Man Bitch: The bloody darkness

6. The bloody darkness

 

Luisa did not phone, and I’m not going to make contact with her. It is her chance to show that she cares about me.

A student came at 15h30 in the afternoon, and we went for a beer at Costa do Sol. We spoke about his MA. A few stools away sat a girl, I have never seen before; she wore no make-up, and looked intelligent, and next to her, on the right hand side, was a typical loner outcast, who earns his money as a car guard. He has a meditative face with stubble beard.

On the other side of her was a round red-faced Brit, with watery blue eyes and a potbelly.  In the long run, the student left, and a short well-dressed woman, with all the signs that she is from the corporate world, came in. She had beautiful eyes, and seems to know all the white men in the bar. She works for the big sugar company, Huletts, and lives with a French lover, who is double-dating on her. While talking to her, I looked at the other girl, making eye contact every now and again. Angel also came in, and I bought her a beer or two, and got bored and left.

The sky and the sea and the city merge into a misty white cloud, and it rains incessantly.   I dance with myself, while the Dream Merchants sing “The land of milk and honey”. I felt the tinges of melancholia. The smell of creamy seafood spaghetti comes from one of the other flats. From my window, I watch a dove in the rain on the tar road.

I went to Costa do Sol, and saw the intelligent looking woman, who sat with a friend at one of the tables. There were not many men at Costa do Sol. At one of the tables a bearded Zulu man swore in Zulu at a longhaired hippie, sitting in the corner. He has to be calmed by the bouncers. I ask why he is unhappy with the hippie, who is ignoring him. Someone said, that the hippie “piped” him in the arse the previous week, and now doesn’t want to know him.

I stood up, and made myself at home next to the intelligent looking girl. She does not wear the clearly identifiable clothes of the trade. I ask her, her name. It is “Zodwa Kuzwayo,” and she is doing a long-distance diploma in Electrical Engineering at a correspondence-technikon in Johannesburg. She wants to learn Spanish and French, and how to operate the computer, and she stays in a flat on the North Beach. I invite her for dinner the next day.

The following day, I walked to the herbal pharmacy near the North Beach, and bought some Moducare, and went to the Spice Emporium to buy ingredients for the evening’s meal. I’ll be trying out a new currie chicken recipe, using apple, banana, almonds, garlic, curry powder, plain flower and tomato.

Zodwa never came, and the rain was falling in streaks through the yellow glow of the street light. I did not feel like eating the food, and just lay on the bed, thoroughly miserable. I went to work through the rain, early the next morning, with the university shrouded in mist. I responded to my e-mail, completed an article, went to see the students writing exams in the Main Hall, and dealt with other small administrative issues.

I was feeling feverish most of the day. Angel arrived, and we finished a box of awful Late Harvest wine. Angel wore a black flower-power beret, black shirt and jeans. We made love for a long time. I did not have a condom, so I used some cling wrap, which seems to inhibit coming. I sucked at her beautiful round breasts, eating the lobes of her ear, and watched the shadow of my bum against the wall moving up and down with the rhythm of Santana’s “Singing winds, crying beasts” in the background.

I went to the bank, and past a poor white beggar with two curly-headed daughters, sitting on the pavement, and another beggar with no legs in a shopping trolley.

My hi-fi collapsed. I’m becoming schizophrenic in my isolation, with blue bite marks of Angel on my arm.

I went for a walk in the sun, and then to the supermarket, sweating and smelling of fever.

At night the blue neon glow falls on the misty clouds, rising from the sea. Later I could reach to the full moon with my hand, while I hear laughter from the streets.

I have not made entries in my diary for a week. I met a gasping and overweight Mr. Bullfrog, smoking a cigarette on my way to a board meeting, and we went up in the lift together. Mr. Chameleon, swallowing on his false teeth, was waiting at the door for us, while Rod with his fishing cap and tracksuit was standing around, and Mrs. Van der Byl sat with her Barbie-doll legs crossed. Mr. Chameleon read the minutes of the previous meeting from his computer screen. The main item on the agenda for the meeting was a letter, complaining about the way in which a tenant received a final warning for making noise with his hi-fi after hours, and drinking openly in the foyer. He levels a number of accusations against the supervisor, who everyday gossips about tenants and owners in the foyer, who do not charge everybody the R50 fee for using the goods lift, who were present when he and a friend smoked dagga on the roof of the building, and who promised him that he would be paid when he did odd jobs in the building. Mrs. Van der Byl mentions how she is losing two of her tenants, Muslims, because of the tenant’s unruly and noisy behavior. Rod tells of the tenant’s habit of moving in with vulnerable and lonely women in the building. Mr. Bullfrog is concerned, because the supervisor’s wife is renting out his parking bays without his permission, and he is prepared to go and assault the Muslim himself for slapping a white woman.

Afterwards, I went to Costa do Sol. Beauty was sitting at the corner of the bar counter, with a guy with glasses and short pants, and a short sleeved shirt, complaining about his financial position, while smoking and drinking his draft. He had glasses on, and looked like someone selling insurance policies to farmers. My eye was catching Beauty’s in the mirror, every now and again, and when the man left, I bought her an Amstell,  and invited her for the night. She came, while I was cleaning dishes. She helped me to make salad, while I baked chicken pieces with chilly and tobasco sauce on a wok, on the stove.

She was the girl with the red silk slacks from long ago, and tells about her boyfriend in Austria, and then about Octavia, whose throat was cut by a bunch of Indians, who forced her into their Combi with blacked-out windows.

That night, the moon, just behind the Holiday Inn, was throwing its light on the smooth edges of her body. She had the most beautiful breasts, the breasts of someone who has not as yet suckled a baby, and a thin strip of hair going down the slit of her vagina. It was as if she had a snake in her vagina, which she fastened like a noose around my penis.

That night my eyes were constantly on her body. Mosquitoes were biting her and I looked through the window at the lonely guard, with his dog across the road at The Bazaar. In the morning, we made love again. This time she was on top, and my hands gripping her buttocks.  She left at about eight in the morning.

On Saturday, I went to sit at Costa do Sol again, waiting for Beauty. She only came late, and I bought her a beer. We held hands. She was drunk, and wanted to dance. She thinks she is pregnant, because she skipped her periods, and feels nauseous, and is very sensitive to smells. I left her at Costa do Sol. She came at about six in the morning, and slept in my arms.

Walking to the lift, I see people crowding in front of the door to flat 25. The security gate is locked, but the door is open. Smoke is coming from the kitchen window, and the lady living there, passed out on her bed. Rod had to unscrew the security gate, and rush to switch off the stove.

 

I heard Beauty coming in, at about two, drunk and smelling of alcohol. She took off her clothes and collapsed in the breeze, blowing through my window over the bed. She fell asleep immediately. While my body snuggled against her, and, every now and again, I studied its outlines in the light coming from outside.

I look down at the street. Four street children sleep in rags on the sidewalk.

“Give it to me, Give it …” Beauty squirms on top of me. It is payday. I’m confused. I cannot care any more. It is raining outside.

Later in the evening, when Beauty came, a curry stew was bubbling on the stove. We sat in front of the computer screen, until I carried her to the bed, and we got rid of our clothes. She stood naked against the wall, on the bed, looking at the Holiday Inn through the window, and I, sitting, started eating her fanny, holding her buttocks with my hands, she enjoyed it, and held my bald head with her hands, until I laid down, and she climbed on top of me, and pushed the condom with a quick movement over my penis, and rhythmically started to ride me. “You must slit my throat at the moment when I come” I tell her. There was a knock on the open door, just when her screams died down. I was grappling for something to cover me, as the lady from no. 25 was standing at the open door, asking me to please help her husband to read some contract with some legal paragraphs, he doesn’t understand.

I went to the university on Thursday, and Luisa phoned, saying that she is still coming, although floods were very bad, and washed away the roads.

At about four, I walked to Costa do Sol, and sat one barstool away from Beauty in silence. I was hungry and went to Skippers to buy a small hake and chips. Back at the flat, I ate and worked. At about nine, I decided to return to Costa do Sol, where I joined Angel sitting close to the entrance, while I see Beauty at the bar with a guy, touching his arm gently, until they leave the Costa do Sol. Angel and I drink and drink, and recreate the past, until there was some commotion about two Cameroonian homosexuals (one with a shaved head, an earring and a big smile) who paid with false dollars for the drinks, and one of the waiters called in the police

Angel says she still loves me. She looks beautiful. We embrace, but I cannot feel like I did before. What can she do to get me back? Later, we stumble back to my flat in a drunken state, and make love.

 

This whole week, there is an image of a man stranded on top of a roof of a bulldozer in the middle of a flood in Mozambique on TV.

 

Zodwa’s cunt is itching and she shows how much she needs to scratch it. Zodwa loves oysters, and illustrates, with her fingers, how one sucks them, and mentions something about them tasting like pussy. We are on our way to the Waterfront, the Fish Company, that notoriously expensive restaurant.

Zodwa’s eyes fill with tears, and become red, as she tells the story of her life, how her father (who has only std. 8, and is jealous of her education) burned all her books in matric. She tells how she had to study under a street light, because he refused the electricity to be used for her studies, how he raped her sister in front of her, how the sister, eventually, gave up on life, how she, Zodwa, sought a job as a waitress and ended up at an escort agency, earning lots of money, and about her different boyfriends and helpers in life. A Frenchman encouraged her to continue with her studies, when she was pregnant with a child, she did not want; a soft Bulgarian loved her intensely and wrote a book, African Dreams, about her, and he did little romantic things for her, like having champagne in a foam bath, and giving her flowers, and her one half-German-half-Afrikaans possessive and crippled boyfriend, who is a perpetual liar, especially to himself, and the Croat sailor, whom she cannot forget with the war scars, and shyly we went to bed, and I made love to her and her ghosts.

I went to the bank to arrange for a second bond, or something, to cover my debts. I’m referred to the first floor. A young neatly dressed lady receives me. She was already aware of the terrible state of my finances, and was in the process of contacting me. I’ve gone over a thousand on my overdraft, and if I do not get the money before the next day, they will not honor my cheques.

“Which cheques?” I asked and she answers: “One for the levy, one for parking and one to the Durban Corporation.”

I’m waiting for Zodwa. I need to phone Luisa, and inform her about the end of our relationship.

Last night, the auto bank refused me R50 on the basis of insufficient funds. I phoned Luisa, and struggled to tell her that I want to break up. I could hear the pain cut through the telephone. I’m sorry. Why? Why the return of this ritual in my life. I’m just bankrupt. Completely. I need to start all over.  I love her, but the relationship with her staying in Mozambique was not realistic? People are hanging in trees, fleeing from the flood in Mozambique.

I slept a bit, trying to clear my mind by sleeping, and then went for a walk next to the beach and to the herbal chemist in Durban-North. On the pier, I saw the tall thin figure of Mbali dressed in black, with a small black hat, and I wondered how the dead return. After buying some geranium oil, and Tea Tree ointment, I took the road back. At Skippers, I bought myself a small hake and chips. I could see Costa do Sol in the distance, and then the bright orange and green clothes of Mbali’s cousins, like a circus troupe of tockeloshes, in search of me. They approach me, and say Mbali’s child has no clothes. I must please help them.

Zodwa and I went for a drive to a secluded beach on the Bluff. We sat on a cement structure, and looked out over the sea. She was hungry, and we went to an Italian restaurant in Musgrave, and talked so intensely that we did not finish the lasagna and pizza. She wanted to read books about Hitler, because she wanted to know the forces, which shaped his character. After dinner, she invited me to the flat, where she is now staying with a number of other girls. It is a huge four-bedroom flat. On her bed, there were teddy bears and other dolls given to her by different clients. On the wall and next to the bed, there were photographs of her. She showed me the beginning of an autobiography she was busy writing. I am impressed, as she knows how to tell a story. She says that even in prison it will give her a reason to live, and I wondered what she was talking about. She explained that she was out on bail after a six month prison sentence was passed on her, for defending herself outside Lido’s night club against a number of women, who attacked her for no reason. She stabbed a white woman with a little Swiss knife. She lost all her money, paying for her defense, and was in prison for one week in December.

I left, and she arrived at my flat about two-thirty that night. We slept close to each other in the very hot and sweaty weather. In the early morning, we made love, although I’m not very strong. My system was completely down.

As we woke up, I took her to the Pick ‘n Pay Hypermarket to buy groceries for her son. We had a late breakfast in the cafeteria of the Pick ‘n Pay, and spoke for a long time. After that, we picked up her son at the Ocasador flats, where he and other little children are looked after by a nanny. It is a dark building, smelling of urine, dead cockroaches and poverty. With her child, we went to the beach at Umhlanga rocks. The sun had a very good effect on all of us. After that, we returned, and I left them at her flat.

It is Tuesday, the 7th of March 2000, and Zodwa’s birthday. She arrived early, and we went to Clicks to buy cosmetics for her birthday, then went to the NSA gallery and sat in the garden restaurant, and had passion fruit, cheese cake, and cappuccino coffee. We had a beautiful day together. In the evening, we watched videos at her flat, and I made spaghetti.

On Saturday afternoon, South Africa played soccer against Ghana, and the topic of conversation was her prison sentence. She describes how thin and neglected her boy was when she came out on bail. I’m feeling heaviness on my chest.

On Sunday night, we went to see The Pillow Book, a Chinese film about writing on the body, at the Berea Centre. Zodwa is disturbed by scenes of people dying in the movie, reminding her of her own life. She has tooth ache after the movie, and we stopped at a chemist to buy pain killers.

I bought a braai stand for Zodwa’s party, and arrive at a flat full of children. Zodwa and I go to the beach to braai the meat for the evening. We get the fire going, with a strong wind blowing, and put the sausage on first. Pensioners wander by. I don’t know what they think of this white guy with the beautiful woman, making a braai on the beach. We finish after about half an hour, and then return to the flat.

A photographer arrives. I’m very thirsty, and drink two Castles. About five partygoers arrive: look like auntie’s and cousins, who have not completely urbanized. At about eleven that night, I took Zodwa to Lido’s, it was a rather sad experience as I remembered the moments when I and Luisa met. A strip tease dancer came on, stripping with fire, making circles of light with her fire sticks, and opening up her legs to a mainly Filipino audience.

I felt impotent the whole evening. It has been a problem for the last few days, a bad omen trying to destroy us. When we are not dancing, I’m holding her closely or we are sipping at our beers. Back at the flat, Zodwa said she cannot feel when she is drunk. So we just slept closely in the terrible sweaty heat. In the end, my penis became erect, and I penetrated her from the back. I nearly went mad with sweat running down my face and body onto her.

It is five in the morning, and I could not sleep. Zodwa’s gone out to a ship to see “regulars”. I rolled around in bed, turning my thoughts over and over. I stood up for a Disprin, and looked down at the street. A police car was parked in front of the building; two ladies of the night were walking on the other side of the road. Zodwa was brutalized when arrested: she was kicked, hit with batons and electrically shocked, because she was a “black bitch”.

I pick Zodwa up, outside her flat, on her return from the ships with some Croat cassettes and cd’s in her hand. She wears boots coming up to her knees, and a very short black mini-dress. I’m not happy about her visit to the ship, but she cannot afford to alienate her regular customers, under the risk that I might leave her in two week’s time.

Zodwa went to Lido’s with her black mini dress and her boots on Saturday night. It is as if she is possessed. She did not want me to come with. She said she wants to be alone.

“Alone in Lido’s?” I asked.

“You know what I mean.” Through the car window, I grabbed her hand, and asked her, whether I am really not like every other guy.

She answered: “You were the only guy at my birthday party; you are the only one I allow myself to be seen with at The Wheel. Does that not tell you something”.

I’m clutching my pillows, trying to prevent vomit from pushing up into my mouth and a fit of tears from overcoming my shaking body. My flat is becoming my hell. I’m dumb and have no feelings.

 

She said she will be here at two. At three I went down to the telephone shop and phoned. She answered in a taxi; I can hear the moving cars on a highway, and she said she’ll see me at about quarter to four. She arrives at about four thirty, saying that her Croat boyfriend arrived that afternoon. She is in the dilemma of loving two men, both born under the same star sign, Scorpio. I’m listening calmly. I’m tired of falling in love over and over again. I’ll help her to finish her book. I cannot cope with sleeping alone. We have dinner at the Longhorn, while I look hypnotically entranced at her. Her face is ragged from the excesses of the last week. We go back to the flat. In the lift is a Lutheran pastor with his shirt bulging over his potbelly and one chipped tooth. Pastor in hell, I think, and I touch Zodwa’s hand, while having an exchange with him about my African shirt.

Back in my flat, we make love. I’m not very strong. My sweat drops on her as the violence of climbing her from the back overtakes me. I stand in the bath, and look at my naked body. We searched for her panty under the bed, under the books, on the chair, everywhere. I take her to her flat. I think, I have found someone I love unconditionally.

Luisa phoned my secretary. She complained to my secretary that I never understood her. I feel sad.

Zodwa arrived at about 19h30, while the mince meat was simmering. I boiled the water for the spaghetti. She has toothache and headache, and is exhausted. She hasn’t eaten since last night. Like always, we have a pleasant discussion about her father, who is a monster and has no heart.

She enjoys reading Zakes Mda’s She plays with the darkness, and recognizes so much of her own world in that book. She went to Joe Cools last night with her Croat. He cannot dance, but he can feel the music.

Luisa phoned, and spoke for an hour about a new house she bought, and developing a restaurant. Her life was taking shape, and she is ready to marry, indicating that I should join her in Mozambique. She wants to come to Durban on Seko’s birthday, as Seko wants to be with his “papa”. She asked about Zodwa, and why my new girl friend is not staying with me, and makes the point that “a poes is a poes.” I tell her that much more than sex is involved. She says, I must start a business and stop being dependent on a monthly salary. I think, she is suggesting that I should work with her as her husband.  She cannot understand, why I did not wait for her. She only wanted to lay the foundations for a good future. She says, that she was nervous in December, and had to work through the pain of losing an unborn baby, and had to get perspective. She asks what would have happened if she had my baby? Would I have betrayed her? I said “No, never, that was what I wanted most in my life.”

I feel confused at the end of the telephone conversation, with a nauseous feeling in my stomach. The whole night I sleep with this nauseous feeling, the fingers of one hand intertwine with the fingers of the other. I clutch the cushion against my nauseous body. The nausea is the emptiness I feel.

Zodwa phoned at about eight o’clock. It was good to hear her voice. She is going to have her tooth extracted. I think how teeth are linked to the phases of our lives.

I took Zodwa to the bank. She is peering into the distance. Her Croat phones and says, that he’ll come to her flat in the afternoon. I take her back to her flat. I feel like having a beer. I feel destructive. I go to Costa do Sol. Nothing exciting is happening there. I go to Skippers and buy some hake and chips. I’m killing time.

I’m drunk. Alone is her name. Alone is sitting with me. Why am I sitting with this stupid bitch? Why am I fucking up? Willie, the scrawny punk, the fucker of Beauty and Mbali, is walking into Costa do Sol. We need to chat, me and Willie. I can see the sadness in his eyes. He has the same sickness as me. I feel like going to Lido’s. I feel like dancing. I phone Zodwa. Zodwa, I’m drunk. Why are you drunk? I don’t know. This is not usual? No. Zodwa I’m fucking up badly. Can I forget this? Why do you make me stupid? The professor is a fucking stupid.  Why are you breathing? I’m drunk. I’ve got a confession   to make. Today, I’m an emfebe. I’m a bitch. I want to feel like a bitch. I do not want to hurt you. I love you too much, Zodwa. Zodwa, don’t feel sorry for me. Just understand. I love you despite everything, but today I’m not going to be alone. I’m going to be with Alone.   Betrayal, I hate it, changing from one person to the next in my life. I hate it.

In a wind enwrapping me in a curtain at the window, Zodwa was suddenly there. The flat was dark. She cares for me. I tell her that Alone is on her way. It hurt so much I cannot feel. She leaves, and says that she just wants to be alone, to think. As she leaves, she sees Alone arriving. She phones me, and in a disturbed voice utters “You have destroyed me. You have destroyed me completely…  You have destroyed me. I saw Alone at the entrance. Seeing her, you have destroyed me”

“Wait I’m coming.” At the entrance, I see Alone and give her a R100, and tell her I don’t want to see her, and rush to the car. I catch up with Zodwa, as she enters her building. I go up with her, and try to hold her resisting body. She asks me to leave her alone. I go with her into the flat. I start to cry in her room, sitting on her bed. Tears came through my unfeeling eyes. I curl up on her bed. She does not want me to touch her.

 

The airplane descends on a wet Bloemfontein. Puddles of water are visible everywhere. I’m on a flight with only six passengers: two American businessmen, a Taiwanese and in front of me the thick neck of a Free State farmer.

My grey-headed mother and father wait for me at the airport. In a great hurry I packed some books and clothes. There is not much baggage to collect. I’ve become pale and thin, and have no appetite. They can sense my depression, and make an appointment with the doctor.

I accompany my father to his vegetable stall in the afternoon. He hands out free bananas to children, trooping after their mothers pushing trolleys.

My mother cut my hair, and I have to live with the new image, which reflects me from the many mirrors: mirrors in the open doors of wardrobes, at the dressing table and against the bathroom wall. I’m shocked with the image of me.

After many years, I accompany them to church. I sat among the thick necks of the Free State men and their wives, with permed hair and crimpelene dresses. The reverend has a Hitler moustache, and he blesses his congregation with a salute. I could not wait to get outside. During the service, I became aware of the cooing of the turtledoves outside.

In the early morning, the geese woke me. I played tennis against a wall until the retarded son, from across the road, joined me. He tells me, how he assaulted a maid with a golf stick, for misplacing the keys to his fishing trunk. I feel nauseous. Even the innocent and the disabled have internalized the abusive behavior of the place.

My aging aunts visit. They enter the kitchen in walking-rings, and marks of gangrene on their shrinking bodies.

I walk with the retard, to post a letter to Zodwa. He greets everybody in the street, and says: “Oom, I know everybody in the area.”

They return his exited “Halo! Oom and Aunty” rather grumpily, offended by being recognized by a retard. He asks me riddles, and tells of his holiday job as a shop assistant, and how he rides to his work on a bicycle everyday. At his house he shows me his fishing gear, his religious cd’s and the tortoise in the back of the garden.

Back at my parents’ house, the church sisters buzz in the lounge at a regular prayer meeting.

The green battery charger light of my new cell phone is flickering on and off.

Gerhard, the German professor, phones from Grahamstown, where he is a fellow. “Are you fucking?” He asks. “I cannot fuck any more. That is why I’m going through this existential crisis at the moment” I answer.

I’m experiencing a feeling of physical collapse.

My father’s black poodle is looking at me, while I’m writing this. Is it looking at me with the black understanding eyes of death?

 

For several months I did not have the energy to enter anything into my journal. My book collapsed, and I collapsed in Bloemfontein. I didn’t eat anything. I was becoming a skeleton with dark sockets. In the end, I booked an earlier flight back to Durban. Arriving, hanging onto the airport bus railing

During these days, I started to see a psychologist – H. He looked like someone returned from the dead, with his wrinkles and his gray headed crest combed and oiled like Elvis Presley, and his green tie with pink spots, or like St. Anthony returning from the temptations of the desert. And there I was, like the devil incarnated, for him. He used to come to my flat, and I would just talk and talk until there was nothing more to say, and I took H to Lido’s, where he was tempted by a long-legged nymph: unfortunately she had flue, and her spit spattered on his face as she was trying to make herself heard above the loud music. After a few weeks, I had the courage to go to Joe Cools by myself, and as the gods arranged it, there was this tall beautiful woman, in black from head to toes, and with black eyes, wriggling her arse on high-heeled shoes on the dance floor: and that is how I met this complicated character Z. We fucked our heads off that first night – I was broke, and she actually looked after me the next few weeks. She was raped when she was six years old, and, except when she is drunk, has an aversion to sex. She is a freelance model. So I had this dilemma: She loved being massaged, with her fleshy concentric buttocks, and her back under the palms of my hands, but I was not allowed to mount her. It drove me crazy. And sometimes she would just disappear. And I would write letters about breaking up. She would plead that she needs me. And we would be back together again. Zodwa also didn’t take my breaking up with her too lightly. But we remained friends, and I kept on pressuring her to complete her book and find meaning in that. And I was stabbed by a gang of tsotsis in West Street for my cell phone. Thank god that was the end of the cell phone – but the tsotsi’s should learn to finish off their clients, as I remained with the fucking doctors’ bills. I just remember the whites of the tsotsi’s eyes as he aimed for my heart, while the others like hyenas grabbed the cell phone in my hand. I walked in a trance, with blood all over my chest to the flat, where Z was sitting watching soap operas.  Then I drove to the doctor, who stitched me up.

Luisa invited me to her 25th birthday in Maputo, and I went. The party was in her pent house. On the veranda, the guests were dancing and looking over the city. Her admirers from the corporate world were all there: bank managers, directors of insurance companies and owners of nightclubs and prostitutes. Katja and Seko were very happy to see me, and me them. At about six in the morning, Luisa joined me in bed. We just lay closely, without making love. She is thin – must be from overwork. Next day, she took me in her new car to show me the new property she bought – it is a plot of land in the middle of an extensive shantytown. Through a maze of sandy roads, we walked as the sun was setting, and people were gathering around their fires. We walked to where she was building, what looked like, a six room villa, and I was thinking of the strange contrast: a villa in the middle of a shanty town. The last night of my visit, she was earning money with one of her admirers, and I left the ring she gave me on the dressing table, just before taking a taxi to the airport.

Then I went to a conference in Poland. The Germans were also there. And I made people melancholic with tales of dying – I see a gallery of professors and prostitutes around my grave, and a somber moment at all future gatherings of postcolonial deliberations in remembrance of him who were always absent, but now is present. So Prof. Reich and I wandered through the gray city of Katowice, and he pisses against the sooty walls and farts at an auto bank, and he says that these Poles still has some way to go before they reach civilization; too much weed is finding its way onto the side-walks. I don’t mind. I love Poland and Poland loves me. We are shown the graveyard wall, where the ladies of the night, wait with their long legs and fur coats and umbrellas in the dark rain. I’m reading from my novel at the club Remedium. I’m the hero for the moment. And we dance afterwards, and I love the gray-green evil eyes of Ewa, and for the first time in years my fingers would trace tenderly the outlines of a pale white body on a single bed. She tells me of the strange contradiction: Catholics were not allowed to read the Bible in Catholic times, and Communists were not allowed to read Marx. Only the priests and the professors had the right to interpret for the people.

Sometimes I wake up in my bed disorientated, and I don’t know where I am. Sometimes I hope people are not hearing how I mutter my thoughts to myself.

Back in South Africa my path crossed that of two activists now expelled from our campus. Hein is working for a respectable law firm, while Ash promotes himself as the new Jesus Christ on a radio program. He says, every morning he wakes up, he swears at God, and then goes out to do God’s work. Hein saw the manuscript of my novel at a friend, and was inspired, and around a glass of beer at Costa do Sol, I found out that he is at this law firm now. I get excited, because maybe he could do something about Zodwa’s pending appeal case in two weeks. He tried his best, but he cannot take over the case from Zodwa’s lawyer. It is too late. Her appeal did not succeed: she was found guilty for defending herself with a pocket knife. I take Zodwa for a last supper, and a last bowing over the temple of her body, and I whisper “God!” This is too painful for me. Z returned from her rural home, and she was menstruating. On Thursday, Zodwa surrenders herself. Hein takes her with his car to the court. She stumbles, and she clings onto him. She phones her baby boy, and this is where tears ran silently down her face. In a court office she is attached – “ball and chained” – and assisted by two big guards to the van, taking her to prison. My penis takes a deep slide into the bloody darkness of Z.