“I like all your different hairstyles,” Siboniso says. “A new one nearly every week. I look forward to Mondays and seeing what you’ve done.”
When Lesedi had arrived, he was in the foyer of the building where the Academy had its studios, offices, and a few other rooms used for lectures. Had he been waiting for her? The way he was hanging around near the lifts? Maybe…
And he has noticed her hair! Her smile turns into a laugh.
“I get them for free. I have a weekend job at a hair salon, noting special, just making tea for clients, and tidying up. The boss lets her trainees practise on anyone who will take the risk, if things get quiet on a Sunday, so I always volunteer…but none of my styles are ballerina hair, are they?”
“What’s ballerina hair?”
“You know, sleek and smooth, back from the face. My old ballet teacher in Soweto used to let us look at these old ballet books, annuals, with photos of famous dancers from Russia and other countries…Ma’am lets us wear our Afros and braids and knots for class and some of our performances, but sometimes she says a classical look is called for. It’s so hard to do, sometimes I think I’ll never get it right as a dancer, just because of my hair.”
“No, guess what? I’ve heard the ballerinas in those other countries also struggle with their straight, slippery hair, and need masses of whatever they’re called, clips or pins? And whole cans full of hairspray. Be proud of your hair. Isn’t it called a woman’s crowning glory?”
“Thank you, that makes me feel better,” Lesedi says, as they enter a lift together. “And I guess Ma’am must have had the same struggle in her performing days.”
Ma’am being the once-famous dancer Valerie Mosiane.
“I bet. Hey listen, the lunch break today, if we get out of morning classes on time…we could get coffee at that place the next block along, instead of the chicory in warm water on tap here?” Pausing, Siboniso looks at Lesedi with sparkling eyes. “You’ve guessed, haven’t you? I’d like to get to know you better…hayi, that sounds so cheesy! But you know what I mean. You’re such an interesting person to talk to, Lesedi.”
“So it’s not just my hairstyles?” she teases, with her heart suddenly as light as she wishes her whole body could be when she’s doing a grand jeté.
“You think I’m that shallow?” Siboniso jokes back. “Seriously, I like you, Lesedi. I like everything about you.”
“Except that you don’t know everything about me.”
She needs to be sensible here, she tells herself, even if sensible seems strangely boring. But she has only just broken up with Bheka, and what if the attraction Siboniso holds for her is simply a reaction to that? Not fair to Siboniso, not fair to herself.
“Yet,” Siboniso laughs. “I don’t know everything about you yet.”
“And I hardly know you,” she reminds him as the lift reaches their floor.
“That’s why we need to take it slow. Sweet and slow,” he adds, as they get out of the lift.
“I like the sound of that,” Lesedi admits.
She notices Mariel and Zotha getting out of the next lift along. They must have hung back when they saw Siboniso talking to her — and she hadn’t even noticed they weren’t in the lift with her as usual, too taken up with with Siboniso.
Tell us: Do you agree with Siboniso that sweet and slow is the way to go when someone is starting a new romance?