If we could choose being rich or poor, most people would choose being rich.
If you could choose living in a bond free mansion at the sea or an RDP house, the mansion would win hands down.
The same applies to who we fall in love with. If we could choose it would always be the ones like Brad Pitt or Idris Elba that would get the girl but life doesn’t work that way which is why it makes no sense to ask your precious son:” How could you love her?”
Love doesn’t ask you if you are ready for it.
Love never asks you if you know what the future has in store, it simply brings you into it.
Love doesn’t ask for anyone’s approval because love is meant to overcome things like unemployment, looking for a house, whether to have children or not etc.
But does love overcome racial issues or rather is it meant to?
28 years ago when I met my now husband, I never looked at him thinking he’s white so let me fall in love. We were friends for months before we realized there was more to our friendship. He was dating other women and I was going on dates with men and we would eagerly rush to each other on a Monday morning and over coffee would talk about how the dates went.
The funny thing is that when we would hang out as friends no one would give us a second glance until we started dating.
We decided to move in together and it was wonderful living in our bubble. People that stared at us we simply ignored. People that would comment as they walked by would make us instinctively hold hands tighter as if to give each other strength and comfort and for a while it worked.
Our bubble worked for us.
Until the day it burst with rumours flying around his hometown in Durban that he was dating a “coloured” woman. Not sure which little bird whispered in his mother’s ears and what was said but he did not have the opportunity to break it to her the following month when he planned his trip down there.
The phone rang and it was his dad and all I heard from his side of the conversation was “yes,” “no,” “I understand,” “she’s not like that!” After the call, his face was red and I could tell it wasn’t a good call. We chatted about it since we had promised each other to always talk even about unpleasant stuff.
The dad worked with some “coloureds” from Durban and explained to the son exactly how “coloured” people were. The usual, (they fight, they are promiscuous, they swear, they carry knives and belong to gangs)
I think the dad had a heart attack when he heard his son profess his love for me and adamantly announce that this more than a fling. (I think smelling salts was in high demand that weekend in Durban for all the fainting family members and friends)
With hindsight we both agree that we had gone into this very naively thinking “love will conquer all!” We believed that we could face whatever came our way.
Just as we were done talking about the dad and the way forward, the phone rang and this time it was his mom. He has always told me how close he is to his mom so I knew this would be a different challenge to the dad.
The mom wanted the best woman for her son and I wasn’t it! I was told it was nothing personal but it’s just not right. Alrighty then! Moving on!
You’d think that through all of this my family members would be more understanding but goodness I was warned: He is only using you! What must people think because only “sluts” go for white men and and and….
(It amazed me how many counselors and therapists and racial inclusion advocates we both had in our families.)
But back to the long call from his mom, it started with tears and pleading then disowning him and finally the coup de grace; she’d booked a ticket to Johannesburg and was coming to see this woman who ruined her son’s life. It was made very clear that I was welcome at his mom’s house as a friend, nothing more.
That day we had one of our first “big” arguments. I felt he was being unrealistic by saying he didn’t care what they thought and he felt I cared too much about what his family would think about me. [I must add here that I come from a close knit family and it was hard for me to understand how he could be so casual about their feelings]
I felt it would make them think that I had set out to alienate him from them and instinctively knew he would regret not being able to see them especially his mom.
That week leading up to her visit was tense and every night we spoke into the early hours of the morning plotting out different scenarios [Primarily the concerns I had]. He heard she was staying at a friend’s place and definitely would NOT be staying at our place.
The day finally arrived. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I was nervous because I heard she was bringing her friend along who “interacted” with “coloureds” so she knew what “coloured” people were like.
He was supportive as we walked into the restaurant and insisted on holding my hand and whispered how much he loved me just before I spotted his mom (he had shown me a photo of her) and a woman sitting next to her, who not so subtly nudged her as we drew closer.
“Hello, I’m Thesna” I said with a confident smile I was far from feeling as I held out my hand across the table.
To be continued: