She had everything she ever dreamed of; a double store room classy house, exquisite furnisher, a double door car garage, a black 745 series BMW, a white 300C Chrysler, a 1998 black Jaguar which was a gift from her late father for her 21st birthday and a successful career. She was living a life every girl dreamt of. Nthabiseng had made it as a number one bestselling author. Her books such as Making a perfect man, Sitting on top of the world and Saved by a murderer flew off the shelves within a blink of an eye. After all, in one of her interviews she’d mentioned that she enjoyed writing these books. She knows that in her creative world she is god. These characters are her people, her ideas, and they follow her authority. She decides who speaks and who doesn’t. Who dies and who lives. As lonely as creating in that world can feel, she knew that soon it will be her receiving glories of signing some printed copies for her readers. She will be receiving compliments and critics alike. She will be doing press interviews as a result of the success of her work. It will be her mounting on stage to accept a Price award and she did. All of that did happen for her. She managed to rock the modern world. To get all the attention she was seeking all along. From her teens to her adult hood, that’s all she ever wanted. To be noticed. To feel wanted. Attention. Everywhere.
Despite the success and all the attention, writing was not the choice she admired. Her dream was to be a famous actress. But somehow, she couldn’t. Her heart did not allow her. She was imprisoned by her conscious. Her past was haunting her. She hoped writing these stories would be an escape to that imaginative world and would make her feel better. Instead, she felt the same inside.
She stood behind a big window allowing the dawn furry wind to spew on her beautiful small face. Nthabiseng was quiet while looking at the crimson orange of the sun dawn slowly descending through Magaliesburg Mountain. Next to her was a red pen and her latest book which she had just finished writing. They were on top of a small table. She was waiting to write its title. With this book it was a time to come clean. It was time to confront her past. She wanted to be free.
The trouble began during her teen years with her friends. They called themselves the Triple Six. Nthabiseng naturally had a strong presence and strong influential voice, despite her father being a respectable member of parliament. All Triple Six girls were mischievous and were attention seekers. However some of them were simply attempting to fit in the group by following Nthabiseng’s commands. At that time, they were seeking the attention of their most loved teacher, Mr Boseja. Mr Boseja was not a typical man you meet every day around the corner. He was in love with himself. Snazzy all the times. A man with a big wardrobe. He was the long hours shopping man. The manicures and pedicures kind of man….the man who wouldn’t leave his house without spending five minutes starring at his face in the mirror. He was what we call today a metro-sexual. He was well dressed, clean, neat, looking and feeling good about himself all the times and the teens were immensely in love with him. Nthabiseng was more desperate to have a piece of him more than anyone. Sometimes she will make an excuse during the classes to get a chance to peep in his office and if she finds him alone, she will seductively try hard to get his attention. She once jumped over him and surprised him with a kiss. When he retorted she threatened to sue him for sexual harassment. Mr Boseja frivolously dared her to go ahead. To him, it was just a child being a child. Nothing much serious. Nthabiseng went ahead and the tabloids got their hands on the story: “The MP’s daughter abused, and sexually harassed by the school teacher.”
At first, the story wasn’t that serious, since everyone who knew Mr Boseja struggled to believe the accusation. When Nthabiseng realised that her case is about to get cold, and that she might be left with humiliation before everyone’s eyes, she forced her Triple Six group friends to come forward in support of her story. “One more girl comes forward about the sexual harassment from the pervert teacher.” The tabloids warmed up. Mr Boseja couldn’t believe it. “Two more girls come out front with the same saga.” “A girl is threatened by a teacher if she tells truth about rape attempts by her teacher.” The newspaper printed more headlines about the promiscuous accusations. A number of six girls in total accused him. Everyone turned their back against Mr Boseja. The community wanted him dead. Nthabiseng and her friends enjoyed the “victims” pity attention from the families, therapists, schoolmates, journalists and the community at large. For them, it felt great to be victims of something that never happened to them. It felt good to be talked about more often. They felt like celebrities. They got attention. The tabloids continued to pour more oil on fire: “The sexual pervert teacher; Mr Boseja”. “Teacher by default, pervert by profession.” Mr Boseja’s reputation was buried in lava. No one believed his innocence. Despite his efforts of hiring a great lawyer, Nthabiseng’s father pulled out his strings to ensure that Mr Boseja goes in for the long haul.
“The accused is a threat to our women and children…to the society. He is a danger to the future of this country. Therefore he deserves to be punished for his malicious acts.” The judge went on and on as if she was reading a diary of Lucifer. She concluded with a heavy jail sentence. Mr Boseja was in turmoil, fragile even…helpless….
Nthabiseng pulled herself from the window as she retracts from the bitter memories. “I am tired of living like this. This has to come to an end. I want to live with peace inside my heart.” She jabbered to the thought out loud; unaware. This book is not like any other books she wrote over the years. This book is not fictitious like other books. It does not have heroes and heroines. There is no living happily ever after kind of tone. This book is a way to find redemption for her. It is a letter of an apology to the man whose life she once ruined. This book is more than personal.
As she sat in front of the untitled copy of her manuscript before sending it to the printers, she picked up the red pen and wrote its title:
“To Sir, With Guilt.”
As she looked at the title, she hoped Mr Boseja receives the message and forgives her. At least she managed to edit the pages, but her past remains the same.
Photo: Hazel Fasaha Tobo