This Thing Called Love

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First he sees her car on the driveway and then hears her footsteps approaching the front door. He knows that she has come to confront him. He is ready to pour out his heart to her and ask for forgiveness. Upon opening the door for her, he is confronted by a hysterical, gun-wielding woman; the mother of his son. Grief has transformed her into a raging loony, hell bent on inflicting on him the pain he has caused her and their son. Blinded by rage, she fires a shot that catches him on his knee. She fires another one, but he takes cover and she misses. She is preparing to fire a third one, when he jumps on her and manages to subdue her. They fight for the gun and he ultimately gains control and empties the magazine. Exhausted, she breaks down into his arms and cries a river. She is inconsolable. ‘Why, Victor, why. He is only a child. Why him. Why not only me, Why Victor!’ She keeps on repeating the same question. All he can do is just stroke her and say, ‘I am so sorry Kopanang. I am really sorry. We will work through this together. Please, promise me you will not leave me. I love you.’

***

Kopanang and her younger sister Repaletswe are orphans. They lost both their parents in a bus accident that claimed the lives of nineteen other people ten years ago. They were aged fourteen and sixteen respectively at the time. With no family to take care of them, government had quickly stepped in and made sure they were well provided for. They were academically gifted kids who performed exceptionally well in their studies. Kopanang is an award-winning investigative journalist and little sister Repaletswe, a secondary school teacher. They live in the same city, their houses only separated by a street.  Repaletswe’s boyfriend of five years, Elijah has just proposed. Because they are orphans, the girls agree that there will be no bride price. ‘We were raised by the government,’ they justify their decision. The wedding takes place two months after the proposal. It is a beautiful affair. There is no dry eye as the young couple exchange their vows; painfully aware of the absence of Repaletswe’s parents. Kopanang sheds a tear and continues clicking away at the joyous festivities.

As a journalist, it is only fitting for her to be the official photographer; capturing her baby sister’s beautiful moments. It is while she is busy clicking away that she sees him through the lens of her camera. Her brother in law’s younger brother, Victor. He is the best man. He has just arrived straight from the airport. Their eyes meet briefly; butterflies in her stomach; she flees the room to get a grip on herself. She comes back composed enough to enjoy the ceremony.  Her sister witnesses the whole incident and sternly warns her about her brother in law. ‘I couldn’t help noticing the exchange between you and Victor. Stay away from him, sister.’

‘I will do exactly that dear sis, he is too cute for words. Thank you for always having my back girl, which reminds me, I have accepted that job offer in London. I leave tomorrow night, sis. Pop by my place while on your honeymoon in London.’

‘Great! The further you are away from Victor, the better. I am glad we had that talk and you reconsidered. You deserve it. I have Elijah now, don’t stress about me’.

Kopanang has always wondered about this Victor guy. Like her, he is a globetrotter of some sort.  They have never met before, that is until their siblings’ wedding.

‘Hi, I am Victor and you must be my sister in law, Kopanang. I have heard so much about you, Madam journalist’.

‘So have I,’ replies Kopanang. She wants to add, ‘Mr Heartbreaker’, but decides it will be too direct. The ice is broken. Later at the reception, with alcohol flowing freely, she sees him getting tonsillitis from some inebriated blonde. She dreams about him that night.

***

Kopanang has just arrived from London to attend her sister’s five year wedding anniversary. Victor is also there. The last time they saw each other was at the wedding, those five years ago. The moment their eyes connect at the reception, the five years just melt away. It is very clear that the attraction is still very much there. Her sister witnesses it again. This time around she shrugs her shoulders and says to her husband; ‘she is a thirty-one-year-old adult woman’. Elijah, a man of few words nods his head in agreement. A while later, after a few glasses of champagne, Elijah corners his brother and says, ‘Please, not this one brother, she is family. She is my wife’s sister for goodness sake. Don’t you have any respect?’ Well, Kopanang’s fate is sealed because big brother’s brotherly advice has just made Victor even more determined to capture this prized one. He approaches her.’Care to dance’? No one says no to Victor.

***

Kopanang resigns from her plump job in London and puts up her apartment for sale. She hops on to the next plane back home and begins her life with Victor. ‘How about we move to the I- Towers baby?’ asks Victor one evening as they relax at his house in Mmokolodi Ranch. ‘By all means my love, let’s do it’, replies Kopanang, as she rests her head on Victor’s chest. They move into the upmarket I-Towers the following day; where only the powerful reside, in Gaborone city’s Central Business District(CBD). When they celebrate their six month anniversary, both Elijah and Repaletswe agree that Victor has met his soul-mate in Kopanang. When Kopanang starts showing at seven months, everyone believes that there will soon be a wedding. Two months later she gives birth to a bouncing baby boy and the couple is elated.

‘Besides my sister’s wedding day and her five year anniversary celebrations, these past ten months are the happiest I have ever been in my life, since my parents’ passing’, Kopanang tells her baby daddy, with tears streaming down her eyes. He strokes her lovingly and breaks down crying. Finally he composes himself and says, ‘I am crying because I feel the same way. You have filled a void in my life. I was a bad boy because I was lost, but you found me. Please promise me you will never leave me.’ She says ‘I promise’. Everything is perfect.

Her world comes crashing down the very next day. When the baby was born the previous week, she had said, ‘I just want to be sure that everything is perfect Doctor. Take my blood and my little one’s blood and conduct all the necessary tests. I am going home to take care of my boy. Call me when the results are out’.

She is seated in her Doctor’s surgery, staring at the results, not believing what she is seeing. Not only is she HIV Positive, she has also given her little boy the virus. ‘You don’t understand Doctor. I am negative. When I returned from London ten months ago, I donated my blood just before I got onto the plane. My blood type is a rare one. Blood type O. The most sought after. How can I be positive’. Even as she is asking the question, she knows exactly where she got the virus from; she knows very well who infected her. She looks at her sleeping baby and breaks down in tears.

***

She returns from hospital to find him gone. He has left her a note, asking for forgiveness. ‘Sorry can not even correct the wrongs I have done you and our son. I have known about my status for five years now. It was shortly after I met you at my brother’s wedding. I fell in love with you immediately. When I enquired about your wherabouts I was told you had left the country. I was heart broken. I love you Kopanang. I was too ashamed and too scared of losing you to disclose my status. Now, not only have I infected you, I have also infected our son. Please find it in your heart to forgive me. I love you forever. Victor’.

With tears streaming down her eyes, she quickly punches the combination to his safe. She has seen him punching in the numbers before when he thought she wasn’t looking. She knows them by heart. In there she finds what she is looking for; his gun.’I am going to kill that man. He will pay for what he did to me and every woman out there; more- over, he will pay for what he did to my son.’ She drops off the baby at Victor’s family home and leaves him with his grand parents. Then she drives off to Mmokolodi, gun cocked and ready.

***

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And Then There Was Silence

The smell of mangoes, peaches and guavas and the moan of mating dogs