Unscripted love Chapter 79 - Mzansi Stories

Tuesday, August 2


Unscripted love Chapter 79


Would you mind if I still loved you?
Would you mind if I hold onto you so that I won’t crash?
Usher - Crash
A monotone beep soaked through the layers of fog surrounding my mind and I stirred, trying to scratch the burning spot on my arm. I stilled when a throbbing pain radiated into my shoulder. I squinted at the bright light, halfway expecting to be back in my prison. The brightness burned my eyes and I squeezed them shut again.
The scent in the air reminded me of latex gloves. The last time I smelled something similar was on the night when I had to rush Thando to the hospital after accidentally busting her lip open during an altercation. I couldn’t even recall what she did to piss me off that day.
I finally forced my eyes open and scanned the room. It was painted in soft pastille colours, but without any pictures or other decorations. The curtains separating my bed from the two empty beds next to mine were blue and sterile. This was definitely a hospital and the beeping annoying sound from the monitor was probably my heartbeat.
My lower arms were covered in bandages. A tube ran from the crook of my elbow to an IV bag which hung up on a metal rack right next to the bed, holding a clear liquid. Pain shot through me every time I moved. I turned my head with great effort to examine the rest of the room to determine how hard it would be to leave undetected. A nurse was sitting next to my bed, staring with blank eyes to the tree outside. She almost looked like a statue. When I cracked out an indefinable sound, her head snapped around with a startle.
“Sandiso, you’re awake,” A smile spread on her lips that didn’t hit her eyes.
To be polite, I forced the corners of my mouth to rise a little. She checked the drip. “Are you in any pain?”
“A little.” My throat felt scratchy when I spoke. I panicked when I couldn’t feel the phone in my underpants. “Where is my mother?”
“You were admitted when they found you.” She didn’t elaborate further and injected a liquid in the IV bag. “I’ve been watching the nurses long enough to know that’s for the pain.”
“Watching? What do you mean? Will it knock me out?”
She glanced at me. “I don’t know.” She stroked my hand. “You don’t have to worry about a thing. Everything is set and we will get you out of here.” She whispered.
I sunk back into my pillow when the room started spinning. “What did you give me?”
She stroked my hand again. “I think it’s a morphine drip. Don’t worry about a thing.” She sounded like a broken record with repeat assurances. My tongue clicked over my cracked lips when the thirst became unbearable. “Can I have some water?”
“Apparently everything you need is being administered intravenously.” Her smile was yet to leave her lips, it was almost freaking me out. “You’ve been asleep for two days now. Your mother called my boyfriend and told him about your plan. I was sent here to make sure they don’t handcuff you to the bed or do some shit that will make it harder for us to get you out of here.”
“How long do I have to stay here?” I grumbled.
“We wanted you to wake up first. There’s no use hauling you out of the hospital only to bring you back again or have you die on us. Danger wanted to make sure that you were well enough to leave.”
She plopped back in the chair, apparently done with the update and poked her phone. “I have the phone and the card your mother found when she was giving you a bed bath. I’m telling the guys to fetch you today, I don’t want to run the risk of having the doctor discharge you or move you to another ward.”
I exhaled slowly. When I moved my hips, something pulled in between my legs and to my horror, a small plastic tube came out from under the blanket which was filled with a yellow liquid and ending in a bag.
I shuddered. “Am I on a catheter?”
“What’s that?”
“That thing next to the bed.” I lifted my finger slightly.
“We’ll figure out how to get it out. Just lay back and relax. They are on their way.” Her voice had a cheerful clang to it.
“Is there a guard outside?” I asked.
“Don’t worry about him, his pockets have been taken care of.”
“Thanks.” I croaked.
“No sweat, we are family.”
We really were a family that looked out for each other. Danger sending his girl to help me showed me how much he cared about me. With a soft sigh and a smile playing on my cheeks, I closed my eyes, utterly exhausted from our little chat. The blanket weighed a ton but it kept me warm. I couldn’t wait to get an apartment, retile the shower and jump in a shower that nobody else had used to wipe their dead skin. Then I would pick up the pieces and rebuild my life, only this time I’d put arrange the pieces differently. I just needed to find a way to convince Thando to stop trying to let go of what we had and allow us to start over as a blended family. Everything would be back to normal, soon.
I felt like we’d been at it for eternity. I moved rhythmically, my thighs burning and my breath escaping harshly from my throat. I shoved the loose dread locks back from my face and wiped the sweat from my brow. The shrill of the coach’s whistle rang through the filed. He yelled at the defender, Lesiba Lubisi, to keep it together. I could hear Lesiba grunt in rage from a few feet away. He was playing perfectly, and we all knew it. Coach, on the other hand, didn’t think so.
My last game with the team was coming up that Friday and the coach was working us harder than usual. His different demands shot from his lungs like they were his only source of breath as his hands were signalling things at the same time.
“Keep on your feet, Lubisi!” The coach yelled over the commotion.
Lesiba and I were both on the same team for the practice-game round. We both knew it was my fumble that messed up the play, but Lesiba was the one who gave up the ball. In fairness we were both supposed to be called out.
Everyone could hear the coach groan as the coach cursed. “Start over! Get in formation.”
We were back to our starting positions, Lesiba mumbled, “I want to see him play for three hours with no rest. We aren’t robots, stupid idiot has unrealistic expectations.”
I chuckled at his annoyance, and fought the urge to make a snarky remark. We were being pushed to our limits but I needed it following the mini holiday with the family where I ate like a walrus and slacked on my exercise regime. Jogging with my baby was fun but she was as slow as a snail and she took a dozen breaks. I would have pushed her to try harder if she wasn’t pregnant.
Another blast of the whistle signalled for us to begin. I readied myself to make a run for it once the ball was kicked into play. As a striker, along with Obed Myeni, my ultimate responsibility was to score goals so the team was centred around getting the ball to us and we had to run like hell.
I sprinted to the best of my ability. Lesiba’s spiral could be seen clearly, it was partly cloudy so no sun was in my line of sight. I followed the ball headed in my direction. A sudden pressure collided with my feet and I caught the ball with no trouble. I continued to run, my eyes fixed on the ball and the general direction of the goal posts, but I didn’t get more than two feet down the pitch before bodies started colliding against me like we were playing rugby.
The two guys that tackled me, Lufuno and Brett, got off me. I stood up and shook off the slight aching that ran through my bones, but I didn’t mind. Adrenaline was the only thing running through my veins.
“Lufuno! Brett! Get the fuck off the pitch. Fuck out of here. Playing like blind donkeys. Cohan!” I sighed as the coach called my last name. When I walked up to him he actually sent a smile my way. “Not bad Luvuyo.”
“What do you mean?” I groaned. “You saw that play, I barely made it two feet. I have been huffing and puffing and fumbling. I need to get my shit together and focus.”
“Don’t be too harsh on yourself.” Coach nodded over to Brett and Lufuno. “I was afraid you got injured by those cows. Are you okay?”
“Yes coach.”
“Try that shit again and I will bench the two of you.” The coach said to Brett and Lufuno. “Get back in formation and start over.” He said to all of us, blowing the whistle again.
By the end of practice, I had half a mind to rip that whistle off the coach’s neck and throw it in a blender. My head was pounding from the number of times the noise rang through my ears. Luckily I didn’t have to hear it for another twenty four hours.
Cold water ran down my body and I sighed with relief. I was close to overheating once I got off the field so the chills that racked my body were more than refreshing.
“Congratulations on the engagement, my chief.” Sbu boomed from the shower next to mine. “But how is it going to work with you leaving?”
“She quit her job. Thando is coming with me.” I informed him.
“That’s very nice of her. Is she going to get a job that side or stay home with the kid?”
“She will stay home. I’ve always wanted a stay at home wife because I don’t want my kids being raised by nannies.”
“Women can raise their kids and work.” Sbu highlighted.
I turned the water off, ripped my shower cap off and grabbed a towel off the hanger. “They can but I would prefer it if my kids spent most of their time with their mother as opposed to a nanny. That way they will be exposed to their mother’s beliefs and value system.”
“What if she gets bored and looks for a job?” Sbu questioned.
“Why would she? I make more than enough for both of us. Moms are obsessed with their babies so she will have her hands full.”
“Sounds like you want to have a few running around.”
“I want six kids, she wants two. I think after having one we’ll get a clearer understanding of what it takes to be a parent and take it from there.”
I wrapped the towel around my waist before walking out of the shower area.
“Yes, scouts are going to be at the game on Friday.” I overheard Lufuno say when I got to my locker. He then looked over to me. “Try not to steal my spotlight, okay Cohan?”
“I can’t make any promises.” I grinned and he scowled at me.
“He will steal your spotlight just like he fucked your girl.” Sam jested, importuning a fit of laughter from some of the guys.
Lufuno chocked on the water coming from his water bottle. Sibusiso chuckled and patted him on the back to help settle his cough. “Happens to the best of us, chief. My girlfriend used to text her side nigger on my phone.” Sibu felt the need to say instead of letting it die down.
“Which girl?” Brett asked. “Lufuno has so many we have to clarify.”
“Palesa, the receptionist.” Sam shouted across.
Brett was a shocked as Lufuno. “You’re joking.” He exclaimed. “You guys are messing with the Manager’s cousin?”
“Nigger must have given it to her good because Palesa has been following him around like a puppy dog.” Lufuno’s ego took a dive at Sam’s statement.
“She isn’t my girlfriend, we were just hanging out.” Lufuno claimed but his facial expression indicated that it stung. I would have apologised if he didn’t talk shit about fucking Thando.
I finished drying myself off and got dressed. I sprayed some deo under my arms before grabbing my face cream and walking to the mirror. After giving my face some much needed moisturiser, I closed the lid and put it away in my locker.
“Prettying yourself up for your fiancé?”
Sbu raised a brow at me, noticing my need to moisturise.
Before I could respond, David placed his elbow on Sbu’s shoulder and smiled. “What is this shit I am reading about you proposing on bridges? You are twenty five, dude. Why do you want to tie yourself down? This is the time to test the waters, see what’s out there, explore. Not tie yourself down to a nagging wife and a whining kid.”
“Not everyone waits for old age to settle down.” Sbu said, peeling David’s arm off him.
“Yeah, not everyone but this is Luvuyo we are talking about. What happened to the guy who said, and I quote, ‘you can never date too many girls at once?’”
“That guy.” I glared at David, “stopped being a dick.”
“Guys, I think it’s great that Luvuyo has a steady girl on lockdown,” Obed weighed in. “You don’t always score and sometimes you are just too lazy to hunt for good pussy. If you have a girl at home then you have a constant supply, someone that cooks and cleans for you and makes sure your shit is in order. You also have someone you can rely on, take home to the family and build a family with. We all need the main squeeze to hold us down then we can pick and choose whatever side.”
I mentally groaned. “Or you could get everything you need from one woman and actually respect her enough to remain faithful.”
Sam howled and patted me on the back. “Good luck with that.”
“So you mean to tell me that you don’t cheat? How do you explain Palesa then?” Brett jumped in.
Me: Thando and I were on a break when I hooked up with her. I’ve never cheated on her.
“I also haven’t cheated.” David announced and we all turned to glare at him. “….in the last five hours.” A road of laughter erupted.
Obed: Take it from me, it is impossible to stay faithful my man. I was just like Luvuyo when I got married but all these fine honeys just throw themselves at you while your wife is at home bitching about the broken garage door.
Sam: Women change when you put a ring on their finger, bra. They let themselves go, sex (if it happens) becomes a tick box exercise. Sometimes it feels like my wife is doing me a favour. I can honestly say that I tried to do the right thing but two years in, she’d gained weight and paid so much attention to our kid she forgot that I also have needs as a man. My resolve dwindled with each girl that made a pass at me and I eventually strayed. I felt guilty at first but I am so far gone now I have texts and pictures on my phone that would make Tiger Woods drop his jaw.
“Lies. I wanna see.” David hooted.
I went back to getting ready. I knew I shouldn’t have said anything, now they’d bug me for days. All I could do was smirk as their eyes lit up when they started passing around their phones, showing off pictures women sent to them. I couldn’t believe some of the things that were on their phones, particularly the married ones and those in public relationships. Any one of those women that they’d met on the road or social media could take screen shots of their candid conversations and sing like birds. I didn’t sext or send naked pictures of myself, I preferred phone sex to eliminate any prospect of putting out fires caused by leaked messages or pictures. I didn’t even know what to think about Brett that was sleeping with his brother’s wife. He seemed to be another Ryan Giggs in the making. Couldn’t blame him though, she was a flame.
When I exited the training grounds, the girl that was on my mind was already waiting for me. She leaned against the fence at the entrance and flashed her jaw dropping smile. My legs were on fire as I smiled back and walked up to her. I wrapped my arms around her waist and pulled her to me with the belt loops of her jeans.
She was no longer in her formal work clothes, but wore jeans, a white t-shirt and yellow jersey. Still, in something so simple, she took my breath away. Her lips met mine and I was so lost in them for a little while, until I heard howls coming from behind me. I turned away from Our Love to see some of my teammates watching us and making ‘get a room’ remarks.
“Will you guys get out of here?” I groaned, but couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped me due to their immaturity. Our Love turned my head away from them and draped her arms over my shoulders. “Just ignore them,” she said against my lips and I complied happily.
After I pulled away I grabbed her hand and started walking towards the parking lot. Just as everything seemed to be going perfectly, the person I was trying to avoid decided to ruin everything. I didn’t even realise that Palesa was still hovering around before it was too late.
“Aw, Luvuyo, you’re not happy to see me?” She fake pouted when she saw the scowl I directed at her.
“I’d be happy if I didn’t see you at all, actually.” I sent her the fakest smile I could muster, and she rolled her eyes in return.
“Who is that?” Thando asked. My arms found their way around her waist as I pulled her closer to me. The strong scent of her perfume gave me the illusion of a safe haven.
“Palesa, the receptionist. Palesa and I sort of had a once of thing when we broke up.” I answered honestly.
“Oh, the one who gave you the love bite?”
“A love bite?”
“You had a love bite the night I told you I was pregnant.”
“Oh… that was someone else.”
“Some crazy girl that wanted me to pay for an apartment in Sandton. I forgot her name and I haven’t seen her.”
“Oh okay.” Her response was devoid of emotion.
“You don’t have to worry about them though. Palesa is dating Lufuno and I haven’t been in touch with the other one.” I assured her.
“Isn’t Lufuno your teammate? I mean, did you know they were dating when you hooked up with her?”
“Lufuno and I aren’t close. I knew there was something brewing between the two of them but I just found out that they are actually dating. Which doesn’t make sense because Palesa has been on my neck, I think they have one of those relationships that aren’t going anywhere.”
When we stopped in front of her car my hand grabbed hold of her chin and turned her face up to meet my gaze. My dark eyes were dull compared to the dark brown ones that she was graced with. “How was the meeting with Sarah and Jean?” I changed the subject.
Our Love sighed and motioned me to get in her car, mine had been sold ahead of the big move.
“They understand my reasons for leaving but they asked me to stay until we find a replacement.” She said when she climbed on the passenger’s seat and fastened her seatbelt.
“How long is that going to take?” I asked, reversing out of the parking lot.
“Sometimes it takes a week, it can take up to a month. The nice gamble is that I can leave as soon as we get someone to fill the vacancy so I might not have to wait for September to serve my notice and then wait for another month.”
I glanced over. “But you could take 3 months to find a suitable candidate.”
“We sent out the job spec today and my inbox has been buzzing with dozens of hopeful ‘brown’ girls that want to fill the position. I am pretty sure we will get someone, soon.”
I chuckled. “It’s hard to believe that Sarah gets away with the brown people term.”
“The Managing Partner calls us natives, trust me, brown people is much better.”
“Sounds like racial tensions are bubbling under the surface in that place but nobody is brave enough to call a spade a spade and tackle the issues head on.”
Thando: Having worked in corporate for a while now, I have come to the realisation that we have a long way to go. Abolishing laws legalising physical separation between the races made a dent in the psychological conditioning of separation, but we’ve only just started the fight for economic equality. We were finalising offer letters today and Sarah couldn’t explain why offers for people with lighter skin pigmentation were getting higher offers. It’s almost like she was irritated by me asking why, but I couldn’t just sit back and watch it happen. Needless to say I was excused and she sent the letters out herself.
“Maybe their qualifications differ.” I tried to reason.
“Nope, they look the same on paper. You know I am a little stubborn and nosey so I went to Shandu and she told me it’s like that across the board. People on the same level, doing the same job do not earn the same amount. Candidate Attorneys are the only ones that earn the same amount.”
“Sounds like someone needs to tip off Carte Blanche or something. Surely we can’t have organisations that operate like that in this day and age.”
“It’s a known secret, an expose won’t do much to change the status quo. It’s all about changing mind-sets and truly seeing each other as equals. Within the cultural framework of corporate South Africa many black individuals have a constant struggle to truly be seen as an equivalent. We have to fight for an identity, for power, for respect, and for understanding of who we are as individuals versus what we are projected as, as a race. It’s almost like a war against perception and prejudice. This struggle plays out almost daily in little things like work allocation, the type of work you are given and your superior’s willingness to impart knowledge.
Unfortunately the war of perception is also one we have to fight within ourselves as a race. Some of us hear a black pilot’s voice blaring through the speakers and we immediately question his ability to pilot a plane. We see a black doctor and we question his competence and wonder if he is really the best surgeon to remove a brain tumour. We see a black financial advisor and immediately assume that he wouldn’t know much about building wealth. Black cashiers serve their own with distain and attitude but they are kind to others. Who taught us to laugh at a black person from Nigeria that cannot speak English and applaud a white man from France for the five English words he got right? We all need to change the way we think, each of us have to confront our prejudices and reprogram our mind-sets and that is going to take time. How can we really expect others to see us as equals when we do not see it in ourselves?”
“That’s true. Having lived in both worlds I believe that diversity should rightly be seen as a benefit to growth, not an obstruction to avoid. As people, if we keep judging people and coming to conclusions about individuals based on things that exist outside of ourselves rather from within, this illusion of separation will continue to haunt us and we will remain divided within ourselves as a nation.”
“Do you remember my tiff with Thato about him not doing more to help his own climb up the ladder? He invited me to one of their off the record ‘real’ black associates forum. I expected to go there and just listen to people highlighting issues but it left me feeling like I have a lot of things to consider.”
“Things like?”
“My dreams. My aspirations. I don’t want to blink ten times and mumble like Beyoncé on Pretty Hurts when I’m asked about my aspirations in life. I am thinking about what will be written in my history books when I am long gone. Ten years from now I want to say ‘this is what I’ve done in a decade.’ Fifty years from now I want to say ‘this is what I’ve done with the gift of life.’ You know?”
“Ummm as in spirituality or?”
“I’m still figuring it all out but it’s not only that. After hearing Nomthi, Shandu, Scarlet, Lerato and other working mothers speak I am persuaded that I am meant for more than just being someone’s wife and a mother. Producing a clean shaven, well fed husband and two grown children with degrees can’t be all I have to show. It is easy for many women who are in relationships where the man not only brings home the bacon but brings the whole pig to forget about their own ambition and focus on helping the husband and the kids pursue their dreams. This is so because a lot of dreams and aspirations are driven by the desire to make money and as soon as money stops being the motivating factor, because the man makes enough, they are sometimes forgotten.
When I went to university my dreams, my goals and my ambitions were set. I want to work my way up to the executive committee. I still want that for myself even if you make enough money for both of us because I want to tell my children that no matter how hard it gets, how disappointing life may become and how bad things may seem, continue to not only dream but have the courage to act on your dreams. I can’t do that if I off-ramp and neglect the journey that will lead me to my dreams.”

A feeling of dread crept up from the pit of my stomach. “What are you saying? Are you saying you aren’t coming to London?” I was almost too afraid to hear the answer to my question. I simply couldn’t picture a life where we’d have to nurse a long distance marriage for three years, longer if my contract was renewed at the end of its term.
She gazed at me. “I’m going to London but I am going there with a mind-set that I need to find a job and work whilst there. I can’t play with a baby and bake banana bread for three years.”
“But…. what’s going to happen to the baby when you are at work?” I dared to ask.
“He will be at home with the nanny.”
“He? I thought we agreed that it’s a she.”
Our Love tittered. “We can’t just decide. I hope it’s a boy, I want another guy that’s exactly like you in this world. Not just the way you look but also the way you are as a person.”
I blushed. “That’s very sweet….. I’m just not so sure about the nanny raising the kids. I want us to instil our value system in them. How can we do that if they spend most of their time with the nanny?”
“They won’t be raised by nannies. We’ll be there after work, weekends and stuff, that’s more than enough time to do that. Your mom works, my mother works. Do we have the same value system as our mothers? Yep, we even have their bad habits.”
I was taken aback by that statement. “I have my mother’s bad habits?”
“Yes. You speak then you think when you are supposed to think before you speak. Your mother got carried away with the whole gold digger train and now that she’s had a change of heart she came to me to apologise for saying all those things about me. All is forgiven but a plate that has been glued back together will never look the same.” She said.
We heard her phone ringing and she rummaged through her bag. I made a mental note to scold her for leaving her handbag on the seat again. Our Love stared at the ringing phone in her hand. Just stared.
“Who is it?” I asked and came to a stop at a red robot. When I looked over her hands were shaking in an odd trembling rhythm as the colour drained from her face. I could almost feel her pulse beating in her ears, blocking out all other sounds except the breath that was raggedly moving in and out of her mouth at regular, gasping intervals. I found myself staring at the number flashed across the screen.
“Who is it? Do you recognise the number?” I grabbed the phone with an already shaking hand and swiped across the screen.
“Sthandwa sami? Hello?” Sandiso’s voice was hoarse but there was no denying that it was him with the distinct Zulu accent.
“Thando doesn’t want to talk to you. Don’t call this number again.” I held, my voice breaking as I did so.
I pulled up to the driveway and parked the car in the garage before I finally spoke, “Baby do not let Sandiso get to you. He must have heard about the interview or something and he’s just trying to intimidate you. Forget about him, we are leaving soon, far away from where he can terrorise you. Sandiso is locked away and he cannot hurt you, don’t let him play games with your mind.”
It was as if my words bounced off. Thando’s watery eyes enlarged and the hairs on the nape of her neck bristled. I pulled her out of the car and gathered her in my arms, assured her that she was safe and that he was locked away. I didn’t know then how wrong I was.

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