After Love – Chapter 9 — Graduation

For The Previous Chapter of After Love, “Sibling Rivalry” – Click Here

“I know I’m late, I’m sorry”. I said as I parked the car, quickly rolling up the window and looking at Namisa.

 

“You haven’t changed”, she said, “Always work first. You did the same with Oarabile”.

 

I didn’t need her reminding me that I missed a lot of his life. I want to blame the situation, I was student and working towards being a man who would provide for him but truth is, I only saw him on weekends and when it was time for exams I could go a month without going home so that I could concentrate and the responsibility fell on her to bring Oarabile to me.

 

She looked over to the passenger seat and frowned, I could tell she wanted to ask but held her tongue.

 

“Lonwabo had an emergency. One of her pupil’s parents called her and she had to rush to assist. So today it will be just you, Ora and I but she will do her best to join us later”.

 

Namisa sighed, “Birds of a feather I guess… It’s just a shame, Ora was really excited to see her.”

 

Sometimes I wonder if she is naturally sarcastic or wilfully sharp-tongued but in all the years of dating her, I learnt not to engage her in every comment.

 

“I’m ready to go. Where is my princess?”, I asked.

 

“Did you finally buy a car seat? I was hoping we could use your car. I don’t feel like driving”, she responded.

 

I was glad I bought the car seat, so she could finally stop nagging me but I had already made them wait an hour for me, so saying no to her request would have led to an argument. All I wanted to do was stare at Oratilwe the whole day. The last thing I anticipated was having to work on my day off but when the boss says he needs a report done, you get it done. I tried to work as meticulously as possible, so I wouldn’t be called back in today or tomorrow when I would be spending the day with Ora. It was my weekend with her.

 

We agreed that the three of us would take leave on Friday, go to the different crèches and not only see the premises but also see how the teachers interact with the students. Lonwabo was supposed to handle the talks on curriculum and with her not being present, the responsibility fell on me. We knew she was just in crèche but the plan was to keep her in one school for as long as possible. In my mother’s pursuit to giving me a quality education, I changed schools almost every year. Whichever school she felt was the best she would send me to that school, I even went to boarding school at some point but she didn’t like the distance and made me move back home. Eventually I got a scholarship and they were in charge of which school I went to but all I learnt from that was I wanted stability. I wanted Oratilwe to never have to make friends and lose them but rather to get a sense of home that I didn’t get.

 

Even though Lonwabo wasn’t going to be there, she gave me pointers on what questions to ask and I promised her I would report everything back to her.

 

Turns out as a man, I knew which university I wanted my daughter to attend because I knew how expensive studying can be and so I saved for that but I never put thought into what impact the crèche she went to would have on her.

 

We visited different schools, laughed at uniforms and batted our eyes at a few costs. All in all it was a good day. After all the evaluations were done we drove back to my place.

 

Lonwabo was yet to come home. Namisa and I agreed that it would be wise if she waited for Lonwabo to get home before she left, so we could discuss all the schools and try make a decision together.

 

She was in charge of keeping Oratilwe busy while I got dinner started.

 

“You know… You never cooked for me while we were dating, I wonder if you are any good. When it came to where to eat out, you knew your stuff but cooking… You never did, except breakfast. You make an amazing omelette.”

 

I looked at her and laughed, “If I want to afford to send Ora to any of those crèches then I need to cut costs and cooking meals instead of take-out is one of the ways to save. The tuition at those schools could feed a small family.”

 

“A small family?”, she giggled hard enough to almost sound like a laugh.

 

I forgot the way her face would light up when she was happy. Thinking about it, today was the first time the three of us were actually together like a real family.

 

“What?… Why are you staring at me?”, she asked while playing with her hair.

 

“Nothing. I am just thinking about today. I never tell you this but you are a great mother to our daughter.”

 

“Really? I am?”, she said jokingly, “Then I should be the one to pick the school right Baba ka Ora?”.

 

“Nope.”, I said, “If you pick the school then she’ll end up at that school you liked… What was it called again… The one with the purple uniform.”

 

“That was a great school. It was a black school and they taught Xhosa and Zulu. Oratilwe would have loved it there.”

 

I wondered if that was her deciding factor and why it mattered whether her child went to a black school or white school. I understand the fear of a black parent, sending their child to a school where their child may experience racism and I could tell her that racism exists in the world and not only in certain schools but I’m sure she already knew that.

 

“Maybe if we take the possibility of racism into account, the school has some merit but what do languages have to do with it Namisa?”

 

“I want my daughter to learn about her culture Angelo.”

 

“And why wouldn’t she learn that at any other school? How does going to a black school teach her culture?”, I asked.

 

“It will teach her how to fit in with people of her colour or are you saying white schools are better than black schools?”

 

“I never said that. Don’t put words in my mouth”, I said.

 

“You didn’t deny it either”, she remarked. “Predominantly white schools have been proven to lack the ability to accommodate South African black languages in their curriculums however are able to include Afrikaans. Therefore this results in idea that there are languages that are more significant than others hence decreasing the agency of learning African language by black pupils.”

 

Namisa’s words had me rolling my eyes. She loved culture and always felt it was her most defining feature. I admired that about her, the way she could speak about herself and where she came from and I wanted to give the same to Oratilwe but at what cost? Would I sacrifice my child going to a school that I felt would give her a great education in favour of one that had the option to teach her an African language.

 

“So you are blaming schools for children not wanting to learn about their heritage? What is the purpose of sending your child to school? If you are sending them to have a career and get an education then isn’t your argument flawed if your emphasis is on learning black languages and using them as a guise to absorb culture?

 

If you take into account the fact that languages can boost a career or allow opportunities overseas. Would you want our daughter to learn a language like Zulu that can’t be used in any country except South Africa, whereas a language like Portuguese is spoken in 10 different countries?”

 

I saw her place her hand on her hip and I knew an argument was coming.

 

“Angelo, do you then disregard the fact that your child is human, that she needs a sense of belonging and being rooted. Do belittle culture just because we aim for her to have a career oriented. In a case whereby your child has aspirations to be a musician or poet that uses their home language to express themselves do we then tell the child that no you can’t do that because it’s not globally recognized?”

 

I shook my head. “No, our daughter can be whatever she wants to be but other than becoming a poet or an artist, where would learning an African language take her? I want my daughter to go further than I did, even if that means she goes to live somewhere far away like Germany.”

 

I wanted to understand where she was coming from but I couldn’t. Maybe she wanted our daughter to learn to communicate better or maybe I didn’t value culture enough but no matter what she was saying, I just could not agree with it.

 

“She needs to be cultured, can we at least agree on that?”, she said with her tone slightly raised. “Going to a school where she can learn a language close to home will keep her cultured and give her a sense of pride. She will be spending around eight hours at the school or crèche and the one you liked had about two black teachers. She is going to come home speaking a language she can’t use, what is the point in that? You learn more about any topic or subject when you get a chance to study it. For example Zulu, you learn about the customs that are involved in that particular culture it is interpreted and understood. She will learn diversity at that school.”

 

“What? So you expect the school to teach her culture?”. I asked. “There’s a difference between expecting a child to be raised by a school and expecting a child to be exposed to a place that is accommodating and doesn’t plant a seed to make a child feel belittled or less significant than another. You want her to learn an African language basically because it is a nice skill to have and you want the school to take over our responsibility. If you can predict the future and our daughter wants to be a poet or maybe a language teacher then I can agree to send her to a school solely on that.”

 

“Angelo, if she won’t learn it at school then how will she be taught culture? Where will she learn it?”

 

“Here… With us… She will learn culture here. You and I are from different cultures ourselves. So do we now force her to take on English and two other subjects so that she can get both cultures or one culture takes preference over another?”

 

“No Angelo. That’s not what I am saying.”

 

She could see my blood was boiling despite me trying to keep my cool. We kept on going back and forth, arguing and moving closer to one another. Stating her case and me arguing mine.

 

“Angelo. Namisa”, Lonwabo yelled. “What’s that smell? If two could stop flirting from a moment, you’d see the pot is on fire.” She ran to the kitchen to turn off the stove.

 

Namisa and I got so caught up in our argument I forgot I was cooking and didn’t even hear Lonwabo come in. Slowly we backed away from one another. Namisa looking a little embarrassed and picking up Oratilwe from the mat.

 

“Come on Princess, let mommy take you to the bathroom and make sure that you nappy isn’t wet. If you’ll excuse me guys”.

 

She took her leave and left Lonwabo and I standing in the corridor, staring at one another. She looked at me and shook her head.

 

“I had a really long day”, she said, “And I am too tired for this. I don’t want an explanation. I just hope you know what you are doing.”

 

She said her peace and went upstairs. I thought today was supposed to be about Oratilwe, it baffled me how I was the bad guy once again.

 

Graduation – PDF

Jade Novelist ©️ 2019

You are an heir to a throne,

housing two bloodlines and countless aspirations.

 

For your future I wish you your own sins to learn from.

 

I wish that you know a broken heart but your journey ends with the joy of love.

 

I wish you a finer upbringing and the strength to do better than I did.

 

But most of all I wish you the courage to live for yourself from the moment you learn to formulate your own thoughts, so at 27 you have your own wishes for your heir.

 

 

Jade Novelist ©️ 2018

After Love – Chapter 7 – The Trouble With Faith

For The Previous Chapter of After Love, “What Should Have Been” – Click Here

It’s been three years since I was last here.

Everything looks the same. The sand, the sun. I remember the day we laid Oarabile to rest. I was amazed to see so many people there to celebrate a life that was short lived. He could hardly form sentences yet everyone had so much to say about him and what he meant to them. It felt so fake.

The condolences and smiles, many didn’t want us together as a couple and losing Oarabile was the cement they were happy never dried.

Even though Namisa and I had dated for years, this was the first time our families were really in the same place. We never paid damages for him, scheduling the negotiations was always a problem and so that was the first time our uncle’s met.

He went from being our beacon of hope to someone we mention in memories. His death took everything from me. Her family and mine parted ways, my friends and family distanced themselves from me. Kyle, Tsebo and Nhlanhla didn’t know what to say to me. Then again who was I to judge, I hardly had much to say. I spent most of the day comforting Namisa and doing small talk on her behalf. Now here I was on my own, staring at your tombstone, trying to find words and wondering if you even understood the role I was meant to play in your life.

“Hey OB… It’s me… Your dad. We used to play together. It saddens me to think you are nothing more than a box in the ground, a body that has probably decayed. I don’t know if you heard but you have a little sister now.”

They say the dead should not communicate with the living but I took the whistle of the wind as a sign that he was listening. Maybe he was and maybe I was just that desperate for him to exist somewhere other than my mind. In her healing she gave away all the things we bought Oarabile, so I didn’t have anything to remember him by other than his baby pictures.

I was left with his baby pictures and a deep dislike for Winnie the Pooh. I used to love the cartoon but seeing Winnie on his tombstone made the sight of the teddy bear unbearable.

I was also the one left with all the questions. ‘How did he die?’, ‘Was he ill?’, ‘How is Namisa taking it’, ‘When will you be ready to have another child?’. Namisa got time off school, time off from the world. She had three weeks to rest, and just shut off everything. Her communication was limited to myself and her immediate family. I on the other hand was thrown into the world.

I still had to attend lectures, be social, I had to still be happy for everyone. My mother was falling apart, my cousins were hurt and I had to be there for them all. I had to keep their world together and pretend mine wasn’t falling breaking apart. A man is strong, so the death of my son shouldn’t not have phased me. After all a woman has a natural clock and a man can have a child anytime. A lot of people felt I should have leaned on Namisa but whenever I tried to open up to her, she would burst into tears because I would just bring the pain back for her, so I would put my emotions on hold so that I could comfort her. In the end I realized that their ‘lean on her’ was just their way of saying I should be there for her because this is harder for women than it is for men because they are more connected to he child.

Putting Namisa first, the questions and being forced back into society with no support; I don’t know how I made it through and managed to retain some part of my sanity.

Namisa and society aside, it wasn’t that the questions weren’t valid, it was just that I didn’t have answers myself. She couldn’t tell me what happened. She said something about being at a family friend’s place, that he was fine when she last checked on him and that when she checked again he wasn’t breathing. Some people said maybe her ‘cousin’ rolled over and suffocated him, others suggested he was poisoned and others said it was just God’s will. With all the confusion, an autopsy seemed insensitive. I asked Namisa for one and she asked if I blamed her or her cousin for what happened, that I suspected them of foul play. She brought Oratilwe to me because she didn’t want to leave her with anyone who wasn’t immediate family, I guess a part of her blamed her cousin too.

No one taught me how to parent. They all expected me to just understand. My mother, Namisa’s parents, none of them shared their experience or raising a child or what they learnt. They just felt I should know, maybe because I was once a child. They forgot that they were once children and when I needed guidance, I needed more than “you are a father now”.

Adults think that is enough, in that statement I should understand all my responsibilities and making the right decisions should come naturally. No one said I would be affected more than just financially, more than just my time management would need to change. No one said he would own all of my being or that having a child meant gaining the risk that losing them could crush your soul beyond repair. Everything became about them even things that are not related. No one said you could find yourself at a gravesite talking to yourself.

“I blame God for taking you. Not every couple who wants to, can conceive. He is in control. He lets rapists and murders get to old age but you were a soul without sin and you left us before your first birthday.” I spoke but no wind this time. I wasn’t sure if you disagreed with my sentiments or our heavenly Father silenced your lips.

I think the worst part of it all was that I was the one left without faith. They say God doesn’t choose favourites but Namisa healed faster than I did and she said it was because of Him. Three years later and I am still stuck in the mind of a man who refuses to accept that the first person he ever buried was his son.

“I blame GOD”. I cried. “I blame you. I am mad at her for not seeing I was in pain, I am mad at my family for demanding that I be okay but I am mad at you most. I was a good son to you but you took mine from me. I blame you for letting me love him, I blame you for letting him breathe and I blame you for taking him from me without giving me a chance to say goodbye.”

Some would call it blasphemy, I wonder if it makes me a sinner for questioning His choices or more of a believer because like any son, I can admit I feel betrayed by my Father?

My Father took everything from me. My friends didn’t know what to say or how to relate. I was the first to have a child, I was the first to lose a child. They were still processing the former, how would they now comfort me through the latter?

My relationship with my mother suffered. I remember the look on her face when I told her Namisa was pregnant. She was angry, she said things she could never take back and things I am yet to forgive. She had all that anger over something that didn’t last that long.

“I know she misses you too.”, I said with a smile on my face. “She hasn’t asked to see Ora, she wants to wait until she is sure Ora is mine. She doesn’t want another grandchild taken away from her.” I hoped knowing that he couldn’t be replaced would make him smile, that the fact that my mother and I still missed him would give him some sort of comfort and maybe he would forgive us for never visiting.

“I passed by the way. Your father is almost CA. I work at this great accounting firm in the Vaal. I wrote my last exam and I am waiting for my results. I believe I made it. I only saw you on weekends, so I have no choice but to have made it right.

I told you I was mad at God, I am mad at my family and my friends but Oarabile, I am also mad at you. You took away the love of my life. I am sure she told you that we don’t talk much anymore. We didn’t until she told me about your sister. She was in the hospital and she needed blood and… I’m sure she told you all about it. She told me she visits you every chance she gets.”

Namisa was always stronger than me. She hid Oratilwe from me but maybe it’s because I wasn’t as strong as she needed me to be. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I ran to another for comfort and gave them more than I was allowed to give. Vuyo had been my best friend for so long that it made sense to talk to her. We shared everything. She was comfortable enough to tell me when she was on her period and needed me to get her pads and she was the first I told when I found out Namisa was pregnant. I don’t know who took advantage of whom, was it I who was mourning my son or her who had just fought with her partner. We both needed comfort, we just found it in the wrong way. We agreed never to speak about it and the next time we spoke, she and her ex-boyfriend were pregnant and expecting their first child. I was hurt that she hid that she was pregnant from me and I couldn’t think up any reason I told myself that she was still giving me time to recover from losing Oarabile. Maybe she was just protecting Oratilwe from having a weak father in her life. A father who still held on, a father who couldn’t forgive his creator.

I stood there in silence for a few minutes. The sun was setting and I still had so much to say but words would not leave my lips and my heart was just as silent. Being there felt like both an accomplishment and a moment of disappointment. This was the first time I was here but it took me so long to get here. I knew I couldn’t stand there forever and wallow in my thoughts, I still had to drive to Vuyo’s place. She and I hadn’t really spoken since the night Loni moved in and she said she was worried about me, so I said I would pay her a visit before I went home after seeing Oarabile. She didn’t really give me much of a choice. She said she knew I would be a wreck after going to the cemetery and so I promised I would see her before driving home.

God gives and God takes. Losing him taught me that God does things and doesn’t give reasons, I learnt to feel God is unfair and chooses tests for His children based on how well He thinks they will cope. Despite the anger and my feelings, in all this, my biggest struggle was with myself because I still held on to Him. I stopped praying, I stopped spreading His word and going to church was a thing of the past but I knew He was still there, just watching me suffer. Whether He was rooting for me to recover or not, I just knew He was watching with the son He took from me next to him.

God broke me, took all I have and even though I didn’t believe in His love anymore, I still believed in him. I suppose that is the trouble with faith. Some take misfortune as a sign of God’s non-existence but I took it as a sign that He doesn’t love me.

The Trouble With Faith – PDF

Jade Novelist ©️ 2018