It wasn’t a date, Khaya kept telling herself. Robert was just showing her this place of his. But then why was she so nervous? Why had she changed clothes three times? She’d never been out with such a sophisticated man before. She didn’t want to look like some stupid girl from a village in Limpopo, though she was mostly still a stupid girl from a village in Limpopo. In the end, she settled on simple: black jeans, a white T-shirt, her treasured brown leather jacket, black Converse, a slash of bright red lipstick, and she was done.
He was waiting for her when she got downstairs. “You look stunning,” he said.
She smiled and got into his car, ignoring the enquiring looks from the passing students. Though she couldn’t deny she liked their jealous stares.
“I thought I might take you somewhere first, if you don’t mind. I know you’re studying architecture and a friend of mine owns a building I thought you might enjoy seeing.”
“That sounds intriguing.”
They drove on the Sunday morning Joburg streets toward the CBD, pulling up in front of a massive mirrored building with many flat sides. It was meant to look like a faceted cut diamond. Khaya knew the building of course, but had never been inside. It was the 11 Diagonal Street Building designed by one of the most prominent architects, the American Helmut Jahn. They studied him in class.
They sat in the car and looked up at the towering skyscraper. “It’s amazing hey?” Khaya asked. “I’ve never even been here downtown to look at it close-up.”
“Yes, it’s beautiful. Do you want to go in?”
“But it’s Sunday.”
Robert held up some keys. “My friend’s office is at the top.”
Khaya and Robert took a lift to the top floor. They wandered around looking at the views and the design of the various offices. Khaya couldn’t get over that they had free access to the entire top floors. Robert must know some powerful people.
“I wonder if I’ll ever be able to design such a beautiful building,” Khaya said, amazed by what she was seeing.
Robert took her hand in his and kissed it. “Why not? If you’re determined to be the best then you will be. That’s always been my motto.”
Khaya wondered if things really could be that easy. Could you just want something so badly it happened? Maybe for Robert, but Khaya knew too many people from her village who wanted many things but it was unlikely they’d ever get them, no matter how hard they wished they would.
Khaya felt nervous as Robert continued to hold her hand and he caught her looking down at it. “Sorry,” he said and let go. “I just feel so attracted to you. I hope that’s OK.”
“Yes … I guess…”
Robert’s cellphone rang. He looked at the number. “Sorry, I need to take this.”
He walked away to another office and Khaya looked out over Joburg, trying to get her breath to come right again. Everything seemed to be moving fast and she wasn’t sure she knew exactly what she was doing. She did know it felt right though. For the moment it felt great being with Robert high up above Joburg.
He came back to where she was at the window. “Ready to go? I’ve made us a picnic,” he said.
They drove out of town to the Rietfontein Nature Reserve. He drove up the steep roads to a koppie overlooking the city. They got out and he held her hand, walking with her to a hidden overhang with perfect views.
“This is my secret place. I come here when I need quiet to think,” Robert said.
“It’s so beautiful.”
He spread out the blanket he had brought and set down the picnic basket. Khaya looked at everything and thought how it was like something out of a movie, not something that actually happened in her life. They sat down and he poured her some wine. His basket was packed with all sorts of treats, including grilled prawns. “I asked your boss about those prawns and went and got us some,” he said.
He leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. “I like you, Khaya.”
“You hardly know me.”
“I know enough.”
He pulled her to him with strong, confident arms. There was no hesitation, no wobbling about what he should do. He knew what he wanted and knew how to get it. Khaya liked feeling so secure, as if nothing was required of her. Robert knew everything. He held her, kissing her neck. It felt wonderful but still she stopped him. She moved back, away from him, but said nothing.
“It’s fine, Khaya. We can take it slowly, I don’t mind. Whatever you’re comfortable with. I’m a grown man; I know how to wait patiently for the things I want.”
His phone beeped and he looked at the message. His faced couldn’t hide that he was not happy with what it said. “I’m sorry, I need to get back. This music business doesn’t know anything about weekends. I’m expected to be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Sorry.”
“No, it’s fine. I’ve had an amazing day,” Khaya said.
They drove back to the city. He took her hand in his as they neared her residence. “I hope you’ll see me again.”
He parked the car in front of the door and then leaned over and kissed her on the lips. “Can I call you?”
Khaya smiled. “Yes, you can call me.”
She got out of the car and stood watching him drive away. When she turned around, to her shocked surprise, there was Thuto watching her watching Robert drive away.
Tell us what you think: What should Khaya say to Thuto? Should she tell him the truth?