Growing up

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Chapter Eleven

That’s all it says... he doesn’t say where he had to go. After reading this lousy note my only wish is to go back to sleep and finish my dream. I lie on my back and put my hand under my head, thinking what I will do next after taking my pills and shower. Ok, I don’t have anything to do. I take a shower, and as I wanted to drink my pills, one of them falls next to the bed. I bend over to pick it up. When I look under the bed I see a silver briefcase. It must be Babalo’s. I take it out and put it on the bed. I call Babalo and tell him that he left his briefcase behind but he tells me to keep it safe; to hide it somewhere safe. He sounds so worried and calls himself stupid for forgetting such an important thing. As I am curious, I ask him what’s inside, but he says if he tells me he would have to kill me, and then he laughs. I can see he is telling the truth; he is faking the laughter. He says I should let nobody touch it, his life depends on it. All his crazy vague answers make me very curious. What the hell is in there? He makes me to promise and swear that I will keep his briefcase safe. Weird.

I take my small sports bag and the silver briefcase and check out from the hotel. I take a taxi to res. I call Mongikazi, but she doesn’t take my calls. I don’t have my room key. When I get to rez I ask the manager for a key and she sends a guy to come with me just to make sure that I will use the key to open my own room. When we get to my room, I find Mongi sleeping. I return the master key and I try to walk quietly. I don’t want to wake her up! I put the briefcase under my bed and put some blankets on top of it.

I make myself a fruit salad and while eating it, I keep playing last night in my head. I take my phone and login on WhatsApp, and check Balo’s number on WhatsApp. My heart jumps when I see that he is online. I check his profile. His status is “my soul loves only you” with arrows pointing to the profile picture, but I can’t see what it is. It must be because we are not friends here, due to the fact that we have never texted. I need to see his profile picture. Truth is I am hoping it’s me but my heart is so scared. I don’t know why. I decide to send him a smiley emoticon. It works - he replies immediately: “Princess.” My heart jumps, but before replying I view his profile picture

While Balo’s profile picture is still loading, he calls. He asks if his briefcase is safe and he promises to come back for it before I know it. “What’s in the briefcase Babalo?” I ask, “It’s my underwear’s love,” he says and he cracks himself up. I keep quiet as I don’t think it’s funny. “What’s funny? Did I crack a joke or you are now that type who laughs at their own cold jokes? I never thought you’d ever lose your sense of humour. I give up,” I say with that evil tone of mine. “Oooops, what have I done princess?” He gives me a very cold response making sure I don’t build an argument. I want him to fight back. I want him to be mad at me. I want us to fight. That’s what people who are madly in love do right? They fight over nothing, that’s why there is something called make-up sex. But Balo is off, he is like a chicken. “I don’t know what you got yourself into, you won’t talk to me. You have forgotten that I have a leverage here - a silver briefcase. You said your life depends on it, so now you want to tell me that your life depends on your underwear?, Don’t make a fool out of me.,” I say aggressively, not begging him.

“I give you only 48 hours to come to PE and explain what’s inside the briefcase and what have you been up to for the past 4 years. What made you so rich or I am taking the briefcase to the police. The fact that you don’t want me to open it and you want me to hide it says a lot. It’s either drugs, dagga, illegally earned money, illegal guns or someone’s body parts,” I add.

“You are kidding, right? You wouldn’t do that, would you? For your sake let’s say it’s one of the things you mentioned. Would you turn me to the police? Aviwe? You, Aviwe turn me to the police?”

He is now cocky. No, I wouldn’t turn him to the police, but I want him to let me in. I want to be a part of him, the fact that he is shutting me out of his life is saddening and it makes me furious. He says he will come back for the briefcase but not for me - it’s like last night never happened. He still talks to me like I am his little sister. I can never be his little sister. We made love so there is no way on earth that he is going to shut me out like this. I will do whatever it takes to make him let me in and this important briefcase is going to work on my advantage. It has to. I am going to blackmail him if I have to. At the end of the day he has to bring his behind in P.E.

While on the phone I hear Mongikazi coughing. I suspect she is awake and I wouldn’t want her to hear this conversation. So I tell Balo to hold on for a minute while I go to the lounge. The lounge is always empty so I will be able to say whatever I want to say. “Would you turn me in Vee?” he asks, sounding serious.

“Ok, since we didn’t talk about what happened during the past 4 year of our lives, you slept with me and then you went away. Let me give you a piece of my soul. Something that I should have given you last night instead of giving you a piece of my body, do you remember Azola? I am sure as hell you do. About a year ago I stabbed him countless times and then I made sure he spends the rest of his life in jail. He is in jail as we speaking. I am not as weak as you think Babalo, so don’t take me for a ride. You definitely don’t know what I am capable of! Don’t test me. To answer your question... no Balo I wouldn’t turn you in but if you keep me in the dark I would and I will. I am not bluffing.”

“Oh wow! I am so impressed with what you have done to free yourself. I really am. You deserve a round of applause but this is a very different situation. Whatever I am today is because of what happened 4 years ago. Don’t you dare threaten me. I am not going to tell you anything. I don’t want you to get involved in this, can’t you see that I am protecting you Aviwe? You must be blind. I want you to be safe and if that means to keep you in the dark I will do it with pleasure. I will be there in about 18 hours, I need you to keep the briefcase safe and by doing that you’ll be keeping the both of us safe. See you princess.”

He hangs up. Who the hell is this guy? I don’t know whether to be happy or sad that he wants to protect me. What does he want to protect me from? Does he really want to protect me or does he just not want to tell me his deep dark secret, even after I told him what I have done to Azola? He kept calm and didn’t tell me anything about himself. Something is so wrong here. My new mission is to crack the code of the briefcase.

I go back to my room, find Mongikazi siting on the bed, watching a movie on her laptop. She pauses the movie and takes off her ear phones.

“The long lost girl is back,” she says with a blank face.

“Hello roomy.”

“You are unbelievable I can’t believe that you got in my ex’s pants right after you slept with me. I actually believed that what we meant something. What am I to you Aviwe? How could you do this to me….?”

“Hold it right there Mongi, what happened between us was a mistake. Something that will never happen again, we were both vulnerable. We were not thinking straight. I am sorry you thought it meant something because it doesn’t. You are my roommate and my friend. That’s it. I don’t want awkward moments.”

“To me, it was not a mistake; given a chance I would do it again. Just like I told you before I fell for you the first day I saw you. But it’s fine.”

“Does that mean we are cool?”

“Totally. I’d rather have you as my friend than not to have you at all.”

We both smile. She comes to my bed with her laptop, sits next to me and we both watch a series - The Originals. One of the things I love about my roommate is that our movie taste is the same. In general our taste is the same. She once loved Balo and I love Balo now!

“Can I ask you something?” I say, breaking the silence.

“Shoot.”

“Aren’t you straight?”

“In terms of?”

“Sexuality. Aren’t you into guys? Or are you bisexual?”

“I am definitely not straight; I have been into girls since forever.”

“You told me you’ve been with more than 20 guys and you were with Babalo. Do clarify!”

“Sure, this is where the story starts. When I was 13 I had a huge crush on this other girl from next door. She was 2 years older than me. To cut the long story short, my mother found us eating the forbidden fruit. My mother looked so disgusted and disappointed in me. They made is her fault since she was older than me. The next morning my mother told her parents what she has seen us doing, so her parents sent her away, I have never seen or heard from her again. She left a void in my heart. I was beaten up to death. My father said he was not beating me but the devil inside me. I was told I was going to be chased away if I ever commit such sin again. My parents told the entire church about my gayness. Pastors came to pray for me every now and then. They told me that a same sex relationship is a sin. That’s when I learned that sins are not the same; there is a scale for sins. How funny! Two years after that saga I dated a preacher’s son. Our relationship was open; it was to impress my parents. I was tired of being treated like a psychopath. The relationship lasted for only 3 months. And that was the longest relationship I had with a guy. He was loving, caring and very handsome but he was just not what I wanted. All I wanted was the girl next door. I spend all these years changing guys like changing panties looking for what I had with the girl next door.

“I never had a connection with any of the guys I have been with. I’ve never had sexual intercourse with any male in my life. Like Balo - he is everything a girl would want from a guy but I just don’t have it for him, he doesn’t make my blood boil. I’ve tried so hard to love him back but I just couldn’t.

“You were the 2nd person I had sex with. The minute I saw you I felt the connection between us, you filled the void in my heart. What I feel for you is something I have never felt for any guy. It’s so strong that it makes me strong and it takes away the fear. I am tired of hiding; I am tired of living a lie. I am sick and tired of living my life for my parents. You give me courage, Vee. If only you could give me a chance to love you. I would be everything you want and even more. Sorry, I didn’t mean to say the last part.”

“It’s okay, I already know how you feel about me. You don’t have to hide anymore. Trust me, you will find a girl that will love you even more. I am sorry you had to live a lie for this long. People shouldn’t be denied a right to love whomever they want.”

I get a text from Babalo: “I hope you have come to your senses, don’t make a stupid move.” I then remember I didn’t see his profile picture as he called just as I was downloading it. I see it’s Mongikazi and the status is changed to: ‘Without you I am incomplete; I miss you my Queen.’ Then he wrote arrows pointing to his profile picture! I become numb; I can see Mongi’s lips move but I don’t hear a word she says.

All I feel is the pain in my chest. It feels like my heart is ripped apart. I take a very deep breath. As hard as it is I try to face and analyse this love triangle, I am in love with Babalo, he ‘seems’ to be in love with Mongikazi and his precious queen is so gay, she is crazy about me. I have never heard such thing in my entire life! I am kind of interested to see how this is going to play out. What do I do in such messed-up situation? Do I fight for someone who is in love with someone else? Do I stick with the person who loves me the most and learn to love her in time?

“I am talking to you! Did you even hear a word I said the past two minutes? What’s wrong?” Mongi says, tapping my shoulder. I feel like I am awaken from an unpleasant dream.

“Sorry. You were saying?”

“I was asking where you know Babalo from. I feel there is a lot between the two of you guys! I am so surprised that he jumped to bed with you just like that. You must have big effect on him. He has been trying to get into my pants over the last 4 years. From what I know I am all he ever desired, I am so surprised about his feelings for you. I would say that I am relieved that there is someone else to keep him busy. The only problem now is that he is messing around with the soul I adore... I don’t want you to get hurt, Vee. I don’t mean to be cocky but I know for a fact that Babalo is crazy about me. I want you to be careful, there is a lot going on in that man’s life.”

“You talk too much. I don’t even know how to respond or what to respond to. What do you mean that there is a lot going on in his life? Balo and I have history, he gave up his life for me. He told me he would do it over and over again. You seem to know less than you think you do.” I say with much confidence.

“He gave up his life for you? This can’t be! Are you... Are you... No, this can’t be! No, it can’t be you!” She the opens her mouth widely, puts her hands on her forehead and shakes her head! Like she is chasing away a bad spirit. “Well, I am listening!” I grow curious every second - what is she talking about? She looks terrified and confused. She closes her eyes, shakes her head and keeps saying: “No, no, no, it can’t; it just can’t be.”

“You are starting to freak me out. What’s the matter?” I ask a little bit freaked out.

“No, it can’t be you. It just can’t!”

“Calm down! Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad?”

Still shaking her head, she says: “Umm, I don’t know how to say this. When you said that Babalo gave up his life for you, you remind me something he once told me about his little sister. But it can’t be you. You said you were adopted?”

This isn’t good. “What exactly did he tell you?”

“No, it’s definitely nothing to do with you. Never mind me. I’m sorry.”

“I do mind and please don’t make me beg.” The worry is written all over my face. Her facial expression changes; she looks deeply in thoughts and shows sympathy.

“He said four years ago his parents died in a car accident and then he went to stay with his godparents. His godparents had two daughters and they favoured the younger one over their first born. He felt so sorry for the ‘hated’ daughter and somehow became closer and closer to her every day. They were like siblings. He stood by her through thick and thin and she was the only person he’d call family. He called her princess. He said his sister was a princess and she deserved far better than what she was getting; she was a good person. Princess was physically abused by her parents and the abuse was damaging her emotionally. Babalo did everything he could to protect Princess but it all blew right in his face. Things went wrong when he came back from school and found Princess being sexual abused by her uncle. The uncle pinned everything to Babalo and the parents chose to believe the uncle over Babalo and Princess. That’s when his future was crashed into ashes. He was taken to Cape Town, left to die in the middle of nowhere but he survived. He is still kicking and he is doing well; he is a definition of a hustler. When you said he gave up his own life for you, you reminded me of Princess. I somehow thought you are his little sister - his Princess. Princess is all he ever talked about from his old life; she is the only person he prayed to see again. This whole thing takes me back to the day you two met again at the boardwalk. The only person he’d cry when meeting, is his Princess. He loves Princess like his own flesh and blood sister but obviously it can’t be you, because you had sex, Babalo would never have sex with Princess because she is his sister.”

“Oh,” is all I manage to say. I have never felt angry in my life. I can’t believe that Babalo told Mongikazi about what happened 4 years ago, but he couldn’t tell me about what happened after that. I feel sick like I am about to throw up. How could he do this to me? It’s common sense that such things are kept a secret; you don’t need to tell someone not to tell people that you have been raped! I know I shouldn’t be ashamed of my past because it was not my fault. But I am ashamed. And it is not his place to go around blabbing about my life. For a moment I feel hate towards Balo. How could he betray me this much? This is changing everything, how the fuck could he? He expects me to keep his secret briefcase when he didn’t keep my secret? How does he expect me to be loyal to him when he betrayed me so much? Does Mongikazi mean that much to him that he would bare his soul to her this much? I am willing to bare my soul to him but he can’t do the same to me. He trusts Mongikazi over me. This is sick..

Ok. Mongikazi doesn’t know that the so-called Princess is me, so I will let it be. I won’t destroy my cover just because of their fairy-tale. As much as I love Babalo, from now on he has to watch his back because I am definitely going to strike back and hit hard.

Finally I find my tongue and say: “Oh God, that’s a very sad touching true story. But I am not Princess, I am Aviwe. Maybe you don’t know Babalo as well as you think you do. He is not into you as much as you think he is. After all - he does keep secrets from you.”

I aim to hurt her feelings. This is strike one. I will do whatever it takes to turn Mongi against Babalo. He is surely into Mongi and he sees me as his little sister. Well, that has to change and it will change. He slept with me once which means he can do it again. And again. Mongi has to believe that Babalo is not into her. He has history with me. On the other side, Babalo has to stop seeing me as his little sister and he has to know that Mongi is not into him; she in love with me. I won’ stop ’till he realises that he has only me by his side.

I convince Mongi that I am not Balo’s sister and I am his first girlfriend. I understand why he never told her about me: he never got over me. I am always going to be his Queen. He was happy to see me because we haven’t seen each other in four years. We lost communication after he went away and that’s why he cried when we met and I fainted. That’s how much we mean to each other, she must stop flattering herself, Balo and I have history.

“Whatever, I don’t even like the dude. Just be careful, I really do care about you.” That’s all she says and then she goes to her side of the room, takes off her clothes, wrap herself with a towel and goes to take a shower.

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