By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa
Soccer is one of my side pleasures. It is my way of getting out of the world, the world of writing. The soccer tournament in Dundee was a great distraction. I enjoyed every bit of it. I spent another month in Dundee doing news before I went back to Durban to finalise the editing process of the book that was due to be published. Despite the busy life I was leading back at the playful city, I felt lonely. It was like a part of me was missing. I hated that feeling. Why would I be so attached to a person I’ve known for just under a year? It was the beginning of 2017 then, the bookish year. My career took a sudden twist to more words and less colours. I couldn’t complain, I am a mad lover of words. I also took the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, and just have fun again.
My social media pages started being filled with pictures of outings and book reading events. It was clear that I was having fun, even to Lethabo. That didn’t sit well with her. She wasn’t opposed to me having fun, but it was starting to be a problem that I was always surrounded by women like that. She wouldn’t mind any of the soccer guys I would post. It was the women I was busy with that started man in her suspicious. This is what a long distance relationship does to a person; it takes the confidence out of you and make you an insecure wreck. At that time Lethabo was filming in Malawi. She even called me from there. I understood her pain, I was feeling it too, but there wasn’t any way I could help her unfeel it. So she started gaining weight… It’s normal for a woman to be wary of that kind of change. The change in her body made her feel even more threatened by the women around me. As a good partner, I tried to reassure her that she was still perfectly sexy to me. She was even more sexier than she was when we met. I loved my slender person but damn those curved looked so good on her! The thicker Lethabo made me fall in love all over again, and she was a thousand kilometres away. She eventually gained back confidence, both in her new body and my love for her. Maintaining a relationship with that kind of distance was showing us flames, but I was determined to see it through.
Did I cheat? That would make me trash right? Well… Physically. Once. For two weeks. I’m not about to paint myself as this perfect lover for I have my down moments. That was one of them. I could write a list of excuses and reasons for my unfaithfulness but it doesn’t change the fact that I did it. Yes it was only physical, but that still means I betrayed Lethabo physically. I don’t know if she cheated during her travels or not. I had no right to ask, especially after what I had done. I was also scared that she would confirm that she had and our relationship wouldn’t survive. There was a moment where I thought it was over anyway. We reached a point of scarce communication, one word conversations, and eventually nothing. We would go weeks without talking. It made me realize that it had been a year since Lethabo left South Africa. Maybe she was giving up? I couldn’t tell. I never asked. I couldn’t bear to hear the words. And then I did hear them… but that was a bit later.
2017 went by very quickly. The literary world kept me so busy. With the new book out, I needed to work on marketing it and getting myself out there. The ‘getting myself out there’ tested the introvert in me. I had to learn to shove the awkwardness down and actually get on with new people. Unlike on radio where I hid behind the mic, the words in the book exposed me and there was no way to run away from it. I got the hang of that eventually.
And then Lethabo broke things off. She said something about going back home to Lesotho upon completing the documentary, and not wanting to burden me. It was so sudden – so unexpected. Who expects being dumped though? I tried to explain that Lesotho isn’t so far. I could simply get on a bus, or taxi, and go visit. She went back to Lesotho and my busy schedule wouldn’t afford me time to visit. She ended it for real after a few months of the initial dumping. It was hard, but that time I let her go. I didn’t want to hold her hostage to my love. And maybe she was right. Maybe the distance was making the relationship impractical. We kept casual contact despite the break up until I started having a series phone problem. I swear I thought I was cursed! After months of changing phones, I ended up with no contact details and a new number. That’s when Lethabo and I seriously ended.
Masesi got ahold of me through social media and told me that they would be a screening of the short film we shot for the municipal project. I had somehow forgotten about that film. I had literally dumped it after shooting. So I went to the screening and I really loved how it all came together. (Lol it didn’t come together with a castle)
The film tells a story of a young woman who leaves her rural home and heads to the city to pursue a career in art. She is a visual artist who falls in love with the city life. She joins a group of other artists who give her the exposure she needs, and introduce her to drugs and other stuff. It wasn’t drugs that sent her back home with a tail between her legs. It was an ancestral calling. She tried to fight it, but we all know how those people can turn your whole life upside down until you pay attention to them – ancestors. Back home she went through the initiation process and came back to the city a new person. A revived artists that broke ground with her work. Homecoming – that was the title. I loved seeing our masterpiece in colour, it almost brought me to tears. All was well but I yearned for Lethabo. I wished she could share that moment with me – to witness the story that brought us together come to life. But that is not what fate had in store for us.
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