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11:11 (2)

     The jingle of Daph’s keys was drowned out by a taxi speeding past - the doof-doof of the stereo could be heard from a mile away, Drake mumbling something about “Started from the bottom now we here…
She could hear someone rapping along, “ the whole f#&!* team here…” as the door slid open to let passengers in or out.
She didn’t get the penchant for swearing, and tut-tutted as the offending noise drove off in the direction of the highway...

The sequence of 1’s caught Mary’s eye as the light flashed on her Samsung; some institution asking if she had sufficient funeral cover.
“Umph, the nerve!”
She fumbled with her phone, struggling with the keypad, her touchscreen unresponsive.
“Block! Block!” she yelled pushing down the offending keys to spam it immediately; Mary had a thing about death. Not wishing to invite it in, she crossed herself, and crossed again for good measure saying a silent prayer to be spared death’s sickle.
“Brrrr…” she said standing in the hallway devoid of light still clutching her handbag. Black aluminium blinds held the light at bay in the huge apartment designed to let sunlight in. The double patio doors were hidden behind a black expanse leaving an air of desolation in the living space.
“Ai Ja, ma’am, what are you hiding from?”
Mary walked to windows, lifted the blinds and let the outside in. The desolation evaporated as the sunlight brushed over stark white surfaces making it shine.

Too much white.

“It’s like someone came and poured milk all over!” Mary explained to her ailing mom once while they were settling in for the night. Her mom loved hearing snippets of Daph’s peculiarities. Rubbing camphor cream over fingers gnarled like branches, Mary told tall tales to distract her mom from the crippling pain that riddled her body; loving strokes till her mother’s hands glistened.
“What else?” Gogo asked through lips grimaced by arthritic pain, “what else does she do?
“She wears black…”
“Everything: panties, bras, shoes, stockings, trousers, scarves…”
“Sjoe, everything!”
They heard a snicker coming from the foot of the bed. Yolie giggled from underneath the blankets where she was tucked in tight, her small frame resting between the feet of her elders:
“He he he, Gogo, mama said panties…”
They all burst out laughing, pain silenced in a shared moment in the tiny shack on the foothills of Imizamo Yethu.

Gogo missed the open spaces of the Transkei, living in Hout Bay amongst the affluent was hard, but the three of them had made the tiny shack a haven.

Their laughter rang out into the night.
In the mother city Daphne stretched out in the middle of her bed hugging pillows to her in the quiet of the night. She thought she heard the sound of laughter coming from upstairs, 3 female voices carrying love to her, all the while she was praying for sleep.

Mary was finishing off the skirting boards, wiping them with a wet cloth; just some ironing and she’d be done for the day. Mary didn’t quite understand why Daph used her 2 days a week, but she wasn’t going to ask, glad for the extra R200 she was receiving for the Thursday; she had 2 people depending on her. Mary valued the quiet of the day in Walmer Estate, was one of the reasons she liked working for the ma’am. That and the fact that Daph was never home, never underfoot and left Mary to do her own thing.

She decided on an early lunch.
Opened the fridge and grabbed out cheese and butter - mmmm grilled cheese, her favourite! The eggs and viennas would do well for supper, saved her from stopping at the spaza on the way home.
“No bread, or rice…” Mary explained to Gogo dishing two fried eggs and 2 vienna's into the plate for her, telling tales of Daphne again.
“No bread?”
“No bread!”
“No rice?”
“No rice!”
“And no cake, sweets, soda, chocolate; and no ice cream…”
“Yoh, no ice cream!” Yolie tried to wrap her head around a life without ice cream, poking at the runny centre of her fried egg with her finger and licking off the golden warm gooeyness. Gogo banged her hands on the small wooden table in glee making plates jump.
She mumbled a prayer thanking the Lord for his bounty, and a heartfelt “Amen” fell from the lips of Mary and Yolie.

Their prayer carried over foothills coated in gold as the last of the sun’s rays bounced off zinc before making it’s way home for the night.
In Walmer Estate Daphne set her bowl down on the glass tabletop making a pinging sound which reverberated throughout the empty apartment leaving a hollow sadness behind:
Broccoli and carrots in a ginger soy sauce with sesame seed chicken strips.
Daphne raised the glass of lemon water to her lips and unconsciously mouthed “Amen”. Not one for religious gestures, Daphne frowned as she was swept up in giving thanks.
She thought she heard the prayer coming from the apartment below - 3 female voices carrying love to her, all the while she was praying for peace.

One more month to Christmas, Mary thought with joy as she was about to let herself out of the apartment at 4.
Turning around she walked to the lounge straightening the crooked line of the 3-seater white leather monstrosity almost as big as her entire house.
"Shame, she has enough on her shoulders," she thought leaning in and said a prayer for the woman who had so little.

Imizamo Yethu is Xhosa for “our combined effort”

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