Love thy neighbour (2/5)

By Drum Digital
24 February 2015

Nontle had always been a queen, compared to poor Nobantu.

“I live here,” Nobantu answered. “Since when?” Nobantu felt as if she was being interrogated.

“We moved in a couple of days ago.” Nobantu wondered why she was about to offer a civil explanation, then went ahead anyway. She explained that Lungelo’s mom had died a while back, leaving her son the house. They’d given the tenant time to serve out his notice period before

moving in. “Lungelo was an only child,” Nobantu said. “So luckily there was no family dispute over who would inherit the house. But we had to give the tenants time to

move out. We moved in last week, on the second of the month.” Nontle gave a thin-lipped smile. “Wow, you guys were really lucky! I was just

thinking, surely there’s no way you could afford to live in such an expensive suburb? Your husband’s a labourer, if my memory serves me correctly?” “A plumber, he’s a p-p-plumbing contractor. And he’ll be going into the shopfitting business as well next m-m-month . . . ” Nobantu stuttered whenever she was angry. Nontle hadn’t changed a bit since school. She was still every bit the arrogant, condescending school prefect. “Oh, that’s nice,” Nontle said with a false smile. “So what did your late mother-in-law do for a living? She must have been quite an accomplished lady if she could afford to live on this side of town. But I seem to recall she was a maid?” “Yes, she was a domestic worker. The

house belonged to her employers. But they immigrated to Australia. Being fabulously wealthy, they left the place to her as a token of their appreciation for the many years she’d worked for them and looked

after their family.” “Well that was generous of them, I must say. Your mother-in-law must have meant a lot to them.” “Yes, I believe she did. And they were very good, fair people. I miss them. They were like family,” Nobantu said.

“So how have you been keeping, Nontle? Last I heard you were lecturing in sociology at the university.” “Yes. I’m a senior lecturer in the sociology department. In fact I’ve just applied to do my PhD – that’s why I came to check the letterbox. I’m waiting to see if I’ve been accepted.” “How nice! And your husband? It’s Geoffrey, isn’t it?” “Oh, he couldn’t be better! He’s been in such demand as a plastic surgeon that he’s gone into private practice. It’s been two years now.

“You have no idea how vain people are – they’ll use their last cent to go under the knife so they can hide their flaws.

To be continued...

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