FICTION: Memory Foam Slippers - Part Two

By Drum Digital
09 March 2017

IT WAS a marathon! Annatjie was amazed when she looked up through her window to see that the sun was close to setting. And she still hadn’t found her Sipho

BY KEDIA DITSALA

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Larona and Keletso got back from work and popped in for a quick “hello”. Annatjie closed the laptop quickly. Guiltily.

“You okay, Ma? I’ll bring your supper just now.”

They went back to their own kitchen, back to their private discussions, not knowing all their words were being carried to Annatjie along the whispering wall.

“Well, it’s keeping her busy. That has to be a good thing, Keletso.”

“What a cheek!” thought Annatjie.

But she was smiling as she clicked onto the next profile. It showed a blurred, grey-haired man. But no! This Sipho lived in Botswana.

It was Tuesday afternoon before Annatjie finally located her childhood sweetheart, the man who had once been the young boy whose heart she had broken. She remembered it clearly.

“No, sorry, Sipho,” she had announced with the self-centredness of youth. No, Vusi’s the one for sure.”

She had left Sipho devastated and with tears in his eyes.

But here, in his Facebook picture, Sipho was smiling. She recognised him instantly, though his face had filled out with the years. Annatjie felt a surge of comfort.

In the picture, he stood beside a small woman. Their hands were clasped together and they looked into each other’s eyes. The short bio informed her that Sipho’s status was married and that he had three children: Harriette, Daniel and Theo.

Strange! She and Sipho had spoken often of calling their first son Daniel and their first daughter Harriette. Back in those far-off days when it seemed their marriage was certain.

There was an open rectangle on the laptop screen. “Send Sipho a message”, it invited. And what kind of message could she send him across the 30-odd years?

“Hi Sipho, remember me? I broke your heart and now my heart is broken, too.”

Or: “Hi Sipho. Do you think of me sometimes? Do you wonder how things would have turned out if I hadn’t met Vusi?”

Or: “Hi Sipho. I am so lonely and so lost. I feel like half my soul has been ripped away. How will I ever learn to bear this emptiness?  Can you help me?”

ANNATJIE realised she was crying. It wasn’t the wild, shrieking wails of those early days when Vusi had just died. And it wasn’t the stomach-wrenching, desolate weeping of the months that followed.

Instead it was a stream of silent tears that fell onto the keyboard. Were they tears of acceptance at last, she wondered. She had loved Vusi. He had made her whole. He had made her life rich and full. And even if he was gone too soon, so much too soon, still he had been the right choice for her. The only choice possible. He was, and always would be, irreplaceable.

Annatjie closed down the Facebook page with a click. This was not the way to go about things! Sipho had his life with his wife and his children. He looked happy and at peace. How dare she disturb that? How dare she have the arrogance to think she could?

In her bright pink memory-foam slippers, Annatjie slopped across to the kitchen window to watch a weaverbird busy building his nest.

Another marathon discussion was going on in the kitchen. Annatjie settled herself down beside the window to listen. Still it took her quite a while to work out exactly what Larona and Keletso were on about.

“Perhaps we should wait a while before we tell her the news.”

“Well, she’s your mother, Larona. You know best what effect it will have on her . . .”

“Let’s give it a few weeks. See if things improve. I don’t want her to feel she’s being kept in the dark.”

Annatjie shook her head at the pair of them. She loved them, she was grateful for their kindness. After Vusi’s death, they had been there for her in every way possible, Keletso as much as Larona. But sometimes the two of them didn’t have a clue! They didn’t understand her one bit!

Off she went to the little built-in cupboard. She picked out a pair of shoes that Keletso had bought her. She kicked off her pink slippers, one at a time.

It took her moment to find her bag. And yes, her credit card was still there and it was still valid. Then she marched out of the front door. It felt strange to be outside again. But Annatjie pursed her lips bravely. This was no time for faint-heartedness.

At the front gate she paused to get her bearings. Left? Yes, the shopping mall was definitely four blocks to the left. There was a wool shop there, she remembered. A wonderful place filled with yarns of all thicknesses and textures and files of knitting patterns. She needed something lacy and complicated and time-consuming, something that would tax her talent to the limit.

Only the very best was good enough for her coming grandchild!

The End

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