The instant I laid eyes on that boy, I knew I’d found my soulmate, and so our journey began….
As the traditional Xhosa rituals take place and I sit with this thick blanket across my frail shoulders, I reminisce on you, my love. Our story deserves to be told, and I will be the one to impart it, before I leave.
Thabo and I met in a bit of a haze. Both being first-year Law students, we spent our first day at University busily clocking into our res rooms, signing into classes and having a very monotonous University Orientation presented by one Cheryl Barnes, a third-year Law student with thick black glasses and matted curly hair that clung to her scalp like a bird’s-nest.
He never saw me in the hallway, but I suspect that I must have been staring because, about a minute later, I noticed him tilting his head to smile at me, before tipping his hat and curtseying in a cheesy way, a gesture that I knew not then, would be the makings of our friendship.
My name is Rani by the way, and as the name implies, I am Hindu.
I grew up in a very traditional Indian home, in which Hindi values and morals were drilled into my siblings and I, Nazi-Germany style. My studying Law was thus not of my own choosing, but rather my parent’s final attempt to cage my rebellious spirit and sing my praises to the always-envious, always-gossiping, neighbours.
I had always wanted to study Drama: becoming Lady Macbeth and Abigail Williams on stage always aroused an inner strength and fervour in me that I never even knew existed, the arts serving as a catalyst of love in an otherwise tedious world which was slowly suffocating me.
From there on out, I had a plan, I was going to continue in my day to day routine, graduate with honours and then pursue my dream of becoming a Goddess of The Arts. Thabo was going to be a distraction, one I was dead-set on ignoring at all costs.
I have always had a small group of friends, you know, the people crazy enough to put up with my stubborn personality and general cantankerous disposition, but this year was different. As much as it chagrined me to the core, the people in my class actually seemed to like me. No matter how many times I snapped at them and all but told them to go and kill themselves, they still kept coming back for more, foolishly mistaking my macabre personality for witty banter.
All but one seemed to be drawn into my charm.
I would often see Thabo in the hallways, surrounded by a bunch of sultry African beauties, all of whom would later form the entourage to our wedding procession.
My days continued in tedious contention; getting A’s in tests and haranguing my classmates no longer gave me the high it once did. I had two options: I could either get laid, or start smoking dope.
Then one day, after I had given up all hope of ever being noticed by this African James Bond, Thabo spoke to me, and the words that came out of his mouth were the most magical I’d ever heard in all my life. He came to me with eyes of dark chocolate and said: ‘You have very interrogative eyes, are you always this angry?’ Okay, so it wasn’t the Romeo and Juliet balcony scene in which he declared his undying love and devotion to me and vowed to eternally worship the ground upon which I tread, but still. More than anything else, I was awe-struck at how someone who didn’t even know me could make such a candid observation about the persona that I projected with my actions, and from that moment on, a great friendship ensued.
We would spend hours upon hours gossiping about quirky characters in our class, violently throwing our heads back as we laughed and jeered at the stupid questions they would pose to lecturers and the long-winded manner in which they would pose them.
We had found mutual insanity in each other, and just being together made us jovial in a way that it seemed nothing else could.
Our friendship was marvelling-not only to us, but to those around us as well-in that our personalities were so immensely different, that finding a common ground seemed near impossible at times. Thabo would speak to me about Dr. Dre and Eminen whilst I rolled my eyes and soliloquised about John Keats and Sir Walter Scott, chiding him about not having enough ‘Old-World’ knowledge.
In short: we were happy.
Our mismatched friendship proved to be very useful to both of us, as both Academics and Writers, and actually expanded our overall experience and knowledge about the world in which we lived. He was the guy I’d run to when I was forlorn, the person who I was effortlessly able to wrap around my little finger and with whom I wanted to share absolutely everything!
But he still didn’t know that I was in love with him.
One day, as we were walking about in the shopping mall, he confessed to me that there was a woman that he had feelings for and that said woman was actually someone he was studying with. Needless to say that, immediately after he uttered those words, my heart began to slowly melt inside my chest…..but then came the next sentence. ‘Rani, I really like Lelo, what should I do?’ Before I could even respond to this atrocious statement, he went on to recite an entire monologue about how he’d really have liked to sleep with her. The worst part was; she was so nice that I couldn’t hate her even if I tried.
After that fateful day, I decided to distance myself from Thabo and avoided him like the plague. I couldn’t pretend not to feel anything for him, not when my heart ached each and every time I looked into his eyes.
I was miserable.
For weeks upon weeks he had been trying to communicate with me, to no avail-my obstinance preventing me from declaring what the truth actually was. Until one day he cornered me outside the library to ask what the matter was. ‘Rani, I know I did something wrong, why won’t you speak to me?’ I shifted from foot to foot, tears streaking my freckle-covered face, my cheeks burning with anger. ‘I love you Thabo!’ I screamed, causing several curious eyes to look at the scene that was unravelling. ‘I have always loved you. I have always been here. What does Lelo have that I don’t?’ I was on a roll now. If I was going to make an ass out of myself, I was going to damn-well do it properly! Before he could say a word, I marched off, leaving him wide-mouthed and bewildered as it began to rain.
After about a week of my avoiding his calls, Thabo eventually came knocking at the door of my room at res and-with much resentment-I opened and let the man speak, upon which he told me that he loved me and had considered dating me, but was afraid that I wouldn’t be open to the idea because of our cultural differences. I then proceeded to let my hair out of the bun it had been in and allowed my frizzy locks to fall across my face and shoulders in order to hide my tears.
Thabo then swiftly walked across the room, grabbed me lasciviously and held me in his arms before kissing me deeply. And that was just the beginning.
Needless to say that there were numerous other obstacles we had to overcome in order to fight for and maintain our love, but we both made an effort to learn about the other’s customs and traditions, which was quite exciting at times. Sadly to this day, I still can’t make Mngqusho (traditional African dish).
Many people were also extremely judgemental about our relationship and felt that we were both ‘selling out’ by persuing interracial relations with each other. My father was particularly vocal about the entire issue and on more than one occasion forced me to choose between Thabo and my relationship with the family, which broke my heart.
Thabo of course approached the situation with more humour than scorn and, any time anybody stared at us, he grabbed my butt and kissed me violently.
Two years later, he asked me to marry him…..and I said yes.
This was seen as an act of defiance on our part and not simply an expression of love between two people, but we didn’t care. The reproach of others no longer bothered us because we had each other.
I decided to invite all the people who were dogmatic and sceptical about our relationship to share our special day with us, in love and harmony.
We would go on to first have our traditional Xhosa wedding, and the Hindi wedding ceremony was to take place the month after we returned from Phuket.
Why did I insist that we go on that helicopter ride? Thabo was always trying to make me happy, maybe if I hadn’t been as demanding as I was, he’d still be with me today.
I don’t remember how the crash happened. I only remember doctors and nurses pushing me on a gurney, I only remember my dad telling me that Thabo was gone. ‘Gone where?’ I asked, oblivious to the gravity of the situation.
Why couldn’t I have died with you, my angel?
My soul aches for you. I long for your laughter and the way your strong arms always embraced me. I miss your beard and how you always rubbed your stubble against my neck and cheeks to make me scrunch my nose with mock annoyance.
Nobody will miss me when I go.
Nobody really cared did they? And when they find my ‘By the time you read this, I would already have gone’ note, I will once again be reunited with you. And with this dagger firmly in hand, I take the final step. With hand on heart, I call to you.