Unscripted love Chapter 65 - Mzansi Stories

Monday, June 27


Unscripted love Chapter 65


The Show Must Go On
An entire week had passed since my mother told the family that she wanted a divorce yet it still hadn’t sunk in. The heaviness was in my limbs as much as my mind. Memories of my family that I used to find cherish now only caused a deepening of the pain. We were far from perfect and my parents had an arcade way of thinking but we were solid.
Through the years I’d heard my friends talk about their parents getting divorced and it was just something that I never thought would happen to us. After all, everyone preached that a marriage that had a solid Christian foundation and God at the centre was unbreakable. My parents made me believe in the Cinderella kind of love where the there was only one woman in the entire words that was the perfect fit.
They never fought in front of me or my sister, I’d never heard them screaming at each other and they treated each other with the outmost respect. Now, my mother had gone off the rails and she wasn’t willing to give an audience to anyone that encouraged her to look beyond my father’s cheating and find it in her heart to forgive. She didn’t even listen to her own regurgitated words she’d recited to me when I was in the same position with Sandiso. I believed that twenty-four years of marriage was worth fighting for and I was the leader of the Forgive and Forget squad.

I only managed to churn out one more email before my head fell on my desk and grief washed over me. It was more than crying, it was the kind of desolate sobbing that comes from a person drained of all hope. It felt like someone died and I was mourning their death. The pain that flowed from me was as palpable was the frigid fall wind. Soon I was sobbing into a receiver, listening to my husband trying to save me from downing in despair.
“You should take some time off work my love. You need time to unravel before you pick up the pieces and try to move forward. You can’t do that if you have to act like you are okay when you aren’t.”
“I – I don’t have leave. I c-can’t take leave, life doesn’t stop just because my entire world is crumbling. The show must go on and I must play my part. ” I sobbed.
“You can get a sick note, babe. I really have to go, I will call you as soon as I am done. I love you.”
I let out a deep sigh. “I love you too.”
“Tell your mom that you are sleeping over at my place today. I’ll plan a nice relaxed evening where we can just sit and talk.”
“I’ll pick you up from work. Bye.” He ended the call.
As much as I wanted to lock myself in my office all day and drown in my tears, I had to attend the black associates forum. I scrambled to the bathroom to wash my face and dollop make up on my face but there was only so much makeup could do. I couldn’t mask bloodshot red eyes so I took a packet of Kleenex pocket tissue and pretended that I had flu.
As expected, there were quite a few associates and senior associates laughing and chatting around the client pause area while the cleaning staff cleared out the meeting room. I gave a couple of weak waves and nods as I made a beeline for the cappuccino machine. Mine never quite tastes as good as Levi’s cappuccino.
As I was pouring myself a cup I could hear the three individuals standing close to me talking about scarves they’d ordered online.
“It’s always so damn cold in this place,” one of the girls grumbled. “I’m going to start wearing a jacket and a scarf all the time.”
“Tell me about it Nomthi, the air conditioner is always on. We should actually tell them that black people and white people don’t really like the same temperature so it is unfair to subject us to the air conditioner all year around.” Another one of the girls joked and they tittered.
“We laugh, but it’s the subtle things that build up to the bigger issues. We always have to do things that suit them, when are they going to compromise and accommodate us?” The guy questioned.
“Thato you missed your calling, you should have been one of the ANC comrades.” The girl who’d been called Nomthi told him.
“Don’t say that out loud Kenya, people around here don’t like comrades.” I was confused, was this girl’s name Kenya or Nomthi? The confusion served me right for eaves dropping on their conversation.
“You just reminded me of another point that I want to make. Directors of a lighter pigmentation have a tendency to remember all the names of the people with a lighter pigmentation but they don’t memorise the names of all the disabled people.”

Thatho’s brow furrowed. “Disabled?”
“You know,” Nomthi slash Kenya rubbed her skin as an indication that she was referring to black people. This resulted in another round of giggles from the thrio.
I was startled by a sudden scream so loud I dropped my cappuccino and it spilled all over my knitted V-neck sweater.
“Dammit,” I shrilled, pulling the hot, wet sweater and the layers underneath away from my skin.
“Scarlet, what the hell man!” Thando screeched.
“A mouse! A giant one!” she said frantically, jumping on top of the coffee table. “I hate mice.”
She was near tears, and Nomthi slash Kenya and I moved to stand behind the coffee table and looked at Thato expectedly.
“If there was a mouse, it’s probably gone,” Thato told us. “You scared the hell out of it, Scar.”
“It’s under there!” She pointed at the drink station. “I saw it running under there!” She turned to look at me. “I am so sorry about your jersey, Thandi?”
“Thando.” I corrected her.
“Scarlet, Nomthi and Thato.” She gestured to the two she was talking to and they in turn held out their hands to shake mine. This law firm was crawling with people that looked like they’d just walked off photo schoots.
“What’s going on? I heard someone screaming all the way down the passage.” Sarah stuck her head through the open doorway, looking at Scarlet who was still standing on the coffee table with a bewildered expression.
“Scarlet! Get off the table, this isn’t some night club.” Sarah hooted.
“I am not getting off this table until someone gets rid of that rodent.” Scarlet said.
Sarah: There’s a mouse in the client waiting area?
“A mutant mouse!” Nomthi screeched and climbed on the table, her eyes wide in terror. “I just saw it, that thing is the size of a kitten. It’s under there,” she said, pointing at the drinks station.
Thato took two steps back. “Probably a rat. I am not going anywhere near that thing. I am not about the trapping rats life.”
Sarah called the security guards who came bolting into the open area with brooms in their hands. “We’ll get rid of it,” they said, looking at the damsels in distress on the table. “You take the other end and I’ll take the other. We’ll chase it out and catch it.”
“With your hands?” I looked at them, horrified. “It might bite you or something.” I spoke up.
One of the cleaning ladies gave them a black plastic bag. “You can trap it in this.”
A security guard took the plastic and walked to one end of the drink station.
“Be careful.” Monthi said. “That thing might gnaw your face.”
“We’ve got it, don’t worry my sister.”
All of us were staring openly, including Thatho who looked like he was about to crawl into his skin. When they stuck their brooms under the drink station I swallowed hard and forced my eyes away. They turned back to the scene involuntarily when I heard squeaking sounds. A blur of grey emerged out one end which made all the girls in the vicinity scream. I jumped on the chair when the guards jumped on it. They covered the rat – which was enormous – with the plastic bag. One enclosed it and picked it up.
The bundle in his the plastic was squirming and squealing, and I looked over at Thato. He was pale and on the verge of passing out.
“Get it out of here.” Sarah instructed.
“Call the SPCA or something.” Thato directed.
“We’ll take it to the alley.” The guards said and walked out the doorway. A collective sigh of relief resounded around the room.
“Thando please call the exterminator. We need to have this place treated. We simply cannot have clients being attacked by rats.” Sarah said.
Thato walked over to me and offered me a hand. I took it and he helped me down the chair.
“Sorry you had to go through that,” he said as if he didn’t look like he was scared shitless.
I waved a hand dismissively. “It’s nothing.”
“Are you okay though? Your eyes,” he pointed out.
I nodded and waved the packet of tissues, “flu.”
He didn’t look convinced but I hurried off to the meeting room.
I assumed the black associates forum would be a place where all the ‘brown’ people would air their grievances. That parts of the conversation I’d overheard outside would be debated at the forum but Thato and Scarlet were mum.
Those that were brave enough to speak up focused on softer issues like not getting enough work to meet target without clearly stating that they were overlooked because they were people of the soil. I could read between the lines and caught the gist of what they were saying. Sarah’s off the cuff responses indicated that she didn’t. As far as Sarah was concerned anyone who didn’t meet target was lazy. However, from what they were saying it was clear that most were simply not getting enough work to meet target and they felt that they were there to tick the BEE box.
After tiptoeing around the real issues for an hour the meeting was adjourned and I had to draft the minutes that would be discussed at the Partner’s meeting the following week.
“I have a clean t-shirt in my gym bag if you’d like to change into something.” Thato said as I walked out of the meeting room.
I looked down at my brown-stained chest. “I’ll be office bound for the rest of the day so its fine.”
“I’ll bring it up.” He disregarded my response.
Scarlet and Nomthi fell into step beside us. “I am so sorry for your jersey. Please come to lunch with us so I can make it up to you. We have an hour so we could grab another jersey then grab a bite.” Scarlet offered.
It was a tempting offer but I had to pay for my mother’s belongings to be moved to storage and save up for a divorce lawyer. “I’m going to be in my office for the rest of the day so it’s okay and I brought lunch.” I gave her the same response I’d given Thato.
“Do you normally eat lunch alone in your office?” Thato glanced over and grinned.
“Yeah.” Saying it out loud made it seem so sad, like I was one of the outcasts in high school but I enjoyed my solitude.
“We won’t take no for an answer then. Nobody can say no to lunch and shopping.” Nomthi said, looking up from her phone.
I didn’t want to say no but my wallet didn’t agree. “Its fine, really. Maybe next time?”
Their secret glances they threw at each other made me feel like I was an antisocial killjoy that deserved to eat lunch alone in her office.
With that thought I trotted up to my office and buried myself in work. My head flung up when Thato stepped into my office carrying a take away box.
“Scarlet asked me to give you this. She had to run into a meeting.” He said, waving the paper bag. “She was feels terrible so this is her peace offering.”
Me: I don’t blame her, that rat was huge. It had you crawling into a corner.
He laughed. “I did no such thing.”
“Of course not.” I said sarcastically. “I will call her and thank her for the food.” I said when he placed it on my desk. The pink blanket in his hand caught my attention. “And the blanket?”
Thato: I figured you’d be cold while the wet stain dried up so I stole this from Nomthi. Maybe you could wrap it around you while you dry your clothes under the hand dryer.
Thato’s concern and chivalry warmed me but I was doing just fine without the blanket.
“That’s sweet but I’m okay.”
“Alright. If you ever want to grab a bite outside your office you will find us in the Finance and Tax department.”
Me: I thought that department only had two associates?
Thato: Scarlet and I are Partners, Nomthi is a Senior Associate.
“You are a Partner?” I gasped.
“Yes, not all of us are big bad wolves. Some of us are actually nice.” He laughed.
I didn’t even think before answering, “So why didn’t you say anything at the forum? Why didn’t you speak up if you know the struggles faced by your fellow black people in this place?”
“They can speak for themselves.” He said defensively.
“You let Sarah speak and they shrived out of fear. You are on her level so you could have said something.” I lamented.
Thato: I am not a freedom fighter and I am not trying to be the next Mandela so I am not going to be embroiled in unnecessary politics.
“Black associates and senior associates are not getting promoted, they aren’t getting experience because they are not getting work and you are calling it unnecessary politics. Wow, okay.”
Thato didn’t respond. He looked me over. I saw distain in his expression. “You do know that all the Partners collectively are you employer, right? Which kind of makes me your boss.” I rolled my eyes at him pulling rank. “Join Nomthi in the struggle for equality, see where that gets you. Just keep in mind that she is married to a client while you are easily disposable like the rest of us. I know which side my bread is buttered so I will let sleeping dogs sleep peacefully.”
I looked up at him and crossed my arms over my coffee-soaked chest, hoping nothing beneath my sweater was showing. “Maybe I will join her.”
If we were still living in the olden days Thato would be one of those sell-outs that would be necklaced.
“Now I know why you eat alone in your office. You have a stinking attitude. That’s the problem with all of you pretty girls, you walk around with your heads stuck up your asses.” He sneered and walked out of my office.
I shoved him at the back of my mind and called an exterminator.
Happy is what I felt every time I saw Levi, when I knew for sure that I would be with him for the entire evening and I would wake up next to him the next morning. It’s not that it was always fireworks and chatter or that we always got along. Just being near him lit me up inside, gave me a serenity I didn’t feel without him being close. It's like the breaths I took weren't full when he was away, like the smiles I smiled were incomplete somehow. Just lying next to him was my favourite place in the world. It's him that created the warmth in my soul, him that filled me full of love and kept the fire burning in my eyes, him that was a silent reminder that I was going to survive my parents’ divorce.
"I'm surprised you are eating a burger," I said as I sat across Levi at one of his favourite restaurants. I intertwined my feet with his beneath the table and added, "And beer."
"Why would that surprise you?"
"I don't know. You are always counting calories. You eat beetroot chips and rabbit food all the time. I am taken aback when you do 'ordinary guy' stuff."
Levi laughed, "So I am not an 'ordinary guy' then?"
"Uh, no." I raised my eyebrows and looked over my glasses at him, "Not even close. You are above average."
"Then it might not surprise you to know that I officially signed a three year contract with Arsenal today. The press conference is tomorrow, babe. My entire life will change in a few hours."
"Wha-a-at?" I drew out the word as butterflies the size of bats erupted in my stomach. “Oh my God! I am so happy for you. Have you told your mom? Dad?”
He shook his head. “I wanted you to be the first to know and it’s sort of like a five month anniversary gift.”
“Is that today?” I laughed. “When you get married you have to start from the beginning.” I stated.
“Is that your excuse for forgetting?” he joked.
“I feel so bad. I was supposed to plan something big for your milestone. Tomorrow you will officially be in your longest relationship.” I grabbed Levi’s hand and leaned in for a peck. “I am so sorry babe, I will make it up to you.” I said as I wiped lipstick off his plump lips.
“That should be easy. Be naked in my bed tonight and all will be forgiven.”
We chuckled a little too loud in the rather quiet, lavish restaurant where all the patriots spoke in whispers.
“Deal.” Levi smiled, causing my breath to catch.
“Oh my God, you are going to be playing for Arsenal. We are moving to London.” I suddenly shrieked. The enormity of that statement started to sink in. It was happening and I was happy for him but I was freaking out.
Levi: Sundowns wants me to play until the end of the season though, so I have a month then we will pack our bags and relocate. Which works out perfectly because you have to give 30 day notice.
“30 days from the beginning of a calendar month so I can only resign at the beginning of September.” I informed him.
Levi: That’s not so bad. I guess it gives me time to look for a place and set up before you move.
I nodded in agreement, “As long as you send me the pictures before you choose a place. I’ve seen a lot of houses in London featured on Come Dine With Me and Don’t Tell The Bride. I really don’t like most of them. The architecture is so outdated.”
Levi laughed, “I think we can afford a nice house with the money I will make from my endorsement deal with Nike.”
“Nike?” I squealed.
“Yep, I signed this afternoon. That’s why I couldn’t talk earlier.”
“So we don’t have to cut down costs and tighten our belts?” I joked.
“No, which is a good thing because I sucked at it.”
Me: Yes, you really suck at it. You went over budget on everything and I still don’t understand why you spend six thousand Rand on groceries.
Levi: You can’t blame me though, I grew up rich. I got more than what you earn as spending money when I was in varsity.
My eyes widened. “Seriously? But we can’t do that with our child. A child needs to know the value of money.” I started off but ventured off, “Oh wow, now I really feel like I earn peanuts.”
“You do.” He said and I swatted his arm.
Me: A person can actually survive on my salary, its just that my pay is split fifteen ways. My mother and I went to see a divorce attorney and that will cost an arm and a leg.
Levi: You are right, giving a child too much money is tantamount to giving them enough rope to hang themselves. That’s how Kagiso and I got into drugs. I still can’t believe we shot up lines at some point, we crammed a lot into five months.
Me: We sure did. I hope the best days of our past are the worst of our future.
“They will be….. its just a pity that talks about lobola have come to a screeching halt.”
I bit my lip and looked around and thought for a minute. “Grandpa is right, it doesn’t seem appropriate to start negotiations when my family is falling apart.”
Levi: He is right. We will do it at the right time. Have you called Futhi today?
“I did. Poor girl has to write tests while all this nonsense is happening.” I sighed.
Levi: She’s a fighter like her big sister so she will be fine.
Me: To think that she is going to Wits next year. I just hope she gets space at res.
“I don’t think she should stay alone for now. We are leaving and we’ll be leaving a big empty house behind so I was thinking…. your mom should just move there with Futhi. Your mom won’t struggle to find a job as a nurse in Jo’burg.”
“Do you think my parents will get back together?” I asked him a question that he couldn’t answer. Saying my mother was moving to Jo’burg permanently made it feel so official.
“I don’t know baby.”
“Thanks for the offer, it really means a lot to me.”
“Its nothing, really. I just want to see a smile on that face. Let’s get out of here, I have another surprise for you.”
"A surprise, check, please!" I joked since the check had just arrived.
When he told me he had a surprise for me I expected a gift. I didn’t expect a late evening ride in a helicopter with him as the pilot which made me as happy as a hippo in mud. I didn’t even know that Levi had a helicopter private pilots licence. His dad loved flying helicopters so he took it up as a hobby when he was eighteen as it made him feel closer to his father.
When we approached an open field I saw lights flickering on the ground in the distance. I half expected him to have a do over of the proposal by hovering over the words ‘Will you marry me?’ but he asked me to move in with him instead. Though choking from tears of joy, I managed to pipe out a yes.
“Everyone will go on about how their significant other proposed but you will gush over a story about how you were asked to move in,” he clowned when he landed safely.
If this was the ‘honeymoon’ stage of our relationship I never wanted to get down from that high. It seemed like the two of us were unstoppable, and that we could take on the world and anything life threw at us. And there was no better feeling in the world than knowing I had someone there to stand beside me. A person whose actions urged me to reached deeper and love harder. We went to bed that night with gigantic smiles on our faces like jokers. Life as we knew it was about to change….. for the better.
I let a swig of the burning liquid run down my already sore throat while I checked my phone. Nothing. But what could I have expected? I’d driven my wife away with my stupidity, so why on earth was I expecting her to contact me?
It probably had something to do with the glass with brown liquid that sat in my hand. The sixth one that night.
My heart clenched painfully at the thought of never seeing her again. Why was I drinking myself into a stupor? I had been the one who was unfaithful, the one who was to blame for everything. I didn’t deserve to be upset after what I’d done. I didn’t deserve to try and drown the memories.
But I was miserable.
Her absence hit me harder than I ever thought it could. I missed her innocent smiles, the brightness in her eyes that always seemed to amplify when she saw me. I missed being made to feel like I walked on water and waking up next to her warmth every morning. I missed the alluring sound of her sweet voice. I missed listening to her praying for me and our children.
She was everything to me, and I’d lost her. All for a worthless, fleeting relationship that now meant nothing to me. Then why didn’t I stop it? Why didn’t I walk away?
I closed my eyes, feeling the despair sweep over my body. I’d wanted to end my relationship with Forgiveness so badly…. Yet I couldn’t it in myself to do so. Infidelity was like an addiction. It was dangerous, yet seductive. It called out to me; made me always want to do the wrong thing.
I winced, remembering the hatred that had shown in Maria’s eyes when I tried to coax her into staying with me. She’d been furious, swearing and screaming in front of the children, Levi and my parents. Besides distain, fury and hatred there was something else there as well, something I hadn’t recognised until it was too late. Doubt.
She doubted herself and she doubted our entire relationship and that was all my fault. I’d cheated on her; of course she would think that Forgiveness was in some way better than her, when in fact she was better in every way.
I needed her back. Whatever it took, I would get her back. And with that thought in mind, I picked up the phone and dialled a very familiar number.
“We’re done.” I spat, feeling my heart swell with warmth at finally refusing her. I didn’t need both of them, I needed Maria.
“Baby?” Forgiveness cooed in a sticky sweet voice, making me cringe. “Are you drunk?”
“No.” I wasn’t, I still felt the pain so I wasn’t.
“I’m coming over.” She stated.
“No, don’t come over. I said it’s over.” I said through gritted teeth.
She sighed dramatically. “Darling you don’t know what you are saying.”
“Yes I do.” I insisted. “I am not ruining my marriage for you anymore. We. Are. Over.”
“Sure.” She yawned. “Come over to my place tomorrow if you don’t want me to tell your daughter that you paid Melton to give that ‘prophesy’ in a bid to get her to break up with her boyfriend. I’m pretty sure a lot of your church members would love to know that their tithes support a gambling addiction, not some made up rehab canter.
No, actually, I am sure South Africa would love to know that Luvuyo’s supposed fiancé is pregnant with his kid a few months after aborting her ex-boyfriends baby. Who made the decision to abort? Was it the sweet angel in the worshipping team or the blue eyed prince with the golden boots? I can just see the headlines. Better yet, that ex-boyfriend is in a mental institution and I am sure he would love to tell the tale of a person who was robbed of the chance of being a dad. We are not over, we are far from it. Goodnight munchkin, kiss Futhi for me.” She hung up.
My phone was sailing towards the wall before I realized it. I wondered why I’d been drawn towards that conniving woman in the first place.

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