It had been three weeks since Gorata and I went out on that first date. We’d had two more dates since then, one to the street carnival and one to the movies. Things were going well. We still kept our distance at work though. We weren’t quite boyfriend and girlfriend yet. But I liked her, I liked her a lot. Maybe too much.

Sometimes I wondered if maybe Colin was right. I was young, not even twenty-five yet. I had an entire life ahead of me. It seemed like things were moving a bit quickly with Gorata. I didn’t want to be locked in already. There was a big wide world out there – a big wide world full of women.

The next day I was walking out to my car. It’d been a rough day. I had spent nearly half the day trying to deliver one package. I called the number and the person said he was at home; his house was on the opposite side of the city. I drove out and he wasn’t there – could I now drop it at his work?

His workplace was in the centre of town and between his house and work was a huge accident that had me sitting on the freeway for three hours, so by the time I got to his workplace it was closed. I still hadn’t delivered the package. And now all I wanted was a very cold beer and a bit of silence.

Just as I opened the car door I heard someone call my name.

“Hey Mmila, how you doing?” Gorata said, walking up to my car. “I haven’t seen you all day. Are you OK?”

“Sure, just busy.”

“I wanted to ask you a favour. I need to pick up something at the mall. Could you be a kind man and give me a lift out there?”

Everything in my body wanted to scream ‘no’. The last thing on earth I wanted to do was to get back into that traffic. I wanted to sit in a cool, dark bar and drink a beer and then go home and slump in front of the TV.

But, despite everything that screamed no, I was surprised to hear my mouth say, “Sure, hop in.”

I was back on the hot highway breathing in exhaust fumes, in my crap car with no air conditioning, and even though I was smiling, inside I was pissed off. Pissed off at who? Gorata? No. I was pissed off at me and my whipped self.


A month and a half had passed and Gorata and I were officially dating. She was my girlfriend, though I still didn’t feel comfortable saying it out loud. I don’t know what my head was up to. I liked her. I liked her a lot. Why couldn’t that just be OK?

“The problem,” Ofentse said, “is that you’re letting other people tell you how to run your life. You know what’s good for you.”

But that was Ofentse talking, my friend Ofentse who didn’t know much about women. It had all gone so easy for him. Kgalalelo was normal. She didn’t play around. She knew Ofentse and he knew her and that’s how it was. But that wasn’t the real world. The real world was a whole lot rougher. I knew that because Colin told me all about it and Colin, of anyone in the world, knew women. He had loads of experience. I mean if you need your car fixed you go to a guy who has fixed thousands of cars of all models right? You don’t go to a guy who only knows how to fix one car.

“You need to keep your options open. Look around. Make sure Gorata doesn’t think she’s too special. Once they think they’re special, you’re in trouble. Believe me Mmila, you don’t want them thinking that you need them, or something. Once that happens you’re whipped. You’re done for,” Colin said. Noko nodded his head in agreement, a serious look on his face.

Needless to say I was confused. I liked Gorata but now my problem was to make sure she didn’t think I needed her, though I kind of did. And not to let her think she was special, but she kind of was. Do you see where the problem was? Do you see why my head was mixed up and why it was so easy for me to mess up everything?


Tell us what you think: Is Mmila being influenced by his friends too much? Has that ever happened to you?