All posts by sthemse

Chapter 10- 16 Days of Activism

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

 “Ja, ufanini?” (What do you want?)

Mike is taken a back by this question. He explains that the landlord sent him to do maintenance on the building.

“Uphi uSpijo, ugxothiwe?” (Where is Spijo, was he fired?)

“Andazi, unxilile” (I don’t know. He’s drunk)

Diliza looked at Mike suspiciously, he sized him up, frowned and noticed he wasn’t carrying a toolbox. He looked too clean to be a maintenance guy with his manicured dreadlocks and soft- looking hands. Something wasn’t right. Mike felt the silent scrutiny of Diliza, a short man standing in front of him with his hand slowly clutching  the door. Mike acted quickly and pushed Diliza in, forcing his way into his den.

I watched around the corner fearing for Mike’s life. The door was wide open and I could hear them struggling from the corridor. I reacted and ran down catching the door frame to swing myself into the room and shut the door close! Mike had the man pinned down on his back and sat on his rib cage with one hand trying to control Diliza’s untamed hand and the other clasped at his neck.

“Sanele, umeleni? Give me the rope!” Mike reminded me of the gravity of the situation, as I stood there frozen witnessing a scene I felt powerless to control. I reached into my bag for the rope and as I pulled it out a knife fell to the ground. I looked at Mike like I was the livestock that was about to be butchered by this knife.

“Fuck Sanele, I can’t hold him longer!”

I moved to steps towards them and tried to give the rope to Mike of which he sneered at me and said, “I’m doing this for you. You better help yourself and get your hands dirty. Start tying him up!”

It wasn’t that Mike had faith in my rope skills; it’s just that I stood there helpless while he didn’t even have to be in this situation. Both his hands were occupied and all I could do was watch. I took a deep breath of courage, parked my fear behind me and dove to the challenge. I grabbed the knife and flicked it towards his face. He stopped struggling and laughed.

“What are you going to do little lady? Uzithembe ngani?” (Where did you get your courage all of a sudden?).

With these words, I felt pressure build up in my ears and a rapture of my own words blurted out:

“Voetsek! Thula Mgodoy’!” (Piss off, shut up mongrel) I was angry really angry. I had gone through enough this week. I was tired of being a victim of men, defeated men who had no respect for women. Men who thought it was in their power to take what they want and leave, men who felt entitled but had no balls to find out what privileges (or lack thereof) their actions afforded them. Men who objectified and felt they could command me because of my skin colour, the size of my wallet, my nationality, my looks… Fuck, it was all because I am a woman! A WOOOMAN!

Dainty, breasts and ass, breasts and ass. Considerate, breasts and ass, breasts and ass. Wasp’s waists, breast and ass, breasts and ass. Polite voice, breasts and ass, breasts and ass. Oh let me not forget my vagina! Because that is what it all boils down to. I am victimized, disrespected, dismissed, disregarded and objectified because of a piece of anatomy that does not dangle between my legs. Then when all this is said and done, I am labeled as an Angry Black Woman! Gee, I wonder why?

Well my polite, gentle nature exited the small window in the darkroom and the fear that was still parked behind me followed. There, bold and strong stood Goldi, in front of this man who was no longer sure who he was talking to. I saw a sjambok next to his table. I handed Mike the knife and went to get it. I tripped on an open bag that was under the table and small green booklets, cards and other things fell out. I went to the ground and picked up one of them. It was an ID. There must have been about 20 of them before I found mine. This man-made a living out of stolen IDs. Enraged, I tied Diliza up making sure that he would not escape what I was about to do to him. Now I was feeling very generous, he was going to pay for it all.

He stole my ID, LASH! He shouts. “Sisterrr, askies man.” (Sorry sister).

That was the first apology I had heard from a man who had done wrong in a very long time. Why did it have to be at the hand of violence of them (men) not me (women). I was not done, I whipped him for the man who slept with me and stole my wallet, the incompetent police and making me come out here to deal with this shit. I must have whipped him 16 times before the neighbours barged into the room with pots and sticks manhandling Mike and myself.

Diliza was pleased that his community had come to rescue him. He pleaded that they punish us to make an example of us to any outsiders who came to this neighbourhood to cause trouble.

I interrupted and told the man next to me to look in that bag and see what Diliza had been up to. The neighbours looked at each other. Diliza still trying to save himself insists that the bag came with Mike and myself. I tell the man to look in the bag and he will also find my ID in there along with other stolen IDs. The man searches the bag and finds my ID. I tell them the truth that Diliza threatened me and demanded money for “finding” my ID. He is a thief!

The community shakes their heads, and chat among themselves as to what to do with him. Someone shouted, “Akashe!” (Let him burn!). The elders tried to control the crowd and agreed that form of punishment was too severe. The mob pulled him out of his room while he was screaming still hurting from the wounds I was responsible for, though I have a feeling that was the least of his worries. The crowd grew bigger as children gawked and giggled, adults asking what happened and people gathering rocks that they could find around them.

Mike was quiet and my fuel was burning. He looked at me and said Sanele this is not right. Goldi (I) looked back with revenge in my eyes and said he deserves it.

~END~

Chapter 9- The Culprit

chapter9

Chapter 9

Sitting on a laptop (informal seat placed between seats in a taxi) in between Mike and another passenger, in the taxi, I felt myself restless in this hot weather. The window felt far away and the wind not so breezy. The pleather covering on the laptop made the skin on my thighs sweat where they made contact. The taxi driver had little consideration for his customers as he blasted his music loud across the highway with the speaker conveniently placed above my head. Even if I picked the phone call I got earlier there was no way I would hear the person on the other side. I wonder who it was? Perhaps it was a job, damn a missed opportunity. Maybe the church? I did leave my blazer there as I was in hurry. Maybe, they want to arrest me for using their facilities wrongfully. I was unsettled by the thought. Bothered, squashed and uncomfortable I began to wriggle myself loose elbowing Mike in the process.

“Sanele, take it easy.”

“Sorry, I’m just a little nervous.”

“Ses’yafika ngokhu.” (We’re almost there.)

I knew and that’s why I was anxious.

Looking out of the window, seeing unfamiliar places. The landscape changed from greenery, city buildings, skyscrapers, to industrial pipes, silver buildings with a haze of smoke, trucks, a mass of empty land, wire fencing, to congestion, disorder, corrugated metal rooftops, advertisement bits on metal sides of what looked like houses, different colours, blue and white plastic looking vertical structures now and then, probably a toilet, a random lost goat, a satellite dish on one of those structures and small informal roads. The buildings and people turned into a mash of forms and colours as the taxi sped on the highway, I ceased to concentrate, music became mute in my ears and I let my mind wander. I’m not sure where my head space was, but it was a good place. I forgot it all. I felt as if I was no longer present even though my eyes where open and receptive, my lungs breathing and my heart still beating. I was calm and perhaps more present then I thought because for the first time there weren’t a hundred thoughts on my mind competing to get addressed. I just let myself be. There is something about being in constant fast motion that soothes me.

As soon as the pace changed I came to. I felt the taxi slow down to make an off ramp. I looked around trying to locate myself. People walked languidly on the streets in different directions. The streets were surrounded by RDP Houses (Reconstruction and Development Programme) of which some were more developed than others. There were a few big circles on the street to probably slow down taxis.

Some people started to get off the taxi slowly as they reached their destination. I awaited when our stop would arrive. Now sitting freely on a regular seat as people had got off, I felt myself even more uncomfortable. I hung my head out of the window slightly. Mike checked to see if I was ok.

“Yes, I’m just a little nauseous.” I replied.

“Hang in, we’re almost there.”

Mike called out to the gaatjie (taxi operator) and the taxi swerved to make a stop. We got off. Feeling the pressure, Mike too became nervous as he realised what I had anticipated long before him. We are here, now what? Mike towered over me and I could feel him pluck his courage to make the next move. He held my hand and we started walking. I was scared for a number of reasons, we were going to a place we did not know, the man we would encounter could be dangerous, I had a rope, taser and other things Mike asked me to carry in my handbag. What would we do with these things?

A police van drove slowly passed us, while the police officers eyed us suspiciously. Attentive to detail and social languages of place, I then noticed that the side of the street we were walking on was empty compared to the other side. This could have made us stand out, showing the locals that we are not from here. The police must have thought we were selling drugs to their community or something else. With a heavy bag and looking quite suspicious, I told Mike that we should cross the road. He protested at first saying that there is enough walking room on this side compared to the congestion on the other side. I asked him to trust me, and he agreed.

The next lesson I learned was from him. He asked for directions specifically from an elderly lady. Curious about this, I bring it up.

“Mike, we passed so many people. If you weren’t sure where we were going why didn’t you ask sooner?”

“Yes I was unsure, but you don’t just ask anyone for directions. Especially guys.”

“But why?”

“Sanele, you have to be vigilant anywhere you go. When people know you are not from that area there could easily send you the wrong directions, to an alley perhaps where other fellas will be waiting to mug you. You see they would steal from you, an outsider, rather than their own people. An older woman is always a safer bet.”

Surely I had to know this, I’m from Jozi, but living in city in Cape Town for so long has made me drop my guard. We rerouted, walked for about 10mins before we reached our destination. In front of us stood a mustard faded building with a red roof and a sign that reads ‘Block B’. There was a dark narrow hallway that we proceeded to. Finally we arrived at the door in question.

Mike and I looked at each other and realized that we did not discuss any plans of what we would do at this point.

“I think when the door opens I should be hidden from sight because this man has my ID, and he will immediately recognise me.”, I say.

“Good thinking. I could claim that I’m here for the maintenance of the building, checking electric wires etc. I will then gage if you should come in by calling you to give me the rope if needed.”

Suddenly I had an overwhelming feeling, the kind you get as the roller coaster slowly ascends the peak of the track. Taunting you with the sound of the crack crack crack as you see more of the sky and then hover over the sight of the ground for more than a moment of sheer discomfort. I felt my stomach jump out of my body in the same way that it does when the roller coaster finally decides to toss your body all the way down, playing hide and seek with death. This was that moment and there was no turning back as Mike had already knocked on the door. I scurried away around the corner, peeping to see what would happen next.

There’s rustling and murmuring in the room. The door opens and there he stands.

~END~

Chapter 8- His Story

Capture

Chapter 8

Yesterday, the Master of Time revealed himself to me. Yesterday, the Master of Time placed his cogs and wheels to suit a place, a day, an hour and condition to align the very moment I ponder upon now. Today, the Master of Time holds me back in nostalgia and held her forward towards me, close enough to make time stand still with her well within my grasp but far enough to lose that very moment.

I met her again yesterday and I didn’t know it until she was only a shadow running into the light. I was running away from the present, my life and the woman my parents want me to marry.

I too was all but certain about this commitment,even though I knew it wasn’t working. The night I met that girl in the bar the night, I knew my life was going to change. It’s the strangest thing that I find hard to explain but in the midst of bodies bashing and sweaty dancing, second-hand smoke, heavy breathing and liquor spilling; I felt her move my world in an ecliptic waxing of realization that maybe just maybe she could be what I have been looking for.

She always seems to leave in a hurry, the first time her friend dragged her away from me and this time she ran away after the priest discovered her on the other side of the confession chamber in conversation with me. Weird girl haha, but I like her, and all I have is her blazer that she left in the chamber.

His hand found itself inside one of the pockets of the blazer. He pulled it out along with some business cards. “SaneleMthonjeni.” He pursed the card on his lips as he thought whether to call the number or not. He laid his head back on the bed and thought about the possibility of meeting Sanele again on purpose this time. Would it be at a restaurant, the park or would she invite him to her house?

“Babe, babe are you in the house?”

“Oh shit it’s Sindi.”

In panic, Cairo got up, looked around and dived into the closet just in time before Sindi got into the room. The blazer was safely hidden from his girlfriend but not from his conscience. Sindi was only woman his parents knew in his life. He had met Sindi 3 years ago when she was still the woman he thought he loved. Sweet, gentle and gorgeous but somewhere, down the line she changed and not for the better.

Lately, he felt disconnected from her. He also felt another feeling he could not really account for. He was conflicted by a relationship that had lost its charm, loveless and staged really; but he wasn’t the kind of man who’d jump into another relationship without concluding his current one. However, how do you explain his dilemma now? A man,repelled by the person his girlfriend had become, plotting to make contact with a beautiful stranger whom he knows nothing about except her name and number. Could this be considered cheating or was this a sign to move on?

“Oh, you’re here.“ her eyebrow lifts with a smug tone in her voice. She clutches her hand behind her.

“Yeah, I am.”

Cairo notices Sanele’s business card on the floor. He had to think quickly. He reaches down grabs it and pulls out his trainers under the bed.

They were both acting rather peculiar but each was occupied with their own thoughts to notice this.

“I’m going for a walk Sindi.”

Hoping that Cairo would not leave and that she didn’t have to use the thing that was in her hand, she protests.

“Babe, I just got here babe!”

“I know, but I need some air.”

Like crabs they walked side ways facing each other with palms behind their backs full of secrets.

Sindi put her head against the door as she closed it shut. She would not linger on herdull relationship. So,she went into her wardrobe found her vibrator and replaced the expired batteries with recharged batteries from Cairo’s joystick controller. She felt that she needed to be selfish and indulge in a joy of her own.

She looks around the room. Turns her laptop on. Places her index finger on the touchpad and clicks on Finder and the search begins.Documents, double click> Recycle Bin, she breathes in- double click> Accounts, her heart speeds up a little- double click> Backup, she straighten her posture- double click> Clients, she swallows- double click> Wild life, she loosens her pants around her waist- double click> and then in front of her a collection of her finest porn material readily waiting for her to pluck it’s nectar like a forbidden fruit is organized into Feeling Polite, Scratch that Itch and HAngry. Today she was frustrated, hot and bothered. Her man was distant, running off leaving her alone in town for no apparent reason, his mission was no longer to satisfy her and he’d freeze when she touched him. On top of all that, she saw Sanele also running and could not catch up to confront her about a bergie who kept pestering her because Sanele gave them her number. Yes today Sindi was feeling HAngry- Hungry and Angry. It’s not something that can kill you but in Sindi’s case it would be a hazard to stand in her way because this is the one thing that turned her into an utter bitch.

She decided to cure herself of this famine. She dished out a serving of Wet WildChix- double click. Reduced the volume, view full screen. Skip the romance and fast-forward to the gluttony. Through her walls she guides the phallus within her. She partakes of the starter but her appetite seeks more substance. With her palm she cups her mound and reaches in between it’s fluffy wonder to a hiding place that is the source of her wetlands. As if in control of itself, her leg lifts allowing for more engagement as her mind is occupied by visuals on the screen and her hands labour themselves in anticipation of a blossom. Her ears no longer hear the moans of the wet widlings as the pressure in her ears as well as her walls, tunnel into expansions and contractions. The textures of her mind slip layered in velvet encrusted grainy air. Gravity pulling her forward to the past and interlaced with the fragments of the present. Absence or presence writes words in the dark, lining, leaping, squirting, convulsions in the pound pound pound down circular stroke of a sweaty, legs wide, back arched experience. It lifts he and lifts her, she squeals, tingles all over, Yes! She arrives…

Lying there, still in the seat of euphoria. She closes her eyes for a bit before she finds her wits. She walks across from bedroom to the bathroom, gives herself a wipe, puts on her panties and pants. She puts her vibrator in its silk cover and places back into the wardrobe. The door gets caught on something from the inside, as she is about to close it. She looks to see what it is and she finds a black blazer that she doesn’t recognise. It smells of a familiar scent she loathes. She looks in the pockets and finds some business cards that belong to a thorn in her side, Sanele.

Cairo begins walking back to his flat, where he finally decides to call Sanele. His battery was running low from dialing, calling and hanging up just before Sanele’s phone rings. It rings.

Sanele, now with Mike in a taxi to Langa looks at her phone that displays a number she does not recognise. Mike asks if it’s him referring to the man who stole her wallet? Sanele, rejects the phone call and replies no. She had a lot on her mind and could not entertain anyone else at present.

Feeling exposed, Cairo realizes how foolish this is. He puts away his phone and heads on home where an unpleasant surprise is waiting for him. Sindi had lost her mind believing that Cairo, sweet Cairo had cheated on her. She tried to rationalise it, “That’s why he has been distant. He hasn’t touched me in weeks because that whore has been seducing my man. They won’t get away with it.”

Cairo walked in while Sindi was throwing his clothes into the bathtub and pouring a liter of bleach all over them. Sanele’s blazer was on the floor

“Sindi? What are you doing?”

Fierce with rage, she turns around pours bleach on him and pushes him to the ground.

“How dare you think you can degrade me like that? You have no shame, cheating on me with that woman?”

Angry and confused, Cairo silently gets up. Takes off his wet shirt, washes his face and turns around to face Sindi.

She needed him to dispel all her insecurities to tell her she was wrong, and that he loves her. He merely just stood there, still dripping of bleach, white washed by the deafening noise in his head. He had been pushed too far. His silence let her fears settle deeper, and sink in even further. Off of the floor he picked some untarnished change of clothes, Sanele’s blazer and left.

 ~END~

Chapter 7- Confessions

Chapter 7

I am woken by the sound of a broom thumping against my door. The cleaning lady annoyingly sweeps the beach sand I left outside my flat. She knocks the door with her instrument purposefully to put me to shame.  At the realization that the she was on my floor already I jump out of bed and search for my phone. 10am, I overslept. Anxiety brews from a dark languid place, encroaching, its presence finds a home in my chest. I’m not one to revert to drugs to fix my problems but some rescue remedies would have kept this feeling at bay for what I needed to do next. 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6… I slowly breath as I count bringing my composure to steadier rate. I dial Sergent Sibeko. On the 4th ring he picks up.

“Er, Sergent Sibeko.”

“Hello this is Sanele Mthonjeni my case number is CAS 8854/10/2014.”

“Yes, how can I help you?”

“I’ve got a lead on the man who stole my wallet. I’ve got his address.”

“How did you get it?”

“That doesn’t matter, I need you to go arrest him and get my stuff. He made contact and threatened to sell my ID if I do not give him R2500 today at 5 at Cape Town Taxi Rank.”

“Sanele, if what you are saying is true I will need to investigate and unfortunately that takes time and we are short-staffed. So I will need for you to stall until say tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow? I’m not equipped to do this. There is no way I can convince some thug who’s expecting money today that he should wait till tomorrow! He sounds dangerous, I need for you to do your job sergeant and arrest the crook!”

“Sanele, I am doing my job. I need you to comply and do as I say. Meanwhile give me his number and address. I will investigate it myself, call me once you have spoken to him; and whatever you do, do not pay the criminal a cent.”

Great, what was I suppose to do now? It was not Sergeant Sibeko’s life on the line it was mine, and he was basically throwing me in the deep end. I needed to act.

I called the thug and left a voice message confirming that I would meet him at 5 today as agreed upon. Mike was the only one who could help with the next part.

“Sanele, What’s up love?”

“Mike, I called the sergeant and he’s useless. I’m calling you because I have a big ask and you’re the only one who can help.”

“Eish, Sunny what is it?”

Eish is never a good response that coupled with him calling me Sunny. Nonetheless, I ground myself for the task at hand. He just needed a bit of a nudge which meant I had to stroke his ego and then surely he’ll be like putty in my hands.”

“I appreciated how you handled yourself yesterday with your private investigator skills. You took control and steered the situation in your favour when I was quivering like a lost little sheep. I thought to myself there’s only one person who is brave enough to do the job that even the police wont do and that’s you.”

“You’re right I am a bit of a resident hero and I have a lot of other skills that I learned from CSI. I could put them into practice.”

“I knew I came to the right man. So, I was thinking that we use the address to ambush the guy and get my stuff. I don’t know how we would do it though.”

“Leave it to me. I will leave work early and meet you at the taxi rank at 3pm. Between now and then what will you be doing?”

“I’m not up to doing anything until this blows over.”

“Sanele, we don’t know who we’re dealing with so make sure you don’t change any plans you had for today.”

“I guess, I could go to that Alumni event at lunchtime.”

“Perfect. See you later.”

Was Mike being a bit paranoid or was he right? I don’t know but I had to get my mind off of things so I will go to the event. I shower and am suddenly faced with a predicament. I have to look professional for the event as I would be writing about it and will need to question the speakers but I wont have enough time to come home and change in time to meet Mike. There was no way I was going to go on a dangerous mission in the ghetto in clothes that draw attention to myself. I decided to carry a change of clothes.

I catch a taxi to Lower and take a shuttle to Upper Campus. I’m a bit peckish so I head to the food court where I am confronted by posters that read

‘Is my blackness welcomed at UCT? #WeAreBlack’. Feeling like an intruder I look over my shoulder as I feel Cecil Rhodes’ disapproving Statue. I walk a bit further and see one that reads, ‘Why is my Blackness a problem to them? #WeAreBlack’. I question who in the ‘them’ in this sentence is? Maybe it would have been more powerful if it was a ‘You’, in that way the distancing that the power of discrimination holds is eliminated and as an individual you are forced to reevaluate your own prejudice black or white and question your own interpretation of what ‘Blackness’ is. I question black and white students who laugh at a student with an African Black Accent, just because it is not ever so posh as the Queen who colonized us.

I approached the food court and saw something wrong with this picture. As casual as students can be on campus, as an outsider, I saw the disparities of groups. The Pringles and Polos sat together while the Monsieur Price (Mr Price) and A C Kermans (Ackermans) mingled among themselves. Did the posters suddenly make me see race and class or is this a reality for most students at UCT? I wondered if the same problems were prevalent in other cities with universities WITS, Rhodes or UKZN?

I get a phone call. It’s him!

“Ja, ntombi. I hope you haven’t forgotten that we are meeting ngo 5. You better have my money.”

“Ammm, yes I have it.”

He hangs up without warning. I become distraught. Already late for the event and panicking about this unwelcome phone call, I decide to leave. Perturbed the situations as well as the lengthy wait for the late Jammie Shuttle to Hiddingh Campus to arrive, I snap at the driver who is oblivious of his shortcomings. By the time we reach Hiddingh I was on the verge of being late for my meeting with Mike. Trying to keep cool I start hopping and gradually begin running on the pavement towards town. Heads turn as the wind gets caught in my dress slowly slowing me down. Shit, I still have to change.

With no bathroom in sight I unashamedly run into a church. Once inside, the awe of the majestic building brings me to a halt and I humbly enter this beautiful Gothic structure. The quiet and ecclesiastical symbolism stares down at me as if disapproving of what I am about to do. I look around to make sure no one is in sight and silently enter the confession booth. As I close the curtain the veil of fear lifts and I change in there as I would an ordinary change room in a department store. To my dismay there is a sudden movement on the other side of the booth. I freeze as I hold my breath and feel my heartbeat drum through my ears.

“In the name of the Father and the whole lot. Amen.”, says the confessor on the other side.

Oh no… What do I say?

“Hello?”, says the man on the other side.

I guess I have to go along with it. In my deepest voice I reply.

“Ermm, I assume this is your first confession.”

“No. I’ve confessed a whole lot, just not to a priest.”

“So why here, why now?

“I don’t know. I had to get away from my girlfriend.”

“Is this girlfriend the one you have confessed your misgivings to?”

“Yes, partly. I no longer love her but not because she has taken off her mask and revealed who she really is; but because I imagine myself with someone else. A stranger I met in the night who has somehow lodged herself in my memory.”

The curtain concealing my identity suddenly opens and let’s in a light that makes it hard for me to see the figure in front of me. I immediately push my way out shouting sorry as I run down the aisle.

The guy on the other side of the booth comes out just as confused as the Priest who found me. The confessor squints his eyes and mutters, “It’s her.”

¬End¬

Chapter 6- The Tide

Chapter 6

I get home. Anxieties hovering over me like a shadow. I pace back and forward as if a magnet pulled from the polar opposite ends. Scattering the remnants of the peace that once was from the beach, I stomp my feet ridding them of sand as if that was the biggest problem that plagued my mind.Grinding my teeth on my nails I chip my nail polish. I sit down,stand up and sit down again. Feeling as if I’m losing my breath, the room closes in on me, exorcising me of my peace, my stability and finally out of the flat. As if a spirit was chasing me, I am galvanized into a space of panic and run to the emergency stair well. I don’t know where I’m going but my feet lead me to Mike’s door.

As if I did not know what was behind this door I hesitate knocking on it. I gather my courage and politely knock on the door.

“Twice in one day? I’m in luck.”

My mouth speaks faster than what my mind can process, leaving Mike confused.

“Woaw, wait love. Come in and start from the beginning.”

He pours me a glass of water with ice and immediately it finds it resting place, whole in my mouth.  I ask for another one.

“Babe, does my presence make that thirsty? You know I’m kidding. What’s wrong?”

I scoff, and begin telling him the whole story starting from the one nightstand to the criminal who was holding my identity ransom.

“I just don’t know what to do Mike. I don’t want to end up like the real Faye Webb whose identity was stolen by that UK terrorist.”

“Who?”

“That Webb woman, I found it on a website on my back home when I was googling identity theft. I also looked up tracing the number through RICA but there wasn’t much information about that.”

“Ok, don’t get your knickers in a knot love. Slow down. I know a guy, give me that number.”

Mike speaks to someone on the other end of the phone whom I gather works at RICA (Regulation of Interception of Communications and provision of communication-related information Act). I hear something about a warrant but Mike dismisses it saying that the guy owes him a favour.

Silence…

“Ok, thanks chap.”

“What’s going on Mike?”

“I know where to find the idiot. How stupid can one be, using his own number to commit a crime?”

I look at Mike suspiciously.

“Don’t worry babe I watch a lot of CSI.”

“Ok, so give me the address and I will hand it over to Sergent Sibeko, the assigned officer on my case.”

I call Sergent Sibeko to no avail. It’s 7:45pm, I need to make a decision. I have to call the culprit.

“Sanele, I think you should just call the guy and tell him that you will give him the money to buy time.”

I agree, deep breath, dial the number.

“It’s Sanele. Where and when should I meet you to give you the money?”

“I’m glad that you have decided to co-operate ntombi. Since you did not call me sooner, I want R2500 now.

“Bhuti, but I don’t have that much money!”

Hey wena! Shut Up! You will never see my face. Just do what I say and we will both walk away with what we want.”

Flabbergasted, I listen intently while Mike stares at me, searching my face for answers.

“At 5pm I want you to put the bag with the money inside in the middle blue toilet at Cape Town Taxi Rank close to the Kensington Taxis. Inside the toilet you will find a plastic bag with your ID. If the money is not all in there I will find you and you don’t want to know what will happen when I do.”

He hangs up. I feel discomfort gnawing in the pit of my stomach, I suddenly feel mortal at the thought of a threat made to my life.Overwhelmed, I start sobbing. Poor Mike, what has he gotten himself into?

“Ammm love, never thought that the end of Generations would mean the soapie would happen in my own living room. It’ll be fine.”

The guy was a douche but he knew how diffuse an intense situation.

“Listen Sanele, tomorrow morning I want you to call that sergeant fella and give him the address. The police can ambush him before your meeting. Meanwhile, I want you continue with whatever it is that you do. Continue per usual. You hear me love? You can’t let this thing drive you insane, you’re too cute for that.”

Mike also had a good heart. It’s rare to find a sense of community in the suburbs. This place suffered from the ‘Every man for Himself Syndrome’, but Mike being a Xhosa guy from Khayelitsha never learned of such a thing. I thought him forward and over bearing once when he popped in for just about everything. But now I understand that in principle, we create the communities that we want to live in. Going to schools like UCT we share spaces with rich kids who grew up in houses with high walls, kids who only speak English at home and get a car as present for their 18th birthday. We try conforming and assimilating to this borrowed lifestyle, throwing away what we grew up knowing. I don’t know what it is. Perhaps being away from home, away from everything that does not resemble this Eurocentric city makes one believe that adaptation by all means necessary will make you more acceptable even if it’s at the expense of your cultural selfhood.

Take oQaqamba who become ‘Q’ or even more humiliating Cucumber; and what about other Saneles I know who allow their pale peers to call them Sunny? It doesn’t matter how many times you use ‘like’ in a sentence, or speak with a nasal English accent you cannot change who you are for a place that will turn around and call you in the words of Helen Zille an ‘education refugee’. Dear black child, your identity, heritage and parent’s struggle is not worth the syndrome percolated by this suburban bliss. Honour it by a victory far greater than assimilation. Honour it by a way a life that cannot be fully understood and expressed in English- Ziqenye ngobuwena bakho because your spirit understands it more than you do. You know this because it just feels right.

Even with his education from UCT, Mike never lost this part of his upbringing. It took him visiting my door several times and helping me in my time of need to remind me of this sense of community because Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (No man is an island, we all need each other). I shared this moment with my neighbour and went back to my flat with a sounder mind than before.

I thought about calling my mom but she was always perceptive of a putrid situation. Telling one of my girlfriends would not help the situation either. So I kept my troubles silently nested in me careful not to plague anyone else. Is it possible to be lonely in paradise? I guess with all that he had, this is how Adam felt in the Garden of Eden without a companion. I buried myself in a book and dosed off to sleep.

Chapter 5- The Morning After

Chapter 5

Pounding beating, my head is pounding and beating. Simulating a swirling merry-go-round, my bed is an enemy to my mobile mind that wishes an escape sweeter than that of  the taste of my bitter lips. My mouth tastes of someone else’s, perhaps a cigarette kiss- or kissing, gnawing, face sucking throughout the night? My body, naked and confused resurrects it’s self from its docile state. My sensibility hits me all at once and I feel like I’m about to, I’m about to…

I make it just in time to the bathroom where I project all my shenanigans into the toilet bowl.  This went on for about half an hour at which I popped some anti-nausea pills. This is not how I imagined my day would be after all the pampering I did yesterday. The mirror confronts me with an unrecognisable image of myself. I stare back at the stranger in front of me with her wild untamed hair propping up around the edges of her head, and lipstick smeared the side of her face and wonder what happened? Flash backs of robust shoulders, brawn and hmmm… I feel sick I again. I gurgle my mouth with water and ask myself a hard question, last night did I sleep with the not so gay guy? Searching through my bag, I look for answers. Fudge, where is my wallet?

Oh shit! He must have stolen it. I freak out when I realise that my ID and Driver’s License were in there. I lose all composure, paranoia becomes my friend. HA! Someone is going to marry me! Tears start welling up and I wail in the empty bed that I shared last night with a stranger. This pity party is not going to solve anything, I straighten myself out and decide to do what responsible adults should in this situation. I call my banks and cancel all my cards. I take a quick shower, heat up some leftovers for breakfast and head to the club to try find my wallet. It was closed so I go the police station.

Called forward after half an hour of waiting in a queue with a bench that smelt like piss, readily get up. I speak to police lady by the name of Dube. She suggests I open a case because my ID could be used fraudulently. In my statement, I state my name and the incident that led to my wallet being stolen with all its contents. As I mention that I went home with a man who’s name I could not recall at that moment,  I feel officer Dube’s judgemental eyes pierce the depths of my soul. Was I suppose to feel ashamed for my actions? In defence I stare right back at her challenging her to do her job instead of judging me. She asks me to clarify that I did not in fact know this man, but willing went home with him and I was not drugged by him or any of his accomplices? My attitude towards her reaction changes and I become obsessed with the question as I think hard about it. I try to reach a conclusion, I bought a lot of alcohol that night that’s why I can’t remember a bulk the of that time;  I wasn’t drugged right? I reply to the officer, yes, all that  you have said is true.

“I hope you used protection my dear or you’ll have more to worry about then just your ID being used for fraud.”

My eyes widen at her. Everything that she said after that turned into white noise, as I pondered on the implications of her statement. I took my affidavit and rushed home to find answers. As I sifted through my flat I wondered if  I should have just gone straight to the pharmacy to get Morning After Pills (emergency contraceptives) or straight to the hospital to get ARVs (Antiretrovirals). This was my reality now. I could be pregnant and infected by HIV by some guy I hardly know. I could not accept this reality, I turned my flat upside down, determined to find something that proves that I am or Goldi was still in control that night. Bedroom, lounge, kitchen, I move through the spaces searching under the bed, in the fridge, on the sides of the couch. Bathroom, under the sink, under the carpet, in the bin. My word where is it? The question was no longer what I was looking for, it was where was it? Where was the damn condom? Tired and feeling defeated I dropped to the floor as if my life was over. I am becoming just another statistic. What will my mom say? When does the cycle end? My birth mother made her raise me, her grandchild, now I will need her to help me raise my child if there is one.

I lay on my side with a tear rolling down my eye, and there it was. Lying just behind the dustbin was the condom in it’s wrapper. Yoh ha ha… This is unreal. I laugh hysterically from one end of the emotional roller coaster to the other. On the floor, still giggling I vocally declare, “I am such an idiot for  going home with a slob who can’t figure out how to dispose of a condom.” Sometimes, you need to hear your own words out loud and out of your mind because before that moment, shit went down that almost made you lose your head and you have to make right by yourself.

I was extremely lucky, I counted my blessings. I had to find an angle to write about, I decided to look through a man’s world view because they definitely don’t go through what I had just experienced and I needed to find out why. I make my way upstairs to Mike’s.

“Hello sweet thing. Show me some love.”

“Ammm Mike can you put a shirt on?”

“Oh sorry I forget that these guns can be a danger. So what’s up love?”

“I need help on an article I’d like to write about a man’s view on the rules of engagement in one night stands.”

“Oh young one, that teaching cannot be shared.”

“Oh come on. What do you want in return Mike?”

“Oh nothing much. Just a hook up with one of your pretty friends.”

“I’m not pimping my friends.”

“Then the master will not impart his knowledge.”

“Fine, I’ll give you a phone number that’s it.”

I scroll through, give him my old number that no longer works and get down to business.

“Right Rule number 1 if a woman gives it up on the first night you can never go back there. It’s a 1 night stand.”

“Why?”

“If it was that easy to give it up on the first night then it was probably easy for all the guys who knocked on that door before me. Why would you want that in your life?”

“Why is it acceptable for men to spread their seeds but when women are sexually liberal they are considered hos?”

“I don’t know love. What I do know is, you can’t wife a ho. Besides, girls in clubs are never girlfriend material, Even if they are shit hot. If you meet at a grocery store then sure we can talk but never a club. She’s only good for one thing.”

“Wow isn’t that shallow Mike?”

“Clubs like any other establishments are institutions. If you want to get your prayers heard you go to an institution called a church. If you want to get educated you go to a school. And if you want to get laid by a random stranger you go to a club.”

“Mike, you’re reducing it to only a small aspect of what a club functions as if at all. Surely you go there to socialise and have fun rather than get laid.”

“My love, you can socialise and have fun anywhere but you don’t have to be wearing a ‘look at my ass skirt’ and ‘oggle at my boobs dress’ to do it. Girls in clubs do exactly that.”

“You make it sound like a feeding ground for men.”

“Women are not that innocent to their actions either. Sometimes they go to a club specifically to get a man to go home with them after he’s paid for all her drinks.”

Damn, the guy I was with didn’t even buy me drinks, I got myself drunk. I’m not even sure that sex is what I wanted out of the whole ordeal. I just wanted to forget about the guy I like who was kissing another girl. Mike continues.

“The easy targets are women who go out on their own. With no girlfriend or man to cock block they are openly saying I need you to come entertain me. So I’m happy to be of assistance.”

This was sounding a bit too real for me. I change the subject.

“So once you get the girl, who’s place do you go to?”

“It depends. Personally, I always opt for my place. It puts me in control, there’s nothing more awkward than the next morning trying to decide when to leave, I’d rather not be on that end of the awkwardness.”

Great, another hind sight on my part. I go home with the guy, he steals my wallet and let’s himself out. That’s urban romance for you.

“So what happens if you get the girl pregnant.”

“Ah, don’t know. Never been there.”

“But what if you were in such a situation?”

“I’d probably hit and run.”

I narrow my eyes at him.

“Relax, I’m kidding. Sanele, I’d never be there because I’m responsible and will have kids with a woman I want to be with in due time. I refuse to see it any other way because it questions my standing as a man, ndingumXhosa phela (I’m a Xhosa man- not a boy).”

I look out of the window.

“Babe, are you ok? Feels like you just left the room there.”

“Yeah… I’m fine, ammm. Continue.”

“What happened? Do you want to talk?”

“No, I just remembered that there’s something I needed to do.”

Mike wasn’t convinced but I was not about to admit my vulnerability to a man I went to for advice on 1 night stands.

“Ok love, shout if you need anything else, even a cuddle buddy.”

“Ewww Mike. Bye.”

I decide to go to the beach to clear my head so I can write the article. On my way to Camps Bay on the MyCiti Bus, my mind wanders the pictureque landscape. I wonder how many of the residence in Camps Bay bathe in admiration of the sun at dusk? I wonder if they are home to see it set or could they be watching it from another country, a different time or a separate experience?

Are they stuck in traffic or busy preparing supper for their family? Is it possible that they are frantically making their way to the beach to try catch it, before it blinks out of the sky? Today is a special day. Today I managed to perch myself in the sands of the shore and wiggle my toes in the more affluent part of Cape Town. I envied the gargoyles in Chas Booth Lane, they always had the best view. Their eyes, magically solidified by the very sun we  speak of, never lay shut, they never slept but always saw it all. They saw all 12 Apostles, every  footstep laid in numbers in the summer, and every pitta patta of the rain in winter, every local welcoming an international tourist and every frown directed towards a darkie happily taking a selfie on the beach. Oh yes, they saw it all. Today they saw something not too different from any other day. They saw an individual, me, deeply reflecting.

I am interrupted by a reminder that pops up on my phone about the Alumni Event at UCT tomorrow. I almost forgot.  A text message comes through shortly afterwards. ‘Please Call…’ I almost dismiss it  because I do not have time for people who want to talk to me but can’t bother to spend money to do it. But wait, it reads, “Please Call YourID”. Could this mean what it thinks it does? Has a Good Samaritan found my wallet with my ID and all? Over joyed at the prospect of getting my identity safely placed where it belongs, I call the number.

“Hello, I got your ‘please call’. Have you found my ID?”

“Who is this?”

Did I call the wrong number or was there something suspicious about this?

“Sanele, you sent me a message just now.”

“Oh ja, listen ntombazane (girl), we found your ID.”

“Thank you, thank you! Tell me where you are and I will come get it now.”

“Wo, brika bova (slow down). We will give it to you mara you have to give us a small fee of R2000 for finding it for you.”

“Ini (What)? R2000! It’s my ID why should I pay for it? This is fraud!”

My Good Samaritan was nothing more than a low life criminal.

“Ntombazane (girl), if you won’t give it to us; someone else will pay even more than what I’m asking  from you to stay in this country. Mos you know that the foreigners are being kicked out of South Africa? Don’t you think that anyone of them would jump at any opportunity to stay in the land of milk and honey? If not them I can give it to any of the other big cats who know how to use your ID to get money, open accounts all of that nonsense. So trust me, giving me that money I’m your best option ntombi (girl). I want your answer by 8pm tonight .”

He hangs up.

~END~

Question

Identity Theft is a global problem that can happen in various ways. In this story Sanele is at risk of this crime by losing her Identity Book and Driver’s Licence. What steps does one take to get their ID back? Share your experience.

Chapter 4- The Reveal of Goldi

Chapter 4

It’s storming. I’m tossing and turning. Vulnerable not being able to wake up I wonder if I’m really dreaming. I must be though,  I can see myself laying on the bed and my other self is hovering about me. We make eye contact and as if baffled by the other’s presence we reach out our hand. As we are about to meet the half way mark, dimensions collapse, time whimsically dances and I am brought back to reality with my heart beating in my throat.

I look around me to assess the situation. I’m awake now, all alone in my bed with the wind whispering into my ears. I close the shuddering windows and curtains. The storm must have caused the nightmare or is it something else? Was my alter ego Goldi trying to tell me something? Was she tired of being kept hidden in my consciousness? I got up and googled Alter Ego. Wikipedia, well it’s not the most reliable source but heck it’s too early to get all academic. Wikipedia defines alter ego as such:

An alter ego (Latin, “the other I”) is a second self, which is believed to be distinct from a person’s normal or original personality. A person who has an alter ego is said to lead a double life. The term appeared in common usage in the early 19th century when dissociative identity disorder was first described by psychologists.[1] Cicero was the first to coin the term as part of his philosophical construct in 1st century Rome, but he described it as “a second self, a trusted friend”.

Hmmm, interesting. I skip to the last paragraph:

Alter ego is also used to refer to the different behaviors any person may display in certain situations.

My mind wanders to the exact situation when I first noticed Goldi surface. I was working an office job as a ‘responsible adult’ should be. I was the only black woman in the office besides the tea lady of course. The corporate world is not meant to be easy but for us black girls it is especially so. My experience, education and hard work meant nothing to that company. I remember giving my clueless project manager insight on a task I was researching that contradicted what she wanted me to put into action. You know what she told me in her posh English accent? I don’t care what you think, you are here to do what I tell you to do! My position had been reduced to using my computer skills- type type- type- space- record; and not my mind.

I mean I have heard about this sort of thing happening before where eqaul opportunities within companies for both races were not quite equal. A friend of mine shared her story with me. She interned at an advertising agency along with a white girl at the same time. She found herself always doing the photocopying, fetching deliveries; while Karen received in-depth mentoring and valuable tasks from their supervisor. When Nikiwe asked for mind stimulating tasks she was told Karen was handling it since she took long with the deliveries or some other excuse that kept Nikiwe from excelling as much as Karen was.

I realised that like many young women in my position I was filling a quota, the BEE quota (Broad Based Black Economic Empoyment). I was black, tick, young and skilled, tick, and a woman, tick tick tick. This made for a very good image for the company. All they had to do is employ me, in their minds their not obligated to grow me.

So what happened with this realisation you may ask? Goldi came to rescue me, I was losing control of everything as I knew it. At that point work was my whole life, I was overworked and under paid. I didn’t have time for my friends, family nor did I have time for myself. I decided to give back to myself.

I went looking for a salon that catered for both ethnic and white hair. This was very important for me because I wanted someone who understood my hair and what I wanted to do to it. This was a big step because at this point I decided (or Goldi did) that I was going to colour my locks pale blonde.

I finally found a salon in Rondesbosch. The owner of the salon told me about the dangers of colouring my hair that light as I had virgin black coloured hair.

“Skat, I don’t want to lie I am a professional. Your hair might fall out. I am not prepared to do this if you are not completely sure.”

The plan was never to colour all my hair just a few of the front locks. I had decided I wanted to do it.

“I’ll do it, I’m sure this is what I want.”

“Are you sure? I’ll have to strip the colour with Peroxide which will make you hair weak. Then after that I’ll have to put the dye you chose on the chart for another 2 hours and that will make your hair even more weaker.”

“This is what I want. Do it.”

She shook her head at me and 3 hours later Goldilox was born. To be honest it was the most empowering thing I had done for myself in a long time. My confidence grew back and with it a bold decision, I was leaving that company. I did it through the right channels and left with my dignity still in tact. I realised that when pushed sometimes our true selves emerge and either you will sink or swim. Inside I was a wreck but Goldi or the true me would not let me buckle, I decided to swim. This is the real world and young black girl you need to be tough.

I wondered why Goldi came to me in the nightmare. Was she trying to tell me something? Maybe she or I am feeling stifled in some sense and need to do something about it. Getting the new look made me feel good the last time, maybe I need a little pampering.

Yes this was the answer. I got ready to go buy a few items at the pharmacy. Let’s see, so I need to do my nails, exfoliate my face, and shave my legs.  So I bought Cherry coloured nail polish, an exfoliating mask and some shaving sticks. On my way back home, I glanced at a waxing beauty palour. Curious as Goldi is I stepped inside. I was greeted by a young woman about my age.

“Hello. Can assist you with anything?”

“I’m just browsing.”

I grabbed one of their pamphlets that outlined their services

  • Facials
  • Nails
  • Eyebrow waxing
  • Intimate waxing

“Excuse me, what is Intimate waxing?”

“In short, we groom your naughty bits.”

“OH!”

“We are running a special today especially for that you know.”

I didn’t need to hear the rest Goldi was in need of some grooming.

I would love to say that the procedure was simple and pain-free, but heck it’s crazy to endure so much pain for a part of the body that hardly sees the morning sun or anyone for that matter. Although, my vag did look a lot better I suppose. They say curiousity killed the cat but they also say a cat has 9 lives, meow.

I was feeling sexy and confident as I walked down the street, flicking my hair enjoying the breeze in many ways. Next I had to take care of my face and nails. Whoever said Me-Time is a waste of time had never experienced such pleasure. By the time I was done it was 22:30. I looked all dolled up with nowhere to go. It was too late to call up a girlfriend and honestly I was feeling bold enough to go out on my own. So I got dressed in my black little number and gorgoeus stilletos. I hardly wear heels living in Cape Town and all but tonight I was going to a club that deserved the appearance of these beauties.

The cab picks me up and drops me off in Camps Bay. Dateless I enter like a goddess. I head straight to the bathroom to touch up my lipstick and on my way out I collide into a guy.

“Oh sorry doll face.”

“No it was my fault I couldn’t see where I was going with flashing lights in my eyes.” I apologetically say.

“I lurrrve those shoes. Are they from Nine West?”

“No Aldos.”

“How Splendid, lovey. I must get you a drink for looking so fabulous.”

He said fabulous he must be gay. I did not mind the invite and gay guys know how to compliment a girl so I agreed. We order drinks. I look up and recognise a face in the VIP section. It’s him, the guy I met at 169. I smiled but that quickly changed when I saw him kissing some girl.  The music becomes louder in my ears,my heart races, I turn around and downed my drink  and ordered shots.

“Ooh girl, slow down the night is still young.”

“What’s your name again?”

“Brian.”

“Well Brian, tonight my inner Goldi is out and we’re gonna have fun.”

“I like the sound of that doll.”

We danced hard and drank harder. I was burning plastic and getting intoxicated by the moment. As I was thinking about my mysterious guy, Brian comes in between my tequila and my lips.  A stolen kiss by a gay guy? Oh so I thought he was.

“Let’s go home Goldi.”

~END~

Question

Do you consider your alter ego troublesome or a hero in some situation in your life?

Chapter 3- Bergie (Sarah)

Chapter 3

It’s a Monday, almost 1pm. Still impaired by weekend hangovers, longing for lost sleep or just restless from being bound to an office; everyone is glad to be out for lunch. Some people, however, are still on the grind,capitalising on the hour that brings all the office workers out to get food, smoke a cigarette, chitter chatter or even spare some change.

I too am out at this hour in Company Gardens taking a break, scripting some thoughts before I head to the grocery store. As I scribble my third sentence into my notebook, a woman approaches.

“Sister, can I have a 20c.”

That was the first time I had ever heard a bergie(Cape town slang for a vagrant) in Cape Town ask for 20 cents. Was the economy really that bad that even homeless people were lowering their begging fee from R2 to 20cents?

I always thought that the homeless people here were more expensive than those in Joburg. For the first time as a child I was confronted by a person begging and it seriously played on my emotions. My mom and I were in Village Walk, there was rugged man singing, using the coins at the bottom of his half cut bottle as an instrument. I remember lagging behind staring at the man. Eventually I reach into my pocket and pull out a shiny R5 coin my mom gave me a few weeks ago. I walk towards the man with the money in between my fingers. It’s as if my mom had a signal transmitted to her because she grabbed me and the money, scolded me for even considering giving her hard-earned money to a hobo (South African term for a vagrant) and walked with my small hand tightly squeezed in hers.

Pocket money is something that did not exist in my family as well as many other black families. So getting money to spend on myself was an extremely rare and special occasion. I think this is what angered her most. That day as a 6 year old stuck with me as I shrugged with open palms in front of the beggar standing in front of me today.

“Ah sister, 20cents?”

“Anginayo sisi.” (I don’t have it).

“Ok sharp. My name is Sarah. What’s your name?”

Feeling as if she would pester me, I give her my pseudonym.

“Goldi.”

“I don’t have children. I live over there by myself. I do things my way you know.”

“Oh.”,  I respond.

“Ja, I see it all from my prime location. The white tannies (aunties)in their fancy cars, on their iPhones shouting at someone on the other end while their kids stare out of the window on their iPods looking mad at the world.  For what eh? And then you see the darkie tannies still walking to their office jobs with their pumps almost worn out. But who am I to judge.”

I give a half- hearted response,”You’re very observant.”

“Ja, sister I have to be. The other day, you know what I saw? I saw a young guy jump to other side of the street with a knife towards a pretty girl like you who was BBing on her phone. You know what the girl did when she saw him?”

“What?”

“She smiled, thinking he’s kidding. The boy tried to grab the phone but the girl was made of tough stuff. She fought him for it. I yelled YEY! He saw me and ran away. The poor girl was shocked, trembling and couldn’t speak. I helped her call the cops and told them alles (everything). Yes, me the bergie on the street was a hero that day but no one takes notice. All I got was a thank you, I guess it’s better than nothing hey?”

“I guess.”, I answered.

“Ja sister, I need to go back to my room with a view. Watch out for the skollies (criminals) hey.”

What a strange interaction. She actually had a point, even though she didn’t have much, from where she stood her life was far simpler than most of us. She was still concerned about the fragmentation of our society and was willing to help in whatever way she could. You don’t meet too many people like that.

I called her back.

“Sarah!”.

Handing her some money, she responds, “Awe my sister, I was just giving you my 2 cents worth. Thank you.”

I wonder what my mother would have said to me doing this. I pack my notebook away and walk off to the grocery store.

I grab a basket. Shock of my life, I spot my arch nemesis, Sindi, all the way here in Cape Town. Damn, this town is way too small. We went to school together and one thing I shall never forget about her is that she was very good at backstabbing people. Posing as a concerned friend when my phone was stolen in the classroom she hugged me and promised to help find it. I found out later in the year that she stole and sold it at Ghandi Square to some boys from another school.

Forgive, I could had she asked but forget? Ha, never. In my mind Goldi prompted me to perk up my ladies, lift my head up and drive my Naomi Campbell walk past her.

“Sanele!”

Was that a female mosquito I hear out for blood? I keep walking but she calls out again.

“Sanele, it’s me Sindi.” She walks up to me and hugs me.

Where was my crucifix, garlic or holy water at this stage? My skin was crawling, pleading fora repellent to rid me of this leech.

“Oh, Sindi, I didn’t see you there.” (Of course I did)

“Oh my seems like your growth spurt finally kicked in. What are you doing in Cape Town Sanele?”

“I live here.”

“OH. What do you do?”

“A little this and that.”, trying not to sound unemployed.

“Ok, I work at Ogilvy as a Social Media Manager. We’re always looking to pick the brains of little people on the street  if you’re interested.”

Bitch, I could feel her rubbing it  in. The ‘I made it and you didn’t’ tone in her statement felt like the grinding of the knife she left in my back some years ago. What is it with people from your past that feel they need to prove something to you? It’s called the past for a reason, move on, do you and I will do me. Being the better person I calmly try conclude this unwelcome conversation.

“I’ll see if I can think of anyone ‘on the street’ and refer them to you. For now I have to go.”

“Cool, here’s my business card. Ciao.”

Was all of that really necessary? I knew exactly how I could improve my mood. On my way back I found Sarah and gave her the business card.

“Sarah, you should take this business card and call this lady. She could put all your valuable opinions on Facebook and Twitter. Who knows maybe people may like your comments so much that you have your own website one day.”

“Serious? Sister you’re the one!”

I went home. While in the taxi my mood shifted. I felt bothered by the rate at which my career was escalating. I did not feel the need to compare myself to my peers but as an individual there are ambitions that I wish to fulfill and the worry that I was not where I needed to be sometimes crept up. I may have been one of the first few in my family to acquire a degree but I had but no means ‘made it’ yet. There was still a backlog in what I needed to achieve. I needed a supplementary source of income, so I sat in front of my computer and decided to find a part-time job.

“Ok, let’s see. Google ‘Part Time jobs Cape Town’. Hmmm, Entertainment Therapy, what’s that?

The ad reads:

Top quality young lady/student entertainment therapy for men-high income [+R90,000 pm]must be new to this[not experienced]part or full time-high respect to you and your own conditions at all times assured-only firm & shapely[can be buxom,well built or not but must be shapely ph.Steve 071-000-000 in confidence.

90 grand for entertaining men? Why is Steve’s punctuation questionable? If he has 90 grand to spare, surely he can use it to better his grammar. Ooh this sounds dodgy.

Next ad:

Junior / training photographers required to assist us on  Saturdays.

Must have own car.

Must live in the near the CBD area.

Must have own car? Why do these people think that everyone is privileged enough to own a car? Some people like myself work in order to buy possessions such as cars. I’d only be so lucky to have a mommy who bought me a car in 1st year of university. Anyway, why would I want to use my car for the benefit of someone else’s company? Petrol may be accounted for as a company expense but I don’t think they’d be paying for any damage that my car endures during office hours.

Moving on to the next advert:

Looking for a well groomed, presentable White South African Lady between the ages of 22-35. Must be energetic, reliable, trustworthy and hard working.

 

Need to speak Afrikaans and English fluently.

 

Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 5pm R4000.00 Plus commission.

 

No chancers please.

 

Non Smoker.

 

Own transport essential

 

This is an amazing opportunity; high earning potential.

 

Must be available immediately.

 

Please email your CV to:

 

info@bipkit.co.za

 

Really? Am I the only one who realises we are still stuck back in time? Why is whiteness still part of a job description in 2014 Democratic South Africa? How would they have responded if I showed up claiming to be white with just a very dark tan or even called them out on their racism?

Why is does it seem like posts advertised in Cape Town have no consideration for employment equity? I mean I have real skills but I seem to be ruled out because my name is Sanele Mthonjeni instead of John Brown.

This was all very frustrating, I had no answers, all I can do is focus on finding more freelance writing gigs because at least at that discrimination as a black woman meant very little if my writing was good.

I receive an email from UCT about an Alumni Event: The power of the Humanities Degree. Great topic, I’m still searching for the same power post studies. This is the perfect opportunity to write about it. As I RSVP,  I hear a knock at the door. It’s Mike.

“Hey, I’m out of sugar. Can I come in?”

“Sure.”

Don’t you just love our neighbourhood? You can knock on the door and be sure that your neighbour won’t turn you away when you need something.”

“I don’t think it’s that kind of neighbourhood, you’re just really forward and know everyone here.”

“I’m not forward Sanele, I’m just a really nice guy. Why don’t you like me?”

“It’s not that I don’t like you. I just don’t throw myself at you.”

“Oh, that’s what it’s about? You should really learn to relax. You’re always so ready with an answer as if it’s a shield. What are you hiding?”

“There’s nothing cloak and dagger about me. This is just how I am?”

“So you’re protective of yourself? Guarding your heart? Some guy messed up and you’ve been cautious ever since?”

“Ok Mr. I think you should go. Here’s your sugar. Goodbye.”,  I gave him his sugar and frog marched him to the door.

“Bright Young Things.”

“What?”

“I see you’re reading it, by Josephine Edgar?”

“You’ve read it?”

“Yeah, it’s a classic. I enjoyed meeting the various bursts of personalities in the book. I immersed myself in the mind play between the characters. Their innocence, their lust and conviction… Anyway, you’ll enjoy it. Thanks for the sugar.”

Had this man shed his vapid caveman mentally and indulged me on a snippet of classical literature? Forgetting what I was doing before, I felt myself get wet. I rummaged through my grocery bags, found the batteries, disappeared to my bedroom, brought the Rabbit to life and lusted over his words. My word, I’m such a sapiosexual…

 ~END~

Question

Have you ever experienced discrimination while applying for a job, course, bond application etc? Share your experiences.

Chapter 2- Flawless

Chapter 2

It’s Saturday morning. Every township raised girl knows, you pump that motivational cleaning music. But I lived in the burbs with a kranky old lady who lived downstairs, so I had to invest in an ipod. I was jamming Beyonce because guess what? I was feeling flawless.

I recited the lyrics as I would an anthem. Feeling proud and bold in my pyjamas, I listened to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s words, I was neither thin nor fat, 24, single, ambitious  and was not the kind of girl to care about what a man thinks about me or fight for one for that matter. I wondered if my upbringing somehow made me this unconventional person, the opposite of the social standards Chimamanda was speaking about. I never grew up with words like Feminist and thus could not identify with such, but having been brought up by my grandmother (whom I call ma, it’s a black thing don’t ask) I grew up knowing that for people like myself, it’s a tough world and you have to wear your big girl pants to brave it.

My apartment had been cleaned spick and span just like my ma taught me. Zonke, my friend from Joburg was on her way in about 20 minutes to visit for the weekend. At the realisation of this I head to the shower. I turn on the tap, the steam fogs up the bathroom. Darn, I forgot to turn on the extractor. I begin my daily ritual and cleanse my temple clean. What was suppose to be a quick shower becomes an intimate personal moment. My fingers search with every touch around my contours, my mountains, and my delicate sensibilities. There’s a journey pulsating down south of my Africa. I surrender and reach into her depths, I rediscover her over and over and over again. Before I can even reach my destination I hear a- KNOCK KNOCK BANG at the door. Fudge, Zonke’s here!

I grab a towel. “Just a minute!”, I shout. Rushing out of the shower the steam follows me. I open the door in apologetic mutters, to find that she is not alone. The security guard from reception helped her up with her bags. Was she here to stay? I mean two big bags are a bit much for one weekend. I caught myself staring at them and the security guard staring  at me all steamy and wet half naked in a towel. I hide behind the door and let Zonke in.

“Yoh mgani, it’s so good to see you. I’m parched do you have anything to drink? iWine or something. “

Wine at 10 in the morning? , “Well we could go to the Old Biscuit Mill next door.”

“Yini leyo manje (what’s that)?”

“Oh it’s like Neighbourgoods in Braam, except this one is full of white tourists.”

“Konje, Cape Town is the Europe Capital of Africa. Get dressed Sanele I have to see this for myself.”

We both changed into something Spring like. Cape Town had just experienced the last of its cold front and Zonke was just in time for a warm beautiful Spring. It seems everyone got the memo because at every corner of the Mill, people were dressed in short skirts, brightly coloured cropped tops, freshly cut hair and sunglasses in abundance. The eyes always wandered as people filtered in and out of the Mill. Food and drink was the order of the day and Bohemian music was the jam.

You always saw someone you knew and perhaps wished you didn’t. That’s when sunglasses were the most valuable accessory to possess. Capetonians are so weird like that. People have amnesia every time you meet. You can bump into the same person at least 3 times and they will pretend that they don’t know you or don’t see you when they know they’ve bummed a cigarette off of you. What’s that about? I don’t smoke, but if you can’t support your addiction surely you have no business smoking. What more asking for a ciggy from a stranger you’re never gonna remember because your broke ass has BEEN bumming off of people’s cigarettes.

“Ey Sanele.”

“Mmm, who’s that?”, Zonke asks.

“Oh, it’s Mike.”

“Hi, who’s your friend?”, Mike oggles at Zonke.

Zonke answers on her own behalf. She was on the hunt, she was on holiday after all.

“I’m Zonke, I’m here for the weekend. You are?”

“Mike, I live upstairs from Sanele. I’m surprised she didn’t tell me that she’s having a friend over.”

I could see where this was going. Mike has been asking me to pimp my friends to him ever since we met. I decided to let things unfold as they may, I’m no one’s momma after all.

“Yall should come up for some drinks later on.”

“That would be nice.” Zonke looks at me with a grin.

“Cool. Let’s go get some food or something.”, I say.

We leave Mike wagging his tail at the sight of two lovely ladies leaving him behind.

“So do you and Mike have history?”

I laugh. no, I respond.

“Why? Is he a terrible shag?”

I try change the subject.“Look ice cream.”

“Sanele what was that?”

“What was what?”

“Are we 5 years old or something.”

“What do you mean?”

“I just tried to talk to you about a casual fuck with Mike and you froze up like a popcicle.”

“No, I just really like ice cream.”

“More than sex?”,  she blurts out.

“Zonke! We’re in public can you be more discreet.”

“Fine, but you and I are going to sit down and talk about this.”

I agree reluctantly, afraid that she’d have another inappropriate Turrets moment.

We find a spot and I explain. “Mike and I don’t have history. He’s too much of a lady’s man. But sometimes it’s difficult to be in this beautiful strange place. Often people are seduced by it’s beauty and are non committal with each other.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well look around you. This place is crawling with tourists, because everyone is mesmerised by this city. So you find that people treat it as a temporary destination a casual shag in way. This is a broad generalisation, but even the locals are not interested in relationships, because it’s more fun to be with a tourist.”

“Listen girl, I know that tourists have changed their flight plans because of Ebola, but that’s really silly because the virus is nowhere near South Africa if anything it’s closer to Europe.  Anyway, just because there’s a shortage tourists, it doesn’t mean there’s none. Why aren’t you doing the same? Have your fun, get your slice of Europe.

“You’ll laugh.”

“What?”

“I, well I… I have phallaphobia.”

“What?”

“I’m afraid of new penis.”

I swear I felt a roar of laughter erupt from Zonke’s chest.

“Girl, new penis? When last did you have sex?”

“Well, I have sex just not with men?”

“Oh, are you lesbian?”

“No.”

“Well then which one is it Sanele?”

“I have mono sex.”

“You and your big words. What?”

“I touch myself Ok.”

Zonke was sure to have a six pack around me with all the laughing she was doing.

“Why would you do that?”

“It’s safer then the incestuous activities people get up to around here. This city, for those who stick to the local dating pool, is way too small. People know each other quite intimately. Besides I had a bad experience.”

“So you did have a bad shag?”

“No, I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. I met this German guy Sven a while back at a club. We got talking via text. Finally after a few weeks, we decided to meet and well he was really attractive and funny.

We hung out and he loved the attention we stirred up him being white and me black. It’s as if he wanted to prove a point and make real some beautiful dark twisted fantasy (Kanye West knew what this man was about). We were only seeing each other for a week and he was talking about kids with his blue eyes and my fro. This made me very skeptical of him. He was pretty convincing though. He’d pick me up at home and take me out for lunch, pay for everything which is something Capetonian guys don’t do. If anything you pay for their drinks, imagine.”

Zonke interrupts me, “I’m still waiting for the nightmare to happen. So far all I’ve heard is that this guy was into you.”

“Well remember how I told you how small this town is? Well, one of my friends knew of him. I was petite back then and bold fitting his profile of model type black girls he targeted to sleep with and ditch thereafter. It all began to make sense, the way he went on about my blackness, touching my head and when I told him to take it slow he started to withdraw. He was not getting what he wanted so he considered me a lost cause.”

“That’s your horror story? That’s why you haven’t tried again Sanele? You need to toughen up girl, Joburg is far worse.  The guys there think they own women. They buy you and all 5 of your friends drinks you didn’t ask for; then they think they can get your attention. They’ll roll down they dark tinted windows in their expensive looking cars and think that you’ll jump into their ride and hopefully into their pants. If you do happen to date one of them, you can easily be replaced by any other chicken head who’s just looking for her next source of airtime. I mean the nerve, he moves from a goddess to a cheap skate kid. It’s like Game of Thrones, anyone could be removed off the throne. So the only option is to play the same game. They are non-committal, why do I need to be?”

Zonke says all of this with a straight face. Is this what being in our 20s meant? Was there a wave of singletons sweeping our generation because commitment is a construct that actually does not exist?

“This is why I don’t get involved with men at all.”

“You must have a good vibrator then Sanele.”

“Ammm, yeah.”, I unconvincingly respond.

“Wait, don’t tell me you’re still riding it manually. Girl you’re bound to get carpel tunnel syndrome at this rate, that’s not healthy. We are going shopping for a high range automatic.”

I didn’t like how that sounded. Before I could say anything she grabbed me with one hand and Googled ‘Adult Shops in Cape Town’ with the other. We ended up in Greenpoint, where a review Zonke read promised to titillate the senses. My goodness I thought I had a fear for real penises, silicone ones were not any better. Some of them looked real and scary. Zonke sighed and took me to the section that would be better suited for me.

“Is that a rabbit on the phallus? It’s so cute, how does it work?”, I asked.

The rabbit came alive, a humming droning sound activated it’s ears. The initial moment of innocence shifted to the realisation of carnal knowledge, yes I took a bite of the fruit of knowledge and there was no turning back.

“Ok, I’ll take it.”

“Sanele you haven’t seen anything else.”

“Yes, but I want this one.” Suddenly this was like a candy store and I had identified the piece of candy that I wanted all to myself.

“Alright then, let me just grab a few things and we can go.”

I took a purple version of the rabbit in a box and we were off. I must admit I was a bit excited. I can’t imagine not having to break a sweat ever again at a moment of pleasure. This was a very appealing idea. I was fixated with the droning sound and wondered what it could do.

We got back to the flat. Dropped off the merchandise and we got ready to go out. Zonke was no longer interested in going to Mike’s. “He’ll be my last option if nothing turns up at the end of the night.”, she says.

We go off and land up in Long Street.

“Why does every club here look like Kitcheners? Dodgey and…”

I intercept,” … and fun. Let’s get a drink.”

We pop into Monito’s, I order a Gin and Lemonade, Zonke likes it with Tonic. Moments later, a guy who claims to work at 169 invites us to the club. I may be on Long Street but I am a bit picky about where I hang but hey, fuck it. I already feel Goldi surfacing.

It seems this guy only had eyes for Zonke. They disappeared somewhere, I didn’t mind. It has been ages since I had been out for a dance. With Goldi out on a night about town it was not hard to get noticed. Spinning and twirling about like a tornado I caught a stranger’s eye. He was dark and mysterious, I felt the urge to know his secrets. We lost each other in the crowd, I felt myself becoming alone.

I gained composure and turned around almost slipping but there he was to break my fall. Goldi being who she is turned it into a dance move. He followed suite, he was smooth. The way he held my body, told me he knew what he was doing. I felt like Queen Cleopatra bathed in this man’s splendour. Yes I got all of that from one dance what more if I… Zonke suddenly shows up.

“We have to go!”

“Zonke where were you?”

She pulls me away from my perfect stranger. I didn’t say a single word to him, but our bodies spoke volumes to each other. I lingered on the ‘if’ what if? It was torturous thinking of what could have been. I was pissed and aroused. I didn’t even care why Zonke had to leave all of a sudden.

“Sorry my friend, we have to go home and get my stuff. I have to leave tonight unfortunately.”

“What? Why?”

“I got a message from my ex. He’s broken into my flat and is threatening to take my stuff.”

Wow, Zonke’s life is too much for me. I helped her get all of her bags and rushed off to the airport. Eventually she got a 3am flight. By the time I got home I could hear the birds sing. Tired and confused about the turn of events I remembered the highlight of the day. Without delay, I run to my room, unwrap my new toy, give it a wash and got ready for the thunder. The moment of truth, I put my thumb on the On switch and guess what? Oh Fudge, I forgot the batteries…

Chapter 1- Intro

Chapter 1

“Ey Goldilocks. Wena, yes you peroxide Rasta. Senifuna ukaba abelungu he? (you want to be white don’t you).”

Oh no he didn’t. Was this arrogant prick referring to me? My mind exploded into a myriad of thoughts provoked by this simpleton. I felt that if he knew the lengths I went through to look the way I do, he too would be ashamed of his statement.

My hair colour tipped in a pale gold dust was in no way a cheap peroxide solution. I spent a number Randela’s and over 4 hours on this look for him to call me a peroxide Rasta. Rasta, seriously? I guess some people like him are confused and need clearity, Rastafarianism is a religion and not a hair style. Just because Snoop Dog/ Lion whatever his name is these days; grew locks then fell hard for the religion, it doesn’t mean we’re all marching towards being a Buffalo Soldier.

Although in my head I had a different kind of march happening, the kind a disgruntled black woman struts towards a disrespectful simple man. In my mind the wind was coursing straight at me as my heartbeat accelerated with every step I commanded towards him, I slapped my outer thigh multiple times as if to summon  an inborn power while waving my head and finger like a turkey saying something like , “ukomba mina? Ngicela singajwayelani bhuti, ungakhulumi i’nto ongazazi.” In not so many words,’shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about’.

I snapped out of  it. Honestly, I wouldn’t even know how to make that roll off of my tongue effortlessly. Instead, I just huffed at him and strutted off in my Naomi Campbell Walk. Oh yes, the walk comes out when I’m fuming with rage or when my toes are piercing with pain from my stunning heels on nights out; that the only justice I can give them is to look good for the last time in that walk before they time out, usually in a cab.

I wish I was in a cab right about now. I was running late for an interview and being as broke as an empty promise I decided to walk from Woodstock to town. It wasn’t that far, but being a day dreamer really does take a lot of head space and time. Also, I couldn’t sleep, I woke up at around 5am and decided to shower and wash my hair. I must have been anxious for the interview but doing my own hair was not a good idea. It felt pretty good though, taking care of myself always gave me perspective and at this leg of my life I really needed it.

The call for the interview was unexpected, an acquaintance I had met a couple of times at Neighbourhood Bar, with some friends called me up after we had spoken about life, art, men and women. We got on well and became friends. Kayla was a graphic designer who was expanding her business and needed staff. I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted the job, as a creative, I just could not bare the thought of a Mon-Fri/Sat/Sun 8-5 (possibly 6, 7, 8 ,9, 10 11, 12, 1…). It was quite taxing being in a fulltime job before but freelance work was no walk in the park either.

Fudge it’s 10 to 10am! Walking had its perks but today was not the day for a morning stroll. I was perspiring, my hair had fallen out of place and I was almost out of breath. I arrived at 9:58. In the two remaining minutes, I used the reflection on the Citroen parked on the side of the road to dry pat my face before placing my locks neatly and buttering my lips. As I was doing that the dark tinted windows began to roll down. “EEEE!” The lady on the other side of the window got a fright too. I nervously laughed, apologised and explained that I’m here for an interview.

“Oh, you must be Sanele”, she said.

“I ammmmm.”, I lingered on the ‘m’ in confusion.

“I’m Celine, Kayla’s associate.”

I almost died when she said that.

Fudge, what the hell is going on with me today? I composed myself and called upon Goldi my alter ego, to save me from this situation. Goldi was an alluring, more confident, articulate version of myself. She also had a nack for getting me into trouble at times but knew how to handle herself in tricky situations.

“Oh great. Is that a french accent I’m picking up or is it just your French name?”

“Ha you noticed, I was born in France but have lived practically all around the world. You’re one of the very few to place my Frenchness, very observant, I like it.”

You see this is what Goldi is good at, she clears the mind and finds links that exist. The accent was difficult to pick up on but she drove a French car, with a name like Celine every kid who grew up in a household that listened to Eddie Zondi on Sundays would know that Celine Dion is of French descent. After drawing those parallels it was not difficult to place her, well for the astute Goldi anyway.

We then enter the building and meet Kayla and her other associate Ryan. We settle down and Celine wastes no time and gets straight to business. “I’ve perused through your CV and its quite impressive but I want to hear it from you. How did you arrive at this path you’ve chosen? How did you become a creative?” I began to realise that this would be a deeply personal interview, but then again which interview isn’t? I tell my story like a book, “I’m originally from Johannesburg. A challenge made me the creative I am today. In search to validate the whole of womankind at 8 years old, I proved a boy wrong in his statement that girls could never draw…”

Ryan interrupted, “Sorry but which ethnic group did you say you come from?”,  Yes he used those very words. “I’m Zulu.”,  I reply. “I know a bit of Zulu, ngishushu (I’m hot).”,  He says. “Ryan I believe that’s Xhosa.”

Celine annoyed with Ryan, directs the conversation back to the interview. “I see you went to UCT why did you not go back home to Johannesburg upon completion of your degree?”, The nerve, was this tourist in my country asking me why I am here? This could have been a trick question so I had to be careful.

“University is a great academic experience for an individual, but coming straight from high school to undergrad, ones life normally gets consumed in the books and the real life industry experience is lost. Cape Town is one of the largest creative hubs in the continent, I had to explore it’s offerings.”

“Which part of Johannesburg are you from.”, asks Ryan. “Soweto”, I reply.

“Oh Soweto, I’ve been there, by Maponya Mall.”

Of course he’s been to Maps, it was the Sandton of Soweto.

Celine sneers at Ryan and proceeds with her question, “Why have you chosen to apply at this company?”. I didn’t apply, I was asked to come to the interview, I think to myself. Where is Kayla in all of this, she called me here? Ryan jumps in and says,“We called her here. Kayla knows her and I was interested in the different influences in her background.”

In reality Celine was not asked to be part of this interview, but she came across my CV in a forwarded email she was accidently cc’d in and that’s why she was here. She was a bit much to handle and well Ryan and Kayla wanted to minimise any of her drama. At the realisation of this Celine threw a cadenza of fit.

This was possibly one of the most uncomfortable interviews I have ever attended. For a moment time took a different pace, everything went into slow motion. It was like experiencing a volcanic eruption with eyes wide enough to capture and process the havoc that would expunge life as it was.The sheets of paper flew into the air, some dramatic latin opera song coursed through waves of my mind. In fear of a paper cut and any other form of wrath that this woman possessed, I silently escaped the room abandoning Kayla and Ryan. Celine’s voice could be heard from outside the building, I didn’t wait to find out if she would calm down. I made my way back home.

I could not explain the turn of events or how I manage to get myself into these situations. Needless to say I didn’t get the job. Nonetheless, I learned a few things about this city.

Only in this city will a tourist who has settled here imply that you, a local, should stay in the city you were raised. And how can I forget Ryan, the white guy who focuses on my ethnicity rather than my skill set as a requirement for a job? Ah Cape Town, nothing masks your prejudice more than the illusion of your beauty.

Days like these always seem to wipe me out. I think I need a nap…