Khaya was only given a second chance to present her project because she had been top of her class for three years. If she hadn’t been, her department wouldn’t have granted her another chance and she would have had to repeat the entire semester. So in the end, she presented. She would have scored 95% but was docked 10% for being late. She was more than happy to accept that.
After everything that had happened she decided to stick to what she knew. She went to school and went to work, otherwise she stayed in her room studying or reading. For now, all that mattered was getting her degree. She would not let anything put that in jeopardy again.
It had been a month since the Cape Town trip. Robert called her a few times. The first time she answered and told him not to call again. But he was a determined man, not used to not getting what he wanted, and still every few days he called, but she never picked up.
She had learned her lesson; he obviously hadn’t learned his. She suspected his future would include a divorce once his wife woke up to the fact that his apologies were insincere and changing his behaviour would never be a part of it.
She’d spent the afternoon in the studio working on her new project, a community hall. She’d been so engrossed she didn’t realise everyone had left and it was dark outside – until she heard her stomach growl with hunger. She packed up her things and headed for the takeaway four blocks down.
She opened the door of the place and there was Thuto.
She hadn’t seen him since before the Cape Town trip. She’d been busy but, she had to admit, she also purposely avoided places he might be. She still hadn’t got over her shame about how she had treated him.
“Khaya,” Thuto said. Khaya could see his face change. He was trying to be casual when casual was the exact thing he was not feeling. “I haven’t seen you forever. How are you?”
“I’m … I … you look good, you know?” She felt awkward and nervous and unsure about what to say.
“Thanks.” He had his food in his hand. He looked down at it. “I guess I should go.”
“OK, yeah you better go,” Khaya said.
“Anyway, it was good to see you.”
“Yes, yes it was good to see you too.”
Thuto went out of the door and Khaya turned to join the queue at the counter. But then she thought of all of the things she wished she could have said to Thuto, all of the things she needed to say to him. Was she going to let it all pass by her again? Was she going to make the mistakes again?
She turned and ran outside. She looked one direction and couldn’t see him and almost lost hope that she would find him. But then she saw him down the road the other way, about four blocks along, walking quickly away from her. She ran as fast as she could to him. He was surprised when she stood next to him trying to catch her breath.
“Khaya? What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I … nothing is wrong … or maybe everything is, I don’t know. I don’t know anything much anymore, I think. I need to tell you something.”
“OK…” he looked nervous and a little bit frightened. “But are you sure you’re OK?”
Khaya was scared about what she had to say so it all came out in a big rush.
“I’m fine. Thuto, you’re a wonderful man. I was so lucky to have been your girlfriend for a while and yet I treated you so badly. I’m most ashamed of that, more than anything else in my life. I behaved terribly. That man, the one in the car that day … he mixed me up. I became someone I never thought I was. But I guess she is also part of me, a careless person, a disrespectful person, a person who couldn’t see real worth but was dazzled by fake sparkles. For a while I was that person. The thing is … the important thing … the only thing I really want to say is … I’m sorry. I’m sorry for how I treated you. It was wrong, so wrong. You never, ever deserved any of it. You’re lovely in so many ways. One day some lucky woman is going to have you as hers and I hope she never forgets what a good man you are, a really good man. And I hope that lucky woman always remembers that. But that’s it, that’s all really. It’s just, I just want you to know I’m sorry.”
Thuto looked at her for a moment trying to decipher everything she’d said. “OK … wow. I’ll admit, I was hurt then. Really hurt. But I’m better now. I accept your apology. People make mistakes, Khaya. We all do. I made a mistake too then.”
“You? What did you do wrong?” Khaya asked.
“I knew how much I cared about you. And I knew, despite what you were saying, that you cared about me too. I was angry that some man, some man with a big car, was mixing you up and mostly that you let him. But I should have told you what I was thinking, everything. And I should have fought harder. That’s it mostly – I should have fought harder for you. I’m sorry about that. Do you accept my apology?”
Khaya laughed. “Yes.”
They stood awkwardly for a few minutes. “So I was wondering,” Thuto said, “if you might think about being that lucky woman, the one who might have this good man, me, sometime in the future? If you might consider something like that?”
Khaya laughed again. “I’d love to be that lucky woman, if that good man would accept me as his. And if he did, this lucky woman would never again forget how lucky she is – I promise.”
Thuto took her hand and brought it to his lips and kissed it. “Then I think we have a deal.” He held up his bag of takeaway food. “Do you want to come for dinner? I cooked.”
Khaya threw her arms around Thuto and hugged him tightly. She couldn’t believe how lucky she was to be given another chance. She would not squander it again.
“I’d love to,” she said.
Tell us: Could you be as forgiving as Thuto? Do you agree he has something to be sorry for too?