By Maakomele Manaka
They were the best of friends, thick as thieves I tell you, people always thought they were brothers coz they were both light skinned, they were both tall, they both had long faces, they both had dreadlocks and both their names began with J’s, James and Jimmy.
James loved to talk and most of the time he spoke nonsense but he made us laugh. Jimmy on the other side was the quiet guy, when we were all laughing at James’s jokes, Jimmy would just smile. Sweet guy and very charming, in fact both of them were very charming, Jimmy didn’t speak much and every time he did, people listened, he had presence. James was a musician and a poet, Jimmy on the other hand was a journalist and a good one at that, his girlfriend and I became very good friends since both our boyfriends were close friends.
I first met James at a poetry reading, and from the moment our eyes crossed, it felt right with every muscle in my body that he was the one. I was sitting close to the stage when he molded all my fears and joys in song and poetry, boy he was good, for a moment in my life I was free from the world, his wisdom devoured all of my being and when we sat down and spoke I felt like I needed to live some more. When he introduced me to Jimmy I thought they were brothers, every time he was around Jimmy, there was a glow in his eyes almost as if he saw himself in Jimmy, come to think about it may be he did.
Our relationship became too heavy for words, he was my world and I was his universe we were inseparable.
He was so different to all the other guys I had been with, he was more caring, understanding, loving, he was a Romantic. On the day our child was born, he was more concerned about the type of father he was going to be, he never spoke much about his parents and we named our baby after my surname coz he had this theory that a child is a reflection of our ancestors and having my surname as his name and the baby’s last name as his, that baby was guaranteed a path of righteousness in the spiritual world. Jimmy was our son’s godfather, he was so happy and that made James happier, knowing that he had his best friend’s blessing and loyalty.
In this country building a family as an artist is not peaches and cream coz so many times we would find ourselves stranded with not enough financial power to sustain ourselves, I mean James had to juggle between his performances with two jobs and fathering his child, and at times he would have to look after the baby and still had to produce fresh material while I went to work. I managed to find myself a part time job at Jimmy’s work as a receptionist, Jimmy was always supportive thank god for Jimmy coz without him I don’t know how we would have survived. James trusted Jimmy with his life especially after how he got me a job and sometimes would look after our baby when James and I were off to go search for the sunlight every home needs. We lived at a cottage in Westdene, at the back of some gay guy’s house who used to harass us with rent knowing very how hard we were trying.
Every time James and I had a fight, he would sleep over at Jimmy’s place in Brixton then Jimmy would come and cool off the heat, Jimmy became my brother, he reminded me of my father coz he was extremely sweet, he was like James’s better half.
As time grew wings, James was becoming more and more irresponsible, jobs were not coming his way, he was spending more time at home looking for a job and by then I was a full timer and bought myself a car, we took the baby to my parents in Pietersburg until everything was sorted out but nothing came right, It was sad to see the man I came to love drink himself to the ground. All he seemed to do was go out and have fun with Jimmy and then start fights with who ever was with him, on some nights I would have to call the police on him and Jimmy would bail him out. I would let him use my car when I was at work during the day, and I would sometimes find ladies underwear and open packs of condoms in the car, he was becoming uncontrollable but not to Jimmy coz he was the only person that could handle him. Jimmy’s girlfriend once told me that he was having an affair with some girl that lived up the road from our house, I didn’t want to believe it, and I didn’t leave him after the troubles he caused me coz I saw potential in him.
For months James and I would fight, until finally, I left him, I was enough. I went to live with Jimmy’s girlfriend in Melville and he would come with Jimmy hoping to sort things out but one can only push a person so far, shame, poor Jimmy was so heartbroken when all this happened and he tried bringing us together but it was too late. A couple of months after we broke up, Jimmy helped James get a job at his work as a music compiler, by then I had left and managed to work for a record label as the CEO’s personal assistant, James still stayed in Westdene, apparently Jimmy helped him out with the rent.
James cleaned himself up, his new job made him feel closer to his passion, he later had a slot on one of the shows, James had the personality and the voice, so the radio station started him small, he came to my work with Jimmy and kneeled down begging for my forgiveness, he cried that day, I will never forget that Wednesday. I moved back in with him and when I first arrived I just couldn’t believe it, the house was spotless clean with his guitar and his note pad on the bed, for the first time after the 5 years I have known him, I saw the man I fell in love with, I saw the father of my son in his eyes.
The night of my 27th birthday, James called earlier that day told me he’s taking me out and he told Jimmy the same thing but his girlfriend was out of town, he called again later in the evening and told me he was running late, Jimmy and I were waiting for him at the house. While we were waiting, Jimmy showed me the ring he bought for his girlfriend, he was ready for marriage? Wow that’s great I thought if only she was here, then James called and said we must meet him at some fancy restaurant in Melville. When we got there, it took us some time to locate parking I had never seen 7th street so busy, eventually we found parking and when we were walking towards the restaurant we see James’s car, by then he had bought himself a citi golf, and as we approach the car, Jimmy and I quickly realize something is happening inside, I swear I could feel my heart beat on my palm and my feet feeling heavier and heavier. We looked inside the car and could only make out a bit but I think we knew what was going on coz all the windows were misty, when we knocked on the doors and on the windows, to my surprise and shock, I just couldn’t believe it, James and Jimmy’s girlfriend.
Jimmy lost it, he broke the window and pulled James out half naked, at that moment I could feel Jimmy’s pain as he tore James’s pride in front of almost all of 7th. Just over ten years of loyalty, and James betrayed him like that, he was planning on marrying her. Jimmy went wild, his girlfriend tried stopping him but he threw her on the side, I was too hurt to interfere and some how I felt like James needed to be taught a lesson, but not to the point he is unconscious coz when the police came Jimmy threw me too, on the side of the road, nearly got hit by the police van.
From sweet to bitter, from man to animal, he was like an Elephant that had lost it’s bond with it’s master and didn’t care what was around it or what was damaged, anger and betrayal fueled Jimmy’s rage.
James passed away when he got to hospital, badly beaten. He once me told about you and about what happened, every father can forgive their sons. It took me some time to track you down, anyway, I wrote this to let you know what type of man he was and that he will be buried on the 20th of this month and I would really appreciate it if you came, so that his son can meet his grandfather. For whatever its worth he never stopped blaming himself for the accident that took his mother’s life, he wrote a beautiful poem and one of the lines said, ‘father, she forgives me, I need you, she loves me father please rescue me’.