Unscripted love Chapter 54 - Mzansi Stories

Monday, May 30


Unscripted love Chapter 54


Half Truths and Whole Lies
I was smiling before I even opened my eyes. The smell of Levi on my sheets had that effect. We’d stayed up late talking about our dreams, ambitions and gossiping about people at work. Levi was convinced that I was either going to turn into an ice queen like Jean or crumble under the pressure and tender my resignation by the end of the month.
I wished Levi was still in bed next to me, but I’d heard him get up and leave in the early hours of the morning. He just didn’t need as much sleep as I did. Five hours seemed to be his max. I was pretty sure I didn’t have a max, but my minimum was seven hours. I had to be well rested to be fully functional.
After a quick bath, I put on my makeup and dressed in a black suit that Levi picked out at Tiger of Sweden. When I walked into the kitchen to brew coffee, I smiled when I saw that Levi had already put in a filter and grounds for me. I pushed the brew button and went to wash the coffee mugs we’d left late the previous night and wipe the kitchen counter that I did not get around to cleaning but he’d already done that too.
The man was incredibly nice to have around. He was sexy as hell and considerate in ways I’d never known in a man. Even after just four months of dating, my view of what it meant to be loved had changed. I wondered where he’d chosen to work out that morning. He’d been restless, lots of tossing and turning. I suspected he was plagued by bad dreams, which happened from time to time but he never wanted to discuss them.
I hoped he was at the gym as it always helped him clear his mind. I’d gone with him a few times, but my workout game was…. lacking. He’d patiently taught me how to lift weights and skipped his workout to oversee mine. And even the light weights were damn heavy and left me sore for days. I preferred to get my exercise from walking and sex marathons. For obvious reasons Levi and I couldn’t have marathons so I settled for walks.
I picked up my cell phone to gauge how many e-mails were waiting for me. I was pleasantly surprised by an invitation to a black associate’s forum meeting that I readily accepted. I didn’t know what I needed to read in preparation of the meeting so I dropped the meeting organiser a quick message. I also sent Sbahle a text to see if she could meet me for breakfast at a café that was close to where she worked. After the fall out with Lev the previous night I felt like I needed to let her know that Levi and I worked out our differences. She wrote back and said sure, so I stopped the brewing process, grabbed my bags and headed out.
Sbahle was waiting at a corner table when I got to the café, a mimosa in her hand.
“Morning Mzala, I am in love with that suit,” she said with a wide smile.
“Morning, thanks. Levi chose it all by himself.” I gushed.
“Why aren’t you home in bed with your man?”
I shrugged, “I was, he left very early.”
“How it is going with the two of you? Did you manage to sort things out?”
“I found a scantily dressed female friend in his kitchen and then he proceeded to tell me that they are living together. I was furious but we spoke about it. We both apologised and I think we are fine now.”
Sbahle tipped back her mimosa and finished it. “I think I am gonna need a couple of these to digest that statement. A man and a woman cannot live together, the fact that she is comfortable walking around like that shows that she doesn’t mind him seeing her half naked. It either Levi has seen her naked or she wouldn’t mind if Levi saw her naked.”
“He assured me that they haven’t had sex and I choose to believe him.” I said and picked up the menu. “I think I am going to indulge in something fattening,” I said to my cousin.
“Oh, I am indulging. I am ordering a full English breakfast complete with chips.”
“Mmmm, I think I will have the same.”
“Go for it.”
Our waiter came and we ordered. My phone buzzed with a text and I picked it up from the table. It was from Levi. “Can I pick you up for lunch?”
I smiled at Sbahle. “Levi is asking me if he can pick me up for lunch. I think he wants me to try out some food in his restaurant. He is actually adding a dish to the menu that was inspired by little old me.”
She rolled her eyes. “You are so damn lucky. That man has it going on and he has very deep pockets. Can you imagine how much he spent flying around with you everywhere?”
“He refuses to let me pay for anything, but I am not complaining.” I held.
I wrote Levi back. “I’d love that.”
Levi: Can’t wait, don’t forget to send me the school’s banking details.
My cheeks warmed when I read his message. “He wants to settle Futhi’s fees.” I informed Sbahle.
Sbahle: How much are you forking out on her fees?
“Her matric year is R98 000, forty five thousand is still outstanding and he wants to pay it. I tried to talk him out of it last night but he said I must see it as deposit for lobola.” I beamed and we both laughed.
“That is so sweet and thoughtful. I like seeing you happy,” Sbahle said.
“I just hope that he is truly happy. I sometimes feel like I am very demanding and I require him to change a lot of things about himself. Now he can’t even give his friend shelter because of me and my insecurities,” I said softly.
“I’ve seen the man around you, he is very happy. Don’t be like that.” She furrowed a brow at me. “Any woman would have an issue with their boyfriend staying with another female. If it turns out that Levi is cheating with her would you leave him?” I hated her loaded question.
“Yes, Sandiso taught me that if a man chats once he will do it again. I don’t even know what I would do if I actually had to choose between Levi and my parents.” I said. We stopped talking when the waiter arrived with my sweet tea and our overflowing plates of food.
“I get where they are coming from because as a parent you constantly hope the best for your child. You hope that you’re doing the right thing and that they’ll grow up to be outstanding adults. You hope they’ll never experience heartache or, when they inevitably do, they’ll recover. You hope they’ll find love, with the right person, and you hope they’ll find happiness and that they’ll create a life they’re happy to hang their pride on at the end of every day for themselves.
My aunt and uncle just want what’s best for you and they think that a man who puts God first is the right man for you. They strongly dislike Levi and it’s not something that will change overnight, just give them time. Have you asked Levi how the feud with your parents has affected him?” She asked.
I shrugged. “You think I should?”
“I think every relationship I’ve ever had where we didn’t talk about everything has been a huge failure.”
I arched my brows in amusement. “If Sandiso had told me earlier that he thinks he is mentally ill, that line of communication might have saved our relationship.” I said sarcastically.
Sbahle’s laugh ended in a snort. “I actually think Sandiso belongs in a mental institution. He must just stay there forever.”
“Believe me, I silently thank God every day that I don’t have to look over my shoulder to see if he is lurking in the shadows somewhere. Especially when Levi and I are out and about. I wouldn’t want Levi to suffer the same fate Lerumo suffered.”
Sbahle took a sip of her hot beverage and asked, “have you seen Lerumo or spoken to him since you left the bank?”
I shook my head. “No. I didn’t even open the file he gave me as a parting gift, I just gave it to Levi. There was information in there about Levi but I want to know everything about Levi from him so I didn’t read whatever Lerumo had in there about Levi.”
Sbahle: I still think you dodged a bullet there, that man is bad news. And Khumo?
“Karma dealt with that one. She found out that her beloved Zion was nothing but a floe and she went crawling back to Kagiso. He didn’t take her back… obviously. I know she didn’t know he was my ex when they hooked up but she should have called to set the record straight when she found out.”
Sbahle laughed, “she thinks men are like women. Men do not stand for half the bull we put up with as women.”
We stopped talking to eat the food that was getting cold. I thought about what Sbahle said, though. She was right. I’d listened to my parents ramble on about Levi and I needed to let him vent his frustrations. Levi needed to know that I wasn’t taking their side or giving more weight to their feelings. Above all else I wanted him to have an outlet so that resentment didn’t take root in his heart and eliminate any prospect of them ever having a normal functioning relationship. I planned on bringing it up over lunch. Before he even touched me, because once we got physical talking was always the last thing on my mind.
Lunch was nearly ready. I quartered a lemon and put the slices in a bowl so Thando could add some to the spicy seafood pasta the chef prepared. The dish was inspired by her love for seafood and I wanted to add it to the menu at the new restaurant I’d spent my entire paycheque from my modelling gig to open up.
I looked forward to knowing whether she would like freshly squeezed lemon juice on her seafood. The little things I’d discovered about Our Love while dating meant the most to me. She preferred bathing over taking a shower and she had a soft spot for coco pops. She donated ten percent of her salary to a safe house for abandoned children under six months every month as a form of tithe and she was obsessed with Brenda Ngxoli, she especially loved her depiction of a wayward drunkard in Rockville.
For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how her exes let her slip through their fingers. Dumb fucks. Sandiso was mental and Lerumo didn’t know what he wanted. I ran into Lerumo early one morning at a petrol station and he looked me over from head to toe, obviously assessing the guy Thando was seeing now.
His loss. Thando was my girl now. Being with her was hard for me at times because I didn’t want to fuck it up. I knew that she would make a fuss if she found out that I threw out a lame goodbye note from Lerumo that he left for her in the file he gave her as a parting gift out of fear that she would leave me and run back to him if she saw it. She’d chosen him over me before and I was certain that she would choose him if she had to pick one of us at that stage in our relationship.
I could still recall the words that he scribbled to Our Love. “I always imagined we would stay friends. That one day you’d text me as if nothing had happened and maybe we’d meet for coffee and talk like we always had, two people with the same values in life.
I finally understand why people say that you will never know the value of a river until it runs dry. I understood it when I went back to our messages and photographs that captured our moments together. As I sifted through them I realised that you genuinely love me and how you honestly saw a future for us, despite the circumstances. The words you wrote warmed my heart and made me believe that I was worth being loved. You did that. You made me believe I was worthy of being with someone that makes me happy, I cannot thank you enough for that.
Though you aren’t that person anymore and I have probably screwed up so bad that you will never consider giving us another shot I am finally letting go. I called off the wedding. I cannot marry someone out of a sense of obligation and I cannot stand before God and make vows to someone while you are at the back of my mind.
I hope that the new man in your life gives you the kind of love you deserve, the kind of love that I was unable to give you. I hope you live all those dreams you spoke so passionately of when our fingers danced together in each other’s palms in stolen touches.
Though this is goodbye, you will forever remain in my memory, not touched by time or reality. You will forever be the mind that built me and a voice that challenged me….”
The sound of keys on the front door rattled me out of my thoughts and I dried my hands off on the way to the living room. A smile lightened Thando’s face when she saw me.
“Hey,” she said softly.
“Hello.” I wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her against me, kissing her soft red lips until I’d forgotten about the object of my insecurities.
She wrapped her hands around my neck. “You smell like lemons and garlic.” She pulled back a little and met my gaze. “I want us to talk about the whole thing with my parents, while we are eating. I just want to make sure that you are okay before you see them at the party tomorrow.”
“What is there to say?” I tried to keep my tone light. “They hate me so there isn’t much to discuss.”
“I just want to hear how you feel.” Thando drew one of my hands to her lips and kissed my knuckles. “And I just want to have a nice light-hearted lunch.” I responded.
I led the way into my small kitchen and poured a glass of white wine despite her protests because she had to go back to work. For myself, I popped the top of a bottle of sparkling water. Once we were sitting at the table dishing up pasta, Thando asked me a very odd question.
“How many women have you slept with?”
I furrowed my brow. “Why do you ask?”
She took a sip of her wine before continuing, “Because I want us to talk about everything.”
I looked down at my plate as a few seconds of silence passed.
“You don’t want to talk about it?” Thando asked softly.
I glanced up to meet her eyes. “I don’t keep count, maybe fifty… I don’t know.”
She nodded slowly. “Do you still keep in touch with any woman you’ve slept with?”
“No,” I lied. I’d bedded almost all the women on my phonebook.
Silence took over again. Lying to her was so hard and I didn’t know why I felt compelled to lie about something that happened in the past.
She reached across the table and took my hand and told me that the pasta was the best she’d ever tasted. She’d had a lot of seafood pasta in the past so that meant a lot.
Our Love was still holding my hand as I took a fortifying breath and prepared myself to go inside the church where the party was being held. I’d met her parents before but I was nervous about seeing them in person again. She let go of my hand as we stepped into the modest church building.
The sweet heavy scent of roses was overwhelming I had to comment on it while wrinkling my nose and sniffing.
“My mom loves roses,” Thando said. “I just had to get as many as I could.”
“You paid for all of this?” I asked as I took in the elegant décor. The rectangular space was filled with round tables with giant trumpet vases layered with white flowers and greenery. Lanterns were strung from the starfish draping on the roof complete with a massive chandelier in the center. There had to be close to two hundred people there and everyone was dressed to the nines.
“Yes, it was my gift to them on their special day. I had to get café fleur to transform the space and make it look magical.” Thando smiled.
I was bewildered. “Sounds café expensive. Where did you get money to do all of this?”
“I cashed in my pension when I resigned.” She said as if cashing in savings for pension and wasting it on décor made any sense. I’d heard Sandiso say that Thando had the taste for champagne when she could only afford beer a couple of times and I finally understood why he said that so often.
“That’s the dumbest thing you’ve done in a while. At this rate you will be first in line at SASSA when you retire.” I said. She shot me a look. “You can give me all sorts of looks, at the end of the day that was a dumb financial decision. You must learn how to cut your coat according to your size before you find yourself drowning in debt.” I told her.
“Thandolwethu, my beloved child,” my father’s booming voice sounded. I was actually glad my dad spotted me when he did because Levi’s unsolicited financial advice was grinding on my nerves. With all the bodies around us I couldn’t see my dad at first and then he appeared with Solomon, the crowd parted to make way for them.
I unconsciously reached for Levi’s hand and squeezed it, hoping he wouldn’t be intimidated by Solomon’s wide chest, six foot four height and piercing gaze. Though my dad wrapped his arms around me in a hug, I knew it was Levi he was looking at.
“Looking beautiful as always,” Solomon said when my dad and I pulled apart and I shook his hand. I did not see the need to introduce Solomon to Levi.
“I think I know who you are,” Solomon said turning to Levi. “Your face is so familiar, but I can’t place you. Are you an actor or something?”
Levi: No.
“Don’t tell me,” Solomon said, studying him. “I know it will come to me. Just give me a minute.”
I looked up to see my mom approaching, she was almost running in the heels Levi bought me on our first date. I hoped Levi wouldn’t recognise them and call me out for giving them to my mom.
“Thandolwethu, you look beautiful!” My mom sounded relieved that I chose to come in a dress. I wouldn’t have worn pants to an event that was taking place at church. She squeezed me close and then stood back to look me over. “There is a glow about you dear. You look lovely.”
“Love is treating me well,” I squeaked and earned and side eye from my father.
“Good evening sir… ma’am.” Levi shook my parent’s hands and handed them two envelopes. “A gift card and a booking for an all day spa if you ever want to take a break and spend some time together, just the two of you.” Levi explained.
“Thank you, Luvuyo. May God richly bless you,” my mom smirked.
“Luvuyo Nobanda!” Solomon declared. “The soccer player?”
“That’s me,” Levi groaned.
Solomon’s bushy brows lowered and he looked directly at Levi. “I remember meeting you when you came to rehab with your friend. Good to see you clean and sober, makabongwe umvelinqangi ukuthi ukwazile ukuguqula impilo yako. [We thank God for turning your life around.]”
“Solomon!” I cut in.
Levi: That was years ago.
My father’s gaze was on me now, the wheels in his mind turning. “Luvuyo was on drugs?”
“Yes, he was in a very bad state when his mother brought him in. I was still a young man who was there to minister to the lost souls so I don’t know the whole story. All I know is that he ran away from home, his mother found him when his friend called her, thinking he’d overdosed. Both friends were admitted but being rich kids they bribed people who smuggled drugs in the rehab centre. I moved to Venda for a while and they were gone by the time I came back so I don’t know what happened to them. But he looks clean now,” Solomon was all too glad to share.
The look on my father’s face was one of displeasure, and I knew he had made his final judgment on Levi. And I’d had it with Levi’s half-truths but I had to stand there and pretend that I knew when Levi had lied and said it was a once off drug bust that landed him and Kagiso in rehab.
Bluntly, my father said, “Is this just another act of defiance Thandolwethu? Surely you don’t have serious intentions with a drug addict?”
Knowing she needed to reign her husband in before he made a scene, Mom placed her hand on my dad’s arm. “I don’t think this is the time or place to have this discussion. Luvuyo, we are so glad you could make it. Please forgive my husband – he doesn’t really like things being sprung up on him. Thando, get Levi some scones your grandmother baked and something to drink.”
I could tell my dad wanted to make a smart comment, but he felt the pressure of my mother’s hand on his arm and he said nothing. His glance at Levi spoke volumes though.
The seething anger I felt at that moment was so overwhelming and I had to swallow the lump in my throat.
“When will praise and worship start?” Solomon asked, looking at the empty stage and changing the subject. “My spirit is filled with so much praise today and I cannot wait to hear Thandolwethu’s soulful voice. I love leading praise kodwa kungacula uthandolwethu kuvuleka amazulu. [When she sings heaven opens.]”
“Any moment now,” my mom said, frowning in confusion. “I didn’t know you could sing?”
“He is a very powerful worshiper,” my dad interjected. “When he opens his mouth I can feel the spirit descending in the room. It’s one thing to say when two or three are gathered in his name God is there in their midst and it’s another to feel his presence.”
“I see some friends I want to introduce Levi to,” I said turning to Levi who looked like a little boy who was caught with his hand in a cookie jar. “Excuse us.”
“It was a pleasure seeing both of you again, Mr. and Mrs. Khoza,” Levi said. “Congratulations on your anniversary.”
My father grunted, still giving Levi the evil eye.
“Thando I know what you are thinking,” Levi started as if he had the power to read minds as we walked off and he followed closely behind me. “I down played it because I didn’t want you to think that I was some druggie.”
“What else have you lied about Levi?” I spat. “Why must the truth be dragged out of you?”
“I do not think you would be able to handle some truths about my past.”
I paused and put on a smile as people walked past the corner we found ourselves in. “So you lied about other things?” I whisper yelled.
“No… I mean yes. Just once.”
I folded my arms and waited for him to tell me what he lied about. He leaned in and I took a step back. “You know you are not allowed to touch me here. Just keep your distance.”
“Pearl and I had sex once. We were drunk and I-”
I cut him off with the wave of a hand. “If you lied about this how am I supposed to believe anything you say?”
I stood against a wall in a dark corner. He stood next to me and let out a deep exhale. “Can I please explain?” he asked, his nerves clearly on edge.
“Don’t.” I said, tears clouding my vision.
“I only lied to protect you. How was I supposed to tell you that I’ve had sex with my closest female friend and still get you to understand that it was something that would never happen again? You have to deal with my erectile dysfunction so how was I supposed to add to that by telling you that I might have an issue with drugs? You have to understand that I lied because I was trying to protect you.”
The true nature of Pearl and Levi’s relationship and his relationship with drugs hit me like a bucket of ice cold water that’s dumped over your head when you’re still all warm and fuzzy from the comforting heat of your favourite blanket, still wrapped around you as sunlight filters in your room.
There I was, in all my glory, emotionally naked before him. I was still glowing from his whispered words that I’d absorbed in my heart. His promises were still lingering when suddenly truth came in, without so much as a soft footstep or an uttered hello, pulled the blanket off me, knocked the wind off my chest, slapped me out of my daydream, shoved the reality down my throat, and then left me choking as I stormed off.
When I weaved through the crowd to make my way out of the church I was stopped by family members, church members and ‘friends’. There were a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a while and every single one of them wanted to know what happened to me and Sandiso before turning their attention to Levi who couldn’t hear a word they said in Zulu. I even ran into Thuthuka, my brother that everyone knew as my cousin.
My mother grabbed me to show me off to her friends, leaving Levi to find something to do with himself. Despite the fact that I was boiling inside I was pretty sure I managed to cover it up with a smile to make sure I looked happy to anyone who glanced my way.
In his welcome speech my father mentioned that my sister and I were the best part of their marriage and asked me to bless them by leading praise and worship seeing as my sister had prepared the word. I couldn’t refuse on their special day so I took center stage and I was highly annoyed when Solomon joined me after the first song and I was forced to sing with him.
Under different circumstances I would have cared about Levi’s broken expression and his eyes pleading with me from a distance. I was near tears by the end of the first worship song and everyone assumed that I was in the spirit when I was buckling under the weight of Levi’s lies. I fell in love like a fool. Like the effervescent fool, naïve fool that I was I believed every word that Levi said, words that turned out to be a lie. I couldn’t help but wonder what else he’d lied about. Everything I held dear and true was tainted by lies.
This was a path I’d once travelled. A path where I once found myself finding out the truth but I still held on and spent years trying to salvage the scraps, because facing the truth and letting go is so ugly, so utterly soul-destroying, that you’d rather walk with your eyes closed and your hand still locked in his instead of just letting go and facing the reality as you walk unsteadily on your own.
I was near tears when my sister took the mic to deliver the message. The restless feeling and unease I’d had all evening had grown into a sense of foreboding. Mercifully, my duties were done and I could walk off the spotlight and take a moment to unravel.
As I was about to walk off the stage Prophet Melton stopped me and grabbed the mic from my sister. “Many are called but few are chosen,” he started and the crowd rallied. He was well known for his gift of foresight.
“Thandolwethu you have been chosen. There is a great calling on your life and God is going to use you as an instrument to depopulate hell and populate heaven. Many souls will be saved from eternal condemnation if you heed the call on your life.
There is gut wrenching pain inside of you which has caused you to turn your face away from the creator of all living things. You blame him for the unspeakable pain you have suffered and in as much as you still believe, the hurt that you carry in your soul has caused a barrier. God is knocking on your heart, let him in.
Ngibone um’bonakaliso [I saw a vision] as you were ministering to us through song. When you were ushering us through worship with evangelist Solomon I saw many being healed from diseases, people stood up from wheelchairs and the blind regained their sight.” The church erupted and chanted amen as they clapped and received the word as though the man above was using Melton as a mouth piece.
I blinked at his words and tears escaped my eyes. My sister gave me a pained look, walked over to me and wiped them away with her thumb. “Don’t cry, rejoice for you are one of the chosen few.” Futhi whispered. Prophet Melton gave her the microphone and led me off stage.
“I did not want to say this in front of the whole congregation but I sense so much decay in your life which was caused by you choosing to live a life drenched in sin. I hear the screams of a baby, I don’t know why.” Once the first tear broke free, the rest followed in an unbroken stream as he spoke of secrets he couldn’t have known.
“Thandolwethu, in as much as I saw the vision of you and Solomon ministering together as husband and wife I do not believe that you are ready to be in a relationship with anyone. I do not know everything you are going through but I am being led to tell you that you still need to learn that you are whole and sufficient, on your own.
You are a beautiful, lovable and you have lots to offer the world, that doesn’t need to be vindicated by a man in your life. You are a child of God and that makes you complete, not a boyfriend. Give yourself time to heal without jumping from one relationship to another. Just be alone for some time. Heal so that you don’t carry the load of past hurt into something new. All things will work together for good in the end.” He said and I turned to leave.
I walked out of the church with Levi following close on my heel. I did not stop moving until we were both seated in the backseat of his hired car and he threw his hands around me.
“Your parents must have told that man to say those things to get you to give into this bullshit about you having to marry Solomon. Surely you don’t buy that garbage. You don’t want to be in ministry.” Levi reminded me.
“It’s not garbage… Levi, I need to be alone for a while. Everything is just too confusing.” I sobbed.
“No. I will not allow you to leave me. You cannot leave what we have.” Levi’s voice cracked and a single tear came streaming down his cheek which paved the way for others. It seemed to me that I could feel his heart breaking as he clung to me. His tears stained the crook of my dress and my heart bled.
“You need to let me go Levi,” I said, freeing myself from his grip.
I got out of the car and walked away. I told Levi I would love him forever and I did not, I created an expectation of a life together, marriage, a picket fence with lots of kids and I was now abandoning that vision. All along I’d been praying that he would keep his promises… that he wouldn’t pull me under when it should have been me he was worried about. It was my promises that turned out to be half-truths and whole lies.

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