Is this legal?

My love and I got into a bit of financial trouble when we lost our jobs.

There is nothing worse than not knowing your rights and having creditors hound you until you promise to pay even if you have to donate a kidney to do so.

The constant calls, mail, trace agents coming to your house unannounced and threatening to break your legs is something that works on your psyche and slowly wears you down until you sign whichever document they place in front of you simply because you want them gone.

“I have more debt than you,” he said.

“I should declare bankruptcy,” he continued.

I knew it wasn’t as simple as that but I went along with him anyway. My mental exhaustion could rival that of a toddler who falls asleep standing up.

Off we went in search of an attorney that specialized in bankruptcy. We found a friendly one and it would cost around R10 000. That was a huge amount of money but we felt we could manage it by selling some of our goods.

“The pool table has to go,” I declared.

“Oh come on not the pool table,” he moaned.

“Listen if favourite stuff has to go then so does yours” I insist.

I’ve never seen a more reluctant handing over of said pool table once the buyer got there. His face, as he saw it being loaded on the truck, was so sad. My poor love. “There is always time to start again” I comfort him with words while trying to be strong.

Bankruptcy dealt with and suddenly there is no one calling on him. It was so peaceful and for the first time in a long time, I could sleep. It was bliss!

About a week later, I received an urgent message from the attorney’s secretary that I was to urgently come to his office. He needed to discuss a way forward for my creditors. I was so relieved that there was a solution to my problems too that I sang at the top of my voice while driving to the attorneys.

It was going to be alright. We would bounce back from this setback.

I waltzed into the attorney’s offices, flashed a bright smile at his secretary as I was told to go in because he was waiting for me.

My love and I had discussed this new development and we were both hopeful that a solution could be found for my creditors.

“Good afternoon” I smiled my most brilliant smile. I was so happy as I greeted him.

“Good afternoon Thesna, you look lovely today, please sit down”, he said a bit formally.

“Thank you for helping us. I’m so grateful that we can sleep a bit more peacefully” I gush.

“Yes, well let’s focus on your solution,” he continues as if I hadn’t spoken.

“I have a perfect solution for your problems,” he says.

“Thank you so very much,” I gratefully acknowledge.

“You need to leave James* (not his real name” he calmly states.

“What?” I utter, shocked at this turn of events.

“Why?” I ask.

“You owe X amount to your creditors and I am willing to pay it all, so then you would owe me,” he states.

I’m not being the brightest spark here and am just grateful that every month I will now be paying him back a certain amount.

“But why do I have to leave James when you pay my debts,” I ask puzzled.

“Let me put it this way, I am single, I think you’re attractive and I am willing to settle your creditors if you lose the hanger-on and move in with me,” he boldly states.

I sat there frozen in place, the smile dropping from my face and my heart plummeting alongside my hopes I had for a solution.

“You don’t have to decide now but I do expect your answer by tomorrow,” he says filling the silence in his office.

“But,” I splutter.

I feel like my ears didn’t hear correctly so I repeat his offer.

“Yes,” he affirms “that is exactly what I said and I have more money than him and can look after you better than what he can.”

“I don’t need looking after” I interrupt.

“That’s the same as me selling my body!” I reply.

“Don’t see it that way,” he smiles. “See it as a way out of your problems and a way for you, coming from where you come from, to live a better life.”

I’m crushed! I’m defeated! I’m indignant! I’m disgusted!

He then compounds his disgusting proposition by telling me what a great body I have while I still remain seated, dumbfounded at what was unfolding.

“Anyway, thank you for coming here, my next appointment is waiting. I expect to hear from you tomorrow!” He confidently states.

I wish I could end this off by saying that I told him where to get off. I didn’t! I was still in shock at his audacity.

I felt dirty and devalued only because he saw me as just my body and my looks and my value was based on the physical.

I went from being an intelligent woman to a body. It was humiliating and even more so the way he leered and mentioned what he thought were my assets.

I cried on the way home and hugged my love when I saw him.

Eventually, I became angry and couldn’t wait to tell that attorney where to shove his offer.

I sent him a strongly worded letter because I couldn’t stand to be in his company again.

Thanks but no thanks.

Life after that continued with my love and I working hard, day and night to pull ourselves out of the situation we were in.

Life returned to normal or so I thought.

To be continued.

Part Xl

Stop objectifying women of colour…….