The news of Zanele’s pregnancy hit the people of Mrova like a shovel. They couldn’t comprehend why Zanele was settling for Baska when there were so many suitors who pursued her. When Baska got to work two days later, there was a guy in the taxi who worked in the mines.
“Hey wena s’thipa, what did you do to Zanele? That chick is so madly in love with you and now you got her pregnant! Entlek wena sani ufuna ukubonani?” the man laughed, shaking his head unbelievingly as he ate an orange and threw the peels out the window into a concrete rubbish bin.
Even though he left the incident unscathed, Baska was starting to doubt himself because of all the negative vibes he was picking up day in and day out from the people at the taxi rank. Their negative comments made him feel like a lesser man. But they didn’t discourage Baska from working hard for Zanele and his unborn child. The negativity was actually giving him something to focus on, other than work.
People pointed and whispered at Baska right in front of his face without showing any shame. When Baska helped an old lady with her groceries, she took out her cell phone and called her friend. “Hey Ma Hlatshwayo!” she said loudly into her phone, “you won’t believe who’s helping me with my bags. That little boy, Baska, who thinks he’s man enough for that clever Zanele.”
“That boy knows no boundaries. Who the hell does he think he is? Just give him two rand and we shall see if he will go running to his ‘precious’ Zanele,” Ma Hlatshwayo replied just as loudly.
“I sure will,” the old lady said and laughed.
The whole time Baska was struggling with the grocery bags, the old lady was making fun of him on the phone, cackling like a chicken at her own jokes. As he left, Baska caught a glimpse of her in the car windows as she met up with her friend. They pointed and laughed, dragging others into their shame, who in turn laughed and called Baska a ‘schmuck’.
When the news of Baska’s impending situation finally reached the ears of the taxi owners, one of them decided to step up. On Thursday, Bab’ Mahlangu pulled Baska to the side and offered him a job as one of his drivers on the local routes.
“I recall you once mentioned that you were leaning towards getting your driver’s license, how did that go?” asked Bab’ Mahlangu.
“I passed and I do have my driver’s license, mara vele ubala lolo because I have been driving since the age of seven. I just lacked the proper driving papers, but now I have them and I am good to go, noma kunini, Baba. Beep! beep!” replied Baska. Baska took the job and promised to work with determination. He told Bab’ Mahlangu, that he wouldn’t regret giving him such a great opportunity.
At the end of the day, Baska went to share the good news with Zanele. They sat in her room again, for privacy. Baska took her hands.
“Zanele, Bab’ Mahlangu offered me a job as a driver for some of his local routes! I am sorry, mabhebeza, for doubting you. You were right ‘good things do come in pairs.’ Thanks for believing in me … in us … the three of us,” he smiled proudly.
“Honey, I told you things will work out. First, I get granted leave of absence from varsity and now you come bearing such wonderful news. I suppose you just like fussing over the small stuff,” replied Zanele, overwhelmed with joy. “Now you can ease up and relax because I know the whole ordeal was taking a strain on my potential baby daddy.”
She stroked his shoulder and he looked deep into her brown eyes. He found that he was feeling stronger on the inside but weak in the knees, with butterflies in his stomach.
Baska was to start working as a taxi driver the next Monday, so for the remainder of the week he was still a taxi marshal. Baska prepared himself for the promotion and picked up a couple of tips from the other taxi drivers on how he should conduct himself so he can make ends meet, while still maintaining his sanity.
On the weekend before Baska started his new job, he got a gig filling in for a friend by driving a taxi cab during the night. He had been advised by Siphiwe, a taxi driver and one of the “Three Amigos”, that if he could handle those drunk and high passengers, he could handle anything. Baska did the job without breaking a sweat. He even made some extra money to take Zanele out to Spur on Sunday; where they wined and dined like the king and queen of Mrova that they truly were.
Tell us: Do you think Baska deserves Zanele, even though he isn’t rich?