Friday Night Book Club: Read the first chapter of The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa
More about the book!
The Friday Night Book Club: Exclusive excerpts from Pan Macmillan every weekend!
Stay in and get cosy with a glass of wine and this extended excerpt from The Blessed Girl, the new novel from Angela Makholwa.
About the book
When you are accustomed to the finer things in life – designer shoes, champagne, VIP lounges, exotic holidays abroad, a luxury penthouse, expensive wheels – what independent young woman in her right mind would want to let them go? Certainly not the beautiful, ambitious and super-streetsmart Bontle Tau, the girl who has used her good looks and winning charm all her life to get exactly what she wants. The lifestyle doesn’t come cheap, though, nor does maintaining the body that allows it (just ask Dr Heinz at the beauty clinic).
Luckily, Bontle has a degree in MENcology, and there is no shortage of blessers at her penthouse door, eager to give her all the love and (financial) support she needs. Papa Jeff might be overweight and getting on a bit, and receiving some unwanted attention from the Hawks; and Teddy might not have fully come through for her on that messed-up tender business; but Mr Emmanuel, the Nigerian businessman with deep pockets and the possibility of conferring second wife status … could that be love? Keeping all her boyfriends happy and living a fabulous life is not without its challenges. With so many people clamouring for Bontle’s attention – from her shebeen queen mother Gladys in Mamelodi, who is taking strain bringing up her teenage brother, Golokile, on her own; to her girlfriends, Iris and Tsholo; not to mention her soon-to-be ex-husband, the ever-patient, ever-loving Ntokozo, Bontle barely has time to post on Instagram these days. Sooner or later something’s got to give …
Read the excerpt:
The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa
Blessing n. God’s favour and protection.
Blesser n. A person (usually male and married) who sponsors a younger woman with luxury gifts or a luxurious lifestyle in exchange for a short- to medium-term sexual relationship. origin: Social media phenomenon in which young beautiful ladies posted pictures showing off opulent lifestyles and proclaimed themselves to be ‘blessed’. The source of these blessings was soon discovered to be wealthy married men, hence the term ‘blesser’ was coined.
Blessee n. A person (usually female) who lives a luxurious lifestyle funded by an older, sometimes married partner in return for sexual favours. example of use in a sentence: ‘Mohau went to pay a deposit on the luxury vehicle that he had pre-ordered for his blessee, knowing that she would be pleased with the gift.’
Moreki n. A person (usually male) who pays the bill at social gatherings in places such as pubs, bars, lounges and Wie Sien Ons’s. Leads pecking order in social gatherings. Synonyms: main buyer/purchaser/ sponsor. example of use in a sentence: ‘Lemohang had to wait for the Moreki to first introduce himself to the girls before he could initiate conversation.’ origin: Township halls and bars, but the phrase was popularised by a hit song ‘S’ka bhora Moreki’ (Do not bore the buyer). The song emphasised the need not to bore the buyer as he had first dibs on major social engagements.
Wie Sien Ons n. An Afrikaans term (Eng transl. ‘who sees us’) used to describe a convivial social gathering held after the funeral of a deceased person to console the deceased’s loved ones. Usually involves large consumption of food and alcohol at a venue close to the deceased’s home. Synonym: After Tears. origin: In the 1980s South African townships were plagued by a gangster culture that saw the birth of a tradition of wild celebrations at the funerals of gang members. These were staged in order to show the rival gangs the bravado of the gang members who had lost their beloved member. It signalled their resilience and readiness to avenge the gang member’s passing – which usually transpired at the hands of a rival gang. This culture soon permeated into the burial of ordinary, law-abiding citizens, and became known as ‘Wie Sien Ons’.
Sefebe n. A derogatory term used to describe a woman of loose morals. Also used to describe a loud, rude woman.
Yellow Bone n. and adj. A black person who has a light or fair complexion. Also refers to those who have artificially altered their skin to achieve said complexion. origin: (American) A term referring to extremely light-skinned black females, who were usually of mixed race or racial lineage. It was adopted by black South Africans after certain celebrities began to undergo skin-bleaching treatments in an attempt to be lighter/whiter.
Woke adj. Past tense of wake (as in wake up); description of someone who is past the point of waking up. One who can think for him- or herself. A person who sees the way in which racism, sexism and classism affect how we live our lives on a daily basis. origin: Popular culture/social media.
My name is Bontle Tau. The first thing you will notice about me is my honeycomb complexion, my almond-shaped eyes, the mole on the right corner of my mouth and my luscious lips. From a very young age, I knew that I was exceptionally beautiful. I saw it in the way that adults looked at me; the compliments showered upon my mother for my good looks; the way that grown men would stop and gape at me.
At school, teachers would give me a free pass on tasks that were expected of other children. From the moment I was born, my parents knew that I was destined to go far, purely because of the way that I looked, hence they named me Bontle – The Beautiful One. It doesn’t hurt that my surname Tau means lion … I am a beautiful and fierce lioness. Watch out, world!
People don’t understand that when your physical attributes are the most exceptional things about you, the sun orbits around your world, instead of the other way around. If I were given the option to spend a lifetime as Albert Einstein or as Marilyn Monroe, I’d choose Marilyn Monroe every time … drugs and all. I think that despite some of her bad choices, she still had a much better quality of life than that weirdlooking chemist … or was he a scientist? Oh, whatever. I love girls who know how to make the most of their looks. Marilyn Monroe was the original blessee. And you can quote me on that one.
When I realised that most people were willing to let me get away with just about anything because of my looks, I learnt to manipulate … no, take advantage of … situations, and, as collateral damage, I suppose, I also learnt to take advantage of people.
I don’t really care how people judge me; it’s mostly the ones who haven’t made anything of their lives anyway.
Average people tend to be average at just about everything they do … and exceptional people tend to excel at least at one or two things in life. The skill that I have honed and perfected, from a fairly young age, is that of charming people to get my own way. Malcolm Gladwell said that if you spend 10 000 hours honing a skill, if you practise incessantly at it, you are more likely to be a champion in that field. I’ve been charming the pants off people since the day I was born.
At school, when I didn’t feel like attending classes, I would get a boy in class to take notes for me and even go as far as to come through to my house to update me on everything that I had missed in class. When I realised how easy it was to convince people, especially boys, to do what I wanted, I decided that that was how I was going to cruise my way through life. People think that my lack of academic prowess makes me dumb, but they don’t understand that I am smarter than them. I apply the 80/20 principle in the way that I live my life: 20% effort for 80% reward. This philosophy has ensured that I notch up the kind of successes that most people my age only dream about. One day I am going to get someone to write a book about my philosophy on life … I think there’s a lot of poor souls that would benefit from my simple yet highly effective outlook.
I am currently twenty-four years old; I own two businesses, a fully paid-up penthouse on Grayston Drive in Sandton, right at the heart of Johannesburg’s swanky metropolis; and I drive a luxury German vehicle – a convertible no less. Not bad for a girl from Mamelodi; yep, that’s my hood, baby!
I barely scraped through matric and I have never spent a single day in a university lecture hall. What I lack in academic qualifications, I more than make up for in my street smarts. My role model is Donald Trump. The only books in my house are motivational treasures by the likes of my hero Donald Trump, Richard Branson and books about how to manipulate men … he he he. I really love those. I think anyone who’s dumb enough to study psychology should stop wasting their time, and just read books like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus or Why Men Love Bitches. Oh yes, I have a PhD in MENcology, baby!
Most of my friends are still battling to complete their degrees and diplomas and often gape at me, as I rock my Christian Louboutins, rushing to an important meeting or going to grab a latte with (mostly) older women friends. There is nothing that irks a bookworm more than seeing someone like me make a success of her life, but whoever said that all men (or women) are born equal? Oddly enough, I am hardly the type who can claim to have been born with a silver spoon. Au contraire … the opposite is actually true.
My mother’s name is Gladys Olifant. She was born into a ‘coloured’ family in Hammanskraal back in the 1960s. When she was twenty years old, she was plucky enough to pack two pieces of luggage, her ‘dompas’ and R300 in order to hitchhike her way to Johannesburg, the city of hustlers, gold diggers and prospectors. She landed up in Hillbrow, where she started working at a place that was a cross between a jazz lounge and a latter-day township tavern. My mother doesn’t like to talk about that period in her life but whenever her sisters get drunk and get into fights with her, they always say, ‘Don’t think that we’ve forgotten that you were once nothing but a prossie.’ This is usually followed by a moerse catfight, some crying; then later they all drink and profess their undying love for each other. Seriously. My family is soooo lame. They are so embarrassing; you wouldn’t believe that I’m related to them.
I was so lucky to discover Aunty Mabel, my father’s younger sister, who owns a clothing boutique in Rosebank. My father never married Gladys. He left my mother when I was three years old and died in a mining accident a few years later. I never knew his side of the family until Aunty Mabel reached out to my mother three years ago. She wanted to get to know me better so my mother arranged a meeting between the three of us. I fell in love with her instantly. Aunty Mabel is so cool and stylish and worldly; she’s like the older version of me. Even if she’s not that pretty, she knows how to take care of herself, and she gets invited to all these swanky events by some of her clients from the boutique.
From the very first time I met her, I knew we’d get along famously. She dressed differently from anyone I’d ever met, and even the way she speaks and carries herself is far more polished than that of my so-called relatives. I am on my way to Aunty Mabel’s boutique as we speak. I like to drive my German machine with the top down, while I pretend not to notice the stares from other motorists. Today, my hair is on fleek; my crowning glory comes from my latest range of stock of Brazilian weaves.
Oh, I didn’t tell you I also import and sell weaves? I’ve got a decent clientele thanks to the following I’ve amassed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. One of the things you’re going to learn from me is how to market and brand yourself. I don’t understand how people think they can make a name for themselves without having a decent social media profile. Mind you, your profile must be carefully curated so that you get the kind of results that will make you stand out in a crowd. I love nothing more than to give people a little taste of my glamorous life. I like to think of it as my social responsibility because I know a lot of young girls ekasi who need that inspiration; they hunger for a taste of a life that seems inaccessible and far out of their reach. Thanks to social media, they can feel like they’re right there with me – shopping in Dubai, hanging out at the latest nightspots, enjoying a day at the spa …
Sorry to digress. The weave I’m wearing is long and curly, with blonde highlights, and goes right down to my bottom twin peaks. I’m listening to the latest hot summer track and the wind is blowing through my hair, which I’ve carefully styled with a gorgeous Louis Vuitton scarf. I’ve got a red matte lipstick on which I got from Bobbi Brown … you know, the make-up brand? And I know I am looking hot and sophisticated in my sports car. I think it’s very disrespectful to present yourself shabbily to your countrymen. Can you imagine how much better off this country would be if we all just took extra care in how we presented ourselves in public?
On that note, let me pause and grab a selfie so I can share this look with my Instagram fans. Click, click! #DropTopThings #Windinmyhair! Teddy bought me the scarf, but don’t think I can’t afford to buy it myself. It’s just that this month I’m running a bit low on cash. My Teddy Bear promised me a construction tender, which is going to be advertised in a few weeks’ time, so I know that by March I will be swimming in cold hard cash. You know, I’m a little worried about the rent for my townhouse. I pay R20 000 a month on that place, and that’s excluding electricity and water. What do you mean you thought I owned the place? Is that what you think I said? No, no, don’t get your facts twisted. I said I’m renting. But Papa Jeff promised to pay it off for me by the end of next year, so technically I will be owning it very soon. Anyway, please don’t contradict me again because it’s going to be hard for me to tell this story if you keep bringing up issues that I covered earlier. Bzzzz … bzzz … That’s my phone vibrating.
‘Hi, Bontle … how are you, baby?’
Oh shit. ‘I’m fine. Why are you calling me? I told you it’s over between us.
You’re compromising me. Why do you keep calling?’
‘Bontle, where are you? I miss you, baby. I haven’t been able to sleep for the whole week.’
‘Chino, it’s over between us. Don’t go all clingy on me. Stop acting like some whiny woman. The whole thing between us was not even supposed to happen in the first place.’
‘Come on … please? Just … come by my office. I’ve got something for you … just a little something to show you how much you mean to me.’
Gosh! As I roll my eyes. This flippin’ guy. He’s not even in my league. I don’t even know why I allowed him to worm his way into my life. I mean, I’ve seen this guy wear a jersey … a beige woollen one. With breast pockets. Like, seriously?
‘Look, whatever it is, rather give it to your wife. Chino, I swear, I can’t keep telling you the same thing. That was a once-off thing. I was drunk, you were drunk. Let’s just put that episode behind us. I can’t afford to hurt my aunt. Fuck, I’m actually on my way to take her out for coffee. Can’t you have some respect for yourself, and for your wife?’
‘Baby … please … just one more time then? Let’s get together one last time, and I promise I’ll leave you alone.’
Shit! This guy!
I’m so mad at myself. You know, alcohol and I should never mix. I can see you’re ready to pounce on me, all judgemental and everything, but even I wouldn’t stoop so low. Okay. It happened, but it was only once. And just so we’re clear, I won’t be able to tell you my life story if you’re going to be all moral and judgemental about it. I was out with my girls at Mash, a hot spot in Bryanston, when I bumped into my Uncle Chino (Aunty Mabel’s husband) and his BEE friends. My friends Tsholo and Iris had come to visit me and were planning to spend a weekend of fun and debauchery with Yours Truly.
I was really in good form and we were all looking spectacular, if I may say so myself. Iris had just found herself a blesser from Nigeria called Mr Emmanuel and she couldn’t wait to dish the details about her flashy new love life. I don’t really know why she calls him Mr Emmanuel but apparently the guy is HUGE in the oil business. I look forward to meeting Mr Emmanuel one day because, on my vision board, oil is one of the big things that I’ve earmarked to open the doors of success for me. I know there’s no oil in South Africa, but that’s the problem with you South Africans. You can’t think beyond the confines of your borders. Have you read The Secret? It’s one of my all-time favourite books. If you cannot visualise it, it will never be. You have to mentally see yourself owning that oil company, making those millions and sooner than later, you’ll be right at the top, where you belong.
So, there am I with Tsholo and Iris, sitting in the VIP section and sipping some cocktails, when this tall, nerdy-looking guy with a beer boep walks up to us. I can see him in my peripheral vision but I’m already registering the following: no-name brand shoes, boring grey jersey and pants, no swag, so … walk on by, boy!
‘Well, hello, hello, hello!’
I look up to see who this poor excuse for a human being might be, only to discover that it’s Uncle Chino, Aunty Mabel’s husband. Uncle Chino is an accountant. He runs a small operation from an office in Braamfontein. I’ve never really found him that interesting, what with his thick glasses, boring dress code and beer boep. Personally, I think Aunty Mabel could do so much better.
‘So, what are you young ladies drinking today?’ he asks.
‘We’re having cocktails but we’re hoping to get some bubbles after this,’ says loudmouth Iris. I mean, seriously?
‘Uncle Chino, we’re fine. How’s Aunty Mabel?’ I ask. Just to clear the relational business once and for all, before Iris starts turning Chino into the night’s official Moreki.
Moreki is the guy we normally get to buy us drinks for the night … they’re a dime a dozen on these streets. Joburg’s northern suburbs and Brooklyn North are the capitals of ‘Bareki’. I’m so glad to be a young woman in these times. Thank God for democracy, BEE deals and men’s inability to think with their brains.
‘Hey, come on, Bontle. Let me buy you ladies a drink. I’m with my friends there by the table close to the entrance. How about we join you? We’ve just concluded a major deal and we’re in a celebratory mood.
How about it?’ he asks.
Oh gosh. This is sooo inappropriate. Before I can even answer, there’s Iris again with her big mouth.
‘Okay, Uncle Chino. Why not? We’re always ready to share the joy.’
I roll my eyes as Uncle Chino goes off to call his friends.
‘Iris – seriously? I’m gonna be stuck drinking with my fucking uncle?’
‘Hay’ suka, choma. It’s not like you’re blood relatives. He’s married to your aunt, and you’ve only known your aunt for how long – like two years? It’s not like you’re gonna be sleeping with him. Besides, I clocked the guys he’s with. One of them is Selaelo Maboa. The big lawyer guy? He represents all these top politicians and businessmen. I think he’s swimming in the dough … and he’s not bad looking at all.’
She and Tsholo share a good laugh.
Looking around the VIP room, I see that there’s not much talent anyway. Lots of skinny looking young guys drinking vodka. Definitely not in my lane. So I resignedly accept that we’ll be grooving with Uncle for the night. Yup. The same Uncle Chino from Extension 5, Corner Loserville & Hopeless Street, SA. Gosh. As I roll my eyes …
When Uncle Chino lumbers over to our seats with his two buddies, the girls instantly perk up. It’s weird with my friends and me. When we go out, it always feels like the night hasn’t started until a bunch of guys come and join us for drinks. I don’t know what it is. I guess we just feel the pain every time we must fork out money for our own drinks. I don’t think it’s natural for girls to have to pay for their own drinks. Like, why?
Anyway, so the uncle and his crew come over and Chino positions himself next to me. He takes on this weird body language like he’s some wild animal urinating over the land to mark his territory. Can you spell creepy? I’m completely turned off, but I optimistically decide that maybe he’s protecting me from being targeted by his friends.
Two bottles of champagne are brought to our table in a large ice bucket. The girls and I order some platters, knowing we’re set for the night. The conversation flows. The two men are busy ogling my cute friends and Uncle Chino starts talking to me like he’s never done before when I’m over at his house. He asks me about my hair business, what I’m planning to do with my life. He even suggests that I should come to him for financial advice. I tell him about the government tender I am anticipating and he immediately offers to help me put it together. I’m relieved, because I’m not sure exactly how I am going to put it together. I don’t really know much about tenders.
Earlier, when I told you about my two businesses, I was referring to the two businesses that I registered last month on the advice of my Teddy Bear. I’m not really trading yet, but as you can tell, I am very bright. Soon I’ll be rolling in cash. Government tenders are to young black hustlers what banks are to bank robbers. Money for jam.
Anyway, I end up drinking too much champagne and Uncle Chino offers to take me to my place. Fast forward … my place. Uncle Chino’s lips are on my mine, he’s touching me … not in an unpleasant fashion. I get all horny because champagne always just melts my insides. Next thing I know, Uncle Chino and I just went from familial ties to bondage. Shit. I really hate my life sometimes.
The next morning, the guy’s calling me baby and making plans to reconnect. I tell him I’m not doing that, and he says, please, I’ll do anything. So, I tell him to just help me with my rent for that month. To my greatest surprise, he actually makes the transfer there and then. I was so impressed. So he wasn’t just some down-and-out accountant after all. Anyway, I slept with him one more time after that incident, but I felt so awful afterwards because I was sober the second time around and all I could think of was poor Aunty Mabel. I stopped taking his calls and for a few days, he left me in peace. Until now.
And I need rent money for this month.
And I need help with the tender.
Okay. One last time with this jersey-wearing uncle and no more. I promise.
I guess I have to cancel lunch with Aunty Mabel.