I counted it for times alone in the bathroom to make sure. R4200. I know what money is. I know what it is because at home we struggle almost all the Goddamn time for it. Sometimes the amount we struggle even brings tears to my eyes. Growing up I used to tell myself is that I am still broke by 25 I would kill myself. I had once vowed upon it that I would never depend on a man seeing how much my mother struggled with him for money. He once slapped her, I was 11 I think, he once slapped her because she kept on insisting that the tiling by the garage where he parked his car was loose they would fall anytime. I don’t know what was wrong with those words but he slapped her anyway. Two days later they failed and damaged his car. He did not even apologize I am sure. Someone entered the bathroom.
“Roomie are you coming? Are you ok?”
That was Katlego’s voice.
“I have a tummy ache. Will be out when i am ready!”
I lied to her. I needed to think. There I was no way I could sleep now because I was so excited, nervous, and anxious at the same time. I felt as though I had stolen something and everyone knew.
“Ok cool. I am going to bed then, don’t take too long ok!”
She said sweetly and i heard the door close meaning she had left.
I said looking at the money maybe to make sure it was a dream. If a girl my age tells you that money does not excite her she lying. That girl has lazy ancestors shem. The reason why all of us are in university is so we can make money. That is the only reason.
“Get a job!”
My mother had insisted. I had been afraid to go home all this time because I felt bad for my mother. Now I had money where I could even go see her and leave her something.
“Remember you are Hlatshwayo. Never do anything that embarrasses this family. Don’t bring a bad name to this family!”
She would also always insist. One of the reasons why I had never really dated in high school was because this was my mother’s motto. Sometimes when I was feeling playful I would warn her that if she looked around, all these girls who got to have a memo almost always got pregnant within the year out of wedlock. She would get so annoyed even though I was telling the truth.
“If you come this house pregnant your father would throw us both out!”
She would say laughing but deep down I could hear her pain because it was probably true that he would. She would never openly say it that her husband was that type of a man but he was.
“Don’t worry mum, I won’t be that girl. You know I am focused!”
I reassured her always. At this moment, however, I was not focused. Money has its own unique scent and right now that scent was making me feel moist in places it should not.
“Samke you are in trouble!”
I told myself. Even though i felt bad for what Zamo called Ada i was not about to date this man. He was ugly big and worse for me back home he was foreign. My father used to say that if any woman dates a Nigerian then she had a lack of self-respect and no South Africa man should respect ever respect that woman again.
“I see these girls in Joburg, make up and this fake plastic hair being treated like prostitutes by these men.”
He would say angrily yet laughing when we were watching AfricaMagic on TV.
“I am sure they are selling drugs because the way they throw money around no one normal does that. No one with a 9 to 5 can ever do that. You work to damn hard for your salary to just throw it away like that.”
He would rant on and on. Well I had bever actually met Nigerians so to me he was probably exaggerating as usual to act like he knows more than he actually does as usual. My father was a hyperbole person and having grown up enough i knew that uqamba manga half the time.
“Are they dangerous though?”
My mother would ask him.
“Of course they are. Imagine in South Africa driving around in your car with millions yet no one tries to rob you? It is clear even osigebengu bayayazi what’s good for them. I also hear that bayathakatha so much they make us look like we all go to church!”
He would say feeling knowledgeable indeed and my mother would just gobble it up. Ever since I had met Ada and Abedi, they had called my friends and me ‘ladies’. Apart from Zamo who had done everything under the sun to get into Abedi’s pants these men had been nothing but nice to my friends and me. I know South African men; he would never ever buy you amascopas without wanting something in return. The very same men then get angry if a foreign man buys us something as if they own us.
“Give back the money!”
A little birdie said to me.
I immediately shouted it away. Should I though? This money cane as a result of a lie and this could come back and haunt me in future. Don’t they say don’t kick a gift horse in the mouth and fortune only seeks on a man door once. Ungabulawa ukoma izinyawo zise manzini aneva!
I asked myself out loud. Being alone in the toilet is a reminder that you will always be alone when shit goes down and the longer I sat there the more it dawned on me that i knew nothing about this man. Taking his money though seeming so appealing might actually lend me more problems. I sent him a text.
“THANKS FOR THE MONEY. ADA YOU HAVE BEEN AMAZING TO MY FRIENDS AND I. I BELIEVE YOU NEED TO KNOW THE TRUTH. IT WAS NOT MY BIRTHDAY LAST NIGHT. MY FRIENDS MADE IT UP AS A JOKE AND I AM SORRY. I WOULD LIKE TO GIVE YOUR MONEY BACK BECAUSE NOTHING BUILT ON A LIE CAN EVER WORK. GOD BLESS YOU KINDLY FOR HAVING SUCH A BIG HEART. TAKE CARE!”
And with that i clicked send. Why is it doing the right thing is almost always so hard and at your expense. With that i finally stood up and decided that it was time for bed.
I actually felt good about what i had just done.
In Zulu they say “Uyozisola ebhoshi” and thank heavens the Zulu girl in me was still present to talk reason to me.
“Dude what took you so long?”
Katlego asked me when I walked in. I had to switch on the light first when I entered and I think that’s what woke her up.
“No I just had a runny tummy so I figured its best I don’t run up and down like an idiot!”
I lied her. I was not comfortable about telling her about the money because it somehow made me feel like I was a prostitute. I also did not want the possibility of her convincing me to keep it so this was one secret that was going to be mine.
“It’s all that mixing of alcohol Samke, you should drink water before you go to bed too otherwise you are risking a hangover with a headache at that!”
She advised me as she sat up. This girl genuinely cared about everyone and one day this will be a downfall as someone unsavoury will take advantage of her good nature.
“Do you think that we are close enough to tell Zethu anything?”
She asked me.
“Shit, I forgot to check up on her to see if she got her home alright!”
I immediately stated. That was wrong of me. I checked my phone immediately but I had no messages at all.
“Don’t worry I called her already and we spoke. She is fine.”
She told me. I was relieved but I still felt bad that I had forgotten.
“Why did you ask if we are close enough to her?”
I asked her getting back to where the conversation had begun.
“Yes, look call me nosey but that guy she was with was very familiar not because of the soccer but because I remember I had read about him somewhere else.”
She told me and yes I got it this was a bit creepy and nosey.
“There are five cases of him being physically abusive to women. All of them the women withdrew the case and I am not saying he paid them off but as Zethu’s friend, do you think we have a responsibility to warn her?”
Shit. Every girl tells you that someone else should have warned them about an abusive partner after the fact but the reality is that they do not want the truth when you tell them when they are in love with the person. That’s as much as I knew about us females.
“I am not sure what to do and it’s not on me, it’s on you? She clearly like you a lot so it has to be you that tells her. I am sorry!”
She told me and just like that turned around to go back to sleep. She had put me in a position I really did not want to be in.