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 3 – This Isn’t Awkward

For The Previous Chapter of After Love, “This Isn’t Awkward” – Click Here

Yesterday felt unreal. I was glad that the Khuzwayo’s agreed to a DNA test but that only lessoned the possibility of Oratilwe not being mine. I wondered how Lonwabo would welcome me at the airport this morning, l couldn’t call her last night. I just texted her saying her family agreed to a DNA test and after that we will discuss damages.

I knew I couldn’t tell her that they wanted lobola. Namisa’s family insisted that it wasn’t fair for me to expect Ora to grow up with her parents living in two separate homes but Namisa and I weren’t on that path anymore and I wasn’t sure we would be again. However I’m sure having us stay longer was part of their plan to get Namisa and I to talk but we had to leave, my mother had a wedding to attend today and I had to be home because today’s the day Loni will be moving in.

Our flight was delayed by an hour, so it meant Lonwabo had to wait longer for us to land, she was already nervous about meeting my mother and this delay meant she would miss her doctor’s appointment.

“She’s beautiful, you’ve done well son”. My face turned red. I can’t believe my mom said that. I was red and Lonwabo was blushing. Couldn’t she have started with ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’?

My uncles were going to go to the wedding directly and Kyle was waiting for Jessica so they could get started on moving Loni’s things in, so it was just the three of us in the car. As much as I was happy to see Loni, I was happy my mother was here, it gave me a little time before Loni and I would have to go into detail about what transpired during the negotiations. I packed our bags in her boot and off we went.

This was the second time I introduced someone to my mother. They were opposite personalities. My mother always had her hair done and make up was part of her everyday look, while Lonwabo would have to convince herself an event really required her to put eye shadow on. They both weren’t shy in nature but the car ride was really quiet. My mother was normally bubbly and welcoming but today she locked her tongue away, I wasn’t sure if it was because of the 7AM flight or she was afraid to get too close and adopt another daughter, only to lose her after a few years.

We drove for 20 minutes in silence, my mother adjusting her hair every five minutes and Loni and I giving one another quick looks in the rear view mirror. I reached from the backseat to turn on the radio but my mother quickly hit my hand away. I forgot she never drove with the radio on when there were people in the car. She preferred conversation. In her attempt to end the silence, she asked the wrong question. “So when are you two having kids?”.

It was a joke. I knew it was joke. I’m sure Loni knew it was a joke. It was supposed to be an ice breaker but I felt my body turn cold. I never told her about Loni’s secret, it wasn’t my place to say but had I said it, this could have been avoided. I started to whisper a silent prayer, hoping the heavens swallow me until I heard Loni giggle. “I took your son to work with me one day, it was aftercare and he was doing well until the kids woke up. After five minutes he wanted to run away Ma”, she laughed. “We have Oratilwe Mme. Let’s see how your son handles her before I add five or six more”.

“Five more?”, my mother exclaimed. “Angelo, I like this girl.”

They continued their conversation with seeming completely comfortable and ignoring my existence. One again I found myself invisible in a relationship but this time it was in a good way. My mother made sure to bring up embarrassing childhood memories and Lonwabo made enquiries about how I liked my meals. It was good seeing them get along. We made a stop at Norkem Mall for breakfast then drove my mother to her house in Kempton Park and made our way to the Vaal.

The drive was loud. We hardly said a word to one another but sang along to our favourite songs. It was how we bonded, road trips and music.

We got to the complex just as the movers were leaving. Loni and I felt that this would be a great opportunity for us to bring our friends together, so it was both her moving-in party and house warming. I invited Vuyo and Mpumi and Loni invited Sthe and Tshepiso. Kyle and Jessica invited themselves, they deemed themselves the matchmakers of our relationship.

We were all assigned tasks. The girls were in charge of unpacking the boxes and the guys had the heavy pleasure of moving Loni’s furniture in. The day went by relatively well with Loni popping in every few minutes to ask if anyone was thirsty or wanted a snack. Her friend Tshepiso was the party-starter, turning up the volume as loud as she could and occasionally sending winks at Kyle. There were a few times Vuyo had to step in and calm Jessica down. She was always that person, the one with a cool head and the one you turn to for support.

When I confessed to Namisa that I had been unfaithful, I never told her with who or that it happened only once. She assumed I had been having an affair and I never corrected her nor did she care to know who I had it with. Vuyo and I knew what we did to Namisa was wrong but we also knew it was something that would never happen again. I had lost my son, she was mourning her father. She had no one and the one I loved said she was done with me, who was I to know that the next day she’d call and say she didn’t mean it when she said we were over?

Maybe I should have known better, it had been two months since we buried our son, so she spoke out of pain but I believed her when she said it was over and I believed Vuyo when she said it was okay for a man to cry.

We finished unpacking the boxes and the girls wanted to drink their cocktails, all the girls except Tshepiso. She joined Kyle, Sthe and I outside. It was clear Jessica didn’t like the idea but she didn’t want to come off as insecure. Instead she gave me the look, clearly it was my job to keep an eye on Tshepiso while she was around Kyle.

We were outside, Kyle had just put the meat on the fire, Sthe was passing around the beers and she came out.

“So what are you boys talking about?”, she said as she sat down.

Sthe and Kyle looked at me and I looked back at them, I let out a sigh and said “Sex. We are talking about sex”. I didn’t want her to get the impression that all men talk about when they get together is sex but recently at work there sexual harassment matter. The matter of consent became an issue at the office and it became clear that more focus was placed on women to protect themselves then it was for men to understand the importance of consent.

“Tshepiso giggled, “Typical. Boys, will be boys”.

“No, it’s not like that Tshepi”, Sthe interrupted, “Angelo was telling us about something at work and I was just saying that girls are allowed to have sex”.

“Allowed?”, she looked at him “Thank you for the permission Sthe”. She said sarcastically.

“What I meant was that things are different now. Women are more expressive, more comfortable in their own skin and some men have adjusted well and others haven’t. So women flirt, women make the first move and some men take that as consent. If I take you out and spend all night buying you drinks and you agree to come home with me, we are definitely having sex.” Sthe took a sip of his drink, waiting for a reaction.

Tshepiso shook her head, “As a woman and someone who sometimes sleeps with women, I would like to say, women want to have the choice to say yes or no. Anything other than that is rape”.

“So what you are saying is we don’t know consent? We just assume it. Do you always get consent from your partner? Do you always get a yes?”, I asked and then turned to Kyle, “Do you always ask Jessica if she wants to have sex before you two have sex?”.

He took a moment to think about it and then shook his head.

“So does that mean you rape Jessica regularly?”, Sthe asked.

Kyle shook his head again. “No, we have a rule. We don’t deny each other sex. She said when I want it, I must take it, even if she’s sleeping.”

Tshepiso blushed, “Oh… So you like surprise attacks. Well, me too”.

“I think you are going off topic Tshepi, I’ll be back now. Let me go get more drinks”. I stood up and went to the kitchen to Lonwabo was standing next to the stove.

“Hey babe, are you okay?”, I asked.

“Yes my angel, I am fine. Just a little tired”, she responded.

I walked over to her and held her hand, kissed her on the forehead and led her to the bedroom. “Babe, rest. I will entertain everyone. You just take a quick nap”.

She smiled and said, “Wait, don’t leave yet. Come lay with me”.

I walked over to the right side over the bed and then lay with her, I put my arms around her and pulled her closer. In all the drama going on, it was clear she wasn’t okay. Finding out she now has to play be a step-mother to a two year could not have been easy for her.

As she closed her eyes, all I thought to myself was that I was blessed to have such a wonderful woman in my life. I kissed her forehead once again then she placed her hand on my cheek and slowly we started to kiss. After our conversation on consent, I knew I had to take it slow and listen to whatever her body was telling me but we had never had sex before, so I wasn’t sure what her body was saying but her hands were pulling me closer and I believe she wanted me.

Our bodies moved closer and closer to one another, her biting my lips, me kissing her on the neck. Her pulling me on top and my hand sliding up her top.

“Wait… I haven’t done this in a really long time. Can we take it slow?… I would like to undress myself.” She said it with her eyes closed and her hands on my waist.

I moved back a bit to give her room to undress. She started pulling off her top and then said “Wait Angelo, what if someone walks in? We are still hosting our friends”.

I laughed, “I think they are too drunk to notice we aren’t even there”.

She laughed back and continued undressing. I waited until she was finished. It was our first time and I knew I had to go slow. I placed my hand on her cheek and worked my way down, moving from her lips to waist and finally placing it between her thighs. I kissed her lips one more time and as I started to place my finger in, she jumped up. “I can’t do this. I’m sorry. I can’t.”

“You can’t? Why?”, I asked. “Is it me?”.

She shook her head and let out a great sigh. She opened her suitcase, took a towel and wrapped herself with it and ran to the bathroom. She locked the door and stayed in the bathroom for about five minutes. I was scared. I thought I had maybe rushed her. I was worried she might say I tried to rape her. I never asked if she wanted me to touch her, I just assumed she did.

She came out with water on her face, I could tell she had been crying and she thought washing her face would hide it from me. She moved from the bathroom and came to sit next to me.

“Before you ask, it’s not you. I find you attractive”, she said in a gentle whisper. “I know it’s not the right way to tell you or the right time but I’m done making excuses in relationships. I had my excuses lined up. Today I would say it’s not possible cause our friends are around or I’m too tired. Tomorrow I was going to lie about my period or something and on and on. I’m tired”.

I look at her shook, I was confused and couldn’t understand what she was on about.

“I told you that I couldn’t have kids, I didn’t tell you why.”, she paused. “My uncle… He used to rape me. He raped me. He then taught my cousins… His kids how to please a woman with me as their training doll. He got me pregnant but my mother didn’t want everyone to know her brother and his sons were rapists or that her daughter was now used goods, so she took me for a backdoor abortion. Something went wrong and I lost my womb. Other than the rapes, I have never had sex. I don’t know how to”.

I was lost for words. I always thought we hadn’t had sex because she wanted to take things slow or she wanted to wait until we were both ready but now it’s clear that is deeper than that. She doesn’t know how it feels to have sex as a choice. I was glad she told me the truth. I was happy she trusted me enough to be open with me but now I had a new dilemma in front of me, I didn’t know how to love someone who had been hurt in that way, where would I even start?

Girls Need Love – PDF

Jade Novelist ©️ 2018

After Love – Chapter 3 – This Isn’t Awkward

For The Previous Chapter of After Love, “My Name Is…” – Click Here

And so it began, the ‘Your son got our daughter pregnant’.

Followed by ‘Your daughter hid the child from our son’.

Which led to ‘Your son broke our daughters heart, she was just protecting herself’ and ending off in ‘Well, if she knew what protection was we wouldn’t be here, would we?’.

My mother could never hold her tongue and now we were at war. However the biggest battle she faced today was in her heart, the person she saw as her daughter hid her grandchild from her. Her words expressed her anger, they expressed her sorrow but they couldn’t express the betrayal she felt.

I looked at Namisa, looking back at me, wondering what was going through her mind. Did she feel the guilt I felt? Our families used to get along. Our mothers used to be best friends but now they attend different mass services to avoid one another at church. Before her father passed, he was like a father to me and losing our son broke his heart. Even though Namisa and I had dated for six years, we first met in primary school, so he knew me from childhood and even helped me fill out university application forms. He was sad that his children grew up too soon but happy that we went against our instincts to abort and came clean.

Namisa’s mother, MaKhuzwayo was happy her only child was giving her a grandchild and my mother was more worried about Namisa than she was me. Even though I was her son, she shared Namisa’s fears, that a man’s life moves on after a child but a woman has to adjust. As a single mother, I couldn’t blame her. My father died when I was two years old, one of his mistresses had a jealous boyfriend who would kill for what was his. So my mother had to learn to parent on her own and although she tried to find love with other men after him, it was Namisa’s father who filled the role of a father in my life.

Jabulani Khuzwayo said he would always be there to hold the family together but he joined his grandson a few weeks later and that is when our worlds started to fall apart. Our break up forced everyone to pick a side.

Today, the family he held together was tearing at the seams. The Khuzwayo’s sat on one side of the table and the Motaung’s on the other. It had been two weeks since I found out about Oratilwe and five days since she got discharged from the hospital.

In between the screams and shouts I recalled the conversation with Namisa. “Angelo, I didn’t mean to hide this from you and I’m not sure if you believe me but Oratilwe is your daughter. She is our daughter”. She put her hands on my shoulder as she said those words. We stood over her incubator, the sight of all the tubes broke my heart. The doctors said she would be okay but still I feared I was days away from attending another funeral. I was going through my wardrobe in my mind, looking for a black suit and wondering who I would invite to say goodbye to someone we didn’t even know existed 24 hours ago.

I always felt we messed up the first time. I had just turned 20 and in three months Namisa and I would be the same age again. I don’t know what made it worse, that we had just started university when Namisa got pregnant with our son or how we fought to spend time with him. We recorded everything; Oarabile’s birth, his smile and his cry. We praised him when he crawled and our parents made sure he lacked nothing. It takes a village to raise a child and we were a happy village.

Despite the fact that Namisa and I tried to keep the relationship going for a year after his death, I hadn’t spoken to the other half of my village since his funeral and now here we were sitting face to face to discuss how I abandoned their daughter. In their eyes I got her pregnant, she lost a child and my life moved on.

“Can I go to the bathroom?”

“Ummm… Are we allowed to do that?… Can I go to the bathroom?”. His question broke my concentration and silenced the room.

Namisa laughed, “Yeah, sure Kyle. I’ll show you the way”. She was grateful for the silence. They were discussing how our lives would proceed but we were expected to just sit and listen to whatever decision they made. She got up and led Kyle to the bathroom.

Malume Ntando was not impressed with Kyle, “What is that white boy doing here?”, he asked. As Bab’Khuzwayo’s younger brother, he was the new head of the family. “He should not be here. In fact, what are the women and children doing here? This is a matter for the men.”

My uncles, Tsebo and Nhlanhla agreed with him or at least for a moment they did until their eyes met my mother’s gaze. “This is not a matter for men, it is a family matter involving our children”.  Nokukhanya Jasmine Motaung was a woman many would rather avoid than deal with, her sharp tongue and quick mind made her a dangerous opponent.

“But Khanya, this is not in our culture.”, Lungelo spoke calmly in support of his older brother, “Women are not normally part of this, let alone the children”.

“But hiding children is part of your culture, right?”. My mother responded with no hesitation.

The room went quiet again.

MaKhuzwayo stood up and called to her friend, “Jasmine”.

My mother looked at her, “Yes, Nomthandazo.”

“Come. Let’s go to the living room. I want to show you this new dress I bought yesterday morning when we got here”. She held out her hand, uncertain if my mother would take it. MaKhuzwayo was the total opposite of my mother. She preferred to avoid conflict and always tried to calm the situation down. I was surprised when I saw her in the room when we arrived and I thought she would excuse herself after greetings had been exchanged but a big part of me felt she stayed because she missed her friend, her sister. They stood staring awkwardly at one under until he walked back into the room.

“So what did I miss? Is it going to be a goat or cow?”, Kyle always had bad timing but today his timing was at its worst.

My uncle Tsebo burst into laughter and Nhlanhla put his hand on his forehead. Malume Ntando clicked his tongue, he was annoyed and his words only echoed his mood. “What are you doing here? What do you want here?”.

“Well. I’m dating this girl and I want to marry her, so I’m trying to understand as much about your culture as possible.” He knew he put his foot in it, after the last word his face cringed. I admit even I was a little offended, we were meeting to discuss my daughters future and Kyle had his own agenda. I needed moral support and he was using us as guinea pigs.

Malume Ntando stood to say something but my mother rushed in, grabbing MaKhuzwayo’s hand and then Kyle’s. “Noma… Friend… That dress. I would love to see it. Come on Kyle, maybe you’ll find something for Jessica.”. She led the way laughing.

Namisa stood up and walked towards me, “Angelo, can I talk to you?”, she whispered. I had nothing to say. I tried to justify her in my mind and always fell short of feeling like I deserved this. I stood up and started to make my way to the front door with Namisa shortly behind. As I reached for the door handle, I heard Malume Ntando shout out, “Don’t make a third one”. Her face turned red, she always found him embarrassing. If he wasn’t drinking, he was busy chasing a new skirt.

I stood on the patio and stared at the street. This was the second time I had been to her family home. It had lost everything that made it feel welcoming.

“So what’s her name?”, she asked.

“What are you talking about?”, I knew playing dumb wouldn’t work but what right did she have to information about my life?

“I know you.”, she said. “Since we exchanged numbers I can see your Whatsapp statuses, I know how you post when you are in love. So what’s her name?”.

“Lonwabo. Her name is Lonwabo”.

She smiled, “Lonwabo, that is a beautiful name. Have you told her about us?”

“Us?”. I asked surprised.

“I mean Oratilwe and I. Not… Ummm… I am talking about Oratilwe and I”. Her words came out almost like a stutter. “Angelo, I know no words will ever excuse what I did but I was figuring things out.”

‘Figuring things out’, would I be able to accept that? Was that reason enough? I lost 2 years of my daughter’s life and her reason was that she was figuring things out. “Well, have you figured them out now?”, I asked.

She shook her head and I let out a sigh.

She moved closer, “I am happy that you could find love again. I have been thinking what you said that day at the restaurant. I didn’t know that I was hurting you. I really thought everything was okay. I hope you will forgive me some day”.

Her lips were moving and she said the things I waited a long time to hear but there was no emotion in it. It sounded like she was saying what she thought I wanted to hear and if she couldn’t be honest, one of us had to lay it all on the table. “Namisa, I want to unlearn all the bad habits loving you taught me. You made me feel small for wanting to have a career, every opportunity I had to be greater, you feared it was an excuse for me to leave you behind. Our relationship was toxic and I learnt to be comfortable in that.”

“Toxic???”, she exclaimed. “No, not toxic, we had our issues but we weren’t toxic. I made you happy. You were happy. I did the best I could, so I deserved a man who would keep his promises.”

“And I deserved to be in my daughter’s life but I guess we don’t always get what we deserve do we now Namisa?”. I was annoyed. I was so annoyed. Here I was telling her that we had so much to work through and all she cared about was what she deserved. She was the victim again.

“We played pretend, I acted like the things you did didn’t hurt. When I spoke and you didn’t listen or when you apologized and your ‘I’m sorry’ carried more weight than mine. I would need to beg you for forgiveness and you’d question my love for you if I didn’t forgive you immediately. You had to…”

“That’s not true”, she interrupted, “We were fine. After he died, we were fine. We still laughed together, we still spoke”.

I shook my head, “I made jokes because the awkward silence was too much for me. I had to make conversation, if I didn’t call or text you wouldn’t make an effort and then you would be upset and say that I got too busy for you. You were mourning our son. I was mourning our relationship. I couldn’t deal with you noticing me anymore. I wanted to be seen. Talking to someone who doesn’t listen is the same as being invisible. Our relationship was toxic. You acknowledged that I was using words but they never reached your heart. You only remember the painful words. You could always tell me how I made you feel but could never acknowledge how you made me feel. You stopped being the person I was in love with.”

“I can change”. She moved closer and put her hand on mine, “I can change. I can do better. Don’t we owe it to Ora to do better”. I couldn’t believe it. She was using our daughter. I moved away. Being near her was making me sick.

I felt the phone in my pocket start to vibrate. I looked at her and she understand she needed to give me some space. “Hey Loni… Yeah… We will be spending another night in Durban. My mother wants to go visit her sister. So you only need to fetch me at the airport tomorrow. Okay… Bye… I love… you”. I don’t know what made the call more awkward. This was the first time that I had ever said I love someone else in front of the mother of my child who I once thought was the love of my life but this was also the first time I had ever told Loni I love her.

Namisa and I just sat outside quiet, occasionally looking at one another with nothing to say. Just silence. 15 minutes of silence until Kyle came to get us, it was lunch time and he was excited to try African food. We went in and said grace, we knew this was a short break before the conflict would start again. At least this time, we would argue over Ora’s future on full stomachs. Namisa went to sit in her corner and I sat in mine. If we had anything more to say to one another, it would remain unsaid for today, we were parents again, we had bigger priorities.

This Isn’t Awkward – PDF

Jade Novelist ©️ 2018