After Love – Chapter 5 – Memorable Amnesia

For The Previous Chapter of After Love, “Girls Need Love” – Click Here

I didn’t know what hurt me more, the fact that she carried all this pain or that she felt the need to hide it from me. I always knew she was a strong woman but hearing about how her uncle and cousins used to rape her, my heart sank.

A part of me wished she had not said anything, I could feel my hate and anger build for people I’d never met. How could family do that to their own? I could hear the pain in her voice, she spoke the words calmly but she wasn’t okay,

“It started off small. He would offer me sweets in exchange for a kiss on the lips. Letting him touch my breast meant he would help me with my chores, so I had more time to spend with my friends. When I sat on his lap, it meant I could watch whatever television show I wanted and letting him give me a bath or help me change into my pjs meant a little extra tuck shop money”.

“I’ll be right back”. I said the words and knew what I had to do. I moved my hand from hers and ran out the room. I had to get everyone to leave. Loni was opening up to me and this music, the guests it had to stop. I wanted her to tell me everything and I needed her to feel safe.

I always knew Loni didn’t get along with her family but she never told me why. I respected her privacy because my own family dynamics weren’t something I was always proud to share. It was beyond me that a mother could protect her daughter’s rapist merely because they were blood.

Each group needed their own reason to leave. So I told Loni’s friends that she was tired and wanted to call it a night. They understood because Loni always arrived early for events, so she could leave early. I never asked myself why but maybe it was because she never felt safe enough to be out late. Tshepiso felt it was too early even for Loni but Jessica, tired of her advances at Kyle agreed it was time to leave.

Kyle pulled me to the side, he said he wanted to talk. He had on his naughtiest grin but as he was about to speak, Jessica gave him a look and his demeanour changed. “Dude”, he said, “You can’t clean this all up by yourselves. Don’t you need help?”.

“Yeah Kyle”, I responded, “I can’t do this… but… but Vuyo will help me. Yeah she’ll help me. So I won’t be alone”. I knew Vuyo hated cleaning up but if anyone would understand I need everyone to leave without asking questions it would be her.

He smiled and as he shook my hand goodbye, he slipped me a condom. Seems the only reason he wanted to offer help was so that Loni and I could consummate her moving in much sooner. If only he knew that sex was the last thing on my mind.

One by one the guests started to make their way out until it was only Vuyo and I left down stairs.

“Angelo, I don’t know what’s going on and I can tell you are nervous. You’ll explain when you are ready. I hope you haven’t killed someone’s daughter. Also you owe me big time”. She said her peace and helped me clean up. Once she was done doing the dishes she hugged me goodbye and left.

We were alone. Finally. I could go back and check on Loni.

As I made my way up the stairs, my phone started to ring. It was a number I didn’t have stored on my phone, so I assumed it was one of Loni’s friends, maybe they forgot something and needed to come back for it.

“Hello… Is this Angelo Blake?… My name is Dr Lynda Tsdira and I am Lonwabo’s psychologist… I was on the phone with her earlier and I believe she was having a panic attack… Would you kindl….”

I put the phone in my pocket and ran up the stairs. Loni was on the floor. I picked her up and carried her down the stairs. I lay her on the couch and tried to wake her.

“Loni, Lonwabo. Wake up”. I was panicking, I wasn’t sure if I held back or used all my strength but I was shaking her, hoping she’d wake up. “Lonwabo, wake up. Please wake up”.

“Angelo”, she responded, “I’m awake”.

“Are you sure? Some lady named Lynda called. She said you were having a panic attack”. I pulled her close to me. She was awake. She was fine. In this moment she was fine.

She told me about how it started at the age of 12. Her uncle used to rape her whenever her mother wasn’t around. He felt he could do whatever he wanted with her because they had no place to go. Her grandparents left the house in his name and her mother couldn’t afford to pay rent for the both of them, so they lived with him for free.

He treated her as his sole property until she turned 14. Then he taught his sons to rape her as well. It became their bonding ritual. Whenever they would visit they would take turns raping her. It continued until they got her pregnant and she told her mother. Her mother was infuriated but forced her to have an abortion and forced her brother out of the house. She threatened to report him to the family elders if he didn’t leave.

My emotions went on a rollercoaster. I hated them, I admired her courage and wished things could be different. She was still dealing with her past and here I was bringing more drama into her life.

“Loni, her family asked me to pay lobola”. She had been honest with me, I needed to start being open with her.

“Is that what you want?”, she asked.

I shook my head and kissed her forehead. “You’re what I want baby. I’m happy with you”.

She smiled a temporary smile and said, “I’m afraid you’ll pick her over me.”

“I told you that I wouldn’t do that to you. Ora won’t come between us”. I held her hand and pulled her closer.

“Ora’s not the problem”. She pulled away. “Since the rapes I’ve become paranoid, I’m depressed. So many people thought I was an ungrateful child or I was seeking attention because I was reserved but it’s the voices in my head. They made want to be alone. They told me nobody cares about me and no one would pick me. My own mother picked a house over getting justice for me and now they tell me she’s the problem and the fact that they want lobola just made them louder”.

“Loni, why didn’t you tell me? I told you if you wanted to talk, would could talk. You know how much communication means to me”.

She looked at me and rolled her eyes. “If communication meant a lot to you, you would have told me that her family wanted lobola or better yet that you met with her in the first place instead of involving Jessica and Kyle in your lie. You and your decisions feed my anxiety.

And you want us to talk? Talk about what Angelo? How she is giving you everything I wish I could? You think I don’t want a child?”. She looked down and shed a tear. Everything inside me wanted to hold her. Everything inside me wanted to tell her it’s going to be okay but everything inside me told me this is my fault and that I couldn’t expect her to trust in the one hurting her to comfort her.

“Lonwabo, I am sorry.”

She just looked at me. I could see she didn’t know what to do with those words, she still had her fears.

“Do you want space Loni? Do you want me to move to the guest room, just for tonight?”. I knew it was the wrong thing to ask and the timing was off but after what she’d told me and expressing how she feels, expecting us to share a bed and pretend like everything is fine would do more damage than good. I also didn’t want to force her to tell me how she felt about everything.

She shook her head. “The last thing I want is to be alone. I’ve done that for so long and felt like I need to hide from the world. I want you. I want you to have all of me and that won’t happen if we start things off that way.”

I knew she was right. Distancing one another wasn’t wise.

“I don’t want to marry her. I just want my daughter. I want to make up for the time I lost”.

“And where do I fit in?”, she asked.

“She’s our daughter. Loni, I gave up on having children and just like how you didn’t give birth to her, I didn’t know I fathered her.” Jokingly I said, “For the most part I see Namisa as a surrogate.”

She laughed, “A surrogate. Come on, your surrogate wants to marry you”.

“That’s between her and her family Loni. You and I are trying to build a family. We always thought it would just be us but now we have Ora too. Come on, sit next to me”, I tapped the couch inviting her over.

“Can we please have some rules?”, she asked firmly. “I don’t want her disrespecting me or her feeling like I’m disrespecting her. The sooner we set boundaries the better.”

I nodded. “Yes, we can do that”. I yawned. “I’m sleepy, can I sleep babe? We still have unpacking to do today and I want to rest”.

She smiled and nodded. She lay my head on her lap. Today was more than I bargained for but I learnt to appreciate Lonwabo in a whole different way. We still had a lot to work through but we were going to get through this together. It felt good being in a relationship where I had someone who would go through things with me and not someone who would put me through things.

I managed to sleep for about 15 minutes until I heard the doorbell ring. I sat up to find myself wrapped up in a blanket. I guess Lonwabo must have fetched a blanket for me. I sat up to see where she was. As I was about to call out for her, I heard a voice that sounded far too familiar at the door.

““Hi, my name is Namisa, is Angelo here?”.

It was Namisa, I couldn’t believe she was here. This was the last thing I needed. Loni had just confessed how she felt about Namisa and her arriving unannounced was not going to help at all.

I walked to the door, a walk that felt like a fast trod. “Namisa, what are you doing here?” , I asked.

“Hey. Sorry to come like this but I really need your help. Can you watch Ora for me for a few hours?”.

Her request left Loni and I speechless. How could someone who hid a child from me for two years just give her to me so willingly. I wanted to say no because this was the disrespect that Loni wanted to avoid this was also the first time I could spend quality time with my daughter. I was conflicted, do I please the one I love or get a chance to show my daughter I want to be a part of her life?

Memorable Amnesia – 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

The many nights I had,

with cold

as my companion made me older,

so much life slipped through me,

I remember the hours I waited for you and you

didn’t show up

 

Countless moments as I held my head,

thinking of how to trap you

made me a wounded animal losing strength,

many times I walked alone

with stars teasing me,

and the moon turning yellow

for I was depressed

 

The many lies you told me,

kept me worrying of how you are

or of how you slept

yet you were to alive to cause

so much pain to me

maybe you knew I wouldn’t handle myself

when you loved me not,

so it’s better I know nothing

 

The day i was deceased while I would still breath,

the hours I went dead when you kept on saying sorry

and I too in love that I had to forgive

I had no choice since I remained a puppet under your hands

 

Though I felt more younger the times you said you loved me

and i thought I had another chance to live,

when we were together but know

the days you never loved me and I felt it,

were the days i died.

 

Serendipity ©️ 2018

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