’s tights – he was that good a sport.
“I look stupid,” he once complained, as he pulled on a pair of pantyhose.
“Nonsense!” I said, “You look nice, just like Robbin Hood looks in tights. Now plié!”
The shooting lessons? Yes, we all at our church were required to learn how to shoot. I could fire a revolver at the age of three. I could load the rounds, empty the spent cartridges and many times, as young as I was, I hit bullseye. Learning to shoot and gun safety was in preparation for a war that was imminent – the war where the black man was coming to rip our land off us, rape our women and put us out on the street. At church we did not talk about Armageddon, we talked about the day when the black man would strike and make our daughter his wife by force. We would eventually lose our blue and green eyes, our golden hair, because the black man would taint our bloodline. (I wasn’t sure about the colored man or the Indian man, and what their motives were, because their objectives weren’t covered much at church, for some reason.) Now, when you hear such things as a child, you don’t question anything, you just aim, picture a black man in your line of vision, a scary savage, and shoot. I was born a racist, proud to be one and would have probably died a racist, despite my firm friendship with Shabba and my love for Boy and Mama Tsela. To me, they weren’t black, they were my friends. There was a difference, wasn’t there?
At one end of our property, was a makeshift shooting range, which my brothers would often practice at after a few beers. By few beers, I mean two or three cases. So, whenever we were bored, Shabba and I entered the vault, stole revolvers and pistols, ran over to our personal shooting range (we ran with loaded firearms), and fired our weapons. No earmuffs and no adult supervision. If you flinch at the thought of a six and a seven-year-old firing weapons without any adult supervision, you should. If you flinch at the thought of six and seven-year-old firing weapons period, you should. But … such was life then.
I thought Shabba all he knew about different firearms, how to load them, check the safety catches, what stance to adopt to minimise gun recoil, what recoil was and how to fire a warning shot into a black person. I can confirm that he was a fast learner and an eager student. I would also read some of my father’s gun magazines to Shabba, and together we learned about assault rifles like AK-47s, M16s, and other semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons used in the Army.
One day, while Boy and Shabba were driving me to school, I turned to Shabba and said, “Why aren’t you going to school?”
“’Cause school costs money and we don’t have school fees,” he explained. “When my dad sends us money, Baba will take us to school again.”
“But, Shabba, school is free,” I pointed out.
Shabba looked at Boy.
After a long silence, Boy said, “School is only free if you are white people, Sarie. Not for black people or people of color. We have to pay for it.”
“Why? That’s not fair, Boy,” I said in an indignant voice.
“It is what it is, Sarie,” Boy said.
What that meant, I had no idea and I really didn’t know what to think.
“Besides, there no schools around for black children,” Boy added. “You have to go long, long way to get to a school for black school.”
“How long is a long, long, way?” I asked.
After thinking about it for a moment, Boy said, “It’s like if you leave after breakfast, you will arrive at the school by lunchtime.”
My young mind tried to absorb Boy’s explanations, but it just didn’t make sense to me.
“I think we should change things, Boy,” I said. “I think Shabba should be allowed to learn with me. In my school, sit next to me and learn with me.”
Boy did not answer.
I pushed ahead. “We are almost the same age, Boy?”
Boy didn’t answer, but I noticed his lips thinning in the rear-view mirror.
My little mind drifted to another topic, another question. “Why do they call you ‘Baba’, when your name is Boy? Is it like ba, ba black sheep?”
Boy smiled and shook his head. “My name is Manual, not Boy, Sarie.”
“But ma and pa, they call you Boy?”
“Ja, but my name is Manual, as I said.”
Confused, I tilted my head and stared at him. “Baba?” I was asking a number of questions and I expected Boy to ask me to stop me, like my mother always did. He didn’t; instead, he went on to patiently explain. “Baba is like … like grandfather. Shabba is my grandson, so he calls me ‘Baba.’
“Baba also means baby, so I call this lil fellow, ‘Shabba Baba.’” With a smile filled with love, he reached behind to pat Shabba’s knee. Shabba reached for his grandfather’s hand and kissed it several times, before he playfully bit it. Boy laughed out loud.
I felt sick with envy at the display of affection between the pair. I had grandparents on both side of my family, but none of them ever behaved that way toward me. In fact, I do not remember a time when they even hugged me. I did not remember a time when I was hugged by my own mother or
father. It made me envious of Shabba. It made me angry too. I wanted them to stop hugging each other.
“I want to call you Baba too,” I said in a defiant voice. If Shabba was going object, I would put up a fight and demand that I be allowed to. As a trade-off, I would allow Shabba to call my grandparents ouma and oupa.
“Sure,” Boy said. “Of course, Sarie.”
I looked at Shabba with the neck of a ballerina. And?
“NO!” Shabba said. “He’s my Baba. He’s the only Baba I’ve got, Sarie. Don’t be unfair now.”
“Please!” I said. “He can love me a little less than he loves you, Shabba. Please?”
Shabba appeared to think about it, then said, “Okay, but only if he loves you less than me. If he starts to love you more than me, then you must stop calling him Baba, okay?”
Shabba leaned in and whispered, “And, I want to go to the shooting range and fire the new Smith & Wesson.”
I nodded. Okay.
He nodded. Deal.
We sealed it by linking our pinkies.
From that day onward, I called Boy Baba, and he called me, ‘Sarie Baba,’ and every time he did, I felt loved and I felt that bit closer to him. One night, I fell to my hands and knees and prayed, Please God, could you make Baba my real grandpa? And please make Mama Tsela my real grandma. Make them love me more than Shabba, but don’t let Shabba find out. But if he finds out, please don’t let him get mad about it. Please! Please! Please!
Agnes, Katrina’s mother was a hard-working servant. Of all the servants on my parent’s property, I believed she was the hardest worker. I say this because she would work during the day inside our house, then return long after my mother had gone to bed and clean my father’s study. He didn’t seem to mind that she was cleaning at that part of the night. In fact, he remained in the study while she cleaned. He kept the door locked while she did, though.
Then, Agnes would emerge after cleaning, to make my father a sandwich, or fix him a drink. I was a light sleeper, too curious to keep my eyes shut for long, so I would awake at the slightest sound. A couple of times, I awoke in the middle of night and watched Agnes, who had walnut-colored skin, tiptoe out of our house. She was slim with a warm smile, and Katrina always said that her mother had a butt so big, you could rest a cup of tea on it. Like my mother, Agnes was in her early twenties.
What I liked most about her was the way she loved her daughter. She was attentive and affectionate toward Katrina. Not just when Katrina fell and skinned her knees, but all the time. She would cuddle Katrina and sing her songs and kiss her all the time. Never once did I hear her call Katrina dumb, stupid, ugly or push vodka into her mouth. Time and time again, I wished Agnes was my mother.
One evening, I awoke to the sound of harsh whispers. Thinking that it was my parents arguing, I tiptoed out of my bedroom towards my parent’s bedroom. It was silent. I quietly opened the door and looked into the room – my mother was snoring, an empty vodka bottle next to her bed. My father was not in the room, though. I left the room and walked over to a window in the passageway. In the dark, I saw my father and Agnes in the yard. The way their arms were flailing and because of their harsh whispers, I suspected they were having an argument. Being as curious as I was, I had to know more. So, I tiptoed out of the house, into the dark, hide behind some shrubs and eavesdropped.
“You just shut your mouth!” my father hissed. “I am the boss here, remember that.” He tried to side-step Agnes, but she blocked his path. He grabbed her by the shoulders and swung her around. She reacted by biting one of his hands on her shoulders. I was shocked at Agnes’ display of aggression – she was blocking my father’s path and shoving him? Not only because it was so unlike her, but because no one stands up to Pastor Schoeman. Now one dares. If you did, he would beat you till you couldn’t walk. Especially, a servant – they could get the whip.
I was scared for Agnes; I didn’t want her to get whipped or hurt by my father. She did not get the whip that day; what she got was a fist in her face. I gasped as Agnes stumbled before she fell to her knees. I watched as my pa straightened his shirt, then walked in the direction of her room. I was a little confused – why was pa walking in the direction of her room, and not our house? Then, Agnes got up, and holding her nose, ran after my father and clung to his waist, refusing to let him enter her room. To my horror, my father turned around and began to viciously beat her. Agnes held onto him despite the beating. Eventually, she collapsed into a heap on the ground. My father then booted her several times while she lay on the ground. When she was motionless, he walked into the tiny room she shared with Katrina and shut the door behind him. I had never seen my father be that violent before, so I was shaken and scared. I stared at Agnes, then at the closed door for a while. When Agnes didn’t move, I crept over to her and whispered, “Wake up, Agnes.” She didn’t answer. Even though I had my warm gown on, I shivered from the cold. You must be cold too, I thought, as I took in the damp ground she lay on. I removed my pink dressing gown and covered her with it. Then, I ran back into the house and into my bedroom.
Too shaken to sleep after what I had witnessed, I lay in the dark and stared at the ceiling. If only Shabba was here to keep me company, I thought. I really needed someone to talk to. I picked up a book and using my book light, began to read. Then, I heard muted voices. It sounded like my brothers were around. I got out of bed and tiptoed to the window in the hallway. In the distance, I saw Jacob, Isaiah and my father standing over Agnes, who was still lying on the ground with my pink gown around her. They kept looking toward our house, probably wondering about the gown. When I saw the shovels in their hands, I knew something bad had happened to Agnes. As scared as I, I crept out of the house, hid behind a shrub and watched my fathers and brothers. Jacob and Isaiah grabbed a foot each of Agnes and dragged her to the back of the shooting range where no one went for fear of being shot.
Scared for Agnes, and scared that I would be seen, I turned and crept back into my house. About an hour later, my door creaked opened and in walked my father. I lay still and pretended to be asleep. He watched me for a while, before he turned and left to my relief.
There was great concern when no one could find Agnes. They were confused – how could Agnes disappear just like that and without a trace?
For days, Katrina cried for her mother and no one could comfort her. I watched quietly, wondering if I should say anything to anyone. As young as I was, I had been taught that I must keep out of big people’s business. What happened with Agnes, my father and brothers that night, was family business. My mother – I could maybe talk to her about it, I remember thinking. Then, I changed my mind – she wasn’t someone I could talk to about anything, actually. She seemed in her own world most of the time and didn’t like to be bothered with anything.
“I think I know where Agnes’s body is buried,” I whispered to Shabba.
He jerked back to look at me. “What do you mean, body? Why do you say body? She dead or something?”
“Ja. I think so.”
“Did you kill her?”
“No, of course not, Shabba. Why would I do that?”
He stared at me as if he was seeing me for the first time.
“Can I see her?”
I nodded, got to my feet and motioned for him to follow me. Together, we walked in silence toward the shooting range. I pointed at a ditch.
I nodded. “I think so.”
The two of us stared sombrely at the mound of dirt.
“Don’t tell anyone,” I said.
“Because, Shabba, it’s big people’s business and we mustn’t stick our nose where it doesn’t belong.”
“Who told you that?”
“Ma, she told me that.”
“We should put flowers on the grave,” Shabba said. “We did that to my mother’s grave.”
So, we ran around picking daisies and dandelions to put on the grave. By the time we reached the grave, we had a bunch of daisies and the remnants of what used to be dandelions.
Katrina continued crying for her mother, but luckily Mama Tsela was there to give her hugs and whisper words of comfort. Katrina refused to sleep in Agnes’ room after that night; she slept with Fendi in her room, the two of them sharing one bed. When one of the servants wanted Agnes and Katrina’s space, Mama Tsela shook her head, and in a firm voice said, “Agnes will be back.”
I thought about shouting, No, she’s not! She’s dead, gone forever. But I was too afraid of what it might lead to.
A couple days later, Baba and Mama Tsela reported Agnes’s disappearance to the police. I waited for the police to show up, but they didn’t. That night, unable to keep my nose out of ‘big people’s business,’ I thought, to hell with it, I am going to tell my mother. So, at the dinner table, I said, “I know where Agnes is, ma.”
My mother took a sip of her vodka, looked at me and said, “She looks like Klara. Same nose, same eyes …” her lips twisted in distaste as she took in my features, one at a time.
I squirmed in my seat, uncomfortable with her critical assessment of me, which was often.
“Hate your husband’s sister and what does the Devil do? He gives you a daughter that looks just like her.” My mother’s voice was filled with woe. “To think I was Miss Boksburg. A beauty queen. Ha!”
My father glanced at me, then swirled the glass of red wine in his hand, before he took another sip.
Since they were ignoring me, I cut to the chase. “I know where her body is. I saw Agnes that night she went missing. I know where her body is.”
My father spluttered and coughed, spraying some of his red wine.
“Bloody bitch, acting like she’s better than me! ‘You do know he’s a married man, right?’” she said in what I assumed was my aunt’s chastising voice. “’You do realize he has children?’ Mind your own blerry business, Klara! Get yourself a man, then lecture -”
“She is buried in the ditch near the shooting range.”
That when all hell broke loose. My father crashed his fist onto the table, causing crockery and cutlery to become airborne. “You listen to me!” he snarled at me “Anything you see and hear in this house, you do not talk about it, you hear? It’s big people’s business and you do not talk about it. You HEAR?” His outburst was so unexpected, I cowered in my chair, terrified he’d beat me like he beat Agnes.
“Did you hear what I said?”
“Now get OUT of here!” he said. “Voetsak!”
After a quick glance at my mother’s surprised face, I ran out of the dining room and into my room, where I huddled on my bed, waiting for the door to burst open and for my father to come after me.
About an hour later, I heard his car start and the skid of tires. That is when I relaxed.
With a glass of vodka in her hand, and the bottle in the other, my mother entered my room and narrowed her eyes at me. “Ja, what you see?”
“Agnes? What you see? Ay?”
I told her all that I saw.
She listened without interrupting, took regular sips of her vodka, then turned and walked away.
The next day, Shabba and I ran over to Agnes’s grave with daisies in our hands and skidded to a halt when we saw my mother at the gravesite, eyeing the wilted flowers on the mound of Earth. When she saw me, she said nothing, she just turned and walked back to the house. I waited for her to question me about it, but she didn’t.
Days later, two white policemen turned up and questioned my mother and father about Agnes’ absence. My parents did not invite them in, so the police stood at the front door.
“When last have you seen her, Pastor Schoeman?” one of the policemen asked.
“Sarie!” my mother called, beckoning me toward her. “Hou jou bek,” she whispered, a warning look on her face. She pulled me in front of her, and stood behind me with her hand hovering near my mouth, ready to gag me should I open it. Now and then, her fingers dug into my shoulders as a warning for me to keep my mouth shut.
“Me?” My father looked up at the sky, then at the policeman. “About a couple weeks ago. I never saw her after that. Never really noticed her. I have so many servants, you know.”
“Sure, Pastor Schoeman. Of course!” They looked enquiringly at my mother.
She pointed at my father, and in a morose voice said, “Couple weeks ago. She does that – she goes away, then returns, no explanation … you know what these people are like.” As she spoke her hand surreptitiously clamped over my mouth.
She was lying, of course. Agnes had never disappeared before. Besides, she would never leave Katrina. Never! I felt like biting my mother’s hand for lying.
“Ja, who knows with these people,” my father continued. “They’re all the same – they get drunk, disappear for days, then come crawling back. Get drunk, disappear, come back home … on and on. In the meantime, we have to bother you good men who don’t have time for such trivial matters. My heart goes out to you hardworking men – working long hours, weekends, getting so little pay … No one ’preciates it, I tell you. No one!”
“Thank you, Pastor Schoeman,” the officer said. “It’s lekker to be ‘preciated. Thank you. Thank you.”
My father nodded. “You know what; I appreciate it. I appreciate you men, and I want to give you a gift to say thank you for your hard work. To show my appreciation. Please, come inside my humble home. Please!”
The policemen looked at each other, their eyes lighting up. They hastened to remove their police caps, wiped their feet several times on the mat outside the front door, then entered our house. I watched them hat in hand, look around our house in awe as they ambled into my father’s study. My father was such a famous man in South Africa, probably held in higher esteem than the president, because he was a man of God, remember? So, being invited into my father’s home office was akin to being invited into the Oval Office in the United States.
About half an hour later, the policemen stumbled out of my father’s study, flushed in the face, and with shiny eyes. Each carried a bottle of Cognac each and grinned from ear to ear.
“Anytime you need us, you just call, Pastor Schoeman. And I mean, anytime!”
“Dankie, dankie! my father said with a wave. Now don’t forget, I appreciate you men and the fine work you are doing!”
End of Excerpt
More excerpts coming next week, so make sure you’re following this blog.
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!
Arena’s whole world begins to tilt. Who does she believe? Who does she trust?
If you enjoy emotional tales of love and hate, peppered with suspense, you will be hooked on this gripping romantic crime and suspense thriller. It’s about revenge and the kind of love that can make you kill.
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MY BROTHER, MY RIVAL, by Eve Rabi (complete boxed set series, romantic suspense, romantic crime books)
Posted by Eve Rabi Author
Synopsis of My Brother My Rival
Bridie got the memo. It said clearly in black and white – don’t fall for Cody. He’s a player. He will break your heart. Guaranteed. Ignore that chiselled six-pack of his, those rugged looks, that melting grin – all of it, and go for his brother, Scott, instead. Scott, now there’s a gentleman, intelligent, kind, shy, and just as good looking as Cody. Really, he is. The kind of man who won’t break your heart. Husband material.
Did Bridie listen? Nope. Despite being educated and streetwise, and goal-oriented, and vowing never to fall for Cody, the girl ignored the memo, caved and fell for the Navy Seal who hadn’t met a skirt he didn’t fancy. And where did it get her? A broken heart – that’s what she got. As expected.
Of course, none of us said, I told you so. We wanted to, but we didn’t. Why? Because we were young and dumb once.
Anyway, life has a way of screwing things up, as you know, and in this case, it did. In a big way. Huge, I tell you. Cody, Bridie and Scott were quickly thrust headlong into a heartbreaking love triangle that destroyed the brother’s relationship, ripped apart their family and left them drowning in heartbreak. Sad.
It didn’t end there. Oh, no – years later, circumstances forced the trio to interact and even live together – that’s right, two of them were to live together!
Buried emotions surfaced, old wounds were picked at, and a tsunami of heartbreak followed.
And then? you ask.Well, there’s a lot of ‘And thens’, too many for me to list. So, my suggestion: make a giant pot of coffee, because you’re going to be reading this fast-paced romantic suspense thriller through the night. Oh, and keep the tissues handy, because you’re going to cry. Ugly cry. Guaranteed. Like really ugly. Hey, we’re talking about two brothers here – how can this story not be sad? Go get that pot of coffee going.
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PRAISE for My Brother, My Rival:
“If you have something to do during your day, DO NOT start reading this book! ’Cause once you start you won’t put it down!”
“Dishes did not get done, supper did not get cooked, nothing got done. This book was like a drug; I had to know what happened.”
“What a sexy book. Loved every minute of it!”
“I’ve just finished part one with tears falling from my eyes. How do you do it?”
“I couldn’t put the book down.”
“Reading this book pulled at all my emotions, moments of smiling… laughing and tears.”
“I could not go to sleep until I finished this book, then I woke up the next morning to reread it.”
If you’ve enjoyed books by Gillian Flynn, Marian Keyes, Paula Hawkins, Jackie Collins and Lian Moriaty, you will enjoy this angsty heart wrenching, heart soaring book by Eve Rabi.
links to book:
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