My Neighbour’s Wife
by Temba Magorimbo
Need I describe her to you too? She was short and stockily built with a good amount of lactation organs. I think she stood a metre fifty-five. Her weight was around seventy. Her behind were two moulds like those made of plastic for a fine art creation. She was attractive even though she was black in complexion. Not jet black but dark brown to be precise. She was an African like me.
I was fresh from moving in when I met her and her family. We shared a 4-roomed house that had a separate toilet and shower. It was hot before the rains. The authorities were conserving water. Maybe that was the reason they used to cover up for their inefficiency. After all foreign currency was rationed. They couldn’t buy enough water chemicals so they closed off water at any time. For political reasons water would be shut off in order for the general populace to blame the opposition which controlled the city council. Then when it happened, we had raw sewer gushing out. Water would start trickling in around 9 in the evening.
"My name is Christopher," I remembered telling her one time early in the morning. It was still dark outside.
"How are you mukoma Christopher?"
"Why are you up so early? It's barely 4 in the morning," I had asked.
"I have been doing my washing for the last two hours," she replied.
"How do you leave the other side of the house at 2 in the morning?" he asked.
"What else can I do when washing needs to be done and you know how these water cuts affect us," she had replied. The other side of my two rooms was a larger lounge and a bedroom. My side had a toilet and shower separately with a door leading to a kitchen and further on the bedroom.
That was how we shared. I was living on my own working at the local pharmacy as a pharmaceutical technician. Four years of college training studying hard, a year of looking for a job and here I was stuck with a pharmacy that paid peanuts. I just wanted the experience. Most of the gentry were heading towards South Africa. I guess if you look at the map of South Africa, it’s at the bottom of Africa. I guess that is why all the nations around it are contributing manpower towards the creation of the rainbow nation while their own services languish under bad governance. I was an early riser like her too. I liked to wake up early. Jazz was my favourite at low volume as I schemed through one fiction novel or another.
"Oh," I thought. "I will have to talk to your husband. Is he in right now?"
"Did you want to use the toilet?" she asked.
"Yes, thank you," he replied. She motioned him in while she went out. When he was through he came out and washed his hands.
"Did you say he is in?"
"No he goes to work at 0430 hrs," she replied. "I am alone with the two kids. Why?"
"I wanted to say we could arrange that you have a key to the door connecting the lounge and kitchen so that you can come in to fetch water, wash and bath if you have to do so between 2000 hrs and 0430 hrs because its dangerous being out there on your own. Furthermore the chill is coming."
"Thanks for the offer I will tell him." Barring would-be thieves from the passage leading to the toilet and shower was a burglar screen which was locked by a padlock.
Two weeks later I woke up. We had gone to bed without running water the previous evening. I looked at my watch. It was eleven thirty. I rose intending to go to the toilet. Without water the toilet would be a stench.
"Evening," she said in the kitchen. She had wrapped a brown cloth around her short body between the breasts and the upper thighs. She was taking water from a pot and pouring it into 25-litre containers.
"Evening. When did the water start coming in?" he asked.
"About an hour ago," she replied.
"Oh good," he returned into the bedroom for ballot paper on which he voted for nature. Ten minutes later he flashed the toilet enjoying the rush of water. She was still working.
"I will fill my 20-litre container after you have finished," he said.
"Go to sleep mukoma Christopher. I filled it and the 3 by 2-litre water containers in your fridge," she replied.
"Thanks. I shouldn’t worry you."
"Not to mention," she said. She was beautiful all right and she was a worker. He went in. On another day he used the toilet and came back checking the time. It was four forty-five. She came in from her lounge wearing a pink negligee. "Morning."
"Morning," he replied. "You are up already?"
"Far before you. I put water on your stove for your bath. As soon as you are ready."
"Thanks," he said. "Is he in?"
"Gone," she replied.
"I bought you a present. But you see, you are married," he had said.
"I love surprises," she replied.
"How do you explain it?" he asked.
"Come let me see," she followed him into his bedroom. He showed her a matching skirt and blouse.
"I bought it on impulse," he replied.
"Don’t talk to him about it," she replied trying everything from the outside. "You are a darling. What shall I do for you?"
"What you are doing is enough," he said. She hugged him. Her breasts were large and soft. When she released him, he let his hands touch their nipples. One thing led to another. Two weeks later he was used to waking up to her touch early as soon as her husband was gone. He was free on Saturday when he returned from work. The husband was outside reading a newspaper. He said his greetings before he came back to talk about soccer.
"Is your wife in?" he asked.
"My wife?" he asked.
"Yes," I had said. There was another woman who was tall, slender and built like Kristy Coventry.
"No, did you mean her?" he pointed at the tall one.
"I meant that short and slightly stout woman ……" he was at loss for words.
"Short and stout?" the man asked. "Ten days before you moved in my wife died of meningitis. She was a hard working house wife. I was derailed. How did you know her?"
"You know what it is like when you meet in the streets without knowing you will meet again. She died? How come I never heard?"
"You are hardly home during the day."
"My condolences, I always meet the two kids and you. I never asked where she was."
"She is late. May her soul rest in peace," he replied.