Pounding beating, my head is pounding and beating. Simulating a swirling merry-go-round, my bed is an enemy to my mobile mind that wishes an escape sweeter than that of the taste of my bitter lips. My mouth tastes of someone else’s, perhaps a cigarette kiss- or kissing, gnawing, face sucking throughout the night? My body, naked and confused resurrects it’s self from its docile state. My sensibility hits me all at once and I feel like I’m about to, I’m about to…
I make it just in time to the bathroom where I project all my shenanigans into the toilet bowl. This went on for about half an hour at which I popped some anti-nausea pills. This is not how I imagined my day would be after all the pampering I did yesterday. The mirror confronts me with an unrecognisable image of myself. I stare back at the stranger in front of me with her wild untamed hair propping up around the edges of her head, and lipstick smeared the side of her face and wonder what happened? Flash backs of robust shoulders, brawn and hmmm… I feel sick I again. I gurgle my mouth with water and ask myself a hard question, last night did I sleep with the not so gay guy? Searching through my bag, I look for answers. Fudge, where is my wallet?
Oh shit! He must have stolen it. I freak out when I realise that my ID and Driver’s License were in there. I lose all composure, paranoia becomes my friend. HA! Someone is going to marry me! Tears start welling up and I wail in the empty bed that I shared last night with a stranger. This pity party is not going to solve anything, I straighten myself out and decide to do what responsible adults should in this situation. I call my banks and cancel all my cards. I take a quick shower, heat up some leftovers for breakfast and head to the club to try find my wallet. It was closed so I go the police station.
Called forward after half an hour of waiting in a queue with a bench that smelt like piss, readily get up. I speak to police lady by the name of Dube. She suggests I open a case because my ID could be used fraudulently. In my statement, I state my name and the incident that led to my wallet being stolen with all its contents. As I mention that I went home with a man who’s name I could not recall at that moment, I feel officer Dube’s judgemental eyes pierce the depths of my soul. Was I suppose to feel ashamed for my actions? In defence I stare right back at her challenging her to do her job instead of judging me. She asks me to clarify that I did not in fact know this man, but willing went home with him and I was not drugged by him or any of his accomplices? My attitude towards her reaction changes and I become obsessed with the question as I think hard about it. I try to reach a conclusion, I bought a lot of alcohol that night that’s why I can’t remember a bulk the of that time; I wasn’t drugged right? I reply to the officer, yes, all that you have said is true.
“I hope you used protection my dear or you’ll have more to worry about then just your ID being used for fraud.”
My eyes widen at her. Everything that she said after that turned into white noise, as I pondered on the implications of her statement. I took my affidavit and rushed home to find answers. As I sifted through my flat I wondered if I should have just gone straight to the pharmacy to get Morning After Pills (emergency contraceptives) or straight to the hospital to get ARVs (Antiretrovirals). This was my reality now. I could be pregnant and infected by HIV by some guy I hardly know. I could not accept this reality, I turned my flat upside down, determined to find something that proves that I am or Goldi was still in control that night. Bedroom, lounge, kitchen, I move through the spaces searching under the bed, in the fridge, on the sides of the couch. Bathroom, under the sink, under the carpet, in the bin. My word where is it? The question was no longer what I was looking for, it was where was it? Where was the damn condom? Tired and feeling defeated I dropped to the floor as if my life was over. I am becoming just another statistic. What will my mom say? When does the cycle end? My birth mother made her raise me, her grandchild, now I will need her to help me raise my child if there is one.
I lay on my side with a tear rolling down my eye, and there it was. Lying just behind the dustbin was the condom in it’s wrapper. Yoh ha ha… This is unreal. I laugh hysterically from one end of the emotional roller coaster to the other. On the floor, still giggling I vocally declare, “I am such an idiot for going home with a slob who can’t figure out how to dispose of a condom.” Sometimes, you need to hear your own words out loud and out of your mind because before that moment, shit went down that almost made you lose your head and you have to make right by yourself.
I was extremely lucky, I counted my blessings. I had to find an angle to write about, I decided to look through a man’s world view because they definitely don’t go through what I had just experienced and I needed to find out why. I make my way upstairs to Mike’s.
“Hello sweet thing. Show me some love.”
“Ammm Mike can you put a shirt on?”
“Oh sorry I forget that these guns can be a danger. So what’s up love?”
“I need help on an article I’d like to write about a man’s view on the rules of engagement in one night stands.”
“Oh young one, that teaching cannot be shared.”
“Oh come on. What do you want in return Mike?”
“Oh nothing much. Just a hook up with one of your pretty friends.”
“I’m not pimping my friends.”
“Then the master will not impart his knowledge.”
“Fine, I’ll give you a phone number that’s it.”
I scroll through, give him my old number that no longer works and get down to business.
“Right Rule number 1 if a woman gives it up on the first night you can never go back there. It’s a 1 night stand.”
“If it was that easy to give it up on the first night then it was probably easy for all the guys who knocked on that door before me. Why would you want that in your life?”
“Why is it acceptable for men to spread their seeds but when women are sexually liberal they are considered hos?”
“I don’t know love. What I do know is, you can’t wife a ho. Besides, girls in clubs are never girlfriend material, Even if they are shit hot. If you meet at a grocery store then sure we can talk but never a club. She’s only good for one thing.”
“Wow isn’t that shallow Mike?”
“Clubs like any other establishments are institutions. If you want to get your prayers heard you go to an institution called a church. If you want to get educated you go to a school. And if you want to get laid by a random stranger you go to a club.”
“Mike, you’re reducing it to only a small aspect of what a club functions as if at all. Surely you go there to socialise and have fun rather than get laid.”
“My love, you can socialise and have fun anywhere but you don’t have to be wearing a ‘look at my ass skirt’ and ‘oggle at my boobs dress’ to do it. Girls in clubs do exactly that.”
“You make it sound like a feeding ground for men.”
“Women are not that innocent to their actions either. Sometimes they go to a club specifically to get a man to go home with them after he’s paid for all her drinks.”
Damn, the guy I was with didn’t even buy me drinks, I got myself drunk. I’m not even sure that sex is what I wanted out of the whole ordeal. I just wanted to forget about the guy I like who was kissing another girl. Mike continues.
“The easy targets are women who go out on their own. With no girlfriend or man to cock block they are openly saying I need you to come entertain me. So I’m happy to be of assistance.”
This was sounding a bit too real for me. I change the subject.
“So once you get the girl, who’s place do you go to?”
“It depends. Personally, I always opt for my place. It puts me in control, there’s nothing more awkward than the next morning trying to decide when to leave, I’d rather not be on that end of the awkwardness.”
Great, another hind sight on my part. I go home with the guy, he steals my wallet and let’s himself out. That’s urban romance for you.
“So what happens if you get the girl pregnant.”
“Ah, don’t know. Never been there.”
“But what if you were in such a situation?”
“I’d probably hit and run.”
I narrow my eyes at him.
“Relax, I’m kidding. Sanele, I’d never be there because I’m responsible and will have kids with a woman I want to be with in due time. I refuse to see it any other way because it questions my standing as a man, ndingumXhosa phela (I’m a Xhosa man- not a boy).”
I look out of the window.
“Babe, are you ok? Feels like you just left the room there.”
“Yeah… I’m fine, ammm. Continue.”
“What happened? Do you want to talk?”
“No, I just remembered that there’s something I needed to do.”
Mike wasn’t convinced but I was not about to admit my vulnerability to a man I went to for advice on 1 night stands.
“Ok love, shout if you need anything else, even a cuddle buddy.”
“Ewww Mike. Bye.”
I decide to go to the beach to clear my head so I can write the article. On my way to Camps Bay on the MyCiti Bus, my mind wanders the pictureque landscape. I wonder how many of the residence in Camps Bay bathe in admiration of the sun at dusk? I wonder if they are home to see it set or could they be watching it from another country, a different time or a separate experience?
Are they stuck in traffic or busy preparing supper for their family? Is it possible that they are frantically making their way to the beach to try catch it, before it blinks out of the sky? Today is a special day. Today I managed to perch myself in the sands of the shore and wiggle my toes in the more affluent part of Cape Town. I envied the gargoyles in Chas Booth Lane, they always had the best view. Their eyes, magically solidified by the very sun we speak of, never lay shut, they never slept but always saw it all. They saw all 12 Apostles, every footstep laid in numbers in the summer, and every pitta patta of the rain in winter, every local welcoming an international tourist and every frown directed towards a darkie happily taking a selfie on the beach. Oh yes, they saw it all. Today they saw something not too different from any other day. They saw an individual, me, deeply reflecting.
I am interrupted by a reminder that pops up on my phone about the Alumni Event at UCT tomorrow. I almost forgot. A text message comes through shortly afterwards. ‘Please Call…’ I almost dismiss it because I do not have time for people who want to talk to me but can’t bother to spend money to do it. But wait, it reads, “Please Call YourID”. Could this mean what it thinks it does? Has a Good Samaritan found my wallet with my ID and all? Over joyed at the prospect of getting my identity safely placed where it belongs, I call the number.
“Hello, I got your ‘please call’. Have you found my ID?”
“Who is this?”
Did I call the wrong number or was there something suspicious about this?
“Sanele, you sent me a message just now.”
“Oh ja, listen ntombazane (girl), we found your ID.”
“Thank you, thank you! Tell me where you are and I will come get it now.”
“Wo, brika bova (slow down). We will give it to you mara you have to give us a small fee of R2000 for finding it for you.”
“Ini (What)? R2000! It’s my ID why should I pay for it? This is fraud!”
My Good Samaritan was nothing more than a low life criminal.
“Ntombazane (girl), if you won’t give it to us; someone else will pay even more than what I’m asking from you to stay in this country. Mos you know that the foreigners are being kicked out of South Africa? Don’t you think that anyone of them would jump at any opportunity to stay in the land of milk and honey? If not them I can give it to any of the other big cats who know how to use your ID to get money, open accounts all of that nonsense. So trust me, giving me that money I’m your best option ntombi (girl). I want your answer by 8pm tonight .”
He hangs up.
Identity Theft is a global problem that can happen in various ways. In this story Sanele is at risk of this crime by losing her Identity Book and Driver’s Licence. What steps does one take to get their ID back? Share your experience.