FICTION: Memory Foam Slippers - Part One

By Drum Digital
08 March 2017

WHAT ARE we going to do about my mother, Keletso? It’s 18 months now since my father died. Surely she should move on a little? At least move out the front door! She used to be so active, so full of plans and things to do.

BY KEDIA DITSALA

“She’s your mother, Larona. Don’t you have any ideas?”

Annatjie could hear the whole conversation between her son and daughter-in-law. A curved wall ran from their kitchen round to the window of the granny flat they’d built for her. It acted as a kind of whispering wall.

Years ago, her husband, Vusi, had taken Annatjie to China. He had to make a business trip there. But he took her along, too. And they’d come across a whispering wall there, in one of the Beijing temples.

“Put your ear against the wall, my love,” Vusi had said. He’d walked to the other end and sung to her: “You light up my life; you give me strength to carry on.”

But, in fact, it was the other way around. It was Vusi who had given her strength, thought Annatjie. And now Vusi was gone. Exactly how was she supposed to carry on?

She heard Larona's voice again: “If she would only take off those ghastly slippers!”

In their kitchen, Larona and Keletso discussed her as if she were a problem child.

Annatjie looked down at her slippers. They were bright pink and fluffy, soft and comfy – Vusi’s last present to her.

“Memory-foam slippers, my Annatjie,” he’d announced. “They mould themselves to the shape of your feet. State-of-the-art technology, sweetheart. Viscoelastic polyurethane, developed by Nasa scientists. How about that?”

One thing they weren’t, was ghastly!

Keletso’s voice again: “I’ve bought her shoes, Larona. Three pairs, in fact.”

The shoes were neatly lined up at the bottom of the small built-in cupboard in the granny flat. Nice enough. But what was the point of walking when you had to walk alone?

ANNATJIE and Vusi had loved walking. How many miles had they covered over the years? Beaches and valleys, hills and riverbanks, even when Larona was little. And now Larona, the adult son, expected her to step out alone, with no one beside her!

“I’ve got it!” Larona said suddenly. “Facebook!”

“Facebook?” Keletso sounded sceptical.

“Yes, I’ll set up my old laptop for Mom, show her how to use it. Perhaps she can get in touch with her old friends. Perhaps they’ll arrange to meet for coffee. Or a day out to catch up on old times.”

“But Larona, are people her age even on Facebook?”

What a cheek, thought Annatjie. Vusi had always kept up with the latest technology. Sometimes Annatjie would ask Vusi to explain things to her – not because she was interested, but just because she loved the intense expression on his face as he tried to explain.

And later, Larona had that same intense expression as he sat there in the granny flat, explaining to her about Facebook.

“It’ll open up a whole new world, Ma. Give it a chance.”

So she did. Once Larona and Keletso were safely off to work on Monday morning, she logged on.

There was only one person she wanted to contact, only one person that she’d wondered about through the years.

Sipho Dlamini. He was her childhood sweetheart, the love of her life before she met Vusi. What fun they’d had, discovering the world together! The first Beatles songs. The first kiss. The first screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Back when 2001 seemed light years away.

Sipho Dlamini! How had his life panned out? Had he also married, and children, too? Perhaps it was time to find out. Annatjie typed his name into the search engine. The results startled her.

Who would have thought there would be so many Sipho Dlaminis? How on earth was she going to find her one? Annatjie slopped across to the kitchenette in her pink memory-foam slippers and made herself a very big pot of tea. This was going to be a taxing quest.

The profile pictures helped a little. Those showing young men, she ignored altogether. But many of them were photos of children or grandchildren. So those had to be further investigated.

To be continued . . .

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