"I've not got round to taking these to the church," explained Mrs Harrison. "Bill was supposed to take them. He's such a lazy so-and-so, my husband is."
Bill Harrison wouldn't be as rich as he was if he were lazy, but Karabo didn't think it was her place to say this to his wife. She handed Mrs Harrison the groceries one by one and watched as she arranged them in the back. Then Mrs Harrison began muttering to herself and Karabo couldn't help overhearing what she said.
"I could have sworn I had more old shoes than this," said Mrs Harrison with a deep frown. "If Bill's been giving my stuff to his ... I swear I'll kill him."
Karabo had no idea what she was talking about. Perhaps Bill Harrison wore his wife's old shoes. She'd heard there were white men like that.
As Mrs Harrison stepped back from the Land Rover, Karabo could see how pinched her mouth was, with white lines radiating outwards from a hard, rose-tinted centre.
She seemed to have lost her earlier cheeriness among the vegetables and cleaning materials.
"What's your name?" There was a clumsy abruptness about Mrs Harrison that Karabo found strangely appealing.
"Karabo. Karabo Bentil."
"That's an odd surname." She didn't wait for Karabo to give her customary explanation. Instead she began rummaging in her handbag.
"You really don't have to give me anything, Mrs Harrison."
Mrs Harrison tapped the side of her large nose as if she'd just remembered something. She didn't seem surprised that Karabo knew her name.
"I know," she said. "I've just the thing for you."
She leaned into the Land Rover again and came out holding a small, oddly shaped box. With its metal clasps, it looked like a travel case but there were twin indentations on either side. She held it out to Karabo with both hands like it was a rare gift and Karabo was somebody very important.
"I can't take that," Karabo said instinctively.
"Of course you can!" Mrs Harrison replied, pushing the case towards Karabo.
"A violin," Mrs Harrison replied matter-of-factly.
"I really couldn't, Mrs Harrison," Karabo said again. Timidly, she ran her fingers over the scaled leather.
"Aren't violins very expensive?" She was warming to the idea and crinkled her nose in anticipation of her disappointment if Mrs Harrison were to take it back.
"Not really. I bought this on Alibaba. I was never going to spend a lot of money on it as I wasn't sure I'd enjoy playing it. My violin teacher said it was more like a violin-shaped object than a proper violin."
Suddenly Karabo wasn't so sure. A violin-shaped object sounded much less attractive than a proper violin.
"Is that why you're giving it away? Because it's not a proper violin?"
"Oh, it's a proper violin, all right. I've just lost interest in the damned thing since André did a runner."
Mrs Harrison splayed her fingers in the air like a magician does with a deck of disappearing cards. "He buggered off without even a goodbye."
"My violin teacher."
"But I don't play the violin, Mrs Harrison."
"That makes two of us. Look, just take it. Give it away if you like or use it as a flower pot, I won't mind. It's not half as bad as I've described and who knows? You might want to learn to play it one day."
- Published by Kwela