Sundays are for sex. That’s how it is and that’s how it always was.
This ritual carried me and my boyfriend through our short relationship of the summer of 2011. In my dorm, I liked pulling up my blinds to allow the sun in. It would turn everything into gold, and my bed would be warm from its touch. Sometimes, we’d have sex at his res, sometimes we’d go to mine. His dick was big enough to make me scream in genuine pain, blood staining my bed sheets. But sometimes, we were as unified as the sea, writhing together till climax.
I’ll be honest with this though: when Jaco and me started having sex, I didn’t love him yet. A part of me— it’s still scary to discover how big—only let him fuck me because he was white.
There’s this thing between white and black people. Though they hate each other, their greatest desire is to fuck each other. I suppose it’s the exoticness of the idea—two differently-colored bodies combining into one. Growing up, my ideal man was Ridge Forrester from The Bold & The Beautiful. At twelve years old, I would finger myself with his image fixed firmly in my mind. His solid body would press against my tiny one. He would stick his nose in my face— because all white people on TV had long noses. I would run my fingers through his dark hair that was as silky as sex itself. Jaco was my Ridge.
We’d met in a jurisprudence tutorial in our first year of varsity. However, it was only in second year before he responded to my attraction. I still have the incoherent notes I took during class when all I did was drool at his body. His shoulders were broad, and he always wore tight shirts to accommodate his muscles, even in winter. My fingers would tingle at the thought of touching his blonde hair, which smelled so good I would go to sleep with the smell of masculinity still in my nose. He had blue eyes that would get brighter when he laughed, wrinkling the sides of his face.
The day of our first conversation, he had no deodorant on. The smell of his sweat clung in the air, but I liked him more because of this. It made him seem real. More human. After hearing that I came from Lesotho, his eyes lit up. He said he’d spent a week there because his father was opening up a Midas in Maseru. He told me I had a beautiful country and that he hoped to see it properly one day. I told him to come in winter. Though the cold is maddening, I told him, Lesotho in winter is like stepping into a frosty fairytale.
“Are you going back there for December recess?”
I said yes.
“Maybe one of the winters I could come with you”
At the time, it was the most romantic thing a boy had ever said to me. I pictured us in Lesotho, making love in a wooden cabin while snow covered the land. In the fantasy, I was wearing a bra and told him I couldn’t take it off. This was because my breasts were darker than the rest of my body, as if I’d splayed them in the sun for twenty-four hours. When I was little, I would wear them around like a curse. But this was before I lost my virginity. I’d slept with eight boys so far. Leballo, the fifth, was the first one I’d allowed to see my breasts. From then on, I let every boy I slept with see them. None of them had indicated that anything was wrong. But Jaco was different. Jaco was white.
I was in a lecture hall, sitting as far from the front as possible. Four weeks had passed and me and Jaco were still flirting. I didn’t know what to call our relationship. He texted me in class every day. Sometimes, he would text me things that made me laugh so hard it felt as if there was a jumping rock in my belly. Once, my English lecturer even made me stand outside the hall like I was in high-school again. I didn’t care. Jaco’s name trailed behind my every thought, even the random ones.
Jaco: [Guess what?]
[What?] I texted back.
[Done with semester tests. Free the ENTIRE WEEK *waits for celebratory ululations*]
[That’s awesome! Good for you!!! *ululates celebratorily*]
[Wanna meet at the end of the week? At someplace secret? Or will you be at church then?]
[I’m atheist…Why do you want to meet?]
[I’ll tell you when we get there…but kool! My place or yours?]
My heart leapt. However, as my quivering fingers typed the reply, I realized I was scared. Why was I scared? This was Jaco, the boy I’d liked since forever, and he was asking me out on a potential sex-date.
I had this annoying tendency of thinking about my mother whenever boys asked me for sex. I don’t have a dad. He left when I was six years old. Back then, my mother worked as a waitress at KFC, but she was a General Manager now. I pictured her shouting orders in a steamy backroom that smelt of oil, unaware of the shortening powder staining her cheeks. At ten-o’clock, she would join the crawling traffic of LakeSide—taxis, Jeeps, and imports, machines coaxed out by the promise of night. In Lesotho, roads are narrow and life is slow. The cars move slowly as well. The malls are tiny. The politics robust, and the people hug each other when they meet in the street. Everyone knows everyone in Lesotho.
Why should we meet at our places???
I saw him go offline. Looking up, the lecture hall re-materialized before me. The fluorescents responded harshly to my eyes. The wooden tables were cold, engraved here and there with crude words, random names, and bad doodles. Around me, people were covered in a blanket of sleep. Some were whispering amongst themselves while other napped unashamedly. The lecturer was recounting his experiences in Paris as a man of colour. He was saying that unlike South Africa or America, race is a less present entity in other countries. He told us of how the writer, James Baldwin, said he felt more at home in Paris than his native America, where society “existed to kill the black body.” I wasn’t interested in what he had to say. Talk about race was the only thing holding South Africa back, economically and culturally.
Looking at my phone, my heart leapt again. Jaco was online. I bit my fake nails, waiting for his message to arrive:
[I want to make love to you Rose]
My breath caught in my throat. I covered my phone’s screen with my hand, looking around me to see if anyone saw. The lecturer’s voice droned on as if from some deep, black tunnel. I heard fragments of conversation, some girls whispering about Oppi, a music festival that was months away.
I looked down at my phone again, inspecting each word: Love—to—Rose
I didn’t care that he hadn’t used my full name, Rorisang, which he’d taken weeks to make sure he pronounced correctly. There was a fullness growing in my belly. My fingers trembled. I wanted to text him back to say yes, but to be honest, I wasn’t sure what he really meant. With black guys, asking for sex meant “no-strings-attached.” You’d fuck then pass each other on campus like nothing had happened. White boys were more romantic. I didn’t love Jaco yet, I wasn’t sure if I could be romantic enough for him. There was also my breasts. What would he do if I told him I couldn’t take off my bra during the sex? I looked at the text again and could literally feel its weight press against my heart. At the end of the class, I put my phone in my bag. It stayed there for the rest of the day.
To be honest, I couldn’t call Jaco my boyfriend until he agreed to the Bra Treaty. That was one thing I couldn‟t compromise on. Luckily, he agreed, laughing it off and calling me crazy. From then on, I pushed the “treaty” to the back of my mind and reveled at the thought of finally exploring his body.
We played an R&B mixtape at full volume. Crooning voices and beats coated in silver filled his room. It played everything from Stevie Wonder to Lana Del Rey’s “Videogames.” However, it was Cassie’s “Me & U” that caught my attention.
The song was released in 2006. Back then, I was still in primary school, in an ugly yellow and blue uniform that constantly smelt of sun. Our school was in the rural part of Maseru. This was before the roads had tar, when they were still made of mud and rock and weeds. There were no jungle-gyms or lunch-tables at my school, just a rusted goal-post for the boys’ soccer games. And dust. How could I forget the dust? I would go home with dust in my hair, then pick up more dust when I went to play with my friends. By the time I got home, my mother would have to scrub me twice, complaining because I’d made her miss her episode of City Ses’la.
I focused on the lyrics of the song. I’d never realized how sexual it was, the beats were practically drenched in sex and sweat. Back in primary, we’d made an all-girl dance routine to it. These were popular then. We’d danced in jagged, Beyonce-esque moves in our school’s Rec Hall, our feet burning from the heat, masking our pain with toothy smiles. I remembered how we always got the lyrics wrong. Walking home, before we knew anything about phones or I-pods, we’d re-create the funk of the song for ourselves, singing at the top of our voices, improvising the English words we didn’t understand. I remembered playing hopscotch and mokou in the red dust, while the silent mountains of Lesotho watched us, grooming us for futures filled with love and failure.
Jaco kissed me softly.
His hand came up to my arm, as if he was about to dip me in gold. I returned the kiss and felt his minty breath in my mouth. I was vaguely aware of how the sun coming through the window made his arm-hairs burn a brilliant gold. I told myself not to think. I wanted to make the sex perfect for him. Last time, on the first Sunday, it was clumsy and painful. It had lasted only for five minutes. He’d patted my shoulder after we were done, telling me, “Our adventure isn’t done yet”. Now it was part two.
Slowly, he undid my jeans. My pussy felt hot under his touch. There was a forceful delicacy with which his hands moved over my clothes. He had me against the wall of his bed, and as he writhed against me, erection rock-hard, he started taking off his jeans too. I helped him unbuckle his belt. He wore grey Calvin Klein’s just like the Californian boys in the movies.
He took those off as well and his penis sprung out. I gasped, not only out of sexual pleasure, but because I was nervous. What if I disappointed him again? What if I was underwhelming, or wasn’t a “tigress” like all the white girls he’d slept with? I told myself not to think. He took off my panties. His breath was ragged in my ear, whispering something that could’ve been “I love you.” He rolled a condom on and entered me.
Jaco fucked like a music-conductor. He would go fast, speeding up the friction till I couldn’t breathe, then, as I was about to collapse, slow down and sing me back to earth. It was the first time during those Sex-Sundays that I truly let go and allowed him to have my body. We were in harmony, every shift of his muscles eliciting a shift from mine. He was hungry for me, not only kissing my shoulders and neck, but also caressing my weave and telling me that I was beautiful. But things quickly went wrong.
“Take off your bra baby” he whispered, “I want to feel your breasts.”
I unlatched myself from his body: “I thought we had this discussion. I’m not comfortable with that.”
“I’m just not.”
Confusion crossed his blue eyes. He seemed to fight hard to dismiss it, but soon, he’d resumed the sex again, “Right. I’m sorry”
He kissed my belly, making a slow trail down to my pussy. I wasn’t aroused. Because he’d brought up the bra-issue, I winced every time his lips touched my skin. I felt dirty, like a disease. Could I really call Jaco mine, when I couldn’t get fully naked in front of him? Though the boys I’d slept with had seen my breasts, something inside me refused to reveal myself to Jaco.
“Don’t be crazy” I whispered to myself, “Don’t think”
“What’s that?” he said, emerging from my body like a rabbit.
As he blocked out the window, I couldn’t help but marvel at the way the sun turned his head into a halo of golden light. Tufts of his hair, messy from the sex, looked celestial. He was so perfect, with his broad chest peppered lightly with hair and blue eyes that were like the sea. I realized that this was actually the first time I’d seen a white person naked. This was the first time I was having sex with a white person. All sorts of thoughts sprouted in my mind, like weeds I’d tried to ignore but were now growing larger and uglier. I focused on Jaco’s face, nervously working his jawline. Maybe I did love him. Maybe when winter came, we’d go to Lesotho and make love in a cabin in the snow.
“Kiss me” I said.
He leant down and pressed his wet lips upon mine.
It was Monday. The campus was already filling up for lunch. There’s this serene beauty that condenses over campuses in summer. The city grows quiet enough for you to hear nature’s whispers. You hear them in the sway of the trees. You hear them in the smell of the freshly-mown grass, so strong you feel as if you could package the smell and put it in your pocket. I walked under a tree just as a large bird landed on its boughs. The tree shook, a mass of needles raining upon me. On an ordinary day, I would laugh and take a selfie with all the nature in the background. But today, there was too much on my mind.
I was on my way to meet Jaco and his friends for coffee. Although I regarded them as my friends too, something about today made my heart turn steely when I thought about them. For example, they called me Rose, even though I’d told them my real name was Rorisang. And why did we always go out for coffee? It was fucking summer! Who the hell drank coffee in the heat of midday? I also didn’t like the way they thought my coming from Lesotho was “cute.” I was annoyed Jaco wasn’t annoyed by these things as well.
“Hi guys!” I said with the brightest smile ever as I hugged each one of Jaco‟s friends, Megan, Roux, Gareth, Kate, Lisa and Daniel. The air was heavy with the smell of coffee and cakes. Around us, hands gestured animatedly over salads and doughy coffee-shop pizzas. When I finally kissed Jaco, his stubble pricked my skin. This lifted my mood slightly, my nipples hardening. I squeezed myself between him and Lisa. Kate shifted her chair to make space for me. As she moved, the smell of her flowery shampoo came to my nose. I’d only just realized that they used the same one, even the boys. Even Jaco.
“So…” Lisa said. Out of Jaco’s friends, she was the most talkative one. She’d dyed her hair red last week. It was purple the week before, “You guys are such bad friends!”
I held my breath. She was about to comment on Jaco and mine’s relationship. “What’s up?” Jaco said, gulping visibly.
“How could you guys let me watch Harry Potter…” Lisa continued, forehead creased with concern, “When you knew my Fred was going to die?”
“It was in the books” Megan said, “Literally all you had to do was read if you wanted to know”
“Who the hell reads?” she said, “But back to Harry Potter. I can honestly say that the last time I cried like that was when Carlo and I broke up”
We all laughed. When it died down, Daniel, who‟d been eyeing me smugly since I came in, cleared his throat, “Speaking of relationships, I hear you two are official now”
There was a silence. Jaco‟s arm curled around my waist, “Yes, we’re boyfriend and girlfriend”
They all smiled warmly and clapped their hands and cheered. I watched Daniel’s face for any sign he disapproved but he was hard to read. Daniel had the kind of thick eyebrows that made him look like a jerk even when he wasn‟t meaning to. “Congratulations” I heard him say again. There was no sign of sarcasm or scorn in his voice.
The conversation drifted from school, to nightlife, and to funny stuff that had happened during the week. Although we gave our attention here and there, me and Jaco kept disengaging to smile at each other and hold each other tighter. I was convinced I was falling deeper in love with him. But at the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking about next Sunday. I wished there was some cream I could use to make my breasts lighter before then.
Our conversation was stopped by noises coming from outside. It was students protesting, which was a normal occurrence in South African campuses, even in those days. We would’ve dismissed it, if not for what happened in the coffee-shop then. The waiters all scurried to the entrance, dropping their mops and swabs. Two of them heaved the door close, while another came with a long steel chain to lock it.
As they ran, Lisa pulled one of them aside, “What’s going on?”
The waitress had a hair-net on. Her hands were so wrinkled from washing-dishes you‟d swear they were prosthetics. I saw on her name tag that her name was “Sylvia”, though I knew she had another name. An African name that white people couldn‟t pronounce.
“It’s the A.B.A” she said in a flow-y Pedi accent, “Yesterday, they came into the shop and started destroying the supplies, removing people from their tables. That window there…” she pointed towards a crack on the glass door at the entrance, “They did that. I don’t know whether they hit it with a stone or what”
The A.B.A stood for Abantwana Bomhlabathi, a political party that advocated for “Exclusive Inhabitation of Africa by Africans.” In other words, they believed white people should be kicked out of Africa. When I heard their chants in Zulu, stomping, clapping, anger welled up inside me. I didn’t understand why the university allowed the A.B.A as a registered society anyway, they were clearly racist. If anything, the acts of vandalism, not to mention violence against students, would be a wake-up call to the management to do away with them forever.
“I want to see this!” Daniel said, getting up.
A horde of A.B.A members blocked out the glass doors like a black plague. Inside, every customer stood up, as if there was a war about to take place. The waiter nearest to the doors signaled vehemently with his hand, “Hamba! Hamba!” Go away. Luckily, they didn’t bother the coffee shop this time. When they left, singing a song where one of them ululated a verse before the rest joined in the chorus, there were white A-4 papers pasted on the outside of the shop, written in black marker “Blacks of South Africa, WAKE UP!”
Jaco shook his head quickly. He squeezed my hand, asking me to stay. I would’ve done it in a heart-beat, if not for his friends, who were already joining the crowd towards The Student Recreational Center, where the A.B.A was going to give a speech, or vandalize more things, which would explain why so many people were going there now. The coffee-shop managers unbarred the doors and every person in there spilled out them like a river. Jaco and I followed.
I first heard about The Fury on Twitter. Two representatives from smaller parties had a twitter war about A.B.A, and refereed to its Executive Officer, a girl with an untidy afro whose voice was constantly at full-volume, as The Fury. The name had caught on, till even the campus newspapers called her that freely.
However, reading about her and watching her in action were two different things. Her voice had already drawn half the university around The Centre. She used a microphone, but she might as well have put it off. Her voice shook the earth, her afro shaking along with it. She flung her arms and emphasized every word with her whole body, like a priest feeling the holy spirit for the first time:
“We say to you, Blacks of South Africa, we must wake up! Our parents went through apartheid, why must we suffer the same fate? I see you walking around campus, smiling and acting like everything is alright, but it’s not! Why must other students, like my brother Carl Van de Merwe over there, study a full degree in his home language, Afrikaans? Even us we want to be like Carl Van de Merwe! Do they think we don’t have our own languages? How long must our languages be devalued by this white-supremist, imperialist university?”
There was a silence. A stream of sweat trailed down my ribs, cold and uncomfortable. My neck felt stiff. I was afraid to look at Jaco’s face. I was afraid to look at Daniel and Lisa. I was afraid to look at my friends. I glanced down to see if Jaco‟s hand was still enclosed around mine. Even though it was, this didn‟t give me the sense of security I was looking for.
The Fury spoke:
“Why must we be expected to learn their cultures eh? Why must we diminish ourselves, forget our cultures, just to fit in the white man’s world? I say again, when will we say enough? We dance to our music and gossip with our friends, and they call us loud! But when they make the same noise with their rugby and beer we’re expected to sit back and smile?”
A couple of people around us laughed. I didn’t laugh however. Neither did Jaco.
“I say again” The Fury continued, “When will we say enough? Why must we be forced to hate ourselves in our own country? Yes, I said it last week to those television journalists and I will say it again. Black people in South Africa hate themselves! Black people in America hate themselves! Black people in Europe hate themselves! As long as you are black, these white people are going to train you to hate yourself. Enough! Enough!”
It was one o’ clock at night, and the whole world was asleep. My room was dark. It felt like my brain was being pulled between sleep and the waking world, my thoughts too slow for my body. My eyes burned from the phone’s light as I replied:
[I can’t make it Sunday]
[Why, are you not atheist anymore? LoL]
[Nope. I just can’t make it.]
[Oh, then I guess we’ll schedule for another weekday. We’ll be breaking tradition though]
[I bit my nails, Sorry. I can’t make the entire week]
[I just can’t.]
[I waited a while for his reply to come.]
Jaco was offline for the rest of the night.
On the Last Sunday of our relationship, it rained.
Normally, couples would rejoice at this weather. After all, rain is made for sex. Even though I knew I was going to get naked, I wore my best outfit for the sex that day, these gorgeous leather boots I’d seen on Kim Kardashian and a coat I’d gotten at Woolworths for two thousand rand. The world was grey that day. The rain made the cars look sleek as they darted through the city like mice.
I knocked on Jaco’s door.
When he answered, he was topless, and as always, perfect. He smiled out of the corner of his mouth, but I could see a change in his eyes. For some reason, I remembered them bluer. I tried to act normal, but because his eyes had changed, something within me changed as well. When he welcomed me inside, my feet felt heavy. He had the radio on full blast to Gareth Cliff Central. I opened my mouth to speak, but he silenced me with a kiss.
I tried to make my mind blank. I tried to forget everything that had happened with The Fury and the way that afterwards, Jaco had asked me: “What do you think of all of this?”
I lied and told him it was ridiculous.
“Ridiculous is right” he said with disgust on his face, “I’ll never understand why these people keep fucking shit up”
I was in my bra now. The rest of my clothes were on the floor. He broke our kiss to start undoing my pants. I looked down at his fingers and noticed he’d had a cut.
“Look into my eyes” he said in a gruff sex-voice.
I kept looking at his cut instead. It was ironic, all this hullaballoo about race, when underneath, our blood looked the same.
“Look at me!” he said, firmer.
I didn’t look.
He pushed my face up, “Why won’t you look at me?”
There were tears in my eyes. Outside, thunder rumbled. Despite this, I would’ve rather been there, where the storms were tearing the heavens open, than here with Jaco.
“I can’t do this” I said, tears running down my face, “I’m sorry.” I tasted my own mascara as I picked my clothes up.
“Why are you doing this?” Jaco said, indignant “Is it those A.B.A guys? Is it? What, are you gonna let politics govern our relationship now?”
I picked up my purse, and the things that had fallen out when he started kissing me: lip-gloss and my green, Lesotho passport. I knew this was the last time we’d speak to each other, even as friends. I didn’t care. My hands were shaking. I flung open his door and ran down the hallway. When I got to the top of the stairs, I didn’t go down. I stood there instead, waiting for my breath to slow down.
In truth, I was waiting for Jaco. I wanted him to tell me he was sorry, that I shouldn’t leave, just like the white boys did in the movies when they were about to lose their true loves. I wanted us to meet next Sunday. I waited and waited and waited.
But Jaco didn’t come.
Post image by Roy Blumenthal via Flickr
About the Author:
My name is M V Sematlane. I’m a 20 year old Mosotho who is passionate about fiction, humans, and dogs. Like every person my age, I’m still trying to navigate this confusing world we live in. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of stories and words to transform the world for the better. I’m optimistically cynical, an introverted extrovert, and many other paradoxes that will make me sound cooler than I am in real life.