they left gaborone very early in the morning hoping to catch the funeral the next day. they chatted non-stop about newly acquired relatives. they chatted non-stop about how the death of a wealthy man always has a way of producing full-grown relatives, ex-mates and their already married/unmarried children. they also drove non-stop. as they neared palapye she couldn’t take it anymore.

            “mogatsaka, do you mind if we stop so i can use a toilet?”

            “you can’t hold it till we get to letlhakane?”

she gave her husband a look that suggested she will pee in the car if he didn’t stop. so, he pulled into the caltex filling station next to botsalo hotel in palapye, and pulled up to one of the pumps. she dashed out of the car heading straight to the restrooms – hoping to beat some passengers that had just alighted from a combi heading in the general direction of the restrooms. as the petrol attendant approach him, a young young man in a blue tank top with ‘rep palapye’ emblazoned on it, tucked into a pair of black denim jeans, hanging by the barest perserverane on his exposed boxer’s-shorted backside, and pink-laced white adidas high-tops stepped out of his pimped-up red citi golf. he is heading towards his car, imitation ‘beats’ headphones hanging round his corraled neck, breaming gold-toothed at him.

            “three hundred pula.” he hands the key to the fuel tank to the petrol attendant.

            “95 or 93?”

            “95.”

the young man gets to his car, there is a familiarity to his face, but he just couldn’t place it. dipping thug-style, chains slapping against headphone, he looks at him and says,

            “good morning, prof.”

            “good morning.” hesitant. he pushes the button to engage ‘lock’.

            “you don’t remember me do you?”

            “i beg your pardon?” the dusty rolodex in his brain is flipping through names – no luck.

            “what’s my name then?” bathusi. mmogi. brian. no, he doesn’t look like a brain. kennedy. james. lesego. no, not lesego. too traditional.

            “i was in your class!” of course, that’s why he looks so familiar, the stupid grin on his face now made total sense.

            “money, sir.” he hands over the three pula notes to the petrol attendant – adding a few coins from the coin-holder.

            “thank you, sir.” the petrol attendant hands him his car keys.

            “eita!” thug-life fist pumps with petrol attendant. he turns back to prof.

            “so, what’s my name?” thug-life repeats – grinning and swaying from side to side. i thought that part was over, he muses, trying to jolt his aged hippocampus into gear,

            “what does it start with?”

            “f”, he answers and gives him a wink, mohawk glistening in the mid-morning sun.

            “and your last name starts with…?”

            “k”.

silence.

            “flex! Felix khulmann. ao prof!” and just like that it all came back.

            “motswako kid!”

            “ao, prof. you remember.” of course. the jeans were still not only responding more to gravity, they looked like he had been fooling around with a pair of scissors.

            “you graduated?”

            “ao, prof i was just in your first year class … last semester!” he laughs and gives the professor a fist pump, and then walks away singing as he heads towards the quick shop.

shaking his head, the professor engages gear and pulls away. hours later, exhausted, he pulls into his in-laws’ compound in maun – the incident with motswako kid long condemned to forgotten memory. the expectant in-laws, seeing the headlights of the car, rush out of the house in welcome – mother-in-law in front.

            “prof, welcome. how was the trip?”

            “long. water please.” he opens the car door and drops one foot tiredly on the dusty ground. mother-in-law looks into the lighted interior of the car.

            “you came alone?”

© F-K Omoregie 2016