“I know it’s late and that the day is almost over but would you Valencia do me the honours of being my valentine and date for the remaining part of the evening?” he asked.
Read Part one HERE
“Really?” he enquired, his face and tone disbelieving;
“Yes really, Tumelo”
Both smiling as their skyrocketed heartbeats beat in sync; he took her small hand in his.
Not once had he stopped and wondered if her hand would perfectly fit his like it did or how her petite and curvy form complimented his tall athletic form. No, what enthralled him about her had been her personality of all things.
Despite their messed up school hierarchy and the different group’s dislike towards the others, he had been able to admire her from afar…
He hadn’t stalked her per say; he’d only asked about her once or twice.
Glancing at their intertwined hands and the content look Valencia had on her face, his heart soared with pride;
Which underdog wouldn’t be proud to have scored for himself a complete package like her? Not him?
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Abruptly halting before slapping his forehead in what must have been a remembrance, Valencia quizzically stared at him.
“How can I be so stupid? We can’t return to Thabang’s house” he explained;
“No, we can’t Valencia. For starters, we’re both soaking wet and secondly, it’s pretty late. It’s better if I walked you home” he proceeded to explain.
“Oh? Oh…” she said, understanding flashing through her features.
What did you think, that I would suddenly tell you that I was only joking when I’d said that I felt the same way and laughed at how gullible you were?” he’d meant it as a joke but the way Valencia’s posture stiffened, he knew that the meaning had been lost.
The tension in the atmosphere could be cut with a knife…
“Were you?” she asked in a voice just above a whisper;
“Of course not Valencia. What kind of a person would play such a cruel prank on another person?
I meant every single word I said back there…every single one of them. I know we barely know each other despite having gone to the same school for the past 4 years but I never say what I don’t mean… I’m not that kind of person”
Pulling his Samsung S8 from his back pocket, he dialled the only person he knew would always be willing to help him regardless of what time of the day it was.
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“Bhuti, I need you to come fetch us,” he told the person on the other end of the line;
“Alright, where are you?” his brother asked.
After reciting their exact location, he hung up. “My brother is on his way to come fetch us. In the meantime, why don’t we go stand over there?” he asked pointing towards the barely standing tent Valencia had planned to go to before he held her back.
“Now you realise that were in the middle of the road” she sarcastically countered, coaxing a chuckle out of him;
“Do you blame me? I just found out less than an hour ago that the only girl I’d been crushing on reciprocated my feelings. And because of my idiotic friends’ laughter, she’d misunderstood my shock-stricken face for one concealing laughter and stormed out even before I could fully process just how courageous she’d been to make the first move?”
Biting her bottom lip, Valencia cast her gaze towards the wet pavement and then enquired; “It was quite courageous of me, wasn’t it?” She had no idea just how much that act alone had increased his respect for her.
“It was and I guess you’ll get used to my friends along with their moronic behaviour as time progresses.”
“As time progresses?” she asked just to confirm that she hadn’t misheard him.
“Yes, Valencia, why do you question everything I tell you? Don’t you trust me?” he replied.
“I do trust you; I guess it’s taking much longer than usual for my mind to fathom that this is really happening”
Blinding headlights prohibited him from uttering whichever words he’d intended to say. Soon, the familiar Ford Fortuner stopped a few metres from them.
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“Are you now ready to come back home to fulfil your husband duties? Or you’re still fooling naive girls like that one standing next to you that you’re just a normal teenager still learning what responsibilities mean?” Nomvula asked, her face and tone unmistakably smug.
“Nomvula…” he said at the same time Valencia had said “Tumelo”
“What’s going on?” Valencia proceeded when he’d held back on lashing at the girl standing a few metres from their standing forms.
“Yeah, Fred or Tumelo as you so claim to be; what’s going on? Are you going to tell your little play-thing or do you want me to do the honours?” Nomvula self-assuredly asked;
How on Earth had they been able to trace him? He could have sworn that he’d erased every trace that would lead them to where he was?
Nomvula must have mistaken his silence for an opportunity to allow her to proceed to answer Valencia’s question.
“What’s going on right here is that this lying and conniving scumbag standing next to you is my husband. We got married a year and a half ago. But because he couldn’t accept his fate for some reason known to him, he left without a word two months ago. It only came to my notice a few days ago that he’d even changed his name” Nomvula spoke, her hateful gaze solely on him.
“Is this true Tumelo?” a teary-eyed Valencia asked. Judging by the broken look on her face, his explanation would have gone out from one ear to another.
“Listen Valencia, it’s not what it looks-” he began to explain when a car screeched to a halt right next to the Ford Fortuner.
“Alright, I think I’ve given you two enough time to act all lovey-dovey. Fred, it’s time to go”
“Bu-bu-but…” he began to stutter out a protest;
“I’ll take her home,” Bhuti told him as the two bulky men Nomvula had come with began to drag him towards the Ford.
Glancing at Valencia, tears freely fell down her cheeks. Every emotion was transparent through the windows to her soul;
Hurt but mostly…
That was how long he’d last seen or heard of her. What had supposedly been the best night of his life turned out to be his worst too.
He didn’t get a chance to hug her and rest his chin on top of her head in contempt.
He didn’t get a chance to finally ask her out on an official date where he’d constantly glance at her without him feeling guilty for staring at her without acknowledgement.
And he didn’t get a chance to ask for her numbers; he didn’t get a chance to smile every time her name popped on his phone screen with her text.
Instead, he relied on his brother’s bi-weekly visit to learn of her wellbeing.
“How is she?” turned out to be the first words he’d say to his brother as soon as he was close to eye-shot. Even that wasn’t enough…
He had to explain things to her and the disgust he’d seen in her eyes when Nomvula’s bodyguards had dragged him to her car was etched to his brain;
It deprived him of sleep at night…
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“You have to release me” he weakly told his capturer;
“Is that a demand I hear from you?” she spat, her forever hateful gaze directed at him. “Pass me on this dear Tumelo; do you think you’re in a position to make demands here?”
“I’m innocent and you know it,” he told her; the chains around his bruised wrists acting as a reminder of where he was. An empty large windowless warehouse, that was where.
“Well you’re his brother and according to the Sotho custom, if one’s husband dies then his younger brother is to replace him”
“And which part of that involves doing so forcefully?” he asked after swallowing.
“None but then again I’ve always been fond of breaking rules” she provided with a nonchalant shrug.
“I hate-” a sting on his left cheek notified him that she had just slapped him.
“You’re beginning to get on my nerves. If I were you I’d refrain from doing so.”
“What do you want from me huh? We both know you have no interest in me whatsoever and Fred isn’t dead yet” he said.
He had relentlessly asked the very same question every single day over the past two months and he’d gotten the same response he was sure she’d soon utter.
“I told you… until that coward decides to crawl out of his hiding place, I’ll keep you as ransom. You’re the golden child after all; your parents’ pride and joy…” she said. “Too bad you’ve got a family of cowards or this would have been more fun.” And with that, she left.
What fun was it to keep a person chained to a metal chair in the middle of a freezing cold windowless warehouse?
Again, he awoke to the dark and cold warehouse…
Thoughts of Valencia’s confession running through his mind.
If only he could go back on the promise he’d made to Fred and tell Nomvula what she’d demanded from him.
If only he could escape and find his way back home;
He knew they had left the Free State as soon as he’d heard some of Nomvula’s men conversing the other day.
They conversed in Zulu and judging by the way the car had headed down South instead of up North, his blindfolded-self concluded that they’d gone to Kwa Zulu Natal instead of the infamous Gauteng province.
If only Bhuti could agree to help him deliver a message to Valencia;
He wouldn’t ask her to wait for him or respond to his letter for that matter; he just wanted for her to read his explanation…; nothing more.
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Whispers were what followed her everywhere she went to school. And despite the matter been approximately 2 months plus, they hadn’t stopped. She wished they would stop already…
She hated Tumelo; with every single piece of her, she despised him.
Couldn’t he have listened and laughed at her instead? Was there a need for him to follow her out and confess his non-existent feelings for her? What did he take her for, a home wrecker? he must have clearly thought she was, seeing how he’d assumed she’d listen to every word that came out of his mouth after what that Nomvula girl had told her.
“Will you snap out of it already Choma? You’ve thought enough about that scumbag for way too long and it’s beginning to irritate me. Move on and ignore the whispers for Pete’s sake; what harm will it do to do so?” Refiloe said, snapping her fingers in front of Valencia’s face.
“You’re one to talk” she mumbled earning herself a deep sigh from her friend.
“I’ve apologised Valencia; a million times already. How was I to know that he was married and running away from his responsibilities? I was only looking out for you” Refiloe exasperatedly told her.
“I know and I’m sorry for being hard on you. It’s about time I consider homeschooling if this doesn’t stop anytime soon.”
“No, you won’t. You don’t run away from your problems Valencia; you face them.”
That was true, but who would persevere to being gossiped about and laughed at every single day.
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“Please Bhuti, just this once” Tumelo begged;
He’d asked Bhuti to bring him a notebook and pen on his last visit claiming that he’d needed something to pass his days with.
Reluctantly so, his brother had agreed.
Some days he wondered why Nomvula wouldn’t see just how head-over-hills Bhuti was with her when he’d done everything possible to show her that he was…
He even told Nomvula where Tumelo was that night… talk about betrayal at its best.
It stung that he did but because he had no one else but him, he pushed every thought that involved Bhuti’s betrayal to the back of his mind.
“What if she sees it?”
“Are you seriously asking me that question right now? All you have to do is neatly fold this letter and tuck it inside your socks… Surely she wouldn’t search your socks, would she?” he asked, inwardly biting his cheek hoping he’d agree.
“Please, Bhuti. I won’t ask anything else from you?” he begged;
Bhuti was reconsidering; all the tell-tale signs were there…
His concentrated and frowning face, clenching jaw and tightened fists on the sides.
After a moments’ silence;
“Fine I’ll do it”
And his heart leapt with joy.
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I can never forget the day you confessed your feelings for me and the few minutes we’d spent together before everything went haywire;
As much as I would love to ensure you that my heart only beats for you and that my thoughts only consist of you and your beautiful smile, that isn’t the reason I’d written this letter.
If you’ve reached this point without tearing this letter into pieces, I ask for you to please refrain from doing so until you’ve read the rest of the letter.
Fred, my other and oldest brother was betrothed to Nomvula since birth… I only learnt that much from him before he’d told me he’d found the love of his life and that it wasn’t Nomvula. He feared that she’d hurt my family if he told her and ran away with his girlfriend leaving me to take up the responsibilities;
Nomvula and I are in no way married and she has no intention of getting married to me or Bhuti… As a matter of fact, I highly doubt she’s still interested in marrying Fred at this point. She’s just a lover scorned I think.
Anyway, I know that you’re going through hell at school; everyone either whispering about you or laughing at you. And I wish to apologise for that…
I truly wish I could come and set the record straight with every single piece of me but I can’t…
And then she tore the letter into pieces, unable to read any further.
The kidnapper (Nomvula) was bethroted to Fred (Tumelo’s older brother). Fred ran away with another girl even before he could be force to marry Nomvula.
Now, Tumelo being the younger brother has to take over his big brother’s responsibilities according to Sotho custom. Sotho is one of South Africa’s tribes. Originally, that custom is followed when the hsuband dies. But seeing how Fred ran away, Nomvula, being a big bully, is keeping Tumelo as ransom.
Story By: Refiloe Dimakatso Madamfifi
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