Instead of starting this piece from the beginning of last night’s episode, I’m going to start from the end and work my way to the beginning. You’ll get it in the end. Read on!
In the end
Mihlali is sitting on the floor in her pyjamas hugging her legs, frightened by what she had just overheard. Poor child should not have heard about it this way.
Mihlali had heard all the shouting coming from the kitchen and crept into the living room to hear what it was all about. She overhears Zimele asking Lebo why she has Eddie’s number on her phone. Lebo says it’s for the convenience of discussing how Bulela is doing. So Zimele asks her if she has any other teacher’s number, to which she answers no. Zimele then asks what is going on between her and Eddie and although Lebo insists they are just friends Zimele is not buying it.
He goes off to get Lebo’s phone, reads the sms she got from Eddie taht morning and her “I miss you too” reply. This adds fuel to Zimele’s argument that Lebo is busy pointing figures at him when she is seeing their son’s teacher behind his back. Worse, he accuses Lebo of sleeping with Eddie, adding that maybe Eddie is the one who gave them the virus.
But what led to this argument?
The now visibly pregnant Lebo had come home from the support group at the clinic and found Zimele watching TV, back earlier than usual from the drinking with Theki. She confronted Zimele about the reality that hit her earlier at the support group and her talk with new member Lulu. The conversation heated up after Lebo told Zimele how far his careless behaviour had led with Zakes possibly being infected as well by Lulu. The pieces of the puzzle are finally coming together, soon the link will be made between Dineo and Bulela and I wonder how Zimele will take that.
As that went on…
… Zakes is at Dineo’s house telling her that he may have unwittingly put her life at risk by sleeping with her without a condom and therefore infecting her with HIV. Before this Dineo had tried to shoo Zakes away, speaking from inside the house and telling Zakes to go home. But Zakes insisted and she finally emerged from inside to speak to him. Zakes mapped out for Dineo how through their one night stand (and we predicted they did not use a condom that drunken night), she may have HIV from him, passed onto him by Lulu, passed on to her by Zimele.
She tells Zakes that had she known she would not have slept with Bulela. Now I’m not normally violent but these kids make me want to get a whip. All of them nje. Mr Cele needs to throw in some birds and bees with trigonometry. He can call it trick-onometry, some cos, tan, sin. The lesson would be: use a condom with every partner cos you may tan HIV+ and commit the ultimate sin by passing it on to someone else. Got it? Great.
Earlier that evening at the HIV support group…
…Lebo sat down to have a woman to woman talk with Lulu after the support group meeting. Lulu told Lebo that she and Zakes were virgins when they started having sex and basically she was infected by Zimele. Lebo realised that the people in her tree of infection are much closer than she had originally thought, and they all seem to lead to Zimele.
Lebo had walked into the meeting while Lulu Belle (Belle is not her surname, it’s just my doting name for her. It’s actually a common combination name, like Mary Anny or Sarah Bella) stood bravely in front of the group and told them her story about dating a married sugar daddy because he bought her food and clothes in a time of need. In return, she gave of herself in a way no one should ever do.
As Lulu was talking, a familiar figure stood in the background and even though it was out of focus with Lulu in the fore of the shot, it was easy to make out who it was. It was Lebo, standing and listening to Lulu tell her story. As she moved a little closer she caught site of Lulu’s profile and shock stopped her in her tracks for a moment. It was rather symbolic how Lebo came in from behind Lulu because Lulu herself had cheated with Zimele behind Lebo’s back. Even though Lulu did not reveal the name of her sugar daddy to the group, Lebo knew it was her husband and thus the one-on-one at the end of the meeting.
Claiming back responsibility for the self
For me what was crucial about this scene, was not Lebo nearly having it off with Lulu right there in front of the group (thanks to Sol all temperatures were quickly quelled). It was Lebo standing in front and admitting that she had suspected her husband was cheating on her but had never insisted on him using a condom with her. Even more important, was her saying that everyone must be responsible for their own protection and therefore their own lives. I think she really brought it back to the self here and reminded us how sometimes we foolishly give away the responsibility to protect ourselves to someone else.
While all of that went on Zimele, revealed his status to Theki
Zimele’s naughty goatee frenemy (friend plus enemy, with a friend like him who needs enemies) Theki, picked Zimele up after they closed shop for their ritual of pool, drinks and women. Theki is the type of man who just does not listen to anything or anyone and will do just what he pleases, even if it puts his life at risk. You could wave a red flag in his face and he will not heed the warning but instead tell you that you are obscuring his view of the ladies. That’s Theki. You should know one; they are as common as black sheep.
So while playing pool Zimele substituted the usual guy talk with sex education. He asked Theki if he had ever been tested for HIV and of course Theki is like ‘hell no!’. Zimele tries to encourage Theki to go and get tested and tells him not only has he tested, but he tested HIV positive. A second’s silence, momentary shock on Theki’s face, and we lost him again. He told Zimele to deal with his problems while he goes to deal with the two lovely ladies who had been making eyes at them all evening. Theki! Thus Zimele’s early return home to watch TV.
A joy before the storm
At soccer practice that afternoon, Mr Cele brought Bulela the letter from the American scholarship board and it read, “Congratulations…”. Mr Cele borrowed Bulela his phone so that he could call his mother immediately to tell her the good news since Bulela’s phone battery was flat. Mihlali answered the phone and handed it to Zimele who looked at the caller ID thought it was Eddie calling. Bulela tells his dad that Mr Cele let him use his phone to deliver the news. There is joy in the Moloi family as Lebo enters the room to hear the good news and she leaps into Zimele’s open arms, followed by a three way hug with daugther. Shine shine Bulela! This was how Zimele found out that Lebo had Eddie’s number.
Zakes seeks advice
Zakes was also at the soccer practice but didn’t look happy when Bulela announced to the team that he had been awarded the scholarship. It was not jealousy, but the knowledge of his betrayal to Bulela and the possibility that he may have infected Dineo with HIV. Before going home he stopped by Mr Cele class to ask for advice for “a friend”. He wanted to know if his “friend” should tell the girl he slept with that he may have infected her with HIV. Mr Cele said to him that his “friend” should tell the girl and encourage her to get tested even if she ends up worrying for no reason since this friend has so far tested negative and is in the window period. But I think Mr Cele suspected that Zakes was not asking for “a friend”. That talk was what lead Zakes to go and speak to Dineo later on.
Why did Zakes go to speak to Mr Cele?
At the end of class that morning Mr Cele noticed the smiles exchanged between Bulela and Dineo, and how Zakes looked on with some discomfort and looked down. As Zakes was leaving Mr Cele said to Zakes that he looked a little down and asked if it has anything to do with school work. Zakes replied that it was not school, but personal issues. Eddie reassures Zakes that whatever the problem is he can come and speak to him about it.
The sms trail
As the students were packing up to leave his class, Eddie sent an sms to Lebo who was in the shop with Zimele. Zimele asked Lebo who the sms was from and she lied saying it was her friend Lihle asking how they are doing. Remember the sms that fuelled Zimele’s accusations at the end?
And where it all started
That morning at the Masakhane Clinic canteen Sol found a worried looking Lulu, who revealed to him she sometimes she feels depressed about her HIV positive status. Sol suggested she join the clinic HIV support group later that day to help her cope with her situation. She is at first apprehensive about everyone finding out but agrees to go that evening.
The method to my madness…
… was to illustrate the butterfly effect in a way, how one small seemingly unrelated thing can lead to much bigger consequences. I’m sure if these characters, and many people in real life, could turn back the clock and foresee what their own actions could result in, they would have done a lot of things differently. Unfortunately they cannot, and we’ll have to wait and see what happens next.
Soul City, Monday 20:30 , SABC 1 !