I need therapy.
Yes that’s what I need. I need therapy. Being told that I can go to jail was humbling indeed. How did it get here really? A few months ago I was a rising superstar in my industry now they were talking about me going to jail? Who was this person whom in the morning when I looked in the mirror I did not recognize? When was the last time I even did my hair? When was the last time I opened a book to read? I had become this zombie whose day to day existence was one calamity to the next. I did not need this in my life.
“But why would I be going to jail? I did nothing wrong!”
I asked and told her at the same time. What scared me is that she seemed convinced of it.
She should not do that. That is not news you tell someone offhand and expect them to be normal.
“I know you did nothing wrong but a lot of people don’t realize that when things have political implications when the law comes it takes the grass too! It’s not just the elephants that fight and are scathed!”
She explained and this was not comforting at all. My facial expression surely said it all and even the horror in my voice was unmistakeable.
“I am not saying this to scare you but to show you that we are not top of a situation which already is a serious one. As your lawyer I have to look out for you but I cannot do that without telling you what is going on. Our job is to make sure that you won’t get caught up in the tsunami when it comes!”
She reassured me but she was not convincing at all. I was about to go into panic mode when she said,
“Lungi I am going to say this again, the reason why I called you to tell you all this was to make sure that we make sure that you don’t end up there!”
She explained once again. I could hear her yes I just did not believe everything she had said.
“But what can I do I don’t know what’s going on to start with!”
I told her and yes I did not. I was so confused I even felt dizzy trying to wrap my head around everything. It was too much to take in at once.
“I know but you have to be even wearier now of the company you keep. It’s super important that you understand that. I can’t ne coming to bail you out with some of the shady people that you end up with!”
I knew what she was implying.
“I never hang around with such people. I am scared Nthabi I honestly don’t know what to do now!”
I told her. She did not seem to have words for me.
“Listen, I am your lawyer and I am supposed to warn you of any impending dangers rights. That day might never even come so I was saying that we need to look out for that, that’s all!”
She told me yet again. I know she could see that she had lost me already as the fear swept over me.
“Its ok I understand. I need to go now. I have to think. There is no way I am not taking this hard hey but I will be fine.”
I responded to what she had said with that. She tried to stop me from leaving but I insisted and I left. I wanted something to distract me and that moment it was not her. I had to go find. For myself what this who Steinhoff really was.
“Be careful out there!”
Nthabiseng said to me as she walked me drive away. She had insisted to take me to my car and even offered to get me an Uber but I was fine on the Uber. If there is one thing I don’t like its people showing up at my house unannounced. I consider it rude. Miriam had not been taking my calls and it was my duty as a best friend to show up for her even when she was not in the space for guests. I stopped by the shops and bought her a fruit basket. When I got to her gate I hooted but she did not open. I did not bother calling her I called Bongani,
“I am by your gate, Miriam is not opening!”
I told him when he picked up.
“Eish she has been in a funk. She is probably in there in bed crying. When people are there she acts strong as though everything is fine but when I get home I see that she has been crying. It’s really bad and I am scared she will do something stupid!”
He told me.
“So why would you leave her alone though? Why didn’t you call me?”
I asked him a bit annoyed at him.
“And get her even angrier. I consulted a psychologist friend of mine and she said she needs time to grieve alone in her own way so I am trying that but I am so scared.”
“I can imagine. What else did you psychologist say?”
I asked him.
“Remember the lady back home, that’s also going to become an issue because now that she has lost our child she is going to blame herself and compete with her!”
He explained meekly.
“That part is your fault and I still haven’t given you my piece of mind on it! You hurt Miriam so much with that and I know you think you got away with it scot free but you did not.”
I warned him. How could I forget how we had bumped into him in the mall with another woman who had an army of his kids holding hands?
“Eish please let’s focus on the matter at hand. I am going to open the gate for you. The back door is often open so from there you should be fine. If you can’t just call me so that I can open and close for you again!”
He said clearly running away. I had touched a nerve but ok that was not a matter for now but for later. All these things we kept sweeping under the carpet will come back and haunt us. The gate opened in front of me and I drove in.
I called out as soon as I started knocking. She did not answer but I could hear music in the house. She was playing gospel. I went and rang the bell. With the music playing inside I could not hear whether or not someone was coming so I waited and did not stop ringing it. I did not want to go round the house for fear that you walk into someone’s house and they mistake you for a criminal and shoot you.
I called her husband.
“I am knocking but no one is answering. There is music play…”
I started to explain when the door opened.
“Never mind she just opened!”
I said to him hanging up and there she was in the flesh.
“Oh it’s you!”
She said. She was absolutely filthy!
“Miriam when was the last time you bathed!”
I asked her. I could even smell her and that’s not a joke!
“Hello to you too!”
She said stepping back into her house. I guess I was supposed to delicate with her but there was no time for that.
“You need to bath!’
I told her immediately. She went straight to sit on the couch. The house was a mess again. I thought the other day we had fixed it but dishes had piled up and flies were everywhere!
“Can Bongani not what dishes?”
I asked her.
“That one? He is too much of a man for that! When a woman is in the house it’s her job!”
She said dismissively.
“I hardly believe that!”
I told her. She had not chased me out yet so I got emboldened and opened all the curtains and windows.
“I deserve this you know!”
She said and the tears ran down her cheeks,
“What do you mean?”
I asked her.
“I am glad I lost the baby. It was a punishment. The baby was not even his and I was about to lie to him and make him raise someone else’s child!”
She said to me and that broke my heart. Yes she was wrong for what she had done but now that she was blaming herself for it I was not sure that was the way forward.
“You can’t say that come on. No one should ever be glad of losing a child so don’t let people hear you say that!”
I told her.
“I am glad I lost the baby. I am glad. Now I do not have to leave a lie my whole life! I have gotten what I deserved! I don’t care what other people think!”
She said to me looking down.
“Perhaps we should since we live in a world full of other people some of them with strange beliefs!”
The way she was talking I did not want her saying these things out loud in our neighbourhood where I know there will be always some resourceful person who would find a reason why to link this to witchcraft.
“I don’t know what I was thinking though! I mean Bongani is nice and all, I love him even but that’s because I learned to that! I don’t think I deserve him. He has been good to me!”
“What are you going on about?”
I asked her.
“Don’t you get it? I loved him because I was pregnant and I was scared. Now with the baby gone I don’t want this anymore, I am meant to be free, I am meant to be more than just a house wife!”
She said and I just stood there.
“You can’t be serious! You have stability in your life more than anything else. You are happy. Do you want to be hopping from bed to bed because of your freedom?”
I asked her.
“I am more mature now but with the way I grew up did you really think that one man will satisfy me forever? I love men and I love men giving me attention! Marriage is not for me, it’s for others who accept to wither and die under the heel of a man!”
She explained. She stood up and went to the kitchen to drink water.
“I am going to ask him for a divorce Lungi. The jig is done. I can’t live this lie! I am sorry!”
I just stood there.
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto (fb)
Mr. Maphoto thank you for reading my letter. Its 2018 already and I must say congratulations on what you have achieved here. I am not much of a reader but my colleague says your people give good advice and has helped me compile this letter.
I am 47 and I have been married to my wife for 22 years now. Before we got married my wife had a 4 year old daughter and her father had disappeared. I raised her as my child and she has truly never known any father but me. Around the age of 16 she started acting out and whenever I reprimanded her she would remind me that I was not her real father. My wife at first would fight her for that but with time she stopped. We have other kids, two boys but with her being the only girl I put extra attention on her. I am a decent loving father and I did not want my child to end up sleeping with every man on the street. I know what men are like. By Gods grace she got to university. She did not qualify for a bursary but we had saved up well enough. She graduated last year and that’s when she dropped the bombshell. She said she was getting married and did not want me to give her away. She wanted her biological father to have that honour. It hurt. In all the years I raised her he never once sent her r5. He never bought her clothes, paid fees nor simply buy his daughter a sweet! What hurt even more was that her mother agreed with her and said something about ancestors not being happy if her real father does not give her his blessings. I asked her where these ancestors where when I sat in hospital with her sick at night, when I loved that girl every day she was supposed to be my daughter. I never saw them once; they never put food on our table and did not drive her to the matric dance! I did that! I am so angry I even want to divorce the mother! How can she say that? How can she side with such a thing? I might sound selfish but when you raise a family you get to be selfish because you love them. I want the best for my daughter like any father should but this is a slap in my face. I feel insulted.
Am I overreacting? How should I handle this? Does the mother respect me?