A New Dog

“What are you doing now?”

Sabelo asked Zoleka as she was taking a video of every part of their living room with her phone. He was growing tired of her ever-new discoveries and project ideas, and he didn’t know if he had the energy to stomach this new one. But she was too busy with what she was doing to even notice he had come into the room.

“Umm babe, hello. Your husband here. Remember me? Married for 8 years? Sleep in the same bed? 3 children together? Wenzani?”

“Just wait! You’re distracting me. I’m trying to do this properly!” Zoleka said irritated

“Do what properly? Starting a YouTube channel? Becoming an influencer? ‘Welcome to my Fourways home, please subscribe’” he laughed sarcastically.

She tripped over a toy truck while walking backwards and the phone fell out of her hand.

“Mxm. Look at what you made me do. I now have to start again”

“Start what again?” he asked again.

She knew he was tired of hearing of the ever-new things she had discovered, and she hoped to keep this one quiet until the last moment. Sheepishly she looked down, internally herding all the confidence needed from the many fields of her mind to the kraal of her speech.

“So, there’s this new app” she starts.

Sabelo already starts rolling his eyes. “So, what does this app do?”.

“Well, you take a video of your whole house, and link everyone’s Spotify, YouTube and social media accounts, and based on the family’s tastes, the AI suggests interior design ideas. I mean, we’ve been talking about renovating for a while now”.

Sabelo looks to the side shutting his eyes tight, forcefully restraining words that he’ll regret later.

“What does the new Ed Sheeran album I listened to have to do with the colour of the wall in my house?” he asked as nicely as his conscious allowed him to.

“The AI knows, and it’s always learning. It suggests things that you need, even things that you never knew you needed. And at the press of the button, it automatically links up to Leroy Merlin for material and Kandua for contractors, and gets the work done without you having to think about it”

“But I can paint the wall. Like I did the last time”, Sabelo said while looking for serenity on the couch, accepting this thing he probably can’t change.

“The kids provide enough craft projects for the whole house. We don’t need more” she said cheekily.

Zoleka stood silently, waiting for him to have some kind of response. Sabelo just sat on the couch staring at the floor.

“There’s one more thing”, she started shyly.

He lifted his eyes slowly her in fear of what she’d say next.

“The app suggested we get a dog”

Sabelo shot up from the chair in shock. “Inja! No no no, not in my house”.

“It’s already on its way. A black Scottish Terrier” she slid in.

Sabelo opened and walked out of the sliding door in rage. 10 seconds later walked back into the living room. “How can you decide something like this for our whole family without even talking about it? Who’s going to feed it? Who’s going to train it? Who’s going to wash it? Where is it going to sleep?” questions started firing out of his mouth.

“I put all our budget details into the app as well as our schedules and it recommended us as the perfect family for this. I promise, it will be great for us and the kids.” Just then, her off-the-cuff reasoning was saved by a knock on the door. “I think that’s the dog”.

Escaping the tense situation, she called her kids as she made her way to the door. “Khethiwe. Nomvula. Ayabonga. Come meet our new surprise!”.

She opened the door, and a man walked in with the Scottish Terrier held in his arms. “Hi, I’m Johan. We spoke on the phone earlier. Here’s your new friend.”

“Can I hold it first!” Khethiwe, their 6-year-old daughter begged.

“Sure, you can” her mom said, and Johan carefully placed the dog in her arms. Khethiwe then put the dog on the floor, and it started running around the living room and the dining room while the kids chased it in gleeful excitement.

Sabelo stood in the middle of the living room, bewildered by the apparent loss of control. His mind didn’t have the capacity to symphonise the seemingly inharmonious sounds that surrounded him – the dog barking; the children laughing; his wife getting care instructions from Johan; the now unresolved budget; the unforeseen change in household rhythms; the anger of not being consulted; the loneliness of insignificance.

He sat down back on the couch and stared at the floor, back slouching and shoulders collapsed in defeat. After Zoleka let Johan out, she came and sat down on the couch next to him. No words could stand up to the gravity that the app didn’t anticipate introducing.

“What do you think we can call him?” she said trying to lighten the mood.

With no energy for restraint left, he responded: “coloniser”.