Khaya lay in bed after the Koolio party and wondered if the way she was thinking was wrong. Her mind kept going back to Robert. He seemed so together, so confident, so comfortable with his obvious success.
He was so different from Thuto. Thuto didn’t care what he looked like, if he had a car, even if his hair was combed some days. His passion for law, for justice, for the community, was what mattered. And Khaya loved that about him. She loved his principles and the way he would not let situations change them. It didn’t matter if being a public prosecutor would mean a lower salary – that was not the point of his life. Thuto was sure life was not all about money, all about being comfortable.
“Comfort is where principles go to die,” Thuto once said.
But meeting Robert and talking to him later as the guests slowly drifted out and the party came to an end, Khaya wondered what a life like Robert’s would be like. A life where every action did not need to be analysed to check if it worked within your ethics. A life where things were easy, where getting what you wanted was never a problem. How would it be to be with a man who took care of you, made sure every one of your wants was fulfilled no matter how frivolous?
After the party she sat in a chair in the corner waiting for the last guests to leave so she could collect the few remaining glasses and plates. She was very tired after a full day of studying and it was now nearly 2 a.m. She closed her eyes and when she opened them, Robert was standing in front of her.
“I couldn’t not watch you, sorry. You’re beautiful.” He smiled and sat down next to her. “You’re nearly finished. Can I give you a lift home?”
“I still have some things to do; I’ll delay you.”
“For you I can wait.”
In the kitchen Mponi rushed up to her. “Who is that? Is he a singer?”
“No, I don’t think so. He’s called Robert, Robert Mthuli.”
“So what was he talking to you about?”
“Nothing … he wants to give me a lift home,” Khaya said. “I think I’ll tell him I have a lift after all.”
“No! Just take the lift. It might be a limo! Imagine! Riding in a limo!” Mponi enthused, off on another tangent.
“And he could be a serial killer. I’m just telling him no.”
Khaya headed toward the door, but Mponi caught her arm. “No, I’ll come with. He won’t try anything when I’m there. I have Mace in my bag if he does.”
They finished packing everything in MmaBeula’s car and headed back up to see if Robert was still there. He was patiently sitting where Khaya had left him, typing into his phone.
“Can my friend get a lift too?” Khaya asked, as they walked up to him.
Robert smiled. “Sure.”
Outside Mponi was only slightly disappointed to see that it was not a limo but a Mercedes, golden and sleek. Robert held the front passenger door open and Mponi ignored it and climbed in the back, forcing Khaya to sit up front next to him.
“So what do you do, Robert?” Mponi asked.
“I work at Koolio. I’m a director of the company.”
“Ooo … that must be nice. Get to meet all the big stars. I was sad DJ Rolo wasn’t at the party tonight.”
“He’s touring in Europe. But when he’s back I can make sure you meet him if you’d like. Maybe get you and Khaya some backstage VIP tickets for the next concert.”
“Are you serious?” Mponi said. “That would be uber-cool!”
“Do you like DJ Rolo?” Robert asked Khaya.
“Sure.” Mponi snorted in the backseat but then kept quiet. Khaya corrected herself: “Actually, I’m not much into music and concerts and things. I like to read … and besides, my course is pretty hectic. I don’t really have much spare time.”
“You’re like me then,” Robert said. “I like the quiet too. I know a nice place I’d really like to show you. I think you’d enjoy it.”
“Sure, maybe, some time.” Khaya was unsure what to do so thought it best to keep things vague.
They pulled up to their university residence. Mponi jumped out. “Thanks, Robert. I’ll see you inside, Khaya.”
Khaya stood near the car with Robert. He was so tall, she only came to his shoulders. He smelled so good too. People passed and looked at him. Everything about him was edged in money: his leather shoes, his tailored suit.
“So … OK … goodnight then,” Khaya said.
Robert grabbed her hand before she could leave and held it. “How about tomorrow?”
“How about tomorrow what?”
“I take you there. To the place I spoke about.”
Khaya spoke without thinking. “OK … OK sure.”
He bent down and kissed her gently on the cheek. “Then I’ll see you tomorrow, about 11 a.m. Is that OK?”
She nodded and he eased into his car and drove off.
She was lying on her bed thinking about the night and her cellphone beeped. An SMS from Thuto.
Goodnight! See u tomorrow then.
She looked at the message. She and Thuto had never agreed that they were exclusive, they were just dating. She tried to convince herself that it was all very casual, but then why was she feeling bad? Why did she feel like she was cheating on Thuto? Why did she feel terrible when she sent him the message that said:
Goodnight! Can’t see u tomorrow.
Hv 2 work, sorry. See you Monday at school. :-)?
Just then there was a knock on the door. “It’s me,” Mponi whispered.
“So?” she said, sitting down on the bed.
“What happened when I left?”
“Mponi, is this wrong?”
“I’m going with Robert tomorrow, to that place he spoke about. I don’t know … it seems wrong. He’s older than us first of all; he’s got to be over thirty.”
“Yeah, OK, but he is seriously hot.”
“But what about Thuto?” Khaya asked.
Mponi’s enthusiasm disappeared. “Oh yeah, there is that.” They sat quiet for a bit. “But, it’s not like anything is happening. You’re just spending the day with Robert. A friend. I think if you told Thuto he wouldn’t even mind. And besides, why is Thuto getting so serious all of a sudden? He talks like you two are getting married or something.”
“Oh god! Does he Mponi? I didn’t know that.” Khaya felt worse, much worse. She didn’t want to hurt Thuto’s feelings.
“Let’s not rush things. You just met Robert. Maybe you won’t like him tomorrow. Just leave things open. No need to tell Thuto anything just yet.” She got up to leave. “I need to get some sleep.”
Tell us what you think: Is Khaya doing anything wrong?