“Popcorn?” Jacob Zuma held the bowl out to her.
“No, thank you Jacob” Helen Zille responded, not raising her eyes off of her smartphone. “And… tweet.” She tapped the screen. “That will show Carien and Feriel not to mess with me.”
“Ahe Ahe,” Jacob turned the volume up on the television. Barry Roux was cross-examining one of the witness in the dock at the Oscar Pistorius trial. “Eish Helen. Do you think he is going to jail?”
Helen shrugged. “He has to. He is guilty.”
“Hey wena. You know that being guilty in South Africa doesn’t mean you end up in jail. Just look at Shaik or Selebi, or…”
Mac Maharaj had been poised in the corner. His eyebrows looking like grey caterpillars crawling across his forehead. “You are taking it out of context.” He screamed, springing forward. “He is not saying that his close relationship with these parties had anything to do with their early releases. And for you to imply so Helen is racist, inflammatory and not true. It shows your colonial mentality still exists. It…”
“Mac.” Helen growled. “I didn’t say anything.”
“Ahe, Ahe. You jumped the gun a bit there Mac.” Jacob agreed, grinning.
The presidential spokesman hung his head. “I’m sorry Mr. President. A reflex reaction.”
He coiled back into his corner, but his eyes did not leave the couch, like a Bengal tiger, waiting to pounce.
The large lounge in Nkandla fell into a heavy silence. A palpable tension filled the room.
Eventually, Jacob said uncertainly. ”So….Helen…when…ahe…how long has it been since you last heard from Julius?”
Helen laughed. “Not long enough.” But Jacob didn’t laugh, he just sighed and looked blankly at the television. She got concerned. “Jacob, what is wrong?”
He took out a handkerchief and dabbed his eyes. “It’s been one year, six months, eight days, twelve hours, since he went away. I miss him so much, that I don’t know what to say.”
“But you should be over him.”
Jacob nodded. “I should know better, but it’s just not the same.” He blew his nose hard. “We were BFF’s. And you know, the last time I spoke to him, he told me the truth about what EFF stands for. It doesn’t mean Economic Freedom Fighters. Its stands for Ex-best Friends…Forever.” He sobbed uncontrollably and Mac sprang forward to give him a shoulder to cry on.
Helen though, found this entire situation hilarious and she burst out laughing. “I’m so sorry.” She gasped. “I need to go to the bathroom.” And she raced off, still cackling.
Zuma’s nostrils flared with anger. “Mac, do I have a cricket bat?”
“Yes Mr. President.”
“Good, Umshini Wami.”