A Smile and A Song 1/3

By Drum Digital
25 March 2014

Dumi couldn't believe it when 'Miss Glam' smiled at him.

Xolani dragged the fingers of his open hand across the face of the girl in the poster. It was a pretty face – laughing eyes looking up, an open smile, cheeks framed by soft curls.

“Come party with the stars”, the poster said.

“Hey, guys,” said Xolani, “this girl wants to party with us.”

“That’s a first-year scene, dude,” replied Bongani.

“So? You think Uncle can’t say hello to the new girls under the stars? He sure can.”

Xolani laughed wickedly as he dug Dumi in the ribs. “What do you say? Will you come with me? Time you got away from your guitar and songs.”

“I’ve got the open mic show coming up on Friday,” answered Dumi.

Dumi always carried an acoustic guitar slung across his back, its long neck and headstock pointing straight up like an urban warrior’s bazooka.

The three of them carried on walking with the relaxed, swaggering stride befitting veterans of the campus, third-year majors in the School of Performing Arts.

It was still high summer at the start of the academic year. The trio settled at one of the trestle tables outside the café in Senate House and shared a bottle of water.

Unlike the café tables, the outside benches were not reserved for paying customers. That suited them fine, as they were mostly broke.

While Xolani lounged back against a brick pillar and pressed his feet up against the edge of the table, Dumi unslung his guitar.

He was struggling with the lyrics of his latest composition. He hummed the melody and picked the chords while groping to find the words through the images on his mind.

But in truth he was sitting in tense anticipation of the girl’s appearance.

They had all noticed her the first day she entered the café. A tall, slender-limbed girl with soft-curled locks who moved gracefully with a regal reserve that kept even Xolani at a distance. Today Bongani spotted her first.

“Tso-tso-tso, guys. Check that out. I give you Miss Glam.”

She appeared round the corner at the far end of the café, wearing a light-coloured chiffon dress. Pleats fell from the gathered waist in folds as soft and fragile as butterfly wings, and stopped enticingly above the knees.

After a while Xolani found his voice and said, keeping his eyes on her, “I wonder if her skin is as cool as she looks.”

“Colder,” said Bongani. “She’s the queen of ice.”

“She needs a hot guy like me to warm her up,” said Xolani, but without conviction.

“Dream on,” Bongani replied. “She’s not for you. She’s rich.”

Dumi didn’t like to hear the guys talking like that about her. Couldn’t they see she was much more than a pretty face?

She was that unattainable essence of woman, the face whose memory you take with you when you leave home, the maiden you write songs to, promising to return.

Wrapped in these thoughts, it took a second or two before he realised she was looking at them. As he looked around in confusion at his friends, Xolani nudged him hard with the foot he had on the table.

“Wake up, boy! She’s looking at you.”

And indeed, when he looked back, she was still standing there, facing the glass wall behind which they sat on the covered porch. Unusually she was not with friends.

And the smile spread from her eyes to her face when she caught his attention.

Encouraged by his friends, Dumi stumbled into the café. He was still struggling with disbelief as he approached her, and all the polished words from his songs that he might have used to bridge the gap between them deserted him.

“Ahem . . . hello . . .” was all he could muster.

“Hi,” she replied.

And so it was that Dumisani met Priscilla. Soon they became inseparable, as much as Dumi had been inseparable from his guitar.

Priscilla was a second-year psychology and sociology major with a burning ambition to help the underprivileged.

Dumi, who came from a poor background, saw his songs as the interpreters and messengers of their pain and poverty.

After a while, Xolani, who was initially envious of their relationship, couldn’t help himself. “Look at them,” he told Bongani when he caught sight of the two huddled close together on a bench, heads touching.

“Holding hands and whispering like kids afraid of getting lost in the big world.”

-by Tom Serengeti

To be continued...

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