My phone rang and I took it out of my jeans-pocket. I stared at the number on the screen. It was Bongiwe’s number. I smiled to myself as I looked at the number. I quickly pressed the answering button. She had phoned to tell me that she had arrived at 10th Street Vootrekker road, our pre-arranged rendezvous. We were going to take the taxi to town together to spend our day, celebrating our birthdays.
I switched off the TV in haste, picked up my backpack and rushed out of the house to meet her. As I was coming round the corner of 10th Street, I saw her standing, waiting, looking stunning in her vintage clothing. A beautifully knitted maroon scarf hanging loosely around her neck. My heart palpitated in apprehension and for a moment I contemplated of melting in the sun.
I could not conceal my happiness. I smiled broadly unveiling my milky white teeth as we came closer to embrace each other. When she clamped me, I froze between her hands and for a moment the world ceased to exist. It was only me and Bongiwe. Her beautiful scent nourished the entire atmosphere.
After exchanging greetings, we flagged down the first taxi that came into sight and made our way into the city centre. The taxi driver was blasting on the stereo ‘All eyes on me’ by Tupac, the best lyricist ever. The taxi dropped us at the top of the deck. The deck was lively with activity. Taxis loading and off-loading commuters, voices of vendors trying to attract the attention of potential customers and customers haggling over prices with the hawkers.
We walked all the way to Long Street oblivious to our surroundings. All along we were absorbed in sizzling conversation, Bongiwe laughing uncontrollably at the silly jokes I cracked here and there.
We had decided to have lunch at the Diplomatic Bar and restaurant in Long Street. The restaurant was sparsely occupied and this gave us more confidence to be ourselves. The waiter came to our table and we both ordered glasses of white wine whilst scouring through the main menu.
Bongiwe chose a cheap and simple meal; rice and beef stew, which I decided to go with as well. I realised that both of us did not care much about the food but the special moment we were having. She shared with me her love for children. Her hopes and fears of becoming a mother. She wondered if she was going to become a wonderful mother to her children or rather a monster of a mother. We enjoyed enormously our conversation as well as our savoury dishes.
When we finished devouring our delicacies, Bongiwe took out her present and presented it to me and I did the same. I unwrapped my present and it was a copy of Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions and Bongiwe’s present was a copy of Steve Biko’s I write what I like. We were both excited about our presents and we promised to share our opinions about the books once we dipped our noses into them. We requested our bill which we paid and tipped the waiter, handsomely.
We gathered all our things and went to Jimmy Jimalo Bar to down a few bottles of beer before going back to the township. When we arrived at the bar a lot of people were seated on the wooden benches outside, glued to the Television watching the English Premiership game. It was the game between Manchester United versus West Ham, if my memory still serves me right. They were drinking, shouting at the top of their voices encouraging their players to score.
Inside the bar, the dance floor was choked with people dancing to the dancehall music. We went straight to the counter, ordered some beers and joined the crowd on the dance floor. On the wall there was a beautiful picture of Che Guevara starring at us, holding a burning Cuban cigar in his right hand. And close to this treasure trove was a powerful political statement by Jimmy Jimalo talking about fighting to end poverty.
We danced and danced and took our seats when we were exhausted and watched people dancing, downing our beers. I was drinking Castle Lager and Bongiwe was drinking Castle Lite. We did not stay that much as we were not drinking to get drunk
We went to the taxi rank and hugged each other goodbye. It was a poignant moment, watching Bongiwe being devoured into the belly of the taxi after having such a splendid time. I took refuge in the fact that we had resolved to meet again soon. I smiled triumphantly as I walked to take the taxi to go home.
Tell us: What is your happiest birthday celebration memory?