By Shameelah Khan
This is the kind of story that will only happen much later.
I was seated in my coffee shop with the newspaper in one hand and a steaming chai-latte in the other. I don’t remember much of that day except that you walked in and I was transported back to my twenties. You looked just like your father. I noticed that you were wearing his scarf, except that it had lost most of its colour. He had worn that scarf on the first night we met and on the day he had left me at the airport, never looking back.
‘Hi there.’ I said.
‘Hi, I’m Salim’s grandson. I don’t know if he ever mentioned me.’
‘Yes, he has but I recognised you the second you walked in.’
‘We all look alike. We get this reaction all the time.’
‘Let me get you some coffee or…’
‘A coffee sounds perfect. Thank you.’
You reached over and took four sachets of sugar and I sat with you for a bit.
‘You have a sweet tooth just like your grandfather. Whenever I made his tea, he would have so much sugar, it was as if I was adding tea to the sugar.’
You childishly giggled, blowing into the steam of the mug.
‘My grandfather was very fond of your father.’
‘I know… so was everyone who had ever met him.’
‘He said that he was the most amazing man.I wish I could have met him.’
‘The most amazing. You know he raised all of us, only females, with such tenderness and care. I always felt so much pain when my friends would talk about how absent their fathers were.’
‘He sounds just like my father. Did you know him?’
‘I did… but a very long time ago. Just briefly… but he left the country before your grandfather and my dad became friends. But we heard about him at the dinner table… is he well?’
‘Yeah, my father loves Canada. Him and my mother are teachers over there and we live on this farm… it’s really pretty because we are surrounded by nature which my father loves. He said that he won’t ever leave.”
‘Your father sounds like he turned into a great man.’
‘Yeah- maybe one day we’ll all come and visit your coffee shop. Who knows?’
Once you had left, my heart sank into a deep silence- as it always did whenever your father came to my mind.
I wondered then if my father had carried with him secrets of love. Secrets that got buried. Secrets like the ones that have stayed with me. All these years. Secrets that we have never shared with each other.
But this is the kind of story that will happen much later…
Odd magazine is celebrating its Third Anniversary.
This issue is dedicated to all of those who have given to us their secrets and their stories of love and loss and who will continue to do so in the future.
In this issue:
Father of the nation – Kgabo Mohlamme
lines for you – Zama
Kind of blue – Zaki Mlaba
Our gods do not speak English – Adeniyi Stephen
Holes – Pheletso
My Father – Melissa Sussens
date night with android xvii – Nkateko Masinga
on the cold side of you – Joshua Nkwana
April 1992: A Recollection – Daniel Noh
Kill A Mockingbird – Melissa Fortuin
My father’s hands – Basetsana Maluleka