When Vusi paid Lobola for Londiwe he had finally captured the woman he loved. She was going to be the mother of his children and he had planned this well. He had always wanted a traditional Zulu bride and her being from Jozini made him not doubt this decision. It’s no myth semi rural women are said to believe in family first, loving, caring and very protective too so what could possibly go wrong. He really did not want these city raised women and that idea worked in his head. For a moment there he had got it right, she was attentive, a good listener and supportive. She did everything his way. He was a Joburg born up and coming middle class young confident man who much as he believed in Equal Rights did not actually see what role he had to play in them. For Londiwe, he was the perfect man and even her family loved him. She had always wanted to marry a man from the city because she was told they were different. It’s true, they were! She had dated a lot of dooshbags who wanted to own and control her but Vusi was different. He was not a caveman trying to be king but a man who actually listened and for the most part did whatever she wanted. She had grown up in a community were women are seen but not heard even though her mother had tried to break off such shackles off her and her wayward sister. Often escaping such is not easy. Then she found them, the birds that whispered into her head what a real man should and should not do. It was not a rebellion against him as he was already malleable to her touch but she needed more. A real man is every woman’s ideal but what is a real man? On the whole all these were legit requests but would he see them the same way. What makes you think you can teach a grown man a new way of thinking when he already thinks he knows it all. This is a funny story on the new age of relationships were rights take the forefront. It is a hilarious look at demands that are put on men in society where he must be both protector and teddy bear at the same time. The problem is both sides don’t see the world in the same way so will it even work. Does marriage have a realistic chance in an age of rights, equality and liberal doctrines that emphasize that your body and mind are your own and no one can tell you what to do with them?
Please Note: Some of you have already read Chapter One and Two when we sampled the story. Please proceed straight to chapter Three but it would not hurt you to reacquaint yourself with the story. Chapter Four is on Wednesday and Chapter Five on Friday. It’s a new journey, let’s walk together…
She said shaking me already out of breathe. Come on! Just when I was starting to dream again I could feel her cold hands touch me. I should have slept with a long sleeve pyjama but or no, she said it makes me sweat a lot and she hated that!
She shook me again this time her tone getting sterner and more urgent. I had to try to pretend to be sleeping. Good Lord come on. It was definitely 3am in the morning, I know this because ten minutes ago she had gone to the bathroom and I had checked and that’s when I had heard them.
“What is it?”
I asked her as though I did not know what it is she wanted me to do! My wife was predictable and her reactions to things predictable.
“They are at it again.”
She said angrily out of breathe almost.
“So? What am I supposed to do about it?”
I asked her trying to turn away from her but she was wise to it. She jumped up to the other side of the bed to where I had turn to face. This is why people should not have these queen size beds! You can never get privacy. People take it for granted that when you are married, just turning your back on your wife can mean the difference between a fight and peace. If you have ever shared a bed with another person and had a fight you would know how that one move can do so much good or damage.
“Last time you said if he hits her again you will go have a talk to him, men to man. Well its happening again so go do what you promised!”
She said sternly. My neighbours fought a lot. Hell they fought every weekend whenever alcohol was involved. With it being festive season and all that meant that there was a lot of alcohol then. My wife, Londiwe, was a pure bred Zulu from Jozini in KwaZulu Natal. I was Zulu too but a Joburg Zulu and I don’t even remember where my relatives were from so yah.
“You want me to go tell that big Nigerian man to stop fighting with his wife? Are you serious?”
I asked her. The way the blood left her face immediately and came back to darken her. It was like a white man finding his daughter kissing a black man. I know what anger mixed with shock looks like when I see it.
“Vusimuzi Zungu, get up this minute. I didn’t marry a coward! Get up right now! Why the hell do you go to gym if you are just going to be scared of other men?”
She said mocking me. Was this woman for real?
“And don’t give me that bull shit that you go to gym for fitness. It’s not like all that running is going to make you any wiser! Get up and go do something once and for all before that fool kills her!”
She shouted at me again adding insult to injury. I had joined the gym to get away from her and now that was being used against me. It had fallen straight into her lap and look at me now, I was stupid all over again.
“You do realize that she is the one doing the shouting and abusing in this case. He is quiet, I don’t even hear him!”
I told her and this was true. Half the time she was the one shouting at her man.
“Then why are you scared of going to tell her to shut up! It’s him! I hate foreigners they come all the way here to abuse South African women like we don’t have abusers of our own!”
Here we go again.
“You see the problem is that all you other so called good man, yes I mean you Vusi even if I see you rolling your eyes, people like you do nothing to stop it. You want to go and tweet your anger at abuse but you can’t stand up for women! Sies! I am so ashamed to call myself your wife!”
She said. The neighbours fight had become our fight. There is genuinely a school of thought perpetuated by single women that if a man sees another man no matter how big he is abusing his woman, it is that mans responsibility to intervene and fight off the man. I beg to differ; I was not there when she married Rambo! I did not encourage her to date Rambo! So now tell me bazalwane why I must be killed by Rambo?
“You know what? Since you won’t protect women, we will protect ourselves! I am going there myself before he kills her!”
She stood up in her bum shorts pyjamas to go outside. She did not even bother wearing a gown. This woman was not even a force of nature she was just a lunatic.
I said loudly. There was only one way to stop this. I went and picked up my cricket bat, yes see what background I came from, I was not designed for violence,
“That’s better! That’s more like it! We must teach that monkey a lesson!”
She said angrily. I was carrying a cricket bat because I grew up I suburbs. We don’t do violence.
“Put this on! You want to go out naked!”
I said annoyed handing her, her night gown.
“And stop calling people monkeys!”
I warned her. You see a lot of South Africans pretend to be angry at white people racism when reality is we hate ourselves even more. My wife had never hidden her dislike for foreign people. You would think a foreign person did something to her but nope, she was just taught to hate. Even at restaurants she hated being served by Zimbabwean waiters so much so that we stopped going to normal restaurants. Name one restaurant in South Africa with no foreign staff and see why we could not eat out anymore thanks to her!
“If they behave like that I will call them what I want!”
She said stubbornly. This was a Zulu girl from Jozini and you ask yourself who had taught so much hate when no foreign people even go there! The neighbour was on my left so I went straight to his door.
I said knocking on the door with my cricket bat. It makes this noise that’s loud and makes it sound urgent.
I shouted again. I don’t know now if I was angrier at him or at my wife for all the stupid things she was saying. I could hear shuffling of feet inside. I think someone threw something and I heard a plate break.
“I hope it’s the police and they are here to arrest your stupid ass!”
I heard Nobuhle shout. Nobuhle was the neighbour’s wife and I knew her name because every time they fought he would call out her name to reprimand her. He also did that when they had sex. They had to be the loudest people I had ever heard no wonder why the other neighbours kept on moving out. It was like they had discovered some secret in moaning and groaning during sex they way they did it.
“Yes sir what can I do for you?”
He said when he opened the door. The man was huge. I mean on another day I would have buckled. I am not a short guy myself but Nigerian guys have a way of gyming that is surely only known to them no wonder why they often end up as bouncers.
“You are making noise, you are always making noise, and you don’t stop. We want to sleep, we need to sleep and this is not neighbourly! I have tried to ignore you and your wife but when my wife starts fighting me because of you it does not work!’
I said angrily. I think he was not used to someone standing up to him because well being him, who would.
“Nobuhle, these people are for you! You are embarrassing us yet again!”
He said turning back to shout at his wife. His accent was thick and rich and I just felt I was about to get into a Nollywood movie. I saw her coming from behind him. She was in her bra and panty, her mascara was running and she was drunk! I froze! I did not expect to look like that and I mean this with all due respect this was woman was beautiful bafowethu!
She said putting her hands on her waist. I could hear myself swallow spit. She was wearing black lingerie, bra and panty and it don’t seem like it mattered to her.
“I beg your pardon!”
I asked her stunned. She had just said she hoped we were the police now she was asking what we wanted here! Really! He went and stood further in and said,
“Deal with your people. Once again you shame us. I am sorry neighbours!”
He was not even ashamed to have his semi naked wife talk to two strangers dressed like that. I guess he knew she could handle her own!
“Are you ok sisi?”
My wife asked her stepping up from behind me!
“We could hear the screaming! Did he hurt you?”
She asked her with so much concern you could literally forget she was shouting at me two minutes ago.
“Hurt me? No! He is just unreasonable. We were at a party and he wanted us to leave early because he said I was drunk. Do I look drunk to you?”
She asked sounding annoyed but reality was she could not even stand straight not that I minded. She turned around and shouted,
“We should have stayed at the party your moron, now we have to listen to sister Bettina and her husband at our doorstep!”
Angrily at her husband. He was her husband because they both wore a ring! My wife was now sister Bettina! I was not paying attention though because there is a way a thong gets into a woman’s buttocks and forms that whale tail… Sigh!
“Come let’s go!”
My wife said angrily. She had caught me staring.
She hissed angrily at me already walking towards our door. Nobuhle had just embarrassed her but somehow I got the sense that I was the one in trouble now.
“I can’t believe you stared at her ass like that. You are really a pervert I am so ashamed! You embarrassed me!”
Somewhere deep inside I could hear myself say,
At times I feel like I set myself up for failure. There are things I walk into face first from which I should know what the consequences will be but I choose to ignore the signs. I know my wife and I know how she reacts to things yet I constantly fall for the same traps. It’s my fault really. I say trap because sometimes it really does feel like she is setting me up to fail and it works all the time. It was not always like this though. She was not the woman I fell in love with but that did not mean I loved her any less. She loved me too but ever since she discovered how ‘woke’ she could be, things had changed. She now wanted to demand rights and so on and that really was what was causing problems between us. I watched her walk in front of me and when we got into the sitting room she turned arms folded across her chest and she was fuming.
“Are you not even ashamed at yourself for openly gawking at her in front of me? I was standing right there!”
She shouted angrily. For some reason women believe that if they raise their voices you can hear them better even if you are standing two meters away.
“Love you can’t accuse me of looking when she came out naked! Why are you angry at me for something that was not in my control?”
I asked her trying to calm her down. There was no way I was going to enter a shouting match with her because we will become the very neighbours we were fighting.
“You were supposed to look away! You are so disgusting!”
She said angrily. This was not a joke to her and I recognized that.
“Baby that is not what happened and you know it!”
I tried to calm her down regardless. Look how this story had turned. We had started off going to stop a fight at her behest and now we were having our own fight. I tried to move in and her hug her to calm her down but she slapped my hand away.
“Don’t touch me! Go be with Nobuhle! It’s were you want to be right! I bet she turned you on!”
She said and walked away toward the bedroom. I followed her!
“Don’t you even dare think you are sleeping on the same bed as me? Take a blanket and get out!”
She said angrily. I was not in a mood to fight. She needed to calm down and frankly speaking, I needed to calm down too! I was angry at her for leading us hear but I was not going to make it worse by fighting angry. That’s the worst thing you can ever do. This was going to be a long festive at this rate.
I switched on the TV and there was cricket playing. It was better than nothing and the joy of being a man comes from that we get pleasure in most things that play on TV. It’s not sexist it’s just simple fact. We have sports channels, news channels as well as all the nature and do it yourself channels. How can one be bored then with all that at your disposal? I was therefore a happy camper so if she thought she was hurting me by sending me to the couch she was wrong. It was somewhere between seeing a lion get its ass whopped by a buffalo and the cricket that I started to fall asleep but guess what, the fight done with the neighbours, the sex started. I had just fought my wife because of them and now they were having sex and I was on the couch. How did it get here? It was though they were doing it to spite us the neighbours that stuck their noses into other people’s business. It was a miracle that I even fell asleep.
“I hope you remember that we are going to my sister’s place today so get up and get ready!”
Was the first thing she said when she woke me up. My wife loved shaking you when she woke you up. Why can’t a person just stand there and call out your name. My wife would shake you like a dog trying to tear open a shoe just to wake you up. It’s like she grew up in a tavern.
“I have already taken out the clothes you are going to wear because last time we went to a function you dressed like George Zamdlela in 2005!”
I don’t even know what he looked like then and guess what, the last function she dressed me up as well. I can’t even remember what time I slept because if there was one thing I could give my neighbour it was respect for the longest love making. What kind of drug was this dude on really? An hour straight none stop like who was he, king Kong? Only unemployed people and construction workers have that kind of stamina because how do you have such power to generate such energy.
I asked her when I sat up. She really had no chill this one. You know when you wake up you often don’t remember everything. You need about ten minutes to set your brains in order.
“Your sisters? What for?”
I asked her groggily.
“You can’t be serious. I told you this weeks ago!”
Its true she might have but weeks ago means that I could not possibly remember if she had not reminded me again. It’s really that obvious.
“She is having a braai for her birthday!”
Oh yes! I remembered now but…there was a but!
“I can’t. I have to finish the presentation. We can’t get this wrong. I am thinking of having Tumi and Senzo over so we can work on it again!”
I explained to her but she stood there as though I had stolen something from her.
“Be ready in an hour! I told you that my sister is having this braai and you said we were going. My mum is going to be there and if I show up without her favourite son in law how is that going to look?”
She asked me. Her favourite son in law my ass; I was her only son in law!
“I know love but if we get this contract you know it will benefit us for a long time to come. You want a new car right and definitely our own house in a good neighbourhood?”
I asked trying to bribe her conscience.
“Yes I want all those things but they are not happening today. Today we are going to the braai!”
She said with a cheeky grin on her face. Just like that an hour later we were on our way to her sister’s place.
“We need to talk about what happened last night!”
I told her as we drove out two and a half hours later. Remember she had said an hour and in an hour I was done waiting for her. Her excuse,
“If I finish getting ready before then it means I look like shit!”
And yup, that was that!
Back to last night! I was not going to sweep it under the carpet.
“You mean how insensitive you were towards me but staring at another woman just because I gained a little extra weight! You know you did not even compliment my outfit today?”
She asked doing her lipstick through the passenger side mirror. Eish! I had not complimented because much as my wife had many clothes, many of which still had price tags, she had favourites. Those favourites were recycled often enough that at some point I thought I was the one encouraging the recycling by giving compliments.
“Huh! What’s you gaining weight got to do with anything?”
I asked her stunned by that analogy and deliberately ignoring the compliment part!
“Yeah dude. Ever since I put on weight you look at other women angithi. Even that day at the mall I saw you. I just chose not to make a scene of it!”
She said as though she had achieved some major feat.
“I don’t even know what day you are talking about! I am certain I was not looking at anyone but obviously you have convinced yourself to that.”
I told her. She was deliberately changing the focus of the topic to make it about me.
“Yes you were!”
She snapped back.
“Do you think I am that stupid to look at any other woman when I am with you? You think I want to get back home and have someone shout at me the whole night over someone I don’t even know and will most likely never see again! Come on! I am not that stupid!”
I shouted back frustrated. See what I meant! It was not supposed to be a fight but my wife had a way of bringing it out of me.
“Don’t raise your voice at me Vusi simply because you are lustful. I told you that you need Jesus but oh no, you don’t listen. You think the bible is a waste of time!”
She said to me as though oblivious to the fact that I had just shouted her. She was having a conversation on her own that’s for sure because at no point do I think it registered to her that she was overreacted about nothing.
“I don’t go to church because every time we go you want to introduce me to every woman and grandmother at church even the ones you have already introduced me to before!”
I said annoyed.
“Yeah this way they know you are mine and we are a praying couple!”
She said as we drove into her sister’s yard.
“Try not to embarrass us today by not fighting with me please! I love you baby and am so grateful to have a man like you!”
She said as soon as I parked. She ran out of the car because her sister was standing outside with some lady I did not know. I took a deep sigh because if I thought my wife was bad her sister was worst and her mother well, if Satan had a twin my mother in law was it. I hated the witch and guess what, she loved me to death!
The sister shouted when I delayed coming out. Nonjabulo was two years older than my wife. As I was sitting down and she was more on an elevated ground I could see her outfit from feet to head sitting down. She was wearing a blue skirt that was four, no five fingers above her knees. She was blessed too with thick thighs that had more potholes than a road in a township in the Eastern Cape. She was thick black woman and no I am not body shaming but she dressed like she was a size 30 model on the way to a back to school party on June 16. She was easily a size 36 and her tight outfits were so revealing they often made people uncomfortable women included me. I am supposed to compliment that! Jesus take the wheel!
“Come give me a hug!”
She said walking towards the car. I got out of the car and walked towards her. Like I said she was on a higher elevated ground meaning when she hugged she became taller than me. It is not comfortable having your sister in law’s boobs in your face whether she looked like Nomzamo Mbatha or …let me not go there!
“Londiwe I love the way he is so shy! Makes me want to adopt him!”
She shouted back at her sister my wife who was by door and they both laughed as though it was funny.
Maybe I was already cranky I don’t know but the joke was not appreciated. It made me feel small I guess. You know, sometimes you marry into a family were the women are liberal in dress code. I know men have to respect women’s choice of dress but looking at Nonjabulo I honestly just felt sad for her. This woman was dressed in a way that could make a hobo lose his appetite! It was not nice and now she wants to adopt me? No wait…
I retorted. It was not funny at all. I was not a child and my life should not be allowing her sister to talk to me like that.
“He is wearing one of my shirts! Mama come see the shirts I made I told you they will look nice!”
She shouted totally ignoring my protest. That’s why my wife had insisted that the clothes were already packed and I must dress immediately. Her sister was a jack of all trades. If she was not selling MMM it was Forever Living! Herbal Life must just start making petrol Shem the way they are making everything now! Don’t be fooled Herbal Life people are the very same people who used to sell you MMM and told you what a great product it was! I am sure if my sister in law lived in the 80s she would have sold Amby.
“You sold Londiwe this shirt?”
I asked her surprised at my wife’s deception. It’s not like she told me where it came from its just that all of a sudden it was there. Had I asked her before that she would most certainly have said it was from Edgars!
“Yes! It’s beautiful neh! I have so many other things and I am going to make you my model! I will sell you everything on discount if every time you buy you bring me a six pack!”
She said playfully punching me. I looked at where she had punched and guess what; she had smudged her make up on it. She used to sell make up to so I won’t be surprised if it was one of her products! It was not even the expensive one; it’s the one you see at Shoprite on the tellers there!
“I have so many clothes as is so I doubt I will be doing that anytime soon!”
I immediately said before I could be tricked into buying things.
“Nonsense, a man can never have enough clothes and I will be damned if my brother in law is not adequately dressed. Londy make sure you pick something out for him, on discount of course!”
The deal was made. Londy was going to pick out something whether I liked it or not. At that moment my mother in law stepped out of the house. Her favourite son in law was here isn’t! At least she was not one of those ululating ones. She was actually still very young. She had Nonjabulo when she was 17 meaning that she was still below 50. Amazing stuff and if that woman had an anthem I would play her “Forever Young” because she could out drink a donkey under the table that one!
I said with fake excitement when she was outside. I went to greet her. You would think a person from Jozini would be conservative and so on but not this woman.
“You finally arrived. I was looking forward to see you. There is a business thing I needed to ask you advice for!
She said. Do you know those village people that believe that city people have an answer for everything and money for everything? Well, my mother in law believed I was made of money. It’s a good thing that she was simple minded and her requests were not big but they were many.
“Ok Mamzala we will discuss it. Right now we at a party so it can’t be the place!”
I told her. I just wanted to run away. The sound guys were already in the driveway and the people putting up the marquee already there. Who hires a marquee at a braai though?
“Baby please go pick up Linda at the corner. She is carrying some things and she will need help.”
Londy said when I was about to walk into the house. I am going to be honest and many guys can testify to this, in your wife’s family, there is always one who is hotter than the rest. You know that girl who you say if it was not because of your wife you would definitely not mind being with. This feeling is worse if the two of you have a lot in common and when you talk there is a bond, a friendship. It’s just how life is Linda was it. Linda was hotter than Nomzamo and Amanda du Point put together. There is a girl on instagram who calls herself Queenyonce, Linda was that level. If this was a politician Linda was a Gupta and owned even the president.
“You want me to go pick her up? How far is she because I don’t want to spend my afternoon going up and down?”
I warned her. Linda was a cousin of theirs whose relation I did not fully understand its origin. I both minded and did not mind at the same time. Because I was parked inside the yard it meant at some point I will get blocked in which was good because my wife won’t expect me to drive back and forth. On the other hand, no driver wants to be blocked in because you feel trap and end up being the last one to leave the party no matter how boring it is.
“I know baby and I wouldn’t do that to you!”
“Ok I am going!”
I had not even driven out fully before my wife came running down the driveway.
“Please but charcoal and ice.”
This is what I hate and I have told her this enough times for her to know.
“Thanks babes love you!”
She concluded and immediately turned away. She knew I was going to fight her had she stayed there. I had not even had a festive season because I was working on this project proposal with my team. Nowadays no self respecting person is content with only making a salary. Come on now. Your basic house is like a million rand meaning that your bond alone for that is r10 000 a month. Add a car to that and before you even look at a your pay cheque r16 000 gone. No matter who you are logic is that you have something going on the side. I was in IT and I would like to believe I was quite good at it. In South Africa it’s an industry that has so much potential. Yes in high school we were the geeks but today we are the ones women want because a brain is much sexier than brawn.
I said when I got to the corner. I don’t think she recognized the car. She was about 23 and was a student at some college. I can’t keep up with all these colleges they are too many. The one thing I could keep up with though was how stunning this girl really was. Even taxi drivers and construction workers didn’t whistle at her when she walked past because they knew she was beyond their league. She was a league on her own and when she walked it was like she did it in slow motion.
“Bhuti’ Vusi, I didn’t see you there! Did you change cars?”
She asked me as she got into the car. My bad, had changed cars that’s why she had not recognized me.
“Yes I did. How are you?”
She said entering the car. She leaned over and gave me a hug. All the heavenly hosts must have their trumpets up to cheer me on because when a beautiful person acknowledges you, trust, your ego becomes a super hero!
“I am sorry she sent you to pick me up. I told her I could walk but she insisted!”
She explained. That’s the problem with being seen as a nice guy. Everyone walks all over you!
“I was told you have something heavy you are carrying!”
I told her and even now I knew it was some joke. She was not carrying anything at all.
“Sorry! Let me guess, they also sent you to the shops right?”
I nodded my head.
“It’s a trick we used to play at parties. No one wants to get sent around so you create an emergency. They created an emergency which was picking me up because they knew that you would not say no!”
As she said this it was not making my mood any better. I was going to buy what they wanted and go home. I was not even going to entertain my wife.
“Don’t be angry at Londy! It was probably Nonjabulo’s idea! You know how your wife can’t say no to her sister!”
Which was true but that was not the point! She needed to respect me and not think that she could get away with everything.
“So when is the wedding?”
She asked me! Oops! I had forgotten to clarify that one part. Londiwe and I were married yes but only traditionally. I had paid Lobola but had not given her the one thing she craved most, a wedding! This meant that as far as her family was concerned, we were not married!
“You ask me that every time you see me! It’s like they sent you to ask!”
I responded. The question had come up several times and I was not running from my responsibilities at all. I just could not see what the rush was considering we had many other things to prioritize right now.
“Well because it’s become an inside joke. She complains about it a lot so maybe part of her rebellion stems from the fact that she wants a wedding and you won’t give her one!”
“Who is going to pay for it?”
I asked her the most relevant question that women never actually ask themselves in their bid to show off to their friends or their families.
“You the man right so stand up and be the man. Get a loan do something if you don’t want to lose her!”
I don’t think she intended to say that to me and it just came out.
“Lose her? I paid Lobola for her. I am paying for her to get her degree. I bought her a car or rather she is using the other car! Hell I even paid for the license she has to drive the car I gave her! So please tell me what is that it is that she is not getting from me that makes the wedding the end all of our relationship?”
I asked her. I was asking the wrong person this but she was close to my wife meaning that this was a topic they had discussed thoroughly. The person you love can make you look weak in front of their friends without even realizing it. Telling your friends what you lack in your house is what creates openings for other women to see opportunity then you wonder why we end up finding common ground with your friends.
“Let’s not have this conversation! I will have a wedding when I am ready! I have so much work to do right now!”
I told her.
“You know am on your side if ever you need to talk!”
She said I am sure innocently but Linda had a way of making me feel somehow. At times it felt as though she played on my emotions to flirt but I was never sure.
I responded with a smile. She smiled back and just shook her head as we walked in.