For the Love of the Game (6)
By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa
Sibongile slowly opens her eyes. Her head feels like a ton of bricks. She checks the time on her phone, which is perfectly placed on the pillow next to her heavy head. 09:30 it reads. She panics. She is on the morning shift this week which starts at 7 am. She tries to get up in a haste but is stopped by the sharp pain in her head and the realisation that she’s not in her bedroom. Just in cue, Njabulo limps in with a cup of coffee wearing only his boxers.
“I don’t know if you drink coffee but I think you need it.” He gently places the cup on the drawers next to Sibongile who looks like the statue of liberty in the middle of a New York river.
After overcoming the initial shock, Sibongile starts speaking incomprehensible riddles; “Rabaroshi sha bala she…”
“What the hell are you saying?” Njabulo bursts out laughing.
As if Sibongile isn’t embarrassed enough!
“Kevin accused me of sleeping with you last night, now I’m waking up in your bed,” she says softly, wishing the world can open up and swallow her.
Njabulo hasn’t stopped laughing. “So now you’re praying in tongues for that? Why was your hand up anyway? Sibongile, you’ve made my day!”
Sibongile quietly takes a sip from her coffee.
Njabulo straightens his face and asks; “Kevin said what?”
Sibongile frowns and does not respond. Njabulo seems to be getting seriously angry about this now that the laughter has subsided.
“Kevin likes being in business, I’ll show him just–”
“Did I sleep with you?” Sibongile interrupts staring at the coffee in her hands. She’s holding it for dear life, as if the more it burns her hands the less embarrassed she’ll feel.
“No I slept in another room. We’re at the club house remember? You were too wasted to leave, Zitha even worse. She and Tee were… Well”
Sibongile sighs from relief and then remembers; “I need to get to work, as in three hours ago.”
“You work for Cranes now,” Njabulo reminds her.
“But I can’t just abscond”
“Fine; get ready, I’ll take you there. I doubt Zitha is up,” Njabulo says and limps out of the room, closing the door behind him.
Sibongile smiles thoughtfully. She likes how considerate Njabulo is and how stupidly handsome he seems of late. Is she starting to like the guy? She rubbishes the thought and slowly gets up to get dressed, no time for baths. “Not that I know where the shower is” she says out loud as she puts her shoes on.
Njabulo peeps at the door and says; “So you pray in tongues?”
“Agh I don’t even know what I was saying”
“I’ll kill Kevin.” He disappears.
Sibongile can’t help but wonder if there is some bad history between the two players. She shrugs and drags herself out of the room, not believing she’s actually headed to work with yesterday’s clothes smelling like a brewery.
After a short meeting with the manager of Ethilomu, with Njabulo as her chaperone, Sibongile walks out of the office officially unemployed. This was the job that paid her rent. The library job doesn’t pay much, it’s just money for cosmetics. The writing doesn’t bring much, she hardly gets any gigs in newspapers and if she does they pay really little. She’s feeling down. She is unemployed, until she signs the contract with Cranes FC.
“Lighten up, you have a better job already. Christopher never lies.” Njabulo tries to cheer her up.
“Yeah. I need to freshen up”
“Yes we do. Can I pass by my house first?”
Sibongile agrees not expecting the mansion they enter upon their arrival. She is shocked. The guy has been a professional footballer in the big league for twelve years of which a good eight was at Badimo FC, Cranes’ main rival. His move was the most controversial since no one on the history of this country’s football dared to jump between the two giants, but Njabulo Zulu fears nobody.
“Wanna come in?” Njabulo asks as he steps out of the car.
Sibongile shakes her head. The idea of being inside this mansion scares her, as well as meeting Njabulo’s wife. She can’t admit to the latter because she also doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want to meet the wife.
“Okay I’ll be quick.”
Sibongile is left alone with her thoughts and a terribly aching body. She makes a silent promise to never drink again, to never allow Zitha to influence her again, and to definitely never dance with Tee again (the cramps in her legs are responsible for this one). A few minutes later Njabulo appears all cleaned up. He has a different walking cane and a small man bag.
“So the cane matches the outfit?” Sibongile teases as he enters the vehicle.
“I got style mchana”
Their drive to Sibongile’s apartment is filled with laughter as if two friends are driving from a reunion. Upon arrival she takes a hot shower, changes clothes, and prepares food. While enjoying the brunch, they tackle the project that brought them together. The book is slowly coming to life, and with Njabulo being so friendly and available, it promises to be ready on time.
“Where is your boyfriend anyway?” Njabulo asks as they settle on the couch after hours of work.
Sibongile places their ‘relaxing snacks’ on the coffee table, which were on her lap, and adjusts to a more comfortable position (sitting on the study chair can make one stiff).
“Where would I find time for a boyfriend?”
“A person as beautiful as you shouldn’t be single.” Njabulo flirts.
“Well a person as handsome as you shouldn’t be married.” She quickly bites her lower lip, not believing she just said that out loud.
Njabulo leans forward to kiss her and she kisses him back. The official beginning of Sibongile’s new life?