But seriously: The ravages of time

Johannesburg – It was the shoes; shiny and clunky that drew my attention.

They matched the fawn belt whose chunky buckle was weighing down his pants. How else would his pants look shorter at the back?

Up and down he went a few aisles until he finally came straight to the queue and found me at the tail.


With Covid-19, I find it much easier to take a giant step forward than to get up and then sit from point to point.

As he sat, he pinched the crease of his pants around the knees, revealing a pair of black socks with a diamond-shaped pattern in the same fawny colour of his shoes and belt.

The weather has been Mother City-ish in Tshwane these past few weeks. On this day, it necessitated a maroon pullover jersey on his part – the argyle-pattern making another appearance.

Only when he had sat down, did he look up to greet me. As I reciprocated his greeting, I was a little disappointed that he didn’t have a hat on. His chiskop was smooth with not even a single follicle in sight.

As the queue shifted; I took a giant step to the next marker, while he got up and then pinched his razor-sharp crease before sitting again. He asked if I lived around the area.

Asked if I also work around the area.

Asked if I had children. Asked my name.

It was only when he asked for my number, when I was approaching the head of the queue, that I realised that he was flirting with me.

I, then, for the first time in our conversation looked him straight in the eye.

It dawned on me that this gentleman is about my age. Or at least we are in the same age group.

Yes, time waits for no man.

I was saved by the LED display announcing the next available pharmacist.

Off I ran.

I did not look back, but I did take a good look at myself. I had on a pair of three-quarter wide-leg pants, a shirt dress and sneakers.

It is the type of outfit that only age gives you the confidence to wear in public.

And I suspect the gentleman knew that too – and saw that boldness that is the hallmark of his peers.

With the weather in the capital a bit nippy and my upper back tending to be the first point to feel the chill, I had thrown a red Shuka cloth over my shoulders and a satchel, in which you’ll also find a pair of reading glasses.

Yes, it is that time in one’s life when it is more important to be warm and comfortable – to peel off layers rather than shiver.

I had parted my Afro in two lines, Benny and Betty style. The gentleman and I were like two peas in a pod.

And then it all made sense. I’m “Dimamzo” at the garage. “Suster” or “Mommy” at the parking lot, “Khabazela”, “Makhi”, “my friend”, “Cuz”, “MaMkhulu”, etc.

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