What you reap … you sow
The merciless African sun, the sweet scent of flowers and the incessant buzzing of bees infused the silent room. I was clammy, covered in sweat, my clothes stuck to my flushed skin. The spicy cologne of youngest, sexiest lecturer at Kalibu Uni was almost arousing as he passed my desk. I survived the mother of all all-nighters by drinking seven cups of coffee. The caffiene and nervous adrenalin combined to keep me alert. It was the day of my most important final. Intellectual Property Law.
I recalled the cases I’d reviewed yesterday as my mom chatted to Aunt Josephina over the phone.“Yes,” I remember her saying, “Eugenie is a good girl. She’s taking her law finals you know.” After a pause she continued, “Oh, that’s wonderful that your Jean-Pierre’s been accepted at UCT. Congratulations! Eugenie is also headed to R.S.A. She’ll have to sit her bar exams there again, but what’s one more exam for the opportunity to work in the New South Africa? I must get Godfrey’s address from you, so the kids will have someone from home to visit.” And after a longer pause punctuated with a sniffle, she said, “I know we’ll miss them, but there are more opportunities there. We must sacrifice…”
I loved D.R.C, my home, my country. But, my mom was right. I had to go to South Africa, the land of opportunity. To leave, I had to get my degree summa cum laude. To do that, I had to score 75% for this course. And to do that, I had to ace this exam! Focus! I kept going, until Mr. Ngoy said, “Time’s up. Pens down.”
The silence was broken by the shuffling of answer books, the sliding back of chairs and the post-exam murmur complaining about the questions. I joined the mass exodus to the front of the lecture theatre.
My Ngoy’s deep voice called out, “Eugenie and Gordence, if I may have a word.”
I looked at Gordence, my brow creased. What was up? I tried to get Gordence’s attention, but she was looking everywhere, except at me! The last student left. Mr. Ngoy closed the doors.
“I’m bitterly dissapointed by this behaviour. Especially from you, Eugenie. You had such potential. Gordence, I saw you reading Eugenie’s answer book! You were both cheating! You’ll get zero for this exam and you’ll have to appear before the disciplinary committee.”
“But, Mr.,” I started to protest.
“I don’t want to hear it. Get out. Now.”
Outside, I turned to Gordence about to launch into tirade of this gross injustice and launch a plan of action. And then I looked at her properly.
And saw her flushed cheeks.
And her slumped shoulders.
And her avoidance of my eyes.
She had done it! She had cheated! My friend sold me down the river. I felt the world spin
around me. I saw the future …
No first for the course.
No New South Africa.
The early morning rush -bacon and eggs, getting Liberty dressed, fighting through the morning traffic- was over! And the workday mania hadn’t yet begun. I guess this was the ‘me-time’ that the life coaches and self-help gurus preached about. A moment to savour it
I swiveled my leather chair around and surveyed the Gauteng city horizon from the glass walls of my corner office at Von Kardenburgh, Du Ville, Cronjé, and Thornton- the best international law firm practicing in South Africa.
I was A Success! I had a spirited eight year old daughter, Liberty; a wonderful, sexy husband! A promotion to partner in an international law firm! I drove an E-class silver mercedes benz, lived in an elegant mansion in Hyde Park. We built homes for our parents back in the D.R.C. I was one happy woman!
“Eugenie?” buzzed Marc, my metrosexual, espresso-brewing PA, “A Miss Kanvi is here. Without an appointment-”
“That’s okay Marc, I’ve been expecting her.”
Three seconds later, Hurricane Kanvi stormed my office.
“You bitch! How could you do this to me?! What about loyalty?! Why the hell did you help that bastard!? You’ve ruined me! I have to pay twenty million in damages! I’ll never get out of the shit because of you! How could you!?”
Marc, quite pale from the profuse use of profanity, left to alert security.
I eyed the ‘woman scorned’ with contempt and said, “You know, it was really easy. When your ex-husband came here looking for representation, he insisted that the software designs were his, that you’d stolen them. He said that his competitors had planted ‘a spy’ at his company. That you had slept with ‘the spy’- like you slept with every other male employee – and given him the designs. We had him pegged for a pathetic, jilted husband, and never intended to take the case. By chance, the poor bastard dropped his wallet. I saw his wife’s photograph in it. And I knew what to do. Gordence.”
Two muscled security officers appeared to ‘chaperone’ her out of the building.
“You nearly ruined my life fifteen years ago. Fortunately, I had good karma! I went to the library after the exam. I thought since I’d failed that exam, I might as well start studying for the next year. And there Mr. Ngoy appeared, gave me his muscular shoulder to cry on. He realised that I couldn’t possibly have cheated. So he let me write a make-up exam, which I aced.”
It was then, that Gordence looked at the photograph on my desk.
“Yes, that’s right. I married our Mr. Ngoy; and we came here together. When I heard your ex’s story, I knew he had to be telling the truth. So I agreed to take the case. Always looking for a short-cut, Gordence. You haven’t changed a bit! And you haven’t learnt a thing! What is it our mothers always used to say?… What you reap, you sow!”