A Smile and A Song 2/3

By Drum Digital
26 March 2014

Dumi couldn't believe it when 'Miss Glam' smiled at him

But actually, Dumi and Priscilla did have a problem with the big world.

The first time he’d asked her to a students’ night event away from the campus, she’d looked at him with startled eyes and a troubled face. It wasn’t possible.

Her parents would never allow such a thing. Not with anybody they didn’t know.

Then came a Saturday morning when Dumi rose with a heart filled with anxiety.

He put aside his comfortable jeans and Tshirt and scuffed sneakers. Instead, he put on a long-sleeved, collared shirt, pleated chinos, and polished his only pair of leather shoes to a high shine.

He even put a comb through his thick, shaggy hair. Then he checked his looks in a small mirror.

Priscilla was coming to fetch him for lunch with her parents in Diepkloof.

The family home was Italian in style split levels, balustraded balconies, deepset windows and high arches.

Pebbles crunched under his shoes as Dumi followed Priscilla up the front steps.

As lunch approached, the heaviness in his heart did not lighten. He was uncomfortable in the midst of such opulence, especially when, after the introductions, talk turned to his humble rural upbringing.

Not that he was ashamed of it. But memories of those years burdened him and he felt more comfortable expressing his feelings in song than in conversation.

He became even more uncomfortable when he saw the gleaming serving bowls, sparkling glasses and shiny cutlery.

Halfway through the meal, as some exotic chicken dish was served, Dumi was guiltily thinking that he’d rather have dipped into a big bucket of fried chicken.

When Priscilla and her mother went to the kitchen to prepare the dessert, Dumi felt defensive in the face of questions from Mr Khoza.

“And so,” he said, as they moved from the table to sit in the lounge, “What are your future plans?”

“I first have to graduate, Nkosi. My major is in performing arts – singing. I work on it all the time.”

“Oh. So what do you do? Do you perform somewhere?”

“Yes, at Rhythm House’s open mic nights on Fridays.”

“And where is that? At Wits?”

“In Braamfontein. You appear on stage to present yourself.”

“You get paid for it, I hope?”

“It doesn’t work like that, Nkosi.

If the audience doesn’t like you, you don’t get invited back the next week.” Mr Khoza looked at him with a blank face.

“It’s not the money. You get exposure to work on your songs and get audience response.”

“I see,” Mr Khoza said, although he clearly didn’t.

“Hey, it’s time for the big game,” Mr Khoza said as he dug around for the TV remote. The large screen on the wall sprang to life to show a soccer ball hitting the sweaty face of a player.

“Wow. Just look at that!”

“I don’t really follow soccer.”

“What a great shot at goal!”

Mr Khoza continued. Dumi leant back glumly on the couch.

In the meantime Mrs Khoza had been having some words with her daughter in the kitchen.

She was beating cream with such energy that the curls bounced around on her head.

“Look, I’m not saying he’s not a nice young man but I expected more of you.”

“What are you saying? That he’s not from a rich family?”

“It’s not just that. Singers, actors, writers – how can you trust them?”

“Dumi’s not like that. He cares deeply for people around him.”

“But what can he promise you? What future does he have?”

Priscilla put down the dessert bowls. “Should I associate only with types with guaranteed Sandton City jobs, mother?”

“Not a bad idea. You spent five years at a good school growing up as a young lady.”

“Mother, you don’t have any idea what those types are like.”

“Well, a girl’s got to think of her wedding and her future.”

“Dumi and I are good friends.”

Mrs Khoza put down the spoon. “My baby, let me tell you about being friends, and living a hard life with no money . . . ”

-by Tom Serengeti

To be continued...

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