Assassination of Pride

IT WAS A blustery cold Sunday morning when Sylvia pulled the curtains of the sliding door to their sixth floor Yeoville apartment. She had a novel on her hand as her eyes were quickly scanning the page. As the cold breeze flowed in, she shook a little, "kill a kaffir's pride and you have eliminated in it the ability and willingness to realise that black can indeed be beautiful", she shouted. There was a pregnant silence. Somebody coughed.
"Who said that to whom and why?" Melusi, her live-in-lover asked, swallowing his breakfast of cornflakes and milk. The second man in the room passively responded.
"It must have been Verwoed or Andriaan Vlok, to his friends during a boerewors, as a way of saying that black people are not proud of themselves", Edwin said. The two lovebirds stared at him, Edwin did not have a brain and the sentiments sounded straight from a textbook.

MELUSI, EDWIN AND Sylvia were three young people caught up in the spiral web of fast living in hippy Yeoville. Melusi was a twenty-four years old aspiring guitar player with a group called Way Back 50s. His friend, Edwin worked as a teller at a local branch of the National Bank. He had his life ahead of him at just twenty-five years of age. Sharing the fast life was Sylvia, a twenty-seven years old nurse at General Hospital who fell in love with Melusi after his performance at The Arena eight months earlier. They'd been inseparable ever since. The two men previously lived in Hillbrow but when Melusi met Sylvia, together they shared an undying passion for art. Then they moved to the famed Sunset Boulevard of South Africa, Honey-Rockey Streets.

THE FOLLOWING EVENING, after a boring day at the bank, Edwin parked his car at Quartz Street in Hillbrow. His eyes gazing lustfully at the whore that was approaching his car. He bit his lower lip and ran his tongue across it. Smiled. "Hi darling" he whispered. Bending over, the whore responded, "Hi sweetypie". Like a man used to his trait Edwin enquired, "What can you do for me?"
"The full house" she said. He acted as if he did not understand the jargon.
"What's a full house?"
"You know, the regular loverboy, the exotic massage, the blow job and you know" the expert whore recited the verse like she'd done millions of times before.
"I know what?" he exclaimed and paused, "do I get the real thing?"
"Depends on what you mean by the real thing"
"I mean a f__k?"
"Everything goes loverboy" she smiled, running her own hand on her red-penciled lips.
"So what kind of money are we talking about?" Edwin jerked his car door, held the whore's hand and disappeared into the entrance of the inn. An hour later, R50 poorer, he walked out.

MEANWHILE AT THE apartment Melusi was busy scripting a song on his book. In his left hand he held a spliff, steady puffing on it as he shook his dome, scrubbing it, releasing his frustrations on the small desk he hoped to carry to Sandton one day. Minutes later he put the music book on a stand and grasped his bass guitar. He ran his fingers on the strings and a melody echoed. He paused, took his pen and arranged the keys. Then he played it again, the melody came out and he started jamming his head. He was interrupted by the opening of the door as Edwin walked in, "Something smells good," he shouted.
Melusi stopped playing and stared at him angrily, "Can you please shut the f__k up and let me do my thing. First time you smell a spliff smoke?" Edwin smiled, put his jacket on the couch and lifted the television remote controller.

AN HOUR LATER they reconciled over dinner. Melusi was devouring the pasta with zest while Edwin kept on prodding it with his fork and whistling jovially. Melusi paused and looked at him, "Somebody's happy today" he enquired. Edwin lifted a fork full of pasta to his mouth, he chewed and swallowed, then smiled. "Mel-man, did you know that something bought tastes twice than something given"
"What are you getting at Ed-man?" Melusi asked, pouring himself a cup of coffee.
"I mean, like bought bedmates give more freaks than in-house Sylvies" Edwin fumbled. Melusi narrowed his eyes, "Don't talk about Sylvie like that"
"Okay wait, where is she now?"
"Work, you know she's working the night shift" Melusi defended his girlfriend.
"Sure, who knows, maybe some other doctor who also works the night shift is busy working her, as his night shift" he went on. The conversation became too disturbing for Melusi, he signaled Edwin to kill it. With reservations Edwin did, finished his food and poured himself a cup of coffee. Together they went to the living room and watched TV.

AT SEVEN O'CLOCK the following day Melusi was awakened from a sweet dream by Sylvia. She was still dressed in her white tunics and a maroon jersey. Poking at his shaven head Melusi opened his eyelids idly, "Who's this?" he enquired. Sylvia bended over to kiss him. "I'm the kiss from the nightingale". He was quick to rub his eyes, grasp Sylvia and let her fall on the bed. He undid her jersey as she sat squatting over him.
"I'm gone!" a voice came from down the passage. It was Edwin.
"Do I have the keys to the tunic?" Melusi asked, reaching for her top button. She blushed, he faked a frown, held her head and kissed her. They fell into uncontrollable passion and made love.

AT 8H30, THEY were sitting together on the balcony, Sylvia was in shades while Melusi was smoking his spliff, arranging the music on his pad. They were talking about their future. Melusi confided in her that his music group, Way Back 50s had been offered a music contract and they were going to start recording in a month's time. "Oh, that's great news, when will those recordings be?"
"I suggested that they should be scheduled for evenings so that you and I can get to do a night shift" he murmured. Sylvia was proud of her man and it was showing. She went into the kitchen and came back with a cup of coffee and a glass of orange juice. He offered Melusi the coffee. They knew everything looked as if it was going to turn out very fine for them.

BEFORE SHE LEFT for her job in the afternoon Melusi called Sylvia to the living room. She was already dressed in her uniform and ready to leave. She kept on peeping at her wristwatch. "What is it darling, I'm getting late" she protested.
"It's a song I wrote specially for you," he said grasping his guitar and fumbling the keys. Two minutes elapsed.
"Can't it wait for tomorrow darling?" Sylvia asked
"No, it can't wait" Melusi, now sweating, shouted. At the end it had to wait.

SOON HE ARRIVED at Time Square where there was a bar he always played at on Tuesday evenings. Budging in the filled bar he soon recognised Edwin with a bunch of friends. He approached their table and sat down. They offered him a drink, he refused, "some of us have to work sober for our money you know"
"Oh s__t" the bunch cussed.

THE PERFORMANCE WAS outstanding, the song, an immediate classic and the crowds loved it. It was at the peak of the ecstasy that he announced to his die-hard faithfuls that they had obtained a recording deal and that they will soon be heard on disc. The announcement was news to Edwin too, who was too drunk at the time to can cause a scene.

ARRIVING HOME AFTER eleven o'clock, Edwin wanted an explanation. He went straight for the fridge, poured himself a glass of soda water and gulped. Then he brewed himself strong coffee, came down and sat on the couch. "What is this, this nonsense of me having to hear the good news with the rest of the world- brother!"
"I'm sorry, I wanted to tell you yesterday but the way you talked a lot of s__t about Sylvie, you pissed me off" Melusi responded, lighting his spliff with a plastic lighter.
"Okay Mel-man, so your dreams came true, you'll be a star now, so you won't be giving no f__k about no down a_s brothers like me" Edwin played out his paranoia. Melusi, spliff in hand, took to his feet and poured himself a cup of coffee. "Eddy, do you ever dream?" he asked apologetically.
"F__k that question, of course I do"
"What are your dreams?"
"I dream of a world without violence, about the whores of this world giving free... you know what" he fumbled.
"Sure, those are shallow, mine are deeper than that, that's what sets us apart man. We're different, I'm an artist, you're a would-be executive, I'll never be that. Goodnight Eddy" he said, as he realised that Edwin was not listening but had passed out on the couch. He closed the door behind him and disappeared into his bedroom.

MELUSI SAT PLAYING his new tune on the balcony when Sylvia budged in at 7h00. He turned to look at her. She looked more attractive than the day before. He advanced towards her with his guitar handy. He hugged, kissed, held her hand and gently pulled her to the living room. He commanded her to sit on the couch, "Let me play your song for you"
"No darling, I'm drowsy today and I just need to lie down" she responded, taking to her feet. Melusi was dumbstruck as she made for the bedroom. He shook his head and lounged back on the couch.

A WEEK LATER Sylvia overheard Edwin trying to get Melusi to experiment with whores. She knew Edwin did it all the time and that he did not have a girlfriend. She also knew that he once had a girlfriend, they broke up under painful circumstances and for every minute ever since he'd been wondering what she's doing with her life without him. It was not like they broke up, their relationship came to a time when she had outgrown him and he had to let go of her. It was hard but he did it, and he'd never regretted that action ever since. But he'd cried everytime he thought of her. Even whores, whose skills at having sex were unparalleled failed to take her place. And for Sylvia hearing Edwin trying to get Melusi to experiment with the queens of freak was bad. She appeared on the living room with a juice tray on her hands to disrupt the indecent conversation.

A WEEK AFTER recording started, Melusi and Sylvia met in the basement as they both came from their overnight shifts. Melusi was stressed and it was showing. Smoking on his spliff he held his girlfriend in his arms and kissed her. It was never sweet anymore, they both needed sleep.
Entering the flat, guitar on one hand and the other holding Sylvia they met Edwin walking out to his day job at the National Bank.
"Coffee for you?" Sylvia asked Melusi as he fell on the couch, gasping for air.
"No, I just want some sleep". Sylvia knew Melusi liked coffee to go with his spliff. She shook her head, took off her jersey and poured herself a cup. Melusi took to his feet and made for the bathroom.

FIVE MINUTES LATER he walked out feeling fresh, he wanted coffee. Sylvia was nowhere in the living room. He went to the bedroom to apologise for his unbecoming behaviour, she was already asleep. He shrugged, took off his clothes and slept beside her. For thirty minutes he just stared at the empty ceiling.

AS THEY BOTH awoke at 15h23, they made up their differences over a cosy adventure. Head rested on his chest Sylvia spelled out her fears to Melusi.
"I hate it when Eddy's loose cannon lifestyle interferes with out relationship. I think we shouldn't have moved in with him in the first place"
"Babygirl don't bother with this punked out brother. I get it when you say we should find our own apartment, but I think once my LP comes out, we're moving to Midrand" Melusi said, stroking her back.
"Can you promise that?"
"You can take it to the bank"
"When shall that be?" Sylvia asked, concerned and making sure it was showing.
"When you start having faith in your man. I need it Sylvie" Melusi said, pulling out of the sheets.

EDWIN MADE ONE mistake after the other. The worst was when he was lost in simulated passion for a price with his favourite Quartz whore in a steamy battle of the anatomies. The whore came to love Edwin, "But, but, but where do you get all the green to sponsor your appetite? Are you an tycoon or something?" she whispered.
"I am" Edwin gasped.
"But your addiction is way too big for your wallet, why don't you rather order it, instead of coming here all the time?" she asked, eyes shut.
"Is it possible?"
"Absolutely, maybe then you can get to open the safe once in while for a mistress," the whore said, sending his temperature to the highest degree Celsius.
"I don't have a safe, I just take it at the counter" Edwin said, and immediately lost his excitement. For Pete's sake he had told her that he stole money from the bank to pay for his pleasures.

ARRIVING HOME, MELUSI and Sylvia were long gone. He was disturbed, he had finally admitted to stealing. But his consolation was that it was to a freak-queen, harmless creature that hears millions of stories every month.

MELUSI'S RECORDING SESSIONS were nearing their end and their last song was going to be recorded live at Kippies. He needed Sylvia to be there. Spliff in hand he paced the living room. "But we are a family, we should support each other. Eddy I support you, I pay your salary because I use your bank. Darling Sylvie I support you because I get sick often and use your hospital. Now tell me good people, how do you support me?" Melusi asked, staring at Sylvia and Edwin playing dominoes.
"I, I, I'm always there when you play at Times" Edwin bailed himself out. Melusi's stare shifted to his lover of twelve months. Sylvia shook her head, "What can I say, I love you" she muttered.
"That's not enough, try to be by my side tomorrow. Final recording, please" he said taking another puff at his spliff.

MONDAY EVENING HE remained in the Kippies precinct after the recording, waiting to see if Sylvia was there. She was not there, only Edwin lent his support. An hour later they called a cab and left for Yeoville.

IN THE MORNING he was in the kitchen eating scrambled eggs and drinking iced tea when Sylvia walked in from her night shift. She suddenly reached out to hug him, Melusi pulled away. "But darling why?" she enquired, apologetically.
"Yesterday I played Kippies, Sylvie you were not there. I told you I need your support" Melusi blasted
"Who were you with?" she enquired regretfully.
"It was me, my spliff and the one person you are trying to separate me from" Melusi responded, pouring the iced tea into a flowerpot and walking towards the coffeemaker.
"I try hard to support you, I was working night shift, as always. But it's gonna be okay one day", she said.
"Let's hope" he paused, "you know, sometimes I can't help but think that maybe Eddy's right". She shook her head and shed a tear.

THAT EVENING, WITH the recording completed and Sylvia off her night shift, Edwin sat playing TV games while the two lovebirds were making up in the bedroom. Soon they budged into the living room holding hands.
"Oh s__t, spare me the blue stuff" Edwin protested.
"Ah, we forgot to tell you, we are working on a new creation, a baby" Sylvia bragged. Edwin' s mouth sagged, he licked his lips, "When are you planning this, big creation you are yepping about?"
"Nine months from now. See Ed-man, when we have a little kid of our own we can then decide to move out and start somewhere" Melusi seconded, lighting his spliff. Sylvia disappeared into the kitchen and came back with a tray full of dinner, boiled macaroni with tuna fish, served with brown rice. Edwin looked at the meals, he knew no whore will cook for its date. He poured himself a glass of pineapple juice and asked.
"You always yep about moving out, why do you need to move out. We family this here"
"Forget that Ed-man" Melusi paused, standing at the balcony, looking down Honey Street, "when do you and your anonymous girls plan to bring a life into this world?" Sylvia anticipated the response, tension built. "Look here, you two listen carefully. I ain't gonna bring no child into this world because there's nothing good in this world for it" he muttered, sounding straight from an English textbook.
"But there is a lot of good for you?" she asked, picking her plate.
"Yeah, you bet"

THE ARGUMENT ABOUT moving out of Yeoville and staying became a burning issue in the house. The situation was not even helped by the coming of booked whores at the place. Edwin said it was un-African, Melusi said it was liberal while Sylvia said it was everybody's right to move.

A MONTH LATER every jazz lover was playing Way Back 50s but Melusi was still living in Yeoville. One Sunday afternoon he and Edwin went to the park to give Sylvia space to prepare their dinner. They knew when they returned she'd be long gone to work. They found a bench and sat down. Parents and their children were everywhere on bonding sessions. "Ed-man if I hit the big time, I'm gonna be moving out of this bitch. Know what I saw today, my drummer just got killed in Braamfontein" he said, almost whispering. It was hurting him and Edwin could see.
"Mel-man no, why?"
"It seems the sucker was brave enough to buy a bee em in this ghetto. And you know how it goes, blam, blam, and he's no more"
"What was the motive?" Edwin asked. There was a moment of silence.
"I just said he bought a bee em, probably it's already in a chop shop somewhere" Melusi,
for the first time since Edwin knew him, shed a tear.

THE FOLLOWING MORNING Edwin did not go to work, he did not inform them that he had been suspended pending an investigation into financial irregularities at the National Bank. He said he was off duty. Just as Melusi, spliff in hand was playing his favourite song, Sylvia walked in, weary from a whole night of work. "Hi darling" she screamed.
"Hi" Melusi responded, lifting his cup of coffee.
"Hi Eddy"
"Hi darling" Edwin responded, Melusi lifted his eyes and smiled.

OVER BREAKFAST MELUSI was still angry about the death of his drummer. He did not eat, noticing that everybody was observing him, he quipped, "There's something I've been dying to get off my lungs for a long a_s time" he paused, "some of us here ain't supporting one another, morally". He lit his spliff and took to the balcony. Edwin mockingly asked, "Who is he referring to?"
"If the shoe fits, wear it" he echoed from the balcony.

TWO WEEKS LATER, following a night whereby Edwin brought a whore into the house, Melusi and Edwin were sitting at the park. He was a star now as everybody recognised him and came over for his autograph. After five minutes of intense silence whereby they just stared at the schoolchildren in uniform who were playing at the swing, Melusi spoke. "Ed-man, we're moving out of the apartment. Your lifestyle is f__king us up and we're going to Sandton" his voice was cold. Edwin didn't first believe he was really hearing it, seconds later after it sunk in, he frowned.
"So Tupac Shakur was right, being real don't appeal to the brother in you" he fired his first salvo and paused, "everybody was right about toy soldiers like you. You are only ready to fight when there is no war and when it breaks out you jump to the next Oppenheimer". Melusi faked a smile.
"Where is the war Eddy?"
"The everyday struggle my brother, homelessness, poverty, unemployment and crime. We want you to fight alongside us"
"But I outgrew that, you should appreciate me" Melusi reasoned.
"Outgrown or not, you're still black. Look at these kids here, they know you, they want to see a success story. They want a role model, someone they saw in the gutter and who later made it. They want you" Edwin said, almost from his heart.
"Pause there Ed-man, is this genuine concern for the young ones or is it jealousy? Since when did you become a campaigner for children's rights?" the sarcasm fell.
"Since you hit big time" the second salvo went up.
"Tell me here Ed-man, if your financial position allowed, were you going to stay blazed up in this bitch?" the question was solemn.
"I'm real, too bloody real".
"I don't believe you, you f__ked your life and your money, we never had any agreement that we were gonna stay in the ghetto for life" Melusi was getting angry.
"So you say white man" Edwin protested sarcastically.
"Ed-man, don't act like we own the ghetto, black people don't own no ghetto, white people do. We're just the clean stuff inside the dirty cans", he went political. There was a pregnant silence. Melusi turned to look at him.

A MONTH LATER a removals truck was parked on the entrance of the basement. The two lovebirds were finally leaving. In the sixth floor Melusi, Edwin and Sylvia were going through their last lap of black consciousness. With Melusi in the bedroom, Sylvia was carrying her last load of furniture. Edwin was standing at the door, he blocked her way. "Sylvia, Melusi is a very lucky son-of-a-bitch to have you". Sylvia just stared at him and smiled. She walked out.

A MINUTE LATER Melusi, a box of old demo tapes and books in his hands approached the door, Edwin didn't make an attempt to stop him. Melusi looked at him, gave him a warm hug and smiled. "Au revior comrade" he echoed. He pulled out a copy of his LP from the box and handed it to him, "This is my ticket out of the ghetto, and this is your last chance to plan your way out". Edwin frowned. Melusi turned to leave, Edwin coughed, "Kill a kaffir's pride and you have destroyed in him the ability to see that the ghetto can indeed be rehabilitated" he echoed.

MELUSI LOOKED AT him, spliff in hand, smiled and walked out the door. "We'll come and visit sometimes" he said. Edwin smiled, he knew he was moving out too as he'd just been reprimanded by the bank for fraud. He was going back to Soweto.

Author: Goodneough Mashego

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