Kwena arrived on a warm afternoon. The sun seemed to be lazing on the horizon, its streaks colouring the sky orange and red as a final act for the day, a curtain-call before the evening breeze ushered in the night. Our meeting seemed orchestrated, the fulfilment of an age-old prophecy. Her father placed one hand on my shoulder, moved his lips close to my ear and simply breathed. We had done it.
‘I could fall asleep in those eyes, like a water-bed…’
I remember when I absentmindedly sang this song as we studied world politics and you collapsed into a fit of laughter, then saying,
‘Brown eyes would make a very murky water-bed, don’t you think?’
Nkele Tlhako steadied her pace as she approached the bus-stop, noting with a hint of amusement the clonking sound made by her new heels against the unforgiving surface. It was the same sound she had hated as a schoolgirl, watching with impassioned envy as the stylish and unnervingly well-groomed girls from Tshwane University graced the early morning bus with their presence. Now it’s my turn, she thought with a smile.
February welcomed our third Tuesday Shorts resident, Katleho Shoro. When I invited Kat into the residency she jumped at the opportunity with eagerness, wanting to explore writing short stories. She committed herself to the process, submitting high-quality work, with punchy short sentences.
Here is a video summing up all the fun we had with Kat during her residency.
The sky, already warmed by a magenta coloured blanket, gently rolled another thick black one over itself; getting ready to read chapters of human insecurities under the moonlight.
The excitement of pressing her proboscis against one of the arriving foragers – tasting almost 100% fresh nectar – had turned into an embittering experience that affected their line of honey-making. For days now, Bosehla could not get the picture of the sunflower with the big laughing belly out her mind. Tselane had etched it on the wax walls and said it looked more yellow than Bosehla’s bottom as she recounted her adventures for her sisters. One sunrise, as Bosehla saw the wax walls melt into themselves, erasing the remainder of the only image of a sunflower she had, she decided: “I want to see the big laughing belly for myself!’’
When I was eight years old my childhood friend abandoned our union on the bum-poking carpet floor of Auntie’s home. In a piercing wail, she accused me of keeping an invisible companion as a best friend. My stillness told her that my companion would be around for my lifetime but our span was uncertain. Her lament made me hurriedly vacate myself – terrified that she would turn herself into shards if she didn’t escape to take refuge in my emptied shell. I believed this is how you protect those you adore; by running out on your own skin to make space for them or covering them with your breathless spirit so when they explode, they only scatter into you. Mine was too tiny; pieces of her flew over my head and under my armpits. Eventually she gathered her fragments from the roof, curtains and carpeted floor. She left my bedroom door ajar as if meaning she was coming back after fetching translations for the looks and emotions she charged at me during our playdate. It was only when Auntie called me to wipe the plates before she dished out on them that I realised that I had remained in the exact same position with a mouth glued with spit since the beginning of our playdate.
Frantically highlighting her copy of Ngugi’s Decolonising the Mind, another wonder interjects Tsebo’s consumption of his enduring perspectives on the 1960s language debate. She raises her head, ahead, the shoulders of the Quantum driver and front seat passenger seem to swallow Booysens Road as they drive closer to Jozi’s CBD.
I certainly have my Naane le Moya faves, one of them being Sibongile Fisher, who has been regular here. From interview to residency, never mincing her words and serving top quality stories always. Narratives that hold your hand as you look deeply within yourself or your surroundings.