It had been days since I had sent the letter. And still no reply. I had to tell myself “it takes nearly a week for letters to reach the local router, let alone the international one.” I still had at least a month to wait before the letter even got to her. That was not even taking into account her reply. Long distance relationships are an exercise in patience. I had thought I was a patient man, but this was and is beyond me.
For the thirteenth time that day I walked to the post office to check my mailbox. I knew it was futile but I had to act. It wasn’t everyday that you ask a woman to marry you. The wait was killing me!
“You know the procedure, it will take another month before you get a letter back, so relax go to the bar, play some music, keep yourself busy”: the unsolicited advise from the clerk at the post office.
We had become fast friends ever since my arrival in the small town of Hotazel 9 months ago (once Hot hazel, seems someone had felt breathing in for second “h” and it had. If only the “h” had stuck” ). He was a tall thin man, with droopy red rimmed brown eyes and a nose that looked like a pecan beak trying to break through a film of silk. He had thin bloodless lips, that looked as if they would crack if he ever dared to smile. His long gangly arms and legs made him look more like a marionette than a human. I had been cautious on first meeting him, expecting him to be a pain to deal with. That all changed the moment he laughed. It had been nothing too funny, I had pronounced his name Kobus Van Der Merwe incorrectly. He had laughed with a carefree, childlike glee and appreciation that I had also started to laugh myself. We were friends on the spot.
He wasn’t the only contradiction in the blisteringly cold town of Hotazel. The town itself was a contradiction. Due to its population and location it was considered a small town. That was not the feeling one got when you enetered the town. The first thing you would see were the four glass pyramids right in the centre of the town. I was told they were made to scale and position as the pyramids of Giza. I was also told they were the reason no signal could reach Hotazel. Kobus had tried to explain but lost me at cellphone tower. All I could imagine was repunzel standing atop a spire of Nokia cellphones. I had expected them to be a museum or exhibition hall or a theater. I always imagined the acoustics in a pyramid to be quite excellent. I was told they were office buildings for the now defunct glue factory.
The city was peppered with pristine parks and manmade streams. It looked like the retirement village that the residents forgot. Well that was the day, at night the town came alive there was a street leading away from the pyramids where you could get any kind of entertainment you wished, from pub crawls to expensive lounging and dining to ladies of questionable morals. The pinnacle of the night though,were the 10 high power strobe lights that were shone on the pyramids at midnight every night. They shone a rainbow of colours into the pyramids which then combined the colors and formed four distinct columns up into the night sky. I had asked Kobus why this was done every night. “It’s the witching hour, we have to show our angels the way to the town so they can protect us for another day.” That wasn’t even the strangest thing I had heard in Hotazel. The strangest thing I had heard was…. Wait I’m getting ahead of myself.
Thato Mabena was always at the “Illumination Event” as it was called. A huge burly tattooed man, Thato had a reputation for giving the best hugs and being easy to wound. Everyone loved him. He was one of my pillars in dealing with being in love with a woman thousands of miles away from me. He always showed up at the right moment, with some inspirational quote on love and peace and how it is important to make the effort and give your all. I had moments when I would nearly falter in my resolve. But there he was in his short shorts, and muscle top, his dreads fixed in a tight bun on his head, showing off the diamond studded ears. That of cause would bring attention to his neck which looked thicker that a 1000 year old oak. But that was just Thato, construction cables for arms, a concrete block for a torso and then popsicle sticks for legs. He was a devout believer in the pyramid and angel myth. Once i heard an outsider told him angels weren’t real. Instead of the expected and much deserved liquefying of the strangers face, Thato’s eyes had instead started tearing up, he couldn’t hold back the tears and sat down right there in the middle of the intersection and started weeping. It took the fire truck to pull him out of the intersection after an hour of begging and pleading.
“You know she has another man in her town, don’t you?” that was the snickering remark by the post office manager, Sipho Dlamini. “ You should find yourself a nice girl here in Hotazel( he pronounced it Hot as hell). I had thought he would be the nicest person in the whole community. I was so wrong! His long white fluffy beard, rotund body and genial features hid his deep dark personality. It was only after I saw his eyes that I saw the kind of person he was.
Looking into his eyes I could see pools of avarice, temptation, lust and sadism. He took joy in seeing my downcast face after a month of not getting a reply from my love. He had even called his niece in one time so I would see her. With the skirt and top she was wearing I could tell imagination wasn’t a skill she cultivated in men. I was told she was a really good girl who never even went out at night. She seemed to believe clothes were an unfortunate cumbersome chore, so she wore as little as possible. This was a feat in itself in Hotazel a town where a day with -5 degrees celcuis weather was considered a pleasant summer’s day. I made sure to steer as far was from those two as possible.
It had been 6 weeks since I sent my marriage proposal, and still no reply. I woke up, made my morning tea, read the newspaper. I wasn’t really reading it, it was just a habit, my mind still couldn’t get over the anticipation of the letter. I had gone to the post office about a thousand times. Every time I would walk into the office hopeful with a smile on my face and would walk out looking like a 9 year old after a whole day of window shopping and not getting a single toy. But this morning was different. I knew she would have replied by now. I knew it deep in my bones. Her letter would arrive today. Most of her letters took about 6 weeks to get back. Today marked exactly 6 weeks since. Today would mark the beginning of a new phase in our lives. We would get married and she would move here and we would be happy.
I walked into the post office, with a cloud of joy that encompassed everyone. I even smiled and joked around with Sipho. I had laughed and sang my way down main street. I even made a mental note to explore the pyramids, after all no one used them anymore, they would make an excellent location for my love and I to have our wedding. “It arrived”, was Kobus’ excited greeting. He was holding out the envelope. I ripped it out of his long bony fingers. He was left holding a piece of the envelope as I was shredded the envelope trying to get to the letter.
“I’M SORRY, I CAN’T MARRY YOU. I’M PREGNANT”