‘Kookoo’, the knock emanated from the door. No one answered from the inside. ‘Kookoo’, the sound continued to come, this time louder than the previous one. Still no answer from the occupant of the room. ‘Eh Karabo… O teng na?’ A soft male voice accompanying a third knock asked. ‘O swele from last night?’ The voice from outside teased followed by a nervous giggle.
‘Karabo, Karabo’, a female quietly called onto Karabo from inside. She did not wish for the person outside to know that she was inside. She recognised the voice of the persistent knocker.
‘Sello is outside’, the lady whispered in a contained panic. ‘What is he doing here?’ She asked slightly irritated. Karabo who was not entirely awake answered with a voice that suggested that he still yearned for his beauty sleep. ‘I don’t know’, he said as he pulled a blanket over his head. Samantha was not impressed. She pulled away the blanket from Karabo who was sleeping on the carpeted floor. ‘Go get rid of him’, she instructed him in a hushed yet stern tone.
Lying with her back supported by a continental pillow against the wall, Samantha was nervous about what Sello might think of her when he finds out that she slept in Karabo’s room even though she did not rub bellies with Karabo. Perception mattered to her. The mere act of waking in Karabo’s room worried her. She felt a bit of shame.
After putting Sello to bed in his dorm room in the wee hours of the morning, Samantha and Ziyanda went back to Karabo’s room to continue the party. The three of them were joined by Karabo’s housemates and their guests. What was supposed to be a relaxed session of three-would-be friends drinking together quickly morphed into another party – an unplanned afterparty of sorts. The group partied until the sun rose behind beautiful mountains that separated Cape Town and Stellenbosch – a small distance that separated the two towns which were lightyears apart in culture and attitude. As the sun dawned, officially declaring the day to be Saturday and Friday the past, Samantha gave in and passed out on Karabo’s bed.
Now she was conscious and realised that she woke up in Karabo’s room, in his bed. She still had her clothes on and if anything, Karabo, the serial and notorious skirt hound, probably bedded Ziyanda after she retired. She thought she noticed sparks between them yesterday, the flames of a history that could be reignited anytime. Samantha assumed a worried look as Karabo ambled to answer the door. On top of a desk not far from the single bed she was seated on, a small clock radio displayed the time. It was seventeen minutes after three o’clock in the afternoon. She could not believe it. She furiously looked at her wrist watch and the timepiece corroborated the story of the clock radio.
‘Eh, sho chief. Tsena’, Karabo greeted Sello and moved away from the door, allowing him to enter. Samantha became more worried. Unlike Karabo, Sello was fresh and well rested. ‘Hi Sam’, he greeted Samantha. ‘I hear you guys partied until late morning’, Sello said with inspired energy and excitement.
‘Eish chief, it was rough. I think I went to bed about three hours ago. I am still wasted’, Karabo said as he opened his minibar fridge, searching for liquids, more precisely quarts of beer. Miraculously he was no longer concerned with his beauty sleep.
‘Around nine, the guys actually left to buy more booze’, Karabo added.
‘Hayibo! Where?’ Sello asked.
‘At a spot here in Belhar. It is not far from here, over the railway’, Karabo responded. He was still visibly drunk and tired.
Samantha chimed in. ‘And you, aren’t you tired? You look so energetic.’ She had realised that she had worried herself for no reason. Sello did not even show a hint of judgement. She began to relax, once again realising that she was no longer in high school. She also noticed that for the first time since she met Sello, whom she had known for almost three years, he was not wearing his glasses.
‘Where are your glasses?’ She asked before he could answer her first question.
‘I think I lost them last night. Didn’t anyone of you happen to find them?’
‘No. Sorry mate, but you look good’, said Karabo in between sipping a glass of water.
‘And I have no problem seeing. What did you put in my beer?’ Sello teased Karabo. He was seated at the edge of Karabo’s bed. ‘Morena, I am like Jesus Christ. I cure the disabled, the mute and the blind’, Karabo amused himself.
‘Guys, I really had a good time last night. Thank you both’, Sello looked at both Karabo and Samantha to convey his sincere gratitude.
‘No worries buddy but I think you already thanked us last night’, Karabo responded with a surprised look on his face.
‘Really?’ Now Sello was surprised. He could not recall.
‘Yes’, Samantha chimed in. ‘You bearhugged us, thanking us for showing you a good time. You really don’t recall?’
‘Niks! I must have been really hammered.’
‘Yes, my boy. That you were’, Karabo said in a fatherly tone. ‘But don’t worry about it. Last night was really fun, and most of all you enjoyed yourself’, he toned down, quickly realising that he was making Sello feel uncomfortable.
Behind his bed Karabo noticed a large sports bag which in a normal world would be use to carry cricket bats and a cooler box. He opened the bag and found almost two dozens of Castle Lager quarts still sealed. The cooler box contained cans of both Castle Lite and Carling Black Label they had bought for Ziyanda and Samantha, even though the latter was already asleep. Most of them were already drunk and the extra beer they bought in the morning was too much. They all passed out before they could make any dent.
‘Hee banna! There is more alcohol’, a surprised Karabo said with a smile on his face. He opened one of the Castle Lite cans in the cooler box and took a large swig. ‘That is better’, he said as he put the can down on the table.
‘Would you like some?’ He asked Samantha and Sello.
‘No. I should get going’, Samantha answered as she stood up from the bed and scratched around for her shoes.
‘And you chief? Are you also going to let me drink alone?’ Karabo said with a sad look on his face, emotionally manipulating Sello.
‘Kay, I am not sure if I should drink after last night’, Sello answered, his tone far from assertive. Despite his intelligence, Sello’s lack of confidence always let him down. It made him a pushover.
Karabo opened the cooler box. ‘Here chief, don’t be that guy’, Karabo handed Sello a can of Castle Lite. ‘Sam is already abandoning me. Now you too want to let me drink alone like I have problems’, he added.
Samantha smiled at the thought of abandoning a grown man; a man who was her senior and could possibly be older than her sister. ‘I am not abandoning you. I need to freshen up, take a shower and do some work’, she said as she stood up to make the bed before departing. Sello had opened his can and was comfortably sipping his beer.
‘Okay boys, I am going. Please try to eat something and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do’, she said with a naughty smile as she opened the door. Sello said goodbye and Karabo merely waved like a disappointed child being left behind by their parents.
The door closed shut and Samantha was gone. Karabo downed his beer and reached for the cooler box to open another can. He was tired, his head hurt a little but his heart hurt more. He opened the next can of beer not because he was thirsty. He did not open it because he hoped to cure the slight hangover he had. He quickly reached for it to disguise his pain. It did not make sense to him but he was falling for Samantha.
Next to the clock radio on the table a computer monitor stood blank, waiting for anyone to press the button below the table to bring it to life. Before the screen lay the keyboard and mouse in an orderly fashion as if a teacher would walk in anytime to check if the place was clean. The actual computer below the table looked dull and unbothered, rather at peace as there was no one troubling it. It was off and not making any sounds that suggested activity and life.
Karabo bent slightly and pressed the power button below the table to bring the computer to life, an electronic sound registering to signal that the machine was booting. The red light on the screen, which prior to Karabo pressing the button below the table had been flashing, suddenly became steady to once again register that the computer was on and ready for operation. In less than a few seconds a picture of the maker of the operating system installed on the computer took over the entire screen.
Once the computer was on Karabo listed a bunch of Deep House mixtapes and loaded them on the media player and said to Sello, ‘Moshito o tswela pele.’ The music blaring from the speakers made it official; the day was Saturday and resting was for the meek and weak. Sello could no longer resist. He disposed of the first can of beer handed to him by Karabo and immediately reached for another one in the cooler box.
‘I honestly cannot remember the last time I had this much fun’, Sello said to Karabo as he cracked open his second beer. ‘Do you party like this every weekend?’ He asked Karabo who was puzzled by Sello’s question. To him any student worth his or her salt should have fun every weekend otherwise they are wasting their youth. It is just one of those rules of the fight club, he thought to himself.
‘No’, he smiled, hardly trying to mask the fact that he was lying. He sat at the head of his bed, beer in hand and gazed at Sello as if he has committed a cardinal sin.
‘What do you typically do on weekends?’
‘I mostly write code, and if I am not coding I am with Nicole’, Sello replied. This answer confused Karabo further.
‘Hee banna! Monna this weekend you are drinking to make up for all that time you spent suffering in Siberia’, Karabo teased him.
‘I actually enjoy it’, Sello defended himself. ‘It is…’ Before he could finish his sentence Karabo interjected. ‘It’s fine but gompieno o a nwa chief’, he said matter-of-factly.
That Sello was a gifted programmer who enjoyed coding was not something Karabo was prepared to hear that Saturday afternoon. Sello was a Computer Science major. He spent his weekdays hunched over a computer and this was also the case over the weekend. It bothered him that Sello’s world was so limited. He took it personal. In a nutshell, Karabo thought to himself, Sello’s life consisted of a computer and his controlling girlfriend. This is he could tolerate no longer. He began to believe that he met Sello for a reason: to expand his horizon. As the music played and the two of them sat drinking like two old friends, Karabo could not help but appreciate the genuine look of joy on Sello’s face. He had seen him wearing the same look on his face last night.
‘Kay, can I ask you something?’ Sello who was on his third beer and visibly relaxed had not abandoned his manners. He was not one to dive into a situation without following protocol. He never wanted to offend or make anyone feel uncomfortable. He liked to keep the peace.
‘Why did you decide to drop out of varsity?’ He asked Karabo who was going through the bar fridge. He was looking for something to cook.
‘Eish chief, le wena o botsa dipotso tse di thata’, he ducked the question as he rummaged through the freezer. He was not ready to get into that conversation, particularly on a Saturday.
‘Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you’, Sello quickly apologised.
Karabo took out a pack of mutton and put it in the microwave above the bar fridge to defrost. He was not offended by the question. He was even more surprised by Sello’s apology who evidently thought he had offended him.
‘It’s fine chief. Don’t worry about it’, he said while taking out a pot and a frying pan to cook.
Karabo asked Sello to bring the cooler box into the kitchen which he shared with his two other house mates. He went back into his bedroom to fetch the cooking ingredients and opened his door wide open so the two of them could still hear the music while in the kitchen. Anyone who walked in the kitchen did not have to ask if the residents of the dorm were male, even though the three house mates tried hard to keep the place clean. Somehow the place always looked messy.
Sello took his place on top of the cooler box as there were no chairs to sit on, and comfortably sipped from his can like it was just another day at the office. His conversation with Karabo resembled that of two friends who have known each other for eons, flowing as wildly and peacefully as the Orange River after the summer rains. Karabo, his can of beer not very far from him, had begun cooking and the music wafting from his room like an arresting scent of beauty served as a soundtrack to their developing camaraderie during that afternoon.