On a scorching summer day a taxi came to a halt. A lime green Toyota Siyaya sporting silver mack rims with a big enough system to host a mini festival. The music was blaring hard as if to remind everyone that Friday is two days away.
Then Dilemma by Nelly accompanied by the vocal talents of Kelly Rowland came on. Not one to disappoint the gaatjie continued to scream over the loud music; after all, music or no music, he was at work. ‘Mowbray, Claremont, Wiineberg!’ Tshepo hopped on and proceeded to the second last seat of the taxi where he occupied a seat next to the window.
A few of the passengers he found inside were singing along to the song. Opening a window slightly more to let the cool Cape breeze in, he realised that he was clearheaded. A dead weight had been lifted off his shoulders.
The time was about 11 o’clock in the morning. Earlier he had spoken to his advisor, informing him that he is not interested in selling his concept. As much as he did not know the first thing about running a business, he wished to officially register his idea as a business, and hoped the professor could help in his new journey. Tendai was happy for him and congratulated him on his bold decision; after all he had chosen wisely.
Yesterday when Tshepo was lying on his bed, after his meeting with Muzhingi, he heard a knock at his door.
‘Hee monna, open’, Yonda shouted from outside.
It was around six o’clock in the evening. He stood up to open the door. Tumelo and Yonda were at his doorstep. ‘Chief, a ga o lebelle bolo?’ Tumelo asked his mate as they marched into the flat.
‘Go tshameka eng?’
He had totally forgotten about soccer: the UEFA Champion’s League competition was back.
‘Bayern is playing some team’s name that I cannot pronounce. Can we go?’ Yonda answered from the kitchen. ‘Chief, do you want beer?’ He asked Tumelo as he opened the refrigerator. ‘Yes chief, bring me one.’
Tumelo was seated on the couch. ‘Let me quickly freshen up’, Tshepo said as he made his way to the bedroom. ‘Hayibo! Wa tlhapa? Tumza, this guy wants to go and steal all the women in Observatory from their boyfriends. What is he washing for because we are going to watch soccer, not attend a modelling show. Aaich!’
Yonda said as he handed Tumelo a can of beer. He took a seat next to Tumelo and flipped through the channels like an impatient spoilt brat to see if there was anything interesting on TV.
‘Monna, I smell like lekontraka. Cape Town is hot’, Tshepo replied as he ducked into the bathroom to take a shower. They lazed on the couch watching TV while they waited for him. As soon as he was done they took off on foot for Scrumpy Jack which was five minutes away from Tshepo’s flat.
Just after seven o’clock in the evening, the summer sun was yet to set in Cape Town. Tshepo, Tumelo and Yonda strolled down Arnold Street on their way to their favourite place of worship on Lower Main Road – Scrumpy Jack. They were not in a rush to reach Scrumpy. The soccer match would only commence after half-past eight. Tshepo thought it the best time to share with his friends the news from earlier in the morning. He needed their advice.
‘I was on campus earlier today’, he switched the topic from soccer. ‘Really? Why didn’t you come to the lab? Lisa would have been happy to see you.’ Yonda said as Tumelo burst out laughing.
Lisa, short for Yanelisa, was one of a few female students in the Department of Electrical Engineering. She came to CPUT a year after them. Lisa was pursuing her B-Tech and like Tumelo and Yonda she majored with Power Systems. She also worked at the university as a laboratory assistant.
‘Please!’ Tshepo was not buying it.
He knew Yonda was pulling his leg. Five of the boys thought Lisa was the most beautiful girl in the entire department, if not the entire Faculty of Engineering. Mohau was not party to this concession. He thought his friends were being biased. Anything that related to Electrical Engineering his buddies thought superior, even if it involved a simple argument of which department had the prettiest of girls. Compared to Electrical Engineering, the Department of Surveying and Civil Engineering has more attractive girls, most of who are prettier than Lisa, Mohau argued. But as always, especially when Pule was around, Mohau lost the argument.
For years now Tshepo had harboured an unhealthy crush for Lisa, something his friends always made sure to remind him of. His infamous proclivities for seducing women, age notwithstanding, he still could not muster the courage to proposition Lisa.
There was a famous tale among his friends when they caught him in a car with a woman fifteen years his senior. That particular night at a house party in Goodwood, a quiet suburb in the north of Cape Town, Tumelo and Yonda stepped out front to catch some air. Tshepo had disappeared without a trace and they gave up looking for him. They stood on the front porch, each sipping from their own quarts of Castle Lager while stars danced in the skyline. Besides the noise coming from the house the city was resting. Only nightwalkers and nocturnal creatures were up conducting business with the dark.
Several cars were parked on the driveway. Tumelo noticed something unusual about another one that was parked towards the gate. He patted Yonda and pointed him towards the direction of the silver-grey hatchback.
‘Hee monna, nna o ntse o bona ntho e ke bonang?’ He asked Yonda.
The hatchback was jerking back and forth, making them reach only one conclusion: two members of God’s green earth were rubbing bellies. Yonda got excited and said to Tumelo, ‘Chief, let’s go and see?’ Tumelo was not convinced that this was a good idea. Yonda insisted that they go and peek. Tumelo gave in to Yonda’s persuasion as well as the curiosity to see the characters responsible for the violent shaking of the German car.
As they secretly approached the car, they recognised the lady, her right hand holding dearly to the steering wheel while the left one balanced on the left seat. Average in height, thick thighs with the potential to ruin relationships and a beautiful, brown skinned face that belied her age, she was a stunner. They couldn’t remember her name but she was a friend of the host. Here she was between the car seats, her perky breasts swinging up and down threatening to crack the windscreen.
This scene aroused Yonda’s excitement more as they moved behind the hedge plants to see the lucky bastard mounting the lady. She faced the front while the lad mounted her from the back. They could not believe their eyes.
‘Hayibo!’ Yonda suddenly squealed before covering his mouth.
‘Banna!’ Tumelo said as he watched Tshepo charging forwards and backwards, not missing a beat as if he was possessed by a melody.
The young lad plunged his manly tool between the mouthwatering thighs that had caused some elderly gentlemen earlier to comment that they would leave their wives any day for her. His strokes invoked uncontrollable moans from the woman prompting Tumelo to say, ‘Clearly this young buck is doing a good job.’ They returned to the house and gave the two their space, although it appeared that they were sorted on that front. ‘Ntja banna’, Yonda kept saying as they walked back to the house, evidently proud of his friend.
Moments later Tshepo appeared from the car and entered the house. He found everybody dancing to the music of South Africa’s finest Deep House music. His surgarmama remained behind to gather herself. The remix of UPZ’s Pure Surprise by Lulo Café was playing and the women were on the dance floor, holding it down as usual.
Some of the more courageous men joined the ladies on the dance floor, rendering a symbolic meaning to the saying that ‘Africans are a people of rhythm’. Tshepo took a moment to appreciate his people, taking in their individual stories, because to dance was to tell a story. It could be a story of struggle, pain and suffering. It could be a story of happiness, joy and ecstasy. A story of romance, love or even longing. Dancing painted all these different stories on a canvas, sharing them with whoever cared to see or hear them. For a moment standing there and observing, Tshepo was overcome by strong emotions. Inexplicable feelings that he could not define. He muttered to himself with pride, ‘My people’, before walking outside in the backyard.
Tumelo and Yonda were comfortable in the backyard, having been entrusted earlier with braaing the meat.
‘Banna, that woman sucked all your energy’, Yonda shouted to a response of a loud roar from Tumelo and the guys around the open fire. He could not help himself. Tshepo looked like a zombie. The three of them had not slept since they woke up on Friday morning.
They brushed their teeth with beer, and as for a shower or a bath, that was an unimportant matter they would attend to in the future. Between Friday night and Saturday the only time they ever paid a visit to a bathroom was when they went to free the bladder and relieve the body of unwanted weight.
Tshepo was exhausted. He looked tired. Excessive drinking of alcohol, sex and over thirty hours of not sleeping were too much for him.
‘Fuck you’, he responded while he grabbed a quart from Tumelo to wet his throat, rousing another bout of laughter from the guys.
‘Bafana, o tlhoka go robala’, Tumelo urged him to rest as he handed him the bottle.
Stubborn and in denial, he argued that all he needed was a drink and he would be fine. Despite his protest his eyes told a different story.
‘Fucking people’s mothers will finish you my boy’, Yonda being his usual colourful self. He was candid and never cared for anyone who found him crude, especially when he has had much to drink.
‘Motherfucker, I am honest, not crude’, he would attack anyone who dared to call him out.
Despite this spectacular resume, Tshepo still had no guts to spill his heart’s desires to Lisa. He would reason that Lisa would force him to become a man he was not.
‘She will force me to commit’, he said.
‘Plus, she is too much of a mzalwane’, he added, referring to Lisa’s staunch devotion to Christianity.
It was true, Yanelisa put everything before God. One day she and Tshepo engaged in a heated debate about church and the existence of God. Tshepo argued, supported by Olwethu, an aggressive atheist, that God did not exist. The existence of a supreme being, an omnipresent divinity, was a fruit of the imagination of gullible minds.
Lisa took exception to these heretic arguments, which she found misguided and foolish. For days she would not speak to Olwethu and Tshepo, ignoring them in corridors and look away whenever they attempted to greet her.
‘Mfana, ka metlha o etsa di-excuse. O a mo rata ngwana o, mo kwale’, Olwethu counselled his friend.
Secretly, even though he would not admit it to his friends, Tshepo would was a bit scared of approaching Lisa. Her being a devoted Christian had nothing to do with his unwillingness to court her. And thus Lisa would remain one of a small number of women he never slept with, one of a few who survived his aggressive kill.
The noise of gaatjies calling for passengers on the main road was declining. The raucous from the taxis aside, Observatory was not exactly noisy. It was a typical suburb in typical Cape Town. Anyone who longed for peace and silence to listen to the rowdiness of their thoughts was welcome here, except Lower Main Road, known as the younger sibling of the wild and boisterous Long Street. If it is calm you seek then Lower Main was to be avoided.
‘Where you there to see Muzhingi?’ Yonda asked.
They were about to turn into Station Road which intersected with Lower Main ahead. ‘Ee’, he answered.
‘Apparently KD Bank is interested in my project. They have been monitoring the data and they are impressed. According to Prof they want to buy Theko if I am selling or invest if I choose to pursue it as a business.’
‘Hee banna! That is good news’ Yonda responded.
‘Congratulations chief’, Tumelo joined in on the felicitations. ‘So what have you decided?’ He asked.
They were happy for their friend. What Tshepo was telling them was unheard of. This is what one usually read about on platforms like Wired magazine, Business Insider, Fortune magazine, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and other major publications like that. ‘Google acquires YouTube for $1.65 billion’. ‘eBay to buy PayPal for $1.5 billion.’
On this side of the equator this sort of news was rare, more so among Africans. And even if business transactions of this nature did happen they were kept a secret as if to hide them from anyone who is ambitious.
‘Go bua nnete ga ke itse’, Tshepo replied.
‘Monna, these are really great news. Well done bafana.’ Yonda continued with the salutations.
‘Ka nnete o sebeditse ntja. Tshwara moo’, Tumelo stretched his hand to Tshepo and gave his friend a hug, the sort that are common among men to show affection and kinship. Yonda followed suit, continuing to salute his friend.
‘Thanks comrades’, Tshepo said, his light skinned face turning faintly scarlet.
The people rushing down Station Road to catch a train at Observatory station looked with wonder as the young men hugged, curious in their stares yet not breaking stride in their hurried walk.
‘Monna Yonda, we are drinking until sunrise – or in this familiar case until you drop – to celebrate this man’s achievement’, Tumelo instructed Yonda. The three of them broke out in laughter.
‘Okay chief, now let’s go o tlogele go pota’, Yonda said to Tumelo. They were about to arrive at their sacred place of worship – Scrumpy Jack.