By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa
Mbali Jacobs waits in the car as her boyfriend Sibonelo Gabela opens the door for her. They’ve been going out for three months now and he is finally introducing her to his friends. Sibonelo is a famous soccer player, one of the notorious defenders of the Badimo Football Club. He is taking Mbali to the house of his close friend Thapelo Mosia who is also a defender at Badimo FC. Mbali is both excited and nervous. She knows most of Sibonelo’s collegues because she is a sports reporter so she works closely with the team, but the relationship was a secret until now.
“Oh my! Welcome” Zanele, Thapelo’s wife, says opening the door for them. “Daddy brought a date!” She shouts to whoever is inside the house before hugging both Sibonelo and Mbali and then closing the door. ‘Daddy’ is Sibonelo’s nickname.
“Welcome guys, wow Miss Jacobs!” That’s Thapelo welcoming them into the lounge area where he is sitting opposite another couple. The couple is facing away from Mbali so she can’t see who they are.
Sibonelo smiles as he says; “I guess there is no need for introductions because we all know each other here.”
The couple stands and faces Mbali, Sibonelo and Zanele at the lounge entrance. Mbali suddenly gets uncomfortable.
Sibonelo; “Baby you know Phumzile right? Mark’s wife”
Mark Gordon – Mbali’s on and off secret fling who is also a defender at Badimo FC. Mbali knew he is married but she somehow continued with the relationship hoping he leaves his wife for her – until eventually she saw it wasn’t going to happen.
“Nice to meet you.” Mbali says softly shaking the wife’s hand.
“Let’s come sit this side.” Zanele directs them to the dining area to indulge on the dinner they are all here for.
Mbali has become visibly tense, so has Mark. Mbali has been his mistress for more than a year never mind the time they spent apart. She broke it off with him a few weeks after going out with Sibonelo because she didn’t want to ‘create tension’. She’s been successfully avoiding him until now.
“Miss Jacobs gave me such a good review on my performance last week.” Thapelo is saying as everyone settles around the table.
“Bias” Sibonelo says quickly.
Thapelo pokes his left cheeck with his index finger as he exclaims; “Seriously?”
Most of the people around the table start laughing as Sibonelo explains; “She only wrote a good review because you’re my best friend.”
Thapelo; “Not because of my great football skills?”
“So I bet that’s the reason Mark got a glorious review as well.” Phumzile says rubbing her husband’s shoulder. She has a high pitched voice that makes everything she says sound funny and exaggerated.
Sibonelo laughs as he responds; “Styles? Oh well,” he turns to Mbali; “that was the reason right baby?”
Styles is Mark’s nickname. His friends gave it to him because of his good fashion sense and he is the only one in the group with a clothing line. His line includes sneakers, jackets and caps with the signature ‘M-$tyles’.
Mbali bites her lower lip. She wishes for the earth to open up and swallow her.
“Silence speaks loudest!” Thapelo shouts then he and Sibonelo laugh.
“I think I’ll have to revisit my reviews, maybe I was a little bias.” Mbali says softly.
Sibonelo claps once as he says; “I knew it!”
Zanele walks back into the dining room with a tray of food followed by her helper with more. They place the bowls on the table and the helper takes the trays back to the kitchen.
“Enough with the teasing, time for food.” Zanele says as she takes her seat. “Grace” she adds and they all join hands.
Mbali is breathing slowly trying to stay calm. She is in between Sibonelo and Mark. On her side of the table there is her and Sibonelo, on her left on a single chair sits Mark, opposite her there is Zanele and Phumzile, and on the single chair to her right sits Thapelo. Mark has been quiet since Mbali and Sibonelo walked in. Jealousy has taken over and he wishes they could just break up or leave. Sibonelo is visibly happy with Mbali, happier then they’ve ever seen him with a woman. He usually comes alone to such gatherings and never get bothered that he’s the only one without a date. Thapelo is happy that his best friend is finally looking to settle down – after three daughters with different mothers.
“Can I be excused?” Mbali asks in the middle of dinner. She just almost chocked on her food because of a text Mark sent her. She regrets opening the message.
“Is everything okay love?” Sibonelo asks as he helps Mbali with her seat.
“Thabi has a crisis, I need to call her quickly.” Mbali says and dails Thabi’s number.
“Thabi, are you okay?” She says as soon as her friend answers and gets away from the lounge.
“I’m fine. What’s wrong?”
Mbali is now entering the bathroom. “I just want to die now.”
“What is it?”
“Okay so Sibo took me to dinner neh and surprised me when he took me to Sandton to meet his friends. The season has closed so…”
“By friends you mean Styles and Thaps? My friend…”
Mbali lets out a little cry; “And their wives! Mark is all grumpy now…”
“What for? He can’t be jealous loyo ke because he is married, he just needs to chill. You also deserve a person that will wife you.”
“He sent me a text just now, saying it’s very sluty of me to be sleeping with his friends. I didn’t even know he’s that close to Sibo,” Mbali starts sobbing.
“Don’t do that! Don’t cry over that fool. But they work together my friend they will be close…”
“I’m sorry, but please don’t allow him to ruin things between you and Daddy.”
“Eish my friend…”
Mbali is interrupted by the bathroom door closing and she turns quickly to find Mark standing there. She stares at him nervously, waiting for his next move because Mark is famous for his short temper even on the field.
“Mbali?” Thabi is calling out for her on the other end.
“I’ll call you later friend.” Mbali says and quickly hangs up. She asks Mark; “What do you want?”
“You need to break up with Daddy.” Mark says fiercly. He has a mean expression, like he is disgusted.
Mbali folds her arms over her chest and doesn’t respond. Mark comes closer to her slowly, she doesn’t move. “You’ve made your point, I get it. You wanted to make me jealous and get me all worked up, fine Ethu. You win okay?” He says slowly.
“What makes you think this is about you? I love Sibo…”
“Nonsense!” Mark shouts hitting the wall with his left fist. He is left-handed.
The bathroom door opens and Thapelo barges in. “Mbali leave,” he says softly and Mbali rushes out.
Thapelo looks at Mark and shakes his head. “Coloured face, stop this. Get your act together man.”
He always tease Mark for being coloured especially when he loses his temper. Mark is mixed race; his mother is white and he’s using her surname since his parents never married. His father is black and a former footballer. Mark resembles his father but because of his upbringing in the cape flats, he has a coloured accent and has a short temper which is typically associated with the race. His mother was kicked out of her home after being impregnated by a black man, that’s how they ended up in the cape flats.
“You have a wife and beautiful children, don’t throw it away like this. Get it to your head; Mbaliyethu Jacobs is Daddy’s girlfriend. Get over her!”
Mark pushes Thapelo away from the door and walks out without responding.
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