The Belly Diaries – The Crazies We Meet

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Lithakazi Mhaga

Lithakazi Mhaga

Belly and I had a pretty interesting day yesterday.

To clarify matters, Belly is the name I gave my huge gut when I was in primary school… (It was means to cu the bullying short and keep the fat jokes at bay.) Anyhow, Belly and I were minding our own business, walking up Parliament Street in Port Elizabeth when we were stopped by a strange looking fellow. Judging by the style he was rocking; a straw hat, grey coat, striped maroon and navy vest and white t-shirt with Mohamed Ali playing an electric guitar, blue jeans and sneakers. Anyone could have made the insinuation he was an artist. And so he was. This strange man who had stopped me mid-walk was in fact a Facebook friend. Someone I had never met in person and he recognised me from my FB pictures, he said.

“Cool bananas,” I thought. It’s not every day you actually meet a person whom you’ve only met virtually. So this man, Bongo Mei is his name, stopped me to chat. Unfortunately for him though I was on my way to see another friend (KK) at the time. But by virtue of him being personal friends with the father of my child, and because I had nothing better to, I agreed to chill with him and his mates at a local pub after coming back from my visit with KK.

Long story-short, I met with Bongo and Neo, Sam and Ntuthu, I watched them get drunk on a Monday afternoon while I sipped my grape juice and we chatted the day away, getting to know each other. Fun times, for the most part. I mean Belly and I got treated to a meal at Angelo’s, which I only ever went to when an old friend took me in 2006 for a morning birthday meal. Belly was most delighted when that plate of grilled pork chops with a side of green salad, hot chips and cheese and mushroom sauce were placed before her.

My taste buds were titillated by the array of flavors that shortly mingled in my mouth, and Belly was too welcoming to the filling feeling she got from the food. She had been complaining since morning that I should feed her, but my lazy self couldn’t bother with her. I mean I had things to do. Like, shop around for that killer graduation dress I’ve been stressing about and doing what jobseekers generally tend to do – job seek.
So there I was with Belly, Bongo and company, laughing at the nonsensical chatter we were making and reasoning out some other issues about a mutual friend. Suffice to say that belly had a great time, and so did I but the day had gone by without me achieving one of the important goals I’d set out to achieve for the day; I hadn’t gotten to the internet cafe yet… to get my CV out there, you know. I did find a dress though, at a cute little vintage wear shop a few feet away from the Nab’Ubomi Productions offices, were I went to see KK at work.

So Belly had fun, and so did I up until the point a drunk Bongo, who has a very big reputation about being a drunk, tried to put the moves on an extremely sober me. I was baffled! He’s friends with my ex!? He’s a drunk, ugly, unemployed visual artist and he thinks that only two months after splitting with my ex that I’ll want a man? And HIM to top it off? Oh no, home-girl don’t play that. So I ditched him and his friends after that, feeling very disgusted and puzzled. I went to the internet cafe, applied for some international delegate thingambob, that my friend, Loyiso, recommended I do. I did that then went off to a tiny Darfurian restaurant that sells food which I can’t even spell, but Belly loves to love. I bought us (Belly and I) a take-away meal.

While waiting for my order, the restaurant owner, a Darfurian actress wished me a Happy Ethiopian New Year. We shared a hug after she introduced me to her two gorgeous daughters, one is 7 and 7 months old and other is 7 months old. All the people in that place were dressed to nine’s, all jolly and welcoming to me; a foreigner to their culture. I felt special. These beautiful Africans were kind to me, and I kinda needed kindness after having an encounter with what turned to be a predatory character.

They gave me my order then I bought airtime and walked back to my flat. When I got home, I got out of my clothes and into my pj’s (the most comfortable clothing items known to man), sat in front of my laptop, played some Nina Simone and Norah Jones, enjoyed that meal (and trust me when I say Belly really did) and I later fell asleep while reading a book of short stories, safe and sound in the comfort of my broken bed.

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