Baska frowned as he walked home from Mrova taxi rank, the shouts and smell of petrol fading behind him. His feet were tired after the long day and his stomach growled, and his head ached from worry. He was thinking of the news Zanele had told him that morning. She had called him early, asking him to come by her place before work.
“Honey,” Zanele had said after he’d kissed her and they’d seated themselves on her bed, “I’m pregnant.” Baska felt like the blood drained out of his head and all his thoughts with them. Then he saw how anxious Zanele looked, her hands trembling and her brown eyes wide.
“Zanele,” he had said, smiling from ear to ear, “I’m so happy! I’m here for you, I love you.”
She had smiled in relief, and they had hugged. They decided that they would wait until the weekend to decide what to do next because they had to take both the baby and Zanele’s studies into consideration. The plan was for them to think it over and weigh the pros and cons of having a baby. Then Baska had gone to work at the taxi rank like a zombie. But after a while his happiness faded, his head felt like it was full of bees and his stomach flipped every time he remembered the news.
To most people a baby is a blessing but to Baska it seemed as though fatherhood wouldn’t be child’s play. It most certainly wasn’t a clear-cut blessing and even if it was a blessing Baska was certain it was in disguise because he saw nothing but trouble if he had to feed another mouth besides his own. He could barely take care of his own needs and wants, so how the hell on God’s green earth could he take care of his unborn child on a taxi marshal’s wages?
He loved his job – the hard work he put in and the benefits that accompanied it. He was a people’s person and especially liked tourists and people from foreign cities. He would start talking to them and they’d end up buying him lunch or something like that. Besides, he made a killing on tips he received from passengers and taxi drivers, but the stories he got to share with the tourists took the cake.
Baska didn’t know much about kids; his sister had been the only child he ever cared for. He had been a mere kid himself less than ten years ago. Although he liked kids and had looked after his baby sister when he was younger, he had not imagined himself as father material. This was partly because he had always figured he wouldn’t even think of having a baby with any of the Mrova girls. It seemed like most of them were only out for a good time. If you wanted to be called honey you’d better show them the money. Baska didn’t have much money to share – he used what little he got paid at work to take care of his own needs – so for a long time, girls were not on the menu.
Baska stopped at the spaza shop on the fifth street at Parabulla to buy some milk and bread. He still stayed with his mother and baby sister. He stayed in the backyard but had insisted on paying rent since he started working. As he put the change in his pocket, he again thought of Zanele. Things had gone a little better when he met her.
Zanele came from one of the wealthy families in Mrova and wasn’t interested in money. She only wanted a mate; someone who could take her mind off varsity. The field she majored in, Business Law, took a toll on her, so she was mostly focused on her studies. But she thought she needed someone to share all of that with once she was done studying. Baska fit the profile down to the last detail. He loved other people and left everyone around him in stitches whenever he opened his mouth. Zanele was very fond of Baska and Baska was head over heels, completely taken by Zanele’s charm and welcoming personality.
Some people clearly wondered how Baska, a taxi marshal, could land someone so fine and so way out of his league but that didn’t discourage either of the two love birds. As Zanele always said: “Let’s keep doing what we do best, and love each other like there is no tomorrow.” There were some friends of Zanele – and some of her neighbours – who tried to get between Baska and Zanele. But because their love was so true, nothing and no-one could shake their bond. Luckily, her parents weren’t against the match.
Those who approved of their relationship wished nothing but the best for the couple. Take Baska’s uncle for example – he would help Baska out with money to take Zanele out on dates to Spur whenever he could afford to. Not that Zanele ever complained when weeks or even months would go by without a date or gifts, because those things didn’t mean much to her. Zanele wanted to spoil Baska, but he would always deny her the opportunity to do so. As he told his friends, “I am a proud Zulu, like my father, who believes ‘indoda yinhle ngezinkomo zayo (a man is as good as what he can bring to the table)’. So Zanele spoiling me would go against my conduct.”
When Zanele told him that she was pregnant, Baska was so happy. Then he thought about the hardships he had endured while growing up and wanted a different fate for his unborn child. That’s when he vowed to better himself and seek help in preparation for fatherhood. He wanted his unborn child to have only good experiences with him, his father, and he didn’t want to be short on anything his child might need once he or she was born.
Tell us: Do you think fathers should provide for their children?