By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa
Cordelia Mseleku has become one of my close acquantainces at the Market Theatre. We Xhosa people always stick together when we meet in places–it’s an unwritten rule. So it was only natural that Cordelia and I become close. She works at the Public Relations/Administration office of the production. She has one of the best altos I’ve heard in my life. But like most people, she couldn’t risk making a living as an artist. Cordelia is also dating the director of the play I’m working on, it seems to be a serious relationship but I can’t be sure – I’m not really interested in their relationships.
Cordelia has always been a loud mouth; she speaks to everyone about everything, and she makes sure we’re all happy. She was here at Sonti’s party being loud as usual. I didn’t know that Cordelia used drugs until tonight. She was sniffing cocaine with some guys, and no one seems to be uncomfortable. There is also a lot of booze, and other substances, in this party. I felt like an outcast for a moment until I decided to call Zain. He arrived almost immediately and because he is also not drinking anything toxic I have relaxed. I’m actually having fun.
“No baby not here” I hear a whisper from behind me. I turn to see Sonti and Bass on the floor behind the couch Zain and I are sitting on. I burst out laughing, I can’t help it. These two are not in a relationship, well not that I know of. What they are doing on the floor is beyond me.
“Listen darling” Cordelia says pulling me to face her. “Men are dogs!” She adds.
I just look at her; where is this coming from?
“Don’t be fooled by their sweet words and expensive gifts…” she coughs and then continues; “they are just filthy animals.”
“What’s wrong?” I ask.
She shakes her head roughly and balances her hands on my thighs. She’s seriously drunk.
“Nothing is wrong, it’s all just… perfect. It’s perfect Bongi, I deserve it. Hmmm, I deserve all the pain I tell you… I know…”
“Cordy come try this” some guy shouts in the drug corner interrupting Cordelia’s sentence.
“Don’t you think she’s had enough?” I ask irritably. I think Cordelia is going through something and she is intoxicating herself to try and escape it, which is unhealthy.
“Cordy never passes out, ever!” Shouts another druggie.
Cordelia laughs and says; “See, I derseve all the pain because I’m strong.” She comes closer and almost kisses me and whispers; “My only sin Bongi is being strong… and loving.”
She moves away and goes to pull whatever drug they are making her try out. My heart has suddenly turned sour.
I feel a gentle pat on my shoulder. “It’s just the liquor speaking my love, she’ll be fine in the morning.” It’s Zain, I had forgotten he is sitting next to me.
I force a smile and engage in small talk with Zain. I want to believe him but something inside me is telling me there is more to it than that. After a few minutes I excuse myself and go to the bathroom. Sonti’s flat is a bedroom located on the 10th floor. I cannot get over the floor nunber because despite my years of travelling I’m still horrified of heights. I reach the bathroom and find Puseletso, one of our sopranos, fixing her face. She is very conscious of her image, she ocassionally looks at the mirror even during practice at the theatre. She is also very beautiful, and mean, the most self centered person I’ve ever met.
“I need to pee” I say.
She shrugs as she responds; “Don’t mind me.”
I wish she could leave but I can’t hold it any longer. I close the door and get on with my business.
“So you’re dating Cordelia’s ex?”
She sounds very vindictive, like she is just saying this to spite me. I do not respond.
“You Xhosa girls are all the same, always chasing men, and it’s like you want other people’s men. Cordelia is busy with a married man but I can’t blame her shame…”
I get enough of her nonsense and pour my pee on her. While she was busy rolling her eyes, insulting me, I took the toilet brush container and peed in it. She lets out a loud scream as my waste water splash on her expensive weave. I quickly stand, flush and wash my hands and exit the bathroom. I leave her cursing and crying there, that will teach her to never speak to me like that. The cheek!
Now that I’m standing in the passage I’m having time to process what she was saying. So Mr. Director is married? Zain is Cordelia’s ex? Why didn’t they tell me? Is Zain the filthy animal she was talking about? What else are they hiding from me? My chain of thought is disturbed by loud moarns coming from the main bedroom. I move away, I’m interesting in knowing who that is. As I slowly make my way back to the lounge area I hear a commotion coming from there. Some are screaming Cordelia’s name, some telling her stop – I wonder what she is doing now. I freeze the moment I get inside the lounge, Cordelia is standing on the windowsill threatening to jump. I feel like my heart will burst throught my chest. For some reason I hear Christina Algeria’s Hurt blasting through my head as if conforming to the heart beat.
“I would hold you in my arms
I would take the pain away
Thank you for all you’ve done
Forgive all your mistakes
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do
To hear your voice again
Sometimes I wanna call you
But I know you won’t be there”
I ran towards the window attempting to hold her legs but she smiles and waves and just jumps. I race towards the door with both my hands over my head, the only thing on my mind is; ‘I need to catch her’. I run down the stairs in tears, I’m not screaming just tears pouring down my face. I hear voices behind me, sirens somewhere, screams, and I keep seeing Cordelia’s stupid smile as she jumped off. I get tired of running so I throw myself down and just let out a loud cry. After a few minutes I feel someone pulling me up and then holding me closely. I hear their heartbeat pacing very fast, and the heavy breathing, but no words are spoken. I somehow feel safe and comforted, I know it’s embrace – it’s Zain.
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