HER HEART : The Series By Thembie L. Ndlovu {LUCILLE}

Chapter Three


  • It’s a full week before schools open and Lucille spends it confirming vacancies, and purchasing uniforms and stationery. It’s an opportune time to mentally confirm which people actually live in the area as she looks at the faces in the stationery stores. Whilst she is not particularly ready to make and acquaintances, she feels the need to mentally familiarise herself with the locals. 

At the local Pick n Pay she briefly bumps into Mangaliso and Nandi, but they all quickly go about their business considering that they hardly know each other for lengthier small talk. However,  it’s at this point that Lucille notices Mangaliso’s soft, wide smile, which easily draws anyone who makes contact with him. It’s his best facial feature, followed by his eyes, and it’s visible that he knows it too. Nandi definitely gets her vibrant expressions from her dad. 
As Lucille turns her corner to the  next isle she glances back to find Mangaliso intently gazing at her, to which she quickly turns her head and focuses forward. She is embarassed at being caught but also amused that she caught him too. She smiles with the corner of her mouth and says under her breath, ‘too bad he is a whole decade younger than me. And anyway, I wouldn’t go there,’ she thinks naughtily. 
Later, in her new home, Lucille works on the children’s uniforms and alters them for size. She goes through the requirements lists and makes a couple of mental notes on items that can only be purchased at the school thrift shop. It’s Thursday and she is proud of herself for being quite the organised mom.

—–

The sun has just set and supper is ready to be served when they hear a knock on the back kitchen door. Nkosana, who considers himself the man of the house, immediately jumps up and opens the door without hesitation. He looks back and with childlike glee announces, ‘It’s DMarco!’, as Mangaliso is popularly known in his craft. Lucille gets up and extends an invitation for him to come in, and at that, little Nandi runs in loudly shouting, 

‘Hie Aunty, please can I have something to drink?’ 

‘Hay’ Ma’an!’, responds an embarassed Mangaliso, to which Lucille insists she doesn’t mind and opens the fridge handing Nandi a small boxed fruit juice. The little girl squeals in delight and runs to the couch jumping onto it and relaxing as one in her own play pen. Mangaliso grimaces in further embarassment, and Lucille chuckles. 

Ntokozo takes out her phone and snaps what she thinks is a discrete selfy with DMarco in the background, and captions it, ‘Day made! 🏽🏽🏽Celebrity in my house!’
‘Would you like to take a seat?’ Lucille invitingly gestures towards all the free seating throughout the floor and Mangaliso obliges settling for the bar stool at the kitchen counter. He is a nervous wreck and can’t wrap his head around why, but his artistry at performance allows him to hide it expertly.
But with everyone sitting at the dinner table he apologies for disturbing. 

‘I had just come to invite the family to the once off mini festival that will held tomorrow night. It will be held on the adjoining beach area, and I thought that it’s the best place to get to know the people in the town.’ 

Lucille stares at him, not quite listening, just amused at herself for having so much interest in this young man, something she had never allowed herself to do since she and Sam had started dating all those years ago. 

By now Ntokozo is loudly begging her mom to say yes and so, unwillingly, Lucille is forced out of her enjoyable thoughts. 

‘Umm, yes sure, I suppose it wont hurt much, will it? How do we get there?’

Mangaliso is quick to respond. 

‘No, don’t worry, I will pick you up at 6pm.’ 

An awkward silence comes between them as Lucille is taken aback. 

‘I’ll drive ahead of you, ofcourse,’ he involuntarily adds. 

It’s been a while since she’s had any kind of male assistance in her life and so for a moment she confused his offer for more than it was. She kicks herself at her naiivity and hopes he didn’t notice it. Its amazing how a soon to be forty year old can suddenly be a preteen in the face of unfamiliar territory.  So, for the sake of her sanity, Lucille deliberately brushes off Mangaliso’s offer as neighborly kindness.
—–

As Friday evening approaches the house is filled with excitement as Ntokozo puts on her 4th outfit and walks through every room, trying to get its ‘feel’. She finally decides outfit number 5 is the one – faded blue skinny jeans,  a yellow lace-finish tank top and brown leather thong sandals – and with that, she announces that she is ready, which is an insinuation that everyone else must be too. Nkosana is quickly emptying his camcorder memory card, in anticipation of the beautiful sights he is about to see, whilst Makhosi is sprawled on the couch in the ‘kids’ lounge getting in his last points on a soccer game on his play station device. 

MaDu is preparing for her weekend off and has plans to meet up with some older women she met at the vegetable market a few days before. The Mathes’ have chosen to equip their helper, and so the 50 year old drives a two door hatchback which comes in handy when she has to run errands and when she needs some personal time.

Lucille is still in her bedroom packing her sling bag with some money and small cosmetics, and when she is done, she swings it over herself. She stands at her closet mirror and takes a last look at her dress code confirming that she likes the white linen slack she has picked out, the powder pink detailed tee and motif accentuated pumps. She has chosen to wear a headband and it has greatly reduced her number of years, making her quite attractive to any bearer. Lucille feels very comfortable as she walks down the stairs right at the moment Mangaliso rings the doorbell at the front of the house.

‘I’ll get it!’, shouts Makhosi as he grabs the door handle, opens the door and rushes past Mangaliso, who jerks aside allowing the young boy to jut past him.  As he let’s himself in, Nandi makes an immediate u-turn pursuing Makho who takes on the driveway with never ending sprints, clearly filled with adrenaline for the evening. 

‘Hie, sorry about that,’ says Lucille as she walks past him checking doors and windows for security. He smiles watching her intently and amused at her focus and obvious ‘take charge’ mentality. He notes her obvious independence which he decides he appreciates for whatever reason. 

The remaining kids walk out casually as Notokozo requests for a selfy with Mangaliso, and he quickly agrees, smiles and strikes a pose, as one used to such requests. When Lucille is done she calls out to MaDu that they are leaving and makes her way out of the door followed by Mangaliso who shuts it tightly offering to lock it for her. 

—–

The beach front is beautifully lit in fairy lights of all colors. There is a Bon fire in the middle which is purely for aesthetics, because it’s a warm night out. Over 500 patrons roam the sand and there is a sudden burst of excitement as Mangaliso, who is leading their way is recognized by the crowd. Its quite surreal and certainly stamps his fame when he is suddenly whirled straight onto the stage where he naturally grabs a guitar and greets the crowd enthusiastically. He comes alive naturally and one can tell that he was created for this, performing before adoring fans.
As he starts to sing, Lucille finds a place to sit by the bar area and orders a fruit juice as her children independently find their own way around the crowd. Lucille is unnerved by this, as over the years she and her children have developed some kind of telepathic communication, and she kniws that they will find each other when they need to. 

She keeps a very close eye on Nandi though, feeling rather protective of her until she notes that the 5 year old is holds het own celebrity status as she moves expertly around and is greeted by name by most of the patrons. She naturally gravitates towards a bunch of children who are entertaining themselves at a designated play area. Well, this is certainly a relief on Lucille. 
Lucille greets a few people and introduces herself making small talk about the function, her line of work and asking questions about the school her children are about to start attending. She hardly moves from the bar area and is pleased that most people are friendly enough to come in her direction. She enjoys the music, as Mangaliso tones down from the faster songs he started with and begins to serenade the patrons. The atmosphere is rich with joyful chatter and relaxing smells from the drinks, braai stands and food stalls around. Its an atmosphere she is glad they did not miss tonight. Certainly a great welcome to Britannia Bay for the Mathe’s. 
As couples begin to slow dance, a tall light skinned gentlemen approaches her and offers a dance. His name is Vusa and he is well articulated and well dressed, and it is very clear that he is a man of wealthy means. He looks like he is in his mid-forties and she admits to herself that he is rather attractive. 

‘Yes, thank you,’ she accepts and walks to the middle of the dance floor where she allows him to hold her formally in a slow dance. The distance is kept comfortable and the conversation is centered on the function and the people around. It’s very impersonal and she prefers it that way, as she assumes that this is just a passing meet. 
However, after the dance they take a seat at a nearby table, with Vusa showing much interest in developing a deeper relationship. As she begins to get uncomfortable at his questions, Makhosi comes running and slams himself against his mother asking for a few rands to get himself an ice cream. She reaches into her purse and gives him a R20 note and he juts off just as quickly as he had arrived. She is grateful for the distraction as this allows the conversation to break momentarily.
Mangaliso announces his last song for the evening and the crowd moans in an exaggerated way, whilst Vusa asks that she dance with him once again. Whilst totally disagreeable, she obliges but her body language insists on the same distance and light conversation as before. 
As the music trails off Lucille looks around and sees Ntokozo engaged in conversation with some other teenage girls and they are all pointing at some things on their cell phones. Nkosana is deeply explaining how his camcorder works to a man who is standing next to his own tripod and camera. They seem very engrossed in deep technical things and Lucille is just happy that they don’t seem to be lonely, nor getting themselves into trouble.
‘May I get you another drink, Lucilke?’ Vusa interrupts her mother hen tendencies but she politely declines. She’s had enough for one night and is about ready to turn in when Managaliso arrives and casually checks if she is okay. 
Lucille finds herself oddly relieved at his presence. ‘Hey,’ she smiles, ‘I loved your music tonight. Great choices and you really sing well too.’ He seems to blush at this appreciation and for a moment their smiles linger at each other.

Vusa, feeling shut out, clears his throat making his presence felt and stretches his hand to shake Mangaliso’s whilst offering the same praise. The men exchange niceties and Mangaliso asks how the mining business is going for Vusa, to which he boastfully elaborates how well his mine claims paid out in the past year. They seem to know each other, but not well enough to be friends.

As the evening comes to a close, Nandi walks awkwardly towards the small group of three and tells her dad she needs to ‘lala’, which is their preferred language for sleep. He swoops her up in the most adorable way and holds her against his chest  as he excuses himself letting Lucille know that he will wait by the car. 
Vusa offers Lucille his business card as he requests for her number and Lucille politely returns the gesture by handing him her own. He looks at it and questioningly says, ‘Mathe? As in the late Sam Mathe?’ Lucille nods her head slowly then responds, ‘Yes, how did you know him?’  

‘I actually never had the honour to meet him. But our company leases out a couple of your buildings in the KZN and Western Cape areas.’ 

Vusa is suddenly more intrigued by this woman not only because she is beautiful but because he has heard how impressively she took over the family business after her husband’s passing. She is described as a woman of clout, dignity and great business acumen. Well educated and cunning in her decision making. In the two years since her husbands passing, she has grown their properties by a third and she keeps on going. She has been described as the ‘lioness to watch’ of the property world. Its at that point that makes up his mind that he is definitely interested in pursing Lucille.
Lucille looks over at Ntokozo who gets the unspoken hint and rounds up Nkosana and Makhosi and they all walk towards their mother who naturally hands them the car keys. She says her goodbyes to Vusa and a few people around, thanking them for a lovely evening, then walks swiftly to the car, quickly starting the engine when she is in, preparing to drive behind Mangaliso.

On arrival at home, Mangaliso gentlemanly opens Lucille’s car door and checks that the rest of the doors have been closed properly. He walks the family to the house and stands in the doorway as they enter. Lucille turns and thanks him casually for the invite to which he apologises for not having been available to help her socialize. She states matter of factly that she is a big girl and that she managed to handle herself, to which he smiles showing his gorgeous teeth and bringing a light to his eyes that is accentuated by fine laughter lines. After a moment, he excuses himself and she starts to shut the door behind him when she remembers a very important question she had been meaning to ask all week during her runs. ‘Mangaliso……, is there a good full gospel church you could recommend for us in this area?’ He turns and almost immediately offers to take them to the church he is a member of, promising that the doctrine is very bible based and sound. He offers to pick everyone up at 9am as the service starts at 9:30. Lucille agrees, happy to have their Sunday sorted out.

That evening she showers, gets into bed and reflects on the events of the festival. Her thoughts linger around the time spent with Vusa and she mentally notes that he reminds her of Sam because of his pristinely polished nature. She can tell he has been schooled in the art of being a gentleman and that he takes pride in being a man of his caliber. However, just before she falls asleep, she sees Mangaliso’s alluring smile flash before her and she finds herself feeling warm on the inside and suddenly girlishly happy.

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