Thursday, 29 January 2015


Later that evening, the children tucked away in bed, Simon and Pearl sat across from each other at the kitchen table, a fat steaming glossy-brown tea-pot between them.

Pearl shyly reached across and touched Simon's hand. He took her slim cool fingers in his. "Pearl...There is so much I want to say to you, so much we must discuss..."

"Yes. There is, and we must make a list."


"Yes. Right now I want to kiss you, but that must be the last item on our list."

"It must?"


"Oh! Ok. First things first then. I want us to move upstairs."


"Yes, the penthouse is empty. It has five bedrooms, and a terrace, and it is very fine. Perfect for our family. And it makes business-sense too: am getting no rent for it, it is too expensive. So I rent this one, make some money AND we have more space."

"Yes, it sounds very good." Pearl nodded, "We can each have a bedroom and the children can have a play-room too."

Simon hesitated "About the bedroom thing? Maybe we can have a study, a playroom, the children have their own rooms, and we share?"

Pearl frowned. "I don't quite get what you mean, Mr. Thambisa."

Simon stammered: "I thought, you know...We might share?"

"Mr. Thambisa, I am not a Hilbrow rent-girl!"

"I am asking you to marry me, woman! Will you?"

"Marry you?"

"Yes, Pearl."

"Oh! Yes, I suppose so."

"You suppose so?" Simon gaped at her in crushed bewilderment "You don't sound excited. I thought you...loved me."

"I do. Very very much. But..."


"I think we should wait. I think we must be sure. You must be sure."

"But am sure!"

"You are a man. Men are never quite sure. And you have not done what men do. You have not had a crazy time."

"A crazy time?"

´"Run around with the wrong girl, get your heart broken, make mistakes."

"Well!" cried Simon, offended, "I am a serious man, a traditional man! Forgive me that I did no run around with fast girls from the townships! Or take up with bad women and spend my money on drink and drugs!"

Pearl giggled. "I forgive you...I just think...If a man has made some very bad mistakes, it teaches him to recognise good things when he sees them. You see...Good things are not always very exciting at first glance. I am not very exciting. Maybe one day you wake up and think: everyday with Pearl is the same. Everyday."

"Pearl," Simon exclaimed, feelingly, "My life has never been so exciting, or expensive!"

Pearl giggled, "You are a very funny man, Mr. Thambisa...And I agree to moving upstairs, and we talk about this engagement another time. You have paid Lobolo, but I have not met your mother, I have not prepared food for your family. I too am a traditional woman."

"My mother!" Simon stared at her horrified. "I have not seen or spoken to my mother in 20 years."

"Never mind! Now, first! Isaiah: he must start the school next week. He is in health, he is clever, he will do well and be a merit to you, Simon."

"Yes, I agree. He is a good boy, clever and brave and loyal."

Pearl smiled proudly, "He is most deserving. Now, about Thalie..." she sucked in her breath in a sudden sob. "Thalie we must speak to. We must tell her as much as she can understand."

"Why must we? Tell a baby she will die? No Pearl!"

"Yes. It is her right. We will not say she will die. We will say she is ill. We will say we will be working to make her feel better."

"And school? Thalie does not go to school? You saw how excited she was about that, much more than Isaiah."

"I will speak to the Director tomorrow when I take in Isaiah's papers. See what he says. And tomorrow night we speak as a family. We talk about going upstairs, going to school, and Thalie taking special medicine. Dr. de Bruin has made me an appointment with a nutritionist to set a special diet for Thalie; reinforce her immune system."

"I agree, Pearl, it is a very good plan, a Master-plan. Is there anything else on your list?"

Pearl frowned. "No...not that I can think of."

"You are forgetful, woman!" Simon reached across the table, "What about my kiss?"


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