When I was growing up my mother sheltered me from sex. If there was kissing on TV she would cover my eyes.
“OK, ungajonga Bukiwe, now you can look,” she would say when the kissing was over. We used to watch soapies on the small TV in the kitchen while we prepared the supper. I would help her to peel carrots or potatoes, and to cut up the chicken.
“Ag Mama, that was only Bo and Hope kissing on the soapie,” I wanted to tell her. But she wouldn’t hear it. I was only fourteen, she would say, much too young to be watching such things. I would have to discover the facts about sex for myself.
But more than discovering about sex, what I wanted was to fall in love!
Bhekifa was the first boy I truly loved, but he never knew how I felt, and never in a million years did I think I could tell him – or anyone else for that matter. Whenever I was around him my knees turned to jelly. If only I could ask him out. But the idea shocked me. No girl in my school had ever asked a boy out and I didn’t want to be labelled a bitch. So all I could do was try to forget about Bhekifa. And there did happen to be a boy at school who could help me to forget. His name was Luthando.
Luthando was confident and popular amongst the girls. Everyone knew about the girls whose hearts he had broken. But he was charming, and my friends encouraged us to get together when they saw how he felt about me.
One day I got a call from him. He said he wanted to meet me after the netball game that Saturday. I agreed.
My best friend, Angel, accompanied me to meet Luthando. We held hands on our way to the park behind the community hall. It was like she was going to hand me over to him as a bride.
Every day after school Luthando and I continued to meet there. Things heated up. Soon, by the time I went to bed every night Luthando would have used up all his PLEASE CALL ME messages. He personalised them to the words:
Luthando stumbled me through sex for the first time. He was a sweet talker. There was never a silent moment. His words were always about how cute I was and how much he wanted me, and admired me, until one afternoon when everything changed suddenly.
It was cold and we were sitting huddled up next to each other in the park. He pulled me close and then he asked me to sleep over at his place. I said no. I was not ready to go against my parents’ teachings. Yes, I had had sex with him. He had taken my virginity, but I wasn’t ready to do it again.
“Maybe we should rather end it,” he said to me in a grumpy voice. I looked at him, thinking he was joking. “You are not the only girl,” he added. No, Luthando wasn’t joking as he usually did. This time he was serious.
I went home crying that day. The past eight months had not meant love to Luthando. He had just been wanting to have sex with me again, working up to this moment when he asked me to sleep over. He was openly proud of how he had taken my virginity and had sex with me. Now he wanted to have more and more. Seeing me just in the day was not enough for him anymore.
When he said we should end it, I did not reply. I just got up and left. I knew I was not going back to him even though something in me said he would come looking for me.
At the same time I feared not being loved again.
I woke up in the middle of that night to turn the wet pillow over. Could love for me only be from Luthando? I asked myself. He had made my world turn faster in the past eight months.
When Luthando dumped me on that winter afternoon, Angel was still a friend by my side. She hugged me warmly. She spoke words that made me feel contempt for what he had done; she was a true friend. She said maybe it was, “not meant to be”.
I sat and thought about her words: “not meant to be”. What was meant for me? Who was to be my lover, a person that would love me always? I had seen Bhekifa that way, but I had been too frightened to tell him. Now, over the weeks, the feelings I had had for Bhekifa started to creep back slowly.
One evening, after taking turns to help each other cook Sunday meals for our families, Angel and I made popcorn and sat eating it on her bed, the bowl between us. I told her of my wish to get to know Bhekifa better. She burst out laughing. “Hayi! Like, like… no Bukiwe, I don’t understand. Why did you not say something sooner?”
But Angel did not judge me when I said I had feelings for Bhekifa. She helped me write a letter to him, and hand-delivered it.
I found it almost unbearable waiting for an answer. But it came.
It would take thirteen nights and fourteen days before I could prove my love for Bhekifa with a kiss. I still remember the giggles of my brother, Zukile, when he saw us kissing for the first time. My mother and father were out and I thought we were alone in the house.
“Hayibo dadethu, who is this guy?” my brother asked.
Tell us what you think: Is it right that boys are expected to make all the moves, and if girls make a move they are often seen as ‘easy’ or ‘loose’?