I had some time to murder… I had some time on my hands, an hour inside of a morning and I love a good bookshop so inside I went with my hour casue a good bookshop is a time machine: Somewhere between the shelf lined walls minutes slip away, seconds deselect themselves from the line count and hours make their excuses and leave and only timelessness remains.
There’s a seated man in the corner. He should be in his mid sixties but he’s early fifties with wavy greying black hair and a stressed pinched face. One senses his hippy ideals long gone to the day-to-day business, of living. There’s a red hint of skin irritation at the crease between nose and cheek. “Nice bookshop” I say spilling my eyes over the shelves “thanks” he says “I like it” I detect an accent, English? “My father was” he says “like it here? ” he slides in the question.
I say I do I tell him how it is a complex place, to which he nods, but I like complexity I say. Complexity denotes a richness and depth of culture. I tell him how I don’t assume anything when coming to south Africa but I listen and learn. He nods “I’ll tell you something” he says. I feel he is about to impart wisdom . All his I-have-wisdom-for-you-flags are flying
I don’t know if this is something about certain white south Africans but I have noticed variously that when they communicate there is an assumption I must listen and not contribute. Is it the behaviour of those who benefited from apartheid? It is an unspoken language. For the next twenty minutes he talked gently but at me all the same. Time slipped through my grasping fingers as my eyes widened with wonder to mask shock… (cont)