It was 4 o’clock and the tavern was crowded already. People were celebrating the Springbok win against England in the Rugby World Cup Final. There was also a big match between the two Soweto teams.
“Babes let me go and watch the soccer game. I’ll buy you that pregnancy test tomorrow. Phela today it’s a big day. The Springboks won and it’s do or die for Lekhosi. My favourite team.” Peter was half naked, brushing his teeth.
“Okay! But just know that you’re going to lose. There is no way that you can beat us. Bhakabhaka will show you flames today,” Mathaba joked, as she ironed Peter’s gold and black soccer shirt.
“Agh! I forget gore wena you are a Pirates fan. What a waste. A beautiful lady like you should be a Chiefs fan, maan.” Peter turned to Mathabo and kissed her on the cheek as he took his shirt.
They headed to the tavern, where Mathabo drank a juice while her boyfriend was having beer. She didn’t want alcohol because the exams were starting the following week – not because she suspected she might be pregnant.
But the thought made her heart skip a beat every time it crossed her mind. What should she do if she was indeed pregnant? Keep it and please her boyfriend, or terminate it and avoid been a teenage mom, as her mother wished? Surely, that would be the most difficult decision of her life. One way or another, she was going to hurt someone.
Buried in her thoughts, she didn’t realise that Chiefs had just scored a second goal. The eruption of loud noise brought her back to the world, got on her nerves, and so she decided to go to the entertainment room.
There, Mathabo found her friends, Lebo and Joyce, chatting as they drank their ciders. The two offered Mathabo a cider but she refused.
“What’s up with you, girl? Nowadays you do everything to avoid alcohol. What’s wrong? O imile na? Are you pregnant, mogirl?” Lebo said, jokingly.
“What? Pregnant? Who will impregnate her wena Lebo?”
Lebo stared at Joyce with a frown. “What do you mean? Mathabo has a boyfriend. FYI … leguy la go mo rata ka pelo ya lona ka moka, sesi!”
“I know she has a boyfriend who loves her a lot. But I don’t think she is stupid enough to sleep with him without a condom. I mean … come on. Not after what he did.”
The two other girls gazed at Joyce, who shrugged and frowned as she said, “Come on girls. We all know that he cheated with Kedibone. That’s not a secret.” She paused, sipping her drink innocently. “Who will now be that stupid to sleep with him without protection?”
“What are you trying to say wena, Joyce?” Mathabo stood up, her hands on her hips. “Yes! He cheated once and I forgave him. So what?”
“Joo! Sorry mogirl. I wasn’t fighting. I just thought maybe you know.”
“Ke a tseba? Ke tseba eng?”
“Come on, Mathabo. Everybody knows that Kedibone is HIV positive. It’s obvious that …”
“What? She is HIV positive?” Mathabo was shocked. She turned and looked at Lebo. “Tell me Lebo. Is this true?”
Lebo cast her gaze onto her hands, playing with her cider bottle.
“It’s not a secret Mathabo. I thought you knew. Otherwise I would have warned you long ago. If it’s true that you are pregnant, I think you should just go to the clinic and get tested. From what I heard, that girl doesn’t want to use condoms. People gossip she is on a mission to infect more people.”
Mathabo felt numb. It was as if she had been struck by a lightning. What had she done to herself? All this time she was fighting for a man, giving her body to him to ensure that she kept him. Yet, forgetting about the consequences of the love she was determined to give him.
Being pregnant was one thing, she thought, tears in her eyes, but being HIV meant the end of her dreams. It meant … death. She felt defeated.
She was nothing but an embarrassment to her mother! Was she? Anger warmed her heart as she remembered how her life had started taking this dangerous turn. All because of her parents’ fighting! They were the ones who brought the horrible virus to her, she concluded.
This didn’t help her know what to do next. Should she confront Peter and ask him if he used a condom with that girl? She stepped back outside the room and stood glaring at Peter, who was laughing and clapping, enjoying the game, among a singing crowd.
She fumed like an angry ox when she saw the joy in his eyes as he turned and beckoned her. Wordless, she stormed out of the tavern and ran for home like a mad woman. Those who saw her thought she was possessed by demons, or perhaps had just escaped from the hands of the kidnappers.
Shocked, Peter ran after her, calling, but she never answered. She ran faster, tearfully. Then she fell.
“Babe, what’s wrong? What happened?” Peter was kneeling beside her, trying to help her up.
Mathabo frowned, anger mounting. She couldn’t bear the sight of him. “Leave me alone! Go to that pig of yours,” she screamed and burst into tears.
Peter held her tight. “People are watching, babes. Please, let’s go back and speak. Please,” he begged, rubbing at her tears.
Mathabo glared at him, snorting. She didn’t care about the people who were gathered there. “Why Peter? How could you do this to me? I trusted you and you brought this to me? I thought you loved me.”
“Yes, I do baby. How can you doubt that?”
Mathabo fled. She couldn’t listen to that man anymore. He was nothing but a cruel-hearted animal who didn’t care about anyone but himself, and she wanted nothing to do with him – or any boy – anymore.
Tell us what you think: In a case like this, whose responsibility is it to protect against HIV infection?