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Itu Komane: Do You Remember Marang?

Do you remember Marang? Do you remember the day you met Molamodi in the vibrant streets of Braamfontein? You had just completed your last exam, looking forward to starting a new chapter as a young adult doing your internship at that government department where you would have no work to do, learn nothing much and feel sleepy most of the days. Do you remember? That evening you stood outside your flat, a Savannah bottle in hand, and toasted with your best friend Cha-Cha to starting a new life. You had said you don’t want to leave Johannesburg without finding love because you may not know your way back to the city of gold. This is only because you love, love. Love to you is a compass of life. You watch chick flicks and Christmas movies knowing the trail of the story and yet being amused, perhaps you’re even hopeful. Your stars aligned, your manifestation was “blitzvinnig” and clearly rushing you somewhere. But for that evening it was creating a lifeline for you to find your way back and live a life unbeknown and yet fulfilling to you.

That evening you met the first love of your life. He walked past you and you sat staring at him from the staircase, sipping slowly on your Savannah till your mind raced back and rendered you to call out to him. You didn’t know his name so you called him by his chained jeans. He looked back, didn’t smile but his demeanour was not intimidating so you smiled for both of you and asked a string of questions that gave him no space to think deeply.

You exchanged Facebook profiles and rushed upstairs to dress up for the party at The Basement. You don’t remember this but Cha-cha later tells you that Molamodi was at the same party and you paid no attention to him. Perhaps you were enjoying the last moments of your freedom before life flung you to the slow and lulling Limpopo.

I remember you left Johannesburg, freedom of choice in one hand and naivety in the other. You did as you always do. You embraced the chameleon in you and adjusted your way around Limpopo for a whole year before an opportunity to work in Johannesburg opened up. You mainly took that opportunity because you and Molamodi were starting to date and the thrill of it all gave you goosebumps and made you imagine a future that was nothing short of perfect.

You got on the next taxi out of town to start another chapter in the spring of 2011. You went to work in the week, acclimatising to the bus routes that would take you from beaten Rosenttenville to prestigious Rosebank. You started your entry level job at a big travel company and soon excelled becoming a consultant though you were never given the increase that matched the promotion. You were thrilled by the opportunity either way, the recognition. You had some of the greatest managers there and one that pushed you to grow with her sarcasm and contempt. You learned then that comfort breeds no growth.

Weekends were your favourite. You would pack a stay over bag and excitedly carry it to work because you now had a boyfriend. You would have the career, the handsome husband and one day some replica faces of the both of you tripping over air in your telenovela house with a beautiful garden tendered to by your future husband.

It would be a couple of months down the line that Molamodi would cheat on you. That Friday evening around 10pm a call from an unknown number with an uncertain voice asked you why you sent a particular message to its boyfriend. You had a chill go down your spine but chose to remain calm because you’d be damned to let this voice make you lose your collective mind. Remember the pain of not being able to sleep all night, remember calling back to speak with Molamodi only for the voice to tell you that he is drunk and asleep and won’t be able to come to the phone? You said to yourself: “Whatever happens is not for lack of your trying.”

By break of dawn, as soon as the first taxi became available you were on your way to Sunninghill bulldozing your way to his apartment. He opened the door half stunned and half expecting you to come knocking. The first word to leave your mouth was “why.” You never once looked in the direction of the voice. Perhaps it was for fear that it would become a reality. Maybe you just wouldn’t dignify its presence with a reaction of any kind from you. You shut yourself in the guest room and gave him an ultimatum: you or her. He chose you but you were not about to let it go. You moved in with him 2 months down the line. That’s when you stopped holding the incident over his head and turned a new leaf.

I was proud of you then. Were you proud of you? You had your moments of anger and feeling gullible but you knew what you wanted and you went after it. You acted for the most part maturely. You and Molamodi started playing house. You would clean, pack up, do laundry and cook every evening making lunch for the two of you while he furthered his studies. How could he not see a wife in you. He loved you but you were never going to hear it from his lips. It didn’t matter, you felt it in his actions, in the way he spent time with you. The two of you became very close, drinking and smoking together. Inviting friends and family over so you can host them and gossip about them later while bonding over pillow talk.

You start meeting his siblings and baking goodies for his family when he goes to see them back in Limpopo. You are a Stepford wife in the making and oh so afraid of losing him. Remember how you always felt that he would leave you in a blink if you stepped wrong? Remember how your opinions became suppressed till they ballooned years later? I wish you had spoken out but your choice was taken by love and you were in love. 5 years down the line, the love of your life as you knew it then proposed marriage to you. It was an awkward proposal but you didn’t care. The moment was finally here and you were drawing closer to ticking all your boxes. You came off contraception because you wanted to ready your body to start a family. You were both so excited at this new chapter of many you were beginning together. By then you were starting to find your voice and so you both fought a lot and still remained best friends. It was a dizzying spell. Molamodi could have given you many red flags you would have yielded none. In your eyes he was king, and he held the very artery pumping blood to your heart.

You prepared maternally and Molamodi prepared financially. He supported your dreams of studying further and even starting a business you had no business starting but I guess he believed in you and that was all the believe you needed. To him you were his prized possession and to you he had no Achilles heel.

He bought a new car and you paid off your first one and gave it to your Mother with Molamodi’s suggestion. He bought your new home where you would start your young family. The start of the end but a necessary progression at that. You picked the house and fell in love with its colours. They represented new beginnings to you, pale blue and white. The white rose bushes were the cherry on top. Truly something out of a small suburbia.

Remember when he lost his job and you had no idea how to support him? He felt unheard and you were unsure what you were meant to hear. Remember when you noticed that both of you are imposing learned traditions on each other and burdening each other unnecessarily? When you realised that you both don’t know how to communicate your needs effectively. You were afraid to offer a hand to help him find a job in case you made him seem incompetent. This was until the afternoon he came back frustrated from a contract job with a belittling female boss and burst a hole into the centre of the guestroom door. At least that evening he made it clear that he needed your help finding a job.

You put together your connections and found him a job that would heal some hurts and make you feel like you’re becoming a team again.

Nothing prepared the two of you for the best and worst news of your entire relationship. You were finally pregnant. The first thing you did when you left the doctor’s room was buy plates and cups. I don’t know which infant leaves the womb to use a plate, but the gesture was the most motherly: to feed your baby. Maternal instincts were starting to kick in despite the doctor’s warning that you would need further scanning as she was worried that you were spotting.

Remember how Molamodi started looking at you differently? The arguments died down and the house felt like it had open windows bringing in fresh air always. You started buying new clothes that would accommodate your growing tummy in the months to come. You smiled more at work… the dream was coming full circle. Molamodi took you out on small dates where you would drink organic juice instead of the usual alcohol. Talks about turning one of the guest rooms into a nursery were the peak of your evenings.

I remember vividly the day you both excitedly had your first appointment with the Gynae to confirm the pregnancy. He searched your womb and frowned moving the scanner further to the left of your abdomen and then to your right. He announced the ectopic pregnancy and your face fell. Molamodi had no idea what it meant. You had to explain it to him later in the evening. He thought it was something reversible and that the baby would be okay.

The two of you remained calm through each injection to try and shrink the baby growing in your fallopian tube until that fateful morning. You were both chatty but sleepy still. You turned over and your lower body became engulfed in the most terrifying cramp. You couldn’t walk, you couldn’t sit up. You prayed. Molamodi raced you to the hospital where the doctor announced that your lips were turning purple. You couldn’t speak anymore but you could hear everyone including the nurses who kept asking you questions as if your fiancée was not right there and fully capable of uttering words better than you. Do you remember what you used your last energy to ask of Molamodi?

You asked him not to tell your mother. Even after the doctor mentioned that there was a good chance you wouldn’t have made it. You asked him to hold on till after your operation.

The operation was a success but your relationship wasn’t. You became strangled by the thought of falling back into old and bad habits. You left on a Monday morning a couple of weeks after your operation to a new place leaving Molamodi with the trauma of losing the baby and then you in a matter of weeks. You had always pondered this idea, there were many reasons why leaving made sense. Reasons you can only see as unguided youth navigating an adult world.

Three years down the line, the two of you have forgiven each other. He says he would like to try again but you know that this is not possible. You can never subject the two of you to a world where you possibly fall back into enemies sharing a bed.

I watched your heart break and mend for a decade. Today, I watch you boldly love again. No longer aching for the husband, children and a yard but holding out a hand to the possibility with warmth.  I watch you read Motheo’s messages- whether about his daughter, food you prepared for him when he is sick or even about his work- and smile broadly. Your journey with Motheo has not been the easiest one. Both of you come from great loss and perhaps realising the possibility of loving again is strange and scary. It’s scary loving someone especially if you have loved before with everything you had and lost. But I see you opening up, wanting more and wanting to be more to Motheo. Taking the lessons learned to make things work. Peeling old unhelpful habits to find new layers of a you that will love him wholly, care deeply about him and the children, embrace his family and perhaps, God willing: take his surname and multiply his kraal. In the end, every new chapter is a season in life to mark a milestone of its own and bring you a full life experience.

The death of one love has birthed you the life of another. Here’s to you my darling Marang.

——–

Image: fred Pixabay modified

Itu Komane
Itu Komane
Itu Komane is a South African writer and HR practitioner with a passion for sharing her love for short story literature.

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