You cross my mind in my less sober moments,

when my thoughts are drunk on you

and I wish I was more than just somebody you know

You cross my mind in my less sober moments,

when the confusion between ‘I’m ready to love again’ and ‘just walk away’ doesn’t hinder my desire

You cross my mind in my less sober moments,

when the idea of ‘living’ sounds better with you in it and I struggle to picture myself with anyone but you.

You cross my mind in my less sober moments,

when addiction forms and lust or love, force my infatuation infested crush to want to give you a chance.

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

After Love – Chapter 2 – My Name Is…

For The Previous Chapter of After Love, “Hello Again” – Click Here

One tick. 38 messages and one tick for each. My messages weren’t going through. Her phone was still on voicemail.

I knew she hadn’t blocked me, I tried calling her from work. I used my office number and a colleague’s phone but still got “… the number you have dialled, is not available”. How could she send me that text and then switch off her phone, was this all a game to her? She couldn’t resist, she just had to find new ways to make life hell.

I spent all day staring at my phone, waiting for her to respond, to reach out to me. I had questions and she had the answers, or at least I hoped she did. Could Oratilwe be my daughter? Why did she hide her from me? Why would she tell me about her now? Why was Oratilwe in hospital? Was I losing another child?

Three cups of coffee and deadlines made me jumpier than I needed to be. My manager wasn’t my biggest fan, so that meant I couldn’t get out of meetings and asking for a personal day would be a mission on its own. How would I start the conversation, “Oh Hi Xolile, I’m not feeling well, so could I have the afternoon off?… Why, you ask?… Well just yesterday I found out that I might have left my ex-girlfriend pregnant 2 years ago and my maybe daughter might be in hospital, so I need the afternoon off so I can go hospital to hospital trying to find them”.

I had to make it work, make nice and sit through meetings. Fridays were the worst; progress meetings, finalisation of client reports and debates over next week’s planner. As per usual I got the worst assignments.

“Pssst. Pssst”, he whispered trying to get my attention.

I looked over to him, shook my head and mouthed, “What is it Kyle?”

He was as uninterested in Xolile’s presentation as I was. He stood up and moved closer, squeezing his chair between mine and Sam’s.

“You seem distracted bro, excited about tonight?? What’s it now? Date number four?”, he said with a naughty grin and holding out his hand for a fist bump. “Tonight’s the night right?”

I shrugged my shoulders because sex was the last thing on my mind. Actually, a lot had escaped my mind. In all the drama I forgot I had a date with Lonwabo tonight.

“What time are you picking her up?”, he asked.

“Around 8”, I responded looking at my watch, “She knows we have deadlines today and she understands that I have to work late”.

“I really like this girl man, she’s smart and you two look good together, almost as good as Jessica and I do”, he said sarcastically.

Kyle and Jessica met at the company a year ago and have been in love ever since. They are known as ‘Top Deck’ at the office. One would think it was because of their different ethnic backgrounds but I think it’s mainly because they are always on top of one another. In the office they try behave themselves with random shouts of ‘My Venda Queen’ or ‘My Shinning Prince’ but in private, things can get a little awkward. As the token third wheel, I experienced it first-hand multiple times until they felt that they needed to spend more nights in than they needed nights out with the shut-in.

Kyle felt I needed to move on and Jessica felt I was deserving of love. First we tried Tinder. It was okay and just as superficial as I expected, I met a lady named Toni, and she was a doctor. Great conversationalist but too focused on her checklist. She knew everything she wanted in a man but on the second date it was clear she didn’t know herself. Almost every sentence ended with “my mother said that’s what makes a good man” or “I’ve seen how my friends were treated”. She wanted what seemed to meet the definition of perfect but I wondered if she ever asked herself if it would be perfect for her. I asked her if she ever saw herself married to me and her response bordered on that of one who has given up. She said men feared her achievements, that they found her intimidating and that she found me interesting because of my career and that I probably won’t be scared off easily. I understood what she was saying but I wasn’t prepared to spend the rest of my life trying to love who someone needed me to constantly prove to her that she was enough. I wanted love, not a second full time job.

Jessica tried setting me up on a blind date with her friend. Kelly was great, the life of the party but it seemed like she never wanted to leave the party. She was a socialite, always politically correct and ready to charm her way into everyone’s heart. I met her just before the year end Christmas party 4 months ago, so asking her to be my date made sense. She made people feel comfortable, she networked and never failed to mention she was a qualified psychologist. It was a date but my date spent more time talking me up to the room than she did talking to me. She used what she found on Google to make me sound amazing. Had I had political aspirations, then I would have asked to marry me right there and then. She was great but not great for me, I needed someone who wasn’t so good at making things look good but rather someone who wanted to notice me. I had done enough fake smiles with Namisa, sat in rooms filled with loved ones and boasted praises for one another while in the back of our minds we knew we still had to finish the fight we were having in the car.

I had given up on the pursuit but I promised them I would give it three attempts before I locked myself back in my apartment. I had never tried speed dating but it was one of the things on my bucket list, so I had to give it a try. It went quickly, almost like a school cafeteria lunch line and the women formed part of the stationary. The men took turns moving from seat to seat with only 10 minutes to make a connection. The 1st six ladies I met were either too shy or too hyped, it was clear they were either forced to do this or were on the lookout for new sex partners.

It felt like I was wasting time, I could have been binge watching The Blacklist or catching up on work but here I was making pointless small talk about the weather. I was fed up and wanted to leave, I got up and walked to the door and there she was. The last to arrive. She said she was caught up at a parent-teacher meeting but Jessica the romantic, says it was destiny.

“Hello, my name is Lonwabo Zwane, but my friends call me Loni. Am I too late?”. Her smile caught my attention and her eyes told me she was a truthful soul, I wanted to tell her the truth but I knew if I did, she might end up with someone else. There was something about her, something I needed to have. “Hi Loni, I’m Angelo… Angelo Blake. The event is almost done but I wasn’t successful in matching up with anyone and you just arrived. Maybe you’ll let me take you on a date? Give this guy who struck out a chance to redeem himself?”.

She blushed at my attempt at humour and agreed to go out with me. It was late, so options weren’t many and the closest eatery was McDonalds. She didn’t seem to mind though. We had both previously been in long term relationships, so starting afresh was challenging for us. Namisa and I were on and off for six years, she and her ex were together for four years, after admitting that we didn’t know what was considered appropriate first date conversation, we just went with the flow. We spoke at length, debates on the country’s education system, jokes about where we thought we would be in life and I threw in a few compliments every time she smiled at me.

She was a primary school teacher. Her love for children was emphasised by the way her eyes would light up when she spoke of her students.  “Enough about me, you know I teach grade 2 and grade 3 students. What about you? What do you do?”, she asked in her gentle voice.

“I’m an accountant. Trainee accountant. I just finished my third year at Pukke and I’m doing my BCom Honours through UNISA while working at King & Associates. I work at the Vaal branch”. The words came out and I felt so stupid. All she wanted to know was what I did for a living and I basically gave her my CV. Despite the nerves I was glad Kyle made me do it, in the 8 years I’d known him this was the best idea he had ever had.

In hindsight though, it feels like I started our relationship with a lie. I wonder if I would answer differently now. When asked if I had any kids, ‘No’ was my immediate response but now technically I am nothing but an absent father. Loni was a week away from moving in with me and the thought of telling her about Oratilwe never crossed my mind. I wasn’t sure if it was because I was unsure if Ora was mine or if I was fearful of how she would react to it.

When she first asked if I had any children, I remember saying no and seeing the disappointment on her face. At first I thought it was because a lot of men my age have at least one child, so maybe she thought I was impotent. In time she confessed she hoped I had one, so I wouldn’t expect it from her. She got ill a few years ago and had to undergo an operation that required the removal of her womb.

I had to figure out what I would say to her. I don’t think she would believe me if I told her I had a secret daughter I knew nothing about and I wonder how she would take that I met another woman a week before she was supposed to move in, she would probably think that I was having cold feet.

I looked up at the clock and it was 7PM. I had to leave or I would be late for my date. Kyle offered to finish off the Vanessa Costa report for me, so if I left immediately I would just make it for my date. As I was packing, Jessica came rushing in, “Hey Angelo, your ex-girlfriend is on the phone. She says it’s urgent”.

“Ex-girlfriend?”, I looked at her confused. No one but Loni and my mother had my office phone number. Then I remembered in one of my 38 messages, I included my office number just in case Namisa wanted to call again. I ran to pick up the phone. “Hello, Namisa is that you?”.

“Hey Angelo, I’m sorry I disappeared last night. I’m still at the hospital and my battery died. My grandmother brought me a charger a few minutes ago. I didn’t want you to find out this way but yes, Ora is your daughter… Ummm… We are at Life Groenkloof hospital, in Pretoria. Would you please come? I think seeing you would make her feel better and it would also give me a chance to explain everything”. She spoke clearly but I could hear the fear in her voice, it was shaky. The accident must have been worse than I thought.

The words “Ora is your daughter” kept ringing in my head. I had a daughter and she was in hospital. I had to see my daughter, I knew Loni was important but right now Ora needed me. I couldn’t tell her the truth, I wouldn’t know where to begin because I myself had more questions than answers, so I texted her and told her I was working late, that Xolile needed me to stay longer. Kyle and Jessica agreed to cover for me, I couldn’t tell them what was going on but they knew I wouldn’t lie to Loni if it wasn’t important.

As I got into the car and made my way to the hospital, I could feel the tears roll down my face. I was scared. I was praying. I didn’t even know of her existence until 24 hours ago, so I wasn’t ready to lose another child.

My Name Is… – PDF

Jade Novelist ©️ 2018