The right time 2/3

By Drum Digital
19 November 2013

“Tell her tonight!” he heard Morris say.

But he was already caught up in his own thoughts. He’d already decided to tell her that night. The smell of Mbali’s mouthwatering cooking met him at the door when he got home after the short walk from the tavern. And he thought: why would Iwant to leave this? As he opened the door, the light was unusually bright as if it sensed his decep- tion and was trying to expose the dark corners of his mind. He immediately headed for the bathroom to freshen up.

Comfort had no idea Mbali was on to him. She’d detected achange in him weeks before. Following her suspicions, she’d asked around. In atownship as small as Dube, news spreads like dust in ahouse. You don’t see it but when you start look- ing for it, it’s everywhere. So it was only amatter of asking the right person and that person was Sis Thoko. No matter where you go, you’ll always find someone who knows everyone else’s business. That’s mainly because there’s nothing else to do but gather infor- mation –then speculate and exaggerate to make up aspicy story.

It was like the stories in those soapies on TV. Sis Thoko was a great busybody, always ready with a smile and her take on current affairs. She was a township version of the paparazzi –she knew what the socialites were trying to hide. So Mbali went to buy some magunyas from her. In any case, her beloved Comfort loved those Johnny cakes. “Eish, Mbali!” said Sis Thoko, in her usual melodramatic tones. “This heat is really getting to me. Standing in front of this stove is going to be the death of me one day ...”She paused to wipe her brow for effect, then ended with her customary phrase “. ..my child.” “No, Sis Thoko! You’re stronger than ever! You could get a third husband any day,” Mbali replied.

She tried to steer the conversation in a particular direction. “I’ve seen the queue here on pension day. All those men dressed up with money in their pockets, trying to impress you.” “Mbali, you must be joking! Two hus- bands were quite enough. Anyway, Ijust don’t have the time. Not like that Comfort of yours. I’ve seen him strutting around, you know. So if you don’t watch out ...” Sis Thoko nodded her head towards the street. Mbali turned and saw agroup of fashionable young men pass by. She needed no further confirmation of her suspicions. She’d heard enough. Her heart sank at first. Then she decided to make the best of the situation. She knew that Comfort would make up his mind and that would be that. Night after night, she could sense Comfort’s apprehension. She could see him struggling with trying to tell her the truth. But he always seemed to back off at the last minute. She enjoyed watching him squirm; it reminded her of atime long ago when they’d first bonded. But with time he’d learnt to hide his shyness and vulner- ability very well. As she thought of their time together, she realised how far apart they’d grown. But it would still be difficult, she told herself.

To be continued...

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