Unscripted love Chapter 67 - Mzansi Stories

Wednesday, June 29


Unscripted love Chapter 67


My Invincible Pain
I walked like my limbs didn’t really belong to me and each step was a negotiation rather than an order. Everything hurt at that moment. Every damn thing. My mind couldn’t figure out who was evil enough to run to the press. Sandiso was my number one suspect but he didn’t know I was pregnant again… or did he? But how could he have known?
I winced to cross the floor, heading to the elevator that would lead me back to my office where I could hide and keep my own story as my own, not one that would be forcibly taken from me and tossed to the hyenas on social media to rip to shreds.
I could never erase the torture of either the rape or the abortion from my heart and mind. What Sandiso did to me caused me unspeakable pain. I couldn’t stand the thought of giving birth to a constant reminder of the day my dignity was forcibly taken from me.
Yet still, deep down I knew that abortion was wrong and detestable. My rape conceived child was doomed to pay the ultimate price for a crime he or she did not commit. I justified it in my head and I had my reasons that I felt were justified but there was no denying that a person died for the crime of a rapist. The innocent child paid a higher price than the perpetrator who was living it up in an upmarket mental institution.
I had to hold my head up high and live my life knowing that I made a choice that perpetuated my pain. I was violated in the same area as the rape again with steel instruments ripping my baby to pieces. Having an abortion was like being raped again, only worse - because this time I had consented to the assault. I sometimes regretted my decision but I reminded myself that even if the child lived they would live a defective life as a product of rape. Having my shame sprawled across magazines for everyone to read would be tantamount to a third rape. My pain, my shame and my disgrace was my own cross to bear, in private.
Time had passed, a lot had happened and my life was back to normal. Only it wasn’t so normal anymore. I’d learnt that rape and abortion weren’t those things that I could file under the ‘I’m over it’ folder, it was something I lived with every day. Each day got easier because I was surrounded by people that believed my version of events and gave me the time and space I needed to learn how to trust again.
I tormented myself enough. I did not want or need strangers that would ask if rapists aren’t even given the death penalty, why should unborn human babies be sentenced to death for the rapists’ crimes? I didn’t want anyone to ask why I ranked my pain and shame higher than an innocent life. I certainly didn’t want anyone asking if it was rape in the first place.
Most people have a certain impression of rape. They think that rape involves force, bruises, screaming, crying and someone you’ve never had sex with before. While that may be an aspect of rape, that’s not only what rape is. Rape is very simply, sex without consent. Whether it’s done when the victim is unconscious, intoxicated or even silent if there was no consent.
I came across the Stanford rape victim’s statement while scrolling through my timeline one evening. I tried to control my sobbing as I realized how her words impacted me. “My damage was internal, unseen, I carry it with me. You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today.”
Some said it wasn’t rape, others thought it was but most were indifferent and didn’t care enough to have an opinion. I was not a poster child for rape and I didn’t want my story popping up on a timeline – open for deliberation. I didn’t need others weighing in on my truth and giving me their views on how I should have done things differently when I had never truly acknowledged to myself that I had been pregnant with a baby and that I had chosen to end its life. It was so much easier to hide behind calling it Sandiso’s demon child and not acknowledge that part of it was my DNA. The gaping wound left by the abortion was left open and untreated, I was still yet to grieve the death of the child I sent to the tomb.
I sat behind my desk and wept silently. My eyes welled up with sadness my young years shouldn’t have possessed. They showed my soul. The silence of my cry was eerie, like I had been forced to learn how to do detonate silently. What would it take to mend a soul as damaged mine?
I didn’t even notice a person open my office door until I looked up and saw Thato in the doorway. When his eyes landed on me he closed the door and locked it before he rushed over and swallowed me in his arms. I pushed him off and warned him not to touch me but he grabbed my hands and forcibly held me until I stopped fighting against his embrace. With my hands clenched against my chest and his tightly around me while, I soaked his shoulder with my tears.
“What’s wrong?” he asked when he felt me tugging against his embrace. I wished it was a question with an easy answer.
“I-I can’t talk about it. I thought that stupid door was locked.” I muffled and finally managed to wiggle out of his grip.
“I’m glad it wasn’t but it is locked now so just let it all out of your system.”
Thato grabbed the pocket tissue on my desk and passed it to me. I thanked him and asked him to give me a moment to gather myself so that I could attend to his query that brought him to my office in the first place.
Thato: That can wait. What’s wrong?
Me: You weren’t supposed to see me like this. Don’t worry about it, I’ll figure it all out.
“Thando stop being stubborn and talk to me! Maybe I can help.” He said as he sat on the edge of my desk instead of walking around and sitting on the visitor’s chair.
“You can’t fix it Thato, everything is a mess and I am going to ruin my boyfriend’s life while I’m at it.” I groused.
Thato: How so?
I let out a defeated sigh. “Something happened and I did something about it and now that something happened again but this time it was under the right circumstances so I accepted it but now someone told someone else about the something that happened initially and the something that happened again and it’s a mess.”
His brow furrowed. “That’s very cryptic.” Thato stated. “Can we speak hypothetically?”
“It can’t be hypothetical when you already know it’s about me. Anyway, do you need me to help you with anything?” I asked, changing the subject.
Thato: I wanted to ask about the declaration form for the mining indaba next week but I can come back another time.
Me: No, its fine. I didn’t know you were coming along? I thought it was just the Partners in the mining department that were flying down to Cape Town with me.
Thato: Honestly…. they need black faces to dazzle officials from the Department of Mineral Resources that will be in attendance so I was roped in.
“So you allow yourself to be used as the black puppet?” I said without thinking.
He smiled and picked up a heavy silver paperweight at the edge of my desk, turning it around in his hand. “Unfortunately sometimes you need to conform in order to survive. I’m sorry about what I said about you eating alone in your office. That was really childish and petty.”
I wasn’t expecting an apology from him. “It’s okay, I think I was angry with someone and I took it out on you.”
Thato: Your partner?
“My dad.” Why did I tell him that?
“Oh. I am guessing that your dad is responsible for your tears and my niece ending up in the ‘hell no’ pile?” He asked teasingly, gesturing towards the three stacks of CVs on my desk.
I chuckled and blew my nose. “No. She misspelled a word in her cover letter.”
Saying that out loud made me realise that I was being harsh. It must have been an oversight but I was already in a terrible and unforgiving mood.
“She is not my niece by the way.” Thato said casually as he removed the sticky note and ran his eyes over the cover letter.
Me: Oh, so you are denying her now?
He giggled. “No. I wanted to say something that would lighten up the tense mood and hopefully make you feel comfortable enough to tell me what’s going on.”
Thato looked at me expectedly but I did not give him the answers he was looking for. Instead, I shrugged and looked at the tissue in my hands.
He turned his attention to the documents in his hand and hummed as he read through the letter then paged through her CV and academic transcript.
“Besides the spelling mistake, she isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed.” Thato admitted. “And she barely scraped though varsity with these shoddy marks. She definitely belongs in the ‘hell no’ pile…. It is hard to find the right candidates for us to interview?”
“That’s a tricky question. We get a lot of people that are perfect for the job on paper but they don’t meet the eyebrow raising selection criteria that some of your fellow Partners set out.” I admitted. There was no use lying to him seeing as he was one of them.
Thatho: Such as?
Me: The worst is Arthur in the Competition Law Department. He wants a girl who is either a size 28 or 32 and she needs to be tall and pretty. I have to stalk them on Facebook and Instagram and send him a picture of the girl. I told Jean about his odd request and she just looked at me like I was the one with a problem for having an issue with Arthur’s sexist selection criteria!
Thato laughed. “Arthur is a little crazy but he is one of the highest billing Partners so he can pretty much do whatever he wants around here. He only works with model type women so don’t bother reading through CVs from men if you want to fill a position in his team. Arthur strongly believes that his army of women help him retain his predominately male client base. Apparently he takes his clients to strip clubs, but you did not hear that from me. If you quote me, I will deny.”
My eyes widened. “Seriously? Someone told me that and I rubbished it.”
“So, a little birdy has been whispering in your ear. Have they said anything about me?” He asked as he tossed the CV and accompanying documents in my bin and picked up another one from the ‘Maybe’ pile.
Me: Why did you toss that in the bin?
Thato: Rubbish belongs in the bin. Back to my question.
I tittered. “I thought you said you were one of the nice ones. And no, I haven’t heard about all your acquisitions yet.”
He looked up momentarily. “My acquisitions? So you assume it’s more than one?”
Me: Let’s just say I have seen my fair share of guys that look like you playing girls like soccer balls.
Thato: Guys that look like me?
The guy had the kind of face and physique that stopped you dead in your tracks and compelled you to look twice.
“Yep, the pretty boys. The players.” I said to him, so direct it surprised him. So direct it surprised me.
There was softness in the eyes and gentleness in his smile as he looked over at me. He chuckled silently then adverted his gaze to the CV in his hands.
“I don’t have acquisitions. I’ve only ever asked Nomthi out on a date but she is married.” He began in a strained voice. “You might have been ‘an acquisition’ but you are engaged to a soccer player. It’s funny how you assume that I am a player yet you are with a soccer player.”
“He is different.” I said defensively.
Thato: Touché. You looked breath-taking at the Durban July by the way, saw your pictures online.
Me: I know.

We both threw our heads back laughing. “Confident. I like that in a woman. Congratulations on your engagement by the way, tell him that he must behave because the rest of us are waiting in line should he mess up.”
I smiled at the thought of Levi. “He won’t mess up. I won’t either. Levi just gets me and we fit together perfectly which is nice and refreshing because it doesn’t feel forced. We are not engaged by the way…. don’t believe everything you read in the papers.”
Thato: I know, we used to represent one of the major publications. You won’t believe how many times journalists ran with a story without taking the time to verify their facts. You’d swear the Press Code is there for decoration,” he told me as he tossed the CV on my desk. “This one isn’t bad but there isn’t much that stands out.”
Thato got up from my desk and walked over to my open cupboard.
“I got a call from a journalist earlier. She wants to get my comment on a story that she is writing on very personal details about my life. Do they have the right to write about me? Is there anything I can do legally to stop them?” I asked.
Thato grabbed his employee file and sighed. “You can file an urgent application to interdict them from running with the story, I suppose. Is the story true?”
Me: I didn’t really talk to her but from the little I heard, it sounds like she has some facts wrong. How much does this interdict thing cost?
“It wouldn’t cost you a thing because I could draft the papers for you if you ask nicely. But then again you’d need to have valid grounds. It’s hard to tell if it’s something that’s worth doing because I do not know the facts.” He told me. “If… hypothetically speaking, you were my client and I was your attorney and our conversation was covered under attorney client privilege would you tell me so that I can give you concrete advice on what you could do legally?”
“I don’t want to talk about it, really.” I’d worked so hard to get away from everything that was a constant reminder of the trauma and Sandiso, I wasn’t going to introduce him to this conversation.
He nodded understandingly and paged through his file. “Well, I’d say that you need to get ahead of the story. Talk to the journalist and set the record straight. If you get a sense that they don’t want to tell the story in a manner that suits you, go to another publication and get them to tell the story your way before the other one goes to print.”
I shrugged. “But I don’t want that.” I don’t want the whole nation knowing I had an abortion, I finished off my sentence internally.
Thato: Thando, I can’t advise further if all you are willing to tell me is that someone said someone and something whatever. If it’s true then there is very little you can do, unfortunately. All you can do is try to take charge of it but it’s gonna get out. It would have been a short story on page 5 somewhere but you are dating a guy that’s generating a lot of media attention at the moment so it’s probably going to end up on the front page if they can link this something that led to something to your boyfriend.
That’s the last thing I wanted to hear. I bit the inside of my cheek and changed the subject to the mining indaba to keep from crying again.
“Angazi nje mina ukuthi bayibizani lento oyenzayo. Angivumelani nokukipita! [I don’t agree with you moving in with Levi.]” My mother yapped and I could feel her eyes on me as I grabbed another box. I turned to her and smiled timidly.
“For what it’s worth, I agree with my aunt. It’s never a good idea to live with a man that you aren’t married to,” Sbahle chimed in when she was always Alunamda’s place – she may as well have been living there.
“Thanks for your advice. I’m still moving.” I stated emphatically.
“This goes against everything we have taught you. Just because your dad and I are separated doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.” Mom observed. “A little over a month ago you didn’t even want to be with Levi anymore!”
“Well that’s not exactly true.” I defended myself. “I wanted to work on my spirituality because a lot of people were telling me that God wants me to do this and that, I wanted to figure it out on my own.”
“Do you still talk to Solomon?” I rolled my eyes at my mother’s question.
Me: Yes, he calls ALL the time. Uyisicefe nje. [He is annoying]
“That’s interesting. Does he know that you are pregnant?” Mom probed.
“Yes, I don’t even know who told him. He was screaming and shouting like I cheated on him or something. I swear, that guy is delusional and it freaks me out.”
Mom huffed. “But I don’t get it…. who told him you were pregnant? As far as I am aware we’ve only told the family.”
“Who the fuck ran to the papers and told them that I’m pregnant!? That’s what I am trying to figure out.” I spat, not giving a damn about swearing in front of my mother.
“There’s a mole.” Sbahle stated the obvious. “Futhi is a snitch.”
“Futhi wouldn’t tell the papers.” Mom gasped. “Your father has proven to be a deceitful liar, maybe it’s him.”
“I hope you and Levi know what you are doing.” Sbahle quickly adverted another hissy fit about my father.
“We are both adults and we are happy about our decision, isn’t that enough?” I asked them.
“NO.” My mother boomed. “What you are doing is a sin and its immoral.”
“Dad whoring around is a sin. You calling and cursing out Forgiveness every chance you get is a sin. We are all sinners so let me sin in peace. This decision feels right to me, if it doesn’t work out then it won’t. I won’t die from it.” I said.
“Okay. As long as you guys are sure.” Sbahle concluded as she turned her attention back to packing my clothes in a suitcase. “I can’t afford this place on my own so I’ll be moving to a one bedroom flat at the end of the month.”
“You can move to Levi’s house, mom. He’ll be gone by the end of the month. He says you are more than welcome to stay there with Futhi.” I told her.
“No, you are not married. I am not going to live in your boyfriend’s house, are you even listening to yourself!?”
“So where are you gonna go?” I asked.
Mom: Can’t you get me a flat in Durban? My family is there, my friends.
“I won’t have a job and I don’t see Levi paying for it when he’s offered you accommodation. Maybe you should live with your family then…. and get a job.” I sighed.
Mom: Why do you say that like I’m a burden?
Me: I did not say that.
Mom: But you meant it.
“Oh my God, mom! Stop. Just stop twisting everything I say and turning it into something that it isn’t.” I huffed.
“I didn’t twist anything, you said it.” Mom pestered.
I ignored her, stormed off to the kitchen and packed in silence. As I was taping another box closed, my phone rang.
“Hey baby, have you moved in by any chance?”
“I wish, I am still packing. My mother is driving me nuts.” I complained.
Levi: What’s wrong?
Me: She is being moody, I’m hormonal. It’s just a bad combination.
“Sorry babe. I’ll be a pleasant housemate.”
“You nailed the press conference by the way, everyone is so proud of you.”
“The messages have been flooding in, it feels unreal and I owe it all to you.” He informed me.
“Me?” I questioned. “You are the one with the golden boots.”
“And you are the one that saved me from myself and made me believe in my capabilities. I love you so much, baby. Change into something nice, I want us to go to the celebration party they organised for me.”
I laughed. “Some of us have day jobs and we are pregnant. I can’t be jumping up and down at parties.” He could hear the amusement in my voice.
“Pretty please, we’ll get drunk on Fanta.” He begged.
I caved. “Where is this party?”
“At a club,” he said tentatively.
Me: Gosh, send me your location. I need to talk to you about something anyway.
Levi: I do not like the sound of that. What is it?
Me: We’ll chat when I get there.
Levi: No, I want to know now.
I signed dejectedly. “Grace from Drum magazine called. We didn’t really talk but it seems like she is working on a story about the abortion and my pregnancy. Sh-”
“W-WHAT?” Levi interjected. “Sandiso is so spiteful! Stupid cunt!”
Me: I thought it was him but he doesn’t know that I am pregnant.
“Fuck man! Who did you tell?” Levi demanded, making me flinch at his tone.
“I haven’t told anyone besides my family.” I mumbled.
Levi was silent for a moment before he blurted out Futhi’s name.
“Futhi?” I asked, noting that he was the second person to suspect her. “Why would my sister do this to me?”
Levi: I think she told a friend or something. That girl doesn’t know how to keep her mouth shut!
“Maybe it is her. Someone told Solomon that we are expecting….. maybe she told him and he did this to spite me.” It was mere speculation and it sounded farfetched even to my own ears but it’s the only thing that made sense.
Levi: I wouldn’t put it past that lunatic. Wait, does Futhi know about the abortion?
“She might have been listening in when I told my mom, she does that all the time. Let me call her, I’ll call you back.”
I punched in Futhi’s number and waited impatiently for her to pick up.
“WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR PROBLEM?” I roared, doing away with pleasantries or questions. “Solomon! Of all people.”
“Did he tell you?” She whimpered.
Me: I am going to give you once chance to explain yourself!
“Sister Thando?”
“Do not sister Thando me, explain!”
“I don’t know what he told you but we only had sex once, I swear. It was a mistake. I was a little drunk. I was emotional. It just happened. I wish I could take it back. I know I am the last person to ask but please do not tell mom and dad.”
The warmth from my body abandoned me as quickly as the words flew out of Futhi’s mouth. Even in the heated room I shivered. It occurred to me that it must have been a joke, perhaps I ought just to play along. Or maybe if I refused to believe it, the world would right itself. I waited for the part where Futhi would say that it wasn’t so but it never came. I swallowed hard and fought back the tears. I couldn’t cry because that that would mean that this was real.
“Sister Thando?” Futhi snivelled.
“How…. I mean where… What? Weren’t you waiting for marriage? Solomon!?” I tried but failed to think of the appropriate question.
“Please do not tell mom and dad. Please.”
I was startled by my mother walking into the kitchen, the lingerie that left nothing much to the imagination that Levi got me dinging in her hand.
“Manyala mani lawa? Yini yona le Thandolwethu? [What nonsense is this Thandolwethu?]”
I ended the call abruptly.
“Hello?” I cried. “Sister Thando?” I called for her and she did not answer.
I took off running to the bathroom at the back of the church. I locked myself in and sank to the floor. The desolation I felt was all consuming. My mind became an icy wasteland, the wind howled in my soul and wrapped icy tentacles around my heart so tightly it almost stopped beating.
How did I get to this point? I grew up in a Christian home, and for a plethora of reasons I had decided to wait until marriage to have sex. I was a girl who religiously checked under her bed for monsters. What I didn’t realize was that monsters appear in all shapes and sizes. Not realizing that the devil himself could appear to be so beautiful, I inadvertently let my guard down and let him invite me into his bed.
I blamed myself for putting myself in a position where Brother Solomon could hold my legs open to touch my holy places, and when he took off my clothes me after I told him to stop, but most of all, when he put himself in me after I told him I didn’t want to have sex.
Call it stupidity, or call it denial but I grabbed a shovel and dug deep inside my mental cavity until my hands were calloused and bleeding to try to bury that part of my memory. For me, this had to stay buried, I needed to make it seem like something that never happened.
At one point, I couldn’t handle what happened to me. I took a razor and cut, I watched the crimson bleed out of me as the water ran down the nape of my neck until I saw black. I couldn’t even go to the grocery store without feeling like a demon was pulling my lungs out of my body. There were days I found myself crying without a real reason and the pain still resonated within my soul.
Even though Brother Solomon may have been able to walk away unscathed, I didn’t. I was carrying that burden and those scars with me. Scars and a burden that wouldn’t be hidden much longer if my period continued to evade me.

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