ANYTHING BUT ME

So I recently bumped into one of my colleagues whom I had not seen in months thanks to the horrible shifts we endure. This is the same girl whose recent Facebook pictures have left mouths hanging, wide open. Over months this girl had literary turned into snow white. Her lips were the last piece of her once brown, glowing skin.

Judging by the frequency of her Facebook uploads this was definitely a dream come true for her. I could not look her in the eye either because I did not want to give away the look of disapproval and a bit of jealousy. Why was I jealous? I had been a “fair skinned” girl all my life and even though I had never admitted it openly it came with added advantages. I guess “fair skinned” barely goes unnoticed and I enjoyed the envy on “the ordinary women’s” eyes who constantly ambushed me for my skin routine. Nobody could understand how my “latte skin” was all thanks to good genes.

A part of me felt like I’m entitled to my looks and the added perks of course, something more like a talent and sets one apart. For one to fake the one thing admirable about me meant my value was depreciating. It just felt unfair that I could never buy a miracle cream that will make me a good soccer player then why should there be a cream that copies my trait. In groups we would sit and gossip about this girl and her shameful acts. But I knew that a large part of the gossiping was fuelled by jealousy.

Alone in my room I tried to understand the psychology of a girl who wants to look like anything but herself. Read a list of articles where darker girls confessed their life struggles. After seeing how the darker skinned girl who had made it was greatly celebrated, as though it is unusual for “their kind” to climb ladders, I was stunned. Still I battled to under the psychology behind it all. Miss “admirable me” could not identify with the “wanna be’s”.

Next morning whilst I’m smearing cream across my flawless face something came to my attention. If I truly perceived myself to be flawless why do I spend such substantial amounts on sleek, long weaves every month? I was even surprised by the subconciousness of my behavior. Spending hundreds of rands at the salon without thinking twice and never missing an appointment. Interesting how quick I was to conclude low self- esteem on the skin bleaching girls and once the subject in question changed, I was quick to find reasons for myself imposed modifications. And somewhere in my psyche laid a million reasons why my behavior ought to be acceptable. My heart new the truth, whoever rated skin bleaching an offence must have done the same with weaves because both behaviors serve to satisfy a need to look better. There’s a Xhosa saying that say “iqaqa alizizwa kunuka”, one can never spot her/his own faults. It will take time for me to finally accept that I find my naturally coarse, curly, dark hair faulty. I’m ashamed of it and try so hard to be anything but my true self.

What I see

A little smirk a sharp edge of a cynic
A wanderer an observer a bona fide critic
A sigh- exhausted chuckles
Cleaning old blood from blistered knuckles…
What do you fight for what do you believe
When the truth is a bubble made of personal satisfactory
So hush my child don’t speak so loudly
They’re watching they’re judging
Hiding behind what keeps them safe
Blindly seeking truth within misplaced faith…

Where do broken hearts go?

Where do broken hearts go?

Well they take that slight dark long road,
Filled with thorns and a naked foot cant walk,
They climb those high mountains with no safety ropes,

As the river covers the road,
Those mountains are the only hope,
For the rivers of tears flows South,
and the hearts cant swimm nor cross in peaces,
Now broken hearts are lost in the dark,

But they keep searching for that one soul to mend them,
Broken hearts seeks love to mend them!

Breathing lessons

Anne Sexton
What are you made of
An elegant older sky
With a poet’s swagger in a nation of ghosts
The angel skin of winter
Therapist suggested
I write poetry and it feels sweet
I feel out of my depth
Simply blue and feeling melancholia
Is not enough to cancel out the midnight
I write to purge unhappiness

Chasing wild sheep and ambulances
An insomniac’s trick
I’ve discovered an empire
The empire of the introspective
I’m a superwoman and actress
Drama and always being
Brought to life by it
Provocative and enchanting
Exotic and intimidating
How to stay calm under pressure
A wolfish din far away in my head

Temper-temper-temper
Sometimes out of my comfort zone
Idyllic life yet miserable
Living in a glass house with glass ceilings
Daring to feel alive
Bone challenging clowns all around me
Bone challenging poetry
The reflection of a warmed-up fossil
Swarming in the ground
What do I see when I look
Is my face an enchanting face

Depression comes like a thief
(Lions and tigers and elephants too)
Daring to feel alive and authentic
Doesn’t like to be photographed
Am told I am beautiful and talented
Yet I am still unhappy and long for peace
Feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland
Wearing the dress that goes anywhere
To meet up with good citizens
Every one is a tiger on the loose
Every thing is set on the loose.

Man dreaming about being found

He was just a man. He was just a man dreaming of being found. Lost. Lost. Lost. And inside of me there’s a feeling, this feeling of being stuck in traffic in a thunderstorm. A feeling of thirst, a painful thirst and wandering, believing that my brother captures everyone around him with the electricity and lightning daze of influence. There’s a bold intriguing force of electricity and lightning within him. Lightning and electricity. And with that thought, that knowledge comes needles of them, of thoughts. A pinprick that feels life threatening. A flash. A burst of thought. And then the rain would come like a dream, like sleep. First drops and then it begins to pour. The rain would mean water, fresh, sweet, pure water, entitlement, privilege, being born with a silver spoon in your mouth, waiting, always waiting for that opportunistic moment, that mind hurdle that tells me I’ve been awake all my life but for the poor ones it would mean flooding. Their homes would be flooded. They would have to walk with skirts hiked up to get to where they had to go, barefoot, humiliated, scooping the water out of their homes with plastic buckets, helpless, homeless, sleeping on damp mattresses. How do people live like that I’ve always wondered? Where do you go from extreme poverty? Who will give you a hand-out? For the poor it would just mean another uncomfortable experience that they would have to deal with.

I press my knee against the foot of the table. Jew. Jew. Jew. Jew hair. Jew nose. Her hair looked like a Maltese poodle’s hair. How did she get the brush and comb through that mess every night? How quick she was to dismiss me, hide her smile. I’ve forgotten my words. Forgot the poem I years have been from home. Forgot the last two verses of the poem by Emily Dickson. I watch her mouth, Jewess, her soft lips making the drawing of a pout. Her lips were mouthing words. Words I could not make out. But I could make out the smile and the quiet laughter that gave me a sour taste in my mouth (already I had been used to this taste in my mouth for a very long time now, and I would never get over the anxious butterflies in my stomach, my thoughts racing but I would never get used to laughing and smiling with them at my expense even though my mother said I should almost as if she knew something I didn’t for the longest time) and for a long time I was very serious about feeling ashamed about the way I looked. It took me forever to work it out of my system. Her lips looks like the shade of an expensive perfumery sticky pink lipstick. She smells like Revlon. She smells expensive. Her nails are shiny, manicured. I do not accept her principles, the standards that she judges me by. The color of my skin, my faith. The sound of my posh voice bouncing off the walls. Her face gives her away. I wish she’d like me. I wish we could be friends anyway. Her mother did my hair and make-up at the theater for Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. When my mother dropped me off outside the theater she told me crossly to smile and speak to the other children. ‘Be nice. Don’t be shy.’ She told us to enjoy ourselves at the rehearsal. All the other children were White. My brother, sister and I were the only children of color. Color. Colored. Mixed race. My golden-haired sister had a pink rose in every cheek. My brother was olive-skinned. He looked like his father. Dark and handsome. Bones. I didn’t understand why they were like they were. Every one of those highty-tighty Whites. I didn’t like the Jews because they didn’t like us. I didn’t understand how some of them could have straight hair and some had curly hair. They were like us but in other ways they weren’t like us. I watched her but then in a way I felt sorry for her when I imagined her in her storybook life. It didn’t seem all that wonderful to me. Liar. She didn’t let her mother put make-up on her. Instead she told her mother she could do it herself. And her mother said fine, go ahead, just like that. We all left seeing farms, cows and horses in fields on long drives to Grahamstown in the distance past. Rehearsals, scripts, being dropped outside the theater, the five minute call before opening night when the three of us left school. And my sister became a paler version of my mother. My brother grew taller, grew darker of complexion. My nickname could have been less-than-zero.

I must have fun like other girls my age. Why am I so serious, so sullen all of the time? And then I remember my mother’s mantra. Smile. My sister is happy even if I feel excluded from her happiness. I don’t feel I must be included in her plans anymore. I must have sunshine, try and sunbathe. Get a tan. Get as brown as a berry. Get some of that sun into my skin to seep into all of my sadness. Even sadness has grace, a personal space where you are free to express a torn idea that can rip you apart, terrify you as if you are in that moment of writing about a disaster or war or violence, (physical violence shattering all truth or sexual violence). She is always trying to get me to try harder. In her life money makes the world go round. It fires her up. She is wired to it all the while I am failing magnificently. I do not please her. She is not accepting of people who do not meet her standards, her criteria. And so I crazily, wildly fail again. I should be living it up, acting out, and not feel so vulnerable in relationships.

Is my brother like all men a man just wanting, waiting to be found? He is up to the primitive challenges and mating rituals of the slick futuristic society we live in today. Drinking with his mates, drinking them under the table. No self-defeatism in his voice. He is immune to it. In some regards we are alike. We are both quick to condemn the fainthearted, those cowards who do not meet the requirements of living up to the best intentions that their parents had for them.

If I write what I like am I asking for trouble? Should I tread with caution where angels fear to tread? There is no turning back. Your moon face rises out of air to meet me like people of the stars. Mummy, the creator of man, a boy, a baby boy, this woman intrigued me like a celebrity hanger-on. Those people who so desperately wanted to live in the public eye. They lived a life separate from their private one caught for a second in a frame, caught in a snapshot. It couldn’t really be called history until there was enough time for it to be called history. Until it was looked at in retrospect. I hear her laughing in the kitchen talking to my brother and his girlfriend who is cooking furiously in the background. Always cooking furiously in the background. Stirring things up in the pots and pans that I could never dream of. Always baking a dream of cake. My brother is her chosen one. I am a disappointment. I have failed her. I am the one who has to live with that. I am too old-fashioned, too clever, and more magnificent than her when it comes to my father. For her I think revenge must be sweet. Give enough rope to the handmaiden and she will hang herself. Look for example at Joan of Arc and Antigone. Look for example at Adam.

What is the nature of the beast that is found in man, in all of us (most of all human nature), the true nature of the heathen, the suffering of slaves, and the writer who is demanding of their readers? The world is not as it should be. One day poverty might not exist and that is the true nature of the beast. To divide and rule. Liberty, freedom, equality, fraternity, democracy. Do they exist in a futuristic apocalyptic world made out of our sensory perception? What is the basis of all politics? Possessions. Think. One day all technology will surpass all humanity and then what will become of the humanitarians and the philanthropists. Think of what our richest possession is. For me that is humanity. The soul. Soul consciousness. Being aware of the self, human behavior, social interaction, social cohesion in rural and urban districts. What is the true nature of the seasons? There is a time and place for the conscious.
Meanwhile our unconscious spirits us away. Are we truly ‘agents of conquest’ every one of us? From those who are con artists by day and night trying to put on the table for their growing family (and in every household like that there’s a woman making a hot plate for a man who will arrive late after the kids have been put to bed and who had spent his day’s wages at the club on the horses or drinking cheap wine). Are the sushi kings of this world flushed with sticky rice, California rolls and raw fish? And when we come to the greedy megalomaniacs stuffing themselves with shellfish and garlic butter, to monomaniacs drowning in (or driven crazy by it) paper money, to the regular blue collar maniacs who had from their honest day’s work dirt under their fingernails, when we come to the history of human rights, monopoly, don’t they all, doesn’t it have the energy of being an agent or ‘agents of conquest’ too? How quick the righteous become self-righteous?

Are every one of us not supposed to be instruments of change? Look for example at Joan of Arc and Antigone. Look for example at Adam. They were never found California dreaming as much as modern-day Africans (white and black, colored faces, the mixed races of different ancestry). The ones who most want to cross the history wilderness to make it to modern-day Los Angeles, making their mark, making a notch in their belt, traversing the plains in the counties of the Midwest of America. Words like Stevie Wonder, ebony, ivory, Times Square, Chicago and Wyoming, lake, tobogganing, Time, Newsweek, social media, the network, broadcast news, the land of the free and the home of the brave would sing arias inside of me alongside an orchestra.

Diary, journal, you think you’re the only one who has felt pain in this world. Pain that runs deep, as deep as a river. Bravery can sometimes be a mission. There’s such a cool detachment about man when he is brave. When he has a steady tolerance about him when he enters a world filled with a minefield of ghost disciples. When his smile carries with it a warmth and dignity. When his person has a cleanliness about him. Boys even those with a fearlessness about them cry (even those who have an easiness about them, those careful emperors can be sensitive and understanding, compelled to understand the vulnerable in a younger, less experienced female). The lonely can see lonely coming from a mile away usually (usually predictable) and they’re not like minded nor a match made in heaven. They’re haphazardly swinging from the chandeliers, hanging on for dear life to their sanity, sharpening their set of skills. Man, man in recovery sees therapy as sweet ritual. For centuries the man waiting to be found has journeyed in words. Wise people wiser than their years who did not have an easiness about them. Every man, even the homosexual is wise on his own terms. If you ask him what courage means (to him) won’t he answer you? The words will roll off his tongue. For every man leads a double life. For every man is beautiful and wise in his own way. For every man walks to the beat of his own drum. It is loyalty from a band of brothers that gives them (and not necessarily a loyal woman that has a high regard for them) a flaming spirit.

Whenever I think of girls I think of Swaziland, that green feast. I think of youth. I think of the young and how fresh and new their ideas must be to them and the world, a very adult world that must have been so far away from them. I remember the faces of the girls and the boys. They all had the skin of dark chocolate. As smooth as velvet. Creamy. Beautiful. The colored girls were also pretty. I remember how all the girls would straighten their hair (it is a painful chemical process, sometimes your scalp would burn) how the curls would frame their faces, how much time and effort they all took with their appearance for appearance’s sake. They had names like Lulu and Katanekwa. They were from other places too from as far afield as Zimbabwe and Zambia. Places whose names sounded so exotic. I wanted the O levels. I wanted to go to England. To study film was something that became all-important to me once upon a time. The escape was also part of the plan. To escape from dysfunction, to escape from family, from a difficult mother who was killing me, casting me out adrift into a grown up world I was not ready for. She loved to see me bump up against things that frightened me into a silent world where I would hold my tongue for once and not speak. Some of them wanted to go to South Africa. They wanted to matriculate there. Some were borders. I remember how the girls would hike their skirts above their knees so if they bent over everybody could see the color of their undergarments.

Whenever I think of I think of dirt, poverty, common sense, con artists, thieves and how much effort the church puts into saving souls for Jesus I think of the Salvation Army.

Whenever I think about the dirt-poor and poverty I think about the streets of Johannesburg filled with crime. And I think about Bruce Springsteen’s streets of Philadelphia. Whenever I think about violence (violence as a volcano building up inside of man) I think of the women and children I met at a shelter for abused women and children. The women and children I ate with, slept with, bathed with, and worked side by side with in the stinking compost heap filled with creepy crawlies under sometimes a hot day, a pale sky feeling the sweat and not feeling the sweat, and not feeling uplifted in any way by it, by doing what I was doing. I was unpacking and packing crates alongside women and children who has lost all emotional and financial security from the man in their lives and the lives of their children. I was giving away stale cake and breads, rotting vegetables going off to black families queuing up hungry, torn. I worshiped with them. With all of those black faces. And they became like family to me. The mothers of those children, absent fathers for every one of their children that they brought with them from their shadowy past forever in their lives became like a mother to me more than my own had ever shown me. They showed me love, a return to love. Taught it to me parrot fashion as if I had to get it inside my spirit come hell or high water. Love was an invitation to a movement. It was a sonnet, a verse. They taught me to fight ideas with ideas.

The rats really do represent the working classes. No freedom, liberty, fraternity for them. No democracy. Scavengers everyone. They’re left miserable, wet or dry or on the shelf hungry for a better life.

And when I think of the times I spent with the homeless, with the educated and uneducated, with the inferior-minded (not of their own making, not of their own fault) and those who had a superiority complex about themselves, when I think about Johannesburg I think about the failings of my mother and how the city itself rescued me when I was writing, studying, running up streets and down streets. I thought about the failings of my father. How safe he was in the life he thought he had built for his children. He thought we had it made or that we made it but how wrong he was. I think often now of the road before us, how long it was and how often we wandered off the path through the periods of our lives when we took ‘mini-breaks’ from life. University, college, recovery and rehab, hospitalization after hospitalization, counseling session after counseling session, homelessness, helplessness, loneliness, isolation, rejection.

The extraordinary child, the gifted child (once their gift has been noted by their teachers, and their offspring and once their parents are careful of praising them), the chosen one never looks a gift horse in the mouth if they can help it from there on out. All they see is an age of dreams if they are protected, kept safe from the world at large with all its distortions. At first I could not see the power of the emotional abuse of a pervert in Nabokov’s Lolita and then slowly it began to dawn on me have we not created a life for them? Have we not created a world for them in which to suffocate the human dignity of the vulnerable with their injustices? And when the abused child grows up don’t they become the abuser of a child’s trust or the most vulnerable human being they can lay their hands on? The abuser, well they inflict, and their intention is to harm, to control, to frighten the living daylights out of their captive or captives. And when they succeed at all costs it gives them a slight reprieve from the memories that make them stand on tenterhook in nightmares and flashbacks of their own abusive childhood. There is no one in the abuser’s life that will say to them, ‘Save yourself first before you try and start saving other people.’ Isn’t that sad. Isn’t that at the heart of the matter, that in this pure and fantastical land it is hard to change, transform families from not thinking that the weight of this huge sin matters? When our children hurt, when the vulnerable hurt we are all responsible. How simple and easy it is to let down the entire human race by going about our day being selfish stupidly and steadfastly. Why not be the adult. Be the saint. Be the Savior. Be someone’s Savior. Step up as high as the planets. There’s a joy that you get from the particles of the familiar and a peace of mind. It’s the same joy that you get from being kind.

I have been shamed and ashamed. But haven’t we all been shamed and ashamed. Trauma. Lived it. I’ve survived it. Everybody has stories like that that they’ve carried with them since childhood. I believe that wish-fulfillment (self-fulfilling prophecies), believing in yourself and what you are capable of doing can solve anything. And I’ve come to realize that no problem is too big for my shoes or humanity to fill to fill once you get your head around your own limitations. Everybody has limitations, flaws and weaknesses they cannot cast asunder no matter how merry, easy-go-lucky and terrific they may seem on the surface.

And so throughout the centuries the man dreaming of being found was never be robbed of his insight, his will, and his intelligence again through this realization, that the world was his oyster, that the conch shell he held up to his ear really did in fact hold the mystifying ocean-sea’s mist of a burden-of-a-breath, that every woman in the world really was beautiful.

What we were

Some wanted more zeroes
At the end of a dull white page
With their “please turn over” mentality
Already sniffing out new ways
To dig old wounds
Wounds tender from numerous
Pin pricks of cold technology
Seeking salvation of sleek appliances
For the slow demise of creativity

Cardboard boxes only good enough for storage
No climbing of trees or sugar cane raids
To make us feel the rare earth singing
In our marrow, a simple ecstasy
Sand grains exfoliating heady adventures
Of spinning wood and string
Team play, with shiny glass orbs
Rolling in the dust, outside barracks

Later, oil drums welcomed tired behinds
To fire side tales of the wild boar
Thrashing about in the long grass
Rapt, pale faced, we listened, hushed
Eyes darting, from brother to sister, to
The next brother and the other sister
Cold spines stealing comfort from evening fire

Morning bird concerto played right on cue
While sleep held little bodies stubbornly
Water boiled outside; with fallen pine cones
begging for the comfort of calloused hands
In simple pleasures, we forgot Tomorrow,
A place in the future; Full of zeroes
on dull white paper, and tender wounds

Read between the lines

I pulled the book
It was Bukowski
Leaf edges dog eared
Severely, thumb woven almost
And, with a mild shudder,
I dove
The crashing words below
Threw up foamy spray
Streaking my face, like tears.
The dark cliff edge, cliff notes
A keening, plaintive wail so
Close to my body
Beseeching almost.
While I pondered, it hit
Or I hit
I couldn’t tell
Body entangled, engulfed
Wave upon wave, of words
Pounding the mind
Into the deep current,
I struggled, gasping
Memory broke in, a
Harsh, grating shout
Chastising, warning me
I forgot, Dear God, I forgot
to anchor a safety line
Too late
I’m drowning

My Parents

They gave me life.
They rouse me up from a silent sleep
just like Jesus who rouse up Lazarus from death.

They nurtured me like a plant,
granting me all the basics I need,
aspiring that one day
They would harvest tasty fruit from me.

Every time I stare at them
I tell myself I will be a tree
in a summer season,
full of green leaves and
full of tasty fruit.

By: Mihlali Makunga

A Wife’s Thoughts

We all seem to find it hard to comprehend why people somehow feel they don’t know who they married. Weird, right? It depends on how you look at it. Sometimes we give more than we get and get a rude awakening halfway done the line, but obviously that’s not what causes such problems. I get the feeling that somewhere, somehow we just seem to lose ourselves during the journey and get comfortable on the road that lost us in the first place. Maybe just to clarify what I am going on about lets deal with the basics.
In times of disagreement what do you do? Do you wait until you have calm down and then talk it over? Or maybe you brace the argument until you are all too frustrated to listen to the other shouting? Or better yet you just agree to disagree and leave it at that? In my case we talk about it sometimes while tempers are still flaring and when we realize its going nowhere we leave it until we have calmed down, but recently I have realized I am the only one who wants to talk about issues. It’s as though I am the only one who wants to resolve things, and honestly its upsetting me, I mean shouldn’t we both want to resolve the issues? Must I be the one to probe and push ‘us’ to resolutions? And at the end of the day, it seems as though I am the only one having to compromise which by the way annoys the life out of me. I have always believed this marriage thing is about giving and taking on both parties not just one, was I wrong? I guess I sometimes over believe, if there is such a thing.
Let’s look at another aspect, teamwork. When you are tired dear I will happily do anything for you, then why is it so hard for you to do the same for me? Am I incapable of being tired? Obviously you don’t know how my day has been because like you said it’s just out of courtesy that you ask anyone about their day, it is not a survey to know about everything that happened to you on that day, so whether I am exhausted you won’t know because you are not listening when I tell you about my day, right? My idea is; I know I ought to cook for you dear, I know that but is it impossible for you to cook for me? Must I always ask it of you? Not that it makes much of a difference because you say no! So if you won’t cook for me why on earth should I cook for you? Why not come up with a policy: he who is hungry should find and make food? Because honestly it works fine for me. To be honest how do you get tired of doing nothing? Really, how is that even possible?
When you came up with the philosophy that no one should do what they don’t want, you didn’t take into consideration issues like compromise and circumstance. For example, I may not feel like making supper but I will make it because you spent the day at work, or using your theory, just because I don’t feel like cooking, I shouldn’t even if you are ill? That ideology basically works when you live alone as it only works in the instance where you have no one else whom you hold dear and thus you would have to be a hermit!
My conclusion, well you will never change until you read this or until something drastic happens like your thoughts happen to have a date with mine, which very well maybe catastrophic!

Love Potion No.9.

Is Zoe truly in love or is she under a magical spell!

“Twenty one years old and never had a proper boyfriend” cried Bonelo in amazement. Zoe’s cheeks flushed bright red. “Well I wouldn’t say never, said Zoe trying to hide her embarrassment.
Zoe was 21 years old and still very inexperienced. All her life she shied away from people and had her head stuck in romantic novels. Later in life she took to desert books, after discovering her passion for pastries and delectable deserts. The patisserie course enhanced her natural talent. As a professional patisserie she was responsible for the amazing creations at La Luna. Melt in your mouth buttery croissants and pear tartain. Coeur ala crème with caramelized strawberries and towering croquembouches.
“Maybe it’s time to get out of my shell and explore a bit” she thought out loud. The right guy has never come along. Bonelo rolled her eyes and sighed. “Stuck up, arrogant Zoe, that’s what, guys thought of her” said Bonelo quietly.
Zoe concentrated on the mousse au chocolat that she was preparing for the Valentine’s Day lunch special at La Luna. She was the pastry chef at the quaint little coffee shop on the Esplanade in Durban.
Max & Miller was the law firm that occupied the space above the coffee shop. The stuffed suits, Bonelo named the lawyers. Black suited lawyers visited the coffee shop regularly for their dose of caffeine before burying their head in their law books.
Zoe thought of herself as a plain Jane. An ugly duckling that never became the swan. But she does show promise. An Indian beauty hidden under the façade of haughtiness. With a little help of make-up and a wardrobe change, besides the unflattering chef’s uniform, she could be really beautiful.

She checked her profile in the mirror before the lunch hour rush. It was force of habit making sure that she was presentable before serving the customers. She touched up her eye with some black eyeliner. Zoe was a simple, ordinary girl with the most devastating eyes you have ever seen.
“I’ll kill for eyes like yours” Bonelo often said. Those eyes could melt a million hearts. Zoe did not realize the power they had. Those hazel eyes with specs of green would make any guy swoon over her but she never used them to her full advantage.

The coffee shop was extremely busy on Valentine’s Day and Zoe’s mousse au chocolat with strawberry coulis was a smashing hit. “Must say, the stuffed suits really enjoyed the choc mousse grunted Bonelo. “ R6500, for the day’s takings is pretty good.”

“Zoe!” screeched Bonelo, like a crazy women. “What’s up!” said Zoe blowing a small fuse. “Come here immediately” she said excitedly. “Delivery for Miss Zoe.” She was flabbergasted. She was not expecting anything thing let alone a dozen red roses for Valentine’s Day. “Hand it over” Bonelo grabbed the bouquet and the card attached. To the women with the most mesmerizing eyes! Wow! warned you about those eyes.” She said, clutching the card close to her heart. “I wonder who it is,” Zoe said deep in thought.

Zoe was certainly surprised. “Roses on Valentine’s Day just for me.” She was more curious than excited. She hated secrets and surprises and this was going to eat at her until she found out who it was. If I know who it is then I know who I must stay away from, she thought, popping a chocolate truffle in her mouth in a blasé manner.
Little notes were on the stoep of the coffee every day since Valentine’s Day. One liner poems that made her heart skip beats. She secretly slipped them into her handbag and read them at home over and over again. “My heart beats a rhythm only for you, how do I love thee let me count the ways, shall I compare thee to a summers day. Love is like a rose a red red rose. My heart in my hand I offer it to you”.
This man certainly knew the way to Zoe’s heart. She waited for the poems daily with an excitement she only knew. As much as she loved Bonelo, she certainly could not be trusted. Everyone in the coffee shop would find out about Zoe’s little love poems and she would be the talk of the town.

Zoe is a very private person. She rarely ever showed anyone her feelings or desires. It came out more expressively in the delicious desserts and pastries her prepared. It was a reflection of her emotions. Beautiful, delicate, artistic and highly edible. No one truly knew her. She closed everyone out. If she ever let you in it meant that you could be trusted and were very, very special. People often thought of her as been difficult but trust had to be earned and she certainly made people work to earn her trust. She loved poetry since a young age. A simple poem could make her shed tears but she shed tears, only in solitude. Her privacy was precious and she was always in control of her emotions.

She imagined falling in love many times. It was not the Mills and Boon type of love affair. She was mature beyond her age and love had a deeper meaning to her. It was utter trust and unconditional love, warts and all.
“Hey Zoe what’s up? Is something the matter?” Bonelo wondered about the change in her. She’s been trying to conceal it but those bits of extra sparkle in those hazel eyes were unmistakable.

She has been meeting her secret admirer. She left work early one Friday. He knew her so she did not need to make much of an impression but she still wanted to be pleasing. He’s only seen her in the chef’s uniform. Sweaty and smelling of cinnamon or some other exotic spice. She picked out a lavender summer dress that accentuated her womanly figure. She kept make- up to a minimum. Just a dash of gold eye shadow that made her eyes stand out. Yardley sienna lipstick. A touch of water proof mascara and some foundation cream to matt her olive skin.

Stars sparkled like diamonds in the night. The moon illuminated the night sky which gave it an indigo hue. She walked to the life guard station across milky lane. She watched him from afar. .He slowly turned around as he saw her walking towards him. Smiling, eyes sparkling with anticipation. Yellow rose in his hand just like he said in his text message.
He smiled lovingly and took her hand in his. Her heart raced like a river after a torrential storm. She was both nervous and excited at the same time. A warm sea breeze blew through her long black hair. He gently tucked the loose tendril behind her ear. Sensations ravaged her body and she breathing became raspy. That simple gesture was overwhelming to her.

He was everything she expected but even more. It felt as if they have known each other all their lives. The world around her changed. Everything looked different. It amazed her, how being in love changed her perspective of life in general. Everything had a new meaning. A simple sunset had an allure of romance. The colours of blue, orange and pink on the horizon created an exotic atmosphere for lovers everywhere.
Nothing could spoil her good mood these days. Even when Nikiwe burnt the caramel sauce for the crème caramels they were preparing for the Max & Miller awards function. Nikiwe looked like she was going to sob uncontrollably “Do it over, instructed Zoe “and be extra careful this time.” Nikiwe gave Bonelo a quizzical look combined with a huge sigh of relief. Bonelo just shrugged her shoulders. . “Whatever she’s on make sure she keeps the prescription filled at all times” said a dazed Nikiwe

“Girl, are you humming that song from Aashiqui 2, that Bollywood movie you lent me. This is so unlike you. I have, well, we all have noticed that you have not been yourself lately. We’ve got to talk .What’s up, what’s going on with you girl?
If I tell you, do you promise not to breathe word of it to anyone? Cross your heart and hope to die.
Cross my heart promised Bonelo
Well, I met him,
Met who? asked Bonelo.
Him, Mr. Red roses, Mr. Right said Zoe dreamily.
What, where and when? Bonelo demanded answers to her questions.
Two months ago.
And you kept it from me all along.
How could you?
He’s fantastic, he gets me and I can trust him.
How often do you see each other?
That’s complicated. Mostly week days after work and weekends if he gets a break
A break from what asked Bonelo
From his wife said Zoe sheepishly
Bonelo eyes popped and her jaw dropped she was bowled over. I can’t believe it. It’s not like you
Zoe! You’ve got to end this asap. You will only get hurt and imagine if his wife finds out.
My gosh! He is much older than you.
Twenty years older than me whispered Zoe.
You’ve got yourself a sugar daddy. What is his agenda?
He doesn’t have one said a frustrated Zoe, already regretting confiding in Bonelo
Zoe hated been questioned by anyone let alone her best friend Bonelo.
Of all people she should understand after all she has been there, done that and got the t shirt.
Gosh Zoe, sometimes you can be so doff. He must have an agenda all men have one.
Remember, I have been there. Married men never leave their wives.
What is missing in his home life?
I don’t know, we don’t talk about it and I’d rather not go there.
“Listen, Bonelo. I’ve tried to end it but I can’t. He is an addiction; I wait every morning for the sun to rise so that I can see him or hear his voice or just received a text message. Nobody gets me like him. I have tried to end it a thousand times. I just can’t my heart won’t allow it. I don’t have the freedom of flaunting my love to the world. I often ask myself why me, why did I have to fall in love with a married man”

Bonelo was dazed. She learnt more about Zoe than she’s learnt in two years that they have been friends. She poured out her heart to Bonelo. She needed to vent her feelings. To talk it over with a friend. She carried a heavy burden and the guilt was agonizing.
Bonelo understood what Zoe meant. She’s had friendly chats with him a few times when he has come over for morning coffee and the daily newspaper. He has a charisma about him and a laugh that sounded genuinely charming and magnetic. Women were attracted to him.
He looked at Zoe with a genuine adoration and fondness. But, he knew his story and the reasons for having the affair. As much as Bonelo tried to discourage Zoe from continuing with the affair she understood her friend. This secret, she will carry to her grave.
She was intoxicated by his love and the exhilarating feelings that came along with it. She is a passionate women and he reveled with ardent desire. He brought out a hunger in her that she never knew existed. His kiss, his touch, sent shockwaves through her body. She was attracted to his mind, body and soul. She was a wanderlust searching for the missing piece of the puzzle until she met him. He eased that restless spirit and ceased the wanderlust in her.
She made up her mind that instant. Whatever the consequences, whatever the future may bring he is, her here and now. Her moment in the sun. She decided to love even if it means loving only once in her life time. She twisted the emerald ring on her finger. “A token of my love” Raj said when he slipped the ring on to her finger. Life, love and people are strange. We give so much of ourselves in the most unexpected ways.