I had ridden the Gautrain (that line between Pretoria and Joburg) to then take a (lonely) 10 minutes walk and reach Centurion mall. Centurion! What a strange name for a South African suburb. The friend I had come to meet had already left. I decided to overcome my dislike for shopping malls and drag my feet a little longer. Staring at that stretch of water facing it, I was trying to make sense of the place. What did people find in it? I let my pencil wander around on the paper, emptying my mind, being here, eyes and hand only. That smoker was a good subject. But he spotted me.
“Do you study arts or communication or something?”
I don’t. I actually don’t believe very much in studying anymore. Well I just doodle.
“This is good, one should always keep being creative, this is very important.”
Theo is a dental technician. Yes, he makes false teeth. I don’t know if his are true, but they do look good.
He was here, having lunch upstairs with friends when he felt like a smoke.
When he learns I am from France, he rejoices.
“It’s great, it’s always nice having a foreigner in our country and know that…you can cope!”
Besides, I kind-of can speak English, which is amazing for a French. Apparently, my home language is assigned to a very specific domain.
Actually, many Afrikaans people here bear a French surname so, somehow, must have a French ancestor (a huguenot?). This is the case with Theo.
We don’t have much more time to talk, about Bayonne, or poetry or strange suburb names.
Theo must go back and join his friends. But he hands me a sketch… of myself.
So here I am.