Bhekani sends R3 000 to his mother. He gives Sbongile R10 000 for a deposit for the new sofas. He buys a few winter clothes for his children and is left with R1 000 for petrol. He breathes a sigh of relief after doing this.
For a few days his life is stress free; no-one asks him for money. He is smiling while cuddling in bed with Sbongile.
“Thank you, Bhekani. The sofas are beautiful, my love. They are genuine leather. You’ll see them when they are delivered tomorrow. I’m so happy that you contributed something to the household this month. It shows me that we are a true partnership in this marriage,” says Sbongile, running her hands on Bhekani’s chest.
“You don’t have to thank me for doing my duty. It’s my job as your husband to take care of our home. I should be doing much more, but I fail. I’m sorry for not being the man I should be to you and the kids,” says Bhekani.
“But you are going in the right direction now. You will steadily get there in the end.”
“Thank you for being so patient with me.”
“Next month you have to buy more clothes for the kids and add to the groceries. I want to add more to the instalment for the sofas so that we pay them up quickly. I will need you to play your part.”
“I’ll play my part, my love. Don’t worry.”
“The kids were so happy when you took them shopping. They value the time you spent with them. Please keep it this way, because they love you,” says Sbongile.
“I promise I will be around more. I will play a more active part in their lives,” Bhekani says and runs his hands through Sbongile’s hair.
The weekend is over in a heartbeat. Today is Monday, and Bhekani has to start thinking about how he will pay back Bra Shakes on Friday. His plan is to borrow money from two colleagues, and from four friends from university.
If they can each give me R2 500 that will be enough to make R15 000. I’ll pay them back when I get paid, he thinks. He lets out a sigh of relief as he drives to school. But in the school parking lot it hits him: he has forgotten to add the 30% interest he has to pay back to Bra Shakes!
“Eish – 30% of R15 000 is R4 500!” He bangs his hands on the steering wheel of his car.
Bhekani scrolls his cellphone for a few minutes in the parking lot, searching for people who can lend him R4 500. He frantically scrolls again and again, but realises that no-one on his contact list can lend him this amount.
His mind is not really on the job as he teaches morning classes. At break time he takes his lunch box and heads to Mr Zungu’s classroom. He is not aware that distress is heavy on his face as he enters Zungu’s classroom.
“Why do you look so worried Bhekani? What’s going on?” says Zungu.
“I am drowning, my brother. I’m being swept away in a raging river and I can’t find a tree branch to hang on to. I’m trying to grab on to something, anything, but I’m finding slippery, wet grass. I try to hold on but the grass rips right out of the ground,” says Bhekani, shaking his head.
“Is it that bad?” says Zungu.
“It’s that bad, my brother.”
“Is your marriage in trouble? Have you strayed and got caught? What have you done?”
“No, it’s nothing like that. It’s not what you think.”
“Then what is it?”
“I need money desperately.”
“But we just got paid a few days ago, Bhekani.”
“It’s tough, my brother. I need R15 000 by Friday.”
“So much money?” says Zungu.
“Please lend me the money, my brother. I’ll pay you back on payday,” Bhekani pleads.
“It would have been better if you told me on Friday, before I locked my money into a 32 day notice account so I can’t waste it,” says Zungu.
“How about the money you won from Worldbet?”
“I deposit all of it into the 32 day notice account so I can save it.”
“I hear you, my brother,” Bhekani says and scratches his head.
Bhekani has no luck finding the money from all of the people he planned to ask. He tosses and turns in bed, hardly sleeping on most nights as the days pass. On Wednesday and Thursday he doesn’t sleep at all, spending the whole night watching TV.
On Friday morning Sbongile has a chat with her friend and colleague, Nobuhle.
“Bhekani has changed in these past few days. I’m suspecting he is having an affair,” says Sbongile.
“What makes you say that?” asks Nobuhle.
“He is just aloof. He hardly speaks to me and the kids. He wakes up in the middle of the night and goes to sleep on the couch.”
“So you think that’s a sign of having an affair?”
“What else could it be?”
“It’s just so unlike Bhekani. Maybe he has another problem and he is afraid to tell you. You need to sit down with him and ask him what is going on before jumping to conclusions,” says Nobuhle.
At the same time that Sbongile is talking to Nobuhle, Bhekani is in front of a pawn shop in Pinetown. He bought the cellphone he is holding in his hand for R12 000 a few months ago.
Surely I can get R6 000 for the cellphone. That should be enough to keep Bra Shakes from taking my furniture and appliances, he thinks.
He enters the pawn shop and shows them the cellphone. The owner studies it. “The cellphone is in good shape. I can give you R2 500 for it,” he says.
Bhekani can feel his knees shaking. He can hear his voice is shaking too when he says, “But I bought it for R12 000.”
“R2 500 is the best I can do for you,” says the owner of the pawn shop.
“Okay, I’ll take R2 500,” says Bhekani.
Tell us: Can you see a way out for Bhekani? What should he do?