I had never cheated on my wife before, never.
It was not because I was a perfect husband…there were many times I almost gave in to temptation but I never did because I had a lot of respect for her.
I loved her that much.
I loved Thabo so much she would have asked me to bring down the moon for her and I would have tried…I would have failed of course…but I would have still tried because I was that much crazy in love with her.
But what is a man to do when the wife he has so relentlessly loved for the past thirteen years looked him in the eye and told him that the boy that had called him dad for the past eight years…the boy he had proudly called son and shown off to his family and friends…that that boy was not his?
“It had happened only once,” she had said whilst crying.
It was during the two years I was abroad pursuing my Master’s Degree and she had given in once…only once to a moment of weakness. How was she to know that I would show up at the doorstep the very next day to surprise her? And when she announced the pregnancy, the thought of that child not being mine had not even crossed her mind.
But it happened…and there I was, standing in front of this beautiful 25 year old innocent looking woman;
“Can you pay me 500 bucks if I sleep with you tonight?” The woman had confronted me at the door of the club as I was leaving and whispered the words straight into my ears.
There was nothing about her that suggested she could be a woman of the night. She had on a short pleated dress that hang slightly above her knees exposing just enough leg to make any man want to explore her hidden chambers.
Apart from her seductive and inviting red lips, the rest of the make-up on her face was very light. In fact, if you were not looking close enough as I since her face was now only a few inches away from mine, you could barely see it.
She was by all standards what most people consider a natural beauty, the kind that forces you to smile at them willy-nilly.
As I stood there gaping at her, I wondered what a young beautiful woman like her was doing working the night. There was something in her eyes that told me this was her first time picking up a customer but the courage with which she spoke and carried herself would have put any experienced working woman to shame just looking at her.
God, she was so beautiful I could barely breathe just looking into her big eyes.
For thirteen years I had never looked at another woman other than my wife the way I did that woman who had come out of nowhere.
I wanted to possess this woman whose looks reeked of a certain innocence that did not belong to that tawdry night atmosphere.
I wanted…no, I needed to disappear inside her until everything I had ever believed in for the past thirteen years completely disappeared from my mind.
I wanted her to help me.
I desperately needed her.
“Can you make me forget everything if I paid you a 1000 bucks?” I asked the pretty lady who smelled of scented soap and something else I wanted to drown myself into.
She nervously nodded.
It wasn’t enough to convince me but at that moment I didn’t care. I just needed to do whatever it took to release the frustrations I had been holding on to all day long that day and she had appeared before me like an answer to a man’s desperate prayer.
I booked us into the nearest lodge and I hit the bed the moment we were locked inside while I waited for her to get herself ready since she had asked to use the bathroom.
When ten minutes went by and she still hadn’t appeared from the bathroom, I started to worry.
I had heard a lot of stories from my friends and just people around about hookers that used funny tricks and performed rituals on unsuspecting men; the moment that thought crossed my mind, my heart begun racing.
I quickly checked myself to see if everything was intact; it seemed all was in order.
It was a good thing I still had all my clothes on despite certain parts of my body threatening to pop out on their own.
I slowly got up from the bed and tip-toed to the bathroom. Outside the door, I leaned in and listened. I could hear her voice, she was saying something…whispering, I think…because I couldn’t make out what was being said.
Had she been on the phone all that time? I wondered.
And so I slowly opened the door a crack and there she was in just her red lingerie kneeling down on the floor with her head bowed down. It looked like she was praying…wait….
Was she praying???
Did I just hire myself a praying hooker? What the hell was going on?
My mind was all over the place and for a moment I lost confidence in both my eyes and ears.
And suddenly, there was enough room for me to breathe in the pants that had become so tight during the short drive to the lodge.
That night, I discovered the quickest antidote to losing a hard-on.
I looked again, her hands were shaking…gosh she was shaking all over whilst tightly holding on to what I presumed was a crucifix hanging from her neck.
“Forgive me God…forgive me…forgive me…please forgive me Jesus….” She kept repeating. I had never before witnessed such a heart wrenching scene and I was a man who only that morning had witnessed the woman he loved with all his life bawl her eyes out and grovel incessantly before him begging for his forgiveness.
“I know I have no business asking you this Lord…but please…” the woman continued. “I need the strength…please Jesus…only once, just this once look the other way and forgive my sins. If my son can get live… If you can let him live…I promise to surrender my soul completely to you for the rest of my life…I promise.”
Guessing that she was winding up, I quickly shut the door and ran back to the bed. She came out a few seconds later, a smile on her face that exposed the dimples on her cheeks so deep I wanted to swim my tongue in her mouth in spite of the recent developments.
Unfortunately, her sexy smile was not enough to hide her red puffy eyes.
She had been crying.
I felt a pang in my chest.
I just stood there looking at her as if my worst nightmare had come to life.
“Are you alright?” She asked. It seemed my confusion hadn’t gone unnoticed.
I didn’t know what to say to her…but I knew one thing for sure, I wasn’t going to be doing any forgetting that night. What was worse was that instead of forgetting, I feared I might have picked up a few more memories that would haunt me for life.
“Put your clothes back on,” I said to her, turning to look the other way.
“What?” She asked, sounding very surprised.
Next thing I knew she was kneeling before me by the bed. “Is it that you don’t like the way I look?” There were tears welling up in her eyes.
“Do you see yourself?” I asked, turning to look at her and making sure to focus my gaze only on her face. “You are hot as hell and I can bet you any woman would kill to have a body like yours.”
“Then why…?” she started to ask.
I looked at her, wondering whether to be honest with her or not. “I saw and heard what you did in the bathroom,” I said.
There was trepidation written all over face. “Ooh,” she said in haunted resignation. “I am very sorry….you see…this is my first time…I have never done anything like this before,” she nervously tried to explain. “…but I promise I will do whatever you tell me to do, I promise.”
I could tell she meant every word of it. This woman wore her soul in her eyes. I could see every emotion she was feeling and trying to hide in there.
“Get up,” I held her by the arms and we both got up, I from the bed and she from the floor. I led her back into the bathroom and closed the door behind her.
“Get dressed,” I repeated. “We will talk when you are done.”
She came out a few minutes later looking nervous like my son…my wife’s son did whenever he was caught doing something bad.
Dear Lord, I could not stand to look into her big brown eyes. My heart could not take any more heartbreak.
And so I took out a 1000 grand from my wallet and put it in her hands. “Take this,” I said.
She looked confused, and rightly so. “But I never did anything….” She looked ready to cry.
“Is this money for real…or it’s one of those….”
I laughed. So we had the same fears after all.
“I can assure you I am not that kind,” I tried reassuring her. “I am only giving it to you because I heard what you prayed for in there,” I motioned towards the bathroom. “I know I have my own sins but I think there’s a reason why you of all women picked me of all men out there. I am not forcing you to take my money but I am certainly not sleeping with you…I guess the Lord doesn’t sleep after all….” I said as I started heading to the door.
“I am going to leave now,” I announced with my back to her. “…since I already paid for the room, you can spend the night and order some breakfast tomorrow.” I had reached the door and was about to open it when her voice hit me from behind.
“What is your name?” She asked me, her voice shaking from whatever demons she was fighting inside of her.
I turned back around to look at her. “I don’t think there’s any need for us to exchange names since we won’t be meeting again.” Then I turned back to open the door and was half way through when a thought crossed my mind.
I turned to face her again. “I know it’s none of my business….” I started to say. “But I don’t think you are cut out for this kind of job. Don’t you have any other options…have you tried applying for jobs? You look intelligent…I am sure you’ve been to school….”
“I have a job,” She answered. “I work as a cashier but the pay isn’t much. I only went up to grade 12 so you know…” She shrugged her shoulders.
“I see,” I said. “What’s wrong with your son? I heard you say something about him in there….”
“He is sick…” she said, her face turning grim. “Listen,” She continued, “I don’t feel so good getting your money for free. Isn’t there something I can do for you to pay you back? I can wash and clean and do plenty other stuff.”
I shook my head. “There’s no need for that. You quitting this would be more than enough payment to me. Do you think you can do that?”
She quickly nodded. “I thought I could do it…I had rehearsed it in my mind so many times but when it finally came down to it…I just couldn’t…I am very embarrassed right now, you have no idea. I had been standing outside that club for close to two hours and I couldn’t get myself to pick any of those men…until you came out. There was something about you…” She was now tearing up. “I know…it’s embarrassing….” She closed her eyes and dropped her head.
“Embarrassment is a good thing,” I said, trying to sound like a wise man. “You should get worried the moment you stop feeling embarrassed.” Not trusting myself to stick to the decision I made, I quickly said goodnight to her.
“It was nice meeting you….”
“Thandiwe Mwale,” she provided her name.
In that moment, I started to regret.
I wish she had never told me her name.
I wish I had just walked out of there without asking any questions.
Because I could not forget her name, I became the kind of man that deserved the sins his wife had committed against him.