Unscripted love Chapter 92 - Mzansi Stories

Saturday, September 3


Unscripted love Chapter 92


Some people bring out the worst in you, others bring out the best, and then there are those remarkably rare, addictive ones who just bring out the most. Of everything. They make you feel so alive that you’d follow them straight to hell, just to keep getting your fix. –Karen Marie Monie
I looked myself up and down in the full length mirror and beamed. The beautiful design of the fitted dress made it seem like I was covered in shimmering gold. Paired with the gold Christian Louboutin platforms Kwame bought, it was a perfect combination. Turning sideways, I loved how the dress hugged my body and accentuated my curves. It fit as if it was made only for me.
My jet black hair tumbled around my shoulders in soft lustrous waves. My honey colored eyes shone with all the happiness I felt, the afterglow of a beautiful day and night spent with Kwame, the man who upset my entire existence. I spritzed on some of my Jean Paul Gaultier that Thando and Levi got me for my birthday, looked in the mirror one last time then grabbed my matching purse from the bed. I had Alu waiting long enough.
I entered the living room and stopped awestruck when I pressed my phone screen and saw a message from Kwame. Alu was sitting on the sofa, his eyes were focused on a soccer game showing on the large flat screen television acquired the day before. He was unaware of my presence and I used that moment to punch in a quick response to Kwame’s text. “I also wish you were here. I have a date tonight so we’ll chat later.” I sent the text, knowing it was going to make him a little jealous.
With Alu leaning forward, elbows resting on both knees and him clutching the remote in both hands and with his legs slightly parted, his posture oozed masculine self-assurance and divine strength. He was sweet, funny, the type that went to church every Sunday and what most women have in mind when they think of a good guy. He offered support, emotional and practical. He loved me and I liked him. I often wished I could transfer the feelings I had for Kwame to him but life doesn’t work that way.
When I started dating Kwame, he had a long term steady girlfriend and they had a son. While we were dating, they got married. I had no idea. Then, one day, during the third year of our relationship, I overheard a conversation between two of his closest friends. One was telling the other that they were with Kwame when his wife gave birth over the weekend.
I kept my game face up but my internal voice was screaming, “What. The. Fuck!”
I left the braai prematurely and sat with this information for the rest of the day. I knew something had been off, but out of convenience, I ignored it. He was also a smooth talker that explained away everything.
A wife?
This was the stuff that Lifetime movies were made out of. They didn’t actually happen in real life, did they?
I confronted him about it that night. He didn’t even deny it; I think it was more of a relief for him to admit to his double life than to keep on living it. His whole body sagged when I got the words out of my mouth, like he knew that the day he had spent so long dreading had finally arrived.
Yes, he had a wife. He told me that they had not been married when he and I met; they got married two years into his and my relationship. Just when I thought I couldn’t feel any worse, I did.
I was too stunned to cry as he told me all the details. They got married over the holidays; I remember him calling me the night he promised someone forever to wish my mother a speedy recovery and tell me he loved me. There was nothing that could’ve prepared me for THAT. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut. I sunk into depression as my brain tried to process that this person I loved had said “I do” to another person in the middle of our relationship.
We broke up, naturally. I don’t think there’s a relationship in the world that could survive that kind of fucked-up-ness. And who in their right mind would want to be with someone who had the bandwidth for that level of deception? Even with my low self-esteem I could answer, not me.
In the weeks, months, and even year that followed, I was a bit of a mess. I learned to accept responsibility for my part in it, but also to believe that I deserved so much better than how I was treated. I also wanted to get to a point where I no longer blamed myself or wonder why I wasn’t good enough. I stopped asking why he chose to marry her and not me.
I declared I was over Kwame and started dating again, not with much success. I found that men were more interested in stripping my body than stripping my soul.
Just when I was sure that Kwame was a distant memory, perhaps as far back as my grade eight play he showed up at my workplace and refused to leave until I spoke to him. When I eventually caved and went down to him seven hours later, I expected us to get into one of those screaming-things-you-can-never-take-back fights but my heart fluttered, stomach jumped…the works. “Was he always this cute? This tall? This nerve wrecking?” I wondered. We sat shyly across from each other in a meeting room and for the first time, I had no idea what to say to this man.
Just when I’d made strides I was back to feeling like someone shot me in the head and my brain was splattered all over the floor. Women my age were getting married, settling down while I had to start over and Kwame was making it so hard to do so.
I was in conflict between my feelings and the staunchness of my resolute head. There was a clear division between my foolish heart that wanted him, only to break a little more inside, and my head that knew that nothing would come of this. I gave into the weakness of my foolish heart by opening the lines of communication again. I knew it would only fail me.
After months of relentless pursuit, hours of late night conversations that sometimes lasted until sunrise and more promises of change than Dololo Alliance, I looked for healing in the same person that broke me. Like a fool I placed heart back into the palms of the person who destroyed it.
Kwame was a more positive experience than any "proper" boyfriend I'd had. My happiness was paramount to him. Our relationship had communication, trust, respect, friendship, openness with feelings and honesty without it being exclusive. He existed in a place beyond all rules.
As if Alu sensed my presence, he looked up from the television and his intense eyes held me captive. Alu stared at me for a moment and without tearing away his eyes from me, clicked off the television. He got up and moved towards me, never once looking away. The way his eyes engulfed me in open adoration made I feel giddy.
“This was worth the wait,” he joked and took my hand. He pirouetted me around so he could admire every inch of me. Then he wrapped his arms around my waist and buried his face in the crook of my neck and inhaled, "Mmmm... Let me have you for dinner tonight," he muffled. I giggled and sighed happily.
“I'm an advocate and I am expected to have some code of etiquette, but you look so fucking gorgeous and this dress just makes you look so damn fuckable. I want to throw you on the kitchen counter and fuck you senseless,” he mumbled.
The way he always talked dirty to me always made me blush.
Alu grabbed my phone from my hand when it beeped again. “You and this damn phone. Don’t make me kill these boys trying their luck.”
"You can't," I said, breathless, trying to ignore the tickling sensation of his lips against my neck.
"Can't what?"
"Can't kill anyone."
He smiled. "Why not?"
"Because all the guys that you’ve put away will be on you like piranhas if you end up in prison. Give me my phone," I whispered earnestly.
Alu squeezed me to him, delighting in the feel of my fuller figured frame in his arms. Though I stood at five feet seven and my head only reached his shoulders in heels, he was a perfect fit. A moment passed between us before he finally lifted his face away from my neck and handed me the phone that was vibrating in his hand.
“No phones tonight.” He suggested.
I rejected Kwame’s call and slid the device in my purse. “No phones.”
Undisguised emotion flickered in his eyes before he bent back down and kissed me passionately. When my phone rang again, he pulled back and said with a voice thick with desire, “Let's go before I peel this dress off.”
We got to the restaurant just after seven. We’d been out for dinner at fancy restaurants before but never something so ornate. The maître d gave us an exuberant welcome and then guided us to a table. Being a very well-known and respected lawyer had its perks and though Alu and I did not have a reservation, the maître d still gave us one of the best tables in the restaurant.
As we followed behind the maître d to our table, I noticed the way other women stared at Alu. Though they already had their own men sitting in front of them, they were still unable to hide their interest. Smiling inwardly with pride, I slipped my arm around his waist possessively, drawing him closer to me.
"This place is so exquisite, it takes my breath away every time I come here," Alu gushed looking around at the tastefully designed decor of the restaurant. A mixture of adult contemporary R&B and Neo Soul penetrated the atmosphere.
"It's the best restaurant in the city. Only the best for the best." He indicated staring at me.
I smiled shyly at him, “you are too sweet.”
“It would have been nicer if it was actually Valentine ’s Day not the day after.” Alu jabbed.
I reached out for his hand and ran my thumb over his knuckles. “I’m sorry for cancelling our plans yesterday. Work gets crazy sometimes.” I lied.
He beamed. “I was just joking. I was working on an urgent application yesterday so I was kind of glad that you got to be the bad guy and bail on Valentine’s Day.”
Alu ordered a champagne bucket of Dom Perignon and the chef's special for our meal. We basked in each other's company until the food was ready; laughing, joking and even teasing each other while catching up on the week that passed without us seeing each other. The atmosphere that surrounded us was filled with both love and romance.
When the food finally arrived, the aromatic smell teased our nostrils and made our mouths water. The meal looked and smelled delicious and I whimpered in delight when the food finally touched my taste buds. After dinner and just before we had dessert the owner of the restaurant came to our table to greet us. The owner and Alu knew each other very well, with Alu being part of his team of the legal team he had on retainer and close friend of his.
"Alunamda Koni. It's a pleasure to see you and your lady tonight," Richard greeted with a broad smile that caused age appropriate creases to appear on his lips. Alu rose from the table and enveloped the older man in a brotherly hug.
"It is always a pleasure to see you, Richard."
Richard then turned and acknowledged me, bending to give me a fatherly kiss on the cheek. "Ms. Zulu, I'm more than honoured to be graced with your beauty tonight."
My heart warmed and I blushed at the older man's heartedness. "The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Harris," I smiled.
"I can always see why this gentleman dotes on you. You are beautiful," he added, causing me to blush some more and making Alu chuckle proudly.
Alu's face then became serious. "Richard, I would have come looking for you but I am glad you made the effort to stop by my table. I need talk to you for only a moment." He said and Richard nodded.
"I'll be right back, baby," Alu bent and gave me a soft kiss on my lips before following Richard.
I didn't know what it could possibly be that would make him leave my side now but it didn't bother me. It gave me a chance to get back to the man who’d been trying to get hold of me earlier.
“Hey sexy,” I purred when he answered my call.
“It’s Kofi! Who is this?”
I panicked, “Sorry, wrong number.”
“Your number is saved on my dad’s phone and I’m often left with the job of deleting messages to and from you so I highly doubt that you dialled the wrong number. I don’t know who you are but you are going to stop sleeping with my father!
You think you are the only one? A one of a kind snowflake? You won’t believe the number of cheap women who take their panties off for a set of car keys, apartments and things that they will never even own. You are nothing more than a glorified prostitute. Leave my father alone you sad little cypher.” Kofi sneered.
His words fogged my head, bringing on a haze where thoughts went nowhere and even my emotions were dulled.
At that moment Alu came back with a wide smile on his face. But then his face suddenly became serious and he took both of my hands in his own as he took his seat. Staring deep into my eyes he asked, "Do you know how happy you make me?"
I nodded, held by the intensity of his eyes. "I, I love you with all my heart and I see us having a future together. I know that you never really want to talk about us getting married or having kids and to be honest I don’t even know if you want that with me.” He started.

“I know your ex hurt you by leaving you for another woman and it makes it hard for you to be vulnerable with me. I want you to believe that I'm never gonna do anything to hurt you and I'm never gonna leave you for anyone else. I know it is what you are afraid of, but I want you to know the heart of the man that you have and understand that I won't let anyone or anything come between us." He paused for a moment, seeming to gather his thoughts and then went on.
"I miss waking up next to you every day. I miss coming home to you. I miss your cooking and someone who cared enough to bring me a warm meal at the office on days when I was working late and bring me a fresh suit on days when I didn’t make it home. I’ve never had a woman who is as understanding about my hectic work schedule. I want you to move back in but my mother taught me to always respect a woman and to do right by her, meaning to never make the choice to live under the same roof with her... unless we're married."
My breath hitched and my heartbeat quickened, confused as to why he was saying this. I’d halted any talks about being married to each other or starting a family. Then Alu took a deep breath and nodded his head once.
"Do you love me?" he asked solemnly.
"Yes," I answered hesitantly.
It could have seemed a perfect coincidence but at that very moment the song, ‘A Million’ by John Legend, started playing in the background. I remembered a cheesy moment when we were watching the movie, About Last Night, when he said that would be our song if we ever chose to have a song.
The maître d came to our table with a stainless steel covered platter. He rested it down in front of me and then nodded his head at Alu. I frowned at the covered platter.
"What's this?" I asked, looking from him to the metal platter.
"It's dessert," he responded with a smile. Alu lifted the cover off the platter and I gasped. My hands flew to my mouth and my eyes widened in shock.
In the center of the platter surrounded by whip cream and sliced strawberries made into a heart, was a Tiffany signature ring box.
"Open it," he urged.
I touched the box with trembling fingers, still unable to contain my shock. Flustered and frantically looking around, I blurted out, “Please don’t tell me that’s what I think it is.”
“It is what you think it is. I would get down on one knee and ask the question if I was certain that you’d say yes. I honestly do not know where you stand in this relationship, Sbahle. You blow hot and cold. We break up and make up every other day. I’m not a kid anymore so I am not interested in playing games. I want to know if you are prepared to go all in.”
Tears started streaming down my face when he reached in and opened the box and I saw what was in it. With a brilliant round cut diamond ring in hand Alu said all sorts of things. My heart was pounding against my chest. I felt my body tensing up, all my senses went into overdrive. I heard noises everywhere but I couldn’t make out what they were and all that Alu was saying sounded like a blur. Then my eyes landed on the man sitting in front of me making my world stop and everything else frozen.
I took the box with shaking hands. "I don't believe it," I muttered softly, staring at the beautifully designed engagement ring.
I’d dreamed of this moment in another time with someone else asking the question. I certainly was not expecting it from Alu after a few months of dating on and off. I didn’t even think we would be anything more than a one night stand. I felt everything all at once as he looked at me, patiently waiting for a response. It scared me, I was overwhelmed and I thought I was going to die at that moment. I wanted to ask him for time to think but the words didn’t come out of my mouth.
“Fuck my pride, if I’m gonna do it then I’m gonna do it right.” He said.
Alu stood up from his chair, took the box from my shaking hands and got down on one knee in front of me. By then, everyone in the restaurant was witnessing the moment. There were genuine smiles everywhere and some of the women even looked on wistfully.
Alu picked up my trembling fingers and looked deep into my eyes. With his voice thick with emotion, he said, "Sbahle Zulu, will you marry me?" he asked again.
I felt a lump in my throat making it hard for me to swallow, my breath was hitched. And suddenly I felt like I was being suffocated.
I heard a voice “Sbahle?” Damn, why couldn’t I answer the question?
“Yes,” the words barely made it out of my mouth.
He slipped the ring on my finger, got up and hugged me. “You had me worried there for a second.’ He whispered into my ear. “I love you, soon to be Mrs Koni.”
What did I just do? I buried my face in the crook of his neck and cried what everyone mistook as tears of joy.
The whole restaurant exploded in whistles and applause. Richard appeared at our table again, this time to congratulate us with a triumphant smile. "I am truly grateful to have been a part of this, Alu." He said patting Alu on his back. He spoke to us a little while longer then congratulated us a second time before leaving.
I couldn't tear my eyes away from my sparkling engagement ring. It was stunning. And when I looked up at my new fiancé, I saw the undisguised love portrayed in his eyes.
"Do you like it?"
"Like it?" I answered, incredulous. "Baby, I love it. You make me so happy."
"And you, Sbahle, make me a very happy man."
He sighed and rested his forehead against mine and we afforded a few seconds to come down from the high.
“How could you ask me that? Of course I still love you. I will always love you, Maria,” Mayihlome said to me on that rainy day. The weather was weird that day. The rain was falling lightly at first, and it picked up speed and then it ceased to exist completely until the cycle started over again. Kind of like us.
His car was packed up with another round of his stuff that he took from our house, his eyes were rimmed red. Time was standing still and ticking so fast at the same time. I wanted time to stop forever and I wanted to fast forward to a time when the pain would be gone. Everything about my life was a paradox. “But we weren’t in a place for going forward.” He added.
“I love you.” I said. There was nothing else I could say but everything. I looked at him, his beautiful face. His eyes. When you are about to lose someone you love, you drink in their every moment, you try to solidify a picture of him in your mind because you know in just a few minutes, they will drive away and you will be left with nothing but memories.
“I love you too. I am sorry for hurting you.” He said.
Hurting me? I thought his love would always protect me from hurt. But his love was the reason why I was hurting. He wasn’t hurting me, he was destroying me. My body, my heart, my brain no longer felt connected to each other. Instead, they were floating out in pain grasping at anything that would make me feel better.
“I know it seems like a big general question but how are you, really? How have you been?” He asked.
“I am better. I can feel that I am a different person but I am better. I don’t want to die anymore, that feeling is gone. I have also asked God for forgiveness for turning my back to him and blaming him for everything that happened.”
He nodded. “That’s good.”
I shifted nervously and rubbed my arm. “In the time that I’ve spent alone…. in this house I have figured some things out. I spent a lot of my time crying. Just, mourning the end of this family as I knew it. I also mourned the loss of our children’s innocence. I also mourned the loss of me.
I’ve always sheltered our daughters and I never wanted to see them hurting but they each experienced a woman’s worst nightmare. The pain that they went through will change them forever…. I know it’s changed me.
How are you? How have you been? Umm, how are you finding your new place?” I asked.
“I have been okay. I was staying at a bread and breakfast and we just recently moved to our new place. She was home and she just recently came back.”
“Forgiveness.” My eyes shot up. “You can call her by her name. Forgiveness. Your wife.”
He looked at me with pitiful eyes. “Forgiveness. My wife.” He echoed.
“You did the right thing by leaving. Making a decision instead of floating around endlessly.”
He shrugged. “I shouldn’t have left when you needed me the most. I should have understood that we all grieve differently. I should have found ways to ease your pain instead of adding to it by leaving. I’ve lost you and the relationship I had with the kids because of it. They don’t tell me anything anymore.
I was doing my weekly shopping when I bumped into a pregnancy magazine with Thando on the cover. She didn’t even tell me, I found out that she did that just like everyone else.”
My brow furrowed. “They aren’t telling you anything because you are married to the person who ran to the papers with this family’s dirty laundry. They…we do not understand how you could trust someone like that.” I moved closer to him and cupped his cheek. “Goodbye dearest. You are going to be a good husband…. an excellent father.”
He grabbed my arm and searched my eyes frantically with wide eyes. “You know.”
I nodded. “She came to rub it in my face the day we thought we were burying our daughter. Forgiveness didn’t care about the pain we were in, she only cared about the hold she had over you.”
“Wh-” I placed a finger on his lips to hush him.
“Please do not make me talk about things I don’t want to talk about. I don’t need to hear your reasons. I don’t care to know the reasons why you bedded someone else and didn’t even care about me enough to use protection. You could have given me AIDS.”
“Maria.” It sounded more like a desperate plea complete with a single tear rolling down his cheek.
“You asked me before you left whether I blame you for what happened to Futhi. I do.” I swallowed my hurt. “It may not be fair but I blame you for causing the pain that drove Futhi out that fateful night. I blame myself too. I lost myself to the pain and forgot about being her mother.”
“We could still figure this out.” He said.
“Mayihlome, don’t fight for this because it’s the right thing to do. We still have two children together and we will have a grandchild soon. That’s why I am being civil. You made a choice, now go home to your new wife.” I said.
I ran out of the car, into the rain and into my house. I watched his car pull away from the living room window. Grief shook my entire being. How could he possibly claim to love me when he hurt me like this?
I think I lost part of myself. I hate admitting that out loud. Or in words. There’s a secret shame that accompanies going so mad for another individual. The kind of lost that left me driving without headlights, wondering if something would crash into me. And in the lowest of lows, not really caring.
At the risk of being so cliché, he really messed with my head. Twisting and turning, finding a way into every stupid thought. Fantasies. I’d fall asleep rereading our texts, just knowing he was everything I could ever want.
I was a lost girl who no longer knew who she was outside of two decades of marriage. I only knew how to navigate my joy, sadness…life in his eyes. His hands. His laugh that I still heard sometimes when I was asleep. I remember as a child I had such a lofty idea of marriage — that things click and work. It’s easy. And I’d know my own strength. I’d recognize my own worth. I didn’t factor in what happens when you grow love someone more than you love yourself. And how it can almost kill you.
It scares me how much I had done, would have done. I still would. Honestly.
I missed him. I missed how blatantly talkative I used to be around him, talking about everything and nothing, all at once and how gently he used to caress me and hush me as we lost ourselves in a silence, feeling utterly safe in each other’s arms, the silence marred only by the mutual beating of our hearts.
I missed how tangentially perfect we were together. I missed that girl he created in me.
All I knew was to give and surrender myself to him until the very idea of empathy burdened my soul. I was tired. I was tired of the grey. Tired of the letting in and letting go and the constant battle in my mind to care less. Tired of the feigned ignorance of his flaws. Tired of forgiving when he wouldn’t have forgiven me for the same transgressions.
Now that he made the choice I didn’t have the strength to make, I was still tired. But this tiredness was refreshing, much like the smell of mushy earth just after the first drizzle of rain…or…or…like the smell of dew in a wintry morning. This tiredness didn’t let me curl up in pain and hold on. This tiredness felt and smelled like freedom.
Mayihlome was going to be wept, over and over, until he disappeared into a distant memory, some insignificant story. And with each weeping session I would remember to love myself a little bit more. I’d remember that I was also important and there was more to my being than holding on to hurt simply because I no longer knew how to be alone.
A faint smell of Mayihlome’s perfume greeted me when I started walking down the passage towards Thando’s room. I opened the door to the room I’d commandeered as my new project space. I closed my eyes and smiled. It had been freshly painted baby pink and I was finally done assembling the cot. I’d get Levi to check if it was stable enough before putting the baby in there.
I flipped on the light switch and a bright glow filled the room. The room was perfect. I just needed to look for bedding that perfectly suited the pink and white room and it would be ready for Hailey-Hope’s arrival in about seven weeks.
Hailey-Hope. I chuckled when Thando first told me the name but it grew on me. I was honoured when she asked me to give the little princess a Zulu name. Well, 3 name suggestions and she’d choose one. I had one, Uluthando. I liked it so much I couldn’t think of anything else. I suggested the name but she reminded me that Levi doesn’t believe in God so his child couldn’t be named God is love.
When I stepped into the room the warm, stuffy air made me wrinkle my nose. I sat down on the new bed and typed out a message to Futhi, wishing her well for her first semester test and telling her to get enough sleep. Hopefully, she’d listen to me.
Since I was already on the phone, I couldn’t resist the urge to call Thando even though she was probably asleep. I was often sleepy when I was pregnant with her but she was so much worse. Her grandmother and I warned her about sleeping too much because it would make delivery harder but Thando still woke up at noon and went to sleep at eight, sometimes seven. I’d made peace with the fact that she would be in labour for hours, maybe days, because that baby would be sleeping through the process.
“Good evening,” Levi answered her phone as expected.
“Hi, Levi.” I said, clearing my throat. “Is she sleeping again?”
“No. She drank copious amounts of maize meal juice so she has too much energy. Last I checked she was stomping the blankets in the bath tub. Apparently she used to do that with Futhi when she was younger.” He said, sounding like he was walking.
My cheeks warmed at the memory. “I am guessing that’s not how you washed the blankets growing up?”
Levi chuckled. “Mom took them to the Laundromat. I would’ve helped Thando wage a war against blankets that look perfectly clean to me but I’m preparing for class.” He felt the need to explain.
I giggled. “What’s maize meal juice?”
My brows knotted as I asked, “Magwew?” And then it hit me. “Oh, mageu.” I said, laughing. I didn’t think it would get worse than him calling uphuthu popcorn pap.
“Yes…. that. I used to drive out to get it for her at night. I’ve since learnt to keep stock of magwew and prawns in the fridge because they don’t sell prawns anywhere at one o’clock in the morning.”
A warm, powerful wave of happiness flooded my chest. “You are a good man, Levi. My daughter is very lucky to have you.”
He sighed deeply, “I try.”
What was meant to be a quick call turned into an hour of belly laughing and a heart-warming conversation with the two of them. That night I didn’t feel lonely even though I was alone.

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