Apr/May 2010  •   Fiction

When love Began

by Thabi Di Moeketsi

Broad shoulders, dark deep eyes, husky voice, tall and straight like a eucalyptus tree. He carried me in his arms and whisked me away to paradise.

That was my dream, the one I had for years as a child.

"Good things happen to those who wait. Have a little patience my girl," Grandma Mokoena said.

I had inherited every inch of my grandmother's tall bum. This, coupled with my orange, flawless skin made me the talk of the school. Like a ripe pawpaw, I paraded my beauty, standing tall like a giraffe while the tresses on my head touched my shoulders, thanks to Dark and Lovely.

Grandma Mokoena said my hair was actually better, well, before the relaxers became a necessity. Naturally, it was thick, long and black, a reflection of my rich heritage: Pakistani, African, and a little European or should I say, white. A mixed bag of cultures, is what I sometimes joked about the color of my blood. But the mixture, whatever it was, had worked to my advantage and brought me natural beauty, so much beauty I could have made it to Miss South Africa if the rules had been a little stricter: Natural Beauty only, no makeup, and no fake hair.

But, I didn't make it to Miss South Africa. I never attempted to because, come Matric, my hormones dangled up and down like a yoyo. Some sickness had set in, and my patience ran out. I moved around, every fiber of my being on fire, crying for help. A hot fire called lust. The help I needed was love and affection.

Who could blame me? From nowhere, I had suddenly become visible to every boy in the school, every man on the street. The flower had bloomed, and who could blame the flower for springing out from its bud? Who could blame my bosom for shooting out like tight, inflated balloons? At school, my desk was full of letters, and these I spent my double lessons going through. Natural science was a bore, and so I took it upon myself to reply and set my dates: two o'clock at the Copacabana, or some place where teenagers bunked school and hung around.

I couldn't help noticing the attention. I thrived on it. I knew my girlfriends (the few I now had) envied me. But who could blame me? Who could blame me for being born beautiful? Bold and beautiful is what I had become. This explains why I bunked most of my lessons and chose fun instead. The boys liked me: a bold and beautiful girl.

But Mama died in that car crash on the Freeway, the one where the minibus rammed into a stationary, heavy duty truck, killing all on board. That accident changed everything. Within a few months, my joy and fun-filled life was but a memory. With Grandma Mokeona gone as well, I was in trouble. My hair needed retouching. The oil I stole from Mama's dressing table, the one with the Ylang Ylang, Vitamin E, and AHAS, was no more. And neither was there Vaseline in the house. My cellphone, apart from being outdated, had no airtime. Within a few months, the swan had turned back into an ugly duckling.

In order to survive, I sold Mama's coat, the fur one which was part of the inheritance, the one from Italy. The cash helped a bit. I bought a few clothes here and there. But I needed more, and so I sold Mama's jewelry and china as well. I was almost about to sell myself when Simon Kekana came along.

Tall like a eucalyptus tree?


Husky voice?


The charming prince stood no taller than a cigarette stub, half my Naomi Campbell size. He spoke like a little boy, as if doctors had messed up his voice box at birth.

Simon Kekana? Everyone quizzed and whispered. He was certainly not my type, not anybody's type, considering he was well known in the community. But he became my type. Loaded with cash and all sorts, he couldn't be resisted. I couldn't let him go to another damsel in distress.

Soon, my charming, or should I say, loaded prince whisked me away to Sun City. I bunked school for a week, right in the middle of Matric revision. For the trip to Capetown, I bunked what was supposed to be my final Mathematics exam.

"You don't need maths. You're a businessman's wife," he said.

Yes, I was a businessman's wife. What business, I didn't know.

I did what businessman's wives did, attending dinners at five star hotels, mixing and mingling with the who's who in Johannesburg. Soweto, my neighbourhood, became nothing but a tale I almost could not tell. I was ashamed to come from there, the shanty town with nothing but shebeens, with noisy, dirt-filled avenues. I wanted to escape from this shame as soon as Simon Kekana proposed.

That year I wrote one matric exam. I had better things to do, like going to the beauty parlor to get my nails done, to get a body massage. Simon liked me to look perfect, to be the envy of many, his pride and joy.

I didn't disappoint. I was his pride and joy. HIS. When the teachers tried to find me to ask me to come back to school, he was after them. My uncles were also on his list, as were the neighbors and even the post man. I was HIS, and anyone who tried to befriend me was threatened with a gun.

This was what the brown bottle did to Simon Kekana, the bottle he drank every minute of his life. He drank as he slept. Even as he walked to the toilet, it clung to his small hand. When he drove his Lamborghini, he had the beer between his legs, pausing now and then to take a sip. Trouble began when the beer got to his head. Simon lost it, and the small, sweet, giving man became a monster, an evil, angry river god.

While others got their Matric results that January, I was up and about, between scented hotel rooms and deadly knife attacks. Our romance, or whatever it was, was up and down, in and out, twisting and turning. I cried and laughed, not knowing what else to do. Simon drank so much because of some trouble, he said.

That morning he took out his pistol and fired at the police who had come after him. He did this after firing at me and only missing my head by an inch.

When the police finally got near him, he fired into his mouth.

That's the last I saw of Simon, of his money, Lamborghini, and well, that's the last I was a businessman's wife because from then on, I became the criminal's wife. And no one wants a criminal's wife.

Drug possession, armed robbery, and rape were among the list of crimes Prince Charming committed to bring me love, to give me love, and to take it away forever.