I’m looking at a couple that is watching their baby lying in an incubator. They’re holding each other. Sandi and I should be like that.
I get to the cot labelled “Baby Masiza”. She used my surname. Buhle Masiza is mine. There is my boy. He’s so cute, and looks just like me. I take out my phone and take a quick picture. He’s going to be my screen saver. It feels weird being a dad.
The woman from reception pops her head in to tell us that visiting time is over. I don’t want to go. I don’t want to leave my son all alone here. I wish I could hold him, even if it’s for a minute.
I turn and walk away. Involuntary tears fall down my face, and they are most welcome.
I get back to my bed and lie down. I can’t seem to stop crying. Seeing Anele looking at Buhle the way that he did makes me so happy. I think I saw a change in him. I think I saw the Ace I used to know. That was the guy who came to my rescue when the whole school had labelled me an ‘Ice Queen’. What a mean thing it is, betting on who beds the new nerd first.
What was I thinking, accepting his offer to pretend to be his girlfriend?
“We’ll just pretend to be dating for a while. I’ll win the bet and be the school’s king for a year and you’ll make it into the popular crowd,” Anele’s words replay in my head. It was supposed to be so simple. It was simple. Then I had to go and fall for him. Stupid. You don’t fall for the jock: they don’t do monogamy.
He’s right though; being accepted in some social circles does open a lot of doors. It sure made my life easier at school. I shouldn’t blame him. He didn’t ask for this and I hate to see him hurt.
My phone rings and snaps me out of my reverie. For a split second I wish it was him calling, but it’s Siphe, my best friend. I’m waiting, contemplating whether I should answer it, because I don’t feel like talking. But Siphe knows me, she knows the whole story. Then she must’ve given up because it stops ringing.
The last thing I need is hearing her cheerful voice telling me that I’ll make a super teen mom, that I’ll keep my straight As, despite the stress. How did I get myself into this mess?
“All you gotta do is sleep with him. He’ll definitely fall in love with you. Then he’ll be your man. All those sluts chasing him will fade away and you will be the Mrs Ace Masiza.” I can still hear Susan’s great plan. I should’ve known better than to believe that. Peer pressure blinds you when you’re in love with a guy who only sees you as a friend.
Siphe calls again, and I hesitantly pick it up.
“Hey doll, how are you feeling?” she asks, sounding bubblier than ever. My answer is just a groan. She gets what I mean, my best friend.
“Never worry when Siphe is near. But they won’t let me see you.” I can tell that she’s pouting.
“Really? Why?” I try my best to sound disappointed.
“They say you already had your two visitors. Rules, schmules.” I picture her rolling her eyes at the person at reception, or sticking her tongue out at her, and it makes me smile.
“Oh, tomorrow then?”
“Oh definitely. So much to fill you in on and I can’t wait to meet my little godson. What should I bring you?” I can hear that she’s walking, probably leaving the hospital.
“Chips with loads of salt and vinegar, and some fruit,” I reply, thinking how funny it is that I just crave these things.
“Sure thing, babe. Gotta run, check ya later.”
“Bye,” she hangs up, and once again I’m alone.
The nurse brings Buhle for feeding. I hold him in my arms and get ready to feed him. She’s watching me intently, and it’s making me nervous. I always fear that I may under feed him. I’m glad she’s here. My mom would lecture me but this nurse is kind and understanding.
Buhle’s eyes are closed and he’s sucking on my left breast. He’s just perfect…
“Get your head in the fucken game, Masiza! It’s a rugby ball not a damn baby!” the coach shouts at me when I drop the ball. I’ve been fumbling a lot lately and the team is on my case. I can’t think properly. My baby’s sick and I’m really worried. The guys don’t understand this at all. I go straight to see him after practise most days. I don’t have time to hang with them anymore.
The whistle blows and practice is over. We hit the showers. I’m relieved.
“Dude, you gotta sort this out with Sandi man. It’s real bad for your game,” Gabe says as we leave the changing room.
“It’s not Sandi man. Buhle’s sick. I gotta be there for him.” None of the guys get this.
“She’s using the baby to get to you. Wake up! Women do that all the time. They always have some lame excuse to hook you up. It’s a trap dude, I’m telling you.”
“Don’t be a retard Gabriel. Sandi’s not like that and you know it man. My son is sick and they need me!” I slam the locker door and Gabriel jumps.
“Chill out! All I’m saying is that we have an important game on Saturday and you can’t mess this up. I don’t have to tell you what it’ll do to your career. Sort yourself out. We don’t wanna lose because you’re pussy whipped.” The words sting. My best friend has turned on me.
Tell us what you think: Have you ever been influenced by peer pressure? How important is it to belong to a group when you’re young?