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U3A Writing: Just Human

The old and forgetful Goodmans are the recipients of a very good turn in this story by Zelda Margo.

One cannot assume responsibility for old age. It is a state that one submits to by the fact of being there.

Bea and Bob Goodman were there. They employed a driver Willy, to take them two blocks to the mall to do banking and shopping.

“Where is your briefcase Bob?”

“In the trolley.”

“Where is the trolley?”

“Bea, you put the groceries in the boot. It was in the trolley.”

“I didn’t see it. Willy, look for the trolley.”

Willy stood frozen. “It’s gone.”

“What was in the briefcase?”

“Mr Goodman and me, us went to the bank to draw money.”

“Bea, I had put the money in the briefcase. It also has my Identity Book, Driver’s Licence and all the mail from our box.”

“How much did you draw?”

“Five thousand rands.”

Willy didn’t move. Bob was shaking and Bea wanted to scream. The supermarkets were alerted. The personnel shrugged. “There are light-fingered thieves in every Mall.”

“I was there all the time.”

“Willy, you are not being blamed.”

When they got home, Bob, looking ashen, sank into his armchair. Will stood shaking his head. “My head is going round and round. I was with Mr Goodman all the time.”

Bea went into the kitchen, made tea and got them to drink it. She then slipped into the cloakroom and threw up.

It was 9:30 pm when the phone rang.

“Is there a Bob Goodman there?”

“Yes.”

“I’m Kunal. I found a briefcase at the bottom of a trolley in the Mall garage.

“I don’t believe this. My husband is distraught.”

“I’m not surprised. I’ve opened the briefcase and found the identity book. Take my address, come and retrieve your briefcase.”

“Kunal, I don’t have a driver at this hour.”

“I see. Unfortunately, I’m unable to leave the house now. But tell you what, Mrs Goodman. I need to be at the Mall tomorrow morning. Could you meet me at the Clicks entrance? I drive a black Honda. Is 11:00 am OK?”

Bea was overwhelmed.

“Yes, I’ll be there. I’m short, elderly. Grey hair pulled back and will be in a white tracksuit.”

At 11:00 am sharp a black Honda drew up. Out stepped a tall, elegant greying Indian.

“Your briefcase.”

“I don’t know how to thank you.”

“Please look, you’ll find everything intact.”

Bea made a huge effort not to weep, but did. He held out his arms and hugged her.

“It’s just being human.”

“Kunal, we have a word for it. It’s being a Mench.”

The gift she gave him included this quote:

‘If you lend me gold
I can repay it.
If you show me kindness
I’m forever indebted’

Ever grateful,
The Goodmans.

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