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The Coming of Age

M.Y. Jaabosigo

© M.Y. Jaabosigo 2017

The Coming of Age

Published by M.Y. Jaabosigo

Cape Town


eISBN: 9781370185450

2 4 6 8 10 9 7 5 3 1

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the written permission of the copyright owner.

Layout and cover design by Boutique Books

Printed in South Africa


June 2010

South African Bureau of Standards

The hosting of the World Cup in South Africa…

Almost everyone celebrated its success. Possibly every company had big screens planted in the workplace in each and every corner. I know that, because in my workplace we had flat screen televisions almost everywhere: in the reception area, cafeteria and so forth. People were excited and watching the game while talking, shouting and screaming for goals. It was at this time that I foolishly fell in love with the wrong man.

The first time we laid eyes on each other was passively and unnoticed in the corridors. We would greet one another like the strangers we were. This changed on a Friday afternoon – a cold winter’s day in June – and people were busy walking around the corridors, celebrating South Africa’s 2010 hosting of the soccer world cup. I was seated with my colleagues as he came and joined us. I knew that this man knew the people with whom I was sitting as I had noticed him, without really remarking it, with them at times. Little did I know that one day I would find myself seated with him, enchanted by his spell.

He was in his forties and a very naughty man. He greeted everyone as he sat, and then turned and finally greeted me with a smile, saying in his low pitched voice, ‘Sawubona sisi’ [Hello my sister]. I saw a dark-skinned Swati man who’d never wanted to come to terms with his age – chasing after women young or old, big or petite, for he had no special preference and was famous for being a ladies’ man. He would take them all if he could and blame it on his culture as the Swati king had married many wives.

Shockingly, he became my muse. I greeted him back teasingly saying, ‘Sawubona malume’ [Hello uncle]. Everyone seated at our table had a good laugh and told me how naughty I was calling him uncle when we were not even related. I was trying to be naughty and didn’t understand the reason for it. It didn’t end there. He carried on making fun of me, telling me how much ‘malume a ka luma ngwana’ [Uncle will bite his niece]. This became the joke of the day which made us all laugh. Little did we know that the joke might turn into romance.

People were buying drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages) and he also joined in and bought some for my colleagues. He offered to buy me one but I told him I didn’t need a drink. I was, in fact, in no mood for drinking alcohol at a time when everyone else was. Not wanting to hurt his feelings, my simple answer was, ‘No, thank you’. I was almost the odd one out, not drinking, but I still sat there and chatted with everyone within the group. It was fun watching the soccer match, listening to different people making jokes and basically enjoying the good company of my colleagues.

The setup was almost outside work. Management had made sure that we didn’t miss the world cup hosting and we were given the opportunity to go into the cafeteria hall to watch the soccer match at a given time. He stood up, wanting to buy himself another round of drinks. Then one of our colleagues called him by his name, asking him to buy one for her as well. I overheard her saying, ‘Kwazi, are you going to buy another drink? Please can you buy another one for me too, dear.’ We had not been properly introduced. Everyone knew each other’s names except this Kwazi and me.

‘Wow!’ I said in disbelief to one of my colleagues. ‘Is this the same Kwazi guy that you mentioned has been bothering you? Is he the one who is interested in you?’

She replied and said, ‘Yes, but I’m not interested in him. He’s just crazy and very naughty. We are just friends and colleagues and that’s how I want to keep it. You know that I have my own boyfriend. Besides, Kwazi chases after every skirt and is not my type.’

She continues to blab as she disregarded this man. A person would think that, perhaps, there is a slight chance that if she didn’t have a boyfriend she could have been tempted and fallen for Kwazi, finding herself stuck in his web of lies and deception, I thought. ‘Do you see that hair? In my opinion, a man must not have hair at all, but be bald-headed instead. That’s how I like my men. Without hair,’ she said meanly. ‘Oh my goodness! Where are my manners? We haven’t introduced you guys.’

He came back with another round of drinks. I looked at him and he didn’t strike me as a ladies’ man, although I could understand why they were calling him names. He had a naughty kind of nature that was kinky and attractive. He definitely didn’t have any of my ex’s looks, but was attractive in his own way. He possessed a good sense of humour and appeared to be a spender. He sat down and they finally introduced us. As naughty as he was, he sat next to me and said, ‘You don’t strike me as a person who would fancy soccer.’

‘Is that so? Is it an assumption of some sort? Matter of fact, I like watching soccer sometimes when I’m relaxed. In fact, I also support our soccer team here at work.’ The company I worked for at the time had a soccer team that I supported whenever they had a soccer match. I had three male friends playing on the team, and to offer my support I never missed any game.

‘Oh, wow!’ he said. ‘I also have a friend who plays for that team; we work in the same department. I must come and join you guys sometimes. Quite frankly, he has been inviting me. I keep promising to come but I never do, but now you will encourage me to come.’

‘Of course. It’s a free country.’

Chapter 1

Year 2008

Mbada Labour Relations, Techno Park, Centurion – Pretoria GP

The first meeting was at a friend’s house. He walked in with confidence and a charming smile. He was tall, dark and handsome. ‘You must be the lady that everyone has been talking about.’ I was overwhelmed and in disbelief. I thought, Me? Such a handsome man talking to me?

I was also naughty in my own kind of way – quite flirtatious too – so I replied and said, ‘Why yes, and who might you be?’

‘I’m Kaelo,’ he replied with a slightly deep but at the same time smoothly charming voice that enthralled me.

I was captivated; heat started rising. I could feel the sweat slowly sliding down my body. My heart pounded, skipping the beat for this graciously handsome man. Then suddenly I contained myself and asked, ‘So what brings you here?’

Just before he could answer me Khomotjo, who was supposedly one of my friends, jumped in and said, ‘Hey you, the other day while we were walking to work, you blindly passed us without giving us a lift.’

In my first job, I earned only two thousand five hundred Rand as a net salary, and things were tough then. My first time in the big city, and I find a first job that only pays that much. I didn’t have a choice but to work my butt off to earn a living. I enjoyed my job, however. It was my first and every day I walked to work; no taxi, bus, train or anything else, just my feet. It was in walking distance from where I lived, about five kilometres away. Khomotjo and I would every morning wake up and walk to work together. On our way my friends and I would discuss girl’s stuff – our chats were so distracting that we wouldn’t even notice someone passing us and trying to offer us a ride.

Khomotjo was outspoken and carefree. She loved having endless fun. She would spend her days as if there was no tomorrow. There’s a saying that goes, ‘You can choose your friends.’ I chose her friendship. As bad as it got, I stuck with her. She had a caring nature, but was at the same time a blabbermouth and gossip. I never experienced the sad side of her; she knew how to contain herself. I wasn’t sure whether to admire or feel sorry for her. She was carefree, stress free and seemed so brave.

We spent most of our days at the office and we thought, ‘Why don’t we make it comfortable for ourselves, try to make it a place to look forward going back to each day.’ We were lucky to have bosses who were just as carefree and hardly in the office. We owned their offices, desks, laptops, cups and their boardrooms. We enjoyed the place. It was a law firm and our bosses were lifetime attorneys, only in their forties, who also enjoyed life and had fun while they worked hard. Who wouldn’t enjoy working for them? They were always out on business meetings and when they were back the place still felt the same. It was like our second home. Khomotjo and I were both ‘Personal Assistants’ (known as PAs). Sometimes, during lunch time, when we were lucky, we would go out on a lunch date. A guy would come and offer us a lift. At times we would take it and exchange telephone numbers. Next thing you know, he is asking you out. Easy as that, although not quite a proper date.

Khomotjo and I lived on the same estate, but in different complexes. On this day she decided to walk me halfway to my complex. As usual, along the way a topic popped up, and then it’s as good as mgozi (gossip). We were busy walking and chatting. A black car passed us. This car had the registration number of my so-called boyfriend of the time. Vroooom, he drove past us, passing me as if he didn’t see me. I was struck that he didn’t notice me.

Khomotjo quickly exclaimed, ‘Girl, I know that guy! I mean, I was walking alone one day to the office when this guy pulled his car over and offered me a ride. I was alone, so I got into the car. The very same car that passed us. That is the same guy who offered to take me out for coffee.’

‘What?’ I said surprised.

‘Yes my friend and I’m pretty sure it’s the same guy.’

‘Are you sure, friend?’

She said yes, re-confirming what she’d just said. I then laughed shyly as I didn’t want to believe that we might have been fooled by the same man. I looked at her and, judging from her facial and bodily expression, I knew she wasn’t lying to me. The very same man had asked me out for coffee the first time we met, but at this particular moment he was supposed to be my boyfriend.

‘Is his name is Josh?’ I asked, hoping that she might say no and give me a different name.

‘I’m not sure. I can’t recall his name. I don’t think I ever got his name. It didn’t matter as I wasn’t even attracted to him anyway. But I recall his car and face very well.’

‘His name is Josh and he is the boyfriend I have told you about,’ I said as I confirmed to her that I knew his name. My face was covered with disappointment as I said it and Khomotjo detected it.

‘You lie! When you’ve been busy saying your boyfriend, boyfriend, you meant this guy?’ she asked.

I replied yes and asked if she’d taken him up on his offer and gone out for coffee with him. Knowing Khomotjo, she didn’t have much time for men. When she confirmed to me that she hadn’t gone out with him, a sigh of relief that was burning through my chest came out. I was still filled with disbelief. I kept thinking, ‘That’s supposed to be my boyfriend, the one who goes around asking other women for “coffee”!’ I was aggrieved by his behaviour. On the other hand, Khomotjo couldn’t stop laughing at me. It was quite a laugh she had.

Finally she said, ‘My friend, this guy is a cheater – he goes around asking other women out for coffee when he’s supposed to be in a relationship with you. I’m certain you’re not the only one he’s involved with.’

‘I’m as shocked as you my friend.’

‘Imagine if I had agreed to go out for coffee and we started something – it would have been a disaster.’ As we approached the gate, we both smiled about this. ‘See you tomorrow.’

‘See you, Khomotjo.’

I was put out by what Khomotjo had said. I tried sleeping on it, thought excessively about it. I finally concluded to myself that men can be stupid sometimes. At night, and after a long wait, wishing that he would call so I could give him a tongue lashing, he finally decided to test the waters and contact me. Josh was not the ideal man, but men have a way of getting away with anything when it comes to impressing women: cars, money, mansions, expensive clothes and so on. It must have been my boredom that resulted in my dating him.

I was never that taken or amused by his charms, as he didn’t have any. I guess loneliness took the best of me at the time, and I let him in. He had an average lifestyle, with a beautiful car and stylish house, and he often wore a suit to work. In my opinion he was presentable. He was not very tall, not very short, but of medium height. He was a very dark man with afro hair that reminded me of an actor in some television drama. He was a man who I liked at the time, and had not yet fallen in love with. Those days, loving a person didn’t happen naturally with me. He had to prove that he was worth my loving. I was very good company and attractive. Men were after me like dogs. I was young, hip, fresh, beautiful and charismatic. My skin was soft and brown, my legs smooth and long. I had long hair, big eyes and a beautiful smile. I was a man’s dream of a pocket woman. I would meet men – single, taken, married – who were after me like I was the one to use for pleasure. Even though they were after me like that I never let them have me. I protected my temple. It was my pride.

My first meeting with Josh happened while I was bored, lonely and single. When I first started work, I walked to work on my own. Khomotjo hadn’t started working at the office yet. Much later she asked me to help her look for a job where I was working. Trying to help a sister out, I spoke to my boss and asked him to speak to his colleague and find out if he wasn’t looking for a PA. Khomotjo got lucky and was later hired.

The first time Josh offered me a ride, I was very uncomfortable. I was tired of walking as it was boring walking by myself all the time. I have always been cautious and rather overprotective of myself. He stopped and insisted that I get in the car. I observed him while he spoke, trying to introduce himself. He looked decent, like an exec in a suit. He spoke softly, with a smile, and didn’t strike me as harmful. Fine! He got me.

I got in the car, hoping and praying that he would do nothing to me. While driving, he asked for my contact numbers. I refused to give them to him but he insisted on getting my numbers, saying that he would like to take me out for coffee. I still refused. He was very persuasive. Fine! I said.

I called out my office numbers to get him off my case but he asked me to write them down on a piece of paper. I ask if he didn’t own a cellular phone and he gave it to me and asked me to put the numbers and my name in it. He said that he hoped they were true. I asked him why I would lie.

When we reached my offices, he asked for a hug. I refused and he said he was just testing his luck. I got out of the car and closed the door. He slid down the window and told me that I should wait for his call. I said, ‘Goodbye, mister’ and waved as he drove off.

Later on the same day he started calling the office line, wanting to chat. I told him I was busy. He said he was busy too. I asked him what he wanted. He said he wanted me. Then he rephrased and said he wanted to take me out for coffee. I told him I don’t drink coffee, so he suggested juice. I said, “Fine! Name the date and time.”

‘Immediately after work,’ he suggested. What time to you knock off?”

I told him work finished at 4pm and he said he would pick me up at 4pm sharp.

At 4pm on the dot he called and asked me to come down. I looked out the window and saw his car parked outside. I took my bag and locked the office door. As I passed through reception, I checked myself in the mirror. I looked pretty and innocent. I got out and got into the car. We greeted one another and he wanted a hug again. I refused, again.

He said, ‘I am taking you out on a date to Primi Piatti.’

I didn’t know it. No one had ever taken me there. It was new to me and I got butterflies in my tummy, excited that he’d said the word ‘date’. He drove off and told me he would like to get to know me better. I told him there was nothing more to know about me. He said he was sure there was a lot to know about me. He asked me about my work and I told him a bit. I asked him about his and he told me that he was in an executive position where he worked and could go out whenever he wanted to. I was thinking, I have never been on a real date before. What if I embarrass myself. What are we going to talk about. I got a grip on myself and reminded myself that he was the one who was after me. I acted mature in my work outfit. We looked like a boss and his PA.

The date went well. When we drove home, he asked to drop me off at my complex. It turned out that we lived on the same estate and, worse, our complexes were next door to each other. We were basically neighbours. Awkward! He asked me if I lived with my boyfriend and whether it was safe to visit or not.

I looked at him and said, ‘With my brother and I don’t have a boyfriend. And no, it is not safe to visit. He will kill you before you enter this yard. He is very, very overprotective.’

He looked excited, like he’d won a gold medal, and said, ‘I also live alone – no girlfriend at the moment – and would like to have you as my girlfriend if you’ll allow me.’

I looked at him. He looked cute as he spoke. Then I said, ‘Goodbye, Josh.’

‘Wait!’ he said. ‘I would like to give you a ride to work again tomorrow. I don’t want you walking alone anymore. It is not safe. I need to start keeping an eye on you since you are now my girlfriend. What time must I pick you up for work?’

I looked at him. I smiled and said, ‘Pick me up at 7.45am.’

‘Make it 7.30.’

‘Okay.’ In my mind I was calculating the distance to my work place. If I left at 7.30, I would be there very early. Of course, he had to drive further to his workplace and had to be at work about eight.

The next morning I walked out the gate and found him waiting for me. I acted surprised. Deep down I was excited. I now had my own personal chauffeur. One date led to the other. He drove me to work. He took me out for lunch and would fetch me in the afternoon. I was being spoiled. No one had ever done that for me. I felt like a Cinderella.

He told me he was not seeing any woman and I gave him a chance; we started dating. He was becoming more than a driver in a suit. I was getting comfortable around him. I started visiting him at his place and he even gave me a key to his apartment. I was assured that I was the only one and the one. One thing led to another. I had a few men chasing after me but this particular guy – living an average life, not so good looking – somehow managed to catch my attention. He needn’t to tell me that he was insecure: it was written all over him. He made sure to drive me to and from work every day. Life with him didn’t seem too bad. He was good company and not so bad looking.

We enjoyed each other’s company. He was slightly romantic. He made me feel like I owned his place too. He had a fish pond inside the house and I loved feeding his fish whenever he was away on business. I even washed the fish pond myself sometimes to keep busy when he was not around. These fish mattered to him and keeping them alive for when he came back was like proving myself worth to him. I cleaned his house like a noble woman would do. I was his one and only – or so I thought.

I speak for every woman when I say, ‘When you like a person you go the extra mile to impress them.’ Josh treated me like I was special. He would make sure that almost every day he came to my workplace and took me out for lunch to a nice restaurant, making sure that I was well fed. Although at times it felt like he was keeping tabs on me, trying to see if he could bust me with another man, I dismissed the thought and saw him as being kind and gentle, taking care of his own.

I was born and bred in the North West, in the Rustenburg region, on the outskirts of a place called Haartebeesfontein, now known as Lethabong. I finished my high school in the hope of furthering my studies at the University of South Africa (UNISA). I was supposed to study to become a doctor if I qualified as a medical student at MEDUNSA. These were my elder brother’s wishes. He wanted the best for me. I, however, was afraid of blood and couldn’t picture myself in a bloody situation. Blood makes me shiver. Dealing with wounds and trying to heal people didn’t seem like a passion I had and I felt as if my brother were trying to relive his life through me. During my matric year I didn’t push hard to score the qualifying marks to become a doctor and I got a normal pass rate.

My brother was disappointed and wanted me to repeat my matric in order to score better marks and perhaps get a bursary. It was a waste of time as I foolishly made myself score less the second time round. Throughout the year I scored good marks. I was amongst the clever kids throughout my entire school days and I hated failing, but it felt like the choice to make if it meant getting my brother off my case about becoming a doctor. It’s a decision I regret now. I was naïve.

When becoming a doctor was not a success I wanted to become a flight attendant; travel the world, be in the travel and tourism industry. Being in the sky had always fascinated me. I could picture myself flying high, making money and helping to take care of my family. It was a dream; my dream. Unfortunately, no one had the same vision as me and my dream was shattered: the dream that I wanted; no one else’s dream – not my mother’s and not my brother’s. Now that I opted to study Travel and Tourism, there was no money to help further my education. Several avenues were explored, options weighed, but we failed.

Then, finally, when my brother was trying to come through for me, it was too late for registration. He tried to persuade them to take me in, but failed. We even opted to study something else, anything else, even if it meant that I would be studying to get a diploma or degree for something I didn’t like. I didn’t want to find myself at home not studying.

My brother was married, had his own responsibilities, but still tried to give me a better education. Our last resort was when he told me that I had to go back home and try to get into the local college in Rustenburg. I’d run out of choices. It meant that I would be stuck again at home when my mates were away in different universities. So, every day I would wake up early in the morning to catch a bus to college. I was registered for a diploma in Management Assistance at Orbit FET College – Rustenburg branch. Universities call it Secretarial Studies.

Could it be that I killed my own dreams? Do you think the situation could have been different? I guess so. Or not. Had I pushed harder and listened to my brother’s advice, perhaps I would be a medical doctor now. Perhaps I would have my own practice right now. Someone once said, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ I never took myself for a failure, not since I was in Grade 1. I’d always seen myself as a winner. A lack of education hasn’t stopped anyone from making a success of themselves. Only lazy people with endless excuses blame that. My brother believed in me and this made me believe in myself. He showed me the light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t give up, even when times were hard. I never lost hope. I held on. I held my head sky high and said. ‘One day, my dreams will come through. Despite all the obstacles that I may have faced to get here, I have made it this far. I have not arrived yet. I am still going. As long as I am still alive, I still possess breath in me. I am winning.’

In 2008 my brother got me a job in Pretoria, Gauteng, where he resided with his wife and kids. He was by far the only person close to me that I could live with while I was still finding my feet. Living with him and his family was not entirely easy. Everyone else needed space except him. I was his mother’s child and he wanted to see me prosper so he could be proud of me. Raised by a single mother, he was the only father I knew. It was through him I got to leave the dusty roads of North West and move to Gauteng. And being pampered like this by Josh was something that I’d never had time to experience fully while back home. I didn’t date a lot growing up. I was my brother’s spoilt little princess and he kept warning me to stay far away from boys, as they were vultures. Having Josh pamper me, treat me like I was the only woman in the world, was something wonderful.

The boys and men that I had come across back home were not as gentlemanly as the ones in Gauteng, but they would marry a person if they were truly in love. While Gauteng men do all these types of things to lure you in, once you are in, they chew you up and then spit you out; after a while, the person starts to show you their true personality. It seems that either you are being cheated upon or you are being lied to and being made someone else’s makhwapheni (mistress).

I strongly believe that cheating is everywhere but the highest rate seems to be in Gauteng. It is as the saying goes, ‘Jimmy comes to Jo’burg.’ It is when people start to see the light – the real world. All the glitz and glam; the gold. Innocent people are turned into experiments. People become different; unknown; strangers. People lie. They lie about their roots and biography and pretend to be someone they’re not. They fall prey to peer pressure and suffer a total change in behaviour, doing drugs and rape.

When I met Josh I had already been introduced to the big city life. I was informed about the happenings, about what takes place. I knew what to do and what not to do, how to act. I had many advisors and teachers. In the big city life, there are different men driving in fancy cars and speaking English in tongues. Flashy clothes, sharp pointed shoes in all kind of brands. You come across very attractive men in expensive suits with different types of labels. Some are handsome and some use their material possessions as an attraction. Where I come from we see cars, of course, but not like those you find in big cities: Gauteng maboneng – the city of gold.

At first I was also attracted by Josh’s car and not only himself. He wasn’t that good looking, and the first time I introduced him to my cousins they laughed. But his appearances did not stop me from dating him. He wasn’t as bad as it may sound, which is why I still liked him. He was a man in expensive suits with a flashy car. I wouldn’t even stand to hear people talk badly about his looks but rather defended him.

Looks aren’t everything, as they fade with time; what matters is the person’s personality, their kindness, their love, the time they spare and effort they take to make you happy. A partner who goes the extra mile to see you joyful is someone whom one wishes to have in one’s life. I believe that when you like or love someone their appearances shouldn’t stop you from being with them. Looks should not matter. After all, we don’t choose with whom we fall in love. It doesn’t matter how people may tease you about that certain someone; if you love them, words are nothing.

It was on the Wednesday night after the incident with Khomotjo that Josh decided to phone me. I asked him why he’d driven past me, pretending not to see me. He acted surprised and he told me he hadn’t seen me. He even asked me which side of the road I had been walking on. I swore that he’d seen us, but didn’t really expect him to admit it. I listened to him denying that he had seen me at all. As I didn’t want to make a big issue out of it, I then played along and pretended to believe him – and that’s exactly what most men want. You to act! Pretend! Because when you are honest about your feelings they hate you for it. They call you nagging and request space. They grow tired of you. I had even concluded that the only way to win a man’s love and affection is by living a lie just to please him. I know it may sound like bullshit. You might be thinking that not all men are like that, but then maybe you’ve not had much experience with men. From a woman’s perspective, you’ll relate to what I’m talking about. Yes, not all men are the same, but a large number of them behave in a similar way. One could say that they were born of the same mother. Josh was no different.

The next day, Thursday, Khomotjo and I walked to work as usual. On our way Josh became the main topic. I was shocked that Khomtjo knew him and finding out about his attempts to go out with her was uncomfortable. It made us conclude that Josh was as big a liar as they came.

We arrived at work and continued as usual, except that Josh didn’t come to take me out for lunch or fetch me from work on this day. When it was time to knock off, he called and told me that he would be home late and I should pop in at his place around eight in the evening. When I asked him why he hadn’t being communicating with me throughout the day, but only when he wanted me to come to his place on his own terms now, he apologized and told me that he had been very busy and would only leave work late. Even though I didn’t completely trust what he was saying and found it to be an excuse, I agreed to see him later as he asked.

Khomotjo and I walked home. She’d been working at my office for about a week at that time, and, because Josh had been busy and had not given me a lift that week, we’d fallen into a routine of walking home together. As usual, we went to her place to hang out. We used to drink from Monday to Monday. Every day we had wine although Khomotjo preferred ciders. We called it unwinding, although it was more than that and a bit excessive. There’s a certain dedication known in South Africa and in all nine provinces. Thursday is called “Phuza Thursday” (drinking day). What this means is that the drinking starts on Thursday and goes on until Sunday. Thursday falls under the weekend and people start to drink on Thursday afternoon after work, even if the next day they still have to wake up and go to work. Most of the time people go to work hungover and then Friday morning is very long. Immediately it is time to knock off, and people officially know that it is weekend, they drink again until the morning.

Khomotjo and I did a similar thing. It was the in thing. We went to her house and wined. Later on, her friends joined in. Khomotjo had so many friends, both men to women. Whoever had problems and needed a drink to help forget about them, came to her house and chilled, chatted, smoked, and had fun, even if it was just for a little while. They enjoyed her company. She was carefree and talkative. As soon as you were in her presence, you would forget about your stresses. She was like a drug that took away your worries. She was in a relationship, but most of the time was alone with friends and surrounded by men who’d run away from their wife or girlfriend’s nagging.

I was busy drinking wine when I got another call from Josh. He called and I let it ring the first time. He tried again and I still let it ring the second time. The third time around I answered and he said, ‘Hey babe, hope you doing good so far. Can you believe I’m still at work? I hope you understand that I’ll be home late today and you’re not upset. I know I was supposed to see you, but please know that I’ll be home after eight. I’m still working till late, but will phone you to come when I’m home. I love you.’ The whole time he talked I was quiet and he blabbed on his own. He repeated what he had told me earlier, which made me suspicious of him.

As usual I went with the flow and said, ‘Okay, babe, will hear from you then. Enjoy and don’t over work yourself too hard.’

‘Thank you for understanding, but why don’t you tell me that you love me too?’

In the back of my mind I thought that it was so easy for him to use these words and yet he didn’t know their meaning. I wondered why I should lie and tell him that I loved him when what I felt for him was not even close to love. I had little affection for him. I only tolerated his company, even though I protected him. I liked him, but I wasn’t yet in love with him.

He said again, ‘I love you.’

I wanted him to leave me alone and so I said, ‘I love you too,’ and he hung up. He was a smooth operator. I could almost believe it when he told me he loved me, but something about this day and what Khomotjo had said didn’t seem right. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was more to his late work than what met the eye. The worst part was when he’d driven past me when he saw us together. I felt strongly like he acted as if he didn’t see me, even though he had seen us. It seemed he was famous for asking women out for coffee; he’d used the same trick on both me and Khomotjo. I felt I would be an idiot to trust him again. My intuition was screaming cheating in my ears. It was time for an action plan.

While Khomotjo was busy with her other friends. I was busy thinking about this man. His call distracted my focus from unwinding. I suddenly became quiet and everybody picked up on it. Khomotjo even made fun of me. She’d heard me telling Josh that I loved him too. She told everybody that this man of mine was a cheater and wanted to take her out too, and now he’d called and told me he loved me when he was a liar. She wasn’t drunk and I knew that she was being factual.

She told me to step out of my mood and continue to have fun and forget about seeing him later. She mentioned something about him not even being at work and that he may be taking someone else out while he made me wait for him. She told me to dump him as he was not worth it. She said a lot and everybody paid attention. I didn’t want to take what she was saying personally. I had convinced myself that I would never allow myself to feel deeply for him; hence I couldn’t even say that I loved him. Nonetheless, I still slept with him, lied to my brother while I snuck out to go be with him. It was only once that I got permission to sleep at Khomotjo’s place and used it to my advantage and slept at Josh’s instead. I will never forget how I felt. There was no affection. I was cold as ice. I had no feelings and didn’t understand why I continued to be his girlfriend. Could it be that boredom allowed me to be with anyone without affection? Whatever the case, I continued to live a lie, my heart not entirely in it. I kept telling myself that perhaps I didn’t know how to fall in love or, even if I fell in love, perhaps I was afraid to get hurt as my brother had warned me I would be. I had built a wall around me, to protect my feelings.

I looked at the time frequently. I wanted it to move faster. I couldn’t wait any longer. Something was itching inside me. I had this weird feeling suddenly. ‘Cheating! Cheating! Cheating!’ The sound became so loud in my head that I wanted to break out of the house and get some air to breathe. I could feel myself suffocating as I didn’t want to accept that what Khomotjo was saying might be true. Why was I feeling this way if I didn’t love him? Khomotjo kept inviting more friends; they arrived one by one. It was becoming too crowded. Some people drank wine and invited their friends over. Some drank beer, whiskey and even smoked. Khomotjo was one of the smokers. I even tried to get myself more tipsy. But, no matter how drunk you may be, your intuition always kicks in.

After a while, having drunk a couple of glasses of wine, I was rather tipsy. I looked at the time and it was around half past seven. The time was moving very slowly. Khomotjo and I had started drinking at five. As soon as we’d got to her house, she’d poured me a glass and grabbed herself a bottle of Savannah. She loved drinking it straight from the bottle. Any other brand, like Hunter’s, she would go for a can. She always said that it is colder in a can than a bottle – more refreshing. I was a lady and not so much of a drinker – still a new kid on the block – and I had wine. Four Cousins Rosé was one of my favourites then. Or perhaps just the first wine I got to taste.

It was not yet 8pm, but my intuition kept telling me that he was home already. I quietly said, ‘To hell with him – if it feels hot, there’s a fire.’ I could feel that he was lying somehow, so I told my friends that I was going home to sleep, as the next day was still another day working day. He didn’t live far away, and that was the privilege. He lived next door. Perhaps he’d forgotten that I could walk there. Khomotjo wanted to walk with me but I told her that she had company and I would be okay. She apologized for what she’d said jokingly. I told her I hadn’t taken her seriously, and she mustn’t worry. As I left, I decided to walk past my complex and go and check if Josh was not home yet. I was taking my chances. I headed straight to his house as I was somehow suspicious and my intuitions never lied.

He had taken the keys he’d given me back at some point and I had wondered why. He’d used tact, saying that he’d lost his own set and would need the ones he’d given me back. It was after his trip from Cape Town when he asked for the keys. He said that somehow he must have lost his somewhere in Cape Town. I’d of course given him his keys, but something hadn’t smelled right. He was in the house when he’d asked for his keys. How had he managed to open the door the first time if he’d lost his keys? I didn’t ask. I was dumb enough not to even think of asking him how he’d managed to open and lock the door. Silly me. I was naïve and he had me right in the palm of his hands. He fooled me then and I didn’t even realize it.

A lot of couples experience this ‘key saga’. Often, a man creates an argument, fights and then makes an excuse to have his keys back. Josh was very tactful and I didn’t even see it. I was fairly new to the game. It was the first time I’d received a key from a boyfriend and that had made me feel special. It was a form of security to know that I had full access to his house and he didn’t care whether I walked in on him or not. It was a form of building trust, saying that I could come in at any time, there’s no other woman other than me. I didn’t know how the game was being played. I didn’t know that his taking the keys back meant that something was cooking. I believe that he had realized that he’d made a mistake and he wanted to explore different women. His giving me the keys was one of his tricks and he’d probably done the same thing before. It was all a game to him.

One day I had got stuck at his gate trying to visit him. He had invited me in, but I didn’t have the remote for his gate and I was too lazy to call him to come and open. I waited by the gate for the next person to open for me. It was a lady, in her twenties. She was skinny and had a dark skin and huge, round eyes. She about the same size as me. She was walking up when she turned and noticed that I was stuck outside. She then opened the gate for me to get in. Well, I thought her generous and even thanked her for what she’d done, raising my hand to her saying, ‘Thank you.’ I came to a realization later that this woman was actually no saint. I didn’t even know her name.

Now I walked past my complex, Ruby Court, where I lived with my brother and his wife, kids and nanny. I was tipsy and an embarrassment to my brother. He had never seen me drunk and I didn’t wish for him to see me this way. That day he was away with his family and I was left with his nanny. As I walked it started to drizzle. It was only a few rain drops and I kept going. I could feel it in my bones that something was not right and no rain could stop me from finding out. I reached the gate of Sapphire where Josh lived and it was closed. Most of the time, for security reasons, one needed to either open with one’s own remote or use one’s fingerprints to open the gate, and I could do neither as I didn’t live there. Access to each complex was limited to those residing in that particular complex. This rule applied so that one could have free access at the main entrance of the entire Eco Park Estates. It was raining but I still waited at the gate until someone went in or out. After some time, a car came out and I quickly went in.

I walked towards his apartment. As I approached, his garage door was half closed and I could see a car inside: same colour and registration number as his car. It was as if he didn’t want anyone to see that he was home. Usually he would park his car in a parking lot rather than in the garage, but on this special day he’d decided to park it inside. According to my cellular phone, it was not even eight yet. He’d lied to me about coming back late from work.

‘The lying bastard,’ I said as I opened the garage door slowly to confirm that it was his car inside. It was his car, alright. I walked up the stairs to his apartment. The lights were on. It seemed he’d got home earlier than the time he’d given me. As I got closer to the door, I got more nervous. I was afraid of finding him with someone else. I stood outside his door and heard the sound of the television playing, but in the background I could hear people talking. I took a deep breath to prepare myself to be brave while I knocked.

A few minutes later he opened the door. He was shocked to see me. I was shocked to see him shocked. I observed him. He was walking in his socks and was still in his formal clothes. He was very surprised to see me.

‘What are you doing here? I thought I said I was going to call you.’ He was standing at the door, not inviting me in.

‘Why are you not inviting me in? I’m already here and I see you are home early.’

He stared at me as if something was wrong with me. I pushed him aside as I walked in, leaving him astonished. He couldn’t believe it. He wasn’t expecting to see me until he gave me orders.

‘Well, surprise, surprise. Look what the cat dragged in. You have a visitor. Is she your sister. Hello,’ I said as I walked straight inside the house where another woman was busy cooking at his stove.

I’d asked sarcastically as I knew that this woman was not his sister. It was the same woman who’d once opened the gate for me when I was stuck. The same skinny woman with dark skin and huge eyes. She did not only stay in the same complex as him. They’d started shagging. I was shocked to see her. I felt as if my eyes were deceiving me, playing tricks on me. I couldn’t believe that I’d found the same woman I’d thought was generous enough to open the gate for me. It felt as if she’d known where I was going and had waited for me to leave so she could go in. No! She was probably just helping him out.

He said, ‘I asked you why you’re are here and you haven’t replied.’

I turned towards him and replied, ‘You said I must come at eight. What is the time now? Or did you mean eight tomorrow, seeing that you have company?’ I was thinking, ‘Oh God, this can’t be. The very same lady who opened the gate for me just the other day, in his kitchen cooking for him!’ My heart began to beat fast. I could easily lose my breath. I could see that he was playing us but I wanted confirmation. I could slowly feel myself getting sober and I felt aggrieved that the very same person who I’d thought had been kind to me was sleeping with the same man as I was. I thought I was seeing things. I thought I was dreaming. Probably I was still sitting on a couch at Khomotjo’s place. I’d probably dozed off and was having this weird dream after what she’d said. It felt as if the room were spinning. Josh kept talking, but at some point I couldn’t get what he was saying. His words were screaming betrayal. His walls started to squeeze against me as I stood in the middle of the room staring at nothing but his ugly face that everyone kept teasing me about. I finally saw his ugly side, the side that I had always defended. Everything was not true. It couldn’t be true. If it was true, I wished it were not her.

He was talking and yet sounded very far away. Through the mist I heard him say, ‘What do you want?’ He hadn’t asked me that question! He couldn’t have asked me that!

I gathered up my pride said angrily, ‘I’m here to see you. I decided on my own to come here earlier than you said.’

‘But I thought I told you I would phone you when I was home.’

‘But you’re here now, Josh, and earlier than you said you would be. Why didn’t you call me?’

We were busy having these interchanges while the other lady continued to cook invisibly in the kitchen. This annoyed me further. I would have hoped that she would use her head and head for the door. I couldn’t even detect if I was being unfair to her and might be accusing an innocent woman. Perhaps Josh had asked her to help him cook. But why hadn’t he waited for me as he loved my cooking. Or perhaps he wanted a different type of cooking? No, that couldn’t be it! I tried to convince myself.

I saw that Josh was determined to continue with his silly interrogations and was not going to invite me to sit. I tried to ignore him. I’d wear a mask and decide to be a bitch about this. I sat on the couch and said, ‘Josh, who is this lady? And why is she here cooking for you? Sorry to sound so rude, perhaps she’s your sister, the help or something. Please help me understand because I am so confused.’

He replied, saying, ‘Can you please leave. I will call you.’

I couldn’t believe his nerve. Please leave. I will call you! I was not a pawn that a man could order around and dictate to. This was not a game. I was not a game and would not be anybody’s second best thing. I told myself, ‘This man doesn’t know me. He treats me like an idiot. I must leave and come back when he calls me. He didn’t just ask this of me.’

I could see that something was up between the two of them and I wanted to hear him say it. I was dying to know if I came first or she came first, if I was within my rights to do the confrontations. I needed to know who he was going to choose. I needed to know before I walked out the door. It was either her or me who was going to walk and Josh sounded determined that I was going to be the one to leave. I took this very personally. I knew then that it was over. This man was either cheating on me with this woman, or cheating on this woman with me. Had she been there all along?

After what Khomotjo had said, I knew that she was probably starting something with him and I had been there throughout.

‘Wait a minute! Is it possible that you took the keys from me so you could give them to this woman. Was it because you didn’t want me coming in and out as I pleased? The story about you losing your keys in Cape Town, was it even true? Are you cheating on me with this woman, Josh? Who is she? Why is she busy cooking for you?’ I said all this angrily as I stood up. He looked at me and did not say anything as he could see that now I was beginning to throw a tantrum. I quickly recalled another time when I came across her walking with her friend. It had looked like they were gossiping about me. They’d turned and laughed at me. I’d ignored them and thought that they were just silly girls who liked to gossip. It was becoming clearer to me that this lady knew about me all along and decided to go behind my back. She’d known who I was all this time.

He had promised to find me a better paying job. I’d given him my résumé. As I confronted him, I saw it on his couch. He’d probably lied to this lady and had told her that he was helping me with a job. She must have asked. She couldn’t have been that naïve. The lady was pretending she could not hear us. I was prepared for her to step in, but she didn’t. She was mute the whole time. She was focusing in the cooking.

Now Josh calmly asked me to leave. It was clear that he had made his decision. I was the bad bitch and she was the saint. I was loud and she was mute. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Josh opened it: it was another woman. It wasn’t a threesome, but was now a foursome! The situation was becoming too crowded. I was ready to stand my ground and I waited until this man told me what was happening. I needed to know my place. I was naïve.

The third woman came in. That was when I remembered where I had seen them before. She asked to speak to her mute friend. I wasn’t sure if they had texted one another or what. The way in which she came in seemed suspicious. She called her friend outside. Josh asked them where they were going and the new woman replied saying she only wanted her friend to walk her to the shopping mall to buy some stuff. The shopping mall was about ten minutes walking distance, right outside the Estates. The lady went outside. Josh refused several times to give me her name that day so I will call her A. A left the pots on the stove while she spoke with her friend outside – only God knows what these ladies agreed upon. It looked like they were having a serious chat. I’d been astonished when Josh spoke as a concerned boyfriend to A’s friend. I’d known then that I had lost. I was defeated by the woman’s silence. I was mostly defeated by Josh’s defence of her. I needed to find out more. It was bound to hurt my feelings, but I needed closure and hearing him admit to his cheating and choosing the one he cheated with was something to hold onto that would allow me to move on.

I’d thought A’s friend had said that they were going to the shops to buy stuff, but she came back into the house and sat on the other side of the couch. While she was out I had sat down again but I stood up and approached her side. I wanted to find out from her if she was a relative, sister, cousin or something else. I was not getting answers from Josh, even though the answers were staring right at me.

Josh tried to stop me from getting near her, so I spoke from where I was standing and asked her who she was to Josh. As I did that I found what Josh was doing to obstruct me very amusing, so I chuckled. Before I could even finish speaking to her, Josh told me again to leave the house before, and I rephrase, ‘he did something to me that he would regret.’ At this intense moment I couldn’t have cared less what he did to me, his threats meant nothing. I was a woman scorned and my heart was deeply saddened. I hadn’t expected this even though I’d suspected he was a pig. I started to boil with rage inside and seriously demanded answers after he threatened me. I still got no response from any of them.

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