by Marijke Hillmann
Johannesburg, South Africa – FIFA World Cup 2010
The hate-them-or-love-them vuvuzelas have Johannesburg in their grip. The world is mystified and in turn irritated at the intrusion of this insignificant piece of plastic which causes such furore in the soccer world.
Reluctantly Elsie, the estate agent, enters the show house in the housing estate for her 5-hour open house assignment. The owners drive off in high spirits to enjoy the World Cup opening match, leaving instructions for Elsie to ‘make sure that you sell the property today otherwise we will cancel your mandate’.
The estate seems deserted and she settles down to read her book, with little hope of seeing anything more exciting than the row of tiny sugar ants making their way over the kitchen floor in search of their next meal. She yawns and decides to let them have their way, her revenge on the owners for insisting on a show house today.
A few hours later the security guard at the gate announces two visitors. She welcomes the elderly couple and shows them the compact unit, praying silently that the wind will blow away the petrol fumes which occasionally waft towards the complex from the adjacent petrol station.
The price is reasonable, the house is well-kept, the garden is meticulous and the sweet smell of success tickles her senses when after extensive viewing the couple express their interest.
As they sit down at the dinner table with the Offer to Purchase, screeching tyres and a cacophony of raucous singing voices penetrate the air. The words of the national anthem are interspersed with the trumpeting sounds of vuvuzelas as a dozen minibus-taxi occupants clamber over each other to continue the festivities on the premises of the petrol station whilst the taxi fuel is replenished.
The couple declines the offer for a cup of tea and beat a hasty retreat, the mandate is withdrawn, the ants enjoy free reign in the kitchen that day and over the next few months the owners unsuccessfully attempt to market the property on their own.
It is some six months later that Elsie receives a request by a recent divorcee for a unit in the same housing estate. The owners accept the offer on condition that her usual brokerage fee is halved and she happily shares the commission with her employer, business partner and the Receiver of Revenue.
Marijke writes a monthly story for us. She write our segment Stories in Africa, and her stories will some day become a novel. For now please enjoy them, we are honored to have her work on our site. You can find more of her work here.