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SOuTh AfRiCAN LiTERARY JOuRNAL VOLumE 39 NumbER 3 SPRiNG 2011
Two new ground-breaking collections of plays
Short, Sharp & Snappy 1 and 2: Southern African plays for high schools compiled by Robin Malan and Colleen Moroukian (publication-date 1 December 2011)
‘Plays are there to be performed.’ These words spell out the intention, the promise and the fulfilment of these 24 new plays.
‘This is a brilliant idea and something needed by us at school.’
– a teacher in Cape Town
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*By permission of the British Library (Ashley 4869 f.2)
South African Literary Journal Volume 39, No 3, Spring 2011
Published in association with the Centre for Creative Writing, UCT
Edited by HA Hodge
• Subscribers from SADC countries are charged R475 p. Michael King.newcontrast. Cape Town. Nadine Gordimer.newcontrast. • Other international subscriptions are R600 p. Geoffrey Haresnape.a. a non-profit company limited by guarantee. PO Box 44844. . Branch code: 02-00-09 • Account name: South African Literary Journal Ltd Account type: Current account • Account number: 070508666 Credit card facilities are available on-line.Literary Patrons André Brink. design by Sonja Wilker DTP by User Friendly Printed and bound by Tandym Print Publication date December 2011 SUBSCRIPTION DETAILS 2012 AND COMPLIMENTARY COPIES Contributors receive a complimentary e-book copy. Paul Mills New Contrast is published by the South African Literary Journal Limited.a. Claremont.net Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to the South African Literary Journal (address above). Adderley Street.net ISSN-8: 1017-5415 ISSN-13: 977-1017-54100-8 Original cover artwork by croc-e-moses.net/ E-mail Editor: ed@newcontrast. JM Coetzee. • Electronic subscriptions are R100 p. 7735. Electronic transfers to Standard Bank. as a token of appreciation. • Current prices are shown on the website – www.a. worldwide. South Africa http://www.a. New Contrast.net Business manager: Sonja Wilker business@newcontrast. Dan Jacobson Directors Michael Cope. • Local subscriptions are R350 p.
please share them with us. but parcelled with the next. Corporates. Yet we survive. the Lotto – are closed to us until our books are audited. Because the SA Literary Journal Ltd. This issue is late. We have the usual healthy crop of poems and short stories. to pay shepherd and collie. directly as a consequence of our liquidity crisis. It’s Heller’s Catch-22: we haven’t got the money to pay for the audit. AE Ballakisten rescued us earlier this year: what a saviour! In this issue. local and international. of course. We need more money.Notes to love the poet first love emptiness then you will know the meaning of melancholy how nothing is more everything less the old monk told me so gazing out to sea Sep 9. The usual sources – National Arts Council. when we run out of cash we simply stop production – until money arrives. The books are ready for the auditor. and until we are audited we won’t get grants. Fervent prayers are often necessary. If you have bright ideas about funding. sustained by pastures unexpected in the close-cropped landscape. I hope you will find something of interest to your taste. others new to us. 11 I bleat about money each issue: some wee-wee lamb I am. Hugh . who publish this magazine. some familiar. we bring you the imagination and art of 22 contributors. do not allow us to go into debt.
yehuda amichai Rafique Gangat Bluebirds Stone Siddiq Khan Buchu blues Blues for the Maid of New Orleans Gail Dendy Fountain Pen Rumours and Gossip The Fat Man The Shape of Things to Come Patricia Schonstein Pinnock Afrika Arja Salafranca The English Cemetery A man sits in a Johannesburg park Robert Greig A Jaunt to Ulundi Zita Nurok Journeys Joe Mynhardt By Any Means Necessary Genna Gardini Il Diavolo: Irene Emanuel Flicker-Flash Denis Tembong La Fortune The Little Black Lad A little Below the Avenue Damian Garside Ontatile Writes Dilza Madikiza Obesity intensity Kyle de Villiers Lying together Burden The poetry that I would write you 7 8 8 8 9 9 10 11 12 12 13 14 15 16 17 20 21 22 25 34 53 57 58 59 59 60 61 62 64 65 65 66 .new contrast Contents Tom Byrne Julia Kramer [untitled] Autumn Solstice Winter fruit Snow Ouvolk – kotiljons Lara Kirsten jou voorland vir die onthalwe van nie verstaan.
One Peace after Mourning The Attribute of Poetry Apologia: The Georgiad Reaching for the sky The Soon Return – Part 6 67 67 68 69 71 71 72 73 75 85 .new contrast Lise Day Eleni Philippou Elisa Galgut Julian de Wette Johan Geldenhuys Contributors Noddy I loved to Dance In Eternal Architectured.
new contrast Tom Byrne [untitled] dogs know only the politics of dogs what can be smelt these odours complex never deceive be they cat or squirrel or hind end of dog they are true they have no agenda save their own known nature they have no faction intent on driving the market nose raised to the flow they know which way the wind blows 7 .
Winter fruit a spiral on the plate he cuts away the pith and feeds her segments of summer 8 . the bruised grass silent testament to love in the afternoon. the ash sheds her summer frock in hues of lemon and lime and bows to her partner across the street his heart remembers each line etched in her naked frame soon she sings her autumn farewell with regret in every leaf at her feet Solstice The poet and his muse celebrate the turning.new contrast Julia Kramer Autumn gilded. She kisses his feet. He feeds ruby red pomegranate to her. And his mouth breaks into a smile.
new contrast without blemish each one she licks the juice his fingers and catlike curls up at his feet Snow Soft flakes swirl. float down. sy trek haar onderrok oor platberg se skurwe knieë rinkink en dans haar ouvolk – kotiljons strooi fyn hael en sneeu met geil oorgawe. skaamteloos oor die gebleikte winter hange 9 . Ouvolk – kotiljons winterfeeks. fragile crystallised umbrellas delicate as thistle hiding the cruel paradox the crushing weight ripping limbs from old giants others disembowelled. and in the wake of the snow showers no paramedic to heal the wounded nor mourn the dead.
new contrast Lara Kirsten jou voorland vir toast coetzer spoorlyn pols kartel geel peusels van koue treine maak stof die grys pad wat die kind sonder troos bleik die lig met peronne wat asem in taal en lokomotief wat skyn skiet die swart na die spatsels wonde die poue fakkels skei die kwyn van die afstand jy vlek vrees verborge vrees in vrugbare saad skaduwee aanwesig in rooi uitlopers van lyf en kyk met oop oogholtes flenter flenter ek ver moedig vrywaarlik in dieptes vrywaar! jy weet van survive 10 .
new contrast vir die onthalwe van nie verstaan. yehuda amichai vir die onthalwe van nie verstaan voel ek woorde aan jou trap ek die verhoog met my lyf tou draai ek om my hande drink uit leë koppies woorde speld veiligheidspelde aan ’n swart hemp sit voor ’n sonhelder sak vol naartjies skil een na die ander se ronde koppe af om die soetsappige vlees teen my honger tong te lê vlos ek my tande sodat jy my mond kan aanskou borsel ek my hare om die borsel te herhaar lees ek uit ’n boek met wit blaaie in persies geskryf stapel ek klippe op in ’n wankel hoop gaan sit ek langs die ou man met die wynglas wat hoop ek kom sit nie langs hom nie die alleen druppel rooiwyn lê sy fossiel-lyf teen die holte van die glas tilt dit na my mond en proe gis en stof vingers van sop lek my tong bodem van bord val op my spoeg die roosmaryn stik die brood die mond van die tygerberge tuur soos ’n grot my tong troos ek met druiwe dood gekook in suiker 11 .
Stone – can’t endure heat.new contrast die vrou wat jou afloer uit haar donker oë groet my met haar lyf die kop van my regter skouer ruik na jasmyn Rafique Gangat Bluebirds Two bluebirds came to me – one with two legs. Stone Stone – stands all alone it can’t moan when it’s kicked by many a feet it can only meet a fellow stone. 12 . one with one. They don’t seem to notice the difference – one bravely meets life to the other’s indifference. wind and rain so someday it will be a grain and then dust which is a must for each and every stone.
Jirre! Here: brought this far out. let’s drag ourselves a bit further. Jirre! Here: brought this far up.new contrast Siddiq Khan Buchu blues Buchu blooming innie berge. 13 . klip-klop goes the quagga’s scurry – gone: we’ll follow in a hurry. Jirre! Here: brought this far gone. let’s drag ourselves a bit further. thought-short. taxis. caught kort. Jirre! Here: brought this far down. blooming buchu screaming murder. let’s drag ourselves a bit further. let’s drag ourselves a bit further. Buds of burning murder blooming. Here – Jirre! Jirre! Here: brought this far off. shop bought vinnag into vandag. let’s drag ourselves a bit further. factories. Bergie du-dum stoned to silence. turning engine. long faced. Petrol burning innie motor. Die burger dorpie too blooming busy to hear the buchu sing: Here – Jirre. hurling voter headlong. klip-hard hearts turned stone by violence. babies booming here – Jirre. Here – Jirre. Here – Jirre.
Let those who can afford it – the bishop. condemn Today. in cold waves which froze the soul. But I will stop. creep up. With hollowed heart I mothered the stray pup. again. it’s just the same. we gallop. I know it won’t stop. frozen forward. I know it won’t stop. daughtered the whore. I know they won’t stop. When just a girl. and never dreamt Again. The mayor – long for yesterday. their tears drown my hem. After floods. or try to stem The tides. crept up. 14 . We rise. Today will stay the same. The holy moans of human bands would thump. Mayhem Always.new contrast Blues for the Maid of New Orleans To Mother Katrina and her children Again the tides that freeze my veins creep up. And never before could I swallow them. my frail veins would freeze up. through hurricanes. Sistered the tramp. Today it’s just the same. Never pause for breath. Thump. I thought I’d fill the cup Of those who choked with thirst. Today it’s just the same. thump in my ear.
munching on these lettuce-leaf pages. my little pet. yet still so wild. or to camouflage itself among pots and pans. and how it likes to be refilled while standing upright over a glass or cup. I’ll leave it. 15 . And I’ll offer them rich. and bite hard. and how it says it won’t go quietly if caught. lowers its one metal tooth to bite. now.new contrast Gail Dendy Fountain Pen My pen is hungry for the page. I’ll point to the clean rug. dark tea. the absence of any footprints. And when the Poetry Police come digging for clues. yaps and snarls at its bare white flanks. the newly scrubbed walls. and omit to tell them how thirsty my pen’s become of late. And so this pen’s spilled blood which I’m forced to clean up.
and she clatters and squeaks whenever she hears the truth. waxes it. and then they might swallow her whole (with her rattles and squeaks) 16 . holds her husband’s love in the crease of her two fine dimples. She never hears anything so vexing as the truth so she gives it to her husband. coddles them close and makes sure they’re healthy. for if she lets in the light even a little rumours and gossip will thrive and grow till they get out of hand. rubs it until it shines the way one might rub out a very bad thought. but this only if the day is altogether sunny and much too hot. Then his wife places gossip and rumours in their very own cradles. And she closes the shutters. rides triumphantly to work in a good solid old car. He oils it.new contrast Rumours and Gossip Our fat neighbour is a cacophony of rumours and gossip.
sly and flirtatious. And after too many pints. My pal Henry comes up and he says ‘You a drinker?’ and I say ‘Not yet. I see a neon sign blinking blind as a one-eyed bat.’ and so we get pissed for new times’ sake and old time’s sake and for any time’s sake after that. The Fat Man The feeling’s a bit foxy. for if he tramples on it (in a moment of doubt. Hot-breath hello. I fancy I’ve grown up rum and wild. She gives me the come-on sign. or in a moment of certainty) it’ll leave part of its tail behind like a small wriggling bar of light. way in the distance. firecrackers.new contrast so that it’s no longer possible to call out to her husband to watch out for the lizard – the one near the door that keeps to itself and minds its own business. Even with my feet in snow my heart’s aflame and dealing out aces. there’s only Mary. For me.’ says Henry’s new girl as the road peters out at the end of her shoes.’ ’cos the rhyme’s so nice and Henry’s singing ‘You Got It Made’ in such fine voice that I’m jealous of the way she looks at him with so much sorrow in her eyes and a red-hot spike at the end of each question. The postcard she sent shows kisses under the mistletoe. and a cat arching its back under one damn pissball bridge too many. 17 . I sent Mary a postcard with birds and flowers and big-bummed berries winking at her. Down she tumbles. ‘Holy smoke. My wiring’s a bit crazy. a set of hobnails treading hard and heavy across the ash-grey field. Voices are hopping in my head like jumping-jacks. But I’m thinking ‘Goodle goddle.
and I think how I trail him like a poor puppy dog watching the studs on his boots that’re so new they’re shining. She knows all that. My baby. no fuss. My own little doll. And I want to hold her and kiss her hard and long like I’ve been away forever. and I chant ‘Mary. Henry. drinking and puking and baring their chests to show the ‘I love mama’ tatoos with the blueblue hearts and the fake ram-rod arrows and the pink scratchy roses.’ hoping she’ll come. ‘a tub of lard’. But Mary says ‘you’re a poor fat pusher and as soppy-eyed as a hangdog carthorse’. hell. Mary. She knows I’m a cash-and-carry guy.new contrast And afterwards. and that’s my final word. A regular man. I’m a big.’ ‘Fatso. ‘I’m not going to meet you under the bridge no more. she says. I tell you. step. she says.’ And I tell her about Henry’s new girl but all she says is ‘can’t you 18 . It’s at this point I’m weeping. But. fuzzy sleep of hers. a regular winner-takes-all kind of guy. “Now go”.’ says Henry. my tongue’s so dry. And Mary keeps saying ‘Henry. My Mary. ’cos’. you as sweaty as a stinking barrel and legless as any waddling duck. straight-as-a-die kind of guy. and the whole world’s gonna know how I feel. and we’re not going out for a day to the track with odds on five-to-one. ‘fart arse. and I’m dead-on sober and I’m thinking Mary. and this makes me near to weeping.’ I light up my last as I’m sitting here on the wrong side of her gate. There’s no more time I’ve got for you’. my heart’s so big I feel like dynamite. ‘I won’t stand for any silly sentimental shyster. Henry’s my kind of guy. And I’m thinking of Henry and how he says I’m soppy.’ says Henry. my shirt’s sopping with sweat both inside and out. it’s just me alone and the salt and pepper of a night sky wheeling and dealing the early birds. rolled up in that warm.’ says Henry. and her words are like square-edged balls in my head. ‘No’. No mess. and she says ‘I’m telling you there’s not going to be no more. And then she says ‘why’re you waiting at the gate like this. a down-the-line. And I decide there’s no way I can take any more of these bright little popper things. Mary. whatever I say is gonna be heard by those cracka-jack farts down at the pub all basement-happy. she says. hard. I’m gonna tell him a thing or two. I say I’m pure muscle. Mary. and Jesus. I say I’m all muscle. right to the tips of its steeples. big man with huge moonshine feelings and a pure inside as pure as mush. I’m telling you. So I sit myself down on Mary’s cold. ‘Fatso.
And hell. I’m feeling a bit foxy. She’ll see I mean business. firecrackers. And next time you see me I’ll be happy in Paradise and she’ll be there too. So now you know. It’s not what you feel. a set of hobnails treading hard and heavy across the ash-grey field. 19 . you know. these ain’t no sticks of candy I’m carrying. kissing up hailstorms on the soles of her feet. taking feather-light footsteps to the rim of her bed. Forget the rest. I’m sleeping in the hinges of Mary’s door. pouring out cloudbursts till she’s happy as moonshine. hanging on her walls. She’s all that I want. Nothing is over till the fat man sings. But I’m not going nowhere. So now I’m here at her door and I’ve locked the outside gate. Through flesh and blood. She’ll see I’m a man. She’ll see I’m a martyr. Voices are hopping in my head like jumping-jacks. So. My wiring’s a bit crazy. I’m staying put till my own little Mary comes running to me with her pert little sounds and her long. And I’ll be brushing ’lectricity deep in her hair. I just can’t make me out. believe what you will. Sometimes. and it’s all that I want. they’re strapped round my chest and the noise this’ll make will ricochet ricochet to the far edge of town. And I only want Mary. long arms and comes running to me and my big way of feeling. She’ll understand what I mean. They say I’m the fat man ’cos I’m two-hundred kilos and all of it muscle.new contrast hear? Can’t you see what I feel? Don’t you know what I mean?’ and I feel like I got swept up by a tide that’s cracked its jaw on the sharp side of a boat. No. But the outside gate’s locked and there’s no one about. bouncing big thunder in the pit of her thighs. But other times I feel like a squeak of moonbeam where I can look forever into my Mary’s face and see her rising blue and shimmering and come up to greet me so lovely and forlorn I swear that I’m hurting.
I refused your offer of panel-beating. this parallelogram comprising my-armsyour-legs.new contrast The Shape of Things to Come There are numerous words for this but no particular shapes. at that. ‘Who’s that for?’ I shrieked. ever-so slowly. using some very choice words. You kneel on the floor. Are you worried that. grasp both my hands and place them beneath your chin. reversed too quickly and slammed into the gatepost. But this is also an essay on forgiveness and the shape of things to come. and bitterly eloquent. vrrrrm! creating a steel-framed piece of negative space in the bumper which of course is a shape. or that it melts so quickly? 20 . this is about treachery: you arrived in our magically cleaned car not thinking I’d rummage in the glove-box and find an alien-purple condom. This is not a shape at all. and you turned racing-red. this bony cat’s cradle of our bodies touching. Rather. I spoon a blob of ice-cream on to your tongue.
Africa How shall I forsake thee? It will be in darkness afloat the canals of my ancestral home in a blue-velvet-lined gondola bearing a pouch of musasa seeds and pressed leaves of mopane. My siel sal jou sterre weerkaats en die vlam van die dag. in my hand ’n sakkie msasa-saad en geperste mopanieblare. Ek sal daar dryf. * First published in The Unknown Child: poems of war. love and longing. drywend op die gragte van my geboortegrond in ’n gondel gevoer met blou fluweel. African Sun Press ISBN 978-1-874915-13-3 21 .new contrast Patricia Schonstein Pinnock Afrika* Translated by Elsa Silke Hoe sal ek jou verlaat? Dit sal in die donker wees. Dit sal onder die Brug van Sugte wees. in my palms oker en akkedis. vol verlange na jou.
washed to sea at night. pecked by gulls. My palms will hold ochre and lizard. In times past they would have been buried upright on the beach. Arja Salafranca The English Cemetery Catherine Charlotte Anne Eliza. trying to make sense of yet another season 22 . within months of each other. and Henrietta Augusta. forgotten. My soul will reflect your stars and the flame of day. the words are still firmly chiselled.new contrast It will be beneath the Bridge of Sighs. within the dreadful year of 1851 going into 1852. Beloved children of Patrick and Mary. so clear and so legible more than 150 years later as I wander through. dead. Graeme Hepburn. Kicking through the hot Málaga morning. I will drift there longing for you. Dead and buried in the cemetery for the non-Catholics of long ago. Dead at two and four and nine years old.
wanting to be liked. too early.new contrast in the city of my birth. the husband you was’. tough. the ground is hard. A quiet in the heart of this now roaring place where they’re now digging up the earth to make an Underground. I feel almost peaceful. before the formation of this cemetery. born in Malta. instead of a deadly childhood disease. Gerald Brenan dies in Málaga. amigo de España reads the gravestone. the words are touching. A plaque for John Bevan who dies in 1816. wandering. An urn lies empty beside Brenan’s grave. Friend to Spain. This time though. even now the grounds are being used. 23 . briny. His wife. I step into the English cemetery. I find the graves of the writer Gerald Brenan. ‘Fear no more the heat of the sun’. vulnerable. Geoffrey Herbert Bruno is buried here in 2000. Joseph Bertram Griffin dies at the age of forty-eight in Torremolinos in the year 1968. Does language always define your nationality? I wonder too. as though Spain were reaching out. might it have been cancer? The grammar is odd: ‘The love of your little Zizi. described forever more as an escritor inglés. Kicking pebbles. It’s not just in past centuries that people die young. dead in 1968. the English writer. the sun and soil do not produce a natural green lawn in this part of the world.
in this bustling little city? 24 . clipped vowels of the language I speak. do they subconsciously avoid it at night. a tourist to their joy. I don’t want to buy expensive soaps I can’t afford. you never know? What will it take to become Spanish? In the shop I use my language again. it spurts out like vomit. after all. I scurry on. and the familiar washing flutters from the lines. Any donations welcome.new contrast I look at the apartment blocks. join a group of Spanish women excitedly exploring the bullring. I am the only visitor today. Effortlessly and without having to think. because. Home? A hankering for the crisp. He died last year. and the shop in this cemetery. Her husband was a journalist too. How long does it take before you stop rushing off to English cemeteries trying to catch something intangible? Before you can stop plucking at a little heart of England gone wild. The woman who answers me is herself a hybrid: an Italian American who lives in and loves Spain. I look at them. a fixture. Do they even notice the cemetery now. The woman runs the American club. awnings pulled down against the heat.
Tomorrow he takes her into six-month quarantine. Tomorrow Lucy will start her quarantine and Andrew just hopes that she passes all of Australia’s stringent tests and that they don’t find some strange disease lurking in her ticks or blood. It’s hot. still anguishing over what should not be thrown away. the man is alone. a good ordinary enough name. easy to give over the phone. He sits. The man’s name is Andrew Barker.new contrast A man sits in a Johannesburg park A man sits in a Johannesburg park on a late summer’s afternoon. A last night with no TV. ‘One last time before we take her in tomorrow. Tomorrow they will stay with friends. there’s a plan for that too: the friends who will take them to the airport will keep Lucy. just takeaway dishes and memories surrounding them in the hollows of the house.’ he told Deborah. If they do. and this is the dog’s last run in his company. reclaim her from quarantine 25 . In the morning they will leave it on the pavement and it will be gone before the day is. He releases the lead attached to his red-haired spaniel’s collar and she bounds off to sniff trees and play near the river.’ He hadn’t planned on doing it. and on Sunday these same friends will take them to the airport. tongue lolling stupidly to one side. And Lucy. his wife. if she gets excited. His wife and children are packing. The man will then take her home and turn the hosepipe on her. no pots and pans. a solid name that is easy to pronounce. still throwing out black plastic bags full of rubbish. ‘I’ll take her to the park. waiting. midsummer and Andrew’s face is red as he sits and waits for Lucy to finish bounding through trees and river and whatever else. He’s escaping the claustrophobia of the house. running through the litter of lives being packed up. now almost emptied of furniture. perhaps she will even go for a swim again. excitable. One last night in the house they have lived in for ten years: one last night with a camping bed for him and his wife and an old futon for the kids. excited. and then there were friends coming to take the rest of the furniture off their hands. washing off the leaves and slime of the river water. It’s an afternoon late in the week. children and wife packing suitcases. quite tired all of a sudden. There was the packing to do.
that peculiar flattening of the vowels that occurred what two centuries ago? Or was it already there and English in other countries simply evolved. cats. Drowning in information. food. continent to continent. he thinks. It’ll be as hot over there. in some way. who is part of their lives here. schools. of course. softly. Andrew and Deborah have.’ said Andrew. cars. Night after night for months the TV has stayed off as Andrew and Deborah have devoured books. Yet. Then. like a traitor: ‘In some ways I wish we weren’t leaving. drinks from a bottle of sparkling water. newspapers which list the price of houses.’ 26 . and whom they want to be a part of their lives there – a link from life to life. of course. furniture. The Australian accent also isn’t that far off the South African one either – foreigners still mistake South Africans for Australians or New Zealanders. snow in December or biting freezing weather instead of sun and sun block. Andrew had sat down beside her. been reading other sorts of guides: Culture Shock Australia. At least the children won’t have to get used to new seasons.’ Deborah said a few nights ago as she sat putting tape over the last few boxes. a boy and a girl. winter will still mark the middle of the year. a sense of continuity. and the seasons are all the same. pulls a cap lower over his face. Lucy is delightfully unaware of these pressures as she bounds towards the river. changed? The kids. how to set up a business. posting pages with fluorescent orange and green and yellow post-its. Learning that Australia is about more than kangaroos and dangerous snakes and vast deserts whose heat eats you up if you let it. Andrew sweats in the sun. but. The removal men were coming in the morning. have been reading books about their new country: children’s guides to life in another place. It’s for the children that they are taking Lucy – a reminder of home. ‘I feel like we’ve already left. as he sits on a fence made of logs. Christmas will still be hot. It is perhaps a lot of pressure to put on a dog. Lucy who is as much a part of their family as their two children. So Andrew and Deborah have said. ‘But we haven’t.new contrast and add her to their menageries of dogs. they also can’t bear to leave her here: stupid Lucy with lolling tongue and puppy-soft eyes. and a few birds. following a particularly strong smell of other dogs. trees rustled outside the lounge window. Lucy.
family. now.new contrast ‘You’ve said that before and I know what you mean and I also know that you don’t mean it. wait yet another year or so. you could not spend years wondering what to do. In a sense though the decision had been made for them. mouth in a straight line. in their cosy kitchen. I just don’t know. yet more friends coming to buy yet more furniture. Both slightly tipsy on wine now. the decision had been made. as the doorbell chimed.’ replied Deborah. Deborah smoked a rare cigarette. stick with them. All the physical signs were in place. with the enormity of the decision to be made. I can’t say we should go. you had to make a decision and stick to it. You had to make decisions. That night they sat at the kitchen table while the kids played games on the computer and they laughed at the papers. For though they had been married for years and years now and had two children they still loved each other as deeply as in the beginning. or even Deborah. with relief. It was. They were comfortable now. boxes were dispatched. you tied up the ends of your life as neatly as twisting bread together in a pan. took the kids out of school. or what it would all mean in the end. a closed subject. they were approved and held the official documents in their hands that said they had so many months to take up the offer or it would lapse and they would have to reapply. warm with wine. whether to do it. They were half-hearted about the idea now – after all this time of waiting. or the kids wished. pinched red. You became a robot. familiarity. with indecision. ‘Yes. Then. perhaps more so. almost in spite of themselves. You got tax clearance certificates organised. Whatever Andrew wished. ‘I don’t know now. They had applied for papers and waited over a year to be approved. applying ‘just in case’ as they told friends. deciding. Andrew. you cashed in a life insurance policy. And so it was that the house was sold. and was there a future now for them here? No. all too suddenly. They were laughing.’ said Andrew. and all the while the rand was sliding downhill. love. furniture divided among friends and relatives. and the kids were growing older. smoke curling into and around her dark head. twisting it closed. 27 . debates were useless. You resigned from a job. You did all this because a decision had been made: you did not question anymore whether you wanted to do this.
’ ‘Not if you don’t let it.new contrast But I can’t say we should stay. I’m the one who will be trying to start all over. made for them. 28 . know something that’s passed us by. of course. It pulls you back. ‘I feel like I belong here. I’m a part of it. When you grow up on a farm and watch what the seasons do to the earth. stupidly clinging on to something that’s finished. the animals. and she’ll miss her life here more than Thomas. It won’t make any difference to you at all. But then the decision was taken out of their hands.’ Sharply now. he’ll be speaking Ozzie before we know it and Sarah is adaptable. We’re still young enough to make new lives for ourselves. ‘What do we want to do?’ Andrew replied absent-mindedly.’ Deborah said on that night. their future. months ago. You’re just going to go ahead and carry on flying aeroplanes. an innocuous half day job as a receptionist if she could get it. after.’ said Andrew. storming out to tell the kids it was bedtime soon. and he’d curse about that. And the kids. they would say after. Let’s not get sappy and sentimental about this. We don’t want to be left here. Deborah was a lawyer. Qantas already wanted him.’ said Deborah.’ She just about flung her wineglass into the sink. Andrew.’ ‘It’s hard to leave though. ‘I feel like I know the place inside out. Studying for a new career wasn’t something you did when you emigrated. That’s not a good enough reason to go…’ ‘Like we’re going because what’s wrong with us? If friends are going they must sense something. rising from the table. you become a part of it. Andrew was away when it happened. Deborah said. her years of studying would be useless there. She couldn’t see herself going back to study – even if the kids had been older. as winter was just edging into spring. Thomas is only eight. But think of the future.’ ‘She’ll be eleven soon …’ ‘Yes. You don’t just leave Africa. They had discussed options: PR. time to be with the kids and time enough to integrate into society by working. would be fine. ‘What do we really want to do? We shouldn’t go just because so many of our friends are going or have already gone. ‘I’m the one who’s going to have to give up her career. except your layovers will be in different places.
he grunted. The glass shattering. frozen meat and salads and bottles of HP and tomato sauce all hauled away in rubbish bags. they hadn’t tried to take the cars. no alarms. when she would be raped. 29 . Thomas with a dangling arm where the men had roughly forced him into Sarah’s room Downstairs was a mess. She hadn’t been raped and the kids were fine. and moved roughly against her. panic. the children. there were shouts and then it was over. He had the gun beside her head then as he looked at her. the gunman returned. They didn’t rape her. the children? If she just gave in. Perhaps the gunmen had heard them? They too burst in. adrenaline. They had taken very little: money from Deborah’s purse. as though language forgotten. tied up. but left the TV. but the joke was flat. or had even experienced it. tied her up and then had gone rampaging through the house leaving Deborah there. Deborah breathed raggedly. had read it before. as one after the other took turns. smashing things. This was not an original story anymore and all those they told had heard it before. eyes stretched wide open. mouth useless with tape over it. it smelled of a brewery with the broken bottles of booze. no panties. Deborah’s hand already on the panic button. Deborah would joke weakly in months to come that the gunmen were hungry. When the gunman who had first burst into her room. then the car. and. She smelled him: old sweat and fear. There was silence now. or being forced to watch helpless. she thought four or five. There was a moment. It was surreal. would they leave them alone? Why couldn’t she hear them? But then another gunman burst in. nightie raised. bottles of booze. a DVD machine. Deborah knew. releasing the kids locked in Sarah’s bedroom. The fridge and freezer were bare. of husbands watching as wives were hauled away to be raped. The security company arrived. alcohol on his breath. There were worse stories: of being held at ransom for hours. He returned and leaned over. the faces at the bedroom door in the middle of the night. and except for a dislocated arm on Thomas’s part they didn’t really hurt the kids. They had keys. recounting the events. They wanted money. He pushed her nightie up with the edge of his gun. Still she had been lucky they all agreed. glasses. crashing through the house.new contrast It was banal almost. oddly food. They left. Deborah never knew how many there were. heart thudding as a hand was clamped over her face. and jewellery.
The dog. shrugged their shoulders and implied that they too thought she had been lucky and had nothing to complain about. raged himself. ‘Crime. and tied himself to a job in which he had to fly away and leave her alone in a house with two young children.’ she said to friends at dinner parties. And there was Andrew. over and over again. crime. And there was Andrew. she was one of those whingeing whites politicians flayed in parliament. They hadn’t been shot and no one had died. I’m going before that happens. this country had bred her and looked after her and she had benefited from the fruits of apartheid and she should stay. I’m not going to wait until I am raped in my bed or Sarah is raped. She recalled how at a breakfast meeting a woman had asked her. Equally sotto voiced. when they arrived the morning after gave her a case number. One day this country would be gold. had been of no help. I’m not going to be around for a next time when the government has no intention of doing anything about it. unapologetic even as she knew that their decision to leave was frowned upon. And the police. wracked 30 . They hadn’t come the night before. if Deborah and her family have ever thought of going. The security company apologised for not responding immediately but they just didn’t have enough cars to send out. Except she dreamed of gunmen. helpless as if he had been tied up. ‘One word: crime. they couldn’t be everywhere. to colleagues at work when asked about her decision. Now her eyes weren’t downcast she was angry. grit her teeth see the bad years out. She had been at the vet that night and thank God they said. They too had a lack of cars. they said. crime.new contrast And they were alive. at lunch.’ she said. and no one could say why. sotto voice. crazed eyes. they decided. Deborah had said yes. of men with dark. or they probably would have shot her. hadn’t hurt her… she almost felt like she should shut up. helpless with rage and fear himself. livid. looking nervously around before she asked. of guns caressing her thighs. Lucy. And so.’ She was loud now. nodding with eyes downcast. vociferous. thank her lucky stars and get on with it. At times Deborah almost felt like she had no right to complain: they hadn’t taken much at all. They won’t even acknowledge that there’s a problem. They argued and debated and justified their reasons over and over again: ‘I’m not going to wait until next time.
But they were in a grip of a decision. but comforted themselves with other thoughts.’ Andrew continued. shaking his head. ignoring her last comment. ‘Leave.’ said Andrew.’ Deborah saw the sea in her mind’s eye. Andrew. the Sydney Harbour Bridge arched over the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean.’ ‘It’s not about us. his parents. He rode horses over the farm. day or night …’ ‘I can’t imagine not having burglar bars. wondering if they would really need so much in their new lives. And you won’t worry about being hijacked every single time you come home.’ Andrew had said. this land. slightly scared and exhilarated with the thought that 31 . caught up. ‘you can walk in the streets. They knew they would have to need less: they would be surviving on one salary for a while and they wouldn’t be able to afford the same large house. the place he had grown up and as they talked it over with his parents Deborah let herself see the tug of war in him.’ his parents counselled. you’re actually telling us to leave.’ ‘And. ‘But how can you say that? You won’t see your grandchildren more than once a year maybe? You’ll grow old. I still want them. even if I am away. On their visit to see the place before applying for emigration papers they had done the Bridge climb. ‘You’ll be able to sleep safely at home now. you might not be able to fly out to see us then.’ ‘You’re not just giving us your blessing.new contrast with guilt for not having been home that night. ‘If we were younger we wouldn’t bring up kids here. thoughts that were luxuries they didn’t have now. ‘it’s not even anymore about you and Deborah. ‘You won’t need burglar bars and security alarms and rape gates over the doors. desperate to do something even as he talked of his love for the land. and what’s waiting for them when they leave school?’ Shocked. harnessed. I don’t think I can sleep now without them. you can walk to the shops instead of having to always drive everywhere and we’ll be living by the sea. Andrew had argued. took the kids to secret pools and places he had played as a child himself and Deborah could see the thread that bound him to this place. and as they went through the days they shed possessions like snakes.’ his father said. it’s just too dangerous now. to a place where the light was white hot and blinding. disbelieving. They went to his parents’ farm.
when she had said those words. The kids spoke of missing their friends. ‘You’re not really leaving. me and the kids. Andrew was bouncy and light. A catch now of enthusiasm which Thomas and Sarah took up and one day it was as though a light had gone on in Deborah.new contrast they might one day live here. A woman in her midthirties preparing for a new life in a new country.’ she flung at him again and again. people like ants. waiting for Lucy. she didn’t even have to get a job until she was ready.’ Deborah said to him. no waves and surfs or golden sands. he had handed in his notice and was already going to start flying for Qantas even before they left. ‘We’ll climb Ayers Rock. we’ll go all over. herself. their grandparents. just a bridge over dark blue dangerous waters. ‘I don’t want to get raped. when Andrew spoke of the beach. Deborah listening as she wondered about their new life. he asked her again and again if she didn’t want to go. ‘I’m not too old am I? Maybe by the time we’re in our fifties or sixties I’ll sound like our kids will… And you. Hurt now. They read the books about their new country and bought a coffee table book of photos to show the children. on a bridge high up. There was no beach in her mind. They were tense – but they put it down to the stress of the coming move. if that was the moment. ‘We’re leaving. It was mostly Andrew who would make the reassurances. He remembers feeling icy cold and then raging hot as though he had a temperature. as Deborah flung out these barbs. their grandparents’ farm and they reassured them that they would visit in a year’s time and that they would make new friends. He saw 32 . She strode through the house with something less like fear and anger and something more like lightness and pleasure. He had done everything he could: all Deborah had to do was make the move. except your home will be in a Sydney suburb not a Joburg one.’ ‘So?’ he was defensive. we’ll visit the Blue Mountains. pointing out that they would visit all the places mentioned. in your fifties too I wonder what you’ll sound like!’ Andrew wonders. sitting on the wooden wall. but you’re just going to carry on as normal. and one day she asked Andrew if he ever thought she would lose her accent.’ they said. He was going to fly the SA–Australia route as often as possible for now and in the future. That’s what Deborah saw.
simply because that is what your friends and countless strangers are doing. But what could he say? ‘Don’t change your accent. that it’s not that easy to leave your home. two days before he is due to leave the country of his birth. the same burn. with a clarity that he wishes he had seen before. But decisions are made and you must stick to them. or because your wife was nearly raped. buy airline tickets and wave goodbye. Are they really that unoriginal? And now. the same green in the grass. more intense perhaps. his parents on their farm. don’t ever make yourself sound like another person from another country. he knows that as he gets up to go look for Lucy. Everything hinges on him: Deborah will be dependent on him over 33 . and sounding like someone else. knowing that he mustn’t. And their cousins? They will have no one in Sydney. just in case. He’d wanted to shout stop then.new contrast her then. they still have two cousins. but it won’t be the same white. and Deborah’s parents at the coast. he sits panic-stricken. that it may be as white hot and burny. Here. You can’t just sell your house and possessions. the aged face. why didn’t they think of it? Andrew would be less reluctant to fly away every few days and the kids would still grow up knowing this country as theirs. her red coat redder. Even Lucy will look different. But what if they bought into a secure townhouse complex? With a 24-hour guard and in a boomed off area? That would be more secure. as fear crept up and down him like blood. He knows now. Deborah’s brother’s kids. as he did and known their grandparents.’ Even if it was unintentional he knew her sounds would mangle themselves into a mongrel mixture of the two continents. he knew. an older woman with white-streaked brown hair. He knows now that the sun will not be the same over there. speaking in a peculiar accent. won’t and will go. grabbing onto that straw offered by another country? Why did they put in papers anyway. the just in case they have been hearing for years now. can’t. Her sister lives in Canada with her husband and children. this isn’t what I want. Stop. make a decision. despite the not inconsiderable expense? Because well. and that’s when. No amount of weekends on the farm riding horses over tindery dry veld would bring it alive as forcefully as his wife aged before him in his mind’s eye. Why didn’t they think of other options? Why did they just automatically think of going.
wet and excited and excitable. My job forbids excess. but then what? Deborah will go – if she doesn’t go to Australia. I am a temperate person. The dog will return. and if he stays. 34 . then what? He does not lose his job. Robert Greig A Jaunt to Ulundi By the time we reached Ulundi. it will be easy to go their separate ways. He’s changed their lives and they are all looking forward. smelling of the dirty buggy water. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t started drinking at the airport. wherever he is. already it’s over there. waiting. I appreciate wine. In fact. as dogs do. no. as a food and wine critic. while waiting – one of those people who cannot simply sit. if he says now. Apart from my profession I have the occasional glass or two of wine and sherry before meals and maybe a good port or brandy afterwards. he was pretty far gone. If he leaves with her. The house is sold. He walks toward the dark greeny mucky bed of the river and trails a stick through the water. he knows. life continues for him. it’s over.new contrast there. A man walks in a Johannesburg park in the middle of summer. Decisions are made and you’ve got to stick to them even when you realise they may not be right. calling to his dog Lucy. She will walk home on a leash. But I don’t drink. People are always late and the drinking begun then. That’s it. She’s nowhere to be seen. the man beside her as insubstantial as a ghost. Instead. she will still go. I don’t drink. no longer our new home. Then I find drinking in others disgusting – all that falling about. as Deborah has said. at his lips. it’s over. read or think but must have a glass in his hand. long before we boarded the little twin-engine Cessna in Johannesburg.
well cut denims. and she pronounced his name the Afrikaans way – ‘Pole’ with a smile that swept over him to us. concave-lensed spectacles and had a spade beard. So I never discovered his surname. mousy man. obviously I’ve met people who work for the SABC. minor celebrities if you like. unexceptional and cheap. shall we go?’ She did not mention his surname but then on this kind of pleasure jaunt – ‘I mean obviously we would like you to write something but don’t bother too much …’ she had said on the telephone – one was meant to understand that surnames were unimportant. wine or tourism. introduced him: ‘And this is Paul’. Most of my colleagues wouldn’t let it bother them if you worked for Radio Zeesen but I’m afraid I have little time for the SABC stooges. you’re given to understand. they’ll have flung the place back in 35 . A boring. they deserve a blow. We were elegant by comparison. The ‘liberal’ ones talk about reforming it from within and three years later are still complaining about narrow mentalities. portable taperecorder slung from his shoulder tapped his hip. The media in Johannesburg are a small circle and we tend to bump into each other quite often. Then Jinny. the hotel group’s public relations girl. mainly writers about food. Not that it mattered: I don’t listen to the radio or watch television: propaganda.new contrast blurring of language. a couple of newspaper columnists. He smiled tightly but did not say anything and Jinny said brightly: ‘Well. seeking approval of the tact that did not Anglicise his name but simultaneously underlining that he was other. the inane assumption that the rest of the world is as euphoric as you and if it isn’t. The clothes set him apart from us. suedes and shirts appropriate to a weekend away. connected with work and being official. dressed in neat nondescript clothes. Or they say – the bright. The drunken man wore thick. In no time. flip TV ones – that they’re just there for the experience. And this was a press jaunt. wearing the kind of casual. His clothes were the kind of things you might glimpse on someone on a Saturday morning in a dorp – adequate but drab. Oh. Paul shifted from foot to foot and his black. worried tones about the country’s political situation – burning townships and the schoolchildren rioting or the cost of living. both. The spectacles gave the impression that he was the kind of person who would either sleep through the journey or speak in low. no assignment.
they continue with an awe which they invited you to share. ‘I should know. all the people getting 36 . You know. ‘Oh yes. ‘Meeting place of all the people. Dimly I could recall something about some lord – Chelmsford? – defeating the Zulus and not liking South Africa. when others didn’t smile as often as she. She was a pretty. more likely. with paternal wryness. ‘That must be why Southern Stars decided to build there. ‘It’s a job. it’s where they all used to get together and palaver. but you should see the camera-work. We didn’t. After all. her expression became distressed and a little reproachful. they’re still there with the Corp. ‘It’s terrible of me. ‘In Zulu. ‘Meeting place. that kind of stuff – but technically it was stunning. the SABC does have the best technical facilities in the world. sure. then ‘What does it mean.’ There is a third category of SABC stooge. talking with a benign affection and irritation about it. Of course. isn’t it?’ I muttered something about just being interested. undefiant. ‘Meeting place of all the people. I don’t meet them often and maybe they’re the least irritating but the most depressing of the bunch: the simple. absolutely stunning … rah-rah stuff. ‘Oh sure – the subject wasn’t much – police in the townships.’ stated Paul gutturally.’ she confided girlishly. the kind you felt would never become a woman.’ I adjudged Paul one of those. reinventing Hollywood. deliberately. Dick?’ she appealed to the pilot with a disarming flick of the hair.new contrast the governors’ faces and becoming second Bergman’s or. Ulundi means …’ she began.’ volunteered Dick.’ Jinny repeated. The jaunt was just that: to see one of the new Southern Star Inns built in a newly independent ‘homeland’ – one of those dusty places where women starved while their husbands worked on the mines in ‘white’ South Africa – at a place called Ulundi. We stood near the runway waiting for the aircraft to taxi up. ‘You know – where the battle was?’ Jinny said desperately.’ Jinny agreed. and they still insist on telling you about ‘the fantastic doccy’ they’ve made. man. they stay. unpretentious people who work with the SABC in the way their parents worked for the post office or railways. Before wars and things. Years later. It’s beating the system. They made this all sound quite revolutionary. bouncy girl. One may as well use what they offer and then move on.
too. That was soon after his second or may have been his third. ‘This is a jaunt. not politics.’ Before we could gag. hey?’ Paul said. the beer wants to come out. Till we’re on the ground. Without looking at Paul. As the pitch of the engine changed. Paul remarked: ‘The Parliament is there.’ Paul insisted.’ ‘No.’ ‘Parliament?’ someone muttered. I began reading. my retina retained an image of her gleaming teeth below the dark glasses. Trying to steady my coffee. are they?’ and I began to say something about Pretoria’s con tricks but then the roar of the engines made further dispute impossible.’ 37 . he began to squirm and then yell.’ Her teeth flashed in a smile intended to defang the warning. Jinny put it: ‘He means the Zulu parliament. Paul. Later he started humming to himself like a child on holiday and once he told everyone that drinking beer in the sky was better than sitting at a desk answering the phone.’ ‘No. Paul. ‘Lekker. you’ll have to hang on … wait. ‘No. Things change fast nowadays. ‘Hey. the image became a skeletal negative and after take off it disappeared. He didn’t respond with the same amusement. ‘When KwaZulu got its independence … that’s where the parliament is. scented semi-dark of the cylindrical fuselage. she altered her tone. ‘I thought it was still in Cape Town or Bloemfontein.’ Through his miasma of tenses. I pretended to not hear. Inevitably after an hour. Paul opened his first beer with an emphatic pop and a smile of satisfaction for everyone in general and no one in particular. and someone remarked in bored tones: ‘Well.’ ‘KwaZulu. He probably considered her improper. Jinny caught my eye.new contrast together and having a good time.’ Paul corrected. of course not. with Dick. I stepped up into the cool. As we stepped aboard.’ ‘You mean you want to pee?’ she asked with a trill. occasionally darting a look at the dry winter veld beneath. just kidding but – look here I’ve got this … man. Jinny. I tried to work out what he was saying. can I open this window?’ ‘Oh. the pilot organising the seating to balance the aircraft. they’re not really independent. Soon.
I was still aware of the struggles and contortions in the seat across the aisle and then of a slightly whiff – imagined? – of urine. ‘We’ll look away. ‘Use a can. He had a frown of intense concentration on his flushed face.’’ ‘No. He looked strangely 38 . ‘Another 250 miles. He stared ahead at Jimmy. I could see an embarrassed smile tightly parting his grey-flecked beard. His mouth twitched and he tapped an unlit cigarette against the ashtray as if there was ash to fall. ‘If you need help. I shifted nearer the window automatically. The sight might have been inexpressibly comic.new contrast ‘I’m hurting. Dick turned up the Muzak on the intercom. Shrugging her shoulders. eyes hooded.’ Jinny offered. Abruptly Jinny’s eyebrows lifted and her mouth twisted theatrically. ‘No. aware of Paul struggling in his seat to undo his fly then unclicking his safety belt. Paul. I slowly turned and stared. pronouncing his name the English way: the remark sounding lewd. Or a plug or something. Then his face turned downwards.’ ‘Well. His penis was long and uncircumcised. How much further?’ There was a brief pause. empties behind him.’ I suggested.’ ‘Beer’s a killer. can in hand.’ he insisted. ‘I don’t think that’s funny. and looked out but reflected in it saw Paul balancing the can between his thighs. hand caught in his pants. ‘Dick. we’ve got a patient here. I don’t suppose we can open a window.’ Paul said ponderously. about. I returned to my book. The others giggled but I was sitting too close to him to. Jinny turned round again. I wondered if she was available. I need to go. ‘Ja. The rest were pointedly disengaged. away. Paul. including me in the remark. The wind’s against us. Jinny giggled. Considerately.’ she promised. just call. The rest of the party were staring punctiliously forward. I mean time. Or two. He stared back defiantly. Paul glanced challengingly at me and then his eyes flicked away.’ ‘Say an hour before we’re on the ground.’ Jinny turning to us for support. She turned back. can’t you tie a knot?’ We laughed. Paul was sitting legs firmly crossed.’ I remarked and he took it as a gesture of sympathy.
gesturing to the seat beside her. and started walking to the back of the plane. She shook her head – a ‘what can one do?’ expression for me. ‘Where are you off to now. I also thought I could see figures move between huts once and once I saw skewbald cattle.new contrast contained and reposeful. Now and then. smiling at me.’ I told her.’ she said with an edge. a russet bull. ‘Get another beer. Then. I picked up my book and joined her. ‘Help yourself. And then. flanked by broad blonde sand flats. ‘It’s his problem.’ He replied shortly not bothering to look back. Paul?’ Jinny asked. What other rivers were there in Zululand? 39 . building complicity. though I didn’t know. there seemed little water. head bowed in the low cabin. He zipped and stood. like medieval Italian villages – for defence. perhaps. I saw huts standing in circles. I thought. irritated. People in the country grew mielies. Over shrub stippled khaki hills that waved to the horizon. the land would have looked like the skin of huge animal. I could just discern webs of green lying in the furrows. I suppose if we had been travelling higher. with the inevitable small village perched on top. the plane was steadily passing. like a ring of hives in picture books and where their presence created ochre ground.’ he replied. From here they resembled dry canals. Clusters of huts were at the tops of hills. linking the hills was a network of paths.’ She relaxed her muscles into a professional smile. Must be mielies. It must have been Tugela. a faint hazing. She offered me another drink. tied down. Between the hills were river-courses but apart from a suggestion of silver gleam as we passed. Dick looked round and though we could not hear. ‘Lady. we saw a full. turning massively all the way to the horizon. Patches of ploughed earth – lines that undulated and then foundered in the scrub. earth-red thick knotted river. ‘Do you want to move?’ she said. looking down. and said so to Jinny. no doubt. It was hard to say because each cleft was filled with a thick pubic thatch of bush. coming over a hill. I can look after myself. surrounded each. he mouthed a word. I thought. But I could not be sure. ‘It could be a rough landing – do you really want another?’ ‘They said there would be plenty of free pots.
women wearing crimplene looking irritated. That beer.new contrast How good it must be to live close to nature and friends – not too close – with a brief walk in the tall grass up one hill. I’m not giving you the sales pitch – I mean this is a jaunt anyway. ‘You bloody communists in your bloody newspapers stir up trouble. Then. ‘I remember we used to go to the South Coast for holidays when we were kids. You don’t look at this.’ Jinny said.’ ‘Growing things. eating sugar cane on the way – they grew sugar cane near here. the ladies selling beads. dark-haired girl with tortoise40 . But they always had a smile. ‘No … it’s all caravans.’ ‘Have you been there recently. One often joked about these people: the real article seemed mythical. Men in khaki shorts with big tummies. it might get monotonous. The Great Trek and that every December. the dust. Not my scene. on the other hand. that subservience to old people. Lugubriousness was the last thing I needed. All that ritual. ‘I really don’t know how they get it together. and the sweat. and drinking from earthen pots proferred by kneeling women. What would one do for theatre. day after day. I prefer somewhere unspoiled – Cape Town or Mauritius. Just look. Paul’s voice surfaced over our shoulders. No. But in front of Jinny and me. But then. Smearing South Africa overseas …’ It got better and better. I think. He was so drunk it didn’t seem worth bothering about.’ Dark and slurring. now. for books? Tribal dance was hardly a substitute. ‘Ja.’ She sounded doubtful. Remarkable. And the bloody liberals say we don’t give them land. And where we’re going. I could almost smell the exhalations of heat. And so respectful. the conformism.’ I asked. Very good manners. being wary of snakes.’ It was a fair imitation of a Cabinet Minister getting into his stride for the converted. ‘Look at all this.’ I supposed. I remembered. I remembered the words of a member of the Bloomsbury set after passing through the East End: ‘And imagine never saying anything clever!’ ‘They’re terribly poor here. chanting to the gods. They should ban the lot of you. too. a small. hanging around waiting for rain. They were terribly poor there. I say.
At the top of the runway was a cairn.and skewbald cattle. Looking down I could see our cruciform shadow flitting across the network of paths. The engines’ pitch began changing. In one kraal.’ I said.’ We were banking steeply over flat grey roofs. you hail people. Her fists were clenched. In the city you look away from strangers. Habit. ‘He’s out of his mind. We’ll keep him under control. Freedom of the press. He gave a rugby cheer and settled back into his beer. ‘They’re just stirring. twirls of dust rising in the wind. and pie. Did you hail them because you are a stranger and 41 . To the Ulundi dead. In the country. Heroes! Huh! Stirring. the blister-like huts. Angola. in the parting between trees and grass. The aircraft throbbed and my ears popped. you don’t have to sit with him. children stared upwards. why must these people always lead with their chins? Talking about freedom of the press to a Paul was like reasoning with a flatearther.’ The girl got out of her seat. ‘Don’t bother. he’s probably full of old world Afrikaner charm. Put you all in jail. I know what you’ve been writing about those skolly kids in Soweto burning schools.’ ‘How can you talk that way? Have you never heard of freedom of the press?’ Oh God. face red.’ ‘Look.’ ‘Well. When he’s sober. I don’t believe they should be invited. ‘Your communist newspapers should be banned.’ ‘No but these people … they must understand …’ ‘You’re wasting your time. a large green neon sign and now.’ I lied. I suppose.new contrast shell spectacles and a clenched angry mouth turned round quickly and called past Jinny and me: ‘Can’t you stop that fascist stuff ? I find this really objectionable. None waved back so I abandoned my attempt at friendship. We’re in Africa lady: no freedom of the press here. look at Nigeria. with one furious look at Paul. Look at Rhodesia. Jinny said excitedly glad of the diversion: ‘There it is. their eyes shaded against the bright sky. was the runway. She sat down. We a developing country. They don’t know how to behave.’ Paul beamed with delight. Jinny was making small expostulatory squeaks.
a river perhaps. A cubed landscape of tin huts. ‘The airfield was built on the battlefield. This is where there had been a battle about land. the self-absorbed shrill of cicadas and crickets. It’s for the dead. I forget where from. just these endlessly undulating hills. Or was there? Far away I could see a brief flash of silver.’ ‘Maybe we should go and have a look. Broken backed cars snailing through the streets. There was nothing near Ulundi. the one he had pissed in. The Zulus and the British. I think the British had been defeated. People. Something about weeping? Maybe somewhere else? So many battles. Gaudy shops. looking rabid. The Indian trader with plump imploring hands and a fixed white smile among the hangings of his shop. That was how tourists behaved. He sounded like a child busy doing something else. ‘You’ll see the cairn. an enigmatic tracery of paths. But imagine those poor Poms coming 60 000 miles to die on a boring. Something reminded me of Kipling’s image. sordid patch of sandy earth with few rivers. it was hard to keep them apart. corrugated iron roofs. was still between his knees.new contrast need to propitiate. scars of erosion. he was singing. How silly. We wheeled over Ulundi again. The gaudy umbrellas had gone. tin cans in furrows. For the rest. 42 . I could hear the soft rhythmical murmuring. preparing for the touchdown. wizened fruit with their own eco-climates of flies for sale. moving ponderously through the bush to the Indian Ocean where the sharks were. skulked between the huts and houses. no lakes or seas or mountains. red earth.’ Jinny shouted to everyone above the engine. the gouging of soil erosion. inexplicably placed thorn trees and the early morning derision of ha-de-dahs. I looked round. He stared unseeingly at his beer can in his hand.’ someone said dutifully. The other can. like dogs showing their teeth? I didn’t know: it didn’t matter: they were gone. of blood in the dust hardening and the wind blowing it away: gone. smell the dust. dust and sweat. I could almost see the flies. sitting around purposelessly. The tail was down and we seemed to be heading for a red hill. I wondered if Paul was praying – no. many people. He had reached the state of soak where inner ruminations and incantations escaped and floated out. The place felt as if it was floating. Above the sound of the engine. The story was about was an execution. Pie dogs.
Paul last of all.’ The plane was bumping down the runway over the hill. white-toothed smiles. I could see the shimmer of heat haze on every surface. fizzy oversweet reinforced pop. the white-suited waiters moved towards us with trays of glasses. holding bottles wrapped in blinding white napkins. can’t you see their hands are full. painfully. The door of the plane swung open and I felt the inrush of dry. They wore white uniforms. They were barefooted. we unfurled ourselves and moved out. hats and a broad red sash across their chests.’ Abashed. Jinny stared at him warily. the wedges of sandwiches. Now the umbrellas were in sight and standing outside their rim of shade. were three tall black men. Still beaming. she stood soberly at the foot of the steps. We stared at them. he said. they looked impassively mobile but rivulets of sweat ran down their faces. it’s just a pile of stone. The three black men began offering trays but the man in the cravat called: ‘ Hey. angry flowers. they smiled expansive. They wore ochre and red dresses and also smiled though they looked down at the long table with its load of snacks and lines of knives and forks. As the plane’s engines cut out. little round pasty shells with green (avocado?) fillings. OK?’ and he gave her the one he has pissed into. bulky heat. like a ground hostess for one of the big airlines. neatly arranged red table napkins. I wondered whether he would ever release them. Their heads and feet were very black. Paul and his cans reached the bottom of the stairs. without reservation. Then remembering herself. Slowly. the waiters moved backwards. Grinning. still clutching his two cans. He muttered something at the men in white and almost in unison. excellent for roasting chickens in or mixing with orange juice. In the lee of the umbrellas were young black women. She would have been justified in throwing the 43 . and they stared back. It was something I wouldn’t have minded doing but of course would never. ‘I’ll keep this one. I admired them both. as we got closer. Jinny – ‘excuse me’ – got out and greeted the man in the cravat with an effervescent kiss. and at intervals bowls of red. I saw a white man in long khaki slacks and a blue shirt and club cravat. It was what I privately called ‘PR champagne’. You take this.new contrast ‘Ag.
contents back in his face and of course if she had, the weekend would have been over. She smiled, a bit tightly, and said: ‘Certainly.’ Her exterior was shaken but not shattered. The others were moving to the tables making crowing noises of delight. The hotel man, mine host, began his glad hand racket: ‘Nice to have you with us’; ‘Hope you have a great time’; ‘If you need anything – well almost haha – give us a yell’ and, though we weren’t leaving, ‘Come again.’ I wanted to see what Jinny would do. In the corner of my eye I saw her gesture to one of the women – well, really a girl – who came up, eyes on the ground, and curtseyed, the kind of courtesy that Tenniel’s Alice might have given in Victorian Wonderland. ‘Throw it away,’ Jinny commanded, holding out the can. The girl looked up questioningly. ‘Just throw it away!’ she repeated, an edge of irritation – or was it hysteria – to her voice. The girl tentatively took the outstretched can, still looking questioningly. The innkeeper, attracted by Jinny’s tone, came up. ‘What’s the matter, doll?’ ‘She must get rid of this!’ The man spoke in Zulu – it seemed to include some English words – and the girl finally took the can and moved off. ‘They’re a bit raw here. Not much English,’ he explained. The pilot was bringing off the bags, placing them carefully in the shadow of the umbrellas. I wondered if I should help him but he was paid to do such jobs. The Zulu girl with the can walked carefully five yards from the umbrellas to where the land dipped suddenly into a rock filled donga. She moved as if she was carrying something infinitely precious, with the over deliberate air of a servant playing at being a servant. She knelt and tipped the contents out: I could see her look puzzled expression, then wrinkled nose. She shook the last drops out fastidiously and stood, obviously wondering what to do with the can. Then she moved back to the party and stood beside one of the other women, whispered. The other woman laughed and pointing at Jinny, said something to the woman next to her. Soon all the women were looking at Jinny and, feeling their gaze, she turned and they laughed louder. The can was on the table in front of them: Jinny saw. She turned abruptly, flushing, and walked off with swift jagged steps. The laughter rose.
‘What’s that all about,’ asked the man with the cravat. ‘Women’s stuff,’ said Paul. ‘Hey, stop that racket,’ said the man to the women. They did their best. The champagne was too sweet and warm. We were on the slopes of a bald, brown hill. On the horizon, where the hills met the sky in a clear etched line, was the cairn. It disturbed the line. Across the valley you could see the town but around us was nothing, just stones, the sky and umbrellas, sun through its lurid colours turning our faces livid mauve. The black people looked ill and the whites unreal. Jinny returned, her cheeping jollity punctuating the murmurs. I imagined her planning this with the memory of a cigarette advertisement in her mind, with beautiful people and gleaming teeth alighting freshly from a private jet in Bangkok or Accra and having a fun time with improbably coloured drinks, smoking American cigarettes in their designer clothes, while the third world locals beamed in the background and waved when the jet took off again. Our aircraft was too small and had propellers. Our clothes, the suedes and carefully matched shirts and trousers, were crumpled and stained. The cameras and Paul’s radio tape gave us an oddly military air, as though we were the first foraging party of an army, sent not to pacify the land but to plan how others might. We looked around for something to see beyond horizon, dust and the erect incongruous cairn. Our eyes returned to the aircraft with its shark like nose, the stiff blades of the propellers and exhalations of aviation spirit. Among us moved the Zulus obsequious, but with the air, too, of performing. When we did not look, I was sure that they smiled conspiratorially. The women tittered. Close, they were subservient. One came to me with more snacks, wilting now, and I dredged up the little Zulu I had heard, to say ‘Shiza, sissy?’ though she was not my sister. She looked startled, puzzled, then smiled widely, pink mouthed, the teeth startlingly white, a delicate bone structure holding such opulent female warm that it came as a shock. Then she giggled and looked down again, moving back to the others. ‘You shaping, hey?’ said Paul, slurring dangerously. ‘They not bad, you know, not bad at all.’ I wanted to tell him to fuck off. But there on the horizon a combi
moved towards us as if in slow motion, the slow motion of the cigarette ad. Behind it rose and rolled away slowly a cone of brown dust. ‘We’ll go to the hotel and you can swim and lounge around till dinner,’ said mine host, Ken. By dinner, Paul was out. He had not been with us during the afternoon’s guided tour of the hotel, some of us making studious notes in books as we were told about the market potential of the place, the delicate symbolism of the architecture, and the group brand. Of course there were discernable differences from any other hotel in the chain. The redness of the soil, a brave attempt to grow roses in the wind, the glitter of the turquoise pool, its filter burbling to itself while beyond the courtyards could seen wandering cattle, heads down towards the arid, grassless soil. The friezes in the lobby were certainly remarkable; we admired them a long time in reverent silence. There were bold terracotta panels of the great men and great scenes of Zulu history. Shaka with his impis, Chief Albert Luthuli, a battle scene, the signing of a treaty with everyone smiling benevolently. I don’t think it was the treaty between King Dingaan and Piet Retief, though that was not improbable, a particularly memorable portrait of a woman with far-flung hair and screaming mouth which Ken said was the Xhosa prophet, Nongquawuse, whose predictions had led to the demise of an empire or something. The panels were on the doors of a conference too and had been designed by a Johannesburg artist who commanded high prices and much respect for his insight into the mysteries of ancient Africa. In awed tone, Ken told us that the government-appointed head of the independent homeland was very impressed by the panels and the hotel group had commissioned new works for him ‘as a token of our gratitude’. Few others were staying at the hotel: then the purpose of our trip was to publicise its attractions to the wider world. The manager confided that he hoped it wouldn’t merely become a watering hole for the Ulundi locals, the civil servant, the wealthier farmers and businessmen, perhaps sugar farmers from over the hills, instead of a glamorous getaway retreat for jaded city whites. We sympathised and made notes: ‘Back to nature,’ ‘Holiday with a difference’ and ‘international potential’. At sunset we
I shouldn’t think he’ll eat much. She giggled. The bar filled with bulging black men in dark suits speaking low. moving uncertainly in shiny dresses that seemed too tight over the waist. One felt as if one ought to smile. He ended each sentence with an expectant smile. Their eyes were still obsequiously downcast and they gave no sign of recognition.’ explained Ken when I asked.’ he said. It sounded far away. as he were delivering a series of lick.new contrast could better understand the manager’s fears. I told him that the drinks were on the house but he insisted. 47 . It doesn’t really matter. in dusty red shoes to the Ladies. Jinny went to look for Paul and came back carrying his wallet. I mean – happen often?’ I asked. Outside the car park was full of bright Mercedes Benzes. ‘They’re the country’s national symbol. Anyway. Zulu women sat silently around the rims of the room. and a couple of Landrovers and bakkies with official number plates further in the dark. and a few late model American cars with sagging springs. The girl from the morning newspaper (who was known. emphatic English to one another. At supper they sat beside each other. a gleaming new BMW was parked ornamentally beneath the entrance porch. and in peremptory Zulu to the barman. In amongst the hubbub. Our table in the middle was strewn with the angry red flowers we had seen at the airport. I noticed that the others were taking the air. I was told. He couldn’t tell us their name – ‘Like the protea in the republic of South Africa. as Ken called it. large-buttocked.’ ‘Does this kind of thing – him. if only for politeness. We expect it. ‘If you ever have a car stolen in Jo’burg. moved the waiters. He didn’t want to spend too much because his wife would give him hell. but was exchanging flashing smiles with Ken.’ she said a little curtly. for her fearless investigative reporting on the cost of fillet steaks in Johannesburg supermarkets) was no longer asking brisk questions about the occupancy rates at the hotel. or tottered. come here. the men who had been at the airport. rib-cracking oneliners.’ ventured Jinny as we walked into the dining room with its exotic pot plants. ‘There’s always one. he’s coming. trying to make sympathetic conversation. ‘He said he was going to have a wild time tonight and would I look after this.
he couldn’t come home with an empty wallet and smelling of booze: she’d beat him up and women were a bad scene and he didn’t know why he got married anyway except for the obvious reason but that was ages ago. ‘Business is great. Jinny flicked a rictus grin in his direction and then turned to me. ‘They move with this … I know it’s a cliché … natural rhythm. always great. that anyway that stuff was overrated. ‘Isn’t it? As the actress said to the bishop. He sat next to Jinny. Paul told her to keep a close watch on his money because his wife was a tough lady with red hair. lurching and leering. ‘Bring a beer.’ He hiccupped and laughed.’ he insisted. revealing a silver medallion on his hairless chest. the Zulus. as we lifted our soup to our mouths. a cool young man in a fresh lilac suit and shirt unbuttoned to the waist. I asked Jinny how her business was going. And the way they move. ‘They’re a very beautiful people. She looked at Ken who nodded slightly. where’s the beers?’ to Jinny. a bad temper and an SABC salary.’ someone chipped in helpfully. That darkness of their skin.new contrast Paul came in on cue. ‘We’re gonna have a great time tonight. dance … you know. Great dignity. they’re really black. She told me business was going well because with the boom. And their teeth … so white. I mean.’ ‘And dignity. ‘Yes. And he added. ‘I do think they’re beautiful. aren’t they?’ We looked automatically at the waiter concentrating on not spilling wine around the glasses. When they sing. I mean …’ He was struggling a bit so I nodded encouragingly and he took heart. people had plenty of money. I don’t know …’ murmured Ken and the fearless reporter tittered. ‘The old tribal customs: did you see how the girls curtseyed?’ 48 . With food prices the way they were. Ken. I was sitting on the other side of the table. A beer was brought. not your Lindt chocolate but black. Someone tried again. said ‘Sure thing!’ Paul waved the food away. who leaned away slightly.’ said Paul. ‘Oh. lady.’ he announced. and then back at the speaker. who was informing us about how cooperative the local government had been in planning a casino.
He stopped and everyone looked up.’ ‘Too terrible.’ ‘I know Jo’burg: I worked there. Kenya. the dignity is appealing. like an oblong of glass.’ Paul said nastily to the boy in the lilac suit. Only one of the prostitutes was left. Paul’s arms waved. It sounded beautiful but bullying.’ she said to me. darling. Everyone looked down. No one disagreed. ‘They have this caring. their faces deadpan. semaphoring passionately.’ said the boy in the lilac suit. Jesus: such people actually existed! The night was navy blue and silvered with stars. syncopated circles. ‘Where you from?’ ‘Johannesburg. straightening. And the women are very beautiful. I looked back and through the window I could see the dining room.’ I replied automatically.’ 49 . ignoring Paul. darling. the staple fare of Free State farmers. In Parkview. and the figures immobilised. so I excused myself and walked outside. I thought sourly. ‘I’m Molly. waiters moving in slow. is that all you okes can talk about. You know them?’ ‘No. ‘Ag.’ she announced. The black businessmen were now speaking in Zulu. Zambia. caring. a red wound.’ ‘Terrible place. Except Paul. silent. put tyres around us and light them. in KZN. Their women were ranged round the room. Uganda. I went into the bar. man. I was cold. ‘Hello. They either work or they don’t work. It was like a version of O’Grady says. her frizzy wig was slipping and her over red makeup was a gash.’ I bought her one – brandy and coke. girls. girls. I was working for the Abraham’s. cut our throats. ‘Hello. And boys. It’s awfully important. That’s why they must stay here. ‘Buy me a drink. the Congo. ‘I agree. like those carnivorous flowers on our table. now Rhodesia – a beautiful country – now they cutting throats …’ I feared I might hit him or throw my food at him or simply laugh and provoke a fight. We don’t have that. dipping between them. They’ll kill us all.new contrast ‘Girls. immobile. they’re bantus.’ he said defiantly to Paul.
‘You buy me a drink?’ ‘What?’ he said truculently.’ I took the money winking at Ken. I want you to do something for me. Ken was whispering in the reporter’s ear. ‘Can you give me R20. Will you?’ She followed me to the room’s entrance and I pointed Paul out. rough on him. ‘This is Molly.’ Jinny moved her chair up. When he started talking to the group. She was smiling intimately. his name is Paul. ‘How could I?’ I replied. Maybe a tip too?’ ‘Now. OK? He’s got a beard and glasses. I know someone who does. Paul was still holding forth. I’ll take responsibility. Jinny had abandoned all animation.’ she said. grinning.’ My food was cool and oleaginous. his voice trailing. ‘He’s a Boer so he’s shy. ‘That’s OK. Long long hours: the madam wants everything now now now. ‘He’s only got R40. That’s what he wants.’ he replied. So I came here.new contrast ‘Too much work. You want me?’ ‘No. then into his wallet. ‘Hello. home.’ Then I had an idea.00 from Paul’s wallet?’ ‘What for?’ ‘You’ll see.’ She was trying to concentrate through the alcohol. I sat next to her. ‘I thought you left me for ever. ‘ I announced. hello. Molly. ‘Hello. She smiled quizzically and ferreted in her handbag.’ I said as she started shaking her head. ‘She’s come to keep Paul company. His body sagged. she moved her hand round behind his chair. ‘Wait. There’s this champ – man – outside. It fell on his shoulders. You know. darling. All night.’ she said to Paul. handing me R20. He twitched a little and stopped talking. But here’s R20 for all night. ‘How much for a night?’ ‘Fifteen rands. Try and do it without letting him see.’ 50 . He’s very shy so he sent me to ask you. ‘Brandy and coke. hello. ‘Where you from?’ At first he did not look at her. Molly was now trying one of the businessmen but he wasn’t interested.’ she announced. and Molly sat down self-consciously adjusting her dress.
Aware of the sound of cicadas outside. Beer makes you piss. I backed out. At least he would look grey and be silent. and I glimpsed in again and saw his fly open. But he wasn’t.’ ‘Too much. even me. I said in a sly light voice: ‘Have a good time. peaked breasts sagging only slightly either side of her rib cage as she lay on her back lifting her thighs. I don’t really know – I did hope for some kind of termination. and ate heartily. The Zulus could cut everyone else’s throats – the bloody English. the monologue still continuing. and we eventually joined the black businessmen and laughed more and they were fine people. The waiters encircled the table removing cruets impassively and the salt and the pepper and the side plates and crumpled napkins and the two of them muttering endlessly in two parallel monologues that finally blended. Then another. I entered her. Not these candy drinks. I came and then I went and slept deeply. hey. niks. her teeth gleaming in the semi-darkness. We continued our conversation. I told the others and they laughed a little uncertainly.’ So he ordered two brandies and cokes. the red flowers beside the bed. and we had too much to drink. Like a bloody log. She was talking to him about work for the Abrahams.’ Jinny extricated his wallet and passed it to me. not to her but again an inner monologue of complaint and attack spilling out. the Portuguese. defeated. waking alone. you know. and Ulundi was a great place for a getaway from it all. ‘Sleep peacefully?’ asked the reporter. He smiled amiably. He came to breakfast with none of that closed in quality I had first discerned. made the obligatory remarks about a hangover. everyone – but should leave the Afrikaners because they understood the Bantu and she agreed – ‘Yes. I thought. He told her only the Afrikaners really understood the Zulus. I suppose I had expected Paul to be shamed and shattered. greeted us cheerfully. the Jews. her pink. ‘No nightmares. my darling’ – and he bought a third drink for her and her hand moved to his lap and I could see his hand on her knee. I told Jinny as she removed her bra in the bedroom. and we left.new contrast ‘Now that’s a good drink. Paul?’ Jinny nudged me and squeezed my knee. He took it from me and 51 . her hand exploring. I could hear him murmuring.
unused and empty. rather than asked us. must of. banging his hips. she’s got a hard life. I had to go back to work. She was dressed in lime green and wore spectacles that. ‘Have I got stories to tell her. no sounds of the Voortrekker Monument crumbling.new contrast checked the contents. 52 .’ And that was it. ‘You know.’ Jinny moved her hand from my knee. for a moment caught the neon light.’ He didn’t sound worried. maybe towards someone else.’ I remarked. that girl you were with last night. I disembarked. she’s riddled. ‘Shame. I hope those bloody blacks put our luggage on the plane. except to Jinny.’ Jinny told. Bloody whore. Jinny smiled goodbye from the exit. I didn’t say goodbye to the others. calling over her shoulder as she passed with brisk scything legs. ‘You bought a helluva lot of brandy. ‘The wife. no horror. magnified pieces of glass. Silently we drove to the landing strip. maybe towards me. making her eyes look like huge. Jinny sat beside the pilot. Ken put in the knife. nothing. ‘You all OK for lifts. she told me about it. ‘Hell. The doors of the airport opened automatically but all I could see ahead of me was darkness. Paul only had one beer. I walked with Paul across the tarmac. The wife is going to moer me. and drove off. a taste of bile in my mouth. A tall figure with bright red hair came towards us from the other side of the building.’ Paul said worriedly. like talking to that girl!’ he said jauntily as he moved away. ‘Ja. I’d have liked a lift but I took the bus instead.’ Paul uttered. No contrition. old Molly. Clutching the minature Zulu shield and spears we had all been given in hotel wrapping. I suppose it’s the kind of worry we all have. tape recorder.
He shrugged his shoulders. Suman was small and sallow skinned. ‘What do you do here in Durban?’ ‘I am an apprentice at Michelle’s the hairdresser. thin. I want to be a teacher one day. ‘Have you got children?’ ‘Only two.’ ‘Ou. Her hair was long and black in a single plait. One humid December day they sat together in the mud-spattered green bus. and usually he was dressed colorfully He laughed heartily while he chatted with other waiting passengers. Wilson?’ 53 . But two of them died.’ she said and stood up to open a window beside her seat.’ he replied. When my father had ten he was very proud. a little girl and a new baby boy. ‘Yes. She wore simple colored skirts and blouses with flat open sandals. When I was still a child I used to work with my father just like other Indian children did. ‘When I have a lot of children.’ ‘What did they die of ?’ she asked curiously.new contrast Zita Nurok Journeys She greeted him each day at the bus stop. ‘I never asked my mother. But one day I will have a lot of children. ‘It’s not enough for me.’ Suman continued. Warm humid air and sounds from passing traffic on the busy highway flowed in. ‘Perhaps I will get married one day.’ ‘Where do you work. which reached down to her waist. my parents are in Zululand. She sighed. Wilson was tall. but first I want to own a school and help to educate many Indian children.’ ‘Ou. English. then everyone will know that I am really a man. you don’t want to get married and have children?’ He didn’t wait for her reply. and I live close by here in Inanda with my own family.’ He wiped his forehead with a neatly folded handkerchief and asked. ‘Are you a Zulu?’ she asked him. and Afrikaans. its inside plastered with advertisements in Zulu.
Their customers were mainly housewives who lived in the area. Once a month I work in the garden with the boss.’ He spoke proudly.new contrast ‘In Galloway House. and one was even a doctor.’ she said looking up at him while he waited to get off the bus with other Africans. teachers. I want to keep it. onions.’ She became silent as she remembered the sweet smells which escaped from under the heavy tarpaulin that covered their produce. ‘The job it is good. and heavy red watermelons. They sold boxes of kidney and peach shaped mangoes. bunches of sweet rough-skinned litchis. Suman thought about her job. and peppers so she could go to the Indian movies or visit Indian friends with her family. 54 .’ He pointed to a block of duplex flats disappearing in the distance as the bus gathered speed. but my brother helps him now. As she sat alone for the remainder of her journey. ‘I am an African Zionist.’ ‘Oh. They were librarians. ‘God is good to me. But shampooing hair was not enough either. ‘See. ‘See you tomorrow. ‘What do you think you will do in a few years?’ ‘Ou. Every day I give thanks to Him. He is getting old and cannot climb up on the back of the van so easily anymore. He stood up. I have a good job. Wilson?’ ‘I shine floors and I clean windows. ‘What kind of work do you do. just as working for her father had not been enough. My madams are happy with me. ‘I am a big man in my church now. what do you mean?’ He was puzzled. One of them gives me clothes for my baby.’ He laughed and shook his head.’ She became silent again and watched the foaming white waves as they passed by the beachfront. Suman nodded. and she tells me how we must feed him so he can be strong. secretaries. leaving Indians who’d reach Verulam a while later. ‘My father sells vegetables up in this area. Each night she cleaned her nails to get out the sand and smells of fresh garlic. The young ones wore beautiful clothes and their nails were painted with bright colors Suman used to look at her own fingers.’ He showed her a metal cross hanging around his neck.’ Wilson continued.’ Suman looked at him. Why couldn’t she too feel content like Wilson did? She enjoyed talking to the clients that came into the hairdresser’s. In Zululand sometimes babies die if they don’t get good food.
and that his group held meetings close to South Beach. and he sleeps a lot. ‘That’s why I came here tonight to ask God for help. Last week we took him to the witchdoctor and she gave him some herbs. ‘Ai – my baby he is sick. She knew that African Zionists met on Wednesdays.’ 55 . Wilson walked over to her. and Wilson in awe of her ambition. Suman.new contrast The next day Suman asked Wilson. I have to go back now and pray.’ ‘See you tomorrow Wilson. Suman. He was talking to the group he led. All the time he is vomiting. And so they traveled together each afternoon.’ Suman said. ‘What’s wrong?’ she asked. ‘I am so sorry. Two weeks later when she saw him. ‘Did you speak to a doctor at the hospital? What sickness does he have?’ ‘We didn’t see the doctor. Every night I pray to God to help us. he wore a long white and blue robe with the cross hanging around his neck. My wife she is crying.’ ‘Wilson.’ She told him gently. The madam who tells me how to look after my baby has gone on holiday. Try your best to do what I told you. Suman in envy of his contentment. When she saw him. Tonight I will ask Him again. They know what to do. ‘Ou. Yesterday we took him to the hospital.’ He stared out at the passing scenes. only the nurse told me he has enteritis. why don’t you speak to the doctor?’ she urged. I must get off now.’ He sighed and stared at her with his large sad eyes. why did you come?’ ‘How is your baby?’ ‘No good. and then we will wait. ‘Do you want me to go with you and your wife?’ ‘No it is a good hospital. She decided to wait for another bus that would take her down to the beachfront. Wilson was subdued. He is very sick now. Only He can help us. But the next day Wilson was not at the bus stop.’ ‘Aren’t you bored with it?’ He looked up at her and laughed as he shook his head. ‘How long have you been in your job?’ ‘Eight years.
‘You have to speak up and ask for another opinion. what are you saying?’ ‘I have a new job. My wife. I believe that. and she will help also. You have to speak to the doctor or find another one. Suman felt angry. with the sound of their prayers disappearing into the crashing waves. Some of them are better than others.’ She shook the water from her polka-dotted umbrella.’ When she walked home to her parents’ clean little house in Verulam. God is good to you.’ She raised her voice. Yes. ‘My wife says her dead father is angry because she didn’t please his spirit. Suman hurried to the bus stop.’ she thought. ‘Maybe. He will do that. But you know Wilson I looked for this job myself.’ ‘Ou. Why did the baby die? She cried for Wilson. ‘this is a better route for me.’ His mouth was down-turned. and for his simple wife. Suman turned and left.’ He smiled and looked at her gently. I am a Zulu. Things are different. Wilson wore a black band around his arm. she cries every day. I tell her God will give us another one.’ 56 . ‘I went to the witchdoctor. She wants her baby. after this week you won’t see me here again. I will get paid more money. his eyes downcast.new contrast She grabbed his sleeve. ‘Yes.’ He walked away. ‘I’ll save more and then I will be able to study. When she saw him eight days later. and I found it. It was a rainy day three months later. He sat hunched up against the window. She reached her home. for his child. ‘What can I do?’ he yelled. ‘It is hard.’ she said. Maybe we will never have more children.’ The next week Suman rode a double-decker bus that traveled from Pick n Pay to Verulam.’ He grew impatient.’ ‘Ou. He waved back. ‘Wilson. Tears filled her eyes. Africans and Indians huddled together in the bus shelter. As she passed by her previous bus stop she waved to Wilson who stood laughing and chatting with waiting passengers. ‘Wilson. ‘I’m so sorry.’ Wilson’s eyes moistened as he sniffed and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. The baby was very sick. I am going to be a cashier at Pick n Pay. The witchdoctor will tell us that. ‘They couldn’t help us. you are not in Zululand now where your baby brothers died.
the metal clinks of ancient typewriters growing louder with every step. Under a dim lit lamp swinging from the ceiling. I don’t think they like me. The smell of mildew garnished with day-old food irritated his nostrils like a cheap cigarette. I’ll get you someone new. ‘Not today.new contrast Joe Mynhardt By Any Means Necessary ‘I want someone else. Daddy. ‘Promise?’ ‘Of course. 57 .’ Petunia’s father made his way through the wood panelled foyer and the main kitchen towards the back of the pantry. He hated going down there.’ Petunia demanded. Someone a bit more famous this time. Daddy. dear.’ Her words grew softer. sweetie. between the furnace and the previous year’s Christmas decorations. soaked in the smells of tobacco and Old Spice.’ ‘Thanks. doing their best to write a publishable novel for dearest Petunia. Daddy has a lot of work to do. eyed her from behind his oak desk. A middle-aged man.’ Petunia’s eyes lit up. ‘I think they’re doing it on purpose. Each one banged away at their respective typewriters. Better. Petunia thought she heard muffled cries and sneered.’ Her father banged his foot against the polished floorboards. Her chin quivered. Now let me first go and sort this out. ‘Everyone likes me.’ ‘Don’t cry. ‘Do your job!’ he shouted towards the cellar.’ ‘I want someone else!’ ‘What happened?’ ‘They rejected it again. He unlocked the door of the cellar and traversed its crooked steps. sat several of their country’s best writers chained together.
as she still calls her). 58 . sleeved as if an arm. they took my Mom. The space where her family had been. who’d lost her own one year before. shook the Pope from him like a rock out a slop. cheeseclothing people pulsing. her new step-mother (or Zia. my Mom tells me about her first time seeing the happyclappies. through the toll rising priced and plonked on the corner like hard plastic pushed in playdough. something in them rubberizing bone. When her Daddy remarried.new contrast Genna Gardini Il Diavolo: On our way to the King Shaka Airport. leaking and reaching towards her as they moaned. She was fifteen when she watched those congregants clutch and convulse like the Camry my Pop would later teach her to drive: viscous under their tops. privately. instead. ‘Il Diavolo! Il Diavolo!’ She raised us Catholic. They began to attend. a place hemmed with the hum of immigrants. in a tent. one of those Evangelicals. past the road’s touristing ribcage of tusks. On this night. and pushing.
I met my love. Denis Tembong La Fortune Far deep down the hill. La Fortune.new contrast Irene Emanuel Flicker-Flash The wheels of sanity spin in ever diminishing circles until Dementia takes hold and disables the brain. I saw a tall slim figure Bustling with joy and lovely vigour. As I move to and fro Knowing not where to go. Between the huts that stoop low and still. a cardboard cut-out of a missing person. That. in the valley of the shadow of death. 59 . Just before the sun set. until there are only brief flicker-flashes of cognizance in misted bright eyes. And the wheels of awareness fade away until all that’s left is a silhouette.
like flying ribbon. Regretting that it had better die. Far at the back yard greeted the firing gun. Shattered and roamed the sky like kite. Called and beckoned on me With love her face beaming: ‘Come forth and I’ll make you smile Come forth and in a little while Your troubles are forever gone So happiness can be born’ Pretending not to see I moved on with solace So with each other we embrace. Than sprout like fresh season corn. 60 . it cried and sighed. But just when hope seems to come. Then hope. Seconds afterwards.new contrast In a little gentle tune. The Little Black Lad When the little black lad was born. That is left to starve and turn white. Doubt and uncertainty storm.
But far beyond. Chilly bangs! Pang! are heard. peace. 61 . Then loud screams like herd Doomed for the slaughter. in countless numbers That none of them ever remembers. peace. To show a sign. And up above the sky. Indeed we need the gentle dove. Floats a white dove. Storm the streets as a test To the goodwill of the powers that will. And on a nearby tower though. They with heavy hand seize and kill These hopeless souls. peace. Betray the inhumane batter. That. At an hour no one knew. A little below the Avenue. Dark rain clouds lie. When on their promises The sun has settled and ceases To shine.new contrast A little Below the Avenue When little children in another protest. is the rainbow. They desire to see. And put an end to their goals. Yet.
all orange lust and spiked hair is out of uniform yet still bouncing up and down. every trace of poetry still echoing through her body (though young and naked she could not less be like a tomb).new contrast Damian Garside Ontatile Writes Ontatile (Mamang) writes her poem an amalgam of everything she has ever heard. It is her 62 . bound by a gleaming ring of confidence but in her poem a carnival clown. whispers into her ear as intimately as if he were a cell phone at that moment they look absolutely inseparable. Suddenly the muse arrives with personalized number plates.
with her. 63 . still must write and write and write and write and write the world. is writing. recycled. get to see It when redrawn.new contrast first time to let rip. Her (inner) world. away from her even as text messages stream in. much re-configured. lose some precious decorum allow her imagination to run to her. Ontatile writes. even as an entire national culture conjugates her: Ontatile has written. I only see it. even as there are tributes flowing from the radio.
new contrast Dilza Madikiza Obesity intensity I am the conqueror of the human empire The hefty beacon of your insatiable quests A giant that clothes your big wishes A mountain to surmount never to reach its summit I am the currency coursing in your veins when you stalk big cash I am the robber of your soul When you trample on social justice to seek the big When you step on the marginalized to journey mainstream I translate the politician’s rhetoric into politrickery Allowing them to climb the power seat for kismet Inviting them to dine with me in fiscal meals I am small on public service but big on political self-service In the corporate corridors I step silently wearing a white-collar In search of big capital Big fraud. big dividends I am the chief harvester of horns from big animals The big consumer of the planet’s endowments I am obesity I am intense 64 .
they waltz. Each maudlin. They kick the tarantella most joyously. All in a heap. Lying together. I can see a little. Each is a character. The beach is misted. One hollowed. Pressing down on me. Opening my mouth and entering me. The sea is great and grey today. I see these things from my shelf. Its stench is suffocating – sulphurous. Lying together. And find inside of me. A handful of pebbles. Burden There is a burden with a hairy back. Its claws dig into my back. the sand a fine chalk. one cracked. a tree.new contrast Kyle de Villiers Lying together I often question myself. a lake. with painted face. And it churns with purple prose. Another smooth and the other Jagged. a church. I see a church and great shafts of light. Motes of dust dance. And the sun is pale and meek. 65 .
I feel these things. twirling shadows. Instead I would write… …About the earth. 66 . this love this life. a face. conducting long. You aren’t that opulent. I would write about the smell of a new book. And of the sea shells. pretty things. That I relish. About every grain of sand. While on me: A great burden with a hairy back. Or of your eyes as oceans of love. I would not write of gold or pearls. Of the warmth of a heavy blanket. I would write about spindly black illustrations and of the sound of rain. I would write about you. The poetry that I would write you The poetry that I would write you! If only you had a name. With my face pressed into the ground. Of the first sip of a cup of tea. deep brown of wooden floors. Of reflections in the water or of a cushion of moss. Of phantom sounds and phantom sights. that vulgar. I would write about simple.new contrast Through the plastic. Of light blue or of the dark. Of the flickering candle. riding each swell.
Gentle blonde boy sandwiched between two unruly sisters. ‘Make a man of him’ my father said. acquiesced You held me so close I scarce could breathe You controlled the rhythm I mastered the steps You did an about turn I pirouetted You began to retreat I stepped forwards You spun out of control 67 .new contrast Lise Day Noddy ‘I can’t hear you when you shout’ my brother told my mother. our little noddy man tossing and turning rocking and rolling singing himself to sleep. I loved to Dance You asked me to dance I. dazzled. he. So he was sent to boarding school to rid him of that gentle disposition so he could be taught to hear when people shout.
but out in the world where nothing claims your presence any longer. Eleni Philippou In Eternal My grief for you bangs like doors in the night. I have lost you. clean. I think. 68 . the lamplight — white as calcium. It opens and closes with the erratic winds of memory. empty. The neutral smell of viscose sheets. Not in this house of the heart.new contrast Forgot The choreographed steps I improvised You staggered and fell I took a bow. the ashtray.
Architectured, One In excess a Thesis God is. Disintegrates
Parables of His float turn thought sit cool darken. Waft into the interior recesses. God of stained glass windows, Le Corbusier and Ronchamp. Light slits through concrete shells and reinforced columns. The voice presses, murmurs and we dip water from hands to head. We just love His face as much inhaled, deep elaborately. Gestures and spirals – Him. Incense, charcoal black.
Lately, sit it out. Used cigarettes and old ceramic ashtrays. Out more away from the wall white of parabolic arches. Crumbling atmosphere, paint peels corner to corner. Lately, we adorers leave His philosophy. This cultured neo-modern. Little found in ashed intimacy now. Today, we of the sophisticated man shares a Who with God. Out drag. And our minds die, chipping walls that against to One conversation. Lost a sitting cheap as coal, keen as cash. Geometric clean.
Peace after Mourning The late afternoon is folded at the edges, a faded photograph: we’re on our neighbourly walk, the dogs and I, a suburban stroll. I watch them sniff the grass, the leaves. A seagull flies low. In this minute, all is gentle, the dreams of uncreated night forgotten. I frame this moment as a memory, and I pause, and turn. I catch sight of us beneath the veil of eternity, and hold our fragile selves in these ordinary things.
The Attribute of Poetry on the poems of Wallace Stevens seeing the marvellous in the plain sense of things your poems create a new ontology – substance under the aspect of poetry the words linger in the doorway between thought and thing in the decimal space between numbers, closer than love and its objects. electron-like, particle or wave, they flit from noumenal nothing to phenomenal thing, in days that are always dusk or dawn, when the light, catching the edge of eternity, renders all things lovely. your words, in flight, cast the shadow of birds.
struggling to sing. the scent of the sea and the woman’s song as that-which-is-not. he felt. waking into language to be born. the blue of the guitar. must refrain from causing fellow poets pain. dons the words the poet speaks. Julian de Wette Apologia: The Georgiad Campbell was a bitter pill his views considered illiberal MacDiarmid too found little good thought Roy’s cruel heart was made of wood. both dead and alive.new contrast because past and future are one. Spender took one on the chin. and we hear. Why stir the pot if verse you must far better yet to stir up dust brought from the red hills of Natal – or dare to ring the flyweight’s bell. the flammable page is always alight – the fire of a distant star. Who’d ever think that writing in rhyming couplets could be sin – 72 . if we listen carefully enough. nursed the bruises and his shin. swashbucklers.
supplied collective hippodromes for sport. Was he chosen. the sounds of crickets and of frogs? He touches now and then a talisman for luck and stalks the skies. 73 . proud herder. His father. with some wit applied this nomad bypassed evolution’s slide— a fast-forwarding typical of Russia’s skills at forming men against their wills. horse-breaker and trainer. His past sloughed off like a booster rocket Tochtor earned the people’s pride as far away as Samarkand where his nephew. no falcon at his wrist. resisted drafting to the Party ranks – watching from the Kazakh steppe he must’ve been confounded by his son’s bold choice of transport when clearly a camel or a horse.new contrast thus causing others sore distress? Today they like Roy even less! Aureille. or did he choose this orbit? Through empire. at most a beat-up Niva jeep was all he needed to round up sheep or count the stars at night. 2010 Reaching for the sky From earth we watched his star ascend: Tochtor’s launch from Baikonur opened up another front for Cold War rivalry. What does he miss most in his cosmic craft? The scent of wormwood and graceful feather grass.
95 umyss: fermented mare’s milk Sharbat: camel’s milk yoghurt Kifir: buttermilk 74 . touched by wonder. what patronage accrued from Party membership? Do birds from massed migrations ever stray that high or butterflies unfurl into phosphorescent skies? What could have occupied his mind up there: the wizardry that gave Soyuz its shape. for Tochtor Aubakirov. sharbat and kifir.new contrast Does he sing in space in his high-pitched Kazakh voice? Or with a keen eye on the smear of stars and planets demand amends for racial genocide? Too young for the Patriotic War. and checked off distant planets on his fingertips what bothered Tochtor most was the marriage of his eldest son to a Tartar bride when he had something else arranged with a Kzyl-Orda family that could trace descent from Tamerlane. the nomad warrior lord who once held Europe in his thrall by tossing plague-infested bodies over city walls. first Kazakh cosmonaut Alma-Ata VI. cravings for kumyss. too old to claim innocence – what privilege. lorry loads of melons from his native Turkestan or baskets of reeking fish from Lake Issikyl dried in strips like cured tobacco? Or thoughts of a hero’s welcome on Republic Square… planning new strategies to dodge bread lines on roads and boulevards that would later bear his name? As he traversed outer space.
to give nothing as at the start. insisting mathematical regimes should be explained by which a finite string of numbers is obtained.’ sang Jess. ‘The world’s a great idea consisting of the thoughts of souls so that whatever is unfurled’s the sole reality. At one such rally of a sea of friendly faces Jess suffered a scare of magnitudes beyond apostles’ dreams when members of the crowd surrounded him. renormalising infinitude by dividing both sides of an equation – somewhat scandalising science – with two eternities.new contrast Johan Geldenhuys The Soon Return – Part 6 (Continued from Issue #154) Onmipresence then shone its beacon in experiments that proved contemporaneous events were done in cases where they were so far removed from one another that contiguously they could cohere only by being there all round.’ with snorts 75 . ‘Elides the one the other is the simple answer. glancing at the advancing fans askance as Matthew moved to grab him from the mess ununderstanding men had caused.
’ ‘Exactly as perverts always must congregate to lick a dike. ‘pitch our message at the ranks in different guises. the man is merely taking you all for a lark. ‘The very fact that you are deft with words disproves your saying words can live lives of their own. Jesse. directing at the tall and lean leader of black troops further words of wisdom. and some only the tanks in which the milk is kept.’ said Mark indignantly. ‘What is concrete?’ demanded one in black. ‘We have to be discreet. Your thinking’s make them real. ‘We need converts and not such mockers as you are.new contrast scratching his ears. since what inheres 76 . spinning about some strands of verbal spam to prove words prove whatever can be said. Steal no thoughts from me. others the whey. A few will like and drink milk straight. are not to be trusted and better left alone. ‘and give the run of sentences direction. for all men are all things and everything is interlinked in spheres appearing to the likes of you as rings or merely outer shells.’ was interjected by a redhaired black. dear.’ was interjected by Jesse.’ came in Jesse. Some will like the curds. ‘Don’t worry. ‘Nothing and all.’ shot back the lengthy one.’ stepped in St John.
‘but now you desecrated ours.’ At this a man stepped up and grabbed Jesse in a vice-like grip. Lucas. The others stood stunned.’ called Jess as he was bundled in a van. but John took up in a caress the cracking casts and cares of his soul brothers through comforting when Mag and May arrived too late to see the great events.’ The crowds dispersed like water off a camel’s back and only Mag and May remained with rowds in Ioannes. ‘Try to hail Maggie and May that they can raise alarms all over.’ Lucas keened. as they themselves were gripped by other arms clad in ubiquitous dark. were brusquely brushed aside. Marcus and black brother Matthew because his mood lacked tint and tincture. ‘Where have they taken my son?’ enquired May despirited. while all the rest. including gawking John. which soon grated all present. A glint leaping into the air announced the sun 77 . ‘Don’t be dismayed. tortured. This is my quest and I shall take it to my end. you have started your last. one Benedict Quisling. ‘Regime. Matthew and Marcus then nabbed the perpetrator to little avail.’ Matt uttered in a scream. We always strived to keep your laws. The vice-grip crushed.new contrast cannot be touched. incarcerated or killed.
‘Just facts – 78 . sighed John. Jesse had been received unceremoniously and slammed into an empty cell in wee hours of morning light forming idly into another day. ‘Your group – how large is it? And give me names.’ ‘We’ll do that. The facts.’ Jess did. Night was forming a pen in which their shadow-selves were forced to stay against the rising of the sun. The mountains stood apart from human habitation. including May. His body hearkened for sustenance. however. prodding Jess on questioning. only to get a smack. asking him again. ‘Before you hid out from the law and why was that?’ Quite puzzled Jessie denied all knowledge of such acts. The second nuzzled in closer. The first man held a broom stick. speak against. in fact subtends the grounds from under us’. promptly darkened by his interrogators in a room deeper inside the fort.new contrast was changing tack. protecting weeping May against herself. bro. for can’t you see her smart and suffer greatly?’ begged Maggie: ‘My role will be to track Jesse through my contacts while all of you must reassure the friends. defining it as those within the loop of friends and family. May. ‘Please console his mother. The men watched Maggie go.
Jess responded that his dad was everywhere. who tore some more at Jess. ‘We are glad to hear that he’s within our jurisdiction.new contrast if you were innocent.’ second shot back. if only by some miracle – and this is difficult to credit – if we knew just who the bloody hell his father is. why hide away?’ ‘I did not hide.’ was wailed in mockery by first. Forget the games – your friends are dead and you can only try to save your mother now. the ever-widening sea.’ put in first. ‘ and hereby I arrest him too. without the fish of life. ‘The names of co-conspirators or we shall pry them from your family. ‘You are a shell.’ ‘For hiding. Remaining in the bay of politics you did not see the source. on which I sailed across your darkening horizon.’ second seconded first’s thirst for knowledge of sources.’ ‘Hell. No fiction seemed possible between these two in quest 79 . ‘Cholesterol resides in shellfish and it is a sin to eat un-kosher things. shallow.’ came from the bill of first. the dog is speaking poetry.’ chipped in second in similar vein. They placed him on a ledge between the floor and ceiling.’ ‘His father too. but merely steered a course away from yours.
’ exclaimed the third in abject fury. ‘Don’t leave a mark. end to end. Silence will bring its own reward. so evil that they could boldly sing in unison: ‘He’s standing. Unearthly clicking noises filled out the air. threatening in glistening shades of black and blue. Jesse underwent the whipping as silent as a church until the strain toppled him from the ledge.’ Through hurt 80 .’ was alternated in duality by twin brothers-in-arms or -law.’ The third interrogator chuckled at the spin imparted by these two.new contrast of truth. remaining in the background murkiness before emerging with some rubber hose with which to tap the truth. You are much too verbose. still said no word. A new and snipping sound rose into the air as blood was drawn at last.’ The two took up the strips of rubber. without a bend or buckle in the upright man of pain and suffering. ‘Why don’t you jump and then we’ll see’ ‘whether you fall or rise’ ‘or stand stock-still. ‘Clean up this mess and do it now. ‘keep it soft as fawn so that no evidence exists. It’s a miracle. attempting to transfer the tones through bend and point on to the flesh of Jess by flicking pieces of hose precisely with intent eliciting the facts.
’ A creak in Jesse’s neck became a crick as thirst 81 . keep still and hold your head.’ The third had handed him a canvas bag with which to crown the face and neck of Jess. even entering the ken of mystery.new contrast and agony Jesse addressed the men from off the floor: ‘If truth is evidential. followed by words: ‘He’s really in the dwang nogal.’ So Jess was caught up in a three-way hold of hands as first. then facts are bold. The laughter rang far-off through muffling layers of the bag. dim new world of darkness with only a trace of wider oceans as some water trickled on to the bag Jess felt fully at sea and isolated. who wasn’t in the room as yet. Inside the sudden.’ from first.’ First said: ‘Shut up. He strained to drag air down into his lungs. At the last. First his nerve-ends prickled and then the trussing of the bag made free breathing impossible. ‘Speak or snort some more. The bag holding Jess fast was lifted with an evil flourish. Let’s talk with him again. ‘and tell us who and what you are. you hoary pig. the three cut him some slack. second and third made up a tress constricting breathing further till the glands of Jesse’s neck corded in sympathy with their black ministrations.
Thus she checks my course without directing. swelling as if undernourished. ‘And who’s your father?’ was interposed by third. sir. Tell me where stands your mother?’ commentated third: ‘Is she supportive of your role as social force or not?’ Jesse was spavined out by thirst. Second then said: ‘No. The course of blood was redirected to the curst limbs twisted in interrogation. but there. Jesse was bonetired as well as -dry like desert sands. A live one needs the care of singularity. ‘Your contacts all are known to me. disappearing somewhere in the flue of government like smoke. for liquid sustenance?’ Vile flecks 82 . it is how’s your father? Would you rather I showed you?’ All that Jesse saw was red as second crowded him with strangulation in Dante’s dark.new contrast for liquid twisted him. The hell had passed when third adjured the other two: ‘Triangulation will only find the truth inside a turd or other matter left behind. second and first. Could I bother you. ‘Mother remains my source forever. but you must earn my trust. So please can I ask you to let me strive along with him a while to let me see what I can do with loving. left third and Jess alone.’ Then the two.
confirm/deny my fears you are a Slav and/or a communist. my captivating sir. because it remained illegal to pimp but not to whore. ‘I see that sin and law do not necessarily always work in tandem. don’t skimp. I’m classed as asian other and it is my wont to live my life with what I have. I shall not shirk from pouring more Modena. Pouring a measure he asked if it was a sin to be associated with Mag’s whoring even in an administrative way. I cussed 83 . striving for the bright eclipse of earth by heavenly things. sighing lightly: ‘My group’s a gathering of people striving to be holy. My mother May and Mag support us wholly in our quest for light beyond another day. tied only to higher things inside a ring not of this earth. look past the drag of the diurnal. We don’t oppose political parties.new contrast in black and blue were pocking Jesse’s skin and third decided to take pity. not unlike a festering paw dogging a beast’s running. but pour me more’. but first.’ Jesse replied. Vinegar balsamic is the best and you shall have the best. Jesse did not gainsay statement nor implication: ‘Please.
84 . Degree being quite paramount in everything. At this the third decided it was time to stop the tease and grant the man his wish. defaced my bursting physiognomy much like the burgeoning specks of blood the sheen of outer surfaces right now. The third then calmly left the cell to confront first and second: ‘Write in ink so that from this moment no one can dwell in doubt as to my feeling that this bloke is innocent politically’.new contrast my circumstances last at age thirteen. I realise that zits and bruises heal in greater schemes. The weal of everyone is what concerns her. Because she wears no ring Maggie is not a prostitute. The features blurred on Jess assuaging primary needs to drink and live. Please. give me somewhat to drink’.
85 . Her poetry collections: A life stripped of illusions. Gail Dendy was first published by Harold Pinter in 1993. 2011). and the EU/Sol Plaatje Poetry Prize 2011. HA Hodge is a poet and editor. Elisa Galgut teaches in the Philosophy Department at the University of Cape Town. She has an MA in Creative Writing from UCT. the latest The Edge of Things. He is currently a research student in the Department of English. was born in 1968 in Fonki Village. University of Yaounde. 2011. He was born an April Fool in sub-arctic Canada and has now lived over half his life in South Africa and Swaziland. Damian Garside has been published in New Contrast since 1977. She is currently a Literature student at Oxford. UK and the USA. where he obtained the DEA in English Literature and a Postgraduate Teacher’s Diploma.com. He is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the Mafikeng Campus of North-West University. Awards: two Sanlam Awards and the 2010 Dalro Award for poetry. The Thin Line. was published by Modjaji Books in 2010.new contrast Contributors Arja Salafranca’s collection of short stories. Educated in GSS Fontem. Cameroon. Her seventh collection is entitled Closer Than That (Dye Hard. Her current area of interest is an exploration into emotional responses to literature from a psychoanalytic perspective. She has edited two anthologies. which she maintains through reading extensively and travelling widely. croc-E-moses is a poet artist musician. Genna Gardini is a writer based in Cape Town. coaxes and attempts to incite in sight. with subsequent collections appearing in South Africa. GBHS Buea. She can be contacted at gennagardini@ gmail. He tinkers. Ecole Normale Superieure Yaounde and the University of Yaounde. Nguti South West Province of Cameroon. Eleni Philippou was born in Johannesburg and studied English Literature and Political Studies at Wits. Since the early 1980s he has had a considerable number of poems published in literary magazines here in South Africa and the United States. and The Fire in Which we Burn and poetry is collected in Isis X (Botsotso). Denis Fonge Tembong. Eleni has a keen interest in South African culture. Most recently she has been shortlisted for the Thomas Pringle Award 2010. Diliza Madikiza is a journalist and has worked for various South African newspapers and magazines. politics and history. He hosts the Off-the-Wall poetry gigs in Kommetjie and Kalk Bay.
she has performed at the Baxter in Cape Town. Patricia Schonstein Pinnock is an internationally published novelist and poet.com. He hopes to marry these in a new genre of gratis verse. was published in 1976. Joe Mynhardt is a South African horror writer and teacher. She draws her inspiration from her natural surroundings – the flight of a malachite sunbird. the way a frond unfolds in sunlight. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Cape Town. where she lived until 2002. Pages of Stories and many more. He is currently studying English at UCT. Kyle de Villiers is a diverse reader with a noted love of lewd ‘gentleman’s literature’ (especially those with pop-up pictures). Johan Geldenhuys is a semi-retired financial terminologist who divides his time between business dictionaries and poetic fiction. Raf Gangat studied at Natal University in Pietermaritzburg. His first collection of poems. Julian de Wette is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College in the United States. serving in 86 . Joe is also a moderator at MyWritersCircle. she grew up in Rhodesia and now lives in Cape Town. followed by Verban: Verbinne in 1982.new contrast Irene Emanuel was born in Johannesburg. Lise Day has retired after teaching English most recently at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. Microhorror. From Weenen in KwaZulu-Natal. Koning in die Buiteland. Die Zuid Afrika Huis in Amsterdam. Ecca. Although Italian. then went on to become a diplomat. Her short stories and poems are published in various periodicals. She forms part of the Eastern Cape poet-group.patriciaschonstein. www. published by Protea Boekhuis in 2002. She has always loved the rhythm and sound of words and started rhyming when she was about four years old. and at the AfrikaBurns Festival at Tankwa Karoo. He left South Africa in 1972 and returned in 2000. she presented ‘States of Emergency’. His work has been published at Pill Hill Press. Flashes in the Dark. She loves books. The conservation of the natural habitat is an enduring passion. As poet. Kyle dreams of being taken seriously one day. both published by Perskor and Tussen Duine Gebore. played cricket for Natal. A selfdescribed angel of orange and a peer-dubbed creep. a paper exploring poetic responses to the Aids crisis at a symposium on Poetry and Medicine at Warwick University. Julia Kramer lives in the eastern Free State and works in the northern Drakensberg. Library of the Living Dead. In 2010. Lara Kirsten is a travelling pianist and poet. when she moved to Durban. the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. She is a Member of the ‘Pleached Poetry’ writing circle. who present readings and publish collectively each year. Julia writes in both Afrikaans and English. com.
He attended Boston University. His writing is one result of this thoroughly dissatisfying situation. Zita has been published in several genres. He lives in London where he is writing a novel and critical essays on post-1970 SA theatre. where he was born. having served as Secretary. and immigrated to the USA with her husband and two sons in 1976. banker and taught history of South African drama at Stellenbosch University. Karachi.new contrast Beverly Hills. She was born in South Africa. 27 plays and two mystery novels. an assortment of short stories. 87 . Living in Cape Town for the past 10 years he is working on a compendium of flash fiction. She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women. his time’s been spent within the murderously narrow range of passions. adventures. Indiana. Abu Dhabi and Ramallah where he married. His work includes nearly 300 poems. Robert Greig has published three volumes of verse and worked as a theatre critic. of whom he is an irreconcilable enemy. Siddiq Khan resides in Cape Town. A product of his times. Vice-President and President of the Indianapolis Branch. threats and opportunities presented to him by his society. he now lives there. After setting up an English radio station in Jerusalem/Ramallah. Tom Byrne was born in New York in 1949. Zita Nurok is an elementary school teacher living in Indianapolis.
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