What's troubling Malusi Gigaba?
... even 'thinking-of-you' notes signed with a smiley-face by the president aren't helping much
Malusi angrily crumpled up the greeting card and threw it at his masseuse. She ducked, and the paper ball bounced off the far wall, ricocheted off a sculpture of three Indian elephants dancing in a circle around a pile of rupees, rebounded off his Sahara computer, knocked over a framed picture of himself looking at a framed picture of himself, and came to rest on top of the complimentary paper shredder he’d been sent by the Bank of Baroda.
“Bad news?” she asked.
He dropped his face into his hands.
“It's the fucking president,” he sighed. “Every morning he sends me a card that says ‘Thinking of you during this difficult time’ and he signs it with the smiley-face.”
“Shame, that’s sweet.”“It’s abuse!” cried Malusi. “He’s torturing me! Jesus, why is my collar so tight? Why is it so hot in here? Jesus.”
The masseuse helped him undo his tie and began to fan his face with a brochure from Dubai Dream Homes.
“Are you wearing a store-bought suit?” she asked helpfully.
“No, it’s just, remember that time when the airline lost your luggage and you had to buy an emergency suit from Truworths and you broke out in hives because it was so cheap?”
“I have a cotton allergy, OK?” snapped Malusi. “I have to wear silk. It’s a medical condition.”
He fumbled inside his jacket pocket and pulled out a new passport.
“Is that your emergency escape passport?” asked the masseuse.
He peered gloomily at the picture of himself. “You don’t think I should have used a more … African … name?” he asked.
She sidled up behind him and read over his shoulder. “ ‘Mr Sachin Virat Tendulkar Kohli, resident of 10 Shah Rukh Khan Avenue, Bollywood’. No that sounds totally legit.”
He nodded, reassured.
“So what does the president want?” she asked.
Malusi slumped back in his chair and pressed his hands over his eyes. “He wants me to resign,” he moaned. “He’s thrown me straight back in the shit so I get covered in the stink and there’s no choice but to flush me.”“Well I think you smell beautiful,” murmured the masseuse. “Like peonies and petrol.”
“Thanks,” sighed Malusi. “I’m wearing L’Homme Catastrophique by Marc-Henri Frottage. But that doesn’t help me because the fucking president wears fucking Axe from fucking Clicks and he wants me gone.”
He jumped up and began to pace the room.
“It was never like this under Msholozi,” he said, pausing briefly to do a turn in front of his full-length mirror.
“Msholozi didn’t even know what a resignation was. At the end, when Ramaphosa asked him to resign, he thought Ramaphosa was asking for a second autograph.”
There was a knock at the door and a young woman popped her head through.
“Thank God!” cried Malusi. “Doctor! Come in! Come in!”
The young woman entered cautiously. “You said something about a note?”“Yes!” cried Malusi. “I need a doctor’s note!”
“OK,” she said hesitantly, “but I’m not really – ”
“You’re fine,” he snapped. “They wanted me to appear in parliament on Wednesday but that obviously wasn’t going to happen because, like, duh, so I told them I was sick, but now I need a note for when they call me again.”
“But what’s wrong with you?” she asked.
Malusi sat still for a moment. He seemed to be looking at something far away, forever lost. Very quietly, he said: “So, so much.”
“The thing is,” she said, “I don’t think I can write you a note.”
Malusi came back to himself and looked up sharply. “Why not?”
“I’m not fully qualified yet,” she said. “I’m still just a resident.”
“Resident, citizen, whatever,” said Malusi. “Just write the damn note.”