Jabu’s father owned a fleet of taxis. One of them came to fetch all the students that lived over the mountain from the school. It brought them back, over the pass, to their homes on the weekend.

Noni had hated weekends before she knew Jabu. Noni’s mother was drunk for most of the weekend. Noni avoided her own home as much as she could. Her only focus was finding time to see Jabu.

Jabu could drive and he helped his Dad out by driving a taxi during the weekends. Jabu’s parents were very committed Christians. They were deeply involved in the church. But Jabu never went to church if he could help it. Thozi, his mother, had prayed for years that one day Jabu would come with them to church.

Thozi, Jabu’s mother, told Noni once that Jabu’s father had been a drinker and a womaniser in the early years of their marriage. He had even beaten Thozi during some of his drunken rages.

Thozi told Noni many stories, but added that, just after Jabu was born, Jabu’s father had suddenly stopped.

He stopped beating her.
He stopped drinking.
He stopped going out with other women.

It was the happiest time of Thozi’s life when that happened.

Jabu, however, was only starting to do all these things when Noni met him. Thozi was worried about her son. Jabu liked to drink and party. Jabu, Noni really believed, and her heart skipped a beat, also liked her.

Sometimes, Noni resolved not to have sex with Jabu anymore. Jabu’s drinking scared her. The way he looked at other girls made her heart painfully ache, but Noni never said a word to him.

On the weekends Jabu made every opportunity to come and fetch Noni in one of his father’s cars. He took her out driving with him. It soon became their favourite thing to do.

Jabu would take Noni out to the Highway 24-hour Store and buy her coffee, or a milkshake. Noni loved those milkshakes when the weather was warm, and she loved a milky coffee when the weather was cool.

Noni never drank either of those two drinks any more. She couldn’t bear either of them – the taste turned her stomach.

But during that earlier time, Jabu used to take the car slowly up a secret dark road with Noni. And there in the soft dark he would tell her just how much he loved her.

Jabu told Noni wonderful things while he made love to her. And all Noni’s fears, and all her resolutions, disappeared into the dark.

In the beginning Noni had no doubt that Jabu really did love her. Noni knew he loved her then, even when he tasted of beer when he kissed her. Noni knew he loved her then, even when he drove too fast and recklessly, laughing loudly all the while. She hadn’t minded that.

But when Noni began to smell the scent of someone else’s perfume on his collar when Jabu held her close, she did mind.

But even then Noni never spoke up. She continued to live only for those times in the car, in the dark lane with Jabu, when Noni forgot everything else.


Tell us what you think: Why doesn’t Noni speak up and tell Jabu how she really feels?