Mzansi Stories : Unscripted love
Showing posts with label Unscripted love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Unscripted love. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 28


Unscripted love Chapter 102

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Monday, September 26


Unscripted love Chapter 101

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Unscripted love Chapter 100

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Monday, September 19


Unscripted love Chapter 99

Sometimes our feelings are so deep, they become our graves. Unknown.
Tears streamed down my face as I pulled the blanket on the couch closer to me. I was too proud to admit I had made a mistake, even though Alu deserved to know the truth about the person he wanted to marry.

I wiped my face and sniffled. Leaning my head back, I tried to keep my eyes from watering again, but it didn’t help – more tears just kept streaming. Telling myself to suck it up that I only had myself to blame wasn’t helping either. Usually I had all my emotions totally under control, but the week that passed was the other way around, and I couldn’t stand it.
In my quest to take off the load emotionally and come clean I didn’t stop to think that Alu could call off the engagement and end our relationship, I just assumed love would make him stay. When he asked for his ring back and told me to get out of the car I felt like a dinosaur kicked me in the gut. I sat in his car and I tried to explain myself for hours but there is no way to sufficiently explain betrayal. Heartbreakingly — and unpredictably — Alu pawned the ring and he never wanted to see me again.
When he called my mother and told her that his uncles weren’t coming anymore because I was sleeping with a married man I felt like a proper slut. Alu and my mother hadn’t spoken to me all week and I couldn’t really blame them.
My fingers dug into my pocket and fished out my cigarette pack. I was in desperate need of one after the events of that week. On the bright side, Thuthuka took leave and came to stay with me as soon as he heard about my philandering ways. At least one person, well two with Thando, didn’t think I brought shame to the family. But there was still that empty feeling in the pit of my stomach that was pushing me towards the edge.
Uncle Mayihlome was no longer the hot topic at family gatherings – my poor choices were. Him reneging on the divorce settlement agreement and filing papers stating that he wanted spousal maintenance from aunty Maria when he found out she had a new job in Johannesburg wasn’t enough to overshadow my wrongdoings. It let out a sadistic laugh that doubled almost as a whimper when my tears caught up with it.
It’s what I deserved to be honest. The blurriness in my eyes didn’t let up as I lit up my cigarette and breathed in the foul air. At this point, I didn’t even care about my own rules about smoking in the house.
A shaky breath left my lips after I took another deep drag of the cigarette.
The sudden voice made me jump and I dropped my half-used cigarette in my tea, putting it out immediately. A small trail of smoke disappeared above the mug.
“You are crying.” Thuthuka sat down next to me with a concerned expression on his face. “What happened? Did Kwame call again?”
He quickly reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief.
I accepted it gratefully, I used it to wipe a couple of tears away. “I don’t know how to heal from this but I’m okay, really.”
He sent me a sympathetic smile. “If everything were okay you wouldn’t be crying.”
That was a fair point, but I wouldn’t let him know that he was right. I was not okay. I broke a heart and my own heart was broken. I looked down to where my fingers were plucking at a loose string on my sleeve.
“It’s alright to be upset, you wasted many years on that man,” he added.
When I continued to avoid looking at him, he lifted my chin so I’d meet his gaze. The coolness of his fingers comforted my overheating skin. My eyes were closed for a second before I opened them to peer into his.
There was concern in his eyes as his thumb brushed away another fallen tear. Tingles travelled up my spine and the sympathetic gaze he was giving me didn’t waver, even when I dropped mine. I regretted my own weakness. Nothing sickened me more than appearing weak in front of someone with such presence.
“You know,” Thuthuka suddenly spoke, breaking the silence. “It may hurt now but this is for the best. You say that you tried to leave the relationship many times before, maybe you needed this to finally leave Kwame. People are talking about you and they are judging you but all of this will pass. A young and beautiful girl like you can do better than being played by a married man. Alu is successful and all but you can do also better than a chubby teletubbie. You are better off without both of them.”
However inappropriate, his words were touching, and I was starting to find inner peace. It was hard to find someone who actually cared for me these days, and it was a refreshing feeling. I gathered all my oncoming tears on the handkerchief, holding back my urge to blow my nose in it.
“Thanks,” I said, somehow managing a smile. “Enough about me and my love triangle. How was it like meeting your niece?”
“Uluthando is cute and all but I don’t know how to relate to Thandolwethu anymore. This cousin of mine is my sister all of a sudden, its just weird.” Thuthuka admitted.
“The relationship you had before doesn’t need to change.”
He shook his head vehemently, “Mentally, it changes everything but we are trying to work on that brother and sister bond. Futhi and I on the other hand, don’t have anything in common. She makes me feel like a sinner that’s on the bus headed straight to hell.”
I chuckled. “She makes me feel that way too.”
“Yoh, Sbahle people are going to lose their minds when they find out that Thandolwethu is working on a song with an award winning DJ. Its all hush hush so don’t tell anyone.”
This came as a shock to me. “Thando is recording music now?”
He nodded. “The DJ saw a YouTube video of her singing at Levi’s farewell party and he got in touch with her. Nobody can say no to that man, she agreed to record the song to make some money seeing as she is struggling to get a job.”
“Wow, I am so happy for her. The job search has been depressing her and I really hope she gets something soon.” I said.
Thuthuka got up and headed to the door when we heard a gentle knock on my door. Expecting it to be aunty Maria I quickly hid the mug with the cigarette behind the couch. I swung my legs off the couch but then was stopped in my tracks. It felt as though I had been paralyzed by some unseen, mind numbing force. Thoughts flew discordantly through my mind, as I tried, and at first failed to comprehend the scene before me.
The lumbering hulk of a woman stood in front of Thuthuka, a scowl clear on her face. When she stepped into the apartment it took me a second to place the familiar looking face, Genevieve.
What was Genevieve doing here? How did she even know where I lived? I wondered. She walked into my apartment with an elderly woman dressed in traditional attire. I was certain that Genevieve was there to beat me up for sleeping with her husband and brought reinforcements with her for back up. I stood there in anguish and waited for her to hurl insults or throw the first blow but we all stood in the middle of my living room, silent.
My amateur detective mission I’d set myself came to fruition. I had amassed the clues and every shred of evidence and I’d finally closed in on my quarry.
I could still feel my thudding heart and the dizzy wave of nausea that settled over me as the moment approached when I would finally confront ‘her’. The other woman. The side peace. The mistress. The bit on the side. Whatever name I chose to call her, she amounted to the same thing.
She was the woman with whom my husband, Kwame, was having an affair with. The woman for whom he was willing to sacrifice our marriage and the happy home we’d built for our two sons and our daughter. And there she was, standing in front of me. All I had to do was keep my nerve and get all the answers to the questions I felt compelled to ask.
Sbahle’s look of blank perplexity turned to shock when Kwame’s mother held out her hand for a handshake and said, “I’m Lahari, your lover’s mother.”
I watched the color drain from Sbahle’s face and in that instant I felt the world recede. I could not tell you how the man who answered the door reacted, he excused himself and ducked into a bedroom. All I knew was that my detective work had paid off. Here I was, face to face with the woman who’d destroyed my life.
Until then I’d envisaged Kwame’s lover as a younger and more successful version of me. She was nothing like me in her cheap jeans and a lurid purple vest top. I felt relieved, but also perplexed, that she wasn’t what I called his type. She was half his size for a start and she looked young. I simply couldn’t picture them together.
Sbahle, meanwhile, was dumbstruck. I didn’t introduce myself, I already knew that she knew who I was. She meekly slid into the kitchen and reemerged with tea and biscuits like we were regular visitors popping in for a friendly visit.
“Kwame and I broke up over a month ago,” she spluttered when she found her voice. This was swiftly followed by her first ‘I’m sorry’, then another and another. On auto-pilot, I sat back and listened to my mother in-law telling us that we needed to talk woman to woman, lay it out on the table so we could move forward.
Sbahle proceeded to tell us everything. She met my husband at a bar where she worked as a waitress, they had an instant connection which somehow led to him stepping in and putting her through school. They’d been in an on and off relationship throughout our marriage. She was almost 15 years his junior. Sbahle also revealed that she knew Kwame had children. She said she was especially sorry about that — but not sorry enough, evidently, to stop sleeping with their father.
I bled her for every detail, bar the intimate sexual ones, which, for the sake of my already shredded confidence, I didn’t want to know. Sbahle, in her soft spoken voice, told me Kwame had fed her all the usual clichés: I didn’t understand him, he was with me for the sake of the kids and we were more like brother and sister. I shuddered with indignation when she revealed that our family moved to South Africa so that Kwame would be closer to her. It was shattering to learn that I left my life, my family, my friends and moved to a country where I didn’t know a single person so that my husband could be closer to his mistress.
I couldn’t pinpoint where I went wrong as a wife. I made a huge effort to ensure that when Kwame got home the house was sparkling, the children in bed and a sumptuous dinner was in the oven. I tried to keep our sex life going, which is difficult when your partner is not emotionally vested in you because he is in love with someone else.
As I sat there I wondered if Kwame wanted to be discovered; if the effort of maintaining a facade was so great that he could dissemble no longer. I wanted to praise myself for my formidable investigative abilities but I’d unearthed the evidence without even trying. Recent text messages were all there on this phone.
Fights via texts about a pregnancy shook me so much I had to sit down. My entire world spiraled and I realized that I didn’t really know the man that I woke up next to almost everyday. Instantly, I felt compelled to meet the woman who was carrying his child. I know other women would have shied away from such a direct approach, but my curiosity — and desire to end this emotional turmoil — overwhelmed me.
And so I found myself trashing Kwame’s things and I found a copy of a lease agreement in his bag. My intuition told me that he was renting out a place for her. I told his mother everything I knew. I wanted her to come along with me because the text messages revealed that Kwame wanted her to abort the child and there was some mention of blood tests. The Christian woman in me compelled me to save that unborn child’s life.
“I hear everything you have told us but I want to know more about the pregnancy. How far along are you?” I asked.
“I’m not pregnant.” Sbahle stated.
“Not pregnant or not pregnant anymore?” I sought clarification.
“I thought I was pregnant but it was just a pregnancy scare.”
Suddenly, I felt at ease. Whether it was knowing that I didn’t have to make sense of my husband impregnating another woman, or her warm smile, it didn’t matter to me. Now I could make a decision without feeling like there was another life that I had to consider.
After sitting back and listening to what Sbahle and I had to say and taking a deep breath, my mother in-law finally spoke. “As a woman I would like to apologize for what my son has put you through. It is clear that he lied to both of you, he did unspeakable things but it is also evident that he loves both of you very much. I want us to come to some sort of resolution and map the way forward.”
Sbahle turned to face me and croaked, “Gen, I am so sorry for all the hurt my relationship with Kwame must have caused you and your family. I can assure you that it is over between us. He took the car for some paint job but I told him that I don’t want it back and I will be moving out of this apartment at the end of the month.”
“Are you saying that you and my son are no longer in a relationship?”
“Yes. It’s been over for a little over a month now. The way he reacted when I told him I was pregnant marked the end for us.”
“Do you really think that one lapse in good judgment is enough to throw 8 good years away?” My mother in-law asked, simply. “My son is married and he reacted the same way any other married man would have reacted if they were in the same predicament. Kwame lashed out because he was scared of losing his wife. Don’t let that be a reflection of how he really feels about you and this relationship.
Genevieve…. Sbahle you have been in a relationship with the same man for close to a decade. How do you feel about making this official? I think the best thing to do is to have Kwame take Sbahle as his second wife.”
My heart sank to the pit of my stomach at her request. Is that what my husband wanted? Did he love this woman that much? I tried so hard not to cry throughout the whole exchange but this suggestion sent me into a fury. A new set of tears erupted and I sobbed as agony seeped in my veins. Without another word, Kwame’s mother threw her hands around my torso and held me tight.
For a few seconds, I was frozen, but when I relaxed I buried my face in my hands as tears continued to fall while I found myself in her alleviating embrace.
“Don’t cry.” She whispered but I couldn’t stop the tears.
I cried like someone died. This only deepened the feeling of being inadequate and the feeling of not being enough.
Kwame’s mother rubbed my back soothingly until I pulled myself back together. I felt like I was being punished when I wasn’t the one in the wrong in this equation and I wasn’t the reason why my family was torn to shreds. I would have liked to focus on Kwame in this situation and label him the asshole. However, Sbahle saw it fit to ignore the fact that he was married. She was willing to violate another woman’s life and family. She was careless and thoughtless.
Finally, I pulled away from Kwame’s mother’s hold. This wasn’t just about me but it was about keeping my family together so that my kids didn’t have to grow up in a single mother household like I did.
“Sbahle, I can tell that you love Kwame just as much as he loves you. You must know that Kwame is also just as broken about the end of your relationship as you appear to be.” I commented, wiping my tears.
“It is best for Kwame and I to go our separate ways. I will never forgive myself for the harm that I have caused.” Said, Sbahle while she gazed at me with eyes full of sorrow. Her voice, it was though low and clear, had no softness; it rang like a bell.
“Both of you are emotional right now. You are more alike than you think and I can see the two of you getting along. You can make a polygamous relationship work,” my mother in-law added quietly; and though she tried to make her voice insolent, the deep instinct of good manners was greater than her effort.
“Kwame didn’t tell me anything about being his second wife.” Sbahle admitted.
What did he promise her? Was he planning on leaving me for her? There was no life without my husband.
I sniffled. “The suggestion is bombastic but the reality is that you are the woman that has been making me question a lot of things in our marriage. Your presence has been felt in our household for as long as I can remember and I don’t think anything will change if this thing between the two of you is official so there is no point in fighting it. I know deep within that Kwame loves you much more than he could ever love me. I would rather take this route than lose him.” My sincerity was disarming.
I rose from my seat having said all that I wanted to say.
My mother in-law cupped Sbahle’s cheek. “I want you to think about this arrangement. Think about all that you have been through with my son and find it in you to forgive him. He wronged you and he is sorry. Genevieve and I have given you an open invitation to become an official member of the family. All the lies, uncertainty and deceit will stop and the three of you will set the boundaries for your relationship. I hope that you will consider this and that we will all figure it out and get to a point where we are all happy.” My mother in law said after me before she stood.
The idea of being in a polygamous marriage was something that had never even crossed my mind. My heart broke at the knowledge that I’d consider the possibility. I loved that man that much. That confrontation set the course for the rest of my life.
I was in my cubicle drowning myself in work to make sure that my mind did not have capacity to think about anything that would dampen my mood when I got a call from reception telling me that Mrs Acheampong was there to see me. It was easy to ignore Kwame but I couldn’t ignore his mother.
“Good afternoon,” I said as I swiped my access card and walked up to her, not able to help the surprise and shock that was in my voice.
“Hi, I was in the neighborhood so I thought we could go out for lunch.” Her smile was so sincere and sweet I couldn’t say no.
We went to a little sandwich shop a few blocks away from my workplace and Lahari did most of the talking. Surprisingly, she didn’t mention Kwame or her wild ideas about me being a second wife and I was convinced that she would. We were halfway through our meal when I realized why.
“Kwame!” Lahari rose, her greeting full of surprise.
My heart flipped over in my chest as Kwame crossed the restaurant and walked towards us, it was evident that he was not surprised to see either one of us and I looked from him to his mother with an angry look. I’d been set up.
“I think you can cool the surprised act mom, S isn’t buying it.” He gave her a kiss on the cheek then took the chair between the two of us.
“Now, what was so urgent that you felt the need to pull me out of a business meeting mama?” Kwame asked.
“Kwame!” Lahari said in her most disapproving voice. “The two of you need to talk and sort out your differences. She is miserable, you are so broken you stayed in bed all weekend. This is urgent.”
Kwame glanced over at me, nothing but mild curiosity on his face, as if being called from a meeting to talk to an ex-lover was something that happened to him all the time. My heart beat erratically as I remembered the ex-lover part of our relationship.
“I don’t know if Genevieve told you, but we paid Sbahle a visit yesterday. We spoke about a few things that the two of you need to discuss.” His mother tabled the agenda.
Kwame appeared calm as he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms after sending the waitress away as she approached, his head tilted as if he was all ears but I could tell he was unsettled by the set of his shoulders. I couldn’t blame him. I wouldn’t want my mother sorting out my squabbles.
Lahari must have sensed that this was a conversation Kwame and I needed to have in private because she stood up leaving the table with some excuse that I didn’t hear.
“Gen told me about the meeting yesterday. I tried to call you to talk about it but you didn’t answer any of my calls.” Kwame said as the waitress refilled Lahari’s glass and brought Kwame some water.
“I made it very clear to you that we are over. I told your mom and your wife the same thing so we have nothing to talk about.” I sneered.
“I am sorry, S. Tell me what I need to do to make it right.” He ignored my resolute stance but I could tell that he was agitated by the tightening of his hand where it rested on his arm.
I was stubbornly silent.
“I miss you baby.” He said and tried to take my hand but I removed my hands from the table. “Have you at least thought about the arrangement?”
I picked up my glass of passion fruit and lemonade to take a sip. Having said all I wanted to say I remained quiet and turned to watch the cars driving by.
“Come on S, stop being childish.”
I sat my glass down so hard that I was surprised that it didn’t shatter. “I don’t know what the fuck you want from me. If you think that I would even think about marrying you after the stunt you pulled you must be out of your mind. You hurt me, Kwame and I just don’t think I can get over it.” My voice waivered and I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from crying.
“I am sorry I hurt you pumpkin.” He whispered reaching out to me but I jerked away before he could touch me, knowing if he did I’d be lost.
“You are so mean Kwame.”
“I know. I wish I could take back the things I said but I can only apologise.”
There was a tense silence that was interrupted after a moment by Lahari returning to the table.
“I have to go back to the office.” I rose with a nod and left them.
I really hoped that was the last time seeing them but Kwame showed up on my doorstep that evening.
“Kwame why won’t you leave me alone?” I asked softly with no expression in my voice or on my face.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?”
“Well, it is your apartment. I am just the illiterate that stays here.”
He dangled a set of car keys and said, “Your car was a little old so I got you another one.”
I turned and walked from the front door.
“S!” Kwame called after me, concern in his voice. I ignored him and kept on going.
Thuthuka was coming out of the bathroom as Kwame reached me and grabbed my arm. I gave a little yelp and was helpless as Kwame dragged me into my bedroom and slammed the door. To Thuthuka it must have looked like we were giddy teenagers that couldn’t wait to rip each other’s clothes off.
I turned around as the door slammed behind me. Kwame’s huge frame towered over me and I did my best not to cringe away and keep my defenses in place. The next thing I knew Kwame had taken me in his arms and was kissing me hard. I did my best to remain as passive as I could, trying not to react to the kiss, but he didn’t stop. One hand wound its self into my hair, pulling it and the other lifted me from behind pushing me hard against him.
I could only take so much before my anger broke through my defenses and I started to return his aggressive kiss with aggression of my own.
He backed me up towards the dresser, perched me on top of it and I instinctively wrapped my legs around his waist. This freed up one of his hands which quickly found its way under my shirt and my bare waist. I gasped at the sensation and my hands wandered to his chest and I could feel the muscles as they quivered and his heart as it pounded in his chest.
His heart rate matched my own. Just then his phone rang, breaking the moment.
I wrenched my mouth from his and tried to break free but he wouldn’t let me. He held me in place as he fished it out of his pocket and told Gen that he would be home late because he was with me.
“Gen says hi.” He said when he got off the phone.
“This situation is just too complicated.” I stated.
Kwame rested his head against mine, desperation clear in his eyes. “Baby, I never sought to hurt you. This can't be the end to our story. Can you find it in your heart to forgive me? You know the person you were to me and you know just how special you are to me. I know you hurt and I'm sorry, truly; but there has to be a part of you that acknowledges that anyone would pose the question about paternity if a person is intimate with more than one person.
I know this whole thing sounds crazy because we’ve never discussed the possibility of entering into a polygamous marriage. This is as new to me as it is to you, a path untrodden, twisting out of sight. Take my hand. Though I don't know the way, I can lead, figure it out just one step at a time. Perhaps the new landscape will be something beautiful, perhaps it'll be what we make it. Maybe things turn out better this way.” He said softly raising his hand to my hair and pulling back to look into my eyes.
I tried to look away but both of his hands came up and held my face, forcing me to meet his gaze.
“Are you going to spend the rest of your life with my stupid ass?”
I threw my head back and laughed. “It seems like my stupid ass always finds its way back to you so I’m starting to feel like maybe this is fate. Maybe this is it for me and maybe it isn’t. I still have to think about it.”
“I promise to love you faithfully for the rest of our lives, and I mean the kind of love that puts you and Gen before anyone else, the kind of love that would face down the devil himself to protect the two of you. Remember that whilst you think about it.” He said in a whisper.
He kissed me and the world fell away. It was slow and soft, comforting in ways that words would never be. His hand rested below my ear, his thumb caressed my cheek as our breaths mingled. I ran my fingers down his spine, pulling him closer until there was no space left between us and I could feel the beating of his heart against my chest.
All my sadness, anger, confusion and every other emotion pushed from my being. I was as much in love with him as I ever was, perhaps even more so, but I was tired...
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Saturday, September 17


Unscripted love Chapter 98

The next morning I was the last one into the dining room. I only had a few minutes to get food in my system before we’d head out to church.
“Good morning.” I greeted the room at large. I cast a general glance around the room trying not to let my eyes spend any more time on the unexpected house guest, Emily, than on anyone else in the room.
“Mom, did you have fun with your friend last night?” Sbahle asked, looking up expectantly as if waiting for me to declare my undying love for this new ‘friend’.

“Getting out of the house and seeing new people was fun, thank you for asking.” I brushed the topic off.
Tryphina grinned and put down her newspaper. “I heard you talking to someone on the phone at about three in the morning. Were you talking to him?”
I’d finished filling my coffee cup and had taken a seat at the table. I was talking to Joel. After thirty minutes of texting he picked up the phone and called to say goodnight, the call lasted way longer than we both expected and I’d only managed to get two hours of sleep.
“Thando are you still going to the zoo after church?” I asked, ignoring my sister’s question and sliding along to the next topic.
“Yes.” Thando said, not bothering to look up from her plate. At first I thought she was annoyed by something I did but I noted that Levi was sitting on the opposite end of the table. It was so easy to tell when they were fighting because they were always climbing on each other when they were in a good space.
“Is everything okay?” I dared to ask.
Levi gave a little huff and all eyes turned to him. I was tempted to ask what but I chose not to. “How is the baby? Is she ready for church?”
“Thando dropped the baby but she is fine,” Levi stated.
“I didn’t drop the baby. I looked away for two seconds and she fell off the bed. I didn’t know she was going to move.” Thando countered.
Emily gave a little giggle. “Babies fall all the time, Levi. You must learn to relax a bit.”
I couldn’t agree more. Levi was a wonderful father but he was overbearing and annoying at times... Okay, most of the time. He had so many rules and regulations that we had to follow when he didn’t even know much about taking care of babies. The mothers around the table shared their stories of times when they dropped the kids that were now grown and sitting around the table.
Sbahle must have been bored by the conversation because she rose from the table. “I’m going to give church and the zoo a skip, I want to be in my own company today. Mom, call me when you are done and I’ll come and fetch you.” She cast one last smile towards her mother and left the room.
“Mom, you weren’t here when we planned the trip, would you like to come to the zoo with us?” Thando asked me.
“I have plans for this afternoon, I’ll come next time.”
“Plans with my husband?” Emily hissed.
Levi and Thando looked gobsmacked by her question.
I was mortified by Emily’s question and stood up quickly, I was not going to sit around and get cross examined about my untitled thing with Joel.
“Joel…. is Joel the new friend?” Thando gasped.
“I don’t think we should meddle.” Tryphina warned, folding her newspaper.
I stormed out of the room, leaving all their questions unanswered.
Thando ran after me and grabbed my hand to pull me to a stop. I yanked my hand out of her grip and continued up the stairs.
“Ma, ujola no Joel? [Are you dating Joel?]” Thando asked flatly with no expression on her face or in her voice.
“No.” We weren’t dating.
“Is he the one you went out with last night?”
I stopped to look at her. “Emily and Joel are separated and they have been separated for a while now.” I informed her, preempting her objection.
“Ma, that man is evil. uSathane uqobo lwakhe [He is the devil]. I can’t tell you everything but you have to trust me. Joel is not the type of guy you need to be with, he is using you.” She said angrily.
I shot a withering look at Thando. “You don’t know Joel, you never took the time to get to know him. Can you really blame him for being cold towards you if his family treats him like an outcast? I don’t meddle in your relationship with Levi so I expect the same courtesy.”
Thando’s face was pale and she looked as if she’d been slapped. “You need to ask yourself why his family treats him that way.”
I could tell that Thando was truly upset. I walked over to her to give her a hug. “Thando, I don’t want to fight with you. Nobody is perfect my child. I have my imperfections, you aren’t perfect and Joel has his own shortcomings. Don’t worry about me, I can look after myself. Joel and I are getting to know each other and we enjoy each other’s company –that it. It’s not like we are running off to get married so relax.”
Thando sighed, defeated. “I would tell you everything if I wasn’t scared for my life… my daughter’s life. I will say this, Sandiso is an angel compared to Joel.”
Unadmonished panic clawed at my stomach. “What are you saying? Joel killed people!?”
“I’m saying he is capable. Mom you know me, I always see the best in people. Trust me when I say there is nothing good that would ever come out of any sort of relationship with Joel.” Tears brimmed her eyes. “Promise me that you will stay away from him.”
“Don’t cry. You’ve known him for much longer so I trust your judgment. I’ll stay away from him.” I promised.
As promised, I cancelled my meeting with Joel and deleted his number. I didn’t know why my daughter called him the devil or feared for her life but something must have happened. I trusted Thando’s judgment better than my own. Thuthuka’s father, Sandiso and Mayihlome were clear indications that I wasn’t a good judge of character.
“S.” I heard and I turned around, I was convinced I was imagining it until I saw Kwame darting across the parking lot, headed in my direction.
I clutched my laptop bag and forced my feet to move faster, I’d never been very athletic but my adrenaline was in full effect. I turned the corner towards my allocated parking bay and I began to tire.
“S, stop!” Kwame yelled again. I stopped. I stopped dead in my tracks when I didn’t see my car in the spot where I left it when I got to work that morning.
“I took it in for a paint job.” Kwame said.
When I turned around to face him he was only a few feet away, due to the shocked expression he held, I knew he didn’t expect me to stop.
“What Kwame! What could you possibly want from me?” I screamed.
My heart was pounding from running and from him breaking it.
“I…” he seemed to be at a loss for words for once. “I am sorry for the way I reacted when you told me you were pregnant. It’s just that you told me that you were on the pill and you should have told me when you stopped taking the pill. You should have said you wanted a baby because it was a decision that we were supposed to make together.”
“So now it’s your baby?” I huffed and took another step forward so I was face to face with him, well I would have been if he wasn’t so much taller than me. My anger was rolling off me.
“S… baby you have to see things from my perspective. You can’t really blame me for wanting a blood test to prove that I am actually the father. The baby is going to come out of your vagina so you can be sure that it’s yours but how am I supposed to be sure? How do you know that it’s not Alu’s baby? What makes you so sure that its mine?” He asked quietly. He looked into my eyes and reached his hand out to take mine but I swatted it away.
“I am sorry.” He reiterated.
“You are sorry? You are sorry?” I repeated with a laugh.
“Yes. I am.”
“Go to hell Kwame!” I began to walk away, he grabbed my arm and my anger boiled over. My hand flew up and smacked him, hard. I was as surprised by my violent actions as he was and I almost wanted to apologize for hitting him, but the pain he’d caused me was much more than a slap on the cheek.
Kwame rubbed his cheek with his hand and looked back at me.
“What the hell is your problem? I am humbling myself and trying to fix things even though this is all your fault.” He yelled.
“How it this all my fault? Did I fuck myself and get myself pregnant?” I heaved.
“I’m starting to think that you did this because you are so desperate for marriage!”
A car passed and the driver stared but I ignored him. I didn’t care about causing a scene right now.
“Kwame, I told you that I switched to the patch and I must have miscalculated the weeks. I told you that I don’t want a baby…. not like this. All of this has made it very clear that you lied to me and played me like a fool.
Just when I’d gotten to a point of believing that we had a future, that I could trust you, you threw me out like yesterday’s trash when I needed you most. If you are so happy with your wife why do you keep coming back to me?
You fed me bullshit about being in love with me and begged me to stay in this mess of a relationship so you can continue to use me! I got my period and I took the test – I am not pregnant and I am so thankful. I am turning over a new leaf, starting a new chapter with Alu. It’s just me and him from now on. He is paying lobola next week.” I informed him.
“WHAT!?” Kwame bellowed.
“It is over. I am done with you. Stop calling and texting. I never want to see you again!” I said and I meant it.
“You are overreacting,” he stated and it took everything in me not to smack him again.
“I’m overreacting? We can’t be seen together in public lest your wife or someone she knows sees us. I can’t post anything about you or us on social media. You expect me to wait until your kids are grown to make a real commitment. Does that sound fair to you? Does it make sense to sit and wait until my pubic hair turns grey and my breasts are sagging before I get a ring from you?
I was stupid enough to convince myself that this was enough for me but you ripped the wool off my eyes and I see clearly now. There is no future in this. You drilled that in my thick skull when you left me all alone for two whole weeks at the thought of having a child with me. I could have been carrying your child but you didn’t even care if I ate… if I was safe. Alu called every morning and every evening to check up on me and see how I was doing. That made me realize that I was pining over a man that abandoned me when I needed him most while there was someone who thinks the world of me. I was short changing myself by settling for you.
I gave you all that I am and I let you become my world, you defined the meaning of my existence and that is where I went wrong. I gave you too much power. I get it now, you are not this superhero that I conjured up in my mind, you are just a spineless swain.” I said, my voice quieter, exhausted. I wiped the fresh tears from my face and waited for his response.
“If you were so unhappy why did you let me uproot my family and relocate to South Africa? My wife is struggling to get a job. My daughter was told she couldn’t participate in the school play because she is too dark and she speaks funny. My kids are suddenly questioning what is wrong with them because they are being discriminated against. My colleagues see me as something inferior to them simply because I wasn’t born here. I also made sacrifices to be with you. What was all of this for if you are just going to throw it all away over one dissagreement?”
I didn’t say anything.
“S. I fucked up big time. I can never apologise enough for my poor lapse in judgment. I was stressed from work, my wife was on my case and my son told me he hopes he doesn’t grow up to be like me. I don’t even know how he found out about us but he hasn’t spoken to me since. I know I sound like I am making excuses but I just lost it when you sprung pregnancy up on me. Let me make it up to you. We can go back to the way things were.”
I huffed. “You thought you’d come here and bend my will by taking my car for a paint job without my knowledge and we’d somehow end up back together again. I am getting off this rollercoaster. It. Is. Over.”
“Didn’t you get the money I sent you?” he asked.
The pain in my chest was magnified by a thousand.
“Do…” I started to say but I didn’t even know what to say to this pig toe that clearly thought I was for sale.
“I made you who you are today.” He ventured. “When we met you were an illiterate girl from the rural areas. I took you to school and paid for your studies. I saw something in you when nobody else did and now you think you have made it. You are where you are today because of me.”
“I depended on you.” I admitted. I was already humiliated so I had nothing to lose. “If you think I was with you for your money then I only have myself to blame for all the wasted years. After all that has happened I am not mad at you, I am mad at myself for believing the dream that you sold me. I knew exactly who you were when I allowed myself to fall for you again. I knew you would hurt me but I hoped you wouldn’t. Stop sending me money. I want my car back. Just leave the illiterate girl alone!” I sobbed.
Pain flashed in his eyes, well, what looked like pain.
I no longer wanted to play these exhausting games with him. I turned away from him again and began to walk back to my office block, I had to get back to my office to call my fiancé to come and fetch me seeing as I’d left my phone at home. I was tired of Kwame’s calls and text messages. I needed a break.
“Where are you going? You don’t have a car.” He stated the obvious. It hurt me that he didn’t try to take back his mean words. He’d only confirmed what I already knew, that he was heartless.
“I’m going to call my fiancé.”
I walked faster, only a few more steps and I’d hide in the building.
“Why would you call him?”
“Because I can depend on him.”
“You can’t depend on me?” he asked. He couldn’t be serious.
“Are you really that delusional or are you fucking with my mind again? You can’t possibly think I could ever depend on you or even trust you again.” I spat.
We were back to the steps of the building when he yanked my laptop and my bag and told me that he was going to take me home.
The security guard appeared in the doorway and I rushed to his side. “Can I use your cellphone? Please.” I begged and he nodded.
Kwame stood in front of me while I called Alu and asked me to pick me up. Kwame and the security guard stared at each other for a second before Kwame looked away and back to me.
“Is he coming?” The security guard asked, voice full of concern, when I gave him his phone.
“Yea, he will be here in a few minutes. Thank you for letting me use your phone.” I told him, ignoring Kwame.
“No problem. Do you want me to wait with you?” he asked.
“No. I will wait with her.” Kwame’s voice was full of venom.
“I would love it if you waited with me.” I said and Kwame balled his fists at his side. I took my bags and walked back down the steps with the security guard.
Kwame being the asshole that he was followed us down the steps and stood behind us awkwardly.
A huge wave of relief washed over me when Alu’s car pulled up.
“Thank you again.” I told the security guard.
“No problem. Don’t forget what I asked.” He smiled, reminding me of his proposition to take me out on a date. It was one of those propositions that made me wonder if I really looked so bad that people like him thought they stood a chance.
“S…” Kwame called and I stepped away. “You know that I cherish you above anything else in my life.” I ignored him.
“Pumpkin,” he called louder.
“What the hell do you want Kwame? I have said all that I have to say to you. I am done listening to you and your bullshit.” I whisper screamed.
I was aware of the security guard and Alu’s eyes on us but I’d had enough. “If you follow me I will tell your wife about us. Now leave me alone!” I stormed off.
“I…. S.” he called, running after me. “I love you,” he yelled.
All the air from my lungs disappeared as Alu sounded like he was choking.
“You are sick Kwame. You are really demented.” I grabbed the door handle on Alu’s car but my hand was yanked away by Kwame. Despite the fact that I knew that this was part of his game, it still felt good to hear those words from his lips.
“S… I love you with everything in me. I know you won’t believe me but I do, I love you. I cannot live without you. Please don’t let what happened in Belgium ruin what we have.” His voice broke like he was on the brink of tears. He was better at this than I thought. I couldn’t believe that he was doing this in front of Alu who was dumbfounded by what he was witnessing.
I shoved Kwame backwards and opened the door. I hurried in and locked the door before Kwame gained his balance.
“Please drive. Just get me away from here.” I begged Alu as Kwame banged his hands against the window.
I put my hands over my face so Kwame couldn’t see me cry.
“What is going on? Who is that guy?” Alu asked after I finally stopped sobbing.
“He is an ex that refuses to let go.” I told him.
“Did I hear him say that he was in Belgium with you?” Alu asked quietly.
“Yes. I was in Belgium with him.” I felt my heart shatter ay my confession.
“Are you cheating on me?” he simply asked.
“I was.” My voice came out strained and my words too bare, not even offering some sort of explanation.
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Wednesday, September 14


Unscripted love Chapter 97

Chalk and Cheese
I strode down the hall towards my room as if the hounds of hell were behind me. I bumped into one of the maids, she apologized profusely and gazed at the floor. I told her to get out of my sight and she scrammed. It took all of my control not to slam the door behind me. What the hell had I just done?
I was good at gauging women and their responses to me. Maria had, with her blushes, seemed very willing but I had read her wrong. She was attracted to me and I thought she was playing coy but she wasn’t, she was simply innocent. She made me want to be the man she thought I was.

I rubbed my hand over my face and groaned. I pictured her as she had opened the door for me. Her head was wrapped in stockings for reasons unknown to me and her eyes were heavy from sleep. They were rich toffee brown. Dark caramel skin never looked so beautiful on a woman. Even at 44 Thando’s mother still outshone her.
Maria wasn't beautiful in the classical way, no flowing golden curls or ivory skin; no piercing eyes of green. She was shorter than average and certainly larger than a catwalk model, but in her ordinariness she was stunning.
She had been like a spitting kitten trying to get me out of her room and I was afraid I’d scared her away. Perhaps I wouldn’t have pounced so soon if I hadn’t touched her hand?
But that kiss. She had been so…. receptive only receptive. Generally by that point it was a two way street and women were more than receptive, they kissed back.
I took a shaky breath and answered the phone that had been blowing off insistently in my pocket.
“Speak.” I commanded.
“Blaze. When is Henze getting out? This shit is costing me a hundred million per m-”
My phone was ripped from my ear, I turned to look at the person who’d grabbed my phone and glared angrily at Emily. “You don’t want to know what I will do if you don’t give me my phone and get the fuck out of my room.” I thundered.
“I see you are fucking peasants now. An Illiterate nurse is stooping a bit low don’t you think?” Emily sneered.
I wanted to rip her head off as rage filled my belly. I felt my ears getting hot. I glared at her then spat out "GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY ROOM. In fact get your shit and get the hell out of my house."
Emily sneered at me then laughed only adding fuel to my wrath.
"You think this is funny?" I snapped.
She glared at me with hatred in her cruel dull eyes. "You are an extremely stupid man. Aren't you? I’m not going anywhere, we both know that you need me."
“Am I, now?” I took a step towards her. “Do stupid people know that sudden infant death syndrome, sometimes known as cot death, is the commonest cause of death in infants?”
“W-what are you saying?” she stuttered. “You wouldn’t.”
I chuckled. “You are the smart one…..You know exactly what I am saying. I was sitting there, watching Maria with that child last night and I realized that Hailey-Hope is the tranquilizer that I needed to tame the tiger. You have been running rampage like a deranged ape, hooting and hollering about how you can destroy me. All along I had everything to lose. I finally have this precious little princess that will put you in your place.”
“You wouldn’t kill a child.” She stated as a matter of fact.
“I didn’t hesitate to organize a hit on your first husband at your request and I won’t hesitate to get rid of her to make you feel the pain that you continue to cause me. Don’t you know by now that I will go to any lengths to get whatever I want?
I found you with nothing and you will leave with nothing. You think you are so smart but you were too preoccupied with spreading your legs and fucking my best friend to notice that everything is in my name - the accounts, the houses, the investments, the cars. EVERYTHING. I have taken the liberty to remove your name from the joint accounts, change the locks to the volt, block your access to the investments and call people in to get your shit out. If I find you here this time tomorrow, you would have signed the death certificate.”
“Joel, leave the baby out of this. Please.” She begged and sat down on the edge of my bed.
I looked down at her without saying a word.
"Joel, my love, you say that like it means nothing. How can you be so cold?" Emily kept her eyes steady, resting on my face like they were home, but just briefly, the sorrow already building. “What happened to you, Joel? What hardened your heart? The man you were, the one I married, would have kicked your ass all over this God damn room for talking to me like that and thinking those heinous thoughts. You were someone. You were that guy, the one who had the principles and the backbone.” She hissed.
“This was your decision. All of this is your doing. You broke me, then attacked the pieces, so full of rage that I couldn't function after what you did.”
“Joel….. I am sorry. I was drunk. It was a mistake. I-I thought it was you.”
“HOGWASH!” I screamed.
Emily stayed rooted to the spot, the breeze moved her hair softly away from the cheekbones that had become so much more prominent over the previous weeks. Her features buckled just slightly before she spoke again, the only betrayal of her grief. “I’ll leave.” Emily's face was paler than I ever recalled it being, as if her blood was shrinking away from her presence, her lips almost ghostly despite the warm sun.
I broke my gaze, preferring instead to rest my eyes on the street behind. Then I spoke with the same voice I reserved for rivals, "If you go to the police you will get her head in a box delivered on your doorstep."
Then I turned back to her, face set like an adversary, eyes cold, muscles tense. Emily broke a little more inside - the pieces becoming shards. For in that moment she'd seen my inner monster lock onto her.
“So, are you going to tell me what’s going on with you and Joel?” I asked Our Love as we strolled along a stone wall that ran the length of the estate. We usually went out for a morning jog with Hailey-Hope but I opted for a walk that morning because I wanted to find out what my wife was hiding from me.
“What you should be asking is what’s going on with Joel and my mother.” She snapped a reply.
I was not derailed by her harsh tone. “Don’t you think you were a little harsh on your mom?”
“Harsh?” she huffed. “She was waving Hailey’s vagina around in front of Joel. She needed to be addressed.”
I just shrugged, trying to see fault in Maria’s actions but not seeing any. “She was changing Hailey’s nappy and Joel just so happened to the in the same room. My mother changes Hailey’s nappy in front of Zain all the time and you never complain.” I frowned as I thought about all the unanswered questions I had. “I know Joel pushed you. I don’t know why you refuse to admit that.”
“He threatened to kill Hailey if I testify against his business associates. He told me to get on the stand and say I forgot even though I remember everything so vividly. I didn’t tell you because you ran to your mother the last time I told you not to tell anyone about the raid.” She said, stopping to look down at the stroller.
A lump formed in my throat and my heart hammered against my chest. Would Joel really kill Hailey? Was he that desperate to save his business that he would take the life of an innocent child?
“I only told my mother about that because -”
“I know why you told her. You don’t have to repeat it a thousand times.” Our Love interjected.
“This is different. I wouldn’t have told my mother about it and I sure as hell wouldn’t have agreed to come and live here when my mom asked us to move in. Why would I agree to serve my child on a silver platter?” I snapped.
“I thought Joel was out of the country.” She stated.
“He flies in and out on a whim. I’ll tell my mother that we are leaving today.” I decided.
Thando hesitated. “I want to leave. What are we going to do if she stops breathing in the middle of the night?”
“Baby… Hailey is fine. We’ve been here for two weeks, we haven’t had any incidents. Remember the scripture we read this morning?” I held her hand with one hand and pushed the stroller with the other. “Let us not worry about anything; instead let us pray about everything. We will tell God what we need, and thank him for all he has done for us. Then we will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard our hearts and minds.”
She smiled. “Your transformation surprises me at times,” she admitted.
“Are you going to commit another crime by perjuring yourself on the stand?” I asked, looking out into the horizon.
“What do you think I should do?” She quivered.
“I think it’s time to stop lying and committing crimes to hide other crimes that might catch up with you later. Hailey-Hope and I need you. I do not want a wife that is behind bars and she doesn’t want a mother that’s incarcerated. Don’t let Joel bully you, tell the truth.”
“Tell the whole truth? As in tell them about Joel as well?” She asked, inexact.
“I said tell the truth, I did not say poke the dragon.”
She shook her head and smiled at my good natured teasing. “Okay, I will tell them what they already know and I will trust God to protect our family.”
“Good, now walk in front so that I can feast my eyes on that ass in those spandex.” I laughed as she howled like a chimp.
“The thirst is real.” She joked.
“I am dying of starvation. Has it really not healed after a whole month?” I asked, running my finger on her waistband.
She laughed and swatted my arm. “Just two more weeks. You won’t die.”
Two weeks never sounded like such a long time. “Okay. Let’s go and pack out stuff. We will leave after the party.” I said kissing her cheek and believing that all would work out in the end.
“Did you get vibes from my mom and Joel?” She asked, unexpectedly.
“Yeah, giddy teenagers that like each other vibes.”
I tittered. “I got the vibe that Hailey draws out of everyone that’s around her. Have you seen Zain around her?”
“Zain and Hailey have this connection that I can’t explain hey. Funny that you noticed it too. But I am telling you, I saw that spark in their eyes.” She said.
I was certain that my wife was imagining things, the two wouldn’t even be able to have a conversation for five minutes let alone get to a point of actually liking each other. My mother in-law and Joel were as different as chalk and cheese.
The voice that boomed from behind me startled me.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” Joel said, stepping into my room. “What’s all of this?” He asked, gesturing at my clothes sprawled across the bed.
“I am packing. We are moving back home after Uluthando’s birthday party today. You should see how the dining room has been set up.” I gushed. “When Emily said the theme is royalty I didn’t think she would go all out to make it look like a banquet fit for real life royalty. Caterers and people doing decor are crawling all over the place, there are so many trucks outside – I haven’t seen something like it, really.”
“Trust Emily to go overboard but I am sure they will have fun. To think Hailey-Hope is a month old, imagine what they’ll plan for her sixteenth birthday party?” He grinned and picked up a framed photo of Uluthando.
I smiled warmly at Joel. “You said ‘them’ like you are not part of the family. Are you coming to the party?”
“I wasn’t invited.” Joel set the photo back on the mantel then turned towards me with his hands in his pockets.
“I don’t mean to act like some shrink when I am not but you strike me as a person who has been so completely alone for years, it’s as if you have to carry some heavy burdens and no one is there for you to share them with.” I was careful not to overstep my boundaries or offend him.
Joel gave me a thoughtful look then looked back at the photo. “That’s very perceptive of you.” He said, not bothering to deny my interpretation.
I shrugged, crossing my arms in front of me. I was suddenly cold in my sundress. “It’s something I recognize having been there myself.”
His gaze swiveled back to mine as if he was going to deny what I had any real worries but the look in my eyes must have stopped him. He frowned watching me. He seemed to see all that I didn’t want him to see and it made me nervous, so I moved to pick up a shirt and folded it before neatly packing it in my suitcase.
“Observing you and your husband fro-”
“Ex-husband.” I corrected.
“Observing you and your ex-husband from a distance at the funeral gave me the impression that you were in sync with one another. It’s hard to believe that you felt like you were alone.” Joel stated.
“I was that good at hiding the true state of affairs from everyone, including our children. I’ve had to beg, grovel and look like a savage just to plug the holes and hide the shame that was hidden behind our bedroom doors.
Nobody knows that Mayihlome gambled his entire paycheck in one weekend on the regular. He took out loans from all the banks you can think of and I had to pay for that when loan sharks came after us. Nobody knows that he used the money Levi paid for lobola to pay lobola for his duck and used the rest to put down a deposit on a house for her when I gave him the money to pay off our mortgage.
You know, when I was young and impressionable and got married in community of property I never knew that one day I would get a call from the bank, calling upon me to pay for my husband’s mistresses’ car seeing as he missed a few installments, when he never even entertained the idea of buying me my own car.
When I thought my daughter was dead I wanted to do something special for her favorite charity with the money she had in her bank account but I had to use the money to pay for Forgiveness’ car seeing as I am jointly and severally liable for all the debt Mayihlome rakes up.
I want to get a job in Johannesburg so that I can be closer to my children but I can’t get a job because he has a horrendous credit record, I’m roped in because what’s his is mine including his debt. Nobody knows any of that.”
“You are a good woman, Maria.” He said.
Hearing my name in a German accent made me smile.
“You have a beautiful smile.” I stated even though I could see pain through his smile.
“Do I?” he gave a teasing smile and a glare that made me go weak in the knees.
“Don’t do that.” I snapped suddenly, completely taken aback by myself.
Joel’s grin widened and his eyes took on a little sparkle. “Don’t do what?” he asked innocently.
“Smile like that.” I snapped again.
“It’s just a simple smile, Maria.” The way he said my name made me shiver.
“It’s anything but simple, just like that kiss was anything but simple.” I turned my back to him as soon as I said it. I’d never wanted the floor to open up and swallow me so badly in my life. I’d been trying to treat the kiss as nonchalantly as he had.
“My dear Maria, that kiss was very simple.”
I swung around to look at him. Was he teasing me?
His gaze ran from the top of my head to the tips of my bare toes then settled on my lips. I almost gasped at the fire I saw in his eyes. Those were anything but cold now.
Suddenly frightened, I pulled my bible out of the nightstand as if it would protect me from the blaze that was lighting up within.
“It’s hard for me to believe that someone who has learned so many of life’s hard lessons is so obviously as innocent as you are.” He whispered.
I suddenly felt bare and wondered what it was about him that made me open up to him so easily. I felt happy and sad at the same time and I could feel tears prickling the back of my eyes as I gave a wobbly smile that didn’t quite reach my eyes. “Some hard lessons keep you innocent.”
I bravely met his gaze. “I need to finish packing and you need to get back to work or something.” I turned to leave the room as quickly as I could before he would see me cry but he grabbed my hand and pulled me to him.
“Why don’t we go out for dinner tonight? That’s if your stomach will have enough space after the royal banquet.”
I giggled. “That sounds like fun, pick me up at 8? Do you know where Levi’s house is?”
“I do. Every good stalker knows where his prey lives.” He joked.
I laughed. “Well, I will be honored to have the pleasure of your company tonight.”
He chuckled and left the room as quietly as he came in. I focused on packing my clothes and pretending that the extra beat of my heart was due to the exercise and not the warm sound of Joel’s laughter.
I took about a million pictures of Uluthando at her royal feast. She looked like a deer caught in headlights as she met all her family members from her father’s side of the family and my sister who was in town, visiting her daughter, Sbahle.
I was delighted to hear that a boy by the name of Alunamda sent a letter, stating that he saw a flower in the Zulu garden and he wanted to send his uncles. With Futhi’s help, we went through Alu’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram accounts. My sister and I were thoroughly impressed by the self-respecting advocate who didn’t have a single picture of random ducks on his accounts. It was clear that Sbahle was his one and only and he loved her dearly. It was a pity that he wasn’t available for the party because he was working but Sbahle promised to bring him around to meet his niece soon.
I made the mistake of telling my sister that I was meeting someone for dinner and she turned it into a bigger deal than it was. As we trekked into Levi’s house with my last suitcase and her overnight bag she was teasing me about my date.
“It’s not a date.” I repeated for the umpteenth time.
“Is he hot? What are you going to wear? Where did you meet him?” Tryphina bombarded.
I shrugged. It was just a simple dinner, I didn’t feel the need to dress up but Tryphina insisted that I had to.
When 8 o’clock rolled around I was convinced that I was way overdressed. Tryphina who’d packed for every occasion had loaned me her red dress that stopped two fingers above my knees because Tryphina was a bit shorter than me. As for the shoes I was at a loss until I thought of Thando, who luckily, wore the same size as me. We were able to dig up a pair of kitten heels that weren’t as high as the stilts she usually balanced on.
That led to Thando burying me in questions about where I was headed but I remained mum. I was the parent so I didn’t owe her any explanations. Thando finally let up when I told her I was meeting a friend. Was Joel my friend? I wasn’t really sure what we were.
Eventually though, I was ready and running very late. “Hawu aunty, how did you manage to hide those legs and that booty my whole life?” Sbahle teased as I went down the steps.
I heard a whistle from behind me and turned to look at my daughter cradling Uluthando in her arms. “Sifelani.”
“Will you two stop it,” I blushed and rushed to the door. “Don’t wait up.”
The uber driver Joel sent to fetch me had been patiently waiting for me and he didn’t show a sign of annoyance when I finally emerged from the house and climbed into the unassuming Sonata. The drive to the restaurant was short and I did my best not to fall asleep in the car. My sleepless night and active day rendered me exhausted.
Joel and I settled into a booth at the back of the restaurant away from everyone else before Joel finally spoke. “You look lovely, Maria.”
“You don’t look too bad yourself.”
He laughed. “Well, I tried.”
“I don’t know how I didn’t notice before but you have a nice neck.”
“Nobody has told me that before,” he said, touching his neck with a grin on his face.
Our polite banter was interrupted by the host waitress introduced herself and went on to tell us about the selection of butter he’d placed on the table and tell us about the seasonal meals that weren’t on the menu. Joel insisted that I try the caramel butter and I did. It was okay but I preferred the simple things in life that I knew and was accustomed to.
There was silence as Joel studied the menu and chose our starters, main and dessert.
He looked up. “Are you sure you want me to choose?”
“Yeah,” I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was on offer and I left it up to bin before I ordered something ezongixaka. He placed our order and I was fine with whatever venison was long as it was well done. I wasn’t so sure about him jokingly ordering duck for starters.
He looked up absentmindedly from his phone. “Hmm? Sorry, I know I am being rude. I just need to send out this quick e-mail.”
“Why did you say that Emily is the only version of family that you know?” I asked. I’d been trying not to ask the question but my curiosity had won in the end.
He frowned. “Why do you ask?”
“Because I want to know?” I didn’t have a reason.
He looked as though he was mentally debating whether he’d answer the question. He had a faraway look as he was deciding what to tell me and what not to.
Finally with a sigh he set his cellular phone in his pocket and stood from his side of the table, walked over to my couch and settled next to me. I watched him, waiting patiently as if I had all the time in the world. The light music cut off and the room was filled with quiet whispers from the other patriots. I had to smile at the dramatic air to the room, like he was about to reveal deep dark secrets.
“My parents were shot in front of me when I was 8. I had no other known relatives so I landed in the foster care system. No one really wants to take on an eight year old full time so by the time I was seventeen I’d had 12 different foster homes. Some were good, some weren’t. I met bad people and I met good people like Henze, who I regard or rather regarded as a brother.”
I gave a little shiver and rubbed his arm.
“There were some really scary homes where trust was a huge issue, and I had to always be on my guard from other children and the adults in the house as well. I don’t trust very easily and I always have to feel like I have some sort of hold over someone to truly believe that they will do what they said they would.”
He realized that my eyes were glazing as he spoke. “I don’t usually tell people because they look at me differently once they know, as if I am somehow damaged.”
I gave him a warm smile, “You, my dear Joel, are not damaged. You are overly polite, graceful, considerate of others, patient, and too smart for your own good, but not damaged. Trust me, I have seen my fair share of damaged people.”
“Well thank you for saying that.” He said with a smile. “Now you know most of my secrets and I find that to be simply exhausting so let’s rather focus on getting to know Maria.”
“Which ones don’t I know, Joel?” I asked softly, watching him.
Joel gave me a weak smile, I knew I wouldn’t get the ones he held closest to his heart.
“A man needs a few secrets.” He said and sailed on to a more general discussion on our hobbies. Well, he said working was a hobby and I grilled him on that and he told me that cooking wasn’t a hobby either.
The food was shockingly ghastly so I had a few bits of this and that while he went on about how nice the food was.
“You haven’t really touched your food. Too full from the party?” He asked, taking note of me pushing pits and pieces around the plate.
I shook my head. “It’s not to my taste.”
“What’s your favorite restaurant?”
“KFC.” I stated.
Joel looked at me as if I should have my head examined. “Seriously?”
“Seriously. Streetwise two pap hits the spot every time.”
He chuckled. “You prefer pap over food prepared by the best chefs in the country?”
I looked down at my broken nails as I spoke, “You laugh but that’s what I like.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to laugh. That was actually very rude of me.”
He sighed when I remained stubbornly silent. He stood and took my hand. “Let’s go there and grab something to eat. I don’t want you to go to bed hungry tonight.”
“But… your food?”
“I can’t eat this and eat pap in one sitting.”
I smiled up at him and pulled him back down. “We’ll go there on our second…. meeting.”
He smirked. “Oh so there will be another ‘meeting’”
Our flirtatious glances were interrupted by the waitress who was very interested in Joel and tried to flirt with him even though I was sitting right next to him.
After he’d cleared his plate and I stomached as much of the dessert as I could we both fell silent for a while, lost in our own thoughts.
“Joel?….” I began then I stopped.
“Ask, Maria, you won’t be satisfied until you ask whatever it is you want to ask.” I looked at my drink, tracing the edge of the glass with my finger.
“Emily?” My voice was barely a whisper.
“We’re done. She moved out today.” Joel’s voice lacked any emotion and his face was mask.
“How? Last night you said she didn’t want to move out.”
“We spoke this morning.”
I nodded when he didn’t go further. I guessed there was more to the story but it wasn’t my business so I didn’t ask any more questions.
“So, besides work what’s keeping you in Durban?” He changed the subject.
He reached into his pocket and took out a business card. I looked at it as he slid it across the table. “This is a dear friend of mine who is a plastic surgeon that so happens to be looking for a nurse to help him in his practice. I’ve put in a good word for you and he owes me a favor so the job is yours if you want it. No more night shift. You won’t be all alone in another province. You won’t be exploited and you will actually earn a descent salary.”
“What’s descent?”
“1.2 million per annum. It’s not much but its descent.”
That was far more than what I was earning.
“When is the interview?”
“No interview. You will be on three months’ probation so you will have to prove yourself in those 3 months.”
“Why are you doing this?” I asked, unbelieving.
“Because when I look at you I see someone that has been carrying some heavy burdens and no one is there for you to share them with. Let me ease off the load.”
I looked straight into his eyes, preempting what he could have wanted in return. “I don’t want to be one of your friends with benefits.” He raised his eyebrow up in question. “I asked Sbahle what is means and I’m not that type.”
He took a sip of his wine. “Well good. I don’t want us to be friends with benefits either.”
“What do you want?” I asked, my face a breath away from him.
“I don’t know yet. All I know is that I am in like with you.”
“Thank you for pulling a few strings and getting me a job. Your flaming chocolate lava cake is getting cold.” I deviated but my blush said it all.
The next hour flew by so quickly it felt like it was just a minute. Joel made me laugh until I cried with his dry humor. When we got out of the restaurant I gave him a brotherly hug good night and started walking towards the cab waiting to take me home.
“Did you have a good time?” Joel asked from behind me.
I stopped in my tracks and turned to look at him. “Yes, I did.” I gave him a genuine smile.
“I’m flying back tomorrow and something tells me that I am going to miss you.” Joel moved towards me, placing his fingers in my hair.
“Something tells me that I will miss you too,” I closed my eyes as his fingers probed my scalp, giving me goose bumps. Then his hands moved down my head, then my neck and moved over my shoulder to my back, causing my body to come into full contact with his.
“Maria, look at me.” His voice was husky.
I looked up to his face that was hidden in the shadows but when he leaned forward I saw the flame in his eyes that I’d seen hours before as his lips came crashing into mine in an unforgiving kiss.
This time I didn’t remain passive. I wound my arms around his neck and pushed my body harder against his. I could feel his response to me as he deepened the kiss. Joel had started to back me towards his car when my phone shrilled.
I knew it was Thando or Tryphina, wondering where I was. Joel broke the kiss and looked at me for a second, as if he was debating hauling me into his car and closing the door to the rest of the world. I knew I would object to going home with him the same night his wife moved out.
My phone started ringing again and Joel gave me his crooked grin, “Your visa had clearly expired. Good night, Maria.” Then he took five steps to my ride and opened the door for me, I climbed in and closed the door behind me. I answered the call and told my sister I was on my way back home.
“There you are. How was it?” Tryphina was sitting in the living room, clearly waiting up for me.
“It was fun.” I said, repeating what I’d told Joel earlier.
Tryphina just looked at me with a knowing look on her face. “I’ll let you get some sleep, I want to hear everything he said and what you said in response tomorrow.” She said moving to her room.
I walked into my own room with my fingers on my lips. Had I really just kissed him back like that? I got ready for bed in a daze. A beep indicting that someone was thinking of me hit my phone just as my head hit the pillow. I smiled and got the inclination that the night was still young.
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