The House On The Hill 2/5

By Drum Digital
11 February 2014

Gabisa had lost interest in life but then hope surfaced...

Nathi enjoyed the garden almost as much as she did. He liked to bring her a big bunch of flowers. “Pretty flowers for a pretty lady,” he’d say and she’d feel like a young girl just falling in love. The scent of the frangipani would fill the house and she could never breathe in its sweetness without thinking of him. After he died she couldn’t even look at the garden. The sight of the flowers reminded her of the flowers at his funeral and made her weep until she had no more tears left. Stop it, she thought. Stop thinking about the house on the hill. It’s dead now, and if I’m lucky, soon I will be too. Old bones. Cold bones. Ikhaya lethu is no more. Gabisa shifted her weight around the heavy cast on her leg. After three weeks the broken bone still ached but it was no match for a broken heart. She must have drifted into sleep because it seemed much later when activity in the ward woke her up. Gabisa opened one eye and saw nurses wheel in a trolley with a young woman on it. A new patient. Lights above the empty bed next to Gabisa’s were switched onand the curtains were hastily closed. In the doorway stood a young man. He looked helpless and worried. When the nurses had helped the new patient into bed the curtains were opened. Gabisa could see that her head was heavily bandagedand her left arm was in a cast, all the way up to her slender shoulder. The head nurse beckoned to the young man.

“Just 10 minutes, and then you must go.”

The young man nodded and moved awkwardly to the side of the bed. Gently he lifted the woman’s right hand and held it between his own. She seemed asleep. Probably still unconscious from the anaesthetic, Gabisa thought.

Through her lashes she watched as he leaned forward and whispered softly.

“I’m sorry. I’m very, very sorry.”

What was he apologising for, she wondered. Had he beaten her? Broken her arm? Was he an abusive husband or boyfriend? Surely not. He was looking at the woman with such love in his eyes that Gabisa looked away. Oh, how well she rememberedlove like that. The kind of love that filled her up, warmed her heart and brought laughter to her lips. But that was then.

Now she was as cold and as empty as the lonely house on the hill.

-by Gail Dore

To be continued...

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