My father’s girlfriend left him. That’s what’s been up. That’s what the phone calls were about. That’s what my mother tells me as we are driving home from the airport.
Honestly, I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about all this. Him moving in with mom. Him leaving us when we needed him most. Him rekindling the ashes for his old flame just a few months after he left us.
And, what am I to make of my mom’s role in all of this? Her being the woman who he left. She being the one who cried all night because the bed was suddenly too big and too cold. My mom. She who found both companionship and comfort in drinking after he had left her.
Why didn’t she let me in in this earlier…? Why did she have to wait for me to get back here so they can pull a surprise on me?
“Because I knew it would upset you and I didn’t want that,” she says without looking at me. “Not when you were so far.” Her eyes are still focused on navigating through Cape Town’s traffic and getting us home, where my father and Sim are waiting for us.
I’m angry. I feel cheated. I feel like I felt that day when they sat us down and told us that they were divorcing. I feel like that child again. Nothing is new about the way I feel. I remember it very well. My heart beating fast…fast…fa…as if it’s going to stop anytime. I feel like a fish that has just been taken out of the sea, desperately gasping for air. My nose is pressed against the window. I’m starring with blurry eyes at things that pass. All sounds are muffed as my mind is taken back to that day he told us that they were leaving each other.
We are sitting at the table. He clears his throat and just like that he breaks the news.
“Don’t be angry at him, Zinzi. He needs you,” my mom’s voice brings me back to the present. It’s the way she says it that bothers me. It’s as if he pities him, as if he’s a golden egg that should be properly cared for lest it falls and breaks. It’s only then that I realise something is going on. That it’s not just the heart break of losing a lover that’s wrong with him.
Something else is up.