Find­ing love right where we are…

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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…”

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