Gated Reflections #2
Cynthia appears in my office, I assume she wants my mug (for I work in an establishment that still employs ‘a tea lady’.) She takes the mug, but doesn’t leave.
“What can I do for you, Cynthia?” I ask.“There are two men in the building… Won’t you call security.”Security wasn’t answering their line, so I go to tackle the ‘problem’. Two scraggly dressed young men are wandering around the building collecting prestik from the walls. Such actions suggest, of course, a prelude to criminal chancing.
I look one of them in the eye, “Excuse me, but what is your name?”“Andile,” he shuffles.“And your friend?”“Bongani.” Bongani finds another piece of prestik.“What are you doing here?” I demand in a most unexpectedly teacherly of voices…The answer shuffles, as indecipherable as their supposed intentions.“I am afraid [Oh, so English!] that you are not allowed to be here. Only students are allowed to be in the building. You must leave.” I hold out my hand for the prestik collection and herd the two young men out of the building.
I go into the kitchen-room where Cynthia is reading the local paper. “Last time some guys pulled a knife on me,” she says, “Now I’m scared.”
–Fifteen minutes later
and in the style of peri-urban places, the whole town is shutting-down for lunch-time. On leaving my building for home I spy, being of the Sherlock-ilk (Oh, so English!), Andile across the road. He is receiving victuals on a verandah from an old lady. Incised that my prestik chancers have the cheek to still be in the neighbourhood, I march up to the old lady, interrupt the sacred moment of charity and demand, “Please will you call the police, not that they will be much help, or Hi-Tech security or similar because these young men were loitering in our building and I don’t think they are up to much good…”
“I will not send a hungry child from my door and his granny didn’t feed him this morning.” She adds, “I’m sorry you are so angry- for St Francis of
Assisi said, “Where there is hatred, let me bring love.”
“That’s all very well, and maybe I’m a hard-hearted city girl, but I think someone should phone Hi-Tech…”
The kindly lady calls into her cool, dark house, “Lethi, tell Ayanda to come to the door.” The next thing, I am confronted by the six-foot gardener who must deal with threatening me! I am even more incised (Oh, rather more Mediterranean than English.) and march back across the road, muttering to myself. I phone security. This time they answer.
The next morning I go into the kitchen-room to make my tea. Cynthia spreads open the local newspaper on the table and points out an article on page two. It is an homage to Our Lady of Verandah Victuals; transpires that she is the local Mother Theresa franchise.
With my hard-hearted, angry, city and my six pairs of shoes, I guess that makes me the local more miserly Imelda Marcos.