When Baska arrived at the taxi rank he found that he was the tenth taxi to get in line for the Welasi route, so he parked his taxi and bought peanuts from a vendor at the taxi rank. He was deep in thought. After a while, he realised the vendor lady kept looking and smiling broadly at him.

He looked directly at her and it hit him – the lady selling the peanuts was his high school sweetheart. She had broken his heart into a thousand pieces when she went off with another man. Her name was Slender. Well, actually everyone called her by that name because of her slim and petite figure. She looked different from how he remembered her. Her hair was in a head wrap and a scar ran down the left side of her face.

Slender and Baska started talking and Slender confessed why she left him.

“I left because I caught the attention of a guy who worked at the Sasol mine. He promised me the world. and I was young and naive and thought money was all I needed. He had plenty of it and spent it on me, and I mistook that for love. I threw away a sure thing with you to be with that guy who in turn played with my mind, body and soul.

She sighed. “He didn’t treat me right, he even physically abused me, but still I stayed with him because of the money he was giving me. Even my own family disowned me because they reckoned I was a fool for money. My mother said she would have understood if I was a fool for love, but I wasn’t. I was a fool for money and stayed with him because he did all the things you had always wanted to do for me. I figured he wasn’t the type of guy who just talks the talk; he could also walk the walk.”

Slender stopped talking for a minute while she served another customer, a taxi driver who made fun of her for being a vendor. She didn’t mind his trash talk and just blew him off. Then she returned to her story.

“I did everything he wanted,” she said looking at her feet, “but that wasn’t enough. He told me he wanted to have a baby with me and I thought that was why he was treating me badly. Then I got pregnant. During the first months of my pregnancy things were magical. He treated me like a goddess until I was eight months pregnant. Then he told me that he had two more women carrying his unborn children. After that, the troubles started again. He would smack me around and I figured I had done something wrong to deserve such treatment from him. In public he would put on the persona of a loving and caring boyfriend, but as soon as we were alone, he would hit me and swear at me. He said to me that ‘no-one will have you but me, I own you, I feed you, I buy you clothes, I put a roof over your head and you don’t even show a little appreciation. You’re worthless’.”

Baska shook his head, shocked by Slender’s ordeal, but didn’t interrupt her.

“This went on until about a week after I was supposed to have given birth. Then he cussed me out some more, saying there’s something wrong with me and he doesn’t want to be with someone like me. He kicked me in the stomach. I went into labour and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. After that, I never went back to him, because I had finally realised that there was no love there. I also realised that I had never loved him, I’d only loved the things he did for me. Now I depend on myself. My family even took me back and I am grateful to God for that.”

Baska touched her shoulder gently. “I’m sorry to hear how you suffered, Slender. Thanks for opening your heart to me. I’m glad you’re okay now.”

They said their goodbyes and Baska went over to talk to his boss, Bab’ Mahlangu the taxi owner.

***

Tell us: What would you have done if you were in Slender’s place?