by Brian Khumalo
The taxi conductor opens the door swiftly. Pinky is immediately confronted with a rush of a sweet musky scent. This precious moment is soon distorted by the heavy odour of cigarettes and perspiration oozing out of the conductor. Pinky softly glances at the conductor, promptly steps in the taxi and greets her fellow passengers before playing with her shiny red Blackberry.
She slightly opens the window and occasionally pats her weave, perhaps it is time she made a quick trip down to the salon. I once read or probably heard on one episode of Sex and The City that you can judge a man’s character by the shoes he wears. In the taxi you can judge a girl’s character by her choice of weaves. Some like it nice, long and thick whereas others prefer it short and cut to perfection. No matter how diverse their tastes may be, any black girl would tell you, the rain is not a weave’s best friend. The Durban weather is awfully unpredictable, which is why most of my sisters always have a plastic bag tucked in their handbags. At the sight of the first few rain drops, they whoop out their plastic bags and cover up their most valued accessory – the weave.
Pinky over here has a short black weave that comes down just below her ears. It is no secret that she has had this weave for a while now. She relentlessly pats her head and scratches it with her long red press-on nails. Unlike the Taxi Queen, Pinky could not be bothered by the thrill of sitting in the front seat. She may not be the Queen of the taxi, but she is the go-to-girl if you wish to be entertained. This member of the taxi has an ambiance to her that cannot be ignored, everyone knows her name. She is notorious for her dress sense that is fashion forward, at times too fashion forward. Before there was colour-blocking there was Pinky. She is patriotic in a sense that she is not afraid to use her make up to grace all the colours of our national flag on her face. Green eye-shadow, red lipstick and just a tint of gold on her cheekbones to add that shine. Her look would be incomplete without her blue eyes contact lenses and her huge fake eye-lashes.
Just like the Taxi Queen, she too carries an oversized Polo bag that she bought at the flea market at the Workshop. The handbag never leaves her arm, believe it or not she it at times spotted carrying the very same handbag at funerals! It is indeed a mystery as to what the contents of the bag are.
Pinky is never afraid to push the envelope with her fashion. On a typical weekend you can find her trending her Aca Joe golfer T-shirt. She pops up the collar to stand out – I guess she feels that the make up on her face is not enough. As for her shoes – she would be lost without her suede carvella. You can see her with her friends stomping their carvellas in an array of colours making their way to their favourite hang-out – Havanah Music Lounge.
All Durbanites will tell you, catching a taxi at the end of the month in the afternoon is the ultimate nightmare. You can easily stand at the taxi rank for over three hours waiting for the next taxi to come. This however does not apply to Pinky. At the sight of an extremely long taxi queue, she casually takes out her Blackberry and carefully dials Mandla – one of her “boyfriends”. At a drop of a hat he is there pulling up the taxi rank in his silver Golf 5 to take her and her friends home. While she and her friend stroll to the taxi, the taxi mamas behind them begin to openly criticize them. They can talk all they want, heck they have all the time in the world. After all the next taxi is only coming in an hour’s time.
Do not get it twisted Pinky is not promiscuous, she simply has a string of men who live to cater to her needs. In the township we call these Ministers. She has a Minister of Finance, a Minister of Transport – Mandla – and several other Ministers without portfolio. She is a social butterfly, the life of any party. Often you hear her laughing with her friends in the taxi as they chat about their previous nights out. She lives for the moment, never thinks about tomorrow, as tomorrow is not guaranteed.
Pinky the side chic
It is the night before his big day – his wedding. He does not care about spending the last hours of his “freedom” with his mates boozing and even inviting strippers for their entertainment. Instead he chooses to be with Pinky. Alas Pinky is not the bride to be, she is one of his side chics. She is his favourite side chic – hence he wants to commemorate their last union together peacefully and undisturbed. He has her favourite perfume on, Hugo Boss sprayed all over his body. He grabs her delicately and the two bodies begin to dance to the same rhythm. Engulfed in each other’s arms they feel safe and in utter pleasure. She knows he will be wed tomorrow. She has known about the other woman for months now, but being his side chic has never been a problem for her. She celebrates it and accepts it. Once they both reach sexual ecstasy they collapse on the bed. He rests his head on her breasts for one last time. Her heart beats even faster than before. He runs his big hands on her naked body, admiring her female figure. “Umuhle – you are beautiful” he whispers to her as he looks at her with loving eyes. He has always said to her, but this time he actually means it and she can feel it as she looks into his eyes. “If I am beautiful as you say I am and if you love me as you say you do, then how come I am umakhwapheni – the side chic?” she asks without any care. There is silence in the hotel room. He cannot answer her, not because he does not have the answer to her question, but it came unexpectedly. As the side chic she is solely expected to be the perfect escape – she must be seen and not heard. She must not have a voice or question his intentions with her. Just like that is was the end of the heated affair. He leaves her in bed and gets dressed in front of her. She cries but her tears mean nothing to him. They have had their fun but now he must get ready for a new chapter in his life and she will not be one of the featured characters. She lies there in bed and even though she is very broken hearted, deep down inside she knew how it was going to end. They always go back to their wives and fiancés after they have had their way with her. She is Pinky the umakhwapheni – the side chic.
Admittedly, Pinky has been one of my favourite characters in the taxi family. In her colourful clothes and matching personality, she is often the main topic of controversy. She is cruelly judged by her community for having several male partners and always seems oblivious to constant chitter-chatter at the taxi rank or the looks she gets from the taxi mamas. I guess you would be surprised if I told you that Pinky was the smartest girl at her school. She passed from one grade to the next effortlessly without even studying for exams sometimes. She tried going through the university route, but it just was not her thing. The idea of being bound at another institution of learning just did not sit well with her. But this post is not about her intellect or her decisions thereafter, but it is about her role as the side chic or umakhwapheni as they are known in the township. I always admire Zulu for being such a picture descriptive language – umkhwapheni derived from ikhwapha which means armpit best describes side chics. The armpit after all is such a secluded area of your body, warm yes but secluded, hidden. It is then no surprise that these women are referred to as umakhwapheni. They are hidden from the public and only left to fulfil their male counterpart’s desires. If your wife, girlfriend or fiancé refuses to go out to watch that boring action film on Saturday then the side chic steps in and takes care of that. If she has a migraine and cannot do the dirty with you, have no fear for the side chic is a speed dial away. Once you are done you hide all evidence and carefully tuck her in under your armpit. It’s kind of like that cartoon series – Pokemon. She is your Pokemon when she has served her purpose she returns back to her Pokeball until you put her to good use again.
But Pinky is a different side chic. She does not know better. Being raised by a polygamous father and a mother who bent over backwards trying to fulfil his everyday needs she grew up with some loathing for relationships as such. She has tried being in relationships, once or twice but we all know how this story will end. He will shower her with compliments; tell her each and every pick up line under the sun. She will smile and actually think he cares. Once he has her at his mercy, he will take it a step further and continue to put a smile on her face until he devours her. That is his aim after – to get her body. Once he is done with her, he will move on to his next victim. He has conscience; he is a heartless bastard who thinks he is incapable of being loved and even loving someone else. She will cry herself to sleep at night and blame herself for his sadistic temperament. She will find it hard to love again let alone trust someone else again. He will carry on with this as if nothing has happened while she battles with the emotions that he carelessly distorted. I guess it is true there is a very fine line between pleasure and pain.
With this being said, Pinky then vowed never to be like her mother. She made a promise to herself that she will never yearn for a man or his love. She finds solace in being the side chic. It is almost like a dance you may say. The man steps into the ball with his partner. They dance but she complains and says her feet hurt. Pinky thus cuts in and carries on dancing. His hands are rested on her body and they move side to side. For that moment only he even forgets about his irritable partner in the background. Pinky comforts him and feeds into his needs. But like all good things, the music stops and he goes back to his partner and Pinky is left alone again, searching for her next temporary dance partner. Such is the life of the side chic and Pinky loves it. The men think they are in control when they shower her with gifts and even money. They think they have power over her when she turns up at their command. But Pinky over here learned a long time ago how to use her body to get those panting men. She is just as heartless as they are. But the question is who really has control? The men always have to come up with stories for their wives when they go out to see her. They believe the only way they can keep her at bay is by spending their hard earned money at her. They hide all evidence of their encounter before they return to their wives. Pinky on the hand enjoys this thoroughly. She takes pleasure in hearing the stories they tell their wives on the phone while she touches them in private places. She loves tasting the lips that their loving wives kiss before their men leave for those long business trips. Behind those closed hotel doors she holds the power, unlike her mother she makes them beg for more until they are at her mercy.
It is the day of the wedding and Pinky decides to attend it. She is dressed in a disturbing black ensemble. From the looks of things you would say she was attending a funeral and not a wedding. She is not the colourful character that everybody knows and loves. Today she is that black widow who lives down the road. She finishes her look with huge black sunglasses and sits front row and centre. It is a beautiful day to have a wedding. Even though everybody in church is shocked by her choice of outfits, she does not care. The groom has seen her too. He gulps and is shaking in his tight fitted tuxedo. She does not even stop the wedding when the minister asks; instead she pierces his heart with her presence. What can I say; she has a slight sadistic disposition. The newlyweds happily step out of the church and their friends and family joyously throw confetti at them. Pinky is also joining in the festivities. She and her former lover lock eyes. He is overcome by a sea of emotions, yet she is cold as ice. Her intentions was not to ruin his special day, but for those few minutes she wanted to be the haunting image that shall forever resonate in his mind. She is not your average side chic. She is Pinky and when the couple celebrates their first night as wife and husband, she wants him to always think of her.