The turn

Two heads turned simultaneously when Mpho stood up from her seat and reached over the table for a bottle of salt.

Jacob, her boyfriend, looked up quizzically, just in time to see the two men behind Mpho smiling and shaking their heads in obvious approval. Her skirt was short, and it had rode up her thighs, revealing a tight red lace underwear. They were still looking as if in a trance when she sat back down and readjusted her skirt, gyrated her hips in a manner that seemed to please them even further. Decidedly, Jacob was disturbed by such scenes.

“Why did you do that.” said Jacob

“Do what?” she said innocently

“Reach across the table like that.”

“I need salt.”

“I could have passed you the salt.”

“I did not want to disturb you, you seem to have something on your mind.”

Indeed something had been on Jacobs mind, but at that moment he could not say exactly what it had been. Something else was on his mind now. And it seemed to take far greater precedence than anything else that might have been there before. Never before had he thought that his girlfriend being sexy was a problem. After all it was the very thing that attracted him to her. The legs, the thick thighs, the bum you could rest a beer bottle on. And the fact that she was not ashamed to show it off did not bother him. He often felt flattered by the fact that he would be seen walking next to such a beautiful woman, and people would know that she was his.

But could any woman truly be his? He felt suddenly that he knew what it would be like, to be a husband to a porn star. That even if she was at home with him, sharing a bed with him, there were many men, at that very moment, masturbating to her image. And seeing the look on those two men, he felt that he did not like the way Mpho dressed. He did not like that her body should excite other people in that way.

He looked at the men, he turned his head this and that way, looking at all the men in the restaurant, and felt a strong suspicion again all of them. He knew what they were thinking.

Later that evening, he sat on the bed and looked at Mpho undressing. She truly was beautiful. The kind of woman who could inspire obsessive behaviour in men. She put on her silk night gown the colour of flowing blood, and looked at him as if she was expecting him to comment. Instead Jacob stood up and went to her wardrobe, took out a few of her clothes and looked at them introspectively.

“Don’t you think its time you changed your wardrobe.” he said

“What do mean?”

“I mean the way you wear your clothes. The kinds of clothes you wear. Don’t you think its time you wear different kinds of clothes. Maybe cover you knees, and your breasts. I don’t think the kind of clothes you wear look good on you anymore.”

“Are you being for real right now? What is this about Jacob? Are you saying I am no longer attractive, and that I need to cover myself to hide my ugliness?”

“No No…”

“Oh no, you are insecure, is that it? When you met me all you saw were my looks. Now that I am with you, you no longer think that I am beautiful. But you are afraid that some other men might still find me attractive, so you want to cover me up.”

“Well, what’s wrong with that.”

He was sweating now, and looking for a way out. He was acutely aware of something shifting between them. And he knew that nothing was ever going to be the same. In fact, it seemed like he stood on a precipice, they both did, swaying dangerously in the the wind. And all of this because of something undefined, some primal fear that had suddenly come over him out of the blue. If he was that inclined, he would have thought that he had been bewitched.

“We are not even married and already you want to control what a wear.” said Mpho, looking at him with disgust.

“Wear what you want” he said, “I don’t care. If you want to walk around looking like a whore, go ahead.”

He was beyond the precipice now, there was no going back. Nothing could save him now. He remembered listening to the radio on the previous Sunday, and Ntate Thuso was talking about women, as he often did, and how it was important that they respect the men in their lives. A woman called into the show, and talked about how, every time she goes out, she asks her husband if her clothes are okay. Because she would not want to go out showing off  her ‘assets’ to other men who are not her husband. Jacob found this a bit unreal. A bit out of the twilight zone. Women did not act like that anymore. Where did this woman come from anyway? He turned off the radio and forgot about it. Or at least he thought he had forgotten about it. Clearly it had wormed its way into his unconscious. And was now making its appearance in a rather off hand way.

“Well maybe I should put your mind at ease. And you don’t have to worry anymore about what kind of woman I look like when I go out.” said Mpho

He looked at her and knew from the look on her eyes what was coming. So he was right all along. But his instincts had come too late. He need not feel guilty about what he had just said. She was about to prove that his words were justified.

“Who is he?” he said, feeling a slight lump in his throat.

“Her,” she said “her name is Palesa.”

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