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'Bilson' loved life to the full

By unknown | Feb 06, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Monk Nkomo

Monk Nkomo

He took his time in everything that he did. He was also slow in walking, as he was in speech.

And those who dared ask him about issues pertaining to his personal or love life would get answers so sarcastic and stinging they would regret ever having ventured into that terrain.

That was Henry Billy Lekgetho, 64, of Atteridgeville, who succumbed to diabetes last week after resisting the deadly disease for almost 30 years.

Despite his illness, "Bilson" as we called him, enjoyed a full life. He loved fun, booze, beautiful clothes and good music, especially gospel.

A devout Christian, he was a member of the AME church where at one stage he served as choirmaster

I knew and befriended him in the early 1960s when we were students at Hofmeyr High School.

A handsome guy, he was born in Atteridgeville but spent most of his childhood days with his grandparents in Bloemfontein.

He was a man who loved lots of humour - and taunting people.

One time we were having a drink with some friends at The Lighthouse, a local shebeen, when there was an argument over the term used when a prisoner is released before completing his jail sentence.

"Parole", he screamed. But one of the men burst into laughter saying the word actually started with the letter R.

And true to his mocking tendency, Bilson retorted: "Are you saying it is Rarole ?"

The poor guy left the place, embarrassed.

We later established that the word he was looking for was in fact remission.

A few weeks before his death, Bilson spent about two weeks in hospital. During one of my visits, he called one of the nurses and asked her to explain why he was in a ward where he had established that two people were dying almost daily. The nurse said this was just a coincidence.

"You must move me out of here. Who told you I am also a dying type?" he asked.

The nurse obliged and he was transferred to another ward the following day.

Four days after spending some time with him, I phoned him last Wednesday. He was in good spirits.

Little did I know I was talking to him for the last time. The following morning I received a call that he was no more.

The man who was part of my family, part of me, a dear friend, had passed on.

A founder member of the Stoep Syndicate, those who spent time with him at our monthly meetings and entertainment places will remember his charm and warmth and his arrogance, of course, especially when someone dared try to offer him some tips about life.

We will also miss him at our usual drinking joints where he used to enjoy his Chivas Regal with ice and water.

Now that he has left these shores, I hope the pain he had endured for so many years is now gone.

For Bilson the storm is over.

May his soul rest in peace.


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