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The Postgraduate Delirium 2

The portrait of the young lady as an artist

It had been three months since my graduation party and I had already found myself a job working as a barista in a minimally designed hipster café. It was called the Quiddity Café; the name came from the Latin word Quidditas which meant the “whatness of a thing”. As you can imagine, this place attracted a certain type of people.
It was often filled with intellectual snobs who would order bone dry cappuccinos and gather around the tables I cleaned in order to pontificate over current societal issues and argue about how Kim Kardashian’s bum has created an unattainable beauty standard which will ultimately kill us all. I envied how those modern day hippies took up space in that picturesque café, spent money on overpriced coffees and pastries, then left with a full spring in their step as if they could conquer the world with pens and over-cooked radical ideas. A part of me wanted to be them, I too wanted to have the freedom to express my useless opinions and eat croissants every day without gaining a single kilo while never having to worry about anything real like student loans and rent.
The Cafe
pc: Madga Ehlers
Halfway through a slow day at the café, my parents walked in with somber faces and I knew something was wrong. I set them a table and waited for them to deliver the blow. My mother had to speak loudly over the obnoxious sound of coffee grinders and the buzz of the new-age hippies. Her words sent shockwaves throughout my body, and I felt my feet go cold.
“You’re 24 years old Lilanga, we can’t keep doing this,” my mother said holding my hands thinking it would make me feel better.
“Daddy please say something,” I said holding back tears.
“I’m sorry honey but your mother’s right, you need to stand on your own two feet. We really can’t afford to keep giving you a monthly allowance,” he said not looking at me.
It felt like a dagger to the chest, I expected that kind of talk my mother but not my father. I was their only child and I wasn’t used to hearing the word no. “Is this some kind of test?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “No, we actually bought a plot of land in the Northern Cape. We’re going to build a farmhouse and retire there,” my mother said. There were a few problems I saw in their plan; it didn’t involve me. They were leaving me out to dry in order to build a farmhouse in the most boring province in the country. It must have been a joke. I would have laughed if I wasn’t so heartbroken.
“But at least you’ve got a job, be grateful,” my father said.
“You call this a job. Cleaning messes and making coffees, am I burden to you or something?” I could hardly speak.
“Don’t do that” mother said.
“Do what?”
“Make everything about yourself. We just want to retire comfortably,”
“Retire comfortably in the Northern Cape, the land of confused dialects and Orania. That place is so dry and boring, I hope you don’t think I’ll ever go there just to visit you. That place is a joke,” what I said was unfair and mean but I was emotional. I felt like I was having the rug pulled beneath my feet. The look in my mother’s eyes was one of complete tiredness. She sighed and left without saying goodbye.
“Honey this is just the pain of growing up, you’ll get through it. You just have to,” those were my father’s last words as he followed his wife out of the café.
Before I could sink deeper into my sea of financial woes.
It was a notification on my phone. Tharo had sent me a message reminding me to show up at her play. It was a one-woman show being presented at an independent theatre club, a few blocks away from the café. I was not in the mood to go anymore because firstly, my parents had destroyed my will to leave and secondly, Tharo couldn’t act to save her life but I couldn’t say no to her without feeling like the worst person in the world so at the end of my 5 hour shift I made my way to the theatre to support my friend.
The title of Tharo’s play was Woman on the Precipice and as I predicted, it was long, boring, sad and gut wrenchingly terrible. Everyone in the audience could see that she all her mannerisms and outbursts were forced and the weak plot didn’t help either.
The Cinema
pc: Cottonbro

The story was about an alcoholic girl talking herself out of drinking wine on communion. I had never seen anything executed so badly; she hid her growing baby bump in an oversized tunic. The seats in the theatre were mainly filled by young aspiring playwrights, actors and directors scoping emerging talent. Half way through the play, a middle aged man behind me got up and began screaming at the top of his lungs as if he was trying to get cast for a horror movie.

Oh this is weird, I thought to myself.
Everyone including me thought it was a part of the show until Tharo fell out of character stood still on the stage completely dumbfounded.
“How dare you!” the man yelled with fury.
“Excuse me, you’re disrupting the show please leave,” Tharo said.
“Leave? Oh I’m definitely leaving. You don’t have to worry about that sister but not before I tell you this. What you’re doing is a disgrace. You are spitting in the face of theatre, of art, of the craft. You have no right to be on that stage, no respect. You’re not an actor, you’re a liar! And a bad one at that,” he said with fully flared nostrils.
I recognized that man. That man was Ndororo Jere, the writer, and director of one the best shows on TV, my heart almost stopped. When I turned to look back at Tharo, she had fully dissolved into her own pool of tears and snot. She had no choice but to run off the stage in embarrassment. The members of the audience cheered and threw their fists in the air as they saw her leave the stage.
Jere stuck to his promise and left. My immediate instinct was to follow him. I lightly jogged behind the full figured man and I grabbed him from behind the shoulder. He turned around quickly and I was greeted by an alarmed face.
“Hi,” that was the only word I could think of saying to him.
“Do I know you?” he sounded irritated.
“I’m sorry I know you’re a busy man, can I just talk to you for a minute,” I said. He continued walking out of the theatre and I followed him like a puppy. I spoke aimlessly and praised him for his illustrious career as a screen writer while he lit a cigarette and blew smoke in my face.
“Ok kid, what do you want?” he finally said. I never really knew what I wanted, so I spoke without thinking.
“A show?” I said. He laughed and shook his head, “You’re audacious and entitled. Who do you think you are?” he asked.
“Nobody. I am a nobody standing in front of a somebody, asking an opportunity to show my work. Sir, I love your show, you are a genius, you are incredible and all I ask is for a chance. I’ve got a story in the pipeline. You are looking at the young you” he squinted his eyes and I corrected myself “the younger you, I’ve got an idea for a coming of age series set in this city” I didn’t actually have an idea for a show, I was just trying my luck with a TV show producer and he seemed to be taking the bait.
“Have you written this down,” he asked.
“Yes,” I lied without hesitation.
“What’s so special about your story?”
“Uhmm well… It’s real, the series will show you the portrait of the artist as a young lady.”
“The artist…” he chuckled and looked up at the starless night sky with a pensive look in his eye. We stood there in awkward silence next to his car before he reached into his pocket and said, “this is my business card. You’ve got tenacity and I think you might have something interesting to say. I’ll give you a chance to pitch your portrait of a lady. Tomorrow at 2 o’clock, at that address. Don’t be late and don’t prove me wrong”
“Thank you” I said unable to contain my excitement.
“Don’t thank me, impress me,” he threw his cigarette on the floor, entered his vehicle and sped off into the night without saying goodbye.
I lied in the face of Ndororo Jere. I had no clue what I was going to show him the next day but I knew I had to make the most out of that opportunity somehow.
author : Tshenolo Koapeng

5,336 thoughts on “The Postgraduate Delirium 2”

  1. This one’s packed with emotions, and I enjoyed every second of it. Poor Tharo. Lilanga’s situation is also touching, especially, with her parents leaving her out cold. I hope she makes the best use of the opportunity she’s been given.

  2. This is an amazing read.I’m in love with Lilanga’s courage, her type of courage can move mountains, it’s not easy approaching the Gurus.I hope this takes her far.

  3. I’m hungry for more miss Koapoeng. Your story is so believable. You created an interest to hear more. I look forward to your anticipated career as a writer. Don’t put that pen down nor give rest to that keyboard. Your light has come. Rise up and shine.

    1. Tshenolo Koapeng

      I’m glad you’ve been able to appreciate my work. A lot more is coming and thank you very much for your words of encouragement Mr Gambu.

  4. Kafunda Tuesday

    Oh sorry poor little Tharo
    I can’t imagine the embarrassment
    Hope the next chapter things will go to your side
    There is just a special choice of words by Tshenolo

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