A Dreaded Meeting

“You know what I’m going to miss when we leave Johannesburg?” Avianna asked Max one afternoon when they were relaxing in the living-room. He had gone home for lunch and had a few hours to kill before heading back to the hospital.

“What’s that?”

Knitting neighbors and nagging noises.”

“I’m not sure I understand what you mean.”

“Didn’t I tell you about our neighbors who are teaching women in the community how to knit as a part of FACES’ community development programs?”

“You may have.”

“Yes, it’s a wonderful way for women to learn a skill and earn money selling her work.”

“Yes, it is. You also mentioned nagging noises.”

“Yes, the noises of the vuvuzelas.”

“I actually like them. They make me think of the matches at the 2010 World Cup.”

“That’s where I think I first heard them and I didn’t mind them then but everyday, I hear it and it can be annoying.”

“But you said that you’re going to miss it.”

“Yes, I will. Strange, isn’t it?”

“Not really.”

“I can’t believe that in a couple of weeks, we will be flying off to London. Oh, by the way, my colleagues at FACES are throwing a farewell party on Saturday evening. Would you be able to come?”

“Where is it and what time is it?”

“It’s on the FACES premises and it’s at eight. If you can get by eight-thirty or nine, that would be great.”

“I should be able to make it for nine.”

“That would be great.”

He was going to be in Soweto with Jabulani. After he dropped her off at her house, he could go home, take a quick shower and head down to FACES and join Avianna.

“By the way, Sir Charles called me this morning. He was wondering if you and I would like to have dinner with him and Iris on Sunday. He said he mentioned that to you at the costume ball.”

“Yes, he did. I’m sorry I forgot to tell you.”

“It’s all right, Darling. I know how things can slip your mind because of how busy you are.”

He had completely forgotten to mention anything about Sir Charles to her. His mind had been occupied with other things–namely, Jabulani. They were lovers now and twice a week, they drove to that same hotel in Soweto where they first made love. Every time he returned home after their trysts, he was riddled with guilt because of Avianna but he couldn’t end his affair with Jabulani. It would continue when they were in London.

“So, what shall I tell Sir Charles regarding dinner?”

“Oh. Tell him, that we would be delighted.”

Avianna smiled. “I will call him this evening. Iris will be quite pleased. Sir Charles said that she was very disappointed that she didn’t get a chance to speak to you.”

He hoped that Sir Charles didn’t notice his and Jabulani’s hasty exit from the ballroom but just in case he did…”I’m afraid that I didn’t get a chance to speak to Iris because Jabulani and I had to leave rather suddenly.”

“Oh, really? Why?”

“Jabulani wasn’t feeling well. I took her outside and the fresh air seemed to help but she wanted to go home.”

“Oh, what a pity. At least she enjoyed some of the evening. Sir Charles mentioned how she was laughing as you and she waltzed.”

“Yes, she enjoyed the dancing.”

“Why wouldn’t she? She was waltzing with my husband who happens to be a terrific dancer.”

He smiled as he remembered the sparkle in Jabulani’s beautiful eyes as he whisked her about the dance floor and the radiance on her lovely face.

“I’m still very sorry that I wasn’t able to go with you. You looked very dashing in your uniform by the way.”

“Thank you.”

“What was Jabulani’s costume again?”

“She was a swan.”

“How lovely. As you know, Swan Lake is my favorite ballet. I would love for you and me to visit Votkinsk one of these days.”

“Votkinsk?”

“Yes, it’s the birthplace of my favorite composer, Tchaikovsky. I’ve always wanted to visit Russia. We can visit St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kaliningrad, Smolensk which is one of the country’s oldest cities and Yekaterinburg where the Romanovs were executed and Boris Yeltsin came to power. When in Moscow, we can go to the famous Bolshoi Theatre and enjoy an evening watching a ballet.”

He felt uncomfortable. She was always talking about the future and making plans but he couldn’t think beyond the present. His present was wrapped up in Jabulani. He couldn’t imagine going to Russia or anywhere else when he wanted to be where she was. He stood up. “I’d better get ready to head out,” he said quietly.

“You need a shave,” she remarked, studying his face. “Would you like me to do the honors?” There was a time in the early years of their marriage when she used to shave him.

“Perhaps another time.”

“I’d like to meet her one of these days,” Avianna said.

“Who?”

Avianna threw a cushion at him. “Jabulani, Silly. Who else?”

“Why do you want to meet her?”

“Sir Charles said that she was a very lovely and charming young lady. So, I’m very curious about her.”

“You’ll meet her in London–“

“Why wait until then? I say we have special luncheon for her and the rest of the sponsored students at FACES before we leave for London. I’ll arrange it first thing tomorrow morning.”

Forcing a smile, he said, “That’s a good idea.”

“I’ll let you know the date for the luncheon so that you can invite her for me.”

“Sure.” He excused himself and walked out of the room, the smile vanishing from his face. The last thing he wanted was for Avianna and Jabulani to meet.

Sources: New Scientist ; Britannica; Touropia

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