#jesuisceque

“Die weird ding is, die bloed en die trane op die sypaadjie is actually nie die prentjie van die aand wat my die langste gaan bybly nie.”

Wynand staan alleen by die kroegtoonbank. Om hom klink die mooi klanke van Franse stemme en ligte musiek op, laat hom liggies wieg. Hy wag geduldig, al wag hy al onnodig lank. Dis sy eerste keer in Parys. Tyd is nie ‘n ding nie, hy is met vakansie. Hy en Wikus en Christo kuier al vandat hulle op die vliegtuig geklim het.

Hy voel hoe ‘n meisie langs hom kom staan. Hy draai sy kop en kyk nuuskierig oor sy skouer. Die mooiste swart vlegsels hang oor haar gesig, wek terugflitse van Johannesburg in hom op, dronk aande in Braamfontein. Sy kyk voor haar uit, na die ligte en bottels wat agter die toonbank blink, met ‘n selfvertroue wat hom nostalgies maak, vir iets wat hy nie kan herroep nie. Sonder om vir te lank te dink, vra hy in haar rigting: “Hi; sorry; this might be random, but are you from South Africa?”

Sy draai verbaas na hom toe, glimlag asof sy hom herken en sê: “Well, yeh. How did you …”

“Your braids, I think. Or your, um, confidence.” Sê-vra.

Kantel haar kop, selfbewus. “I’m impressed.”

“I’m Wynand.” Steek sy hand na haar toe uit.

“Zuki. Or Zukiswa if this becomes a job interview.” Glimlag speels, haar hand voel sag en warm in syne.

“So you’re really from South Africa?”

“Yes! I flew up from Joburg today. I grew up in Rustenburg and moved to Jozi four years ago.”

“I … that’s what I thought. Joburg.”

“Are you from Jozi? Pretoria?”

“Um. No, well … I grew up in Cape Town. Durbanville, Bellville. The northern suburbs.”

“Oh okay.” Haar oë wil meer weet, haar lippe trek oop en asem saggies uit.

“And I worked in Johannesburg for three years.”

“Okay. And you work in Paris now?”

“London, actually. For D3. I’m in audit, unfortunately. So no job interviews that you would want to have.”

Die enigmatiese glimlag, steeds. “So you helped the world go into recession?”

Hy lag, half-onseker. “Well … I can’t really take the blame … Powers beyond my control, you know…”

Sy vat aan sy arm. “Don’t worry, love. I’ve got friends in financial services. They’re all working in the States and Australia now. I know the spiel.”

Van diep binne sy bors, ‘n sug van verligting. Dan, “Can I buy you a drink?”

“Yes, please. Just a beer.”

“It’s a pity they don’t have Black Label.”

“You could ask them if they have.”

“My French is non-existent.”

“Don’t worry love, so is mine. I just look the part.”

“And I don’t?”

Hulle lag vir mekaar.

‘n Mooi meisie met donker hare en tattoes oor haar arms kom hurk voor hulle, haar wenkbroue verwagtend gelig.

Rynhardt buig vooroor, met sy elmboë op die taai toonbank. “Deux bières, s'il vous plait.”

Sy verdwyn onder die kroegtoonbank na tussen die yskaste, verskyn weer met twee biere in haar hand, wat sy met twee vinnige bewegings van hulle doppies verlos. “That’s eight euros, please.”

Hy oorhandig die rooibruin noot, wat sy vinnig in die kasregister stoot en twee koper-en-silwer munte voor hom neersit. Hy huiwer ‘n oomblik, beduie dan dis oukei, en kyk verwagtend na Zuki.

“It’s ridiculous, am I right. Thirty rand tips. Eish.”

“Ja. But we’re in Paris, right. Hashtag yolo or something.”

“Right. So, where are your friends?”

“They’re over there at the table. Next to the girls.” Hy beduie. “But don’t you wanna … and yours?”

“They’re still at another bar. They’re joining later.”

“So don’t you wanna …” Hy soek vir ‘n leë tafeltjie.

“Find a table?”

“Ja. Find a table.”

“Okay, yeh. What about there?”

Hy knik instemmend, volg haar verby die mense wat langs of op kroegstoeltjies sit of staan en vir drankies wag. Hy beduie oor sy skouer na sy vriende se tafel dat hy ander kant toe beweeg, Christo lig sy bier en skree iets onhoorbaar, hulle is in elk geval te dronk om om hom aan die tafel te mis. Onder die saamgeperste mense se bottelgevulde hande sien hy hoe haar vingers een van sy hande soek. Hy leun vooroor en sy lei hom na ‘n tafeltjie wat so pas onbeset gelaat is, hulle gaan sit weerskante van halfgedrinkte bierbottels en vuil servette.

“So you came here on your own?” Sy vingers val uit haar hand.

“The other place is just around the corner. I’m just not in the mood for a gay bar right now, you know what I mean.”

“Ja, I can … I know what you mean.”

Sy kyk na die deur se kant toe, dan na hom. “So what are you in Paris for?”

“Ag, just a weekend away. That’s the nice thing about living in London. You can do weekends away to Europe.”

Ha, lag sy, “That is tres lush!”

Hy glimlag skouerophalend. “And you?”

“Do you know the Mandela Washington Foundation?”

“Uuuh ... I think I’ve heard about it. Like a young leaders vibe?”

“Yes! I’m impressed. So, some of us were invited to a conference in Paris for tomorrow and Sunday.”

“Ag that’s cool.” Hy vat ‘n sluk van sy bier. “And where are you staying?”

“We got this big apartment on AirBnB. It’s super nice, actually.”

“Cool.” Vat ‘n sluk. “So I guess that means you’re politically very … active … um … conscious?”

Sy frons. “I suppose. But aren’t we all at the moment? Like, on the internet and everything.”

“Seker. Ek; I’m just confused about what that means, at the moment.”

“I see it as we all actively define our own consciousness, awareness, of issues everywhere. You know what I mean?”

Sy vingers voel sweterig op die taai plastiek tafeldoek. “I dunno. It feels like people are being forced to feel a specific way. Think a specific way. Which is weird, isn’t it? Like guilt being forced onto people on Facebook?”

“If you need to be informed, you need to be informed.”

“You’re right. I know. I’ve just never liked politics. I guess you could say it’s part of why I’m in London at the moment.”

“So what -”

“No offence, of course. I am in audit, you understand. Turn a blind eye.”

“So what do you like?” Leun vooroor, vat ‘n sluk van haar bier. Oë wat op hom gerig bly, uitdagend of belangstellend.

“Music, I suppose. And sport.” Hy knik. “But more music.”

“Oh, yeh?”

“Ja.”

“What kind of music?”

“Uh. Well. Punk music is, like, my heart music. But …”

“Haha, what, like Blink-182?”

Hy lag. “I did grow up with Blink, but no. Not in the last fifteen years. It’s more… I don’t think you’ll know any of it. Punk music isn’t really a … mainstream thing at the moment.”

“So you think I’m a mainstream girl?”

“I didn’t …”

Hy glimlag as hy sien dat sy vir hom lag.

“It’s interesting though. I didn’t even know it existed.”

“It’s very much alive, punk music. But that’s also the nature of the music industry at the moment, you know. You have this massive mainstream scene, but an equally massive underground or alternative or whatever scene, and the two don’t really speak to each other. Well –”

“Sounds like you know your scenes.”

Selfbewus, soos altyd as hy homself saam met ander moet groepeer. “I read Pitchfork like every day. This music blog. I used to hate it, they didn’t really like the music that I grew up with. But I get their vibe, what they’re trying to do. And I discover so much music, so much about music.”

“So what should I be listening to at the moment, then?”

“Um. Well. I don’t know what you’re into … but I’ve been listening to Blood Orange a lot lately, like this find. Do you know him? Dev Hynes.”

“Blood Orange? No, I don’t think so.”

“He wrote that song “Losing You” for So-lang. So-landge, I never know how to pronounce her name. Beyonce’s sister.”

“He wrote that song no way!”

“You’ll like it, I think. You … there’s something about the way you move your eyes that makes me think of a Blood Orange song.” Verwagtende glimlag. Weerloos in woorde. “Is that weird?”

Haar gesig vou oop in ‘n glimlag, halfskaam en vol belangstelling. “Tell me more.”

Smalend, “Yes, you’re … He always puts his women in the front, their voices, their … faces.”

“Sounds like someone to invest in.” Knipoog, of net sy verbeelding.

“Oh and Kendrick Lamar and Kamasi Washington. The jazz vibe, I really like that, this modern nostalgia.”

“Aaah, Kendrick! Love of my life, babez!”

“Beyond me. I really think the voice of our time.”

“Totally, right? I see Kendrick as the voice, as the anthem of all the movements at the moment, BlackLivesMatter and marches against police brutality, all of that that’s happening. This booming voice for justice, for the dignity of our people.”

“You’re right.” Minder meegevoer, wat sy dadelik optel.

“But you don’t agree?”

“I agree. I just don’t have an opinion about it.”

“Of course you do. I know you do, Wynand.”

“I’ve been asked not to have an opinion.”

“What do you mean?”

“It isn’t my conversation. You know what I’m talking about, Zuki.”

Sy sug. “It’s complicated, though. I don’t see you as …” Besorg, verboureerd? “There’s this Ta-Nehisi Coates quote … it’s … for another night. Let’s not go into this too deep. We’re in Paris, am I right. City of love. Not politics.” Sy kyk na haar bier, wat amper op is, dan na hom. “What I wanna know, Wynand, is why didn’t you become a musician or a music journalist or something, if you’re so into music?”

Dis ‘n glimlag vol konflik wat oor sy wange sny. “I gave up that dream long ago. It was never an option.”

“But that seems weird to me.”

“It was a different time. Different advice.” Hy sien hulle albei se biere is op. “Can I get us another round?” Hy skuif in sy stoel om op te staan en nog drankies te gaan koop, sy been stamp teen haar knie. “O, skuus.” ‘n Gloed pols deur hom, opwinding wat in sy bors saamtrek.

“Askiesie?”

Skreefsooglaggend, nou kalmer, “Askiesie, ja.”

Sy glimlag stralend, verlig. “Yes please.”

Hy staan op en beweeg na die kroeg toe. Sy haal haar foon uit, stuur ‘n boodskap vir Anesu. Wag vir ‘n antwoord, blaai deur twiets en Facebook updates. Kyk op as sy Wynand se stem hoor.

“So I bought us shots. I hope you like tequila.” Hy sit die klein glasies met een hand neer en die biere met die ander.

“I love tequila! How did you know?” Opgewonde glimlag.

Dan: “Grrrrrrrrlllllllll!!!!!!!!”

Sy kyk op. “Aaahh! The crew’s here!” Glimlagte wat by hulle aansluit, oorweldigende energie wat haar toevou in ‘n groepsomhelsing. “Guys! Guys!” probeer sy haarself loswriemel. “This is Wynand. Wynand: Abongile, Anesu, Fez and Joel.”

“Hi, nice to meet you. We’re gonna have to buy more shots, I think.”

“Aah I love this guy already, babe!”

Skaterlag wat weerklink.

“Okay cool let’s get drinks and try get a table outside.”

“It’s fucking cold outside.”

“That’s why we’re getting shots.”

“Okay okay.”

“Meet you guys outside?”

“Yeh.”

“Must we take these out with us?”

“Nana, we’ll buy and bring out.”

“Okay. So Wynand. To roots in Johannesburg.”

“To roots in Johannesburg.”

Hulle klink hulle glasies, sluk die tequila af. Hyg en neem slukke bier, glimlag deur tranerige oë vir mekaar.

“Okay, come.” Die ander is al kroeg toe. Sy vat hom weer aan die hand, hy soek sy vriende tevergeefs soos hulle by die deur uitgaan; hulle vind ‘n tafel buite naby die deur, gaan sit.

“Cheers.” Klink hulle biere.

“So … what do you do in Joburg?”

“I’m final year law at Wits.”

“Ah. Nice.”

“Where did you study?”

“Stellenbosch.”

“That makes sense. It sounds like quite a party, from what I’ve heard.”

“It’s a different place now to when I was there.”

“How –”

“All right, ladies and gentlemen. Time for another drink.” Abongile sit die houertjie met ses glasies op die tafel voor hulle neer. Elkeen vat ‘n glasie, hou dit voor hulle uit.

“To being alive, in 2015, in Paris.”

“Yes!” Weer klingel die glasies teen mekaar, en almal sluk hulle drankies af. Wynand en Zuki se oë ontmoet in die flits van ‘n halfglimlag, voor hulle hulle koppe agtertoe gooi.

Sy hand vou onder die tafel oor haar been, sy vingers streel oor haar binnebeen. Sy vou haar hand oor syne, draai na Abongile, “So how was Le Piscine?”

“It was nice, babez. You would have loved the time there.”

“Yeah. Such good music.”

“Nice bodies.”

“Dancing hipsters.”

“The people here, they’re so beautiful.”

“Je veux baiser tous vous!”

Hulle almal lag. Fez fluister iets in Anesu se oor. Hulle vat slukkies bier en kyk vir mekaar.

“So … can I roll us a joint?”

“Yesss.”

“Joel, have we ever said no?”

“No.” Ondeuende glimlag, haal ‘n materiaalsakkie uit sy leerbaadjie. “I have other goodies for later…”

“Wynand friend what are your plans for later?”

“My friends are drunk inside there.” Hy beduie met sy duim oor sy skouer. “They will probably want to drink and try to French kiss some French girls.”

“Me too, only, these French boys don’t know what’s coming at them tonight.”

“It’s a good place to be.”

“Preach, babe.”

“The night’s still young.”

“So many parties, so little time. And here we are.”

Onder die tafel speel vingers oor mekaar. ‘n Warm gloed tussen sy longe en sy bene.

“Okay it’s rolled, are we gonna go sit on the pavement, there’s a spot across the street there?”

“Keen.”

“Sounds good.”

“We can take our drinks with, this is Europe.”

“Thank Gawd.”

Hulle stap oor die straat, gaan sit in ‘n bondel op die sypaadjie. Joel hou die netjiesgerolde sigaret voor hom uit, brand die voorpunt tot dit egalig swart is en gloei. Hy neem ‘n paar trekke, stuur dit aan, hoes in sy hand agter sy skouer.

“So you’re all going to the conference tomorrow?”

“Yep, hungover as fuck, probably. But can’t think of that right now.”

Hulle almal neem die sigaret, vat trekkies, stuur dit al in die rondte. Luister na die aandmusiek van die straat.

“Isn’t it weird being here, you know, this moment?”

“It’s beautiful.”

Sy kyk nuuskierig na hom. “You talk less when you’re high right?”

Hy glimlag. “I don’t talk much. Ever.”

“That’s not true! You came up to me and started talking. You’ve been talking ever since!”

Haha. Hy lag. “Tonight’s an exception.”

“Are you emotional?”

“Am I under … what’s kruisverhoor … cross examination?”

“Haha, yes!”

“Very well, then.”

“So when’s the last time you cried?”

“The last time I cried? Yoh. Um. Oh. Ja. When I watched the SABC2 news, the last time I was home.”

“Yeh?”

“It’s … My grandmother used to watch 7deLlaan and the news every single night. Nothing else ever. And then the one night I was home and the intro song started to play … She died in February … I just …”

“That’s a beautiful memory … in a lonely kind of way … You know, how we ...”

“Ja, seker. And you?”

“Me? Uhm. Also at my gogo’s, actually, at her funeral. In September.”

“Really? That’s …”

“Sotho funerals are so … excessive … there isn’t really time to reflect … Music and singing and plates full of food … I went to sit on my own outside the tent, listened to the music in the background and remembered how much Gogo Thandi loved music. How she would just sit and tap her hand on her chair, move her head and her eyes to the music.”

Hy lig sy bier. “To the people who shaped us.”

Sy kyk na hom, deur klam oë. Fluister saggies "to the people who shaped us."

Klinkende verlang.

Hy vat ‘n sluk bier, sy kyk na die vuil sypaadjie.

Die stemme om hulle eggo in die strate af. Motors flikker en wiele draai, bande gly oor die teer.

“We gon’ be alright!”

“Do you hear me do you feel me?!”

“When you hear the next pop, the funk shall be within you!”

“High/er/than/a/mother/fucker/dreamin/of/you/as/my/lover!”

Haar hand beweeg in ‘n glimlag na hom toe, hulle skouers teen mekaar …

Geraas skeur oorverdowend deur die lug, ‘n donderslag soos twee wolke wat bulderend teen mekaar skuur, skote in die verte, soos vuurwerk wat knetter, die sypaadjie wat onder hulle bewe. Almal kyk op, hoog en verward na mekaar, probeer uitpluis of dit verbeelding of werklikheid is wat in geraas om hulle afspeel.

‘n Onseker glimlag wat gerusstelling in ‘n ander gesig soek, paranoïese oë wat opstaan en in die straat af kyk, alreeds die ysige waarheid besef het, maar wens en soek vir ‘n ander verduideliking.

Dan hoor hulle die gille, wat skreiend deur die aandlug weergalm, uit ‘n ander wêreld opgeroep, deur elke straat en mensehart, wat nou onheilspellend stiller klop.

Die hele kringetjie staan stadig op, staar in gespanne afwagting en ongeloof in die rigting waar hulle alarms en voetvalle hoor aankom.

‘n Bier word omgestamp en rol kletterend oor die sypaadjie, kom klinkend tussen hulle voete lê. Die eerste mense wat uit die donkerte verskyn, herken hulle in verlammende ongeloof as hulleself, jong lywe met dooie oë wat iewers na buite hulleself probeer vlug.

Die see van histerie word in groepies gestuit deur mense wat nou uit restaurante en woonstelle en kombuise stroom. Mense probeer sin maak, probeer mekaar in die verwarring verstaan.

Trane breek soos haelkorrels oor die teer. Gesigte, oopgeskeur in pyn, wat in gekromde holtes van skouers huil. Klere vol bloed, wat mense oor mekaar verf. Meeste moet gaan sit. Sirenes, gedempde gebrom, eggoënde stilte.

Vingers ontmoet, vervleg, arms, bene, polsende lywe, kom teen mekaar. Sy maak die stortdeur oop, klim in. Hy bly staan, versteen voor die glasdeur.

“Joh. Daai trane soos haelkorrels. Sê my, kon jy al na daai review notes kyk?”

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