The Worst Foul

The two young men walked leisurely along one of the busiest street in Nairobi. The city popularly referred to by most people as the – city in the sun. It was around nine in the morning. And it was their second week in the city, having come all the way from down coast.

Omari and Sudi had really enjoyed their stay, and had toured various places of interest since their arrival. Everything they saw to them was amazing. The people hurriedly walking to their destinations and somehow, minding their own business.

Unlike Lamu town, where they came from, Nairobi was absolutely different. They were overwhelmed by the many cars they saw, moving mostly along the three lane avenues. A sight they were not used to back home. This made them even have difficulties, when crossing the roads. For back home, the mode of transport they were used to, was mostly the mules carrying heavy luggage on their backs, striding on narrow streets.

“Oh, look at that car,” Omari said, looking at a sleek Mercedes car passing by. It was a very long one, and a rare one to find where they come from. It was the type usually used by presidents. His face, beaming with great joy, he slowly shook his head in amusement.

“This is wonderful,” his companion, Sudi said. “I’ve never seen this before. This is quite a rare car to me. This is great.”

They both stood to see it pass. It moved on slowly in the midst of the other vehicles. The traffic at that morning hour was so heavy. They watched it as it moved slowly, until it was out of sight. And they turned to go on with their walk.

“Let’s visit one of the markets today,” said Omari , putting his hands in his hip pockets. “I want to see how they are, and see what I can buy.”

“Aah, why can’t we go to the library,” said Sudi, “we can try the markets in our final days here.”

“What is there in the library?” queried Omari.

Sudi looked at him with a smile. “At least we can go and look around, see what magazines and books they have. I love libraries, you know.”

“Ooh,” Omari said with a jeering smile. “I see no point in your view. I don’t see why we should come all the way from Lamu, just to while our time in a library. You see, we are here on a real tour. Not to visit libraries.” He paused. “So far, I know we have visited places, in the one week we have been here. And we still have plenty of time.” He looked at his friend, who had been gazing down, as they walked along the pavements.

“I think libraries will be the last places to visit in our last days here. That is once we are through with all the other places.” Omari concluded.

Sudi did not see any use, arguing with him. Furthermore, it was him who financed almost everything in their tour. It was him, who took him as a companion in the tour to the lovely city. And he saw it wise to side with his suggestions, without any argument.

“Okay,” he said, patting him on his back, “you are the boss,” he smiled, facing him. “I have no objection, we can do as you wish.” He knew, as the people always say; the boss is always right.

They walked in silence for a moment. Crossing the wide roads and streets here and there. Everything they saw was beautiful, and they really liked it. They enjoyed everything. Indeed, this was the real city-in-the sun.

It was a relief to them, when they arrived at Muthurwa Market. They had really had a long walk, and they were tired and very thirsty. The market was jammed with people everywhere. Everyone looked busy doing something. They settled to a nearby kiosk to relax, and have some drinks.

“Hey, hey, hey, this place is far,” said Omari, sitting on a stool with a bottle of soda. They had both ordered the drinks to quench their thirst, and the kiosk owner had served them well.

They relaxed, sipping their drinks as they watched people going around the place. Muthurwa Market was a very big place, with all sorts of businesses. Most traders there, were small time people; in other words, they were the young and up-coming business people, starting with small businesses. They sold almost everything – farm produce, clothes, utensils, and many more merchandize. There were those who sold their wares in the kiosks, scattered everywhere. But most traders displayed their goods on pavements. Some were mobile, moving about with all types of assorted goods, selling them to people all around on their way.

“I think we can now move around, and see what the market has,” Omari said at last, paying their bill. They had relaxed enough and had gathered enough strength to move on.

They slowly left the kiosk, thanking the owner for his service. They moved on. The sun was now slowly taking over the chilly morning. But it was still cool and the two-some, seemed to be on their grounds, and very well relaxed, enjoying themselves. They were indeed so happy with what they saw in the market. Everything to them was so peculiar, and quite different to what they were used to back home in Lamu.

Soon they were at another kiosk, that sold mainly T-shirts, and men’s trousers. And Omari was really moved and attracted by a T-shirt, which was well placed there.

“Let’s have a look at these T-shirts,” he said to Sudi. There were an assorted type of T-shirts, very well arranged in order. “They look so nice to me.” They calmly moved on to the kiosk, and the owner welcomed them, with a very wide grin. He looked so friendly, cheerful, and no one could suspect him of anything.

“Oh, young men,” he said, “You are very much welcomed.” He stepped aside to let them in. He was a huge man, with a protruding belly, gentle and with much respect.

The kiosk was really big, and very well stocked. It had a variety of T-shirts, most carrying the names of big English Premier League soccer teams, well printed on them. And Omari was very much attracted with the red one, with the name of his favorite club —Manchester United. He really loved it, and it was of very good quality.

“How much is this?” he asked the owner.

“That goes for five hundred shillings,” he said, moving towards him, smiling.

“That’s too much,” Omari said, holding the T-shirt, and examining it closely, turning it on both side and feeling the texture with his fingers.

“Oh, my friend,” the owner said, “This is of very high quality .You can hardly get it anywhere, apart from me. This is imported stuff, not the locally made ones you find in most places. No one else here in this Market has this kind of stuff. This is original material, young man.”

“You see,” he continued, holding the other side of the T-shirt. “You can feel the quality yourself.”

“What is the last price?” Omari finally said, a grin on his face, absolutely satisfied with the stuff. It was really good.

“That’s the last price, young man .In fact, I reduced the price just recently, they used to go at eight hundred.”

Without hesitating, he took his wallet, and got the five hundred shilling note the seller had asked, and handed it to him. The man took the T-shirt from him, and immediately moved to an inner room, partitioned by a large curtain. “Let me go in and wrap it for you.” He said.

It took him some minutes to do so. He came back with a hard brown paper, neatly wrapped, and handed it to Omari.

“Here is your property, young man,” the seller said, jovially.

Omari was so much pleased with the man and his service, and took the well wrapped parcel from him. He didn’t even bother to look at what was wrapped. He confidently knew that what was wrapped in the paper was the T-shirt he had bought, and nothing else. He thanked him so much for his service, and they left.

They went on with their rounds in the city. It was now some hours after they had left the Market, and they decided to take a break. It was past noon.

“I think we can have some lunch somewhere,” said Omari, looking around to spot a cafeteria nearby. And as they walked, they spotted one across the road, and they hurriedly crossed towards it.

It was a fine cafe, and the waiters were busy serving people. They settled down at a table near the door, close to the cashier’s counter. And as they waited to be served, Omari decided to have a look at the T-shirt he had bought. He slowly and cautiously opened the tightly wrapped parcel. By that time, the waiter had turned up, and was waiting for them to give their orders.

Omari didn’t believe what he was seeing in that bundle. “What is this?” He said to himself. There in that bundle, was a bunch of green vegetables, and not the T-shirt he had bought.

“Ooh, my God!” he exclaimed a bit louder his eyes wide opened in disappointment. “Do clothes in Nairobi turn out to be vegetables .What is this?” He slowly removed them from the hard brown paper.

The people around the café, were all looking at him, wondering what could have happened to the young man. The waiter still stood, waiting to serve them. He himself couldn’t understand at that moment, what the young man was up to or what could have happened to him.

“What’s the problem young man?” he asked him, looking at the green stuff Omari was holding. His companion, Sudi watched with his mouth wide, disappointed and unable to understand what could have gone wrong .He couldn’t believe what he was seeing himself.

“I thought we bought a T-shirt,” Omari said, his mouth slowly shaking in shock.

“Of course we did,” Sudi replied, slowly shaking his head. “I can’t believe what I am seeing here.”

“What happened?” The waiter insisted.

“We have just come from the market at Muthurwa, where my colleague here, bought a T-shirt. But what we have here is unbelievable.” Sudi said, trying to explain the situation. “How come the seller gave us the vegetables?”

At that moment the waiter, going by his experience with life in the city, understood what had happened to the young man. He was a longtime resident in the city. Such occurrences were not new to him, and were very common. He understood that the young men were new in Nairobi. And the seller must have taken advantage of that fact.

“You seem to be new here in the city, are you?” he asked them to confirm that fact.

“Of course we are?” Omari replied, his hand still shaking with the green stuff. “We are here on tour… we are touring.”

The waiter and everybody in the café, felt sorry and pitied him a lot. They knew the boys must have fallen victims to the very notorious games of the city.

“You see, we happened to be at a market, when I saw a very nice T-shirt that attracted me so much,” Omari tried to explain the incident. “The man operating the kiosk was friendly, and welcoming. I didn’t expect him to do such a thing at all to me.” He paused and bitterly swallowed hard.

He continued, “I asked for the price and without bargaining much, I paid him five hundred shillings, he had asked for. He took the T-shirt from me, and entered an inner room, partitioned by a large sheet, telling me that he was going to look for a paper to wrap it for me.

“We waited for some minutes, and when he came back, the package was tightly and neatly wrapped. I never bothered to look at what was wrapped at that time, for I precisely knew it was the T-shirt I had bought —

“Young man,” an old man, seated next to them interrupted him, “That was the worst foul you made. This is Nairobi, you must remember that. Such happenings are common here. You only need to be cautious when dealing with people.”

“But the seller —” Omari tried to say something. But he didn’t know what he really wanted to say, for he was completely lost and buffled with what happened to him.

“Where do you come from, young man?” The old man inquired calmly, a feeling of pity all showing on his face.

“We are from Lamu,” he replied. “Down Coast. We are here on holiday This is our second week here.”

“Why didn’t you check the package when the seller handed it to you?” the waiter standing by, asked.

“Aah I trusted him, and I didn’t expect him to do anything silly like this.” He glanced at the bundle of vegetables he was still holding.

The waiter slowly shook his head, and again he really felt sorry for him. Other people around the cafe felt the same, having comprehended the nature of the problem he was already in.

Omari was now in deep thought, figuring what to do. He could hardly believe on what was happening to him. He sadly looked at the bunch of vegetables still held in his hand. Is this real? He thought to himself, shaking his head.

He abruptly said, “Sudi let’s get back to that market and see that stupid man again. He must give me back my money, or I get my T-shirt.” He almost stumbled as he tried to get up.

“Aha, my friend,” the waiter said, stunned, “Do not dare, young man. Don’t do that. It can be fatal.”

“Why?” Omari queried in bewilderment. “How can it be fatal? I must get my money back!” He yelled. “I can’t let it go just like that.” He was so bitter.

“As I’ve said, it could be fatal to do that .You may end up losing your own life, young man.” The waiter kept on saying.

“But how?” Omari wondered, his eyes wide opened. He just couldn’t understand, how his action of going to claim back his money from a rogue businessman, could be fatal. He was really confused, and in great anguish.

The old man, on seeing where the argument was heading, decided to be of some use to him. Much as he had so far known that the young man was new in the city, he thought it wise to explain to him about the situation he was in.

“You see, young man,” the old man said. “What this gentleman here is trying to say,” he glanced to the waiter’s direction, “is that you may go back there, and find yourself still in more problems than you are already in.” He paused, looking at him.

“You see,” he went on, “I can tell you a story of a certain man, who happened to be in the same situation just like you.”

“A man went to buy a trouser at a market. But as the seller tried to wrap the trouser for him, the man pardoned himself, and went to buy a cigarette at a shop, just across the street. When he came back, just in a couple of minutes, he found the trouser already wrapped in a paper by the seller. He paid the seller his amount, took his package and left.” Almost everybody in that café, listened to the old man.

“Hours later,” the old man continued, “the man returned and in a very furious mood.” He paused, “You see, here in the city, most thugs work in cahoots, with other people, and in particular those doing business like the ones you saw at the market you’ve just come from. The markets are full of them.

The old man went on. “The man came shouting that the seller had sold him rags, and indeed it was true. The seller did not wrap the trouser he had bought. Instead, he had put rags in the package. This is a very common game here, especially to visitors like you.

“The man did not believe on what happened to him, next. A mayhem broke out, and no one wanted to listen to the other. A fight followed, and the other people around, mostly idlers, sided with the seller, calling the man who came with the rags, a thief. The man was rounded up, and beaten mercilessly. As we are talking now, the man is not alive. He died hours later, when the police who happened to be patrolling around, came to his rescue.

“That’s how it is here. You may go back there, and find yourself in a similar situation. And it can be too bad.” he paused a bit, looking at the young man. He could see a state of panic and anxiety, all on his face.

He continued. “What I can say to you, and this is for your own good, is that take what has happened to you easy. Don’t risk your life. Some of these places are extremely very dangerous. Just leave whatever has happened to you to God, and He will take care of everything.”

Omari was now at a cross-road. The old man’s story was so shocking to him, that he could feel a terrible fear taking control of him. He just didn’t know what to do at that moment. But the old man’s words, of leaving all that has happened to him to God, really touched and consoled him. The story the old man narrated to him was terrible.

He looked at his friend, Sudi, and he could see him having the same mood just like him. He regretted, why he did not heed his suggestion of going to the library that day. At least, he wouldn’t have found himself in such a terrible situation.

Oh, my God, he thought. What is all this?

They quietly gave their orders to the waiter. And as they waited for their meal, they could both be seen to be in a very irritating mood. They hurriedly ate their meal, and left, leaving the green vegetables on the table.

To Omari, it was a very devastating experience that he had undergone. And as they walked back to the hotel they were staying, he sadly tried to think about it.

How could such a thing happen to me? He thought, all throughout his life, such a thing has never happened to him. He tried to figure out the man who had sold him the T-Shirt, but he could not even recall his image. His looks faded, immediately they left his kiosk. Even if they were to trace their way back to the place, they could hardly find it, for they were so many of them. The man had been calm and very friendly. He could hardly imagine him to be a con.

“You know what?” He finally said to Sudi, who had been calm all throughout the way. “Once we are back at the hotel, we shall pack up, and travel back home.”

“Today?” Sudi said, puzzled.

“Of course, today” Omari said. “I cannot keep on staying in a place where people are conned in broad day-light. This is foolish.”

Once back in their hotel, they calmly gathered their belongings in their bags, paid their hotel bills. And immediately left – the city in the sun, back to their ancient town of Lamu. The land of mules, narrow streets, and the vast beautiful Indian Ocean.

– END -

Two Sisters: Bhavam and Katha

Centuries ago an evil demon kidnapped twin sisters from their widowed mother because she wouldn’t return his love. In order that she would never find them again, he left the one in North India and the other in South India, Tamil Nandu, with strangers, whom he thought would kill them. The strangers however fell in love with the girls and adopted them as their own. The one sister from Tamil Nandu was named Bhavam, which means expression as the little girl always serious and expressed her emotions through her face and the other sister from North India was named Katha as she was always telling tall tales.

Both sisters were very different though. Bhavam, who was raised in a strict religious home, worshipped the gods in her dance and was a meticulous and disciplined dancer. Katha, raised in a less strict home was very mischievous and naughty. She too though worshipped the gods in dance but would frequently forget her steps and then just make her own up as the music played. Bhavam desired only to maintain her family’s good name by being a good daughter and the gods appreciated her soulful dancing and blessed her parents because of her. Katha however gave her parents many headaches, abandoning their rules as she saw fit and thoroughly entertained and annoyed the gods with her reckless ways. Their mother however never forgot about her daughters and searched for them relentlessly. Seeing her pain, gods eventually managed to convince the demon to reveals the girls’ whereabouts by tricking him with promises of great riches. The daughters were returned to their mother but sadly they didn’t like her or each other. Too much time had passed and neither could speak the other’s language. The playful Katha found Bhavam too boring and Bhavam couldn’t handle the energetic Katha. Their mother’s dream of reuniting with her daughters were crushed and she wept bitterly at her ill-fate. But, a very poor pedlar, who had loved their mother all his life, couldn’t bear to see her cry and he started playing his Tabla, just had he’d done when she was pregnant with the girls. Immediately both girls started moving their feet, as if magic. Bhavam moved to dance steps carefully thought out and was graceful as she danced to the music, while Katha just made up the steps as she went along, but was equally graceful. And it was in their dancing that they started to smile and play together. Every day they would wake up and dance to the pedlar’s drum, learning each other’s ways and their love for each other grew. When it was finally time for them to go home the sisters cried bitterly but made a vow that they would never remain apart again. Their love for their mother grew and eventually she and the pedlar married in their old age. While the girls and their mother forgave the evil demon, the gods sentenced him to eternally sit and watch the girls dance and live happy lives. Bhavam would eventually become the mother of Bharatanatyam while Kathak, the mother of Kathak.

Today disciples of both dance forms are spread all across the world. Both dance forms celebrate love, light and victory of good over evil. And just like the sisters, both dances prove that our souls will never forget where it comes from and its only real goal in life is to bring joy to all who see it.

By Jacqueline Friedman

Survived the storm-2

Friends dont steal from each other but the one i had was an absolute the opposite,We would share anything but mine was for a big catch for her, I remember telling her about my new man and she was laghing hardly at how ugly the man was but i loved him anyway and i was not willing to sacrifice losing him for my single friend who would joke of him everytime we were out for some fun.It is crazy how this particular friend of mine felt deep down inside about this man,she had the hearts for him and was willing to do everything in his power to sbatch him from me,so one day i was on my way home when i accidentaly saw my friend and my man together laughing their lungs out and the fact of the matter is they never saw me.That very moment i pinched myself hard because i couldnt believe my eyes,I was shockely terrified.That day i knew it was over for me.

I went home,tried to call him and when he answered i said ‘Are you in love with her?’ and he said ‘yes so wat?The begging of good things was now the end.I thought i was somehow reckless but then i remember the words my mother told me ‘good man cant be stolen’ and that menute i was strong again and i was willing to move on to better things and forget the bitter past.

Two years later i met someone and i wasnt sure if i wana be more than friends with them ,i didnt wana experience heart ache again, back when i comprehend the words,which had sailed through my ears of the man i love,that rejection was somehow strangling me to death and i have never felt that in my intire life.It was clear he was leaving me for someone else ,he was leaving me for my so called friend…

I had dreams like everyone else but mine were so hard for me to fulfill because of the friends i keep.I had hope that one day i would meet someone who would make me forget every sad chapter in my life and speaking of who:There was this Martin guy one hell hotty a girl would want to have ,he was the who purchase and we met one day.I felt the connection there,we would chat for long hours,text each other daily and the was no doupt in my mind he was the one but i had to be sure first.

But who was i kidding because i ended up with him anyway now the very same girl who stole my boyfriend had kept her distance but not for long.He came to my place begging for forgiveness because she finally saw i had moved on and she wanted to know what she was missing and because i am a happy soul i forgave her and we were back at being friends.This time around she was acting all innocent and i was convinced that she was indeed changed.we started hanging out together as we used to.Trust me when i say some people never change and my friend was one of them…

My friend was heartless and didnt care for other people but only herself,she made my life a living hell.This time she was flirting with my new man on social media as unknown until my man asked her who she was,she told him and when asked why she was doing that whreas we are friends: she told my man that i wasnt a woman enough for my man and when Martin refused to play along she decided to create false stories about me and that lie had a huge impact on my current relationship.

Men are so complicated sometimes because instead of confronting me he decided to fade away ,he was distant,he stoped texting and his silence was killing me until one day he decided to tell me ‘baby you are beatiful and smart im sure you are happy with your current man so leave me alone and concentrate on your man and a baby’.What a fat lie he heard from my so called friend and again this time i had lost him for no reason.

I Thought to myself that happiness was not part of me because it didnt last,i thought i was meant to live a lonely life and that i deserve to be hurt.Thathat very moment i chose to live my life with no friends and i decided that my friends will be my mother and my siblings until one day i came across i very motivative ,it was answering all my questions and i was ready to start a new chapter of my life.

I was happy and i thought common now the man who deserve me happiness is this one i have friendzoned all this time.
You how free you are to tell your friend(man) about the man you are dating and he is always there to listen and sometimes its funnuy how they able to hide their feelings knowing that they would lose you if they ever tried to tell you how they really feel.And it funny how we started and emmedietly he swa me crying he hugged me tied and told me,its gona be ok and then we kissed ,Thats how i survived the storm bacause he was not planning to leave anytime soon he was there from the begging through thick and thin,Today we have a beatiful daughter by the name of Hope and our love is still going strong.


James O’Connor
Edna Braithwaite was a slim, dark haired woman, intense, very much inside herself. Outwardly she appeared conventional and fitting into the desired norms of her social circle, but inside she was different, seething with unexpressed desires and feelings.
Now, as she stood on the long veranda of her High Constantia home, looking out over the bright lights of the Cape that lay like sparkling jewels on the black velvet of the night, she thought to herself that she had the things that most of the people she knew desired and yet she was not satisfied. She craved something, she did not know what. Excitement perhaps, perhaps fulfilment of some sort.
This dichotomy caused her to be irritable sometimes and moody and her husband would wonder what had got into her. He was more straightforward and uncomplicated and this showed in his candid manner and blonde, open face, which was different from her slightly sharp features .
“We’re so different, Edna and I. That’s why we get on so well,” she had once overheard him saying to a friend.
Her inner conflict caused her also to rebel and was part of the reason for her taking a lover. She was at a time of her life when she was particularly bored with her married life and dissatisfied with the conventional ideas of their friends and acquaintances.
It was a hot night and Richard, her husband, sat nearby, sipping a gin and tonic. His blonde hair and the light complexion of his open face gleamed in the light from the lamp above him.
“You’re sure you won’t have a g and t?” he asked, repeating the question he had asked when he had poured one for himself.
“I told you no,” she said over her shoulder in a snappy tone and then a moment later regretted her rudeness. She knew she could be as spiky as the hedge hog that had wandered into their garden one night.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound so rude,” she said, turning to her husband.
He said, nothing, merely nodding his head in acknowledgement. How good natured he was, she thought. She had always admired him for making a big success of his business without being arrogant or pushy. The furniture business was pretty cutthroat, yet he was not hard, as some of their friends in business could be. Although a shrewd businessman he was honest, straightforward and uncomplicated, she knew.
“Don’t forget to go in to Stevenson’s tomorrow to have a look at that BM cabriolet I’d like to buy for you,” he said.
“Thanks. No I won’t forget.”
When he had finished his drink they went inside, locked up and went to bed.

The BM was sleek, silver grey, a honey. The salesman was attentive, keen to sell the expensive car, especially now that sales of used cars were so bad. He was in his thirties, fairly good looking, in a slightly disreputable way, his hair greased and combed back and she noticed that as he looked at her his eyes seemed to narrow slightly. There was something sexually suggestive in the look. This irritated her, she was not used to car salesmen being familiar with her, they normally adopted a respectful attitude, and yet she was pleased by it.
When she left she told him that she liked the car but hadn’t made up her mind yet.
“You’re welcome to test drive it any time you like, Mrs Braithwaite,”
Back at home that afternoon she worked on her roses a bit, fertilising and spraying them and found herself thinking of the salesman. A picture of him with that slightly insinuating look would come to her. Scornfully she said to herself that he was just a cut-rate Casanova. Yet he excited her and a certain tension gripped her loins at thought of him.
She tried to put the thoughts of the salesman out of her mind, but two days later she was sitting in the lounge reading Vogue when suddenly she stood up and walked to the bedroom to get the handbag in which she had put the business card the salesman had given her.
David Jordan it read. She picked up the phone and asked for him in the confident tone of a woman of her position.
There was a moment’s wait and then his voice came over the phone. For a second she felt uncertainty, almost fear. Then she said who she was.
“I would like to road test the car. Would you bring it out to my house?” she asked him.
He brought it that morning. From her window she watched the casual, skilful way he parked it, like a man obviously used to all sorts of cars. She wondered if he handled women that way, but although his eyes still held a trace of that narrowed look, he spoke to her in a businesslike way. Perhaps he was short-sighted and narrowed his eyes merely to focus better, she thought, but she noticed he had not worn glasses to drive or to read from the sales pamphlets he had brought.
She drove through the quiet, tree lined roads of the area, noting that the car handled very well and conscious all the time of his presence next to her.
“Would you like to take it on the Blue Route? Open it up a bit?” Jordan asked.
“Yes. Good idea.”
On the freeway she drove fairly fast, the top down and the wind beating in her hair. It made her feel young, driving with this man in an open car. The words of Peter Gabriel’s song about the woman driving through Paris with the wind in her hair came to her. She wondered what the salesman, David Jordan, was thinking.
When she pulled in at her gates she felt flushed and invigorated and her normally slightly dull complexion glowed a little. If Richard had seen her at that moment he would have felt a slight unease, even if he had not been able to pinpoint exactly why. Turning in her seat towards David Jordan she brushed her hair out of her eyes with her hand. “I like the car, but I’ll think about it.”
“I knew you’d like the car once you’d driven it. Let me know when you’ve decided, Mrs Braithwaite. You’ve got my number.”
At times during the week end she thought about him and ways to go about meeting him. This was not something she had done before. She had to be very careful. It was strange, she had had fantasies before of meeting some charming, handsome Richard Gere look-alike, a leading lawyer perhaps or a surgeon, but never of a rather seedy car salesman, and yet she found herself pulled towards this man. It would be a big risk. Her friends wouldn’t like the idea, but she would have to see that they never found out
On the Monday morning, after she had eaten breakfast on the patio, she brought her laptop out to the table and emailed the address on his business card.
I want to discuss buying the BM. Can we meet somewhere not too public?
She felt on edge after she had sent the email and a couple of times she checked her laptop to see if there was an answer.
That afternoon when she checked again there was an answer:
My flat, 7 Cranbrooke Mansions, Adelphi Road, Claremont, would be the least public. 5.15 pm tomorrow. Try to park behind the trees in the car park.
Her stomach trembled slightly as she read the email. She was nervous about betraying Richard like this but it was also sexual excitement that gripped her. She hadn’t felt like this since the early days of her courting by Richard. The nervous feeling stayed with her and she had to try hard to hide it from Richard that evening and the Tuesday morning.
That afternoon she drove to David Jordan’s flat. It was a nondescript block and as she drove in to the parking lot she thought she would hate to live in one of these boxes. She noticed that the trees hid her car from the view of passers-by.
After a few minutes David drove in. When they entered his flat she noted with slight distaste the drab vulgarity of the furnishings and the gaudy print of the woman on the wall, which looked as if it had been bought from a bazaar. She wondered if it was indicative of his taste in women. She had a moment of doubt but as he took her in his arms that quickly began to fade away.
David Jordan was obviously not of much class, but the way she felt, that perhaps added to his attraction.
Because of the nature of his work David was able to move around fairly freely and she began to meet him at his flat regularly. There was no question of his coming to the house, that was too dangerous, there were the servants and the CCTV cameras, the neighbours and the friends who visited. Also, she would not have felt right, betraying Richard in his own house. She was careful to keep up the lunches and teas with her women friends; to discontinue them would arouse suspicions.
She realised how much better a man Richard was, how different they were. David had fewer scruples, was less responsible. Even his looks were very different. Where Richard was a little stout, David was a little thin, where Richard was fair David was dark. And, of course, David was younger.
It was risky but it was the best of both worlds, a good, stable marriage to a successful, loving businessman and an exciting relationship with another man. And she deceived herself by thinking that she was not really being unfaithful to Richard, after all she didn’t love David, he was just an adventure to her. This was one of the oldest clichés in the world, she knew, the older, wealthier woman falling for the physical attraction of a younger man socially beneath her. She smiled slightly at the irony, he might be beneath her, but the way things were nowadays she was often beneath him.

She had from the beginning felt the prickings of conscience but in the heat of desire had put them out of her mind. After a while her misgivings began to plague her. She tried to shake them off but they stuck like the burs in the fields near her house. Eventually she resolved to give David up. She did not visit him or even phone and wandered around the house, bored and distracted. After a few days her thighs almost ached with desire for him. Sex with her husband was not unpleasant but it was not the same as with David, there was not the same dizzying excitement as she had felt when riding pillion on a motorbike in her student days. With David she felt as if she were diving into a sea of ecstasy. Having the two different kinds of men and sex, the reliable, pleasant calm and the wild, almost wicked, stimulated her. She felt that she was a highly desirable, attractive woman, wanted by two men. Lying in Richard’s arms she thought of David and lying in David’s bed she sometimes thought of Richard. And this excited her even more.
David, she thought, had no qualms of conscience. Basically he was not a very decent fellow, she knew. But then, she supposed, she wasn’t perfect herself, was she?
One cool autumn day, after an afternoon of lovemaking, she lay on David’s bed thinking that she knew so little about him. She raised herself up on one slender arm, the sheet falling back as she did so, to reveal her pale, naked body with the slight looseness of middle age.
“Have you ever been married, David?” she asked.
He was standing naked at the chest of drawers, his body not well muscled but still firm, and turned to look at her as she asked. She seemed to see a slight resentment in his eyes at her question.
“Yes,” he said, “I’m divorced.”
“Divorced?” she repeated. “Where is your wife?”
“In East London.” He did not seem eager to discuss it and she did not ask him anything else about it.
The fact that he had been married before interested her though and the following week at his flat as they were drinking the good instant coffee she had bought, not liking the cheap coffee he usually bought, she asked if he had children.
“Yes, a boy.”
“You didn’t mention him when I asked if you’d been married.”
“You didn’t ask,” he said, as if that was all there was to it.
His answer seemed so uncaring and she wondered if he would feel just as uncaring if he never saw her again. He probably would, she thought, but the idea did not upset her.
The trouble with the relationship was she had to be so damned careful. Once, after, she had spent part of the afternoon with David, her husband asked her that evening what she had done that day.
“Oh, I did some shopping at Woolworths,” she said, and went on reading her magazine, trying to hide the sudden tension in her.
“Is the food still good at their tea room?” her husband asked a few moments later.
She looked up at him blankly. “Whose tea room?” she asked.
He looked at her puzzledly. “Woolworths. You’ve just said you were there.”
“Oh,” she said, almost blushing, “I didn’t have tea there. I just shopped.”
Fuck, she thought, I hope he doesn’t ask what I bought. But he didn’t question her any further.
Sometimes she said she had been with a woman friend, and often this was true but there were times when she left the women early to be with David, who worked irregular hours. She knew she could get caught out if the women mentioned in front of Richard what time she had left them. It was not very likely but it was possible. At times she felt the way she thought a spy must feel, leading a double life. She felt caught up in the deception, carried along by it as if it had a power of its own, like a strong river that carried you downstream to a soft, sandy beach, or perhaps out to sea to be lost forever. But when David spoke to her on the phone and she heard that slightly roguish sounding voice she could not wait to be with him again and all the scheming and the deviousness and tension seemed worth it.

Now the Cape winter began, bringing its days of rain and cold and Richard suggested they holiday in England and France. The idea didn’t appeal to Edna at all, she didn’t want to leave David, but she couldn’t think of an excuse not to go. So they left in June, midsummer in England.
In London they went to the theatres and visited the Tower and the other historical sites and she thought of David and his lovemaking and missed him. Then they moved to a hotel in the Lake District and one beautiful day, looking out over the masses of daffodils, the calm lake shining in the distance, her husband beside her, she suddenly realised that she was no longer thinking of David.
Later they visited old friends in France and it was exciting and warming to see them again and remember the times they had spent together in South Africa when they were younger. It made them feel young again.
After a few days with their friends they left to visit Provence. They drove through the hot countryside, with its green vineyards and leafy orchards, thinking how it reminded them of the Boland of the Western Cape, and it seemed she had forgotten David altogether.
When they got back to Cape Town, though, and Richard returned to work, she began to think of David again. One day she phoned him and the next day as she drove to his flat she felt that stomach tingling, thigh tightening excitement of before. They began meeting regularly again.
At home sometimes she felt so excited by the prospect of being with David or by having been with him that she wondered if Richard could see it in her. She felt exposed, like a fish in a bowl. The effort of trying to suppress the signs of excitement in her made her seem cold and aloof at times.
It was the afternoon of a cold, windy day and she was lying in bed with David. Outside you could hear the rain dripping dismally down and it was warm and comfortable in bed. David was lying on his back with his hands clasped under his head. He spoke without turning to her.
“Do you think you could lend me ten thousand rands?”
“Ten thousand rands! What for?”
He was silent for a moment. “I’ve got a business scheme I want to develop. I need the money to help start it up.”
“Where would I get ten thousand rands?”
“Oh, come on, that’s nothing to you.”
“My husband may have a good business, but that doesn’t mean I’ve got money of my own.”
He turned to look at her. “Does that mean you won’t lend it to me?”
“No, it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t lend it to you, if I could. It means I haven’t got it to lend you.”
David turned away and lay looking up at the ceiling. After a while he said, “And if I went to your husband? You wouldn’t like that, would you?”
She could not believe that she had understood him properly. “That almost sounds like blackmail.”
“Oh come on.” His tone was hard. You can’t tell me you haven’t got ten thousand rands. It’s not as if you won’t get it back. It would be better for you to lend it to me than for me to go to him for it.”
“Why would he lend it to you?”
He smiled, a nasty smile. “I’m sure he wouldn’t want the whole of Cape Town to know about us.”
She was aghast. A coldness came over her limbs. She was by now sitting up, looking into his eyes and she saw that he meant it.
“You know, up to this moment I didn’t know what a shit you are.”
She rose from the bed and pulled her clothes on, feeling suddenly degraded by his seeing her so.
When she walked out of the door he was lying with his back to her. They did not say a word to each other. What a fool I have been she was thinking. Even the sight of the rumpled bed and the creased sheets as she closed the door repelled her. They seemed like the props of a porn film. To have given herself, her body and feelings to a man like this, what had been wrong with her? What had happened to all her fine ideals? What must Richard think of her if he ever found out? And now it came to her in an icy flash, he could easily find out. Or be told by this common little man.
When she got home she quickly showered and changed to get rid of the smells of sex that might betray her, but also to rid herself of the feel of him on her, as a woman who has been raped would wish to. Although she had certainly not been raped, she had freely given herself to this bastard, even chased him, she knew.
She was so upset that she could not think clearly. Should she forestall David by speaking to Richard before David got to him or should she say nothing? Perhaps David would not go to him. Thinking about it she ran her hands through her hair despondently.
When Richard came home he said to her, “You’re not looking well. You should go to bed. Perhaps you’re getting flu.” There was genuine concern in his voice and on his face.
“Perhaps. I’ll go to bed early.”
For the next few weeks she was on tenterhooks for signs that David had approached Richard, but she tried not to show it. The tension was wearing her down. One Friday evening after supper she was having a drink with Richard in the lounge. There was a Tchaikovsky piano concerto CD playing, the mood was relaxed and she felt that she had to speak to Richard now or she would never be able to. She would tell him that she had made a terrible mistake and was more sorry than she could say. Perhaps he would leave her, get a divorce, but she had to confess.
She had her back half turned to him, facing the Regency striped wall paper. “Richard,” she began.
She could not turn to face him. The stripes seemed to converge and move in on her and she had to blink to clear her mind before speaking.
“Are we still going to the Grangers on Monday?”
“Yes, if it’s all right with you.”
“Yes, it’s fine. It’ll be nice.”
For the next few weeks the tension continued for her. She pedalled furiously on the exercise bike so that her T- shirt was soaked with sweat, but it relieved her only temporarily. Secretly she watched Richard for any sign that he knew of the affair but she was unable to pick up anything. All desire for David had left her but what he might do worried her.
She decided that she must try to find out if David had approached Richard or spoken to anyone else about the affair. About six weeks after she had left David she drove to his flat.
There was another name on his letter box. She knocked on the caretaker’s door.
“Mr Jordan left about two weeks ago. He went to Jo’burg, I think,” the little, elderly man who answered the door said in response to her enquiry.

During the following weeks she felt even more mixed up and full of unexpressed emotions than she had been before the affair. Somewhere she had read or heard that it was healing to put your feelings down on paper and she began to sit down every day and write.
For the first few days she wrote about her feelings during the affair with David and after. She carefully tore up these writings into small bits, wet them well and threw them into the garbage bin. Then she began to write about anything else that came into her mind. Memories of her childhood in Kenya came to her and gradually a theme began to fall into place and the words took form. She wrote of a fictional white family in Kenya and used those childhood memories as background.
The writing brought her some relief and after more than a year she showed it to a publisher friend. He read a little of it at her house; said it seemed good and asked if he could take it home to read. She thought perhaps he was just being nice but he phoned to tell her that he was impressed and wanted to keep it a little longer.
Eight months later, and after a little revision, it was published, to some acclaim. She began her next book, finding that the writing was cathartic and gave her a sense of fulfilment. Her feelings of rebellion lessened, she no longer felt the need for a lover and she mixed with her friends and acquaintances more acceptingly.
She began to devote more time and care to Richard and he seemed healthier and happier. She too became happier and more contented.
However, she found that the second book was more difficult to write and that she felt more anxious about her writing, whereas she had written the first book with no burden of expectation, nobody to please but herself. Now doubts came upon her, there were times when she did not know how to continue. She confided her doubts to her friend the publisher, who looked through what she had written.
“Just relax,” he said, “and write as you feel. Don’t try to be literary.”
She tried to follow his advice. It was hard going. There were still some doubts and anxieties in her but finally she managed to write more freely.
The second book was greeted enthusiastically. Second book better than the first. Edna Braithwaite exceeds expectations, the Cape Times review headline read and the Argus and the Johannesburg papers echoed that. She continued writing and in the years that followed Edna Braithwaite became a well known and respected name in South African literary circles and Richard seemed proud of her.
He never mentioned David to her or gave any indication that he had known about the affair and years later she still sometimes wondered about it. Many scenarios crossed her mind. Perhaps David had approached him but Richard wasn’t interested enough in her to worry about it. Perhaps Richard had been having an affair himself at the time and had been only too glad that she was involved with another man, so that she was too busy to notice and he was therefore spared the constant vigilance and the lying and deception. After all, she had neglected him at the time. Possibly Richard had even been sorry that her affair with David had ended. Perhaps none of these were true and he would have been deeply hurt if he had learned of her deception.
There was also the rather Hollywoodish possibility that David had approached Richard for the money and that Richard had paid him to leave, but surely, she thought, if that were the case Richard would have mentioned it at some time.
Sometimes, as they grew older, they sat together in the lounge reading, watching TV or listening to music and they made a pleasant picture, a happy couple enjoying simple pleasures together. Unlike some people whose mild faults seem to grow worse with the years, she had mellowed and even her face had grown fuller and warmer looking as if to express physically what had changed in her emotionally.
All the years of her life she wondered if Richard had ever found out, but she could never bring herself to ask.
The end

Survived the storm

Have you ever wished that there was no such thing as jealous? This story is my would be life; the life which came to abrupt halt by jealousy and greed. The life which i wanted so bad;thrown to ash in the blink of an eye…

It was about 10years ago when i completed my matric.Everything was perfect ,i wanted to make it big in life.All i wanted was the best for my family; i was willing to work hard and make that happen,luckily my grandfather had been saving all these years for my tertiary education.I was the first in the family to complete matric and go study at a college.

I worked hard when i got there because i knew where im from and i did wana dissapoint my family,Everything was running smooth until i finish my first semester and when i was supposed to do my second simester people started talking
and because my grandfather was too old he was convinced by a neighbour to stop paying for my studies: he didnt want to do that but ended up doing it anyway and i had to drop out.

It felt like stap that wasnt bleeding and i was scared to go home in that mind people will laugh at,its a very big pain when someone wants something bad enough and people keep on taking it away.For the first time in my life i was working as a domestic worker and i knew i was gona go back and finish where i left of with that money and for love my mother had for me,i was stronger than ever and was ready to face the world.She used to buy me smaller things i needed every month end and i was like any other girl my age but still i was angry and i have decided to turn to alcohol for comfort,i bought bought alcohol for me and my friends but then this was somehow becomung a habit so i was back to square one…..continues

Phantom Forest

Ghosts? Yes I know of ghosts. I know that there are various sorts of them, from poltergeists to vengeful spirits and of course, phantoms. Poltergeists like to get up to all sorts of mischief and are in fact very common. I know of many a person who has fallen for the deceitful tricks of poltergeists. Take Lenny Kleinbooi for example. Lenny had suffered from asthma his whole life and as such, he always carried a pump with him. When he was at home, the pump had a place on the bottom shelf above the kitchen sink. Then one day when Lenny fell into asthma induced breathing fit, he found that his pump was gone. Fortunately for him he was able to stumble his way outside and was seen by a concerned neighbour who then took him to hospital. Later, Lenny’s pump was found in the fruit bowl on the dining room table underneath a bunch of bananas. A group of us deduced that such a shrewd hiding place could only be the work of a poltergeist as Lenny had a very good memory and organised manner about him. That was not the only occasion that Lenny had found himself the victim of a Poltergeist’s prank. He had left home one morning to go into town only to come back later and find to his horror that his house was burning down. It was found later that the gas stove had been turned on sometime that morning and a candle had been lit and had fallen over onto the stove, igniting the gas and starting a fire in the kitchen which then spread throughout the house. The chief investigator for the insurance company deemed it to be a deliberate case of starting a fire and was ruled to be arson and so the insurance would not pay out until the culprit could be apprehended. Many people thought that it was Lenny himself who had started the blaze so as to claim the insurance money and take an overseas holiday to Malta, but I knew that it could only have been a poltergeist and a poltergeist being what it was could not be apprehended and tried for his crimes. Thus, Lenny had to move into low budget accommodation downtown. That was before they discovered that he had Alzheimer’s, otherwise Lenny’s attorney could have claimed that, due to his condition, Lenny had been unable to find the light switch that morning and had to light a candle to see what he was doing when making his breakfast. He then could have further claimed that, again due to Lenny’s condition, he simply forgot to both turn off the stove and put out the candle next to it. Had such knowledge been available, Lenny could have bluffed his way through and need not have made mention of any poltergeist in the process. Partly due to his condition and partly due to the poltergeist constantly stalking him, Lenny passed away a few months later. A few days after that however, the chief inspector in the arson case died of a heart attack while munching on a boerewors roll. This brings up the next type of ghost: The vengeful spirit. The coroner put the inspector’s death down to poor diet and failing health but I knew that it was really an act of retribution exacted by the vengeful soul of Lenny Kleinbooi. Such was plain.

So you see where poltergeists enjoy committing mischievous deeds, vengeful spirits carry out acts of revenge and retribution. Now we look at the last kind of ghost: Phantoms. What makes phantoms so mysteriously different from the rest is that one simply cannot tell when they are there and when they are not. It is easy to tell when one’s car keys have been misplaced that a poltergeist is about or that when one is met with series of misfortunes that the vengeful spirit of one’s old mathematics teacher is paying one back for every time one fell asleep in his class, but with phantoms it is more difficult. As I have said, it is difficult to tell when one in fact is in the presence of a phantom as they take great care to conceal themselves when they are in the vicinity. I have had experiences in which I have been sitting in the living room and felt a sudden chill come over my shoulders. I would spring up and spin around hoping to observe some sort of paranormal phenomena but as I have said Phantoms are difficult to see, especially when invisible as they often are. The most that I would observe is that I had left the kitchen window open. The distinction between a phantom and an evening draught is also a difficult one to draw, but one who has ever encountered a phantom may be able to tell you the difference. I am one such person, having first encountered such a spectre in my naïve and simple youth before I believed in such things. A long time ago it was, but the memory is no less clear now than it was back when it happened all those years ago.

It was late one spring afternoon that myself and some friends of my youth set off on a camping trip to the place known as Phantom Forest. “Why is it called Phantom Forest?” asked Arnold Aldridge, the new boy in town. “Because” answered Jimmy Jones while taking a moment to take a bite out of a green apple “there are phantoms living in there.” Joseph Mdaka and I sniggered as he walked behind them but Arnold nodded with wide eyes as if this were some profound revelation. “What’s the matter Arnie?” Joseph goaded, “Are you scared?” Arnold immediately puffed out his chest in indignation and vigorously shook his head. “No, no, no. Scared? Definitely not!” We all chuckled again. As the new boy in town, it was our job to initiate Arnie by taking him into the heart of Phantom Forest, waiting until darkness fell and then getting him to tell us the spookiest story that he could. Following that, one of us would put out the fire and then we would all silently step away from the campsite in the dark, leaving Arnie alone to fear for his life. The purpose of this scare tactic is to test the mettle of the new boy and see if his character is worthy enough to join our crew. Even if the poor guy was scared stiff we would still welcome him in. We had all gone through this rite of passage and tonight it was Arnie’s turn. We had crossed the White Bridge and taken the right turn off of the main road. We now followed the dirt road with the estuary on our right, shimmering gold as the setting sun shone upon it. It was warm and the late day had a docile almost lazy feel to it. The four of us continued along the road for about another quarter of an hour before Joseph pointed to the hidden path leading off of the road. We stepped off the sand and gravel and onto the cooler, softer dirt of the path leading into the undergrowth. The shade provided a cooling sensation and the sweat on my back began turning icy, which was pleasant at first but as always it inevitably became too cold for one’s liking. “How far into the woods are we going?” Arnie somewhat nervously asked. “You’ll see.” was Jimmy’s simple reply.
The undergrowth was thick but it was not so thick that we could not see that the sun had almost set. It was dark in the forest, dark enough to warrant taking out and turning on our torches to illuminate the path before us. We had been walking for quite some time before Arnie spoke again. “How much farther?”
“Five minutes or so.”
About that amount of time later Jimmy halted causing the rest of us to stop as well. He slowly shone the light from his torch around him in a complete circle to observe the surroundings then turned to us and proclaimed: “We’re here” and abruptly dropped his pack and knelt down to begin setting up. The rest of us followed suit and together we set about establishing our base for the night. We had two tents between the four of us and one sleeping bag each. Joseph and Arnie took charge of starting the fire and Jimmy and I busied ourselves with erecting the tents. It did not take a considerable amount of time nor effort and soon we were all camped around the fire, joking about habits of our teachers and coaches while passing around a bottle of brandy that Jimmy had nicked from his old man’s cupboard. “Hey Jimmy bru,” I piped up, wincing after having taken a swig myself, “won’t your pa have your balls for breakfast for pinching his dop?” He just sniggered as the bottle came his way before saying “Nah, trust me bru, man is drunk enough when he comes home to worry about what’s not in his cupboard. Besides, my ma gets really pissed at him whenever he comes home with booze; he’s actually forbidden to have it. If he ever realises that the shit’s missing, he’ll just think that she threw it out.” We all chuckled at this and continued with the comments and wisecracks, this time about each other’s parents and the misadventures many of them had had in the past. Joseph recounted an absolute gem about a time when his mom drove into the shallows of the estuary while she was inebriated. She was able to get help and get her car lifted out of the waters and still get home before sunrise. She never told Joseph’s pa and he would only find out several years later when by freak chance he happened to be sitting next to a man who had been there on the night of the occurrence while he was recounting the story to a friend. We had a good laugh at that one. Arnie had been rather quiet which was to be expected given that he was new in town and did not know anyone too well. It was alright though as his time to speak was soon to come. After a period in which our laughter and conversation had died down, Jimmy called on Arnie. “Arnie, now the time has come for you to prove your worth to us.” There was a nervous yet determined look in Arnie’s eyes, he was nervous, yes, but refused to be intimidated. “You have to tell us,” Jimmy continued, “one scary story, the scariest that you can come up with and then the three of us,” he indicated to himself, Joseph and myself, “will judge whether or not you are worthy to join our crew.” The three of us chuckled but Arnie stayed silent. “So,” Jimmy went on, “without any further crap, let’s hear what you have to tell.” He was silent for a few moments and was staring at the fire in front of him, probably running whatever story he had over in his head in order to ensure for an immaculate delivery. Then he lifted his head, looked at each one of us in turn and began. “Okay, let me tell you the story of Tabitha Swindley and her family.” There were still a few quietened sniggers to be heard from the rest of us. Arnie was not to be perturbed and commenced with his tale. “Tabitha, her husband and their two children lived in a cosy cottage overlooking the bay, right next to the beach. They lived happily together and often went out onto the beach to go swimming and collect shells and sorts in the sand and in the rock pools. This was routine for them pretty much every day after the children had come home from school. The two children and their mother, Tabitha, would go to the beach while their father would usually read the paper, joining them only about once every week. This was almost an integral ritual of sorts for the family and always ended happily with the three, or sometimes four of them going home to make supper. Then it happened on one Friday afternoon, something terrible. It seemed a day like any other where everything was as ordinary as it could be, with the children playing on the rocks by the pools by Castle Rock and Tabitha watching them from the beach. Her sights were usually fixed upon her little ones and their antics but on this day it was different. It is said that the ocean has a way of sometimes playing tricks with one’s mind and on this day it had apparently done so with Tabitha. Rather than keeping her eyes on the children, her gaze had been captured by the sea, causing her to stare out towards the horizon. It was while she was in this mesmerised state that a rogue wave had snuck up without anyone noticing and swept the daughter, Alicia was her name, off of the rock on which she was stepping. Tabitha saw this out of the corner of her eye and it was enough to break the spell of the ocean and prompted her to scream for her daughter and run towards the spot where she had been taken. She tore over the rocks and stones and was there in a flash but it was still too late. The back-wash as I hear is strong up at Brenton and there was no sign of Alicia at all. In the ensuing hours search parties were dispatched and boats and helicopters went out to find any sign of the poor little girl but to no avail. She was lost.” There was no hint of laughter amongst any of us now and we listened intently to the story which Arnie was telling us. “The father, John as he was called, took the loss hard and felt it difficult to forgive Tabitha for her negligence and so too did Tabitha struggle to forgive herself but it was for different reasons that neither of them felt that forgiveness was forthcoming. In John’s case it was anger and in Tabitha’s it was guilt, something which burned one’s insides greater than anger of any sort ever could. They both struggled immensely with the loss, Tabitha probably more so. Such was her guilt that one night John awoke from an uneasy sleep to find that he was alone in bed. He called for his wife but to no answer. He walked into the living room and saw that the front door had been left open. He then called for her again outside but still no reply came. He then grabbed a torch from his cupboard, checked on his remaining child; the son named Harry, and then went outside to search for his wife. Despite the number of times that he called there came no response and he could see her nowhere either. After having made his way onto the beach he was able to make out what vaguely resembled a fresh set of footprints. It was a difficult task to spot such in the sand, especially in places where many had walked during the day but John had lived by the sea all his life and could tell fresh prints from older ones. He followed the trail from the soft sand until it reached the harder, moistened sand which had been touched by the waves and saw that the trail led directly into the breakers. She had simply,” he paused for a moment “walked into the sea.” He stayed quiet for a while after this, joining us in silence. What had intrigued me the most was not his story, impressive though it was, but rather his knowledge of the beachfront and the ways of the ocean considering the short amount of time he had been here.
Joseph then stirred. “What happened to her?” he asked.
“She was taken by the sea.” Arnie said simply. “Some think that she had been driven to madness and walked into the ocean to search for her missing child and retrieve her from its treacherous depths but it would simply claim her as well, or so they thought…” I interjected at this point.
“What do you mean by ‘or so they thought?’”
“What I mean is that that is not where the story ends.” The rest of us shifted in excited yet slightly uncomfortable anticipation. I thought to myself that surely Joseph had to make a move to put out the fire now so that we could slip away and give Arnie the scare but he seemed transfixed by the story and was as eager to hear the end of it as Arnie was to tell it. He went on, “A few days after his wife had gone missing a distraught John, who had begun to drink himself to death following the loss of two of his closest family members, awoke on the living room couch after having passed out from too much brandy to see that once again the front door was open and leading from and to the open door across the room were what appeared to be two sets of wet footprints. He jumped up to follow the first trail which led into Harry’s room and was shocked to see that Harry’s bed was empty and there was no sign of him at all. John then ran out of the front door and in a drunken haze, he stumbled down to the beach. There was no telling what he saw next. Some will say that we was simply drunk and was hallucinating but others believe that what he saw scared him to death, for…” and at that moment an eerie and chilly gust of wind was suddenly conjured from nothing and possessed such force that it extinguished the fire in a pinch. “Perfect timing” I thought to myself and slowly crept away on my hands and knees out of the clearing and into the bushes. “Jeez, where’d that come from ey?” I heard Arnie say, but to no answer from the rest of us. Although it was dark, it was a task which myself, Jimmy and Joseph had performed on numerous occasions and as such we knew exactly where to tread and where to find each other. “Guys?” Arnie called out with a slightly worried tone in his voice. After about a minute and thirty metres crawl out of the campsite, the three of us found each other. “What you think hey?” Jimmy whispered.
“Ja, it was good.” I said. “But in any case, regardless of the story, he was in from the moment he agreed to come along. Now let’s get to seeing what he’s really made of.” Arnie’s inquiries as to our whereabouts were becoming more frantic now. “Seriously okes, this is not funny.” We all quietly chuckled. “Good job with the fire by the way Joe, perfect work.” I said. Joseph stayed silent for a moment and then said in a somewhat confused voice, “I thought that was you.” Now I was a little confused myself and turned to Jimmy. “Jimmy?”
“Random gust of wind?” he said worriedly. Then we heard the scream. It was enough to curdle the blood and root all of us to the spot as if we had become trees of the forest ourselves. It took a moment before any of us were able to uproot ourselves and run through the bushes to the campsite to see if he was alright. Upon immediate inspection it was found that he was nowhere to be seen. We had all become panic stricken. What was it that extinguished the fire? What had caused Arnie to scream so terribly? And most importantly, where was he now? “Did anyone see anything that could have put the fire out?” I asked in an exasperated breath, “That could be what scared him.”
“I saw nothing. Nothing at all” said Joseph. And with that, Jimmy thought of the only plausible explanation that there was to be had. “Phantoms.” he said aloud, dreading his own words. I was sceptical. “Naai man, phantoms don’t exist. They’re make-believe, like the Easter bunny.”
“They’re not make-believe, you just can’t see them!” He said.
“If you can’t see it, it’s not there!”
“So are you saying that there is no such thing as air? Or the Holy Spirit for that matter.”
“That’s different!”
“The Holy Spirit, we know exists because it says so in the bible, air we know exists because of science.”
“Wait, is the Holy Spirit a phantom?” asked Joseph.
“No Joe,” I said, “The Holy Spirit is a spirit.” Joseph seemed satisfied with his answer but Jimmy was not convinced. “What’s the difference?” he said. I thought for a while and then replied, “Phantoms haunt people while the Holy Spirit offers only salvation.”
“Maybe the Holy Spirit came to offer you salvation Jimmy, by coming to get you to repent for stealing your pa’s brandy.” said Joseph.
“Yes, but he mistook poor Arnie for you, Jimmy, and he must have been so overcome by the glory that he could only scream in disbelief.” My words had reminded us of the real problem we faced, that Arnie was still missing. “Yes, speaking of Arnie, we should go look for him.” Joseph said simply. We all nodded and set off with our torches to try to find our missing comrade.
In spite of what must have been about an hour of walking through the undergrowth in the dark calling out his name, we were unsuccessful and eventually decided that it was a futile search in the dark and that it would be better to resume the search in the morning and that we need not worry about him too much as he would be in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Jimmy still disagreed that it was the Holy Spirit as such an entity would not have made such a mistake as confusing Arnie for himself. Joseph and I agreed that should such be the case, it must be a phantom in whose presence Arnie now finds himself and we should thus resume the search immediately so as to rescue him from further harm. At this suggestion, Jimmy suddenly agreed that it must have been the Holy Spirit, that he was safe and that we should go to bed. He then promptly fell asleep and was followed into dreamland by Joseph and myself shortly after.

We recommenced with our search immediately upon waking and could not have been walking for any more than a minute when we came across our previously absent friend lying down in a foetal position at the base of a large tree. He was awake when we found him, unless of course he had taught himself to sleep with his eyes wide open as if he had seen a ghost, which we all agreed that he probably had or at least felt its presence since certain types of ghosts cannot be seen. We got him up and walking after a few prods and picks at him and we walked back to camp to pack up. We had hoped that by telling him that he was now officially part of our crew he would cheer up a little but he still said nothing and would maintain his silence throughout the entire journey home. We were worried about poor Arnie for a few days afterwards, especially when we did not see him at school on Monday but as it turned out, he had left town with his father who was apparently a diplomat and spent most of his time moving from town to town. But we knew that the reason for him leaving probably had something to do with our misadventure in Phantom Forest. Looking back at the manner in which he behaved after that night, the remaining three of us deduced that it in all likelihood had not been the Holy Spirit that visited us but something far more sinister and what it had said or done to Arnie was something of which we would never know anything other than it was probably less than pleasant. It is funny how such things happen to the most unlikely of candidates and why but regardless of who was plagued by ghosts of whatever sort, myself, Jimmy and Joseph saw it fit to never tread upon the earth of Phantom Forest again.

Capture and Release

A flash of red caught Thomas Gene’s eye. For a brief moment he thought he was delusional. The closer his car got,the more bewildered he became. Red wellington boots. Green stockings. A toothy smile. A thumbs down,the universal sign for ‘hitchhiker’.

Looking back,he would have liked to believe that he stopped because of the rain,but he knew that a large part of him stopped out of intrigueness and a vague wonder of whether or not she was color blind.

She slid into the car with a sigh of relief,wiping away the dark hair from her pale face. She looked up at Thomas and he soon realized that her lips were moving.

Shaking himself out of his reverie,he cleared his throat.”Pardon?” “I said thanks a million for stopping,I’ve been standing there for over an hour. I know the colors are off putting but they don’t exactly say cat skinner “she giggled softly.

He smiled weakly and decided to concentrate on driving. “I’m Levi” she said quietly. She didn’t mention her last name and Thomas did not ask.

“So where are you off to?” Thomas glanced at her sideways and saw her shift uncomfortable in her seat. “Oh you know,here and there,just wondering about”. His eyebrows creased,you don’t wonder about in the middle of a highway during a storm.

“I’ll be fine at the next gas station” Levi blurted out abruptly and the rest of the drive continue in silence.

Soon enough they came to a gas station and Levi stepped out,mumbling an untangible thank you and disappeared around the corner. Thomas sat for a minute,started his car and went around the very same corner.

He looked left and right,trying to spot her and suddenly there she was. Red wellington boots. Green stockings. A toothy smile.

Levi stood talking to a scrawny man whose only contribution to the conversation was a few curt nods. A warm handshake was exchanged and they went their separate ways.

She looked over her shoulder and spotted Thomas sitting behind the wheel of the car and fled,but not before he could see the look of horror in her eyes.

He ran after her,twisting and turning in the slippery streets and finally into a dark alley. He could see her shadow lingering in the corner. A dead end. Thomas approached her slowly and heard a whimper of fear escape her sweet lips.

“When did you start dealing?” Echoed his voice in the isolated alley. He flinched,surprised at the harshness in his voice.

Levi shook her head. “Don’t lie to me!” He grabbed her jacket and felt it rip. Several packets of white powder scattered across the grimy floor.

Taking a deep breath,Thomas looked into her huge eyes. “You know what this means don’t you?” He asked her. For a second he thought she was going to flee again but then realized she was surrendering. There was no more fight in her.

Thomas gently turned her around,bringing her hands behind her back. He heard himself reading Levi her rights.

The rest seemed like an out of body experience. Walking back to his car. The fingerprinting. The statement taking. She looked so small surrounded by large grey walls. She transformed into a little ball,rocking back and forth,knowing that there would be no rescue,knowing there would be no savior.

Detective Thomas Gene couldn’t sleep. He knew the system would swallow her up and shuddered to think what would happen to her in prison. Cursing loudly,he leaped up and hurriedly put on his clothes. He knew that his window of opportunity was rapidly closing.

At 3am,Thomas knew the station would be deserted,with only the guards monitoring the inmates. He glanced at his watch. He waited and soon heard familiar voices.

“Its quiet tonight Jay. There’s no trouble here.” Thomas identified the voice of the guard leaving.

“Well that’s good to know,I’m off to get a bite to eat downtown” said Mike the guard that would be taking over.

Soon the voices became distant and Thomas knew it was now or never.

He reached the cells and unlocked one. He helped her to her feet and wiped away the black smudge under her eyes,which were filled with awe and gratitude.

He smiled and gave a nod of acceptance. She walked into the night and he watched,emotions within him running amok.

He took in the sight that was slowly disappearing before him. A toothy smile. Green stockings. Red Wellington Boots.

Munich Sheep in Winter

There’s a woman reading a book in a museum while imagining she should be cleaning house.There it was. The thread of a winter’s bone communicating the royalty of flowering suffering, the dangers of it while I lay sleeping. I awoke as if from a dream. The woman with hair like silk had not left me, not left him, her family. I took to gardening like voodoo, growing spinach like Mozart composed his music. Blood stings like a wasp, dragonflies draw near, so does sleeping, sleeping it off and the articulate words. Stubborn ghost that I just can’t get rid of. I was a woman under a lifetime of dirt, sun and touch where heaven meets earth’s paradise. Never have I seen such poverty in a town of mines, borne of flame, grit, coals, dark light, goals and dreams caught in ears. Such drama. Tender is every burden masked and unmasked, is flesh, the image of Christ and the origins of wedding cake. There it is. Nearly fifteen years ago. The affair. The matters of the heart. The man and a guarded woman, child in her belly, an orchard prospering like a constellation, the Milky Way. I got in the way.

When someone has broken your heart what do you do? You come home, you clean house.

I wanted to know if you still think of me, dream of me, the elements and dimensions of our relationship, with one eye open and the other shut as moonlight and your soul killed me. I try and not think of your cold touch close to my ice heart. Dark blooms as sin suns. Scorched violence so early in the morning is not becoming. My thoughts are becoming darker and darker. Where do people go, where do they come from (swimming with the fishes)? The glare of the brightness of it was like an illness. It is easy to blame the hunt, the red chakra light seeping through the woman’s physical body. It has its own relevance, silence, compulsion from whence it came and its own opinion. It was as sane to me as the day I realised he would not, could not let go of his family’s life. He had white hands. A veteran’s eyes. At night he would open my veins, true blood, spilling it into the lake that covered Canada in my heart, it would hiss like a flap, pressure building into a force of torture, illness.

Women know about abortions in Johannesburg. You can go to a hospital or a private clinic.

Down the winter road came people walking past me more damaged, and serious than I was. I pulled my scarf around my neck tighter, balled my hands into fists in the pockets of my coat. The moon people I called them with stars in their eyes with their celebrity hanger-on style, their exposes that I can’t fathom, nor understand. I detest it in my world, in my reality. I watched a man out of the corner of my eye on the opposite side of the street with his pose. His Hitler moustache. He looked sinister. As sinister as the double life in the history of Germany. I switch off all the lights when I leave the room. Hit the repeat button on classical music. I am mystified by the onion and all of its layers. The thrill of the knife in my hand as if I am going in the for the kill. Its intricate patterns will be no more like the married man who seduced all of me at twenty-two boldly, bravely who found me bright, capable, extraordinary, exceptional, and brilliant. Of course he doesn’t remember tragi-comic me.

In a house filled with books from top to bottom, in layers how can you ever feel wounded?

I never believed in diamonds, furs, the monthly maintenance cheque, finding love after Mr Muirhead, wifedom and children, being a mistress beyond my thirties, religion and church. Men can teach a girl many things outside of the bedroom. They can educate them on grief, sacrifice, manipulation, mean smiles, standing solitude, music, desperation, loneliness, self-help, rejection, the adult game of motherhood’s throne and even though they are barking mad at you their words sound as simple as a tree leaving you to think where do these petals fall.

He taught me primarily, how to cry in the bathroom and that the Immaculate Conception is not theirs. A family is only perfect in a photograph. They’re discreet about sex, romance, death and being dysfunctional. Do the Munich sheep in winter feel the cold as the sheep on farms in post-apartheid South Africa? I only believed in hitting the repeat button to hear the spiritual madness of classical music over and over again. Muirhead taught me that.

For a long time I didn’t feel anything, no love for anything green that grew nimbly.

I dreamed we were perfect but the flesh at my wrists was calling me, the shark teeth of a razor blade. There’s no welcome mat at the door for people here anymore. I am a shell, purified through ritual, through ceremony, sometimes a dazzling thinker, sometimes a child in a fairy tale childhood continued standing on the shore facing the emerald hypomanic Monday ghost of a sea. Jean Rhys dances. She dances her heart out on the stage but she knows it will never be enough to make up for her lost childhood in Dominica. The rolling hills and green feast of valleys ahead of her. Her wounds are not yet evaporated. Disturbingly so they entertain us. Tragedy. Freeze. Closer. That door to childhood is shut forever. And we both believed that love would save us. Tenderness in the dark that would chill us both forever to the bone. He was the enemy. The thief. Women writers. Watch out for them for they flex their muscles sharply, collect their day’s work, creativity and spirits in a warm bath.

Their brains are like crumbs, cuckoo clocks and the think tanks of war poets all inseparable.

They say, ‘I am turning over a new leaf, destination anywhere collaborating with transport, and people.’ They keep time and routine operating with shocking maturity and a brilliant clarity of vision like any great poet, great thinker would. Oh to move without any sense of direction, to think only pure thoughts, of rituals and nothing else but then again there is the mocking, terrifying and informed needle, the doctor in her white lab coat (who exactly is the rat here), the merry bunch of student nurses, the mansion, the doll house, the swimming pool, the library, the teenagers with their liberal mannerisms, romantic eating disorders, tik, marijuana addictions. Alcoholics everyone by the time they turned twenty-one I predicted. This was the next phase of my life. Loss, breathing lessons, physical science for matriculants at twenty-two and tongue. Every day at Tara the air had a curious oppressive ring to it, the texture, the awareness of the sun. I could not function extraordinarily anymore.

I had to manage being silenced, pray at night that the footsteps in the corridor wasn’t a ghost.

North America wooed me although I couldn’t accomplish anything anymore and think straight. My writing room is quite comfortable. The room is quiet and receives a lot of light, the room is bare with just a few essentials. My writing desk which I can’t do without and my bed pushed against the wall. It’s a small space but it is my space. If I want to sleep, I sleep. If I want to read, I read. And I have left the Johannesburg people and the Swazi girls swanning at St. Marks High far behind me. The air was filled with sweetness in Swaziland. Bad memories are bad for you, they’re wasteful, starve you of goodness and intrigue. Good memories give you stories, allure but they’re also quick to ambush you, quick to forget. Mantra, meditation or prayer? He needed to explore the world. I didn’t. He had a collected detachment. Friendship ended and a great suffering began for me. He needed to be the curator of his own museum. The light went out of my eyes, so did the world’s moon, the innocence he touched.

Cry for your children Africa, not me, cry for courage, pray that your sins will be forgiven.

And so my life began with my father and my mother in Port Elizabeth once again at twenty-two with ripe figs and children in a post-apartheid Rainbow Nation African Renaissance kitchen. The fig trees were slowly dying in the backyard. We would go outside my father and myself and stare up at the stars in the polluted sky (we lived on the industrial side of town) as if the stars were divided into districts. The intricate lines on his face did not bother me, every ripple, every wave multiplied. He was still ‘daddy’ made out of the sight of grit, stupid gossip and distraction pulling him in every direction now that his first grandson was born. The sleeper. Ethan the three month old cherub whose name would have been Heath or Ambrose. Babies do not run on electricity. They run on milk feedings not pasta or films that Tarantino directed. And so I began to feel again. I began to feel love again. You can never let go of the past completely because it has made you the person you have become.

There’s the smell of love coming out of our kitchen that hasn’t been there for years.

Love, passion, empathy, it has influenced me in some way, I have been its slave even though I haven’t gone swimming with dolphins yet or gone to Starbucks on Wiltshire Boulevard. This is a family made for eight. This was a family made for five once upon a time and then we were four but now we are eight. Eight is a wonderfully elegant number. Eight plates, eight knives, eight forks, eight glasses. Pots cooking away on the stove, fragrant meat, this house is a home again. And I adored this marriage almost as much as I adored studying history in school. Old shoe. Old shoe. What to do? What to do? Wait for it to dissolve, dissolve, dissolve but then those who live in poverty will have nothing to live for. I recognise them by their old shoes. They drink water like there’s no tomorrow and possibly retch it all out of their system anyway because they’re starved to death, scared to death just thinking about where their next meal is going to come from. And it’s not focaccia, chicken and it’s not spaghetti.

Is the glare of poverty, disillusionment is this a test God, my assignment, my grand purpose?

My sister tells me she stands atop buildings in the Johannesburg Central Business District to take pictures of sunsets over the skyline and the rooftops of other buildings. For a beginner she is not bad at all. While either people dream of London, Thailand, India, North America (Florida and New York), Cancun, Mexico she is ready to book the plane ticket, get a visa and pack her bags. My sister is the wedding photographer. She takes pictures. One in a while she takes a break, talks to someone who has taken an interest in her, her friend calls it ‘love at first sight’. She wants everyone to be paired off, to drink sparkling wine, to compliment her on her dress, to talk about my sister’s speech at the reception at Thorny Bush a self-catering game reserve in the middle of nowhere that the bride’s parent’s own and visit twice a year over weekends but my sister is having none of that. She is friendly. She is always friendly but if she’s not interested she’s not interested.

‘He can’t take his eyes off you.’ The bride says. My sister just rolls her eyes ingloriously.

You see he isn’t the first. My sister wears ivory and rain in her hair. She has golden hands, is light-skinned like my mother (that Germanic, St. Helena blood in her I think) and her palms are a-glitter. I remember how we used to feed the chickens biscuits in my paternal grandmother’s backyard, eat ripe figs, pick as many as we wanted, could carry in our t-shirts. But it was an acquired taste and as children we didn’t very much like the taste of it. It was a strange fruit. The seeds tasted like confetti on my tongue. We would split them in half and almost stare in awe and wonder at them because we had never seen a fruit like this before with a beautiful white flower inside that looked like jasmine. But we ate it in front of her because we loved her. I loved her hands, she had beautiful hair, a fine collection of hats for church, her cooking, and her roast potatoes after church on a Sunday, and the pickings of her Sunday lunch. She loved making soup for us and wholesome nutty homemade bread as she welcomed us from school in the afternoons. She loved watching us eat, couldn’t take her eyes off us as we did.

But now that door is shut to her forever.

Look At Me

I miss you most when I am most alone with my innermost thoughts. When I am walking, perhaps talking to another student at the college. My innermost thoughts are just dreams, waking memories. I turn to look for you and then I chastise myself because you are never there. I turn to look for you hard sometimes in a passing embrace between a couple or perhaps when I see someone who looks like you from afar. A fleeting gesture of romance – passé and after all your hard work that was all that you achieved in the end. The solution was love or what you imagined it to be. Your nose had been caught often in a book. Now when we pass each other we both stare coolly ahead, oblivious to the world at large, to each other’s past impassioned pleas, imagined infidelities and shielded by an impenetrable gaze.

Professor Mahola was startled out of his reverie by a passing student’s greeting.

A simple remainder of what has passed – what is left behind is this: a self-righteous person who is lovelorn, a Prima Donna who aspires to lead both a hermetic life and to be incredulously pious. Lecherous prig, pig, leech. She screeched a thousand, a hundred murderous, damning insults in her head but nothing, nothing can calm, can dull the quandary that she found herself in. He remembered her slipping into something slinky. The negligee felt, soft and cool against his skin as she lay beside him in the bed. The fabric was silky, slinky and smooth. No longer the teen screaming drama queen but the sordid little drama queen. You had the evening perfectly prepared. You had lectured yourself over and over how to catch your professor’s eye and now you had the perfect opportunity to be the elegant hostess.

She watched the daytime dramas after her lectures; talk shows and she taped any show that she missed. When she took her bath at night or stood in the shower she imagined that she could see into and through her body at the democracy of the veins. The past sometimes left fingerprints for future reference.

She was no longer a girl who was demure and docile in the presence of the opposite sex but a woman who was alluring and feminine. Whose walk was sensuous, whose body was curved and talk light hearted, conversation intelligent.

The geometric patterns of light at play on the leaves reminded her of the cufflinks on his sleeve as he prepared to leave to a literary awards ceremony. With a backward glance he would say, “I promise I won’t be back too late.”

Sumaya Naidoo’s upbringing had taught her that discretion was the better part of valour. Professor Mahola, of the English Literature department at the University of Port Elizabeth seemed perfect and she was the partner who seemed less than perfect – flawed. She watched him sleep and wondered what the language of love was; picture perfect or alchemic.

She wondered why she hadn’t noticed his haggardness (which she had mistaken for rugged handsomeness), his dark, black hair, slightly curling and greying at the edges, lean frame, his hubris, turkey neck, his indifference towards what she championed for or whether or not her preference for that evening’s meal was the mundane or for the exotic. He didn’t like lipstick. He dismissed it as hedonistic. A streak of red across her lips always signalled emergency. Kohl-rimmed eyes, perfume, teeth stained yellow, eyes bloodshot the morning after promiscuity. Her mood swings signalled depression and emotional instability.

Perhaps that is why in retrospect he had chosen her out of all the girls in the class. She was intelligent, she did not smoke or drink, frequent bars, nightclubs, and she was attractive but also insecure.

He always disregarded her impertinence, rudeness, cruelty and her standoffishness, arrogance and recklessness as immaturity in class when she aggressively debated. Once they had met in a supermarket aisle and they briefly nodded to each other. He remembered her although then she seemed devoid of sexuality. What she was wearing and wore to class never betrayed her sensuality; her mouth was provocative and sensual. After that meeting they spoke after class, on the telephone, at a film festival and they emailed each other. He had brown eyes, dark hair and he was taller than her. She had always thought that was romantic like Lord Byron – a knight in shining armour. She excelled at fidelity, secrecy, privacy, the ownership of both persuasion and possession and so she thought, guarding her rights against the whispered voices that say, he is married you know and standing up for her self. He was married. He was divorced now. His wife had remarried and moved abroad with their two young sons.

Her arms, her back, the back of her legs and her neck were moth brown like driftwood. She proofread the book he was working on as extra credit. She was his best student. They lived in harmony unlike his married friends, he confided in her and the one friend he had who was separated.

She wondered sometimes if it was appropriate that he told her since some of them worked at the university but then she dismissed it, thinking that he had probably told his male friends about her. Did that make her a mistress, a harlot? When he started talking about his children for the nth time she finally began to ask herself divorce or denial?

There were the ones who really hurt. There were names that belonged in a little black book of secrets, misery, heartbreak, lies and loss.

Sweet talk. Sweet nothings. He runs his fingers up her spine. If this was happiness then on some days it felt as if she had died and gone to heaven.

You have made me so happy, she said but he could not bring himself to say the same words, even though he felt the same. Slowly as he realised before her that day by day they were no longer in sync. They were moving out of reach. He was the first, he realised, in a line, a succession.

Soon she will find him tiresome. Handsome! He scoffed. There is a vacancy and urgency behind her eyes. She was an amalgamation of the woman of his dreams or as close as he could come at this age. Wouldn’t that intimidate anyone? He would hold her hand, charming, old school, old fashioned. Whenever they watched television he reached for her hand and they would sit with their fingers intertwined. Now when she came into the room and took up her seat at the back of the class he realised she was beautiful. Striking. Crikey!

Gone were the baggy clothes, the extra pounds mysteriously disappeared and the dark circles under her eyes. The unsmiling, serious student, articulate and domineering whenever her intelligence materialised. She laughs and embraces people non-discriminately on the campus.

He would notice that others were beginning to notice too – the male students clamoured around her outside of class and the female students – Amazons from another time zone – are attracted to her for different reasons.

She is formidable. Intense. Intensity has been replaced by wisdom, worldly laissez faire sophistication.

He would take charge. End the affair. Say it was for the best. He has his male pride.

In the beginning he made risotto, chicken tetrazzini. Everything was always very fancy, to impress and he was always going out of his way to show off his experience in the kitchen.

First he admonished her and then he reminded her. “Take care of yourself.” She always promised she would. She had subsisted on comfort food, macaroni and cheese, lots of pasta and fattening sauces, greasy pizza, fried chicken, roast chicken, mashed potato, spaghetti, potato salad, cheese (feta and cheddar) and creamy apple pie.

Later that evening he looks taken aback when she puts her arms around his neck and stands on tiptoe, kisses his cheek. He smiles. “What? What? I read a lot. I watch a lot of films. In the bedroom she confesses quietly that it is her first time. Ambitious would sum up her academic career in one word. How could he have missed that on the first day of the new semester as she floated into his class with a slipstream of other students? He had taken her for a dilettante. Everything had come too easy for her.

He is excited by her ideas, her impressions on everything; they debated about everything whether they were in his office working together or in his bedroom. He convinced himself perhaps this time it was different. She was older in more ways than one – than the others – even though she was younger than them and more emotionally mature and grounded. He likes the way she fusses around him to make sure that he is comfortable. She has decorated her own place – a flat where she lives alone – with flair. He approves. He catches her off guard when he kisses her on the mouth. He anticipates reproach but none is forthcoming. He kisses her forehead. He kisses her lips and only then does she withdraw from his embrace. He watches her with intelligence. Her pose, her extroversion that is uncharacteristic of her. He reads her external behaviour and her non-verbal cues like a scientist. She is forward (pretence) and too trusting of his practised and elegant advances but he finds her electrifying.

Her face unsmiling. She looks like a goddess. She is innocent. “How should I wear my hair for class? Up or down? Which do you prefer?” He would prefer down but he is noncommittal even though he can see it is important to her. When she wears her hair down it frames her face. It had been shorter at the beginning of the year like a pixie cut but another boyfriend who she was no longer seeing asked her to grow it back. Later that evening as they lay side by side there is a new desire, a new fire in her eyes. To forego discretion as he had once put it so succinctly one evening would mean that a woman is no better than a common whore.

What do you think inspires home wreckers and misanthropes? Prostitutes bill sex as a means to an end, he continued while he wondering what exactly was he flailing at.

She said nothing in her defence, unsmiling, lips pursed in a moue. She wondered just how quickly she could get rid of him. She had been running and he had been waiting outside her flat in his car for her. Her feet hurt and she was tired. Volunteering had taken up all of her free time and she was thinking of doing a diploma in management the following year but only if she had the spare time. He was jealous, he was cold, he was snivelling and she felt irritated, annoyed even and she felt she had every right to be. This is what men do. Men are weak. When they are uncharitable, malign your character and accuse you of unimaginable sins.

She went into the kitchenette for a glass of water, came back into the sitting room and sat down on the sofa. He was smoking. We were both consenting adults. I think you should leave now. She decided that was what she was going to say and leave it at that. She had enough credits in his class to pass and it was only a few more weeks until the exams and she would leave the campus and find a new place to stay or decide whether or not she wanted to go home for Christmas.

“I am not a monster. It would be very cunning of you to lay a charge of sexual harassment against me. To say that I raped you.” It was his reputation and tenure at stake here so he had to cover all his bases.

He had expected histrionics. Perhaps he should not have come at all. Her demeanour had frightened him when he left. Her face was blank. What people don’t understand, she said time and time over and over again to herself, misanthropes are incapable of love. She was strong and he was weak. Perhaps all men who were brilliant, who were educated, cultured at some indecipherable turning point in their lives were misogynists.

If he had hurt her, it didn’t mean she would love him any less. Like all the rest he would go unequivocally into her little black book. Silly men! Men like boys, women like girls. Sometimes she would cry herself to sleep when she watched orphans, refugee camps on television, children who were soldiers in war-torn African countries or the violent backlash between activists and the police in protest marches across the globe.

The next day his beautiful, independent and wise protégé was in class. She was alone in the world. She didn’t have anyone. The protagonist in the story she had written was estranged from her family because she had a mental illness. He tried to catch her eye and to imagine what she was thinking or what she was feeling. He felt like kicking himself. A glimpse was all he was longing for. But not once as he read the story she had written aloud to the class did she look up. When the bell rang, she was the first out the door.

So it went on for the rest of the term. He was embarrassed and mortified at what he had said and alluded to in a moment of supreme weakness.

He saw her at the track one day and watched her from afar as she stretched her limbs, jogged on the spot, ran up and down the bleachers. He noticed that she looked thinner. Her face haggard and her face looked tired; as if she was carried the weight of the world or the wars of the world on her shoulders. She sat down and took a gulp of what he presumes to be a sports drink. Those things were filled with electrolytes so he supposed they were good for her. She hunched over to tie what he assumed was her lace but then he noticed that her shoulders were trembling. She was crying. Tears, perspiration, moisture blended together.

She wiped her tears away with her sleeve and he realised she was just a child. Everything had been pretence. She acted older, she assuaged his insecurities about his teaching abilities, she was gifted, talented and that went without saying. She assumed responsibility when she didn’t have to. What he remembered most of all was that to her their relationship had never been a game. Mind games. She had never posed being sultry or that their lovemaking was a thrill, always spoke respectfully of his wife and she never asked him questions about the divorce or why didn’t he see his children more often instead of spending time with her. She understood things about him that he could never put into words, with one look; with one gesture they could, as odd as it sounded almost telepathically communicate. What had he described her as being? Formidable. She was fashioning a life for herself, a conjugal love, a husband who was a friend, gentle teacher, mentor, educated, clever and a best friend who would also protect her. They would represent the family she always wanted. He could see that now clear as day why now she had always loved making him smile. She mistook his seriousness for grumpiness.
It had all been an act. He walked slowly to his car, dragging his heels.

Oh, God, he asked himself. Forgive me, what have I done?

Just like people say when something bad has happened and they call an emergency service.

The Last Hope



In the past few years Tshu s have become the most endangered species of the twenty first century, it remains to be seen whether we will be saying goodbye to another animal species. Here comes a story set somewhere in Africa where the last number of Tshu s still exists but not for long, a number of hunters have been contacted worldwide by a wealthy sick king who went to a fortune teller whom told him that the only thing that can heal him, is to drink medicine made from Tshu horns and said loudly that only medicine made from Tshu horns.
The King contacted three of the most notorious Tshu hunters of our generation, the task was simple to deliver enough horns for the king that can make enough medicine for the whole year. In the past this was as simple as a, b, c now the only hard part is to locate where Tshu s can be found, because during the years of slaughtering, their number decreased fastly so and only few exists. But one thing was for certain Africa is where they can find the last number of Tshus, and the first country they visited was the capital of Africa, South Africa. They packed their refills, the best money can buy and started their long journey to the capital, so the story of tragedy begun.


The remaining Tshus had no choice but to gather and try to find a solution to their slaughter, two families of thus where the only ones left the Hangis and the Gurters where the only Tshu families left. Sunset came and they met in one of their hide outs and the proceedings went as follows,
Thank you everyone for attending this meeting although we are not many like we used to, we still carry on and search for solutions to end and fight those who threaten our existence on this earth.
Hangi I don’t mean to disrespect you but we must face facts we are the only five Tshu s left in the world in the world for now, can’t we just stop hiding and surrender to our hunters?
Dad Hangi
In anger and disappointment) don’t you dare disrespect our race and our ancestors like that we will fight until they take us all but we will never and I mean never surrender, I have a plan that will make sure that we preserve our race although we might not be around to see it happening but our sacrifices will be worth it to our grandchildren and their children and so forth.
Mam Gurter
Sir what are you talking about we are the only ones left soon they will locate us, and just like the rest we will be no more (in tears and sadness)

Dad Hangi
Yes that’s true thy will find us and they will kill us because they have more strength than us, they have machines at their disposal that can eliminate us at a blink of an eye, but they will not take our race with them.
Mam Hangi
Yes my husband is talking the truth but we can preserve our race,
Woman be realistic our race is gone, we are the most priced race in the world right now we are even worth way more than gold, so you tell me that we can preserve our race come on
(Shouting) Gurters behave yourself we are not infants grow up and shut up and listen, my wife is pregnant that child can be our hope
(Emotional) ah another victim will be born and that will make more money for the hunters
That’s not true we can preserve our race all we need is you and your wife to reproduce, then both of our infants will be taken some where were their survival is guaranteed, a while back I saved a man from drowning in the river he was dying that was certain, after I saved him he sweared to God that if I ever need anything he would be there for me. So my long journey to the north was all about that I went to him and told him my idea and he was more than happy to help me, as he already knew about the problems of our race.
(Angry) Hangi u two slimming busted you have a solution but you stayed with it why don’t we all go there?
We can’t all go there it would be too risky for Gordon’s family, the hunters could hurt his family even worse kill them because of us
So sir how will we get them there without being noticed, the infants I mean?
No sailor we won’t get them there, you will
But sir I can’t even take care of myself how do you expect, me to take care of new infants? (Nervous)
Hangi you are really messed up, sailor can’t even gaud his food how do you expect him to deliver our last hopes to the Promised Land.
Don’t worry yourself about that Gurter, you worry about making our last part to complete the puzzle. Do we have an understanding? Loudly so
I don’t have a choice do i? Ok I’ll do it but if this plan fails you are to blame
Am glad we have an understanding, now all we have to do is wait and wait for the members of the clan
Immediately after the meeting the next sunset that came saw Hangi heading off for his long journey to meet the Saviour Gordan, and to tell him that the plan is in motion along his journey, Hangi was plotting and creating secrets routes that will be used to transport the two infants. The map he was sketching needed to be entirely new routes as it would be necessary so that Sailor can’t be seen when travelling.
Back in the plane the three groups where making calls to all known rangers that they had one’s worked with to capture the Tshus, and one ranger became use full as he told them about the last Tshus that are believed to be hiding in the bushes. To the Hunters that was the perfect start to their journey while that was bad for the Tshus, as trouble is heading for them.
In two days after their long flight they eventually landed in Africa and with no time to waste travelled to meet with Mthombeni the slimy ranger who sells Tshus out, immediately he showed them the bush that he last saw a Tshu in and that was as far as it went Mthombeni was to stay outside and keep his eyes and ears open for anyone who approaches or tries to enter the bush.
Riffles where being loaded with the best weaponry available and the hunters started their hunt and they kept in mind that they had only limited time to find as many as they can. That first day yielded no results as they did not find any clues of Tshu existence, sunset came down and they went back to the hotel to prepare for another day of hunting
Back at the Tshu hide out
It’s been days since Hangi left the bushes and there has been some developments in the Gurter clan as miss Gurter has finally been confirmed as being pregnant, The plan was coming together softly but Dad Gurter had mixed emotions yes he was happy to be having an heir, but he wondered if he would live long enough to see that heir play in the bushes or take its first meal.
Gurter was heartbroken but with the news of that heir coming soon he started to see and share Hangis dream, he also wanted to see his race survive this war, he now more than ever was prepared to do anything to preserve their race even kill and most of all die for that dream. In excitement and in motivation he wanted to see Hangi to apologise for all the wrongs he has said and tell him that they will fight in battle as brothers. Gurter was excited early in the morning he went to the nearby river to fetch some water for the wife as she now required more water than usual.
Another sunset was approaching and the hunters were already up at pass 4 they wanted to get there early, upon their arrival in the bush the hunters separated as they thought it would be smarter to search in different places at once, many hours passed but they still could not find any foot prints or anything that showed that they are any Tshus living there.
The hunters where getting frustrated and started thinking that perhaps there are no Tshus there and it would be wise to move on to another location, yes they agreed to move on but on their way back they saw a river and they were thirsty so they rushed to it for drinking, while drinking the leader saw something that he should have never seen, yes he saw a footprint of a Tshu that was left by Gurter while fetching water.
The others looked at him and said “is that what we think it is” the leader smiled and said yes it’s exactly what we are looking for, but they were amazed as to when was this footprint made because they were here all day yesterday and saw nothing. The only possible answer was that it was made during early hours of morning as they themselves arrived there early too, then a thinking came to them that said perhaps they should change their hunting strategy but the leader said no our hunting strategy has worked for years why change it? All we have to change is our hunting time, the leader said to the boys that they should prepare themselves for a steak out.
That was the plan the hunters went back to the motel to refresh and come back at dark, Tshus were running out of luck as they were in the danger of being sported. That nightfall Salar went out to fetch water and food as he had done so many nights before as they only eat and drink in the bushes at night to avoid being spotted, the hunters made their way back to the bushes and more specifically started at the river and there they arrived to some surprises as they found Salar the silly Tshu singing and dancing besides the river with this words to his song “ I am the saviour of our race but I prefer to be called the protector of our last hope”, the way he was singing it shocked the hunters as they listened closely to Sailors words. Just when one of the hunters wanted to shoot Salar the leader whispered quietly and said “you shall not shoot him now listen to his words they tell a story, rather let’s wait and see where he goes after” as the leader had a feeling that Salar was not alone in the bush as he was still young himself.
Yes they followed Salar as he was young, stupid and inattentive they followed him all the way as he was about to reach the hide out one of the hunters phone rang, that’s when Salar got the alert of that he is being followed, he started running while guns were being fired at him they chased him but with humans being slow species on foot they were just too slow to catch up with the speed star of the Tshu race.
Salar as he was running he saw that he had gotten away from them, and returned to the hide out with fear being the only thing on his mind. He immediately went to Gurter as he was the elder due to Hangis absence, he told him everything about the uninvited guests that made Gurter so angry and scared, after he heard what Salar had to say he knew that their days were numbered. He told everyone that from now he would be the only one allowed to go outside and fetch food
Gordon’s place
Godan was about to go to bed and he saw Hangi in the backyard, he was happy to see him but he could see it in Hangi’s face that he was not happy at all, he said to Hangi “come in old friend I have never seen you so sad ever” Hangi came in and started telling Gordon that the time has come for the plan to be implemented. Gordan saw that Hangi was tired as he travelled for the whole four month as he wanted not to be seen by anyone, he told him to get some rest and that they would talk tomorrow.
The sun came out they started talking and Gordan told Hangi that the habitat is now finished and ready to be lived in, he told Hangi that him and his family can come and live there. Hangi said he appreciates everything he had done but he will send the kids first and him and the rest will follow after if they are still alive, that was sad to hear by Gordan but he accepted Hangi s decision, there was no time to spare Hangi prepared for his journey back home at sunset. Sunset came and he departed for his journey.
The hunters went back to their hotels and this time they were over the moon as they had seen what they came for to Africa, this time the hunters had to make sure they had progress as time was not on their side. They packed extra food and all supplies as they now planned not to come back until they have a Tshu horn in their hands, this time the leader said they won’t search for the Tshus but wait for them in a place where no living thing can do without.
While at the bush Gurter was the only one who was allowed to go out and fetch food and water as he was much wiser but he held a disadvantage of being slow as age was no longer at his side, night approached and everyone was hungry and thirsty so Gurter was on his way to get them.
Gurter was cautious when he was getting the food he whore tree leaves to become unnoticed with luck he was able to get those food, and he started to look around and saw no sign of the hunters and perhaps thought to himself they had given up on the hunt, he was approaching the river where they fetch their water he was smiling and saying to himself “ I am smart Salar this is how u do it” , he dipped the bucket in the water to get it full to capacity, when he was about to pull it out he could feel that the weight of the bucket is slightly heavier than usual. He pulled up even harder with maximum strength yes it was coming up but not alone, the hunters jumped out of the water and screamed surprise, surprise Mr Rhino.
Oh my God Gurter was spotted all this time the hunters waited under water for the Tshus to come and fetch water, Gurter was in shock he turned around left the food and started running for his life while the hunters also got out of the water and started chasing old Gurter. Old Gurter really tried to out run the hunters but his legs had no ability to do that, they eventually fired many sleepers on him he tried to resist but the poison was too much for him to stay awake, there he was running but he could not even outrun even a tortoise with that speed, yes the poison had slowed him down rapidly eventually old Gurter fell so hard to the ground. It was a sad moment but yes Gurter was ripped to pieces when the horn was taken out along with his life, yes another Rhino has been killed one of the last 5 remaining in the entire world, gone. One would think that the death would bring peace to those left behind as the hunters have now found what they were looking for but it wasn’t to be, after they took the horn the leader realised something, something that the others did not see, yes he noticed that the Tshu they had right there and the one they saw that day they were slightly different, that one was more fatter and older than that one, there right there in that moment he realised that they are more Tshus on that bush and they are in hiding. . The other two were under the impression that their job was done when they went back to the hotel but only to find that they are only sending the acquired horn by a messenger and that thy are remaining in the hotel and will resume to hunt again in few weeks as the other Tshu will realise that we are on to them, they got some rest and stayed away from the bush for some few weeks to let things settle down.
Back at the hide out its dark the sun has gone away and they haven’t seen Gurter since the early hours of morning, panic as starting to affect every Tshu in that hide out and Sailar started facing the fact that Gurter might be no more, he told others that he is going out to look for Gurter the mothers disagreed but had no choice but to allow Sailor to go and look for him. Sailor went straight to the water to drink water first as he was thirsty but there on that river he came across an unpleasant scene, as he saw the bucket that Gurter left with in the morning and besides it food, food that was left behind by Gurter. Sailor looked down with sadness and said to himself “I hope and pray that this is not what I think it is”, but in his heart he knew that something had happened to Gurter, he followed the traits that were left behind by the running that took place as the trees were torn where the running took place. As he was walking the traits were leading right next to their hide out and he saw blood on leaves and maybe thought that Gurter might be here injured in need of help, yes he was right that blood was Gurters eventually Sailar saw Gurters body, rushed to it screaming Gurter, Gurter what’s wrong , no response as he got near he saw a huge pool of blood next to him, then he said to himself again “ Gurter only if you had listened to me” he saw that the most prised possession of the Tshu race had been removed he closed his eyes and said rest in peace Sir. He covered him with leaves and went back to the hide out to tell the horrible news, eventually he got to the hide out with a long face filled with tears before he could break the news Gurters wife just saw and felt that something is horribly wrong and started crying. Mam Hangi asked Sailor why he is crying that much, mumbling in his words but they eventually spelt and said this words “Am sorry they killed him, they killed him like a thief and took his head”.
They all could not hold their anger inside no more and started crying while on the other side was Hangi getting closer to home but he also felt mixed emotions as he felt like something big had changed that day reminded him of the day they murdered eight of his siblings years ago, Hangi said to himself is this happening again is what’s left of my race killed again he started running with many thoughts in his mind Lord please I have never asked for anything from you in my life please let them be safe. While running to the hide out he could see broken leaves and human footprints now more than ever he saw that something bad had happened, in anger he ran into the hide out screaming where you are, there he found all of them in tears “” that’s when he said what is wrong, he grabed Sailor by his throat and said tell me what is wrong”” but Sailor had no strength to tell him what is wrong but just said “They murdered him””, eventually Hangi looked around and saw that someone is missing, he screamed and said who did this who took him, who killed him? Eventually they all calmed down and Sailor told Hangi everything,
Two weeks from then the Hangi baby was born, and a week after the baby from the Gurter clan emerged also, it was a happy time for both mothers but Gurter s wife was sad as he would have wished Gurter to see his only son. Hangi with no time to spare he told the mothers to kiss and hug their young one goodbye as tomorrow the heirs would be transported to the Promised Land, sad was the state the mothers found themselves in but knew that the sacrifice there are making would be remembered by the future generations and their names will leave through the end of time.
Hangi made a confortable cart that would be appropriate to transport the newly born, in the morning the long journey to the Promised Land will begin. While on the hotel the rangers were preparing for their return to the hunt the very same morning that Sailor is supposed to head out on the long journey. Morning came the rangers arrived in the early hours of it and opened their eyes as hawks and held their guns tight like they were on war, after all preparations were done Sailor was on his way with the infants as any families do they gave a proper send off as they accompanied them up until the river, that was a mistake as they became walking targets of the rangers. One of the ranger was about to shoot but stopped immediately by the leader as he wanted to see where they were heading but after a few hours he got tired of playing hide and seek and announced their presence and intention. A scream from deep inside the bush said “”Rhinos your journey ends here, you have something we want dearly” with smiles the leader had already counted the Tshus and they were four of them. Hangi was surprised as he did not notice that they were being followed and Sailor was scared and told Hangi that those are the people who were chasing me and am certain that it’s them who took Gurters life.

Gavin the leader said ooh young one it is good to see you again and I promise you this time you won’t get away from us just get away from that cart and surrender yourself, Hangi in anger he lashed out at Gavin saying why did you have to kill him he did nothing to you, yes he did nothing to me but he had something I need so does all of you said Gavin, Hangi started whispering to Sailor and told him to prepare to run in five he would cover him. Gavin said to the Rhinos that I will count up until 10 if you don’t surrender I promise I’ll kill you all as he was about to count to 5 Hangi yelled run to Sailor, sailor started running into the bushes and Gavin immediately screamed this words to his crew “”shoot to kill ill follow that little brat”” yes his orders were followed Rhinos were being killed like chickens in December their blood was being spieled just because of greed. While the battle was on Gurter prayed in his heart and said “”dear God I never thought I would be a murderer but this I must do, it’s either I kill back or I watch my race being abolished in front of my eyes I therefore don’t ask forgiveness from you, as if I had to do this again I would do it, I would kill again to protect those I love””. Gavin noticed that Sailor was getting away and that Gurter was kept busy by the shootings he climbed down to chase him, Hangi got angry as he watched his wife and Gutter’s wife being brought down by bullets blood was running like water from the Nile river, he ran straight to one of the hunters with his horn pointing strait at his back in a split of a second that horn went through from the back to the stomach of that hunter, yes Hangi has finally done it he has taken life something he never he would do. As Gavin was coming down he saw what Hangi had done and pointed his machine at Hangi and opened fire saying die your animal closely moving towards him, Hangi was down but not out as Gavin moved closer as he thought that Hangi was down and out but he pulled one last strength and aimed at Gavin’s head but unluckily missed him and directly chopped out Gavin’s right hand. That unfortunately was the last act Hangi could do on earth as Gavin with anger opened fire directly to his head as his life fainted away, but he left a mark that will remind Gavin of him forever he took his arm with him. The other two after killing the two mothers chased Sailor behind and continued firing, Sailor was following exactly the route map given to him. Behind him was the hunters catching up as the trailer of the two infants lowered his normal speed, but he was preparing to enter that crucial hole that will lead him straight to the Promised Land. With God’s mercy Sailor entered that whole and was able to get away from them, what happened after whether they reached their destination was never known we only hope that Sailor accomplished the mission, we hope that he saved the race the entire race of Tshus (Rhino).