DISCLAIMER: The Characters and Settings of No 1 Ladies Detective Agency belong to Alexander McCall Smith and Anthony Minghella. And Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi to the talents of Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for the FSAC Dog Days of Summer 2009 Calender.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
There Is Something I Need to Tell You
Mma Makutsi was indulging in her favourite pastime - watching Mma Ramotswe think. The detective sipped her cup of bush tea as she read over the letter that had come in the morning's post. Her old friend the police detective Billy Pilani now based in neighbouring South Africa had asked for her help with a delicate matter.
Even though she had now been promoted to an assistant detective rather than just a secretary, this was how Mma Makutsi felt most at home. She waited, notepad in hand a picture of attentiveness. Inside it was a very different matter.
How I wish I could tell you the truth she thought to herself. Telling you about my brother about his sickness was easy compared to this. And the secret you gifted me in return, your secret sorrow, your little boy. What compares to that?
I feel I am your friend now, not just your secretary, your assistant detective, your colleague. But will I ever be more? In truth, I hardly know what I mean. It is not something I have felt before for anyone. The only way I can think of it is that I feel for you as a man should feel for a woman, a husband for a wife, for one beloved to another. But that is an impossibility. Oh, there are places in the world where such things can be. In the movies, in the magazines. Not here in Gaborone. Not here in Botswana. There is only one person I know who might have some understanding of what and how I feel and I cannot speak to him. B K will only tease me. Miss 97 Per Cent he calls me. Yet sometimes when he teases me, I don't see malice in his eyes but a quiet desperate understanding. For all our differences somewhere deep inside we are the same.
Miss 97 Per Cent. I cling to that so tightly because it is all that I am, all that is me. All that I had ever hoped to be. Until you. I am a dry stick and you with your lushness, your traditional build, your indomitable energy. You are fire, something truly elemental. I am nothing and you, you Mma Ramotswe - Rra J L B Matekoni is right when he calls you Africa - Precious Ramotswe, you are a goddess
A goddess who was staring at her, a frown wrinkling her brow and her hands on her hips. "Mma Makutsi, are you quite well?" Mma Ramotswe asked. "You seem distracted. Is it your brother, is he unwell?"
"Indeed he is quite well at the moment," Mma Makutsi hastened to reassure her employer. "He is taking a new medication and has much more strength these last weeks. His cough has quite gone. I am sorry that my mind wandered. Please, tell me again what you need me to do."
Command me, Mma Ramotswe. Let me perform this service for you. Any service. You showed such faith in me, taking me from a mere secretary (though one who scored the highest test score in the history of the Botswana College of Secretarial and Office Skills) to an Assistant Detective. Assistant Detective in the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. And I hope I have served you well in that. And will do for many years to come.
"Detective Pilani wants me to meet him later today. It will take me some time to gather the information he has requested. I was asking you if we any more information on the Kgale Hill break-ins?" Mma Ramotswe asked. The rash of robberies had become personal the last break-in had been in their own office. Though little had been taken, several personal items had been broken, including Mma Ramotswe's favourite cup and the frame of Mma Makutsi's certificate proclaiming her accomplishments. Luckily the certificate itself was unharmed. Her soul could have withstood no deeper injury had that been damaged.
"No. There have not been any incidents that I have heard of for the last five days. And I have kept my ear firmly to the ground. I still think it is children. I have asked some of the local children if they know anything about it but they do not wish to talk with me," Mma Makutsi said, her head low. "I am not good with children," she whispered.
"We can't all be good at everything," Mma Ramotswe smiled gently.
You are of course excellent with children. You would have made a most wonderful mother to your little boy if cruel fate had not interceded and death taken him. When you visit the orphanage they crowd around you, hang off you. Any one of them would choose you to be their mother if they could. Rra Matekoni would choose you to be his wife. I know he has asked you, he awaits your answer. But who would you choose Mma Ramotswe. Who would you choose, Precious? Not that I could ever bring myself to ask such a question. It is not the fear that you would say no. It is the fear that you would send me away, that you would no longer be my friend and mentor, no longer smile on me. That is my fear. That is why I am and always will be silent on this matter.
"No, we can't," Mma Makutsi agreed with her employer. "But we can strive to be."
To be the best that I can be. Even if I am never yours. To be at least in your presence, in your regard. That will be sufficient.
Return to Miscellaneous Fiction
Return to Main Page