As they grin amongst themselves, surrounded by frustration and emotion, this was the perfect place to spend your Friday evenings. The Soulistic Art Gallery, A room filled with cocktail lovers, calamari and paintings of war.
“…I love this painting, it would look good in the living room,” a man says to his wife.
“Yes, it demands attention, there’s so much anger and pain in this piece of art. Who’s the artist?” She replies.
“I don’t know honey, probably some guy who grew up in a hostile environment,” he bends down and looks at the bottom corner of the painting. “It’s signed N at the corner,” he tells her.
Someplace else that night, a shoulder to cry on when the world is slowing tilting towards political agenda is what Ntozake needs. As she catapults her legs towards her cane and finds her way to the kitchen, she’s disturbed by the uninterrupted sound of Simba mowing the lawn. “I just wish grass grew once a year,” she whispers faintly.
She moves her hands slowly around the table, feeling the coldness of it and starts moving her body to the rhythm of her hands. The sound of keys joins in the music and the door opens and closes shut with a bang, ending the orchestra.
“I told you to keep your cutlery on the left hand side because it’s closer to the sink,” her sister says.
“Khanyi, how many blind decorators do you know?” Ntozake replies with a hidden smile. Khanyi is her little sister, they are just three years apart.
Khanyi then prepares breakfast for her sister. They talk passionately about men, the future and adventurous fiascos. She is a strong woman who believed in her Christianity roots and the sanctity of family.
Ntozake takes a lingering sip of coffee, submitting herself to the aroma, then she turns her head to her sister and says, “So how is your boyfriend?”
“I think he’s cheating on me. He doesn’t come to see me as much as he used to.” She replies.
“Well, you should ask him. You inspire me Khanyi.” Ntozake says as her little sister smiles with adoration before she closes her bedroom door. Ntozake gets up, gaining the strength to start her music. She leaves the kitchen and makes her way towards her room, an occasional studio. Every touch a secret told to the walls, a murmur gathered inside paintings. She picks up her brush, puts on the radio and then, “The Ugly Black women is a myth,” a man angrily exclaims and her art begins.
Every word is a movement on the canvas, designing it into a melody. She sees the stars in sky deeper than anyone else does. The honesty in her eyes, “South Africa is a county ruined by pain and lack of leadership, a sign of Black impoverishment”, these words become victim to Ntozake’s paintbrush rampage. The canvas bleeds words that become testimony.
She paints a flower resembling a slave woman as, president of the world.
“I wonder what men are without violence, or the patience of a woman?” She whispers.
The doorbell rings. Enchanted by the beat of love, she gets up and dances to it, singing the black girl’s song, magic at every footstep. The hindering moment surpassing the blindness in her eyes, beauty, hair and all. With magic in her skin, the dog barks as she reaches the door. She twists the knob into letters to past lovers and opens the door.
Time slips away as he stands there, watching her. With a deep voice filled with pride he says, “Excuse me mam, I’ve been going crazy in my head over this Dame.” Surprised by the man at the door and intrigued at the same time Ntozake asks, “Well what exactly attracted you to her?”
“Well, it started with a drink.” He whispers as he moves closer.
“What kind of drink did she have?” she asks, not wanting the exchange to end.
“The lady dresses for sex on the beach, but her body demands vodka,” he replies. Their exchange is done in whispers, as if the walls and the ceiling are listening.
“What happens next?” Ntozake giggles inquisitively.
“What did you expect”? He grins.
“A dance,” she replies.
‘Woman Is the Nigger of the World,’ a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono soothed her and birthed her voice. Her third painting was a Mosque in flames. “The ignorance of our young men and women is hurtful,” Ntozake says at a youth conference. She continues, “Our voices have the ability to make a difference in our communities, promote yourself.”
Her body quivers and longs for the blackness in him, the truth in his words, the wisdom in his skin when she touched him, feeling his scars and sadness. Their first kiss unravelled the night and peeled away the sky, revealing galaxies, a black girl’s magic.
A man can’t truly live without the comfort of a woman, her passion is the freedom that moves him.
Her fourth painting was a baby that was covered in oil, this resembled the struggle for riches that everyone goes through, the motives that leave others six feet deep or poor. Ntozake’s love for painting and politics all started back when her mother Nhlanhla, a doctor, used to debate with her father Tshepho, a diplomat. They would do that every morning before her mother attended her classes. She saw herself as an advocate for the youth, she believed that the youth was the future of South Africa.
Still at the door, Ntozake is momentarily paralyzed by the man’s affection towards her. With a hint of curiosity in his words, her name slowly plays on his lips.
“So what do you think?” He asks her patiently.
At first she is unsure of what to say, then she responds with, “Uhm…”
He then leans close to her, the sound of the creaking door holds her captive and lets out a soothing sound of a drum played by an African princess. He kisses her softly, memorable, with a hint of more. Ntozake relinquishes her lips to his. He smells like wet paint in the morning.
My sister is a palpable kindred spirit, but she gets rather annoyed when I speak about my love life. She enters in my room, unwelcome in my sanctuary. She then asks me if I slept with him. But before I could answer her, I listen to the breaking news on the radio; a voice calmly reports that three men were killed in an attempted bank robbery incident in Johannesburg. When they called out my lover’s name as one of the diseased robbers, my heart sank with sadness.
“You can’t save everyone,” my sister says. My world, for all that is wrong in it, all I wanted was to love and someone who loved me back. The world is however a beautiful place beneath all the rubble that covers it.
The death of their mother hit both of them very hard and made them realise, that a black woman is likely to find a job in an all-white workplace than to find love and security in the arms of a black man.