Precious Ramotswe is very busy these days. The best apprentice at Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors is in trouble with the law and stuck with the worst lawyer in Gaborone. Grace Makutsi and Phuti Radiphuti are embarking on married life and building a new house—a tricky business under any circumstances, but especially hazardous when working with the Joy and Light Building Company, a contractor that is not entirely on the up and up. Most shockingly, Mma Potokwane, the orphan farm’s respected matron, has been dismissed from her post. Mma Ramotswe is not about to rest when her friends are mistreated. And help arrives from unexpected visitor: none other than the estimable Mr Clovis Andersen, author of The Principles of Private Detection, the No.1 Ladies’ prized guide to their trade.
Mma Ramotswe looked down at her desk. She did not like to discuss the intimate side of anybody’s marriage—particularly when the marriage was as recent as Mma Makutsi’s. She thought of new marriages as being rather like those shy, delicate flowers one sees on the edge of the Kalahari; so small that one might miss them altogether, so vulnerable that a careless step might crush their beauty. Of course, people talked about their dreams without too much embarrassment—most dreams, after all, sound inconsequential and silly in the cold light of day—but it was different when a wife talked about a husband’s dreams, or a husband about a wife’s. Dreams occurred in beds, and what occurred in marital beds was not a subject for debate in the office—especially if the dream related to beds, as it appeared that some of Phuti Radiphuti’s dreams did.
But if Mma Ramotswe was reluctant to probe Phuti’s dreams too closely, the same was not true of her assistant. The topic had now been broached, and Mma Makutsi pursued it enthusiastically.
“There is no doubt about a dream about beds,” she continued. “The meaning of that dream is very clear, Mma. It should be very obvious, even to a person who does not know much about dreams, or other things, for that matter.”
Mma Ramotswe said nothing.
“Yes,” said Mma Makutsi, “if a person says I have been dreaming about beds, then you know straight away what the dream means. You can say to them, I know what that dream means. It is very clear.”
Mma Ramotswe looked out of the window, which was high, and gave a view from that angle only of a slice of blue; empty blue; blue with no white of cloud; nothingness. “Is the meaning of dreams clear, Mma? Do any dreams make sense, or are they just like ... like clouds in the sky, composed of nothing very much? Maybe they are clouds in our mind, Mma; maybe that is what they are.”
Mma Makutsi was having none of this. “The meaning is often clear,” she retorted. “I have no difficulty, Mma, in understanding a dream about beds.”
Mma Ramotswe sighed. “Well, they do say, don’t they, Mma, that men have such things on their minds most of the time. They say that men think only of that, all day. Listen to the way Charlie speaks when he thinks you can’t hear him. That shows you what men think about—or at least, young men. I do not think that Mr J. L. B. Matekoni has thoughts like that in his head all day. I do not think that, Mma.”
It was as if Mma Makutsi had not heard her. “Yes, Mma. The meaning of a dream about beds is very simple. It means that you are tired. It means that you need more sleep.”
Mma Ramotswe stared at her assistant for a few moments. Then, with some degree of relief, she smiled. “Well, there you have it, Mma. That must be what such a dream means.”