They always say that at the close of a day, it fades. But in Sea Point, just the opposite seems to happen. Instead of gently waning, the day seems to reach a surreal crescendo of saturated blues, stark salmon pinks and oranges the tint (or is it tone) of ripe summer citrus.
It’s this seductive sky that always beckons, winking, calling me to come out and play. So I do. And so does everyone else.
The serious joggers with their sculpted arms and calves, and the beginners in their ill-fitting gear – plaid shorts, flapping shirts and skating shoes. The tired-looking new moms pushing prams filled with wriggling bodies, waving arms and wide awake eyes. A dad strolling patiently as his pint-size, pink-clad little girl with her bobbing ponytail and flower in hand chats happily away – probably giving mom an end of the day breather.
The dogs, all rushing about in a multi-sized confusion of wagging tails and tongues, flapping ears and glazed eyes, some picking out an almost invisible ball among the grass and diligently dropping it at a far-off owner’s feet.
The lovers, blissfully unseeing, unaware of the carnival playing itself out all around. An occasional old man staring out to sea – unreadable emotions etching themselves ever deeper into the lines around his squinting eyes.
Then there’s the intriguing couple at the bus stop whose uncanny punctuality, not to mention dress code, always makes me reel with a Truman Show type of Dejavu: a clean-shaven middle aged man wearing a dark button-up shirt tucked into tight black bootleg jeans, a pair of boots short only of a shiny pair of silver spurs and to top it all off, a velvety black, gold-trimmed cowboy hat; next to him, his lady friend (or maybe wife), a Liza-Minelli-lookalike perfectly groomed in a tight-fitting top-to-toe ensemble of rich fabric and dark colours. Which bus and where to? I can’t help but wonder.
But of all the people on the promenade, there is only one pair I would actually shuffle my schedule to see: the frail-looking old man playing his inconsolable bagpipes while his ever-adoring consort watches from a bench close-by, a pair of faerie people, more ancient than they look or maybe indeed much younger than we’d even know.
Whisps of tragic notes wafting on the wind had led me to them on that first fateful dusk, but even when the music was resonating loud and clear, so close I could feel it rattling in my bones, they were nowhere to be seen. And then I caught a glimpse. Through the holes in a hedge I saw him on the corner of a lawn, pouring heart and lungs into his nostalgic song, and she sitting serenely on a nearby chair, eyes closed head lifted just so.
No such shyness tonight, however, as I came across them in plain sight: him standing tall and proud next to a Palm Tree and she on the wooden park bench with a little brown blanket arranged across her knees. I watched him play for a while, letting the notes penetrate my chest and rise up to my head. I watched her watch him. And watched how when he stopped playing she got up, shawled her shoulders in the throw, and met him half way. Then I watched as her arm hooked into his, and they slowly edged their way back home, as if time were irrelevant and night held no threat.