Unscripted love Chapter 96 - Mzansi Stories

Monday, September 12


Unscripted love Chapter 96


Kindred Spirits
Why did I stay in a toxic relationship?
I asked myself this question countless times.
I would ask myself after each horrendous fight or a heart-breaking exchange. I’d be applying foundation to the bags under my eyes while getting ready for work, glancing over at the empty spot on the bed where Mayihlome was supposed to be when he chose to spent the night with that duck, Forgiveness.
I’d ask myself while counting money for offering, hoping there was enough to cover the bills whenever Mayihlome gambled money for mortgage away or after counselling a woman torn apart by her husband’s philandering ways. Wishing that I would take my own advice and leave… start a new life.

Each time I would offer the same excuses as I did before and live on with the hopes of a better tomorrow. With each well-rehearsed answer I’d glance at my children sitting in the front row at church and stand behind my reasoning. I had to do whatever it took to keep my family together.
There were days when I hated myself as much as I hated Mayihlome. It didn’t seem understandable, staying in a horrid, abusive and downright humiliating marriage. But I was obsessed with making it work by any means necessary, even in the end when it became clear that he no longer respected me. I hated myself for blaming myself and questioning what I could have done differently to stop it from happening.
I wanted to break free but I didn’t know if I could. I’d become too depended on his affections that I could no longer live with mine. So there I was, finally pinpointing what it was that kept me in a relationship that hurt me and my children.
I hoped my children would live in a household where they saw their mother and their father daily. I hoped my marriage would work.
No one gets into a relationship knowing it will fail. When you make promises, especially ones that involve the words “forever” or “always” or “eternity”, you wholeheartedly believe you’ll keep them. I intended to keep my promises, and I believed I owed those promises to my children. Especially when the memories of a happy family were dangled in front of me like a carrot in front of a donkey.
My hope of a better tomorrow or a renewed relationship or a partnership with the charming, enthralling man that once shamelessly courted me, chained me to a life of torment. He would rip my heart to shreds, then suddenly transform himself into the loving husband, promising what he once whispered in my ear or proclaimed in front of cherished family and friends.
Mayihlome successfully harnessed my hope into a corner, subtly fixating my efforts on the perfect family for my children. Not the perfect life for my children.
Or me.
At some point I forgot that I mattered.
Like many people that stay in a turbulent marriage or relationship, I stayed because I saw myself as the slaughtered lamb, hanging onto the hope of a better day, a better life, a better family…. for the sake of the children.
What I failed to realize is that being a parent doesn’t mean sacrificing yourself for your children. Instead, it means demanding everything for yourself so that you can give it to your children and, at times, walking away from everything so that you can give your children more.
When I saw Mayihlome waltzing into the hospital with his heavily pregnant duck while our grandchild was fighting for her life, the hope I once had, shifted.
I reeked of desperation. He reeked of distance and somewhere, in-between running after Mayihlome and running away from him, I lost myself.
There I was loving him like he was supposed to belong with me, knowing that he was already hers. He was miles, cities, and provinces away from me and yet the distance between our hearts seemed longer than our bodies.
I was hollow inside, trying to find meaning to the new complexities in our relationship while the flame had run out. It was almost juvenile for me to realize this, after a long while of knowing that we were over but somewhere in my subconscious still hoping that we hadn’t had our last time. That we hadn’t had our last call, our last laugh, our last couple’s conference together and our last kiss.
I no longer hoped for the perfect family, gathered around a Christmas tree or a dinner table. I didn’t dream about my children coming home to one house, sleeping in their bedrooms with their spouses and children over the holidays or reconvening from family camping trips.
I finally put himself first. My hope was now for a better life, not a better family. I stopped compensating for all the mistakes Mayihlome made as a man. And I stopped fixating on the dream of a family that wasn’t broken when we were broken beyond repair. I realized that I did not have to subscribe to society’s view that as I woman I had to forgive even though he wouldn’t if the shoe was on the other foot, propelling my view that a lot of marriages survive on the level of chicken shit the wife can take. When I let go of the elusive hope I’d been clinging on to, I was that much closer to finding my existence outside of Mayihlome and the relationship we had.
I gazed at the little soul lying next to me and I smiled lovingly at Uluthando. She’d dozed off after another bottle feed a while ago but I couldn’t bring myself to switching off the side lamp and joining her and the rest of the world in lala land. Perhaps it was the excitement from spending the night with my granddaughter for the very first time and the joy I felt just looking at her.
I picked up my cellphone, checked the time, 2:27am. The twilight zone. The only people that were awake were the night time grafters, the nurses, prostitutes and insomniacs. I turned the lights off and pulled the blanket up to my chest, careful not to cover Uluthando’s little face. My eyes fixated on the ceiling as I relieved the past couple of months in my mind. I thought of all the things I could have done differently, all the decisions that I now regretted. I felt myself drifting to sleep, to dream of little feet and pink ponies at a park.
“NO!” A roaring voice yelling those words jolted me awake. Was I hearing things?
“NO, Please!” The male voice yelled again. I jumped out of bed and ran across the hall, following the direction of the distress call.
My hand found the cold metal of the doorknob to the room where the agonizing cries were coming from and I twisted it. Thank god it opened.
“Please…” he yelled again. If someone was hurting him, I had no idea what I would do, I didn’t think this through. I fumbled around for the lamp and switched it on. Joel was shirtless and tangled in the thick comforter, thrashing and tossing in the web.
Without thinking, I sat on the bed and reached for his shoulder. His skin was hot, too hot.
“Brother Joel!” I said quietly, trying to wake him.
His head snapped to the side and he whimpered but he didn’t wake.
“Brother Joel, wake up!” I blubbered and shook him harder while my body moved to sit astride his. Both of my hands went to his shoulders once more and I shook him again. His eyes flew open, terror filled them for a brief moment before confusion, then relief. Beads of sweat covered his forehead.
“Maria.” The way he said my name broke my heart then healed it. I didn’t even know he’d memorized it with the very little interaction we’d had. Within seconds he untangled his arms and brought them to my back, pushing me forward to rest his chest on mine.
The wetness of his chest and his sudden move startled me but I stayed put. I could hear his heart beating, pumping rapidly against my chest. Poor Joel. I placed both of my hands on his sides, hugging him. He stroked my hair as he mumbled something inaudible over and over, as if I was his talisman in the dark.
“Brother Joel, are you okay?” My words were lower than a whisper.
“No.” He confessed. His chest rose and fell slower than it was before, but his breathing was still shallow. I didn’t want to push him to discuss the terror he’d just dreamed.
I didn’t want to ask him if he was going to be okay, somehow I knew he was. When I tried to stand to leave his body tensed and held me in place.
“Please….. stay for a little while. And please, call me Joel. Brother Joel sounds like we are in a convent.” He whispered.
I dropped my hands and moved to sit on the nightstand beside his bed. “Why are you sleeping in here?” The question tumbled out of my mouth.
“I…I” he started, but abandoned his sentence.
He looked straight ahead of me, not even glancing at the face of the person who’d just shaken him out his nightmare.
“What’s going on Joel?” I asked.
He looked at me like he wanted to say something but he couldn’t.
“I was dreaming of the day my parents were shot in front of me.” He said, eventually.
My lungs felt frozen inside. My eyes scanned his face. His hair was a rich shade of auburn. It fell over his ears with its medium length. It was the type of hair I’d seen upon a movie stars head in a scene where they were driving in a car, wind running through their hair as they stated they felt alive. It was interesting to see it without the gel holding it in place.
His eyes were narrow stars, filled with a light, piercing shade of blue. I had never seen such blue eyes before. The way his light brown lashes curled was unusually long and beautiful for a boy. His jaw was shaped like a diamond, classy and sharp. His skin was creamy, it reminded me of vanilla ice cream and honey.
For the first time in weeks, I felt emotions – actual emotions – that swirled when I looked at him. I felt self-conscious as he studied me as closely as I was studying him. I pulled my robe closed and suddenly felt naked under it even though I had short pajama pants and a tank top. I felt… like I wanted to know him more. It was as if he jumpstarted something.
“I’m fine now. Go back to sleep.” He tilted his head slightly, “I don’t want to bore you with my nightmares.”
“I- I want to know about them.” I stuttered, trying not to look into his eyes. They were so powerful- so determined. “If you don’t mind me asking, why aren’t you sleeping with your wife?” I asked, a little suspicion crossed my face as I perked up an eyebrow.
This time he didn’t think before he spoke. “Because we broke up months ago. We are separated but we still live in the same house, which is easy to do in a house this big for just two people.”
He froze and I froze. He seemed shocked by his revelation, while I felt like an idiot for asking questions that had nothing to do with me.
“Emily slept with my best friend and my business partner, Henze,” he said, surprising me.
“My ex-husband is having a baby with a woman that is young enough to be his daughter,” I said, surprising myself.
We communicated our hurt in a comfortable silence.
“You don’t look comfortable on that thing.” He said, breaking the silence. He pulled me with that unrelenting grip on my arm, and I felt like I was a dog on a leash.
“No, I’m- I’m fine here.” I tried to resist, but he was persistent.
“Sit on the bed. I’m not going to bite you.” He said.
“I’m fine, really.” I tried to raise my voice and shove his hands off, but it hardly made a difference to him.
“Please, just sit on the bed.” Joel took my hand and it made me nervous.
“I’ll sit on the daybed.” I informed him and walked over to the daybed positioned at the foot of his bed. He grabbed the throw then sat on the other end of the day bed, picking up my feet and placing them on his lap and covering them with the throw.
I noted he looked tired and drawn.
“Aren’t you supposed to be starting a company somewhere overseas?” I asked.
“Austria. Something that required my premature return came up. I arrived yesterday morning but I’ve been hiding in this room. I wasn’t in the mood for company and this house is just crawling with Emily’s guests.”
“Why don’t you move out?” I asked him, slightly hurt by his statement because I was one of them.
“Because this is my house. I asked Emily to move out but she refused.” He replied, a scowl crossed his face.
“Then file for divorce and divide the assets.” I offered my unsolicited advice.
“Let’s just say that I would file for divorce if I could.”
“Why can’t you?” I don’t know why I felt like I was entitled to ask. I was a stranger – I might have looked harmless, but in the end I was simply a stranger. And strangers shouldn’t be trusted.
“She knows too much.” He said simply.
I accepted his answer and didn’t push further.
“Are you okay now?” I asked.
“I am, now that you are here.” He replied, shooting a tiny smile at me. It made my stomach do a flip-flop, and I clutched my tummy at the strange feeling.
I couldn’t figure out why he trusted me with this. He didn’t know me, I didn’t know him. For some reason, I wanted to open up to him about our shared hurt, and then there was another, larger part that wanted to run back to my room.
But there was something in his eye. Perhaps it was a sparkle or just the way he glanced at me. It was something that made me postpone my retreat. It made me sit there and listen to him. It made me tell him that my ex-husband was coming to Uluthando’s birthday party with his duck. I couldn’t help the lone tear that came trailing down my cheek.
“Don’t ruin your beautiful face by crying for a man that clearly doesn’t deserve you.” He said but all I really heard was the word beautiful. Did he really think that or was he saying it to make me feel better?
Me: Sometimes I wish I was a man. I would have moved on by now and I certainly wouldn’t be crying over it.
“What makes you think men don’t have feelings?” He croaked his eyebrow as he thumbed my tear and looked me in the eye.
Me: Do they?
Joel: We do. As a man, it’s almost as if my duty is to hold back my feelings. I had to act strong when the only thing I knew to be family was taken for me. It breaks my heart every time I envision the relationship Emily and Henze had. I do not trust a lot of people but I trusted my wife and my best friend…. Henze and I were like brothers Maria. I may not cry about it but hurts, it hurts so fucking much.
I looked at Joel for a moment. I felt my heart warming a little bit more at his vulnerability. I jumped when a bolt of lightning pierced the sky followed by a loud clap of thunder.
I wasn’t the only one startled by the roaring thunder as I heard Makhosazana’s earsplitting cry. It swept through the house like a whirlwind, upending our banter. I hurled out of Joel’s room and jogged to my room to clutch the little angel. I nested her against my chest so that she would be calmed by the body to body contact.
“Is the baby okay?” Joel asked, walking into the room.
“Yeah, thunder must have woke her up.” I said, grabbing her bottle and putting it on my cheek to check if it was warm enough. “I have to warm this up.” I stated, deciding that it was too cold.
“Let me warm it up. Do I pop it in the microwave?” He asked, taking it from me.
I chuckled. “No. Put it in a bowl of boiling water. Come, I’ll show you.” I said above the baby’s cries.
I soothed her with lullaby's and stroked her tiny back and soft hair while Joel and I waited for the kettle to boil.
“She is beautiful, just like her grandma.” My heart fluttered at his statement and I looked away so he wouldn’t see me blush.
“She is such a blessing,” I responded and went back to soothing her.
Uluthando was a dear little thing, born premature, but she gained weight fast on her mother's milk and soon looked not too different from other babies born in the same week. She was becoming quite chubby, developing those chubby bracelets where the fat folded at her wrists and ankles. She was an easy baby to feed, opening her mouth wide at every bottle feed. I whispered sweet things in her ears and covered her with kisses as she wiggled her feet, clearly enjoying her milk.
“She is too adorable,” Joel cooed, rubbing his index finger on her chubby cheeks. “What’s her name?”
“You don’t know her name?” Shock was evident in my tone.
“I heard Hailey-Hope flying around at some point but I don’t know what she was actually named at birth. I told you Emily and I are separated so we don’t talk. Levi and Zain don’t have any regard for me so they didn’t tell me anything.”
My heart sank. “That’s terrible. Well, she is Hailey-Hope Uluthando Cohan on paper but she has two more names that don’t appear on her birth certificate.”
Joel: And those are?
Me: Bokamoso and Makhosazana.
Joel: Sounds like a mouthful. What do they mean?
Me: Makhosazana means princess, Uluthando means God is love and Bok-
“Levi named his child God is love? That’s a shocker, given that he is atheist.”
“I am guessing you didn’t hear about the little scare this little one gave us at birth?” Surely someone should have told him. He wasn’t Levi’s father but he raised him.
Joel: A scare?
I told him about the dread that filled me when I first saw that she was blue. After an hour of Joel and I talking about everything from the circumstances surrounding Hailey-Hope’s birth that turned Levi into a believer to what we did for a living and everything under the sun, he told me he felt like we were kindred spirits and I agreed.
“I think we managed to put her back to sleep.” He smiled.
“Yeah, you did.” I moved to get up and take Makhosazana from him but he moved towards me, placing a hand on my shoulder and pushing me back down.
“Please don’t get up. I’ll put her down. She sleeps on her tummy, right?”
I nodded and didn’t follow his instruction. I followed closely behind him to show him how to put her down.
I was sleepy but hunger drove me to the kitchen to root out something for an early breakfast. Joel went to his room to catch up on some sleep. I’d just pulled out the spices, eggs, onions and tomatoes when Joel entered the kitchen.
“I’m not sleepy.” He said, sitting on the counter.
“Are you hungry?”
“Starving. What’s on the menu?”
“Scrambled eggs,” I held up a skillet. “You eat that, right?”
“I haven’t had eggs with rajah spice before,” he gave a husky laugh.
“You’ll love it, trust me.”
I was aware of him watching me cook and it made me fumble what I was doing a few times.
“Where did you learn to cook?” he stole a piece of bacon.
“My mother. Do you cook or do your girlfriends cook for you in Austria?” I didn’t attempt to be subtle.
His face grew serious, “I don’t have girlfriends, Maria. I have friends with benefits.”
“What are friends with benefits?” I asked.
He chuckled, “your innocence is intriguing. I’m not going to corrupt your mind, let me rather say that I don’t think I’m in the right frame of mind to commit to a long term relationship. I also have too many responsibilities, I don’t wish to add anymore.”
I turned and studied him, he met my eyes honestly, making sure I understood what he was saying without really saying a word.
I nodded once then laughed.
“What’s so funny?” he asked.
“Are you aware that you can boss people around without even saying a word?”
Joel stopped with a piece of bacon halfway to his mouth.
“Are you planning to save me any?” I looked at the half empty plate.
He grinned, “I can’t help it. You missed your calling as a chef. Shall I make the toast?”
Me: You cook?
Joel: I can make toast and I’ll stir whatever you put in the pot.
Me: Lucky for you, eggs are ready so you don’t have to stir today.
Joel: When am I going to stir something in Durban?
I glanced at him and laughed off his question.
Eventually, we finished cooking and sat down to eat in a companionable silence. When we were done I left him to wash the dishes but he came and took the sponge from me.
“Leave that for the help.”
I laughed, “You are so wrong.”
“Is the baby up again?” He asked.
I stopped to listen and I heard her crying like a wounded animal. “Yep, she’s up.”
“We put her down two seconds ago.” He grunted.
“She is just like her mother. She feeds for an hour, screams with trapped air for an hour, sleeps for an hour, then starts the whole cycle over again. Levi says she slept for two hours yesterday but it gets better after six weeks.” I said as we padded back to the room.
“So you went through the same thing with your daughters?”
“Yes. My son was raised by my sister.”
His eyebrow raised in question.
“I had him when I was young. Very young. Do you have children?” I asked, putting a pacifier in her little mouth and taking Uluthando’s pants off for a nappy change.
Joel grabbed the baby wipes and said, “My companies are my kids.”
I laughed. “You never wanted children?”
“Emily fell pregnant but she aborted the baby before she told me she was pregnant. She said it wasn’t the right time and the right time never really came.” He said.
Levi and Thando walked in the room before I could say anything, a look of shock registered on Thando’s face when she saw Joel. I made a note to ask her why she seems uncomfortable around him later.
“Good morning.” Levi said with a grin.
I sulked. “Oh no, daddy is here to take you away from grandma and grandpa. Tell them you don’t want to go.” I cuddled her.
“Congratulations, Levi….Thando. I didn’t even know she was born already.” Joel chimed in, a hint of sadness in his tone..
Levi: Thank you. I didn’t know you were in the country?
Joel: I came back yesterday but I’m not staying for long.
Thando gave a quick wave and hello, took the baby and left the room under the guise that she had to go bath the baby. I folded Uluthando’s dirty clothes and packed her things in a bag while Joel and Levi had a brief chat. I handed over the bag and kicked them out so I could get some sleep.
That morning as I climbed into bed I was exhausted. All I could hear was Joel’s voice in my head. We’d spent hours talking and it felt like we could go on forever. It was hard to believe that there was a person who could understand exactly what I was going through without me having to explain myself. It was also refreshing to speak to a person who didn’t expect me to work on my relationship with Mayihlome and accept being disrespected because ‘men are weak.’ Joel was right, Mayihlome did not deserve me.
I’d just started to doze off when there was a knock on the door. Convinced it was Thando wanting to know what I wanted for breakfast, I was going to let it pass and pretend to be asleep, which I practically was, when the knock came again.
I jumped from the bed grabbing my robe and padding over to the door on my bare feet. When I unlocked it and cracked it open I was surprised to see Joel standing on the other side, dressed in a suit.
“Aren’t you supposed to be sleeping?” I asked with a chill in my voice. I was aware that I looked like I’d just awakened. I now had an old stocking on my head and my cheeks were burning, I was not happy that I didn’t look my best.
“Sorry I woke you.” He said in a firm business tone. “I have meetings all day and I will be back when everyone is asleep so I would like your contact information please.”
I considered him for a moment then turned and walked into the room to get my phone. When I turned around he was right behind me having closed the door behind him.
He gave me his phone to punch in my number and I gave him mine.
“There you go.” I said a minute later, nodding to his phone in my hand.
“Do you only have one number? Please give me your work number just in case you forget your cellphone or misplace it.” Joel moved closer to me as he spoke.
“I’m a nurse so I’m not office bound.” I was rooted to the spot, I couldn’t move even if I wanted to.
“Enjoy your meeting.” I was finally able to take a step back; a move that he registered in a glance.
“Surely you have another number a person use to contact you if you aren’t answering your phone. Family, boyfriend….. someone.” His stare was harder if that was possible.
“If you wanted to know my relationship status you only had to ask.” I tightened my robe.
He gave a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “Do you have a boyfriend or someone special in your life?”
He took a step towards me again and I looked at his large frame as it filled my vision. Somehow he made the room look smaller even though it was huge.
I straightened my shoulders and marched towards the door. “I don’t have a boyfriend. Thando can always get you in contact with me if I misplace my phone.”
Joel moved to stand in front of me as my hand landed on the doorknob. He placed his hand over mine, stopping me from opening the door. I felt a current of electricity leave his hand and travel right up my arm making my heart beat faster. How could a simple touch be so exhilarating?
“Joel… This is wrong.”
“What’s wrong with a single man talking to a single woman?”
“Our kids are married.” I noted.
“Levi is not my child.”
“On paper we are both still married. We are waiting for the judge to make the settlement agreement an order of court and you don’t even want to file for divorce.” I said.
“In reality we are divorced.”
My gaze raked his face stopping at his lips. He must have sensed my weakness because he snaked his free hand around my waist and pulled me in for a hard kiss. The moment his lips touched mine my wobbly knees caved in and I landed hard against him. I gasped at the full length contact and he took advantage of my gasp to deepen the kiss.
His other hand left mine, came around my waist and he held me to him. His smell was intoxicating. I trembled at the continued power that was radiating from him. I could feel the muscles in his arms ripple as he took my full weight.
I heard myself give a little cry in the back of my throat and even I didn’t know whether it was a cry of delight or a cry of distress. He must have heard it because the next thing I knew he had set me aside and was looking at me as if he’d never seen me before.
He searched my eyes for a moment as if he was trying to solve a puzzle then told me to have a nice day and was gone. I closed the door behind him and leaned against it, my heart about to beat right out of my chest.

Subscribe to this Blog via Email :


Write comments
13 September 2016 at 03:28 delete

I am so addicted. you are blessed