Story postcard – night sets in (3)

Simi pushes her chair back, and twists sideways to face Marybelle. “Decrepit! You! No!”

Marybelle – cheeks pink, blouse pink – talks to her plate. “I didn’t used to be.”

“Neither did the country,” says Sal. “Don’t worry about it. Things will get better.”

Simi puts a hand on Marybelle’s arm. “I don’t know anything about this e’Pap, but I’ll have some if this is what it does. You’re like a gold nugget.”

“Ha ha Simi. As if you need e’Pap. Anyway being gold’s no good, you need to be in the ‘gold class’ here.”

“That’s so true,” Sal laughs.

“Too right,” says Jambee, through his mouthful of chicken.

Simi, not sure what the gold joke is, but relieved the mood is lifting, pulls her chair back towards the table.

“I’ve been longing for this wedding,” says Marybelle, picking up her knife and fork. “All this meat is such a treat. Like a gift from God. He’ll help us get through this Simi. Don’t worry.”

Save me. Please no more God. Don’t know what it is about this lady. I want to snap her in half one second, then glue her together the next.

“Simi,”Jambee says, “if I close my eyes, I’d think you were English. White English I mean.”

Here we go again. These people!

“You’re right Jambee,” Sal grins. “How do you notice this stuff.”

“I don’t know. I just do. I never even knew there were black Londoners.”

“I never knew there were so many white Zimbabweans,” says Simi, matching her tone to Jambee’s.

“What? We’ve always lived here. My grandfather was born here.”

“Well, I never knew that. Not here in Zimbabwe. I know they’re plenty of white people in places like Cape Town, but I thought you’d all been kicked out of here … long ago.”

“No. Well, yes. They mainly kicked us farmers out. Not everyone left though. Lots of us haven’t got anywhere to go anyway. But loads of us are farming again now. Farming other people’s farms for other ‘other people’.”

This does not make sense, but I’m not asking. So glad Jambee’s chatting, but this stuff is not for me. Not on holiday.

She nods and smiles, then piles her fork with more chicken.

“Simi, if you’re from London, where are your parents from?” Sal asks.

“Nigeria and England.” Simi pauses her fork in mid-air. “I meet lots of Nigerians in London. They come and go all the time. But here … I mean …”

A burst of music blasts over the end of Simi’s sentence.

“It’s working!” somebody shouts.

“Of course!”

Around the dancefloor the fairylights spin, and the wind gusts in, snatching candlelight.

“Who needs candles, anyway?” someone shouts.


“We need lots of them. And tourists.”

“At least we’ve got Simi.” Sal calls out, raising her wine glass. “Welcome Simi! A real UK visitor.”

Simi, feeling as strung out as the lights, picks up her napkin – her thick white colonial napkin – and dabs at her mouth.

“Thank you,” she says to Sal.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2023

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