True love

2017-03-01 06:02

TODAY I confess I was once a ladies’ man. That’s right, I was a Casanova of note in my heyday.

I was involved in many “casual relationships”, from Zodwa the love of my life, greater for being unfulfilled; to Busi the terrible kisser; to Nompilo who earned her stripes as the first woman to infect me with a sexually transmitted disease; and to Thule, perhaps my original yellow bone, a village beauty and snazzy dresser who died prematurely.

Out of all my casual relationships only one stands out. I had something special with my close friend-turned-lover named Cebisile (the one who helps with a good plan). In the modern parlance, my relationship with Cebisile could be described as “friends with benefits”. Cebisile and I knew that we were in a casual relationship. I was free to date other women. I guess she too, if she wanted, was free to date someone else. But she chose me, warts and all.

Psychologists have long warned that true love and commitment are a rare find. They insist that a lot of the time, romantic relationships are not based on love at all but are casual and sexual in nature. I know many a girl who would scoff at the idea of a casual relationship and that they would rather choose to live with the delusional white lie that their relationship is a more formal romantic relationship. Cebisile and I had no delusions of grandeur.

Cebisile was short, fair in complexion and always full of beans. It was this natural cheerfulness that drew me closer to her. She was a charmer extraordinaire

Cebisile’s presence in my life did wonders for my ego. Yet she wasn’t my ideal girlfriend, as I preferred them tall, slender and yellow-boned. But Cebisile was cut from a different cloth, she had that “thing”.

To borrow from the Song of Solomon, Cebisile had dove eyes, teeth like a flock of shorn sheep and her lips were like a strand of scarlet. I wouldn’t necessary say I was head over heels for Cebisile. Nonetheless, we had a good show except that we never had sex. Yes, you read that right. No sex — full stop. A Casanova was once involved in a sexless casual relationship. It wasn’t about hormonal issues — menopause or childbirth are often blamed whenever a woman loses her libido. Cebisile’s libido was in full throttle. As for me, it wasn’t that I suddenly had lower than normal testosterone levels. I was as hot-blooded as all other philanderers. The truth is we made a vow of sexual abstinence. And this had nothing to do with religion. I had no idea why a woman in her 20s would say no to sex but yes to a relationship with a famous womaniser. Although I was puzzled by her no-sex stance, I played along, largely because I valued my friendship with her. I must admit, I wanted more. I would be telling a lie if I said I was looking forward to Cebisile’s first sleepover at my humble abode. Cebisile gave me lessons in sexual pleasure without going all the way. After our first carnal encounter I almost fell in love with her. In all my casual relationships, the one I had with Cebisile was second to none for that year. I spent a lot of quality time with Cebisile until we lost contact. The last time I saw her was late in 1998. She was still gentle but frail. We exchanged telephone numbers and agreed to meet to rekindle the old flames of our “love” affair.

We never did. I only learnt about the death of Cebisile in mid-2000. I was going through my old diaries when I chanced upon her Telkom phone number. I dialled the number and a voice on the end of the line said: “Let me call an adult.”

I knew something big had happened to my dearest Cebisile. The elder squandered no time. She simple announced that Cebisile had died and had been buried the previous year.

But why am I telling you this story? Wait. I learnt later from other family members that Cebisile had died as a result of Aids-defining clinical conditions.

Cebisile was, for the lack of a better phrase, my soul mate. I am grateful to her for protecting me and loving me completely to the detriment of her own happiness. Cebisile put her whole being to the service of those like me who were at the time ignorant about the virulent HIV/Aids epidemic.

In the mid-nineties, some of us knew very little about the various forms of protecting oneself against HIV. The use of condoms was intermittent and there were no antiretroviral drugs to halt the spread of the disease once infected. The only method that truly worked was sexual abstinence.

To this day, I salute Cebisile for loving me truly enough to want me to live an HIV/Aids-free life. May her sweet and gentle soul rest in peace.

• Bhekisisa Mncube is a full-time writer in the public service. He lives in Pretoria. At the time of going to press, he was still married to his sweetheart, Professor D. They have a 12-year-old daughter.


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