“How have you been? How’s life treating you?” I asked her after letting go of the hug.
“Whoa! So many questions at once? People are looking at us, let’s talk somewhere else,” she said, looking shyly around.
“Yeah! Yeah! Sure. My car is parked that way. Were you still shopping or you were leaving? Are you alone or with someone?” I threw questions at her like a journalist questioning a politician who is accused of corruption.
I noticed that she wasn’t carrying shopping bags or pushing a trolley. I thought she was shopping with someone. Probably her boyfriend or husband. I looked at her fingers for a ring but I found none and I felt relieved.
“I am shopping with my younger sister but she is at Steers waiting for our order,” Thabisa looked at my Steers parcel and continued, ” I don’t think you recognised her. She was a toddler the last time you saw her.”
“Hi Bhuti. Is the Uber on its way, Thabisa?” said a young woman who was standing next to us with a trolley full of groceries. Two Steers parcels were on top of the shopping plastic bags. We didn’t see her coming because our eyes were glued to each other. We had become oblivious of our surroundings for a moment.
“Hello Sisi,” I replied.
“Oh! You know maarn Thembeka sometimes these Uber drivers cancel at the last minute when they see requests to a township. Look who I bumped into, I mean literally,” Thabisa said giggling.
Thembeka squinted her eyes and looked at me confused. She really had no idea who I was. Thabisa and Thembeka looked so much alike that I didn’t need to see a photo to know how Thabisa looked 10 years ago.
“I am waiting for you to introduce me big sis. Are you guys lovers who haven’t seen each other in years or something?” Thembeka said.
“No! ” Thabisa and I replied at the same time. We looked at each other and laughed.
“You guys were my neighbours in Gugulethu back in 1993,” I explained to Thembeka.
“But you wouldn’t remember, lil’ sis, because you were still breast feeding then,” Thabisa said and we all laughed at the joke.
“Well, if you guys say so. I mean you really are acting like people who were dating, you know,” Thembeka said and then there was silence.
“Hey! Maybe I can give you guys a lift. Where are you staying now?” I asked the sisters.
“In Mfuleni. You would be really doing us a favour,” Thabisa said.
“What are the odds! I am going to Blue Downs. I mean, my destination is before yours but I don’t mind dropping you guys off first and driving back to my place,” I said.
“Are you sure? Well then, thanks Bhuti…. wait! Thabisa didn’t tell me your name,” Thembeka said, looking at Thabisa.
“I am Simphiwe and you don’t have to call me ‘Bhuti Simphiwe’,” I said jokingly.
“Don’t worry, this was only for today since I just I met you,” Thembeka said and we all laughed.
I helped them push their trolley to the parking lot where I had parked my car. On the way I asked Thabisa for her phone number and she gave it to me.
“Wow! You must be doing really well for yourself. You are driving such a nice car,” Thabisa said as we loaded their groceries into the boot of my new VW Polo.
“Let’s just say I am doing okay,” I said.
“What do you do for a living? I hope you are not a gangster,” she said.
“Me? A gangster? No ways! I started as a constable but I am a detective now. And you?” I replied.
“I am working at a call centre,” she said.
Thembeka opened the back passenger door and Thabisa opened the front passenger door. On the road, the sisters and I talked about general stuff from the music hits to recent fashion trends.
“Well, thank you, Simphiwe. Could you take the groceries out, Thembeka? I will join you soon,” Thabisa said when we arrived at their home.
Thembeka stepped out of the car, leaving us alone. A little girl came running out of the house to help her offload the groceries from the car.
“It was no problem really. I am grateful that you almost caused me to drop my meal otherwise we wouldn’t have met today,” I said chuckling.
She looked at me and said, “I want to let you know that I am happy to see you again, Simphiwe. I was lonely for a long time when you left and I hoped you would come visit but you never came.”
I took her hand in mine and said, “Believe me when I say I never stopped thinking about you, Thabisa.”
“Well, I need to get inside now. Thembeka has finished taking out our shopping bags,” Thabisa said pulling her hand away from mine.
“Can I take you out for lunch this weekend? I mean, if I won’t be stepping on anyone’s toes,” I said.
“Remind me on WhatsApp and I will let you know. Bye!” Thabisa said opening the car door.
“Bye!” I waved and pressed my foot on the accelerator.
Tell us: What kind of people do you think Thabisa and Thembeka are, based on this encounter?