Unscripted love Chapter 74 - B - Mzansi Stories

Tuesday, July 19


Unscripted love Chapter 74 - B


# 74 B
Goodbye Again
I collapsed, head first onto the hotel bed after yet another day in Cape Town preparing for the mining indaba. With the balls of my feet, I slid my moccasins off and sat up to stretch. There was a knock on the door. I sighed and rolled my eyes, preparing for it to be either Jean or Adam, the slave drivers that wouldn’t let me rest.
“I’m coming,” I muttered, standing from my bed. I started to the door in no rush, but the knocking continued from the other side.
“I said I am coming!” I exclaimed, pulling the door open, only to come face to face with Thato. No surprise there. Who else would it be but Lerumo’s cousin that I’d been trying to avoid like a plague?
“You have been ignoring me.” He announced, looking up at me with crossed arms. I fought the urge to roll my eyes.
“I’ve been busy.” I replied, he pushed past me and let himself into my room.
“I’ve also been busy but I don’t walk the other way when I see you walking down the corridor,” Thato feigned a smile. His expression fell as he took in my cold demeanour. “I’m sorry..... I just walked in your room without thinking.”
I knew he was referring to the rape, now that he and the rest of the world knew what happened. It was almost like going back to the beginning and thinking about it throughout the day because so many people reminded me of it all the time. Everyone was rallying around me, feeling sorry for me and treating me like a broken soul when I wanted to see myself as a survivor.
I ignored Thato’s comment as I buttoned up my jersey and slid my moccasins back on. “Let’s go.” I said as I opened the door.
“Where to?” he asked, walking out into the brisk winter air. I followed behind, pulling my door closed.
“Anywhere,” I answered honestly. We walked out of the hotel, and crossed the street. “We could go back to the venue and help the people setting up for tomorrow?” I suggested.
He shook his head, no.
Thato: Nah, I’m a partner. The menial tasks are reserved for the little people.
I chuckled at his arrogance. “Excuse us, Mr Partner.”
Thato: I’m just joking. Couldn’t help but notice that you’ve been cold and distant since you found out that Lerumo and I are cousins. You know that he is coming, right?
I shook my head. I had no idea that Lerumo had any interest in the mining industry. “I had no idea,” I told Thato as we walked the sidewalks of the neighbourhood.
We travelled in comfortable silence for a few more minutes, not necessarily knowing where we were headed.
“He told me about you guys. I just didn’t know that you were the Thandolwethu that he was always talking about.” He said, approaching a subject that I really did not want to discuss.
“Yeah, he still talks ab-”
“Can we not talk about Lerumo, please. I’ve moved on and I’m sure he’s moved on aswell.”
“He hasn’t…” he muttered.
I shrugged at the thought. “I’m sure he is still changing women as often as he changes his underwear.”
Thato squinted, not understanding the situation at all. “I watched the show with Lerumo and I could tell that it was heart wrenching for him. It’s almost like he feels as though he could have dug deeper and uncovered the truth earlier… before the rape. Lerumo thinks he should have done more to save you from Sandiso.” Thato said, stopping before the crossroads.
Okay, it was time for a new topic.
“Let’s stop talking about Lerumo. Where are we going?”
Thato shrugged and hopped up on the guardrail along the road. I was just anticipating him to slip and fall. A ridiculous smile formed on his face as he balanced himself along the metal. He rested a hand on my shoulder to steady his weight.
“I swear if you fall and bring me down I will kill you,” I warned. He laughed off my threat and hopped down once the road reached an end.
“We should get something to eat.” He suggested.
“Mexican?” I asked with a knowing smile. I didn't know own much about Thato but I knew he had a thing for Mexican food.
“Of course.”
We walked the next few blocks to the closest shopping center which housed a Mexican restaurant at its entrance. As we headed inside to the counter, the smell of spices filled the atmosphere. A smile stretched across my face as I scanned the menu full of nothing healthy. I didn’t care though. Keeping count of carbs and calories was Levi’s forte, it wasn’t a top priority for me. Plus I was eating for two.

After ordering chilli rellenos, pan-seared squid, prawn tacos, pork carnitas and drinks, Thato and I headed to a table nestled at the corner.
“Yummmm,” he practically growled as he bit into his tortilla. Judging by the bestial sound he made, you’d think he hadn’t eaten for days. I chuckled and reached for one of his stuffed jalapenos.
His head snapped up before I had a chance to even make contact with his food. In an instant his hand was around mine. “What are you doing?”
“I wanted to try one,” I stated the obvious.
“No, you can’t give the baby hot food.”
“Ah, come on. A jalapeno is hardly hot. Pleaseeeee.”
“You can have half,” he cut one in half and dropped it onto my plate. I laughed and made a show of stuffing it into my mouth the way he wolfed down his food. He shook his head at my unladylike antics and turned his attention to his phone.
Me: One of your many girlfriends?
“Very funny.” He said sarcastically and put the phone away. “Just someone who wanted to know my whereabouts.”
Me: Sounds like a girlfriend to me.
Thato: A girlfriend doesn’t need to know where you are at all times.
Me: She does.
He rolled his eyes. “You sound like the clingy type that calls every day.”
I tittered. “What’s wrong with calling your partner every day?”
Thato: Sometimes people need their space. I can’t talk to my girlfriend every single day of my life, that’s too much. Do you talk to Levi every day?
“Yes and we text throughout the day,” I stood. “Be right back, I’m gonna get one of their frosted drinks. It’s cold but they look divine.”
“Get me one too!” Thato said as I walked off.
As I went to place my second order, the side door opened and in walked a woman who walked up to me and suffocated me in a hug. Another reminder that I was now a rape ambassador. Everywhere I went people no longer saw me, they saw hurt, pain and tragedy. She apologised for what I went through and took her place in line behind me while I handed the cashier a crisp 50.
“Here is your five rand change, have a nice day.”
“Thanks, you too.” I told the cashier and grabbed a thick straw and a few napkins. Thato’s request was forgotten as I padded back with only my drink.
“Do you know that woman?” Thato asked of the woman who hugged me when I returned to the table.
“I have no idea who she is. She just hugged me and apologised for what I went through.” I replied as I shoved my straw into my frozen treat. Thato’s eyes instantly darted back and forth across the table as he searched for his own.
“What the hell?.... Where’s mine?”
“I forgot to get you one, sorry.”
I watched cautiously as Thato eyed my frosty drink, dragging it closer to myself and away from his attention. No, I communicated through my mind before he even had the chance to open his mouth and ask for a sip. He narrowed his eyes. Selfish, was his mental response.
“Dammit!” I turned my head towards a woman frantically searching through her wallet. The middle aged man standing behind her was wearing an impatient grimace on his face as she struggled through her wallet.
“I’m twenty rand short, c-can I bring it to you later?”
The cashier shook her head carrying an empty expression.
“Alright then, scratch that order then. Um,” she stumbled for her words. I could tell from his constant glare that the man behind her was a few seconds from exploding on the petite woman. “I think I’ll have the uh….mmmm.”
Thato had risen from the table without me noticing. “You look like you could use this.”
He must have heard the whole predicament as well since he held out the a folded two hundred rand note in his hand as he made his way over to her. Instantly, her face flooded with relief, as her eyes no longer mimicked a dears’ in headlights.
“Thank you so much.”
He nodded.
“Keep the change.”
Seconds later Thato returned with a pleasant smile on his face from having just done a good deed.
“That was sweet of you.” I slid my drink towards him. “Here. You’ve earned some.”
The straw was in his mouth before I could finish my sentence. I poked my straw through the soda I’d abandoned and began to sip at it. If only I’d been paying attention to the other people walking in and out of the restaurant, maybe then I wouldn’t have nearly choked to death.
“Do you mind if I sit here or are you and your girlfriend here on a date?”
I chocked on my soda at the sound of the voice behind me. I pressed my palm to my raw throat as coughs raked through my body before I finally managed to settle them down. Thato was in stitches, I was glad to know my fate if I was to die at his watch.
I stood and Lerumo grabbed my arm. “Please don’t go.” He looked at me with a sorrow stricken face. “Please, I need to talk to you.”
I yanked my hand out of his grasp and started walking out of the restaurant. “I think I know what you want to talk about and I don’t want to discuss it with you.”
Secretly, I hoped that my words would be enough to shut him up and get him to accept that he was no longer a part of my life.
“Please, Thando. Just two minutes.” Lerumo insisted.
“Just talk to him. Where is the harm in talking?” Thato jumped in as he scooped our food that was enough to feed an army in takeaway boxes.
I gazed at Lerumo. “Okay, what do you want?”
He took a deep breath, ready to pelt down on me like a waterfall. “I love you, Thando and -”
I turned and made a beeline for the door but he kept at my heels. “Thando, please just listen.” Lerumo begged.
“You love me, you miss me, you are sorry for what happened. I got the message so there is nothing else to say. Please just leave me alone Lerumo, please.” I sneered and continued my hasty walk.
“I understand your frustration, I really do. Just please, give me another chance. I won’t blow it this time, I promise.”
“I am married Lerumo.” The words slipped past my tongue without thought.
“Even so, you don’t love him like you love me. I thought you’d call me after you saw my letter in the file and when you didn’t I just thought you needed time. I never moved on.”
I paused and looked him over. He seemed devastated and it hurt me that he evoked so many emotions in me. “What letter?” I asked. “Actually, I don’t want to know. This all too much for me. I just don’t feel like talking to anyone right now.”
He sighed. “Okay, I’ll respect that. But please promise me you will call me later this week.” When he saw my hesitation, he quickly added: “Just to talk, of course…. as friends. I just need to know that you are okay.”
“Once you cross the line you can never be friends again. I am with Levi. We are having a baby. He makes sure that I am okay. We are happy. Please leave me alone.” I told him.
Lerumo finally allowed me to leave without further hassle. The whole encounter shook me up more than I wanted to admit and I should have told Levi about it that night when he called to tuck me in over the phone but I didn’t. He had a game and I didn’t want to worry him with things that shouldn’t matter.
Lerumo left me alone the next day. The mining indaba came and went without any further hassles from him. I was glued to our stand, making sure I was there to carry out any menial task I was asked to carry out in between calls to my mother and Futhi to check up on her progress. I hated that I had to work instead of being home with her but Jean wasn’t anything like Bianca. When I asked her for some time off to be with my sister she pointed out that family responsibility leave was limited to a spouse and children. I was all too glad to slap her with my resignation letter but Sarah wanted all three of us to meet and talk about the sudden resignation.
I was all too glad when the formal event finally came to an end. I skipped the cocktail party aimed at dazzling potential clients and slid off to my room to snuggle up with a biography I picked up at the airport. It was meant to keep me busy on the flight to and from Cape Town but I found it hard to put it down.
Just as the door closed behind me I got an unwelcomed visitor. Thato saw me leave the party and came to check up on me. After a quick ‘hello’ and ‘no, I am not sick,’ we decided on a match of table tennis in the game room.
“How are you really holding up?” he probed after we got the game going.
“I told you I was fine,” I claimed though I was feeling awful. I’d only just learned that Futhi overdosed on pills and she’d been cutting herself. Not being able to be with my family was getting to me.
“You haven’t been yourself all day. Is it the chat you had with my cousin?” Thato continued to pester me. “I really think you aren’t over him if you feel the need to run every time you see him.”
I caught the ball, giving him the evil eye. “Did Lerumo put you up to this? Why does he keep showing up whenever I am with you?”
Thato blushed lightly, unable to hold my gaze. “He may have mentioned that he wanted to talk to you and I might have told him where we were.”
I got angry. “I just don’t understand why people don’t listen to me. I do not want to talk to him. Is that too much to ask for?” I snapped.
“Of course not and I’m sorry.” He gave me one of those apologetic grins I’d gotten used to by now.
We continued our game in silence – the only sounds was the plopping of the ball onto the table and the crashing sound when the bat found its mark. I could hardly concentrate, fury raging inside me. I was angry that my father knew that his beloved Solomon was expecting a child with a ten year old. I was angry at myself for not heeding Levi’s advice when he told me to talk to Futhi about sex.
We must have played for an hour before the sound of a group of people in the hallway distracted me and I detected Lerumo’s voice. Thato threw his hands up in surrender. “I didn’t tell him this time, I swear.”
“It’s okay, I’ll talk to him,” I advised, something which would turn out to be a huge mistake.
Lerumo and Thato exchanged a glace when he got to the table. Thato handed him his bat and walked out. It’s either Lerumo didn’t know how to play table tennis or he was trying hard to throw the game and let me win. He didn’t rush it, not forcing any conversation on me and I really appreciated that. It was starting to get cold – the air was really crisp and there was a scent of rain in the air.
“So, you are a married woman now?” Lerumo finally asked.
“I wasn’t supposed to tell you that.” I admitted. “I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t tell anyone.”
He nodded. “I wasn’t supposed to come to the indaba but I made it a point to come when Thato told me that you’d be here. I came because I was really worried about you. I’m sure your own experiences are harder on you than they are on me but I am going through hell. I suspected that Sandiso was abusive all along but I didn’t push hard enough to get the answers…. I could have done more. You are so brave for coming out and sharing your story.”
I was touched by his concern. “It wasn’t much of a choice. People have been pouring in their sympathies at the office, social media and everywhere where I’m spotted. I really appreciate it but I’d moved past the feeling sorry for myself stage and everyone just keeps dragging me back there, reminding me that something terrible happened and I am allowed to wallow in self-pity. I don’t want that for myself or I will find myself in the same position five years from now. It’s easy playing the victim but I want to strip the pity robe and push forward. With Levi’s help I have been able to gather up the strength to get out of bed each morning. I have moved on. I don’t need you or anyone else dragging me to the past. Let me move forward.”
Lerumo had made his way to my side. His fingers gently grazed over the back of my hand, his eyes upon me with caution. I was sure he was ready to pull back at any moment at the slightest sign of my displeasure.
“We’ve been here so many times before but I still don’t know how I could go on without you,” he mumbled. There was so much sadness in his voice and my heart was aching. I hated seeing him in so much distress but the cycle needed to stop.
The air conditioner was blowing mercilessly and I shivered in my light jacket. He took off his coat but hesitated before placing it around my shoulders. “May I?” he asked. “I don’t want you to be cold.”
Lerumo was back to his gentleman ways, doing all those things that finally unshackled the bond I had with Sandiso. I nodded and was actually grateful when I felt the warmth around me. The jacket smelled like his aftershave and I remembered all the good times associated with the scent.
At some point we wandered out of the game room and into the elevator that took us to my floor. It was time to say goodbye again. He handed me a small package. “Just a little something to remember me by seeing as you didn't get my letter.”
“Another goodbye gift?” I questioned.
He turned on his heel and walked away without giving me a response. He didn’t even take back his jacket, he just walked down the steps and disappeared.
In a trance, I opened the door to my hotel room and walked inside. I sat down on my bed, slowly unwrapping the present. It was a key chain with a broken heart. A little card was in the box. “Even if we are apart for now, I want you to remember that you will always carry a piece of my heart with you. I love you more than life itself.”
There was a lump in my throat, I was so touched by Lerumo’s gesture and I knew that it was the reason why Levi must have burnt Lerumo’s letter. Levi must have known that I would always love that asshole, hiding anything that reminded me of Lerumo was Levi’s way of preventing the scale from being tipped in Lerumo’s favour at a time when I still didn't know my worth.

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