Domestic bliss caught on camera

2008-03-05 00:00

Brenda went out early on Saturday morning and came home with a young black woman. This was a fantastic turn of events. “Where did you get her? What’s her name? How much did she cost?” I babbled feverishly.

Apparently there was a special on at the taxi rank. Some sort of mid-summer sale. Two for the price of one. I told Brenda to go right back and fetch the free one but she said one was more than enough.

I went over to get a closer look. Teeth good. Muscles strong. Five fingers per hand. She lowered her head and I rapped her sharply on the skull three or four times. No echo at all. Always a good sign.

“Cuál es su nombre?” I asked her. I know more Spanish than Zulu or Xhosa even though I have never even met a Spanish-speaking person. I reckoned that since they are all foreign languages, she would know what I was saying. Apparently not. She simply stood there and stared at an old bloodstain on the wall.

I turned to Brenda. “There seems to be something wrong with this one. I think you should take her back. Did you get a receipt?”

Speaking slowly and deliberately, I asked: “Who are you?” She stared at the floor and said in a small voice: “EC790548.”

“Not your serial number.” I shouted. “Your name. Il vostro nome. Jou naam.”

This time she seemed to understand. She put her hand out and said something unpronounceable in an Eastern Cape kind of way.

“Kwaai Lappies,” I said, pretending to shake her hand. “That’s a lovely name.”

Brenda rolled her lazy eye, informed the tall, dark stranger that the bedrooms were upstairs and left for work without so much as offering to make me breakfast.

Once I was certain that Brenda had driven off, I washed my teeth, brushed my face and went into the master’s bedroom. Kwaai Lappies was on her hands and knees. Another good sign.

I had my kit off in a flash. Flexing my one functioning bicep, thrusting my chest out and sucking my stomach in, I struck a pose that is irresistible to women. I can only hold this position for around seven seconds and by the time Kwaai Lappies realised I was in the room, I had deflated considerably.

She scooped up my trousers and shirt, stuffed them inside a grubby pillow slip and walked out pretending that she wasn’t at all impressed with my physique.

After recovering from the rejection, I put on a fresh outfit and began tracking Kwaai Lappies. I picked up her scent in the kitchen and eventually found her doing the laundry in a room that I never even knew existed.

For a married man, there is nothing more exciting than seeing someone else do the housework. Brenda stopped doing it a long time ago. Apparently something to do with me inadvertently making a remark about it being women’s work.

This was a historic occasion and needed documenting, if only to prove to Ted that I hadn’t cracked and cleaned up the place myself.

I fetched my video camera and began following Kwaai Lappies wherever she went. It wasn’t easy because she was a fast mover, but I was overjoyed to find that she was a natural and needed very little direction whatsoever.

She moved effortlessly from washing the crusty dishes to scrubbing the squalid floors to scooping up the festering cat vomit.

I got it all in one seamless tracking shot. Capturing a low angle of Kwaai Lappies scouring the toilet bowl while bathed in natural light was a shot that most cinematographers can only dream of.

Although her sense of timing and grasp of character was generally excellent, the bathroom scene took several takes because there was so much dirt and grime ringing the bath that it looked like the high water mark in Durban harbour.

At lunch time, I took a well-deserved break from filming. Salmon roses and a bottle of Pongracz for the crew; bread and tea for the cast. Well, it would have been if Brenda had remembered to buy bread and tea. I was on a tight budget and Kwaai Lappies didn’t seem to be the complaining type.

After lunch I lay on the couch and shot a lot more footage of Kwaai Lappies transforming my filthy home into something you might expect to see on Top Billing.

Around sunset I called it a wrap and told the budding starlet that she had been magnificent. She asked for a lift to the taxi rank, forcing me to tell a little white lie about there being no petrol in my car.

“The exercise will be good for you, Kwaai Lappies,” I said, sinking back into my imitation leather couch.

I was pleased with the day’s work. Kwaai Lappies had been successfully integrated into my home and I had discovered a new career.

The French have a name for my style of filming. They call it cinéma vérité. Cinema of truth. Bloemfontein-based Nico Naudé, a film-maker before joining Honey Attorneys, calls it “play-acting”.

When Brenda came home I slipped a Rohypnol into her gin and tonic, pretended to take an interest in her day, then helped her into a chair and played her the video.

Instead of complimenting me on my stylised mise-en-scène, she called me a stinking racist pig and threatened to turn me over to the Human Rights Commission.

“Why don’t you move to the Free State and join the Rambo nation?” she barked, scaring the cat and setting off every dog in the neighbourhood.

“The Free State?” I laughed so hard that I had a little accident in my broeks. Brenda was appalled.

“Don’t worry,” I said. “Kwaai Lappies will take care of it.”

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