Finding love right where we are…
ON WEDNESDAY, National Women’s Day, I exited Café Roux abuzz with the pleasure of having being part of something remarkable.
Ernestine Deane had opened her musical diary and sung to us in a voice refraining pain, the ache of longing and an irrepressible joy, like rain soaking a scorched veld.
The audience was in a rousing mood and joined in at the hint of an invitation, including repeating the bird-song sound Deane mimicked in the prelude to a reggae-riddimed Diri Di.
She had been homesick while living in the town of Bar Tolz, in Bavaria. The familiar sound of African birds brought Grassy Park right up to her kitchen window.
There was a womanist spirit in the air and it infused the vibe where I sat, one of two men at a table of eight women.
The celebrated diva on my right, fanning her face with the menu card, looked at me and said, in a dark, shook-up kinda voice: “You’re making me hot.”
I smiled like Peter might have when Jesus asked of him: “Do you love me?” On cue, Deane introduced the song, Fantasy Man and, in the spirit of the day, I declared: “Hie’ is ek!” Comrades, do not judge me. I was merely queering the moment, as the post-structuralists opinionades would observe.
Later, as I turned the corner into Long Street, relishing the cold night air, I was greeted by a cheery: “Hello pastor!”
She was young, possibly in her early-20s, and was ship-dancing across the street.
I only realised who she was when her partner stepped out of the shadows. I recognised him immediately.
A year ago we’d faced each other in the cathedral’s parking lot. We’d stood an arm-length apart as he took a knife out the bag he held in his right hand.
I’d thought it was ironic that I was about to become a sunbeam for Jesus at the hand of a literally fellow-leftie.
The young blood brother, high on some substance, had been goaded on by the sista he had been caressing.
I had stumbled across them, amorously entwined on a cardboard love-bed in a shady corner of the cathedral’s parking area.
The noon-day angelus bell had rung as we acted out the narrative of our city, that of the wretched and the privileged.
Our gender-soaked machismo had drawn us into an inevitable bind of no-surrender.
I’d backed down, muttering, “Dan moet djy ma’ stiek my laatie” and half-turned my back and slowly walked away (while praying to ‘maBessie and Jesus that my nemesis would see the olive branch of my tactical retreat).
Word eventually got out of about this incident. A friend with distant links to a prison gang of his past called me with an offer: “Give me his name so that I can do to him what we do to people like him.”
I declined, but accepted the offered balm to my wounded ego.
The couple and I met months after that first and never-to-beforgotten encounter.
They both had a tik addition and their chances of survival were better on the streets of the city than back home in Delft.
On the night of Women’s Day we met as friends.
Martha Nussbaum, reflecting on the ethical nature of humanity, encourages an openness to life, to people and to that which these young lovers seem to reveal in the fragile vulnerability of their gender and age: “an ability to trust uncertain things” beyond their reckoning and choice.
A certainty of faith which may doubt but never gives up on love for each other despite the quality of their presence in this world.
“Moruti, we don’t want money, just food,” the brother told me as we walked in the direction of a Pakistani-owned spaza shop. I agreed and he selected a few items for their late supper.
At the till I saw that he had added two big slabs of chocolate. “It’s for my cherry,” he answered to my query.
And from somewhere I heard Ed Sheeran sing Thinking Out Loud. “Maybe just the touch of a hand…”