THE ONE

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KHATHUTSHELO

You know what hurts the most? The fact that I have been the only man beside her for so long. I did the things I never thought I was capable of. I risked my job, lost it and became jobless because she came first. Because she is the woman I wanted to be with, for the rest of my life. I changed her sanitary pads like it was normal to do so. I loved her, whole heartedly and now that there is hope, she tosses me aside?
Fck it!
I thought I was doing everything right. I thought I was paving a way to our future but from where I am standing, I was just wasting my time.
It has been a week since she left. I was furious to even see her away. I was not thrilled to hear from her when her mother called, but I appreciate the efforts.
I have been in hell since she left. I don’t feel like doing anything. I feel like shit and cannot have anything done. For some reason, I feel like a loser. I don’t know if it is because my loyalty has been shoved in the bin?
What ever it is! It sucks.
Fukc it!
I need to pick myself up and go pick my daughter up for a week. Lufuno is right, I have been neglecting her a bit and it was all because I was working on my family- Lufuno, to be exact. I video call Michlle when I can but I agree, that is not enough.
“Good evening Julia….” I say when she picks her phone.
“Oh, you remembered you have a daughter?” she says without greeting back. If I didn’t know better, I would try to explain myself but I know it will just be a waste of time. She doesn’t care about what my reasons are.
“May I please speak to Michelle?” I make my request.
“She is already in bed.”
“Can you please drop her here after school tomorrow? I need to spend some time with her.”
“She has to prepare for a daddy’s camp which is coming up in two days.”
“What?” Why don’t I know about this daddy’s camp?
“She has to….”
“I heard you but what camp is this you are talking about?”
“Camping with the fathers.”
I snort.
I cannot believe my daughter is going to a daddy’s camp without me.
“Where is she going and for how long?”
“Two weeks.”
“What the fck Julia? Why didn’t you tell me about this?”
“Because you are too busy to read your emails.”
“I cannot allow my daughter to go on a camp for two weeks with anybody else but me.”
“Then you can step into your shoes Khathutshelo…my husband was just doing you a favour.”
“Look, fine…I will go through the email and I will pay you back all your money. I am going to the camp with my daughter.”
“Sure!”
I hang up and pick my laptop from the table. She did email me the invitation to daddy’s camp. But two weeks? So all these father do not have work to do?
Tjeeerrr! 30K for camping? Just camping? Parenthood diaries.
The trip is in three days and thank God I don’t have Mr Mkhize to deal with. I just need to wrap up my work and take this time off. I think this trip will be good for me and my daughter.

****

My daughter is delighted to be sitting next to me, on our way to Kwazulu Natal. This is my very first camp ever, and I hope I don’t live to embarrass my daughter when I cannot make a tent. I can put on fire anyday and I can carry a bucket of water on my head without supporting it with my hands, but don’t give me a tent to assemble because I have never done it before.
“Daddy…we are going to play fun fun games,” Michelle says and lick her lolly pop. She is her bubbly self and I am glad she hasn’t told me anything about me neglecting her these past months. She is nothing like her mother and I pray she never turns into a bitter woman like her very own mother.
“Do you know how to make a fire?”
“Uhmmmm…papa once taught me buuuttt the wind blew it off again,” she shyly says.
“I will show you how to make a perfect fire.”
“Do you make it as perfect as granny?” she asks and I nod. She just reminded me of my mother. At this point, I don’t need to talk to her about anything because she will tell me, she told me so. She will tell me how ungrateful Lufuno is for leaving me behind.
Lufuno Mudau neh? The more I think about her, the more I miss her.
“Daddy…are you and Aunty Lufuno coming to watch my concert when the school closes?” she asks happily.
“Ofcourse!” I say. I pray that Lufuno will be fine when she returns.
Fuck it! I need to talk to her. I need to see her. Call me stupid, but Lufuno turns my world upside down and she is the only woman who is allowed to do so.
I am calling the hospital, first thing when we get out of this bus.
“Daddy can I play a game on your phone?” Michelle asks.
“Sure,” I plug the power-bank on the phone and pass it to her. I need to nap a bit too.
Few minutes into a bumpy road, we arrive to the camp site. This place is literally out of nowhere. out of no where – meaning you wouldn’t survive by yourself around here.
This is going to be a longest day or longest two weeks to be precise.
The bus parks under the shade and a que of camp masters are standing outside, waiting for us.
The kids are excited and the parents – not so much.
We step out of the bus and get ready to be instructed to do.
“Welcome to Brave Lion’s Camping Site. My name is Thomas and I am your master for the two weeks. You are each receiving a sling bag to put all your belongings, engrave your name and give back the bag to the instructor standing next to you,” this white guy yells from the top of his lungs. “All you laptops, your cellphones, your expensive watches and all gadgets, please throw them in special bag and give it back to the instructor standing close to you.”
What do they mean?
“Uhm, if I may ask? When do we get access to our belonging?” I ask. A lot of people seem to be without gadgets except a few of us.
“Until you leave.”
“In two weeks?” Are you crazy?” I ask with a laugh but no one laughs back. I look down on Michelle and she has her eyes on her the group.
Oh! Am I embarrassing her?
“No. You are here to bond with your child. No tv, no computer, no phone…nothing.”
To avoid embarrassing my daughter, I give the young boy standing next to me with a bag.
Dammit!
My heart is throbbing. I need to speak to Lufuno so bad. I needed to call and apologise for being a jerk these past days.
“Daddy you said you want to be here,” Michelle whispers to me.
“Yes baby…there is no place I rather be than here with you.”
That was partially true. I am thinking so badly about Lufuno and knowing that I will only speak to her in two weeks make me want to puke.
“Everybody…this way please,” the camp master yell and we follow behind him. Kids are excited, the fathers no so much and I feel like a wreck.
GODDAMIT! Two weeks is so long when you are leaving in the bushes. The father’s had to sleep in the tents we all made with the help of our children and our children slept in the camp rooms. We did daily challenges, Michelle and I won a few and I saw pride in my daughter’s eyes. I made it up to her – all the weeks and months that I was focusing on my and Lufuno’s life – I made it all up to her and all I need to do is to maintain this strongest bond. i know what makes her happy. Having me around makes her feel proud and happy. I like how matured she is. How she explains perfectly the difference between her daddy and papa. I am glad between the two of us, I was the one to share the camping experience with her.
Camping again? I wouldn’t dare unless I am forced. Maybe I will do this with Kgosi someday, or with both of my children. It helps to put them first without the distraction of the mall or a soccer match or anything other things.
I couldn’t be so happier to be receiving my gadgets back.
My phone is not dead! It was attached to the power bank and was not in use.
Twenty-seven missed calls? Fkc!
Half of these are from an international line and some are from Gean, my mother and Julia.
I call Gean first. She might have been looking for me to leave over eight missed calls.
“Hi, Khathu…” Gean says breathlessly.
“Hey, are you okay?” I ask. I am anxious to know the news she had for me.
“Where have you been? We have been looking for you.”
“Some school camp with my daughter. Whats up?”
“Lufuno wanted me to book you in so that you could come see her…after the surgery.”
“How is she?” I am losing my breath. I hope she is well and fine.
“She is okay. She can see now,” she says and I widen my smile. My Lufuno.
Thank God!
“Is she back? I am on my way back to Centurion.”
“She is not yet back…uhm…look Khathu…I have to go,” she says and hangs up.
Did I say something wrong? Maybe she is busy. Running Lufuno’s empire cannot be so simple, I understand.
The ride back to Gauteng was the longest. I couldn’t wait to check my emails, hopefully Lufuno sent me an email. Even if she didn’t, I know she needs to fully recover before flying back.
“Daddy, are you going to cook me spaghetti and mince?” Michelle asks just when we step out of the Uber. It is a Friday and she is spending a Saturday with me before going back home.
“Yes, first you need to take a shower then eat, right?”
“Yes,” she says happily. I think she has forgiven me for neglecting her once. It did happen once, and it is never going to happy again.
She drops her bag and hurry to the bathroom to take a shower. If it was another day, I would be yelling for her to pick the bags to her room but today she needs to rest.
I quickly defrost the mince while cooking the spaghetti. I need to prepare her a quick shower before I can relax too. I am almost done with the mince meat when she walks to the living room with a fleece blanket. She curls on the couch with a remote.
“What are you watching?” I ask from the kitchen. “You need an early night tonight.”
“Fashion TV… Paula and I are going to be fashion designers when we grow up.”
How old is she again? She never seize to surprise me.
I am trying to finish this supper as quick as I can, so that we can both go to our rooms. I need to speak to Lufuno and I need to find out when is she coming back to South Africa. I owe her a good time. I feel like we have been through a lot, we deserve a retreat like the one I just had with Michelle.
“Daddy…aunty Lufuno looks beautiful…so beautiful…” Michelle yells from the living room.
Huh?
“What my baby?”
“Aunty Lufuno looks very beautiful,” she says again.
I wipe my hands with a kitchen cloth and walk to the living room. I didn’t know any of her advertises are running on TV. It has been a while since that.
“Where did you see her?”
“Here!” she points at the TV. I didn’t know Fashion channel has local adverts. All I see is people walking on the runaway.
She picks the remote and rewind for a few seconds.
Yes! That is Lufuno sitting on the first row, wearing her perfect smile.
I pull the remote from her tiny hands and rewind some more.
It is Lufuno, seated on the front seat, happily clapping her hands as the models walk down the runaway.
“she is beautiful daddy…”
“Wait a minute baby,” I say while rewinding once again.
Is that who I think it is?
Is that her ex-boyfriend walking the runaway, shirtless and she, Lufuno – my so-called fiancée, is laughing and clapping at him? HIM???
The dude who messed our lives?
HIM????
What the fuck!!!!
What the fuck Lufuno????