Thulani and I were at Funworld, I had loaded up his card and he was running around in the playpark. He seemed so happy and friendly, and I felt regret for missing so much time.
My mom told me to be grateful for now, the present moment. Watching him play and run around, I was worried he could fall or get hurt. I could not sit, I could not even scroll on my phone. I had eyes only for the little five-year-old boy that was playing his heart out.
"Hey," Lindi smiled. She looked tired. she had a black backpack strapped to her shoulder, white t-shirt and a black pair of sweats. I liked her black sneakers, definitely something I would wear too.
"I thought you were working," I said looking into the play pen following her line of sight.
"I was, sorry I texted you saying I was running late,"
"You usually show up in sweats at work?" I teased.
Lindi gave me a shy smile.
"Only night shifts, I didn't have time to change. " she paused,"You're teasing me," she smiled.
For a moment I lost the years that led us here. The way her face lit up and the way she looked up at me.
"Have you been waiting a long time?" she asked checking her phone and effectively bringing me back to reality.
"Lindi!" Thulani shouted and waved.
"He calls you Lindi?" I asked surprised.
"We are still working on mommy," she replied waving at him. "he doesn't look like someone that wants to go home."
"He has been in there for the last few hours," I confessed.
"Give me the card, let me play some games," she said.
With one eye on the little guy in the play pen I followed Lindi to the basket balls. She was scoring most of them and quite happy with herself.
"You finally went and became a doctor," I said leaning on the game edge so I was facing her and she was facing me.
She looked at me, "Yeah."
"How did you manage all this with him?"
"There is a reason why he is still calling me Lindi, my parents made sure I do everything they thought I wanted," she said.
"What did you want?" I asked. She stopped throwing hoops and stared at me. then she just laughed and continued playing. Knowing Lindi as well as I did, no reply would come.
"About Thulani..." I started. "How can I contribute?"
"What do you mean?"
"I know he is in school, I want to pay child support and help you with his needs," I said hoping this was an offer I would never regret.
The game ended. She was out of breath. She swiped the card again and handed me a ball.
"Right now my parents pay for everything, they have been paying for everything. So I wouldn't be honest if I demanded anything from you."
"Okay i will have my dad speak to your parents then," I said throwing and missing my fourth ball.
Lindi looked at me. "You were more athletic than this," she teased.
"Right, can we talk?"
"We are talking," she smiled.
"Lindi," I said holding the ball. She came and got the ball.
"Clocks ticking," she said and made a hoop, she picked up another ball and kept scoring.
"I am listening," she said.
"Mommy!" Thulani called from the pen. She put the ball down and ran to the playpen. She scooped a crying Thulani into her arms, he curled around her, his little hands holding on to her neck. I could not hear what she was saying.
When the sobs subsided, Thulani wanted his shoes. Lindi signalled that playtime was over.
"I want pizza," Thulani demanded irrationally.
Lindi tried to talk him out of it but the little guy had his mind made up.
"I took him from her, and we walked into Panarottis together. Thulani was very decisive he ordered something meaty with extra cheese. He also wanted a big fanta much to his mom's displeasure.
Thulani got down while I was paying and he went and washed his hands. Lindi was right behind him allowing him to do things himself and only stepping in if he needed the extra help. I needed to learn that skill.
We sat inside the restaurant, Thulani was telling his mom all about his weekend at his grandparents. She was listening attentively and asking him questions.
When the pizza came Thulani said a quick prayer before getting a whole slice. i got a slice too but Lindi refused to have some.
"I am sorry," I said to her. She looked up, our eyes meeting but she looked away.
"I will never stop you from seeing him, he will always know you as his father."
"And you? Will you ever forgive me?"
"To what end? From where I am it seems you have a whole different life without my forgiveness. You don't need my forgiveness, I don't resent you," she said.
Thulani finished his pizza slice. "I need to get him home, let me just get a yango."
"i will drop you guys home," I offered.
"Thank you," she said putting down her phone.
"How is work going at Levy?" I asked.
"You don't have to be polite by asking me about..."
"I actually want to know," i said holding her gaze.
She sucked in a long breath.
"Its challenging, a learning curve but its ok," she replied.
"Are you seeing someone?" I asked.
"No," she replied firmly. "You?"
"Yes," i replied honestly. " i have a girlfriend in camp."
"A soldier?" she asked.
There was an uncomfortable silence. i took a deep breath.
"Oh okay, i see."
"I haven't yet told her about you and Thulani, trying to find the appropriate time. And i wasn't sure how to answer questions about us."
"There has not been an us for the last 5 years Achi," she said closing the box of pizza and wiping Thulani's mouth.
"Yeah well, I guess."
"Just tell her she has nothing to worry about, you will always have access to Thulani-"
"Its not about Thulani," i said firmly. "I am the one who isn't sure what to do. Hell Lindi, after all these years all i want to do is give us a try, we have a child. You and I made a baby, I didn't even know it then....." I let out a breath.
"Let bygones be bygones," she replied and stood up. She lifted a sleepy Thulani into her arms. "I can get a taxi - "
"I said I would take you, I will take you," I said firmly.
Lindilani didn't argue, she also sat in the back with Thulani on her lap. We did not speak the whole thirty minute drive to her parents house was very quiet.
Let bygones be bygones, the words echoed in my mind and just made me upset. She had ended things at first, why did I think that having a son would soften her feelings towards me? Because the affection I saw that she had for her son made me wonder what kind of wife she would be?
I had dated Chomba for over a year, not once had I thought of her as a wife, marriage was currently not an option. Lots of things had changed since I found out I had a son maybe that's why alien thoughts were taking over my brain.
I dropped Lindi and a sleeping Thulani at their house. Lindi's mom insisted I stay for a cup of tea. Lindi hurried off to put Thulani in his bed.