Between Walls (2)
By Lerato Mensah-Aborampah, Lesotho
A packet full of stuff. He had always called her this. “You are like a packet full of stuff- I think I have grasped one thing about you and the next thing, I find another,” he used to say this with marvel. Patrick had always admired her for that. Libuseng had met Patrick during their orientation week at the university. It was small talk conversations that was typical of the first year students among one another. Where are you from? What courses are you going to take? They had started talking during that week and in the next weeks that followed. They became close friends. Mellissa always teased Libuseng about how they could not be dating. Libuseng had always laughed it off and gave it no thought. Patrick was just a friend. One who had come to become a very close one. Until this fight.
In their first year of college, he had dedicated his last semester art piece to her. It was an abstract piece he named ‘No Edges’. It was beautiful in a way that she had never been able to understand. But yet again, she had never really been able to understand any of his pieces. They had an inaccessible nature but that had never been reason enough to not appreciate them.
“The beauty of them,” she often told him, whenever he showed her his work, “is not in my understanding them but in my thinking that I do.” They would laugh at that statement because while it did not really make sense, he understood it. And she knew he did. They understood each other.
During their fight, he brought it up. She was a packet full of stuff, only this time with unmistakable disapproval. She was inconsistent, he had said, she could never make her mind up on anything and blamed everything else except herself when things fell apart. Libuseng had thought he would apologise almost as soon as he had said that to her. He did not. His eyes had meant it. His voice had meant it. He meant every word.
“I am goin’ to have to say this Libuseng, but you are so damn inconsistent! Man, I do not know what you are going to do next! What pieces of stuff I am going to have to pick up after you… it is like-“
“This whole thing with your lecturer! Ao bathong! Libuseng!” he looked at her with rage in his eyes, “I have to find this out from the college whisperers? That my friend is sleeping with Mr Batloung! Uena monna! Libuseng, tell me this isn’t-“
Libuseng cut him abruptly.
“What do you mean ‘the pieces of stuff YOU pick’?” Libuseng had replied angrily, “what, you are the person that holds my life together? I am your poor ‘packet of stuff’ who can’t contain herself and needs help from perfect Patrick?”
“- I become the subject of one of your art pieces Patrick and all so suddenly you have me all figured out!”
“You know that’s not true man! Don’t do that Libuseng,” Patrick grabbed his bag from the bench they had been sitting on.
“What you do every time in your innumerable personal explosions! Blame someone in subtle ways. Be the sole victim of the world’s injustice,”
“I do not do that!”
“Akha maan! I can’t talk to you right now!”
A heavy silence followed this. He kept quiet, adjusting his bag pack as if preparing to leave. He looked through but not at her. And she tightened her jaws and looked at his hands fiddling with his bag straps.
“You are better than this,” Patrick said silently, this time looking at her, really looking at her.
Libuseng fixed her eyes on his bag straps. His eyes bore through her.
“Patrick, you do not know me-“
“Libuseng,” he whispered in a subdued voice, “are you sleeping with Mr. Batloung?”
He looked at her. His jaws were tightened. She saw hurt in his eyes. She saw it bleeding out in viscous droplets. Hurt.
“Mfethu,” he whispered again.
Libuseng kept silent. She would walk away before she started crying. He would not see her cry. He realised that she was preparing to leave. He wanted her to leave. He wanted to leave too. So he just kept quiet when she turned her back to him and walked towards her residence. It was better that way.