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Falling In Love - Part 1

by Jerà
26 Nov 2018 at 22:40hrs | Views
Patience Nyathi (Model)
Her desire is deepest in the morning. She is too much woman for me, at sunrise. But I sip eagerly from her cup and inhale her essence. She is my thick cup of creamy coffee.

We both wake up early – I for a date with my unfinished manuscript and she to bathe and feed her daughter for school before slapping the potholed asphalt with her pink-laced Nikes, from our flat in Baines Avenue to the source of King George Road where, every September, it becomes a river of purple blossoms. Where should I begin? At the beginning, of course.

A writer's convention took me to Bulawayo, the city of royalty. My belly was aflutter with a swarm of butterflies, for I was going to be in the almost mythical city of Bulawayo where, as the tongue-clicking poets say, the woman beats up her man – komfazi oshay' indoda. At the conclusion of the seminar, I took an unaccompanied drive through the city, commencing in the lokshens. My GPS guided me to Njube, a suburb that was top of my list of places to see. I couldn't wait to see this place where the brainchildren of NoViolet Bulawayo – Darling and Bastard – played hide-and-seek and amatshayana. I had recently read We Need New Names and was keen to connect with the spirit of NoViolet's urchins.

How I met her

I was cruising slowly, at a funerial speed, with the car windows rolled down and music low, taking in the September dust and clicking Matabele accents that walked by on the edge of the road, where the tarmac was eaten away by the elements. I had passed a house with a low mesh wire gate, when I saw two pretty girls on the verandah. To be honest, it was just one that I saw. She stood over a younger girl, whose head was slightly bowed. The older girl was plaiting her hair. Every writer worth the pen and paper he possesses is blessed with powers of observation. Within 3 seconds of entering a room, I can describe my surroundings like I had been involved in both the construction and interior decor process. But if the younger girl had thrown a rock through my windscreen and was later apprehended, I couldn't have picked her out of a police line-up. I was so taken by the older girl who stood over her that, in that instant, nothing else could distract my vision. Standing with the girl in front of her, with a comb in one hand, her body was obscured by the head and shoulders of her seated companion. Only her bracket-shaped hips jutted out like motorcycle saddle-bags, on either side of the seated girl's torso. I slammed my foot on the brake pedal, bringing the car to a rasping stop on the gravelly edge of the road. I killed the engine to allow my voice to carry as far as the house.

"Excuse me!" I called out. "Could you help me please. I'm lost."

Playing the lost tourist was the only opening line I could conjure at short notice.

"Singakusiza njani?" she shouted back.

I pointed to my ear and held out my hands to say "I can't hear you from that far".
When I saw her drop the tail comb onto the other girl's lap, I knew my speedily improvised ploy had worked. She walked towards the gate. As she drew nearer, it became clear that I had underestimated the proportion of the denim-encased hips which swayed from side to side in time with each step. Above her wide hips, her waist was needle-thin, giving her the appearance of an upside wineglass in motion. She had on a peach coloured sleeveless top that blended with her butter coloured skin, so much that, from a distance, one might have thought she was _topless. Beneath her caramel neck, the top parted to reveal a glimpse of breasts which were small enough for a pair of hands to cup fully – should any hands ever be so lucky as to earn such a privilege. Below her narrow waist, she had on a pair of olive green denim shorts which barely contained her rounded hips. The straps of her gladiator sandals crisscrossed like mesh wire over her light skinned shins.
She raised the gate latch and squeakily swung it open. When she turned her back to me, in order to shut the gate, I bit my lip to prevent myself from uttering the only suitable word:


Broken Ndebele

She approached the passenger side window and stood a cautious metre away and lowered her head to match my eye level. At that distance, my keen pupils immediately spotted the other feature which competed well with her glorious hips; set above a cute nose, she had the prettiest, largest pair of eyes that put me in mind of VW Beetle headlamps.

"Ulahlekile yini?"
"Yebo sisi, ngifun' ukuhamba eSelbourne Park," I replied in stuttering Ndebele.

She smiled before beginning to speak what I assumed were directions. All I heard was rapid tongue clicking. It immediately occurred to me that the several nights I had spent on Mzansi Magic, trying to learn isiZulu, had been a terrible waste of time in so far as improving my grasp of Ndebele.
I only caught the end of her rapid prattle which was spoken in English.

"Did you get that?"

The hand on the back of my head must have conveyed my confusion. She drew nearer.

"Okay, hamba loJB Inathi, uzobona S Matema Road, then uphume–". She paused and looked into my eyes, which must have verbalised great confusion.

She switched to Ndebele-accented English.

"Eish, you really are lost. I live in Selbourne Park. If you give me a few minutes I will finish plaiting my cousin's hair then we can go together. Is that okay?" She held out her palm in a gesture of enquiry.

Earlier, I was thrilled just to be speaking to her, and now I was going to be in a confined space with her. I felt like a man who had gone hunting for a hare but returned home dragging the carcass of a nyathi.
I took a gulp of the saliva that had pooled inside my mouth.
"Kulungile, ngizokulindela."

She giggled.
"Um, what's funny?" I assumed she had become aware of the effect she'd had on me. I quickly pulled out my copy of The Chronicle from the kangaroo pouch of the passenger seat and placed it over my lap, to conceal the swelling.

"It's your Ndebele."
I was mightily relieved that she hadn't seen the tented front of my pants.
"Did I say a rude word or something?" I asked.

"Hayi," she said cupping her palm over her mouth to restrain the laughter. "It's kulungile, not ku-loo-ngile".

I smiled before repeating after her, like a grade one pupil.

Again the giggles came.
"Say lu not loo".
I tried a third time.
"You almost got it." She giggled. "Okay, let me finish plaiting my  cousin's hair. Wait just a lickly bit". I was amused by how she said "lickly bit" but I did my best not to laugh out loud.

I watched her turn round and run back into the yard, hips swinging. I parked the car in front of the gate so that I was facing her – her and the invisible second girl who nobody can recall.

Waiting just a "lickly bit" turned out to be forty-five minutes. But, given the ringside view of her hips, behind the gate, it was the shortest ¾ of an hour that I had ever sat through.

The drive to Selbourne

On the drive to Selbourne Park, I asked her the usual touristy questions: What do people do for fun in Bulawayo, do the local women really hit their men, is Makokoba as dangerous as people say. She responded to all my questions in her Ndebele flavoured English, using words like "pee-pull" for people, "hoo-man" for woman, "hawk" for walk and of course "lickly" for little. But every single word that came out of her mouth seemed to have been dipped in honey, in spite of her accent – or rather because of it. I listened intently. Then conversation switched to the socially safe subject of music. I was pleasantly shocked when she mentioned Nas' illmatic, an album that I happened to have on my playlist. At the time, I had a homesick Lovemore Majaivana crooning in the car speakers "umoya wami, kawuse kholapha, usukhatsana..." – a song that I thought would help me connect with the land. When I asked her opinion of Majaivana she shrugged.

"Ah, angaz. Maybe my uncles would like that," she said laughing.
I didn't take offense at the inference to old age.
"Are you not entertained?" I said in my best Mel Gibson Gladiator voice, pointing at her feet.
She laughed.
"Dont make fun of my Gladiator sandals, I sat on a Greyhound bus for hours to get these from Jozi".
"I would never mock your sandals," I said smiling. "In fact, they highlight one of your best features."
She smiled shyly.
I changed the music. Majaivana's dancing feet were hooked off stage and, in their place, came Nasir Jones' melodic street poetry. Her rhythmically bobbing head signalled approval.

After many turns, she directed me to stop at the corner where a leaning signpost said "Bhalabhala Road."
"There," she said.
My eyes followed her yellow finger to a walled and gated house about 30 metres away.
"That's our house."
I nodded.
" I asked you to stop a lickly bit far from the gate because my mother's church friends, eish. They can talk."
"Black elders are the same, in any language," I replied, smiling.

What's your phone number?

I assumed she would be jumping out so I popped up the door lock, in anticipation of the quick exit. To my surprise she sat there, nodding her head to the harmonic chorus of Nas' "Memory Lane". We both rapped along to the song. When the song played out, she was first to speak.
"Thank you for the lift home. If you hadn't been lost, I would probably still be hawking home right now."
"And thank you for directing me to Selbourne Park. I'm sure I can find my way from here."
She placed her hand on the door before turning round.
"Thanks and have a safe drive back up North."
When she was halfway out the door, I laid my hand on hers.
Almost immediately, I recoiled. Not because her hand was too hot, or sweaty or anything like that. It was the feel of her skin which felt almost.... babyish.
She looked down at her hand, then back up to my eyes.
"What is it?"
"I'm not good with directions. I'm afraid I might get lost. In case I get lost again, can I have your number so I can call you?"
She smiled but didn't immediately respond. About four seconds later she sang out the digits that I had never dreamed I would save on my phone.

"If you don't tell me your name, I'll be forced to save your number as Gladiator Sandals."

She laughed a girly laugh and began to walk backwards.

"Patience. Patience Nyathi."

She spun round and began to walk faster.

A week later, I had finger cramps, from the constant exchange of text messages. In a playful voice, I would vow to never text her again.
"I should have known you would give me finger cramps. You don't stop typing, do you! No wonder you live on Bhalabhala! Always writing something."
In response, she would promise to kiss each sore finger at our next meeting. Often, after each conversation with her, I would fall asleep with my hands between my thighs.

End of part one

My pen is capped

Source - Jerà
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