Baby Daddy (Part 2)

I don’t know what it would take for you to hear the heartbeat of your own child and then decide to do an abortion. Whatever it takes, I didn’t have it. My girlfriend had already decided she was keeping the baby. I was late in my decision. On hearing the heartbeat my I nearly fell over. Afterwards I stood up and I knew it was time to become a man.

Fam, I went weeks without sleep. I would lie awake at night staring at the ceiling, turn over and find my girlfriend staring at me. “F**k, f**k, f**k Vus, tell me you lying” a friend of mine said. I mean what now? Like really, where to from here? Well, first stop you have to crack the news the families. We were both from joburg, same hood actually but we lived in Cape Town. It was November now and we had decided it would be best to tell the family in person when go home for December. I would wonder what pattern my blood would make on the wall as her mother bludgeons to me death. Maybe she’ll strangle me or make me play Russian Roulette by myself with a fully loaded gun. Me and the lady would take use pics of our parents to practice our speeches.

“How did this happen?”,
“Eer…well…magriza….you…see…”, dandruff hits the floor.
I could already see it now. The plan was that we were going to tell both our families on the same day, just so there’s beefing bout who’s favored. God be with us all

Meet The Parents
Well, December came. We got home. My house first. Somewhere between my nervous smile and my strangely overly enthusiastic laughter, I think I gave us away. My mom knew something was up. There’s not that many guess when your son/daughter and their other half sit in front you in giddy nervousness chewing their nails to the bone. My pops pressed the “off” button on the tv remote and my heart went off. My brain lost communication with my face and I think I said the words “we are going to have a baby” with a smile like a scarf.There was a long silence and then, my dad just cracked up. Just like that, he laughed. I’m not sure what or who he was laughing at. My mother’s face stiffened with disappointment. She just looked away. Without even flinching my dad went straight to business:
“So, now is going to be a traditional wedding or a white wedding?”, he said.
“Huh? What? Wedding? Who?”
“Yah, we have to tell the other family in time so they can prepare.”
“No no no no no no no, Pops, we not getting married”,
“What? Not getting married?!”
“Eer…no, not…… :D”
My girlfriend came to my rescue and dispelled that ancient myth that kids equate marriage, the way had discussed. “Well then, we have to send your uncles to this woman’s house to tell them you came into their home through the window and ruined their home”. Yes, that’s exactly what my dad said to me. My mom didn’t say much. She’s the type who can rip your heart out of your chest with just silence. What worked for me was that I had a plan, a good one as to what I was going to.
“We’ll call your uncle and tell me to go there and tell them what you’ve done”, my dad concluded.
“No, you’re not going to do that”, I answered.

Black Father Syndrome
Now, at this point I start making decisions that would end up enraging both. Here’s why I did. When one’s uncle’s are sent to your baby momma’s house they are going the to do one thing: to apologize. I flatly refused to apologize for the existence of my child. As much as he was unplanned, he was NOT a mistake. Since there was no other angle for them to use (or so I thought) I forbid them to go there. “Then me and your father will go there”, my mother said. “No”, again I refused. What kind of man sends his own mother to fight his battles for him?There’s another reason why I had to go and take responsibility for what I had done. A friend of mine came up with the phrase “Black Father Syndrome”. He said it is the root cause of most of the issues facing the black nation. Everything from crime, violence, abuse, pain, anger and broken families exist because somewhere, somehow there was defective fatherhood. The entire male population in my family have kids that they did not take care of. My family is constituted of 6 siblings, 3 mother, 3 fathers. No one except me was raised by their father. I grew up with both my parents and shared a house with people who did not have fathers. It’s one thing for your father to die. It’s another thing to grow knowing he’s out busy not giving a sh*t. That wound never heals. Young boys wounded turning into grown men broken, doing foul things to their families. No, that sh*t stops here. I wanted to prove something, I don’t know what but, I needed to prove something to my family, to her family, to me. I was not sending anyone anywhere. I was going to the family myself.A few years after this day, my mother would tell me how disappointed she was at my decision.Sometimes we do not practice our traditions not because we undermine them or deem them irrelevant but because they clash with fundamental principles of who we believe we are as be continued …

Writer: Vus Ngxande               Photographer: Melanin Visual

  • Lindiwe Monica
    20th Mar 2015

    It’s visual, it’s insightful, it’s beautiful… This has to be one of my favorites… I love it

  • Lerato Amore Ngakane
    20th Mar 2015

    Interesting…although i have to say, an apoloy is the right way to approach it because in essence, you have no right impregnating someone with no intention of forever on the horizon. You will always have the option of walking out when shit gets rough, hence ending up like your 3 siblings with absent daddies. So apologise you must

    • Vus Ngxande
      20th Mar 2015

      But the reality is that even within a secure marriage, one partner does not have a right over another person. Your partner has no right over you besides that which you allow them to have. Also, in essence, the ‘intention of forever’ does not necessarily yield ‘forever’. A woman also has the option to walk out, they are not physically attached to the child. By that same token, just because a man does not give birth to the child does not mean that they lack a connection to the child. Walking out is a choice that is open to anyone (yes society seems more accepting of absent fathers). But when you have 2 people and a child, you take remove the idea of society from the equation, you have two adults who have equal stakes to lose or gain. Both share equally in how the child came to be. A father who walks out suffers the same repercussions that a mother, the difference is that he doesn’t yet realise how damaged he is and the damage he causes. But, without fail, he will. All fathers, one way or another, will eventually come face to face with this damage. Karma does not work according our need for vengeance; fathers will not suffer the consequences according to how mother want them to. But they will. They will.

      • Lerato Amore Ngakane
        20th Mar 2015

        With marriage, I think its a psychological thread of bondage that’s harder to cut than a vat n sit. I dont dispute pesonal choice, by all means one must walk out when one chooses and the situation isnt working but my point was about the apology. We must take into cognisance that you “disrespected” a family by your not so wise choice and carelessness, and one must apologise, have remorse, and take on their responsibility. That’s all

        • Vus Ngxande
          20th Mar 2015

          That is partly true. I didn’t exactly ‘steal’ anything. Also this line of reasoning, ignores the fact that there two consenting adults involved.

          You are right in the part about respect. In The conversation I would later have with my mother was that I misunderstood the concept of the apology. Where I went wrong was in associating an apology with shame. She explained to me that, traditionally, in this context, an apology doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ashamed. It is only a sign of respect, an acknowledgement of the fact that I was part of the process which lead the family to then having to come to terms with how their specific views on their child’s growthlife might not be met in the way they anticipated. The apology then was more of saying to the family that I accept that they had invested a lot financially, culturally, emotionally etc, into a specific outcome which will now not come to pass in THAT way.

  • Khanyo Zondi
    23rd Mar 2015

    Vus I applaud you, yes you might not have done it according to customs, tradition, rules, whatever but you went to the family as a man & took responsibility & that speaks volumes. Did what most guys never would, that for me sets you aside from the boys. It wasn’t easy I’m sure, parents are the most frightening creatures & for you to go to her parents yourself shows courage & traits of being an honest, honourable man. My friends baby daddy who is husband now, did the same & her father found respect for him even though he had ruined his daughter so to speak.

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