Wilbotsvale is the Hicksville of the West Rand! It doesn’t mean the people are bad, just poor and common. Being mainly a farm community, there are many poor families renting rooms from the farmers while working the land. It’s amazing how, no matter how poor they are – they smoke, drink and have more kids than they can educate.

Blinky is the exception. Pretty. Able to pass grade 8. Takes care of herself.

She’s a catch and is determined to get out of the hole she lives in with her parents, well… mom and step-dad. 2 half-brothers and 2 half-sisters. Although at least 2 of these children may or may not belong to her step-dad. The red hair is a dead give-away!

Blinky gets herself a job at the local Spur. Slaving away over weekends and evenings to better herself. She hides money in her underwear drawer in the room she shares with her two half-sisters. Once a month she buys herself clothing or make-up to improve her looks, and her “resale value”. The rest she gives to her mother to help with the family, Blinky’s a good girl.

Mom, having to feed her large family often makes her favorite dish – “Chilli Con Con” she calls it. Blinky stopped years ago trying to tell her mother that its Chilli Con Carne. The loads of soya, beans and cheap spices make it a cost-effective dish that goes far. Blinky loves it cause it’s supposedly healthy and better than the bland soups they often get. She likes beans in general and kidney beans in particular. But they didn’t like her. Her gut rumbles and fusses, causing vast amounts of gas for days after the Chilli Con Con. But she won’t avoid her favorite dish – it’s too good.

One day Blinky serves a great guy, Jakes. He’s a boiler maker from Mpumalanga. They start up a friendship then start seeing each other. Jakes is a gentleman who insists on paying for everything when they go out. He’s unlike any other man Blinky has dated before. It’s not long before they are serious. He is happy to have such a pretty girl interested in him and she in turn sees a meal ticket and a good guy. Not that she’s unkind to him – on the contrary, she is very good to him. Blinky works hard to make sure that he thinks the world of her. She dresses carefully, never swears in front of him and keeps him away from her family.

Their relationship moves on and Jakes decides that this is it! She’s the one. He’s so excited and saves up to buy her a lovely, tiny Tanzanite ring with sparkly diamond chips on either side. Blinky is the kind of girl who loves a surprise and he spends weeks planning the proposal down to the last detail.

His Uncle Wilbur owns a farm fairly close to where her family stays. He agrees to let them use his spacious barn for the event. Jakes speaks to her family, his family and all their friends making them promise not to say a word. They are all thrilled and cannot wait for the big proposal.

The night before the proposal Blinky is at home. Jakes says he’s working but in reality, he is finalising all the special touches for their special evening. He’s also scared that she picks up on his excitement, she is pretty observant.

Blinky’s family work hard to hide their excitement too! As a distraction her mom makes her favourite Chilli Con Con! They family eat together enjoying their lovely meal. That night the house is full of farting noises! Which is to be expected.

The next day Blinky works the breakfast shift and is home by 1. She sneakily eats the last of the Chilli which has had time to develop and refine. It tastes amazing and she thoroughly enjoys it.

“So mom – what are you all up to?” Blinky asks, noticing that the family are getting dressed. “We are off the prize giving at the school” mom easily lies, painting thick black eyeliner over her top lid. “And you?” mom enquires innocently, biting back a smile. “Jakes is taking me to a special supper, just him and I. It’s all a big surprise” Blinky giggles.

“That’s lovely” mom says giving her a quick, rare hug. She is pleased for her daughter and very excited to meet Jakes’s family. They leave half an hour before Jakes gets there to fetch her. Blinky is worried that her tummy objects to the chilli and makes a lot of wind. She runs outside to get rid of it just before climbing into the car, praying that it won’t embarrass her with Jakes.

“Where are we going” she asks impatiently. “You’ll see” he smiles mysteriously. “Is it just us?” “Yes” he answers, not giving anything away. Stopping down the road from Uncle Wilbur’s place – Jakes insists on blindfolding Blinky. Now super excited, her tummy really starts to churn, and she worries that it is getting worse. She tries to keep a sense of where they are in the car, but Jakes makes a few turns and U-turns to confuse her. She’s laughing and having such a good time. “I really like this guy” she thinks to herself.

A few minutes later they turn up at the farm. Blinky knows that they are on dirt roads as she can hear the sand and stones popping and skittering under the tyres. She clenches her cheeks going over the bumps to avoid being humiliated. “Damm Chilli Con Con” she thinks to herself. He finally stops. “Are we here?” she eagerly asks. “Yes – sit tight and don’t peek. I will be right back”. She takes the opportunity while he is out of the car to let off some wind, using her handbag to fan it away.

Hearing footsteps she sits still again. “Come on” Jakes says as he reaches into the car to help her out. “Gee you can smell we are on a farm” Jakes says with a cough. “Yes I also noticed” Blinky says with a sheepish smile.

They go inside, she can tell from the shade and the concrete under her feet. Giggling, she clings to Jakes hand hoping she doesn’t trip.

“Wait here” I won’t be long he says as he helps her into a seat. “Where are you going?” she asks a little concerned, settling into her seat. Just back to the car – I will only be a minute. “OK” she says – grateful that he is disappearing as her stomach is cramping badly. If she doesn’t get rid of this wind soon, she will explode.

“Jakes?” she calls softly. “Hello is anyone there?” she listens intently but its dead quiet and it’s now or never, she may not get another chance for a while. Slowly she lifts a cheek and lets out a fart that would make a stallion proud. It goes on and on and on. The relief is instant. But there’s more. Suddenly she hears a scaping noise and fearfully asks “Is anyone there?” She is relieved when no-one answers.

She lifts the other cheek pushing hard, hoping Jakes is not on his way back yet. Two more little pops and its all out. For the time being. She breathes a huge sigh of relief, then almost chokes on the smell. Taking her napkin – she fans it away quickly. Blinky sits dead still waiting for Jakes. Her relief is colossal and she’s grateful to have gotten rid of everything safely. For the time being.

Footsteps sound on the concrete – its Jakes. She turns and smiles in his direction. “Blinky are you ready?” he asks with love in his voice. “Yes” she breathes – pulling the blindfold off. He’s on his knees in front of her with the ring in his hand, a massive smile on his face and tears falling down his cheeks. “Will you marry me?” he asks.  Jumping up she throws her arms around his neck and kisses him saying “Yes, yes” I will.

“She said yes” Jakes shouts to someone behind her. Hoping that she is wrong, she turns around slowly and it seems to take forever. To her horror, her entire family is standing quietly in the back, right next to his. Her mother is bright red, and her stepdad is staring at his shoes. Her siblings are giggling hopelessly to themselves, they know all about the Chilli Con Con. Mortified beyond belief, she tries to smile and gives a little laugh, her shame makes her cheeks shine purple!

They don’t move for what seems like forever. Eventually Uncle Wilbur steps forward and with a loud laugh and gives her a hug, careful not to squeeze too tight. They all move forward and congratulate the pair on their engagement. Poor Jakes has no idea why they took so long to move in their direction. He would find out soon enough after 6 months of marriage and a few bowls of Chili Con Con!

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Writer, Mother, Grandmother and Wife.

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