Unscripted love Chapter 69 - Mzansi Stories

Monday, July 4

Wizzy

Unscripted love Chapter 69

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#69
Enemies of Progress
When I entered the restaurant which was just around the corner from the office, I saw Thato sitting at a table alone looking at his phone. He was completely unaware of the glances he was getting from the witresses behind the counter. He must have just arrived because they were obviously fighting over who would wait on his table.
I couldn’t help but watch the drama unfold. The two older ones gave up first so that it eventually came down to the two younger ones. There was a very hushed but heated conversation that a young red head won.
I watched the red head make her move as I walked over to the table and smiled at Thato. He glanced up from his phone. His gaze slowly travelled from the top of my head to the tips of my toes but there was nothing but recognition on his face. The waitress followed his gaze and frowned when she saw me standing behind her.
I gave a polite smile of my own by way of a greeting as I moved towards the booth.
“Thato.” I said as I took a seat.
“Thando.”
When the waitress offered me coffee I declined and informed her that I was there to get a takeaway.
Thato: Stay, it’s no fun eating lunch alone.
Me: Okay, I’ve been calling you all day. I need to talk to you about the urgent interdict thing you told me about.
“I’ve been in a meeting, just got out.” Thato lifted his gaze to the waitress. “Two cups of coffee, please.”
“I can’t have coffee…. I mean, water please.” Levi’s baby hated coffee, even the smell of it made me gag.
“I bet that happens to you all the time.” I nodded towards the waitress’ retreating back.
“What happens all the time?” he pocketed his phone.
“Waitresses fighting over you,” I picked up a menu, studying it.
Thato just shrugged. “I’m used to women throwing their panties at me.”
Attractive men that thought they were God’s gift to women turned me off. I pushed his statement aside and focused on what mattered now that I’d managed to get hold of him.
“You seem like you are in a better mood today. You look nice. I know you know that but it doesn’t hurt hearing it from someone else.” Thato smiled his most charming smile.
I gave a little cool smile. Glad that he had made a blanket statement with no real sincerity.
“You look nice yourself.” I nodded towards his suit and tie, returning the compliment.
“Oh this old thing, I just threw it on.” He thanked the waitress as she delivered our drinks. “So, why were you looking for me?”
I took a sip of water before going straight to the point. “I got a call from a journalist. She wants to get my comment on a story she is working on for a magazine.”
Thato took a sip of his coffee waiting for me to continue and I could tell I had his attention. “This conversation is one between an attorney and his client, right? So you can’t discuss it with anyone.”
Thato: Yes. Proceed.
I was trying not to wince at his intense stare and his sudden need to pull out a note pad and a Mont Blanc pen which made the exchange feel impersonal. He scribbled my name and the date on the top right hand corner of the blank page.
“My ex-boyfriend raped me, I fell pregnant and I had an abortion. I reported the rape, he went on trial and the judge found that he was mentally impaired when the crime was committed so he was sent to a mental institution. Fast forward to a couple of months later Levi and I are expecting a baby.” I stated. “I was on the pill… took antibiotics which cancelled out the pill and it happened.” I felt the need to explain.
Thato looked out of the window and considered it. “Do you know who leaked the story?”
Me: Not with absolute certainty. The only people that know about the abortion and subsequent pregnancy are my mom, my boyfriend’s mom, my cousin, my boyfriend and you obviously.
Thato: Your dad?
I shook my head. “I asked my mom not to tell him. He would never forgive me for such a thing.”
Thato: …and you are certain that your mom didn’t tell your father? You know how parents are, she might have told him.
Me: I don’t think she did but my dad wouldn’t go to the papers.
Thato: Have you asked the people that know who they’ve told? I ask because the magazine hasn’t published the story yet so I am thinking of calling that person and threatening legal action against them to strong arm them into contacting the journalist and retracting their story.
I considered it. “Can’t we ask the journalist?”
Thato: A journalist will never reveal their source.
Me: Okay, so I’ll speak to them and we’ll sue the person.
Thato’s phone chirped then he pulled it out to look at it, typing a response while he spoke. “We can only threaten to sue. That’s usually enough to scare people off but we can’t sue for defamation of character if the statement is true. If the person gets lawyered up then she or he will call our bluff. I could make a storm out of a tea cup and issue an urgent interdict against the magazine to stop them from publishing the story in the next edition but the person could have spoken to more than one publication.”
My eyes brimmed with tears once more and I bit the inside of my cheeks to keep from crying. “So there isn’t much I can do really.”
Thato took my hand and ran his thumb over my knuckles. “I know a reputable investigative journalist who is working on a short piece on rape by husbands and partners. He can tell your story in a factual manner, in the right context. People will have no choice but to see it for what it is – a crime against someone’s humanity, a violation of one’s body. If you get on board I’ll call him today and you’d probably shoot tomorrow. Get ahead of the story, tell it first and tell it your way.”
“So there is nothing I can do to stop them?” I asked.
“The constitutional right to freedom of press and other media is a double edged sword. It gives journalists carte blanch to report on anything. Thando, the Press Code specifically states that a person is not entitled to have an article removed unless it is defamatory. The story is true so they can publish it.” He spoke very softly, his voice deep and husky.
I pulled my hand away from his and sat back. “Life is so unfair, you’d think the law is there to protect people but clearly it isn’t.”
My phone started going crazy in my pocket again. Retrieving it, I saw it was my dad calling. I also noticed I had nine missed calls from him and five from Sbahle, sending me into a panic.
“I have to take this.” I informed Thato and hastily scooted out of the booth. Before I could answer the call, not paying attention to where I was headed, I was stopped abruptly in my tracks as I crashed into someone. The impact was so hard, I almost fell over backwards onto be ground. Fortunately the person had quick reflexes and caught me before I fell on my ass.
“I am so sorry, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was….” my words quietly drifted away as I forgot how to speak once I realised whose embrace I was in. My eyes widened in horror as I whispered, “Lerumo.”
Still holding me in his steady arms I watched as his dazzling brown eyes scanned my face. In a soft, yet cautious tone he finally asked, “Are you okay? Have you been crying?”
My pulse was thumping in an erratic pace as I straightened up and pulled away from him. I couldn’t think straight. All I could do was stare at him like I’d seen a ghost. I hadn’t been this close to him or had a chance to hear his voice I’d almost forgotten how lovely it sounded. As well as how dangerously stunning he looked.
His expression was unreadable, unlike mine. He couldn’t know that I was mentally freaking out, that he still had an effect on me. I opened my mouth to reply to his question, but Thato beat me to it.
“Do you two know each other? …..Small world.” Thato probed. “Lerumo is my cousin.” He happily informed me.
“Are you going to answer my question or do I have to ask it again?” Lerumo asked as if he had the right to know. “What’s gotten you so upset, Zenkosi? Answer me.”
“Nothing.” I finally managed to speak. I did my best to try and pull myself together, but I was already so undone by him. I was like humpty dumpty after falling. I simply couldn’t be put back together. “I’m fine. Thato, I’ll see you at the office.”
“But we-” Thato started.
“I need to get this.” I waved my vibrating phone at them and walked off as I answered.
“THANDOLWETHU!” My father’s roar shrived me up inside.
“Ulalephi izolo!? [Where did you sleep last night?]”
“Ba? [Dad?]” I whimpered.
“Ungizwile! [You heard me.]”
Me: Baba…. [Dad…]
Dad: Imagine my shock and horror when I got to your place and all your things were neatly packed in boxes, ready to be shipped off to Levi’s place. What is your problem? Uhlanyiswa umthondo [Dick got you acting crazy.]
“Levi and I tried to do things right but we aren’t making any progress. We want to live together and you can’t stop me.” I said.
“Just because your mother and I are going through things doesn’t mean that you can do whatever you want! I told your mother and Sbahle to unpack amasaka akho [your things]. I also chased away the delivery truck that came to get your things this morning. You will not move in with your boyfriend! You will sleep on your bed every single night from this day on! Uzoyeka ukuntanta nalomfayana wakho [you will stop gallivanting with that boy of yours] Siyezwana!? [Do you understand!?]” Dad hooted. I could hear my pulse banging in my ears.
Me: Yebo. [Yes.]
“Good! I never want to hear any of this nonsense again.”
“Zenkosi… is everything okay?” Lerumo’s voice sounded behind me. I walked off and pretended I didn’t hear a thing because there was no future in the past.
LEVI’S POV
Keagile’s grin was smug when he turned to Subusiso, Corne and I. The PR lady stopped us dead in our tracks as we stepped out of the bathroom and we all gave her a questioning look.
“Alright, so you’ll be building some positive PR by playing with fans this afternoon,” she said.
“Right.” Sbu nodded. “Just don’t bitch if we don’t go easy on them.”
She put a hand up to stop us from moving forward. “Maybe I need to mention that these are young fans. Go easy on them.”
I scrunched my face sceptically. “Young as in…. teenagers?”
“Uh, no. They range in age from four to seven.”
“Oh, hell no,” Corne said, crossing his arms across his chest. “I am not a fucking babysitter, Millicent.”
“Maybe you should have asked the other guys, I’ve never been around little kids.” I said.
“This will give you some practice for your own child.” Keagile chimed in. “Besides, you are here, you’ve changed, might as well do it, son.” This man needed a friendly reminder of the conversation we’d had where I clearly stated that he should only divulge personal information on a need to know basis. In just one statement he’d already revealed that he was my dad and I was having a kid. I knew that spending the day with him was a bad idea but he wanted to get to know me better.
“This will boost your image and make you look humble.” Millicent’s green eyes sparkled with the same kind of confidence that reminded me of Our Love.
“I can teach them how to throw a right hook,” Corne said, cocking his head. “And share some colourful words that they may not know. They’ll need that when they have to defend themselves.”
Millicent gave him a no-nonsense glare. “Corne, come on, I’m asking you to do this. Please. You’ll have fun, and so will the kids.”
His face lit up in a grin. “Okay. We’ll do it even though you tricked us by withholding vital information.”
“Speak for yourself,” I muttered. “I don’t know shit about dealing with kids.”
“Just be nice,” Keagile said. “And no swearing.”

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Sibusiso nudged me as we approached the makeshift soccer pitch on a dirt road. “You do the talking. That’s the captain’s job.”
“Thanks asshole,” I muttered.
There were about a dozen kids lined up on the street. The closer I got to them, the more I tensed at the giggles and high-pitched conversations. I didn’t know how to handle kids. I didn’t even know what I was going to do when mine popped out.
But how hard could it be? They were just small people. I stopped in front of them and looked them over. They were bundled in a rainbow of coats, hats and gloves, and they quietened when they saw us.
“I’ve seen him on TV,” one boy said in a low, awed tone.
“Hey, dudes,” I said. “I mean… kids? I am Levi, and this is Sibusiso, Corne, Millicent and Keagile.” I gestured towards them. A hand flew up at the back.
“Yes?” I asked.
“Mommy said it’s rude to call elders by their names.” The little bugger informed me.
Me: Okay?
“Uncle Sibusiso, uncle Corne, aunty Millicent and uncle Levi and I’m Ntate Mmola [Mr Mmola].” Keagile corrected. Uncle made me feel old. “Are you guys excited about playing soccer?” Keagile asked excitedly.
“Yeah,” the sound of their shout was about to knock me over.
“Good.” I said. “Do you guys have any questions before we get started?”
“Have you ever fallen down while playing soccer?” a boy blurted out.
Me: All the time. It’s all part of the game. You just have to learn to get back up and keep trying.
Another boy raised his hand and I pointed at him. “Got a question?”
“What if I want to pee while I’m kicking the ball?”
“We have a few adults around, I’m sure someone can take you to the bathroom.” I said.
“I’ve never seen a soccer player leaving to go to the bathroom. Is that allowed?” One of the older ones asked.
“No, it is not allowed. You have to wait until halftime or after the game.” Sibusiso answered.
“Uncle Levi?” A boy with a shaved head was wiggling around.
“You got a question for me?” I asked.
“I need to fart.”
I looked at Sibusiso who was trying not to laugh. One of the teachers looked embarrassed and was about to scold the poor kid.
“It’s cool man,” I said. “Let it rip.”
A little girl with dark curly hair was waving her hand around frantically. I pointed at her.
“Uncle Levi I have my own soccer boots. They used to be my brother’s, but now they are mine. My mother put purple stars on them.”
“Awesome.” I said. “I wish mine had stars on them. Time to warm up, are you guys ready?” I asked, looking around at them. The chorus of excited responses made me laugh.
Soccer balls were lined up on the makeshift pitch and each kid got a ball autographed by the three of us. Corne, Sbu and I and teenage boys from a local soccer team, each had to be responsible for two kids. I ended up with two girls or rather I chose them because I’d heard that it was easier to deal with girls.
“What are your names and how old are you?” I asked them.
“Shandukani,” a girl with dark chocolate skin and huge brown eyes said. “Everyone calls me Shandu and I’m four.”
Me: Nice name, my girlfriend has a colleague called Shandu. What’s your name?
“Samathia, not Samantha, Samantia,” said the other kid, a skinny girl with glasses and a mop of dreads. “I’m also four.”
“Alright guys, I’m going to give Aunty Millicent my phone. I will be right back.” I said as I bounced a ball on my knee.
Shandu’s eyes widened. “You can bounce a ball using your knee?”
Her awestruck expression made my chest full. “Yeah. I’ll teach you how once you’ve learnt how to kick the ball without falling on your…. butt.”
Shandu shrugged. “Can’t hurt worse than a whipping. My dad is really strong and it really hurts.”
“My dad is in jail.” Samanthia said.
I looked at the two girls, wishing I knew what to say. What struck me about them is that they both looked so happy and eager. They reminded me of how I felt as a little kid – like every day was an adventure regardless of the lemons life threw at me.
“You know what?” I said to them. “My father passed away when I was very little. I had a great mom who raised me with my uncle and my aunty. Soccer helped me feel better if I ever got sad about my dad. Let me teach you how to play, maybe it will bring you as much joy as it brought me.”
Samanthia gave me an adoring gaze. “Is your dad watching us from heaven?”
“Heaven?” I debated the pros and cons of telling this child that there was no such thing as heaven and hell and decided against it. “Race you to Ntate Mmola,” I screeched and took off jogging slowly so they could keep up.
I gave my phone to Keagile and studied the instruction pamphlet we’d been given before I placed their balls in front of the goalposts... or rather ‘the castle’.
“Let’s see how many times you can kick the ball into the castle. Shandu you will go first then Samanthia will kick her ball, okay?”
It took them a while to direct the ball into the net but they didn’t stop trying. They’d just about mastered the skill when they had to guard the castle and make sure that I didn’t get any balls in the net. They laughed hysterically each time they caught the ball and protected their castle.
Soon they had to dribble and learn ball control. I zigzagged across the field with them following closely behind, trying to mimic my simple dribbling actions. We did zigzag after zigzag and they never got tired. We took a short break before all the kids were gathered around the pitch with their balls for the final game.
They had to protect their balls from Sbu, Corne and I, the ice men. If an ice man touched their ball that child had to freeze on the spot, stand with their ball over their head with their legs spread. The players get unstuck by having a teammate pass their ball through their legs. The game would end when all the kids were frozen or time ran out. We let them win that game to end off on a high note for them.
The two hours flew by, and I was exhausted by the time the teachers gathered up the kids to leave. Samathia left her line and threw herself against me with a powerful hug. I hugged her back and she looked up at me with an unabashed admiration. Had the past couple of hours been better for her or for me? It was a toss-up.
Keagile, Sbu, Corne and Millicent stood with me as the kids left, waving and shouting goodbye.
“You endured,” Millicent said.
“That was fun.” Sbu said. “I’d do that again. Let me know anytime you need me.”
“Me, too.” I found myself saying.
“That meant a lot to those kids,” Keagile added. “I wish I could take photos and videos but my old phone doesn’t have a camera.”
Millicent: Our professional photographer took some photos, give me your e-mail address and I can send them to you.
Keagile: What’s that?
Sibusiso jumped in, “Print them and give them to Luvuyo.”
I nodded in agreement and excused myself to make a quick call.
“Hey babe, I’m thinking of taking my dad shopping. His clothes look worn out and he needs a new phone.” I said as soon as Our Love answered her phone.
“That’s nice of you. I’m sure he will appreciate that.” She sighed heavily.
Me: What’s wrong? Have you spoken to Thato?
Thando: I did. There isnt much I can do so I think I’m gonna do an interview with some investigative journalist who is working on a piece on rape.
“I’ll support any decision you make. Did they manage to get all your stuff?”
Thando: About that….. dad is in town. I have been forbidden from moving in with my boyfriend, I am not allowed to sleep over at your place and Futhi had sex with Solomon.
I was certain I didn’t hear correctly. “What!? Isn’t that statutory rape? Didn’t you say that he was a virgin?”
“Solomon told me that ‘he is sexually pure’ I assumed that meant virgin but it doesn’t because he has a kid. It’s not statutory rape because Futhi is 17, no wait what’s the date?” She paused, I assumed she was checking the date. “Fuck! I forgot her birthday.”
“You know how women feel about these little things. You must get her a birthday present and an apology gift.”
Thando: So you aren’t going to say anything about her and Solomon?
Me: I told you so. That’s not what you wanna hear so let me not say I told you that this would happen. Please give me Futhi’s number, I want to chat to her seeing as everyone is only interested in talking when the damage is already done.”
Thando: What’s that supposed to mean?
Me: It means I told you to talk to her about sex and you took the moral ground.
“So it’s my fault!?” she asked defensively.
“It’s not your fault but she could have made different decisions if she knew better. Futhi is an easy target because she doesn’t know much about anything that doesn’t involve church. As her brother in-law, I will volunteer and step in before I get a call informing me that I have nephew or a niece.”
Thando: They are not dating. Sounds to me like he got her drunk and took advantage of her.
“Sounds to me like you should go to KZN and open a case. Impaired consent isn’t consent, that’s rape.”
“You think it was….she was….” that’s as far as she got with the question.
“I think we will know when you talk to her. Let’s talk later.”
Thando: I’ll come over but I have to leave by six.
I rolled my eyes at the thought of my wife having a curfew. “How long are we gonna keep doing this?”
“Babe, you know how Zembe is. It has been a while since I’ve gotten a hiding and I would like to keep it that way.”
I laughed. “I understand.”
We had another seventy years to live together, another week or two wouldn’t hurt even though every hour spent away from my wife felt like a century.
THANDOLWETHU’S POV
I went into a deep slumber as soon as my head hit Levi’s pillow. My late afternoon nap was interrupted when I heard my phone ringing in the kitchen, its incessant ringing drowned the macabre dreams I was having about Solomon and Futhi. I dragged myself to the kitchen and answered it.
“Hello?” I yawned into the speaker.
The voice on the other end was a familiar one, but it annoyed me because it was not Levi. Madlimpi, my father’s younger brother, asked to meet me for dinner. I grudgingly accepted seeing as he’d travelled all the way from Inanda.
I rattled my mind but I couldn’t figure out why he wanted to speak to me. I’d never warmed up to my uncle, for reasons I can neither recall nor truly understand. In my mind he was a lone figure that traipsed through my childhood memories causing havoc everywhere he went, no wonder he never married. I had not seen him in over five years, a state I remained entirely ambivalent about. Much as I opposed the idea of meeting him, I did not want to seem unwelcoming. Pretending to be happy about it, I put the phone down and got ready for our meeting.
“I’m leaving. Dinner is on the stove. I guess I’ll see Levi tomorrow.” I informed Kagiso who was slouched on the couch watching soccer.
“You aren’t sleeping over?” Ntato asked as he walked into the living room.
“No. My dad is around so I have to go home.” I informed them. “Where is Levi? Still with his dad?” I asked. Levi knew I had to leave at six but he still wasn’t home at five thirty.
“Last I checked they were still at the mall, looking for a TV or something like that.” Nthato said sceptically.
Me: A TV? I thought they were buying clothes.
Kagiso: They got clothes, TV, cell phone, shoes and groceries, lots and lots of groceries. I bumped into them looking like they were pushing the whole mall in their trolleys.
“I am all about helping family but there is a fine line between asking for help and taking advantage.” His brother chimed in and Kagiso nodded in agreement.
Kagiso: Nthato is right, his father is taking advantage of the situation. Levi is too caught up in this new budding relationship to notice.
“You guys come from a rich family so it’s easy for you to say that his father is taking advantage of the situation. Wouldn’t you buy your mom a phone if she couldn’t afford one? I just feel like you can’t relate if you were raised with a silver spoon in your mouth.” I snapped at the poor guys.
Nthato: Chill dude, nobody is fighting. It was just an observation.
Kagiso: I always say, ‘cut your coat according to your size.’ If you want something then make a plan, you can’t depend on your child to make things happen for you.
“Touché. I’m gonna go. Enjoy the party tonight.” I said.
Nthato: Aren’t you coming?
Me: No, we came back at four in the morning yesterday. I could hardly keep my eyes open at work, I don’t know how you guys do it.
“Simple, pour some gwarana in a juice bottle and sip on that throughout the day. Trust me, you will be wide awake all day and buzzed for the next party.” Kagiso clowned.
“You need to slow down on your drinking before it turns into an addiction. I need to get going.” I was already sounding like a mother. I went home to change into something warmer before meeting my uncle.
My uncle arrived at Levi’s small intimate coffee shop shortly after I arrived. As he walked towards my table it was clear that he had succumbed to the pitfalls of age. His face was mapped with creases and dips, grey eyes sunk into their sockets. His hair once thick, had been reduced to smoky grey tufts between canyons of bare scalp.
“Thandolwethu.” His greeting was cold and distant.
“Good evening uncle. Nice seeing you again.” I said as I stood and shook his hand in greeting. I turned to our waitress and ordered tea and chiffon cake before we settled on our seats next to a door-sized window overlooking the beautiful, lighted back garden.
“I hear you didn’t sleep at home last night.” He started off.
Me: I slept over at a friend’s place. What did you want to talk about?
Uncle: I am just concerned about how you and Ntombifuthi are handling the situation with your parents. You have changed so much it’s almost as if I don’t even know the girl that’s sitting in front of me.
“I haven’t changed. It’s not me changing, it’s me being true to who I really am.” I defended.
“So, the girl who fell pregnant after 4 months of dating then packs all her bags to move in with a boyfriend is who you really are? Is that what you are telling me?” He questioned, disappointment registered on his face.
Me: The pregnancy was a mistake. Levi and I have accepted it and we are doing what’s best for us and the baby.
Uncle: Packing your bags and moving overseas with a boyfriend is not what’s best for you or the baby. I have known you since you were in diapers so I know for a fact that you are going to do this because you are as stubborn as a mule. I’ve decided to step in so that lobola is paid before you leave.
Me: How? Grandpa put the whole thing on pause so that everyone can focus on mom and dad’s situation.
My uncle flashed a crocodile smile. “Leave that to me. Speak to Levi, find out if he can send his delegation to my father’s house next weekend.”
“Next weekend?” I clarified. My cheeks dimpled and the corners of my eyes wrinkled as his eyes lit up
“Yes. You chose a fine young man Thandolwethu. I don’t know Luvuyo personally but I have read all about him in the papers, he is flying the South African flag high. Certainly an upgrade from Sandiso, vele I wasn’t going to allow you to marry a teacher.” He simpered.
“Levi is an amazing guy.” I paused as the waitress passed me my tea and chiffon cake before I continued, “Grandpa told me that Levi has to pay lobola and damages but Sbahle seems to think that Levi has to choose one?”
Uncle Madlimpi took a sip of his tea. “Sbahle is right. If he wants to marry you then he has to pay lobola. If it was a hit and run then he must pay damages.”
I laughed. “It certainly wasn’t a hit a hit and run….. Am I allowed to ask for the ballpark figure that you have in mind? I mean… so that his delegation comes prepared.”
“Yeah, sure.” He nodded. “Two hundred thousand.”
“TWO HOUNDRED THOUSAND!” I gasped. “You cannot ask for that, that’s ridiculous and you know it.”
Uncle: Lomlisa ubhukuda emalini. Unezigidi zemali, two hundred thousand kuye imali encane, usheleni nje. [This man is swimming in money. He has a lot of money, two hundred thousand is nothing to him.]
Me: Levi is not going to pay that much. Anything over forty thousand is exorbitant.
Uncle: Then he won’t marry you. I wouldn’t want a stingy son in-law anyway.
“I am going to talk to my grandfather about this.” I informed him.
I could only hope that my grandfather could talk some sense into his son.

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