Scandal !

22. April 2011 by Ludger

or        –               How not to make friends.

“How can THEY do THIS?” our neighbour’s domestic staff got asked when she came back to work for her employer the next day.

“THEY” are us, and “THIS” is the story to be told.

As told a while ago, we were lucky enough to meet Sol Rachilo, a writer and poet, co-founder of the Market Theatre, and a living history book.
Sol likes us very much, and so on Monday he called inviting us to a play in the Market Theatre. He called again on Wednesday, to make sure when and where to meet. Unfortunately Monique didn’t feel yet for theatre after her stay in the hospital. So she did call friends, checking whether they were spontaneous enough to step in. But all were busy or not reachable short notice.

So not to waste her ticket she did call Victoria, our neighbour’s domestic worker, and since the play was after her work hours she happily accepted. It was not only her first visit to Market Theatre, but her first to a theatre with live actors at all, and not a movie theatre.
We just entered the Market Theatre parking lot when her cell phone was ringing.

“Hello?” –
“…..” –
“I don’t know. I didn’t touch” –
“…..” –
“No, I didn’t touch.” –
“…..” –
“I just packed your bag for the travel”  –
“…..” –
“No, I can’t come, I am in town.”  –
“…..” –
“I am going to the theatre in town”  –
“…..” –
“I can look tomorrow.”
With the first tone of her cell phone I had a guess, but I was curious and so I asked Victoria who was on the phone. I got proofed true: Her employer looking for a cloth.
Walking to the theatre she shared some insights to her worklife, and these type of calls are common, whether it is in her after work hours and she staying in her room, or on her day off being with her kids in town, or even when she is on leave with her family in the Eastern Cape. And if she turns her cell phone off, they are cross with her.
We were early at the theatre, so we had a drink in the lobby – a Cappuccino for Victoria, a Grapetizer for myself.
Then Sol arrived – a red wine for him – and lots of hugging and laughing, and him sharing he recent experiences and the success of his new book. Victoria seemed overwhelmed entering a new world. Sol sharing memories from the early days of the Market Theatre, or encounters with Mandela in the sixties before Madiba got arrested, his own experiences with the system, taking Victoria’s hand (and mine) to make her feel the remainder of John Voster Square on his skull.

While the play (“Play me” – about how Indians came to South Africa) Victoria asked me whether I was able to turn off her phone. (Thanks to the wisdom of phone designers and the creativity of cell phone software engineers I wasn’t). It were her employers trying to reach her.

“How can THEY do THIS?”
Victoria’s answer: “Because they can!”

I suppose they will thank their lucky stars once we have moved out of the complex. But most likely live won’t be exactly the same as before we came here.

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