The Traveller


UM … 12 more sleeps. 

You wake up smiling. Changing your Athens to Mytiline, Mytiline to Athens flights was easy peasy, one, two, three.

It didn’t cost a bomb, either, a paltry E10.

Thank you, Aegean Airlines. 

(Bow, and blow a kiss to the smooth operator.)

So far so good.

Much better than so far no good, which can happen sometimes and draw a cloud across a wrinkled brow, a woolly scalloped cloud.

It darkens the horizon.

Today though, Tuesday, has no shadow to eclipse its imminent glory.

It shines. It promises a chance to exercise jaw-grinding patience; there are queues ahead, today.

Drum roll. 

You submit to the demands of bureaucracy … you have to. You remember the word meek.

And think of Sybil MacMahon, who worked on the make-up counter at the chemist in King William’s Town.

You rent a room in her house for the last quarter of your matric year, the final year of high school, 1977.

She teaches you to make chicken casserole, to pour (and swallow) drinks and to light cigarettes for damsels in distress: you strike the match and light your own cigarette so as to gallantly inhale all the sulphur, then and only then — once the head of the match has burnt off and the wood is burning madly — only then do you offer it if to your eyelash-batting beauty.


You open the kitchen door for Sybil when you hear her car is in the driveway; you step out, take her coat (or a grocery packet or the cat food, whatever). She sighs all the way to sitting room and flops onto the sofa.

She eases off her shoes, all day behind the counter she stood,  you know.

Up goes the skirt,so she can peel off her stockings, then she loosens the hair that’s packed around her head.

It’s a style that’s bordering on beehive but not quite. Definitely unique.

She smiles at you there, leaning against the door jam.

Where’s that bluddy drink? 

Meek. You turn and pour whisky into a crystal tumbler. You hold up to the light.

It sparkles. Like today.










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