BO-I-TUMELO: For Asiphe, mgan’am…

This one of Asiphe ALWAYS demanded more of life; I guess when life inevitably failed to come up to her level, a parting of ways was the only option left. For she is now no more about this life.
I first met her early 2012, on my first assignment at PwC, she was a senior on that audit, and tasked with breaking us in. She took to it quite nonchalantly, without the usual ‘are you excited to be working for a big four firm’ pomp and ceremony. “Heh wethu, ilula mahn lento, you just…” her coaching too was not patronizing, she didn’t treat us like we just came out of creche as some seniors were wont to. We hit it off immediately. She used to tell me I came in with a know-it-all attitude and she asked herself “who’s this idiot?”
The penchant to call people idiots is something we shared. We also shared office snacks – twas an offense of epic proportions for one to eat without offering the other. And for two years we shared a house.
I went back to this house last night in my sleep. For two full days I have been disavowing the news of her passing. It did not make any sense at all; how can a whole entire Asiphe just die? Another thing we shared was our stubborn refusal to accept preposterous propositions – no matter the reality of the situation. It was never odd for her to walk in to my room and ask “heh wethu unamalini kuwe?” I’d say something ridiculous like R200, and she’d go and chide me demanding accountability on how a grown ass person can calmly admit to only having R200 to their name. This notwithstanding the fact that we were both underpaid and overworked. She’d have R300 to her name; we’d club together our last ‘monies’ and go have a meal at a fancy restaurant. For she demanded that we should never accept our poverty; no matter what!

I was in this house again last night, in her room. She was packing her stuff for some journey. She was always on a journey to somewhere. The last quarrel we had (we were always quarreling her and I) was in February when she called me and demanded that we go to Thailand for her birthday early this month. Ashamedly I admitted to not having the money. True to nature she took me to the cleaners: “how can a grown ass man not have R10grand just lying around for impromptu trips abroad.” I pleaded for patience; “let’s go in January,” I begged. “I will not reach 30 without going overseas bhuti!” She insisted. I tried one last Hail Mary – let’s go to the Seychelles in June then. “I am not spending my birthday in this excuse of a country” was her final word. I let it go – forgot about it even. In my head I was planning for Thailand in January. “Asiphe is mad” I consoled myself. The evening of 4 April, two days before her birthday, I get a video call from her. The picture is very poor, the sound too. But I get some important details before we are cut off: she is at Addis Ababa on a connecting flight. I am enraged, surprised and impressed all at the same time: she is going to Thailand without me – how dare she! 😤 Not just that but alone 😲 She wanted to do it, and she’s doing it! 🤗 I immediately dedicate my WhatsApp status to her badassery. I thus conclude, in that ode, that my friend has taken a powerful decision and she is happy. That is all one can ever ask: BO-I-TUMELO. I used that word with all it’s heavy existential philosophy. She is happy, content, agreeable, in her being, with her being. BOITUMELO! Being one to never be impressed with my kak poetry; she just corrects me to say she’s going to France, not Thailand. I am even more sad – now I have no desire to visit Thailand, but Paris has the allure of a chance encounter with my god Kundera. She couldn’t care less.

In her room last night she was just as happy, packing for her journey. Nontsikelelo was there fixing her fancy dress. Her hat rather – one of those Durban July type hats. They were struggling with getting the fascinator to sit just right. I wanted to be sad about her leaving – but I was quite aware that she’d harshly admonish me for ububhanxa. So I just helped her quietly, joyously I’d even wager. For clearly she had taken yet another powerful decision. If there is one message the dream carried, it is that BO-I-TUMELO still reigns supreme in her. In fact no; she has fully been subsumed in it. She is it and it is she. It is all one can ever ask for really, anything else is just semantics…

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