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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
TO ORDER: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 076 169 2789
Tel 021 448 7186 | Fax 086 647 5447 | Cell 076 169 2789 | email email@example.com http://junketspublisher.blogspot.com | http://playscriptseries.blogspot.com
*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
a.net ISSN-8: 1017-5415 ISSN-13: 977-1017-54100-8 Original cover artwork by croc-e-moses. • Local subscriptions are R350 p. • Other international subscriptions are R600 p. • Current prices are shown on the website – www.net Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to the South African Literary Journal (address above).newcontrast. Dan Jacobson Directors Michael Cope. • Subscribers from SADC countries are charged R475 p.newcontrast. Michael King. 7735. a non-profit company limited by guarantee. 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. as a token of appreciation. • Electronic subscriptions are R100 p.Literary Patrons André Brink. South Africa http://www. Electronic transfers to Standard Bank. JM Coetzee. Cape Town. Adderley Street.net/ E-mail Editor: ed@newcontrast. 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.a.net Business manager: Sonja Wilker business@newcontrast. Nadine Gordimer. worldwide. PO Box 44844. Claremont. Paul Mills New Contrast is published by the South African Literary Journal Limited.a. . Geoffrey Haresnape.a. New Contrast.
we bring you the imagination and art of 22 contributors. please share them with us. If you have bright ideas about funding. 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. others new to us. Hugh . The books are ready for the auditor.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. Fervent prayers are often necessary. sustained by pastures unexpected in the close-cropped landscape. some familiar. Corporates. I hope you will find something of interest to your taste. of course. do not allow us to go into debt. and until we are audited we won’t get grants. when we run out of cash we simply stop production – until money arrives. We need more money. This issue is late. but parcelled with the next. the Lotto – are closed to us until our books are audited. Yet we survive. who publish this magazine. AE Ballakisten rescued us earlier this year: what a saviour! In this issue. local and international. 11 I bleat about money each issue: some wee-wee lamb I am. Because the SA Literary Journal Ltd. We have the usual healthy crop of poems and short stories.
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. 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 Lise Day Eleni Philippou Elisa Galgut Julian de Wette Johan Geldenhuys Contributors Noddy I loved to Dance In Eternal Architectured. 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 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 .
And his mouth breaks into a smile. She kisses his feet. Winter fruit a spiral on the plate he cuts away the pith and feeds her segments of summer 8 .new contrast Julia Kramer Autumn gilded. He feeds ruby red pomegranate to her. 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. the bruised grass silent testament to love in the afternoon.
Ouvolk – kotiljons winterfeeks. skaamteloos oor die gebleikte winter hange 9 . sy trek haar onderrok oor platberg se skurwe knieë rinkink en dans haar ouvolk – kotiljons strooi fyn hael en sneeu met geil oorgawe. fragile crystallised umbrellas delicate as thistle hiding the cruel paradox the crushing weight ripping limbs from old giants others disembowelled. float down. and in the wake of the snow showers no paramedic to heal the wounded nor mourn the dead.new contrast without blemish each one she licks the juice his fingers and catlike curls up at his feet Snow Soft flakes swirl.
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 .
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 .new contrast vir die onthalwe van nie verstaan.
Stone – can’t endure heat. 12 . wind and rain so someday it will be a grain and then dust which is a must for each and every stone.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. They don’t seem to notice the difference – one bravely meets life to the other’s indifference. Stone Stone – stands all alone it can’t moan when it’s kicked by many a feet it can only meet a fellow stone. one with one.
let’s drag ourselves a bit further. Here – Jirre! Jirre! Here: brought this far off. blooming buchu screaming murder. 13 . Die burger dorpie too blooming busy to hear the buchu sing: Here – Jirre. Jirre! Here: brought this far out. turning engine.new contrast Siddiq Khan Buchu blues Buchu blooming innie berge. Petrol burning innie motor. let’s drag ourselves a bit further. hurling voter headlong. let’s drag ourselves a bit further. caught kort. Jirre! Here: brought this far down. let’s drag ourselves a bit further. Bergie du-dum stoned to silence. shop bought vinnag into vandag. Here – Jirre. factories. klip-klop goes the quagga’s scurry – gone: we’ll follow in a hurry. let’s drag ourselves a bit further. long faced. thought-short. taxis. Jirre! Here: brought this far gone. babies booming here – Jirre. Buds of burning murder blooming. klip-hard hearts turned stone by violence. Here – Jirre. Jirre! Here: brought this far up.
And never before could I swallow them. creep up. Sistered the tramp. The holy moans of human bands would thump. I know they won’t stop. again. their tears drown my hem. 14 . We rise. thump in my ear. But I will stop.new contrast Blues for the Maid of New Orleans To Mother Katrina and her children Again the tides that freeze my veins creep up. After floods. I know it won’t stop. in cold waves which froze the soul. When just a girl. it’s just the same. Today it’s just the same. I thought I’d fill the cup Of those who choked with thirst. we gallop. The mayor – long for yesterday. or try to stem The tides. With hollowed heart I mothered the stray pup. and never dreamt Again. Never pause for breath. Let those who can afford it – the bishop. through hurricanes. my frail veins would freeze up. I know it won’t stop. Today it’s just the same. condemn Today. Thump. daughtered the whore. Today will stay the same. Mayhem Always. frozen forward. crept up.
15 . the absence of any footprints. I’ll point to the clean rug. I’ll leave it.new contrast Gail Dendy Fountain Pen My pen is hungry for the page. And so this pen’s spilled blood which I’m forced to clean up. the newly scrubbed walls. lowers its one metal tooth to bite. And when the Poetry Police come digging for clues. and omit to tell them how thirsty my pen’s become of late. or to camouflage itself among pots and pans. my little pet. dark tea. and bite hard. and how it likes to be refilled while standing upright over a glass or cup. yaps and snarls at its bare white flanks. And I’ll offer them rich. munching on these lettuce-leaf pages. now. yet still so wild. and how it says it won’t go quietly if caught.
new contrast Rumours and Gossip Our fat neighbour is a cacophony of rumours and gossip. for if she lets in the light even a little rumours and gossip will thrive and grow till they get out of hand. Then his wife places gossip and rumours in their very own cradles. coddles them close and makes sure they’re healthy. and she clatters and squeaks whenever she hears the truth. rubs it until it shines the way one might rub out a very bad thought. holds her husband’s love in the crease of her two fine dimples. And she closes the shutters. and then they might swallow her whole (with her rattles and squeaks) 16 . She never hears anything so vexing as the truth so she gives it to her husband. waxes it. He oils it. rides triumphantly to work in a good solid old car. but this only if the day is altogether sunny and much too hot.
Down she tumbles. Even with my feet in snow my heart’s aflame and dealing out aces. The Fat Man The feeling’s a bit foxy.’ and so we get pissed for new times’ sake and old time’s sake and for any time’s sake after that. ‘Holy smoke.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. there’s only Mary. Voices are hopping in my head like jumping-jacks.’ says Henry’s new girl as the road peters out at the end of her shoes. I see a neon sign blinking blind as a one-eyed bat. 17 .’ ’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. My wiring’s a bit crazy. for if he tramples on it (in a moment of doubt. And after too many pints. Hot-breath hello. or in a moment of certainty) it’ll leave part of its tail behind like a small wriggling bar of light. She gives me the come-on sign. I fancy I’ve grown up rum and wild. firecrackers. My pal Henry comes up and he says ‘You a drinker?’ and I say ‘Not yet. way in the distance. For me. and a cat arching its back under one damn pissball bridge too many. The postcard she sent shows kisses under the mistletoe. I sent Mary a postcard with birds and flowers and big-bummed berries winking at her. sly and flirtatious. But I’m thinking ‘Goodle goddle. a set of hobnails treading hard and heavy across the ash-grey field.
my tongue’s so dry. and we’re not going out for a day to the track with odds on five-to-one. My Mary. and I’m dead-on sober and I’m thinking Mary. ’cos’. My baby. fuzzy sleep of hers. But Mary says ‘you’re a poor fat pusher and as soppy-eyed as a hangdog carthorse’. Henry.’ ‘Fatso. Mary. and that’s my final word. a regular winner-takes-all kind of guy. my shirt’s sopping with sweat both inside and out. And then she says ‘why’re you waiting at the gate like this. no fuss. And Mary keeps saying ‘Henry. And I’m thinking of Henry and how he says I’m soppy. 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. ‘I’m not going to meet you under the bridge no more. hard. I’m a big. straight-as-a-die kind of guy. a down-the-line.’ says Henry. Mary. step. And I decide there’s no way I can take any more of these bright little popper things. and her words are like square-edged balls in my head. Mary. rolled up in that warm. I’m telling you. She knows I’m a cash-and-carry guy. A regular man. and Jesus. ‘a tub of lard’. ‘Fatso. No mess. “Now go”. it’s just me alone and the salt and pepper of a night sky wheeling and dealing the early birds.new contrast And afterwards. she says. you as sweaty as a stinking barrel and legless as any waddling duck.’ I light up my last as I’m sitting here on the wrong side of her gate. ‘No’. I say I’m pure muscle. and she says ‘I’m telling you there’s not going to be no more. I’m gonna tell him a thing or two.’ says Henry. and the whole world’s gonna know how I feel. My own little doll. whatever I say is gonna be heard by those cracka-jack farts down at the pub all basement-happy. she says.’ hoping she’ll come.’ And I tell her about Henry’s new girl but all she says is ‘can’t you 18 . But. ‘I won’t stand for any silly sentimental shyster. So I sit myself down on Mary’s cold. And I want to hold her and kiss her hard and long like I’ve been away forever. she says. big man with huge moonshine feelings and a pure inside as pure as mush. I tell you. 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. There’s no more time I’ve got for you’. right to the tips of its steeples.’ says Henry. my heart’s so big I feel like dynamite. and this makes me near to weeping. ‘fart arse. It’s at this point I’m weeping. hell. I say I’m all muscle. Henry’s my kind of guy. and I chant ‘Mary.
and it’s all that I want. a set of hobnails treading hard and heavy across the ash-grey field. So now you know. pouring out cloudbursts till she’s happy as moonshine. She’ll see I’m a man. She’ll see I mean business. Forget the rest. bouncing big thunder in the pit of her thighs. 19 . She’s all that I want. Through flesh and blood. So. And hell. these ain’t no sticks of candy I’m carrying. But I’m not going nowhere. So now I’m here at her door and I’ve locked the outside gate. Voices are hopping in my head like jumping-jacks. My wiring’s a bit crazy.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. taking feather-light footsteps to the rim of her bed. She’ll understand what I mean. And I’ll be brushing ’lectricity deep in her hair. They say I’m the fat man ’cos I’m two-hundred kilos and all of it muscle. And I only want Mary. No. Sometimes. I’m feeling a bit foxy. 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. firecrackers. Nothing is over till the fat man sings. It’s not what you feel. you know. I’m sleeping in the hinges of Mary’s door. She’ll see I’m a martyr. I just can’t make me out. they’re strapped round my chest and the noise this’ll make will ricochet ricochet to the far edge of town. hanging on her walls. long arms and comes running to me and my big way of feeling. kissing up hailstorms on the soles of her feet. And next time you see me I’ll be happy in Paradise and she’ll be there too. I’m staying put till my own little Mary comes running to me with her pert little sounds and her long. believe what you will. But the outside gate’s locked and there’s no one about.
new contrast The Shape of Things to Come There are numerous words for this but no particular shapes. this parallelogram comprising my-armsyour-legs. this bony cat’s cradle of our bodies touching. ‘Who’s that for?’ I shrieked. I refused your offer of panel-beating. Rather. I spoon a blob of ice-cream on to your tongue. Are you worried that. reversed too quickly and slammed into the gatepost. But this is also an essay on forgiveness and the shape of things to come. and you turned racing-red. grasp both my hands and place them beneath your chin. 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. vrrrrm! creating a steel-framed piece of negative space in the bumper which of course is a shape. This is not a shape at all. at that. or that it melts so quickly? 20 . ever-so slowly. using some very choice words. You kneel on the floor. and bitterly eloquent.
* First published in The Unknown Child: poems of war. 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. in my palms oker en akkedis. love and longing.new contrast Patricia Schonstein Pinnock Afrika* Translated by Elsa Silke Hoe sal ek jou verlaat? Dit sal in die donker wees. Ek sal daar dryf. My siel sal jou sterre weerkaats en die vlam van die dag. Dit sal onder die Brug van Sugte wees. vol verlange na jou. in my hand ’n sakkie msasa-saad en geperste mopanieblare. African Sun Press ISBN 978-1-874915-13-3 21 . drywend op die gragte van my geboortegrond in ’n gondel gevoer met blou fluweel.
the words are still firmly chiselled. Dead and buried in the cemetery for the non-Catholics of long ago. dead. within months of each other. I will drift there longing for you. within the dreadful year of 1851 going into 1852. forgotten. Dead at two and four and nine years old. washed to sea at night. My soul will reflect your stars and the flame of day. Arja Salafranca The English Cemetery Catherine Charlotte Anne Eliza. and Henrietta Augusta. pecked by gulls. so clear and so legible more than 150 years later as I wander through. Beloved children of Patrick and Mary. My palms will hold ochre and lizard. In times past they would have been buried upright on the beach. Kicking through the hot Málaga morning.new contrast It will be beneath the Bridge of Sighs. Graeme Hepburn. trying to make sense of yet another season 22 .
amigo de España reads the gravestone. even now the grounds are being used. instead of a deadly childhood disease. His wife. wandering. described forever more as an escritor inglés. the husband you was’. It’s not just in past centuries that people die young. wanting to be liked. A quiet in the heart of this now roaring place where they’re now digging up the earth to make an Underground. Joseph Bertram Griffin dies at the age of forty-eight in Torremolinos in the year 1968. ‘Fear no more the heat of the sun’. the ground is hard. I feel almost peaceful. Gerald Brenan dies in Málaga. I step into the English cemetery. tough. briny. 23 . Does language always define your nationality? I wonder too. I find the graves of the writer Gerald Brenan. before the formation of this cemetery. born in Malta. This time though. Kicking pebbles. A plaque for John Bevan who dies in 1816. Geoffrey Herbert Bruno is buried here in 2000. vulnerable. as though Spain were reaching out. might it have been cancer? The grammar is odd: ‘The love of your little Zizi. too early. the English writer. Friend to Spain.new contrast in the city of my birth. the words are touching. the sun and soil do not produce a natural green lawn in this part of the world. dead in 1968. An urn lies empty beside Brenan’s grave.
I don’t want to buy expensive soaps I can’t afford. I look at them. He died last year. I am the only visitor today. a fixture. Effortlessly and without having to think. a tourist to their joy. Home? A hankering for the crisp. The woman runs the American club. I scurry on. Her husband was a journalist too. because. join a group of Spanish women excitedly exploring the bullring.new contrast I look at the apartment blocks. and the familiar washing flutters from the lines. awnings pulled down against the heat. and the shop in this cemetery. you never know? What will it take to become Spanish? In the shop I use my language again. in this bustling little city? 24 . it spurts out like vomit. Any donations welcome. after all. The woman who answers me is herself a hybrid: an Italian American who lives in and loves Spain. do they subconsciously avoid it at night. 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. Do they even notice the cemetery now. clipped vowels of the language I speak.
The man will then take her home and turn the hosepipe on her. perhaps she will even go for a swim again. ‘I’ll take her to the park. There was the packing to do. He sits. easy to give over the phone. It’s hot. ‘One last time before we take her in tomorrow. He’s escaping the claustrophobia of the house.’ he told Deborah. washing off the leaves and slime of the river water. midsummer and Andrew’s face is red as he sits and waits for Lucy to finish bounding through trees and river and whatever else. running through the litter of lives being packed up.new contrast A man sits in a Johannesburg park A man sits in a Johannesburg park on a late summer’s afternoon. In the morning they will leave it on the pavement and it will be gone before the day is. tongue lolling stupidly to one side. now almost emptied of furniture. reclaim her from quarantine 25 . A last night with no TV. Tomorrow he takes her into six-month quarantine. waiting. The man’s name is Andrew Barker. if she gets excited. and on Sunday these same friends will take them to the airport. a good ordinary enough name. quite tired all of a sudden. If they do. still throwing out black plastic bags full of rubbish. 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. His wife and children are packing. and this is the dog’s last run in his company. still anguishing over what should not be thrown away. children and wife packing suitcases. excited. He releases the lead attached to his red-haired spaniel’s collar and she bounds off to sniff trees and play near the river. 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. there’s a plan for that too: the friends who will take them to the airport will keep Lucy. It’s an afternoon late in the week. no pots and pans.’ He hadn’t planned on doing it. Tomorrow they will stay with friends. And Lucy. his wife. a solid name that is easy to pronounce. just takeaway dishes and memories surrounding them in the hollows of the house. and then there were friends coming to take the rest of the furniture off their hands. the man is alone. excitable.
Yet. like a traitor: ‘In some ways I wish we weren’t leaving. have been reading books about their new country: children’s guides to life in another place. ‘I feel like we’ve already left.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. softly. schools. of course. winter will still mark the middle of the year. a boy and a girl. he thinks. who is part of their lives here. Andrew sweats in the sun.’ Deborah said a few nights ago as she sat putting tape over the last few boxes. furniture. It is perhaps a lot of pressure to put on a dog. and whom they want to be a part of their lives there – a link from life to life. how to set up a business.’ 26 . cats. drinks from a bottle of sparkling water. been reading other sorts of guides: Culture Shock Australia. So Andrew and Deborah have said. Andrew had sat down beside her. Learning that Australia is about more than kangaroos and dangerous snakes and vast deserts whose heat eats you up if you let it. It’s for the children that they are taking Lucy – a reminder of home. following a particularly strong smell of other dogs. and a few birds. pulls a cap lower over his face. Drowning in information. food. snow in December or biting freezing weather instead of sun and sun block. a sense of continuity. continent to continent. Lucy who is as much a part of their family as their two children. changed? The kids. of course. Night after night for months the TV has stayed off as Andrew and Deborah have devoured books. that peculiar flattening of the vowels that occurred what two centuries ago? Or was it already there and English in other countries simply evolved. ‘But we haven’t. The Australian accent also isn’t that far off the South African one either – foreigners still mistake South Africans for Australians or New Zealanders.’ said Andrew. Lucy is delightfully unaware of these pressures as she bounds towards the river. trees rustled outside the lounge window. as he sits on a fence made of logs. and the seasons are all the same. in some way. posting pages with fluorescent orange and green and yellow post-its. Christmas will still be hot. but. At least the children won’t have to get used to new seasons. The removal men were coming in the morning. It’ll be as hot over there. Then. cars. newspapers which list the price of houses. Andrew and Deborah have. Lucy.
as the doorbell chimed. or even Deborah. in their cosy kitchen. with indecision. You got tax clearance certificates organised. They were half-hearted about the idea now – after all this time of waiting. Whatever Andrew wished. ‘Yes. smoke curling into and around her dark head. applying ‘just in case’ as they told friends. And so it was that the house was sold. or what it would all mean in the end. pinched red. you tied up the ends of your life as neatly as twisting bread together in a pan.new contrast ‘You’ve said that before and I know what you mean and I also know that you don’t mean it. You became a robot. Deborah smoked a rare cigarette. That night they sat at the kitchen table while the kids played games on the computer and they laughed at the papers. stick with them. a closed subject. I just don’t know. and was there a future now for them here? No. furniture divided among friends and relatives. In a sense though the decision had been made for them. the decision had been made. love. with relief. you cashed in a life insurance policy. family. all too suddenly. They had applied for papers and waited over a year to be approved. mouth in a straight line. with the enormity of the decision to be made. debates were useless. boxes were dispatched. They were laughing. perhaps more so. 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. deciding. you could not spend years wondering what to do. 27 . wait yet another year or so. ‘I don’t know now. familiarity. warm with wine. All the physical signs were in place.’ replied Deborah. almost in spite of themselves. yet more friends coming to buy yet more furniture. You had to make decisions. I can’t say we should go. It was. Both slightly tipsy on wine now. or the kids wished. Andrew. They were comfortable now. You did all this because a decision had been made: you did not question anymore whether you wanted to do this. and the kids were growing older. twisting it closed.’ said Andrew. 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. now. You resigned from a job. whether to do it. took the kids out of school. and all the while the rand was sliding downhill. you had to make a decision and stick to it. Then.
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. It pulls you back.’ ‘It’s hard to leave though. you become a part of it.’ ‘Not if you don’t let it. Deborah said.’ said Andrew. ‘I feel like I know the place inside out. Andrew was away when it happened. their future. would be fine. and she’ll miss her life here more than Thomas. Thomas is only eight. Studying for a new career wasn’t something you did when you emigrated. made for them. Deborah was a lawyer. 28 . months ago. We’re still young enough to make new lives for ourselves. It won’t make any difference to you at all.’ She just about flung her wineglass into the sink. ‘I feel like I belong here. ‘What do we want to do?’ Andrew replied absent-mindedly. after. She couldn’t see herself going back to study – even if the kids had been older. Qantas already wanted him. They had discussed options: PR. When you grow up on a farm and watch what the seasons do to the earth.new contrast But I can’t say we should stay.’ Deborah said on that night.’ ‘She’ll be eleven soon …’ ‘Yes. ‘I’m the one who’s going to have to give up her career.’ Sharply now. We don’t want to be left here. as winter was just edging into spring.’ said Deborah. of course. You don’t just leave Africa. But then the decision was taken out of their hands. storming out to tell the kids it was bedtime soon. and he’d curse about that. Let’s not get sappy and sentimental about this. he’ll be speaking Ozzie before we know it and Sarah is adaptable. ‘What do we really want to do? We shouldn’t go just because so many of our friends are going or have already gone. the animals. her years of studying would be useless there. And the kids. Andrew. I’m a part of it. I’m the one who will be trying to start all over. time to be with the kids and time enough to integrate into society by working. But think of the future. You’re just going to go ahead and carry on flying aeroplanes. except your layovers will be in different places. rising from the table. they would say after. an innocuous half day job as a receptionist if she could get it. know something that’s passed us by. stupidly clinging on to something that’s finished.
crashing through the house. Deborah’s hand already on the panic button. It was surreal. and. but the joke was flat. nightie raised. When the gunman who had first burst into her room. adrenaline. Deborah knew. of husbands watching as wives were hauled away to be raped. or being forced to watch helpless. eyes stretched wide open. Deborah breathed raggedly. and moved roughly against her. Deborah never knew how many there were. heart thudding as a hand was clamped over her face. They had keys. when she would be raped. The security company arrived. the children? If she just gave in. They wanted money. or had even experienced it. There were worse stories: of being held at ransom for hours. She smelled him: old sweat and fear. He pushed her nightie up with the edge of his gun. he grunted. panic. tied up. Perhaps the gunmen had heard them? They too burst in. 29 . bottles of booze. as though language forgotten. she thought four or five. He returned and leaned over. the faces at the bedroom door in the middle of the night. Still she had been lucky they all agreed. recounting the events.new contrast It was banal almost. The fridge and freezer were bare. They left. glasses. She hadn’t been raped and the kids were fine. They didn’t rape her. then the car. had read it before. There was silence now. they hadn’t tried to take the cars. no panties. a DVD machine. as one after the other took turns. releasing the kids locked in Sarah’s bedroom. Deborah would joke weakly in months to come that the gunmen were hungry. He had the gun beside her head then as he looked at her. and except for a dislocated arm on Thomas’s part they didn’t really hurt the kids. would they leave them alone? Why couldn’t she hear them? But then another gunman burst in. the gunman returned. tied her up and then had gone rampaging through the house leaving Deborah there. The glass shattering. no alarms. mouth useless with tape over it. alcohol on his breath. Thomas with a dangling arm where the men had roughly forced him into Sarah’s room Downstairs was a mess. This was not an original story anymore and all those they told had heard it before. the children. smashing things. but left the TV. frozen meat and salads and bottles of HP and tomato sauce all hauled away in rubbish bags. there were shouts and then it was over. There was a moment. it smelled of a brewery with the broken bottles of booze. oddly food. They had taken very little: money from Deborah’s purse. and jewellery.
Lucy. She recalled how at a breakfast meeting a woman had asked her. raged himself. when they arrived the morning after gave her a case number. she was one of those whingeing whites politicians flayed in parliament. crime. and no one could say why. Equally sotto voiced. I’m going before that happens. they said. They too had a lack of cars. sotto voice. had been of no help.’ She was loud now. thank her lucky stars and get on with it. crime. They won’t even acknowledge that there’s a problem. I’m not going to wait until I am raped in my bed or Sarah is raped. helpless as if he had been tied up. hadn’t hurt her… she almost felt like she should shut up. or they probably would have shot her. shrugged their shoulders and implied that they too thought she had been lucky and had nothing to complain about. And so. over and over again.’ she said. to colleagues at work when asked about her decision. They hadn’t been shot and no one had died. And the police. ‘One word: crime. vociferous. this country had bred her and looked after her and she had benefited from the fruits of apartheid and she should stay. The dog. looking nervously around before she asked. The security company apologised for not responding immediately but they just didn’t have enough cars to send out. of men with dark. unapologetic even as she knew that their decision to leave was frowned upon. grit her teeth see the bad years out. at lunch. I’m not going to be around for a next time when the government has no intention of doing anything about it. crazed eyes. And there was Andrew. And there was Andrew. wracked 30 . Now her eyes weren’t downcast she was angry. At times Deborah almost felt like she had no right to complain: they hadn’t taken much at all. nodding with eyes downcast. Deborah had said yes. of guns caressing her thighs. One day this country would be gold. they decided. ‘Crime. livid.new contrast And they were alive. if Deborah and her family have ever thought of going.’ she said to friends at dinner parties. helpless with rage and fear himself. They hadn’t come the night before. and tied himself to a job in which he had to fly away and leave her alone in a house with two young children. They argued and debated and justified their reasons over and over again: ‘I’m not going to wait until next time. She had been at the vet that night and thank God they said. Except she dreamed of gunmen. they couldn’t be everywhere.
’ Deborah saw the sea in her mind’s eye. He rode horses over the farm. disbelieving.’ Andrew continued.’ ‘You’re not just giving us your blessing. wondering if they would really need so much in their new lives. day or night …’ ‘I can’t imagine not having burglar bars. you’re actually telling us to leave. ‘If we were younger we wouldn’t bring up kids here. this land. but comforted themselves with other thoughts. 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. I still want them. shaking his head. But they were in a grip of a decision. On their visit to see the place before applying for emigration papers they had done the Bridge climb. ignoring her last comment. ‘You’ll be able to sleep safely at home now. his parents. ‘You won’t need burglar bars and security alarms and rape gates over the doors. to a place where the light was white hot and blinding. ‘Leave. Andrew had argued. desperate to do something even as he talked of his love for the land.’ ‘And.’ his father said. 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. Andrew. caught up. harnessed. 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.’ Andrew had said. And you won’t worry about being hijacked every single time you come home. you can walk to the shops instead of having to always drive everywhere and we’ll be living by the sea. ‘it’s not even anymore about you and Deborah.new contrast with guilt for not having been home that night. ‘But how can you say that? You won’t see your grandchildren more than once a year maybe? You’ll grow old. ‘you can walk in the streets. the Sydney Harbour Bridge arched over the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean.’ ‘It’s not about us. thoughts that were luxuries they didn’t have now. it’s just too dangerous now. you might not be able to fly out to see us then.’ his parents counselled. and what’s waiting for them when they leave school?’ Shocked.’ said Andrew. even if I am away. I don’t think I can sleep now without them. slightly scared and exhilarated with the thought that 31 . They went to his parents’ farm. and as they went through the days they shed possessions like snakes.
just a bridge over dark blue dangerous waters. we’ll visit the Blue Mountains. He was going to fly the SA–Australia route as often as possible for now and in the future.’ Deborah said to him.new contrast they might one day live here. in your fifties too I wonder what you’ll sound like!’ Andrew wonders. They read the books about their new country and bought a coffee table book of photos to show the children. when Andrew spoke of the beach. waiting for Lucy. ‘We’re leaving. except your home will be in a Sydney suburb not a Joburg one. as Deborah flung out these barbs. herself. Deborah listening as she wondered about their new life. their grandparents’ farm and they reassured them that they would visit in a year’s time and that they would make new friends. He had done everything he could: all Deborah had to do was make the move. when she had said those words.’ they said. Hurt now. That’s what Deborah saw. He saw 32 . me and the kids. 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. we’ll go all over. It was mostly Andrew who would make the reassurances. ‘We’ll climb Ayers Rock. pointing out that they would visit all the places mentioned. sitting on the wooden wall. on a bridge high up. he had handed in his notice and was already going to start flying for Qantas even before they left. ‘You’re not really leaving.’ she flung at him again and again. The kids spoke of missing their friends. if that was the moment. They were tense – but they put it down to the stress of the coming move. Andrew was bouncy and light. no waves and surfs or golden sands. She strode through the house with something less like fear and anger and something more like lightness and pleasure. but you’re just going to carry on as normal. He remembers feeling icy cold and then raging hot as though he had a temperature. people like ants. she didn’t even have to get a job until she was ready. A woman in her midthirties preparing for a new life in a new country. their grandparents. he asked her again and again if she didn’t want to go. There was no beach in her mind.’ ‘So?’ he was defensive. and one day she asked Andrew if he ever thought she would lose her accent. ‘I don’t want to get raped. ‘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.
as fear crept up and down him like blood. grabbing onto that straw offered by another country? Why did they put in papers anyway. more intense perhaps. He knows now. this isn’t what I want. Stop. You can’t just sell your house and possessions. that it may be as white hot and burny. Everything hinges on him: Deborah will be dependent on him over 33 . He knows now that the sun will not be the same over there. 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. Here. He’d wanted to shout stop then. the aged face. two days before he is due to leave the country of his birth. but it won’t be the same white. or because your wife was nearly raped. with a clarity that he wishes he had seen before. won’t and will go. 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. and that’s when. that it’s not that easy to leave your home. buy airline tickets and wave goodbye. And their cousins? They will have no one in Sydney. he knows that as he gets up to go look for Lucy. the just in case they have been hearing for years now. the same green in the grass. he sits panic-stricken. make a decision. as he did and known their grandparents. Even Lucy will look different. just in case. and sounding like someone else. knowing that he mustn’t. Why didn’t they think of other options? Why did they just automatically think of going. can’t.new contrast her then. 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. they still have two cousins. speaking in a peculiar accent. despite the not inconsiderable expense? Because well. he knew. the same burn. Deborah’s brother’s kids. and Deborah’s parents at the coast. But decisions are made and you must stick to them. his parents on their farm.’ Even if it was unintentional he knew her sounds would mangle themselves into a mongrel mixture of the two continents. Are they really that unoriginal? And now. simply because that is what your friends and countless strangers are doing. don’t ever make yourself sound like another person from another country. But what could he say? ‘Don’t change your accent. Her sister lives in Canada with her husband and children. her red coat redder. an older woman with white-streaked brown hair.
the man beside her as insubstantial as a ghost. People are always late and the drinking begun then. he knows. while waiting – one of those people who cannot simply sit. He’s changed their lives and they are all looking forward. Instead. Decisions are made and you’ve got to stick to them even when you realise they may not be right. no longer our new home. That’s it. and if he stays. wet and excited and excitable. she will still go. no. The house is sold. it’s over. I am a temperate person. The dog will return. wherever he is. if he says now. as dogs do. but then what? Deborah will go – if she doesn’t go to Australia. calling to his dog Lucy. She will walk home on a leash. I appreciate wine. long before we boarded the little twin-engine Cessna in Johannesburg. 34 . at his lips. it will be easy to go their separate ways. already it’s over there. 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. read or think but must have a glass in his hand. But I don’t drink. Robert Greig A Jaunt to Ulundi By the time we reached Ulundi. as a food and wine critic. Then I find drinking in others disgusting – all that falling about. then what? He does not lose his job. A man walks in a Johannesburg park in the middle of summer. He walks toward the dark greeny mucky bed of the river and trails a stick through the water. I wouldn’t be surprised if he hadn’t started drinking at the airport. waiting. She’s nowhere to be seen. smelling of the dirty buggy water. If he leaves with her.new contrast there. My job forbids excess. he was pretty far gone. I don’t drink. life continues for him. it’s over. as Deborah has said. In fact.
well cut denims. 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. So I never discovered his surname. a couple of newspaper columnists. they deserve a blow. obviously I’ve met people who work for the SABC. unexceptional and cheap. The drunken man wore thick. concave-lensed spectacles and had a spade beard. The clothes set him apart from us. Paul shifted from foot to foot and his black. they’ll have flung the place back in 35 . A boring. suedes and shirts appropriate to a weekend away. the inane assumption that the rest of the world is as euphoric as you and if it isn’t. Then Jinny. The media in Johannesburg are a small circle and we tend to bump into each other quite often. and she pronounced his name the Afrikaans way – ‘Pole’ with a smile that swept over him to us. both. Not that it mattered: I don’t listen to the radio or watch television: propaganda. minor celebrities if you like. no assignment. He smiled tightly but did not say anything and Jinny said brightly: ‘Well. dressed in neat nondescript clothes. Or they say – the bright. you’re given to understand. worried tones about the country’s political situation – burning townships and the schoolchildren rioting or the cost of living. We were elegant by comparison. mainly writers about food. 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. connected with work and being official. And this was a press jaunt. 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. seeking approval of the tact that did not Anglicise his name but simultaneously underlining that he was other. wearing the kind of casual. the hotel group’s public relations girl. His clothes were the kind of things you might glimpse on someone on a Saturday morning in a dorp – adequate but drab. mousy man. In no time. Oh. introduced him: ‘And this is Paul’.new contrast blurring of language. flip TV ones – that they’re just there for the experience. wine or tourism. The spectacles gave the impression that he was the kind of person who would either sleep through the journey or speak in low.
it’s where they all used to get together and palaver. the kind you felt would never become a woman. You know.’ I adjudged Paul one of those. ‘Meeting place. when others didn’t smile as often as she. they’re still there with the Corp. ‘Meeting place of all the people. ‘I should know. It’s beating the system. her expression became distressed and a little reproachful.’ stated Paul gutturally. ‘It’s a job. Of course. but you should see the camera-work. talking with a benign affection and irritation about it. Dimly I could recall something about some lord – Chelmsford? – defeating the Zulus and not liking South Africa. ‘In Zulu. Dick?’ she appealed to the pilot with a disarming flick of the hair. reinventing Hollywood. they stay. man. She was a pretty. ‘It’s terrible of me. then ‘What does it mean. that kind of stuff – but technically it was stunning. ‘Meeting place of all the people. and they still insist on telling you about ‘the fantastic doccy’ they’ve made. deliberately.new contrast the governors’ faces and becoming second Bergman’s or. Ulundi means …’ she began. the SABC does have the best technical facilities in the world. 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. ‘Oh sure – the subject wasn’t much – police in the townships. ‘Oh yes. bouncy girl. sure. undefiant.’ Jinny repeated.’ There is a third category of SABC stooge. ‘You know – where the battle was?’ Jinny said desperately.’ volunteered Dick. ‘That must be why Southern Stars decided to build there. all the people getting 36 . unpretentious people who work with the SABC in the way their parents worked for the post office or railways. Before wars and things. After all. We didn’t. One may as well use what they offer and then move on. they continue with an awe which they invited you to share.’ Jinny agreed. We stood near the runway waiting for the aircraft to taxi up. absolutely stunning … rah-rah stuff. more likely. with paternal wryness. They made this all sound quite revolutionary. isn’t it?’ I muttered something about just being interested.’ she confided girlishly. I don’t meet them often and maybe they’re the least irritating but the most depressing of the bunch: the simple. Years later.
’ 37 .’ Through his miasma of tenses. Paul.’ ‘No.’ ‘KwaZulu. Without looking at Paul. just kidding but – look here I’ve got this … man. I pretended to not hear. ‘Lekker. the pilot organising the seating to balance the aircraft. Paul. the beer wants to come out.new contrast together and having a good time. Soon. I tried to work out what he was saying.’ Before we could gag. I began reading. hey?’ Paul said. He probably considered her improper. Paul opened his first beer with an emphatic pop and a smile of satisfaction for everyone in general and no one in particular.’ ‘No. Paul remarked: ‘The Parliament is there. with Dick.’ Her teeth flashed in a smile intended to defang the warning. That was soon after his second or may have been his third. 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. of course not. and someone remarked in bored tones: ‘Well. you’ll have to hang on … wait. Jinny put it: ‘He means the Zulu parliament.’ ‘Parliament?’ someone muttered. scented semi-dark of the cylindrical fuselage. ‘Hey. are they?’ and I began to say something about Pretoria’s con tricks but then the roar of the engines made further dispute impossible.’ Paul insisted. ‘No. Till we’re on the ground. Things change fast nowadays. ‘When KwaZulu got its independence … that’s where the parliament is. can I open this window?’ ‘Oh. Inevitably after an hour. As the pitch of the engine changed.’ ‘You mean you want to pee?’ she asked with a trill. Jinny caught my eye. ‘This is a jaunt. she altered her tone.’ Paul corrected. occasionally darting a look at the dry winter veld beneath. he began to squirm and then yell. I stepped up into the cool. the image became a skeletal negative and after take off it disappeared. too. ‘I thought it was still in Cape Town or Bloemfontein. Jinny. not politics. As we stepped aboard. my retina retained an image of her gleaming teeth below the dark glasses. they’re not really independent. He didn’t respond with the same amusement. Trying to steady my coffee.
Jinny turned round again. I returned to my book. He stared back defiantly. ‘Ja. ‘Use a can. and looked out but reflected in it saw Paul balancing the can between his thighs. The others giggled but I was sitting too close to him to. I was still aware of the struggles and contortions in the seat across the aisle and then of a slightly whiff – imagined? – of urine. I shifted nearer the window automatically. I need to go. pronouncing his name the English way: the remark sounding lewd. Considerately. He looked strangely 38 . I could see an embarrassed smile tightly parting his grey-flecked beard. ‘Another 250 miles. about. Jinny giggled. ‘Dick. eyes hooded. I slowly turned and stared. The sight might have been inexpressibly comic. Or a plug or something. I don’t suppose we can open a window. aware of Paul struggling in his seat to undo his fly then unclicking his safety belt. Or two.’ she promised. His penis was long and uncircumcised.’ I suggested.’ I remarked and he took it as a gesture of sympathy.’ Jinny offered.’ ‘Beer’s a killer. He stared ahead at Jimmy. ‘I don’t think that’s funny. can in hand. I mean time. His mouth twitched and he tapped an unlit cigarette against the ashtray as if there was ash to fall. empties behind him.’ ‘Well.’ ‘Say an hour before we’re on the ground. The rest were pointedly disengaged. including me in the remark. The rest of the party were staring punctiliously forward. Abruptly Jinny’s eyebrows lifted and her mouth twisted theatrically. I wondered if she was available.new contrast ‘I’m hurting. Paul.’ Paul said ponderously. Paul was sitting legs firmly crossed. Paul. Then his face turned downwards. She turned back.’’ ‘No. ‘No. away.’ Jinny turning to us for support. ‘If you need help. can’t you tie a knot?’ We laughed. we’ve got a patient here. Dick turned up the Muzak on the intercom. How much further?’ There was a brief pause. ‘We’ll look away. Paul glanced challengingly at me and then his eyes flicked away. hand caught in his pants.’ he insisted. The wind’s against us. Shrugging her shoulders. He had a frown of intense concentration on his flushed face. just call.
we saw a full. he mouthed a word. I suppose if we had been travelling higher. though I didn’t know. and started walking to the back of the plane.’ He replied shortly not bothering to look back. People in the country grew mielies. building complicity. ‘Lady. there seemed little water. ‘It could be a rough landing – do you really want another?’ ‘They said there would be plenty of free pots. From here they resembled dry canals. Then. Dick looked round and though we could not hear. And then. earth-red thick knotted river. head bowed in the low cabin. What other rivers were there in Zululand? 39 .’ he replied. like medieval Italian villages – for defence. She offered me another drink. perhaps. and said so to Jinny. I also thought I could see figures move between huts once and once I saw skewbald cattle. I can look after myself. Clusters of huts were at the tops of hills. linking the hills was a network of paths. smiling at me. turning massively all the way to the horizon. ‘Where are you off to now. Must be mielies. like a ring of hives in picture books and where their presence created ochre ground. She shook her head – a ‘what can one do?’ expression for me. Over shrub stippled khaki hills that waved to the horizon. It must have been Tugela. I could just discern webs of green lying in the furrows. Paul?’ Jinny asked. I thought. gesturing to the seat beside her. flanked by broad blonde sand flats. Between the hills were river-courses but apart from a suggestion of silver gleam as we passed. I picked up my book and joined her. irritated.’ She relaxed her muscles into a professional smile. ‘It’s his problem. the land would have looked like the skin of huge animal. surrounded each.new contrast contained and reposeful. But I could not be sure. ‘Get another beer. He zipped and stood. no doubt. I saw huts standing in circles. It was hard to say because each cleft was filled with a thick pubic thatch of bush. coming over a hill. I thought. the plane was steadily passing. Patches of ploughed earth – lines that undulated and then foundered in the scrub.’ I told her. ‘Do you want to move?’ she said. with the inevitable small village perched on top. looking down. a faint hazing.’ she said with an edge. Now and then. a russet bull. ‘Help yourself. tied down.
that subservience to old people.’ ‘Have you been there recently. All that ritual. One often joked about these people: the real article seemed mythical. the ladies selling beads. And the bloody liberals say we don’t give them land. But they always had a smile. it might get monotonous. chanting to the gods.’ ‘Growing things. I prefer somewhere unspoiled – Cape Town or Mauritius.’ It was a fair imitation of a Cabinet Minister getting into his stride for the converted.’ Jinny said. ‘No … it’s all caravans. day after day. He was so drunk it didn’t seem worth bothering about. I remembered. They should ban the lot of you. I say.’ I supposed. Then. That beer. the dust.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. Men in khaki shorts with big tummies. ‘Ja. the conformism. for books? Tribal dance was hardly a substitute. No. and the sweat. I could almost smell the exhalations of heat. And where we’re going.’ She sounded doubtful. Paul’s voice surfaced over our shoulders. women wearing crimplene looking irritated. What would one do for theatre. being wary of snakes. I think. Remarkable. Smearing South Africa overseas …’ It got better and better. The Great Trek and that every December. and drinking from earthen pots proferred by kneeling women. now. They were terribly poor there. ‘I remember we used to go to the South Coast for holidays when we were kids. But in front of Jinny and me. ‘Look at all this.’ Dark and slurring. Just look. And so respectful. hanging around waiting for rain. dark-haired girl with tortoise40 . You don’t look at this. Lugubriousness was the last thing I needed. Very good manners. eating sugar cane on the way – they grew sugar cane near here.’ I asked. ‘I really don’t know how they get it together. 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. But then. ‘You bloody communists in your bloody newspapers stir up trouble. too. a small. I’m not giving you the sales pitch – I mean this is a jaunt anyway. Not my scene. on the other hand.
in the parting between trees and grass. Did you hail them because you are a stranger and 41 .’ Paul beamed with delight. When he’s sober. She sat down. ‘Don’t bother. with one furious look at Paul. I don’t believe they should be invited. the blister-like huts. In the country. In one kraal. ‘He’s out of his mind.’ ‘Well.and skewbald cattle. The engines’ pitch began changing. Jinny said excitedly glad of the diversion: ‘There it is. We’ll keep him under control. I suppose.’ I said. Her fists were clenched.’ ‘How can you talk that way? Have you never heard of freedom of the press?’ Oh God.’ I lied. Looking down I could see our cruciform shadow flitting across the network of paths. I know what you’ve been writing about those skolly kids in Soweto burning schools. To the Ulundi dead. face red. look at Nigeria.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.’ ‘Look.’ We were banking steeply over flat grey roofs. He gave a rugby cheer and settled back into his beer. Freedom of the press. ‘They’re just stirring. Look at Rhodesia. They don’t know how to behave. you don’t have to sit with him. We’re in Africa lady: no freedom of the press here. Angola. At the top of the runway was a cairn. Heroes! Huh! Stirring. and pie. children stared upwards. their eyes shaded against the bright sky. a large green neon sign and now. he’s probably full of old world Afrikaner charm. None waved back so I abandoned my attempt at friendship. Put you all in jail. We a developing country.’ ‘No but these people … they must understand …’ ‘You’re wasting your time. Jinny was making small expostulatory squeaks. twirls of dust rising in the wind. 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. you hail people. was the runway. In the city you look away from strangers. Habit. The aircraft throbbed and my ears popped. ‘Your communist newspapers should be banned.
Something reminded me of Kipling’s image. A cubed landscape of tin huts. sitting around purposelessly. he was singing. I could hear the soft rhythmical murmuring.’ ‘Maybe we should go and have a look. preparing for the touchdown. It’s for the dead. The Indian trader with plump imploring hands and a fixed white smile among the hangings of his shop. it was hard to keep them apart. I could almost see the flies. many people. The place felt as if it was floating. That was how tourists behaved.’ Jinny shouted to everyone above the engine. The gaudy umbrellas had gone. red earth. I wondered if Paul was praying – no. Above the sound of the engine. smell the dust. tin cans in furrows. Something about weeping? Maybe somewhere else? So many battles. looking rabid. I think the British had been defeated. There was nothing near Ulundi. an enigmatic tracery of paths. Broken backed cars snailing through the streets. I forget where from. the self-absorbed shrill of cicadas and crickets. Pie dogs.’ someone said dutifully. He had reached the state of soak where inner ruminations and incantations escaped and floated out. ‘You’ll see the cairn. no lakes or seas or mountains. just these endlessly undulating hills. He sounded like a child busy doing something else. People. sordid patch of sandy earth with few rivers. He stared unseeingly at his beer can in his hand. ‘The airfield was built on the battlefield. dust and sweat. skulked between the huts and houses. Or was there? Far away I could see a brief flash of silver. the one he had pissed in. of blood in the dust hardening and the wind blowing it away: gone. a river perhaps. But imagine those poor Poms coming 60 000 miles to die on a boring. How silly. inexplicably placed thorn trees and the early morning derision of ha-de-dahs. The Zulus and the British. moving ponderously through the bush to the Indian Ocean where the sharks were. For the rest. The other can. The story was about was an execution. I looked round. 42 . was still between his knees. This is where there had been a battle about land. like dogs showing their teeth? I didn’t know: it didn’t matter: they were gone.new contrast need to propitiate. Gaudy shops. the gouging of soil erosion. corrugated iron roofs. We wheeled over Ulundi again. scars of erosion. wizened fruit with their own eco-climates of flies for sale. The tail was down and we seemed to be heading for a red hill.
Their heads and feet were very black. They were barefooted. She would have been justified in throwing the 43 . they looked impassively mobile but rivulets of sweat ran down their faces. The three black men began offering trays but the man in the cravat called: ‘ Hey. the wedges of sandwiches. the white-suited waiters moved towards us with trays of glasses. excellent for roasting chickens in or mixing with orange juice. neatly arranged red table napkins. can’t you see their hands are full. It was something I wouldn’t have minded doing but of course would never. little round pasty shells with green (avocado?) fillings. angry flowers. You take this. and they stared back. Paul last of all. I saw a white man in long khaki slacks and a blue shirt and club cravat. In the lee of the umbrellas were young black women. We stared at them. OK?’ and he gave her the one he has pissed into. and at intervals bowls of red. I wondered whether he would ever release them. without reservation. hats and a broad red sash across their chests. Slowly. she stood soberly at the foot of the steps. it’s just a pile of stone. I could see the shimmer of heat haze on every surface. painfully. he said. were three tall black men. The door of the plane swung open and I felt the inrush of dry. ‘I’ll keep this one. They wore white uniforms. as we got closer. It was what I privately called ‘PR champagne’. white-toothed smiles. 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. Now the umbrellas were in sight and standing outside their rim of shade. Grinning. the waiters moved backwards.’ The plane was bumping down the runway over the hill. they smiled expansive. Jinny stared at him warily.new contrast ‘Ag. As the plane’s engines cut out. Jinny – ‘excuse me’ – got out and greeted the man in the cravat with an effervescent kiss. I admired them both. Still beaming.’ Abashed. Then remembering herself. Paul and his cans reached the bottom of the stairs. fizzy oversweet reinforced pop. still clutching his two cans. we unfurled ourselves and moved out. holding bottles wrapped in blinding white napkins. He muttered something at the men in white and almost in unison. like a ground hostess for one of the big airlines. bulky heat.
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 mean – happen often?’ I asked. We expect it. ‘He said he was going to have a wild time tonight and would I look after this. One felt as if one ought to smile. the men who had been at the airport. The girl from the morning newspaper (who was known. He didn’t want to spend too much because his wife would give him hell.’ explained Ken when I asked. and a few late model American cars with sagging springs. Zulu women sat silently around the rims of the room. It doesn’t really matter. She giggled. Their eyes were still obsequiously downcast and they gave no sign of recognition. in dusty red shoes to the Ladies. moved the waiters.new contrast could better understand the manager’s fears. At supper they sat beside each other. ‘They’re the country’s national symbol. I shouldn’t think he’ll eat much. In amongst the hubbub.’ she said a little curtly. Anyway. if only for politeness. ‘If you ever have a car stolen in Jo’burg. but was exchanging flashing smiles with Ken. moving uncertainly in shiny dresses that seemed too tight over the waist. Jinny went to look for Paul and came back carrying his wallet. a gleaming new BMW was parked ornamentally beneath the entrance porch. I told him that the drinks were on the house but he insisted. or tottered. and in peremptory Zulu to the barman. Outside the car park was full of bright Mercedes Benzes. He ended each sentence with an expectant smile. and a couple of Landrovers and bakkies with official number plates further in the dark. emphatic English to one another. He couldn’t tell us their name – ‘Like the protea in the republic of South Africa. The bar filled with bulging black men in dark suits speaking low. come here. I was told. rib-cracking oneliners. 47 . he’s coming. Our table in the middle was strewn with the angry red flowers we had seen at the airport. trying to make sympathetic conversation. as Ken called it.’ ventured Jinny as we walked into the dining room with its exotic pot plants. large-buttocked. as he were delivering a series of lick. ‘There’s always one. It sounded far away.’ ‘Does this kind of thing – him. 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.’ he said. I noticed that the others were taking the air.
revealing a silver medallion on his hairless chest.’ said Paul. the Zulus. as we lifted our soup to our mouths. A beer was brought.new contrast Paul came in on cue. I mean …’ He was struggling a bit so I nodded encouragingly and he took heart. And their teeth … so white. ‘We’re gonna have a great time tonight. a cool young man in a fresh lilac suit and shirt unbuttoned to the waist. Someone tried again.’ someone chipped in helpfully. and then back at the speaker. I don’t know …’ murmured Ken and the fearless reporter tittered. ‘Oh.’ He hiccupped and laughed.’ he announced. She looked at Ken who nodded slightly. Ken. always great. And he added. dance … you know.’ he insisted. 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. And the way they move. ‘Isn’t it? As the actress said to the bishop. ‘Bring a beer. lurching and leering. where’s the beers?’ to Jinny. that anyway that stuff was overrated. Great dignity. ‘Yes. I was sitting on the other side of the table. He sat next to Jinny. Jinny flicked a rictus grin in his direction and then turned to me. said ‘Sure thing!’ Paul waved the food away. ‘Business is great. I mean. ‘They’re a very beautiful people. not your Lindt chocolate but black. With food prices the way they were. She told me business was going well because with the boom.’ ‘And dignity. who leaned away slightly. a bad temper and an SABC salary. lady. ‘They move with this … I know it’s a cliché … natural rhythm. That darkness of their skin. Paul told her to keep a close watch on his money because his wife was a tough lady with red hair. ‘I do think they’re beautiful. people had plenty of money. When they sing. they’re really black. I asked Jinny how her business was going. who was informing us about how cooperative the local government had been in planning a casino. ‘The old tribal customs: did you see how the girls curtseyed?’ 48 . aren’t they?’ We looked automatically at the waiter concentrating on not spilling wine around the glasses.
‘Where you from?’ ‘Johannesburg. the Congo. Only one of the prostitutes was left. Everyone looked down.new contrast ‘Girls. I was cold. We don’t have that. It was like a version of O’Grady says.’ she announced. caring. Kenya. immobile. 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. It sounded beautiful but bullying. a red wound.’ 49 . they’re bantus. like those carnivorous flowers on our table. ‘I’m Molly. Uganda. in KZN. No one disagreed. darling. You know them?’ ‘No. dipping between them. girls. Except Paul. put tyres around us and light them. silent.’ Paul said nastily to the boy in the lilac suit. ‘I agree. They either work or they don’t work. man. And the women are very beautiful. their faces deadpan. ‘Buy me a drink. He stopped and everyone looked up. They’ll kill us all.’ she said to me. In Parkview. ‘Hello. I thought sourly. I went into the bar.’ said the boy in the lilac suit. I was working for the Abraham’s. her frizzy wig was slipping and her over red makeup was a gash. is that all you okes can talk about.’ I bought her one – brandy and coke. Jesus: such people actually existed! The night was navy blue and silvered with stars. cut our throats. syncopated circles. and the figures immobilised. ‘Hello. darling. I looked back and through the window I could see the dining room.’ he said defiantly to Paul. ‘Ag. the dignity is appealing. Paul’s arms waved.’ I replied automatically. Zambia.’ ‘Too terrible. girls. That’s why they must stay here. semaphoring passionately. The black businessmen were now speaking in Zulu. the staple fare of Free State farmers. waiters moving in slow. It’s awfully important. ‘They have this caring. ignoring Paul. straightening.’ ‘Terrible place. Their women were ranged round the room.’ ‘I know Jo’burg: I worked there. so I excused myself and walked outside. And boys. like an oblong of glass.
Molly was now trying one of the businessmen but he wasn’t interested. ‘He’s a Boer so he’s shy.00 from Paul’s wallet?’ ‘What for?’ ‘You’ll see.’ Jinny moved her chair up. All night. ‘This is Molly. and Molly sat down self-consciously adjusting her dress. darling. his name is Paul. Long long hours: the madam wants everything now now now.’ she said. But here’s R20 for all night. hello.’ he replied.’ Then I had an idea. He twitched a little and stopped talking. ‘Hello. He’s very shy so he sent me to ask you. His body sagged.’ My food was cool and oleaginous.’ I said as she started shaking her head. ‘Can you give me R20. Maybe a tip too?’ ‘Now.new contrast ‘Too much work. grinning. she moved her hand round behind his chair. I want you to do something for me. ‘Brandy and coke.’ she said to Paul. his voice trailing. She was smiling intimately. ‘You buy me a drink?’ ‘What?’ he said truculently.’ she announced. Try and do it without letting him see. When he started talking to the group. Jinny had abandoned all animation. ‘How much for a night?’ ‘Fifteen rands. ‘He’s only got R40. Will you?’ She followed me to the room’s entrance and I pointed Paul out. ‘Wait. That’s what he wants. hello. rough on him. handing me R20. So I came here. There’s this champ – man – outside.’ 50 . Paul was still holding forth.’ I took the money winking at Ken. I sat next to her. then into his wallet.’ She was trying to concentrate through the alcohol. ‘ I announced. I’ll take responsibility. Ken was whispering in the reporter’s ear. ‘I thought you left me for ever. Molly. You want me?’ ‘No. I know someone who does. OK? He’s got a beard and glasses. It fell on his shoulders. home. ‘She’s come to keep Paul company. You know. ‘How could I?’ I replied. ‘Hello. ‘Where you from?’ At first he did not look at her. ‘That’s OK. She smiled quizzically and ferreted in her handbag.
But he wasn’t. I don’t really know – I did hope for some kind of termination. ‘Sleep peacefully?’ asked the reporter. I backed out. I thought.’ So he ordered two brandies and cokes. She was talking to him about work for the Abrahams. and I glimpsed in again and saw his fly open. At least he would look grey and be silent. greeted us cheerfully. even me. 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 suppose I had expected Paul to be shamed and shattered.’ Jinny extricated his wallet and passed it to me. He came to breakfast with none of that closed in quality I had first discerned. Beer makes you piss. I told the others and they laughed a little uncertainly. Then another. I told Jinny as she removed her bra in the bedroom. Aware of the sound of cicadas outside. 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. her hand exploring. He smiled amiably. the monologue still continuing.new contrast ‘Now that’s a good drink. her pink. and we left. The Zulus could cut everyone else’s throats – the bloody English. We continued our conversation. niks. not to her but again an inner monologue of complaint and attack spilling out. and we had too much to drink. He told her only the Afrikaners really understood the Zulus. Not these candy drinks. He took it from me and 51 . peaked breasts sagging only slightly either side of her rib cage as she lay on her back lifting her thighs. and Ulundi was a great place for a getaway from it all. hey. I could hear him murmuring. the Portuguese. and we eventually joined the black businessmen and laughed more and they were fine people. ‘No nightmares. I said in a sly light voice: ‘Have a good time. made the obligatory remarks about a hangover. everyone – but should leave the Afrikaners because they understood the Bantu and she agreed – ‘Yes. I came and then I went and slept deeply. waking alone. you know. I entered her. defeated. Like a bloody log.’ ‘Too much. and ate heartily. Paul?’ Jinny nudged me and squeezed my knee. her teeth gleaming in the semi-darkness. the Jews. the red flowers beside the bed.
maybe towards someone else.’ Paul uttered. Bloody whore. she told me about it. banging his hips. rather than asked us. a taste of bile in my mouth. nothing. 52 . I disembarked. I didn’t say goodbye to the others. Silently we drove to the landing strip. ‘You bought a helluva lot of brandy. ‘You all OK for lifts. ‘The wife. magnified pieces of glass. I had to go back to work. I hope those bloody blacks put our luggage on the plane.’ Paul said worriedly. ‘Hell. A tall figure with bright red hair came towards us from the other side of the building. except to Jinny. that girl you were with last night. and drove off.’ Jinny told. old Molly. no horror.’ I remarked. Jinny sat beside the pilot. Paul only had one beer. she’s riddled. like talking to that girl!’ he said jauntily as he moved away.’ He didn’t sound worried. I suppose it’s the kind of worry we all have. ‘Shame. tape recorder. Ken put in the knife. unused and empty. I’d have liked a lift but I took the bus instead. no sounds of the Voortrekker Monument crumbling. maybe towards me. ‘You know. The doors of the airport opened automatically but all I could see ahead of me was darkness. ‘Have I got stories to tell her. The wife is going to moer me. ‘Ja. she’s got a hard life. calling over her shoulder as she passed with brisk scything legs.new contrast checked the contents. She was dressed in lime green and wore spectacles that. Clutching the minature Zulu shield and spears we had all been given in hotel wrapping. for a moment caught the neon light.’ Jinny moved her hand from my knee. making her eyes look like huge.’ And that was it. No contrition. must of. I walked with Paul across the tarmac. Jinny smiled goodbye from the exit.
my parents are in Zululand.’ ‘Ou. you don’t want to get married and have children?’ He didn’t wait for her reply.’ ‘What did they die of ?’ she asked curiously. English. Her hair was long and black in a single plait. but first I want to own a school and help to educate many Indian children. ‘What do you do here in Durban?’ ‘I am an apprentice at Michelle’s the hairdresser. When I was still a child I used to work with my father just like other Indian children did. ‘It’s not enough for me. When my father had ten he was very proud. I want to be a teacher one day. and I live close by here in Inanda with my own family. ‘Perhaps I will get married one day. ‘Yes. But two of them died. ‘Are you a Zulu?’ she asked him.new contrast Zita Nurok Journeys She greeted him each day at the bus stop. 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.’ He wiped his forehead with a neatly folded handkerchief and asked. She wore simple colored skirts and blouses with flat open sandals.’ ‘Ou. But one day I will have a lot of children.’ Suman continued. then everyone will know that I am really a man.’ she said and stood up to open a window beside her seat. Wilson was tall. a little girl and a new baby boy. He shrugged his shoulders. ‘I never asked my mother. She sighed. and Afrikaans. ‘Have you got children?’ ‘Only two.’ ‘Where do you work. thin. Suman was small and sallow skinned. which reached down to her waist.’ he replied. Warm humid air and sounds from passing traffic on the busy highway flowed in. ‘When I have a lot of children. its inside plastered with advertisements in Zulu. Wilson?’ 53 .
’ He showed her a metal cross hanging around his neck. The young ones wore beautiful clothes and their nails were painted with bright colors Suman used to look at her own fingers. Every day I give thanks to Him. and peppers so she could go to the Indian movies or visit Indian friends with her family.’ She became silent as she remembered the sweet smells which escaped from under the heavy tarpaulin that covered their produce.’ He spoke proudly.’ ‘Oh. He stood up. Once a month I work in the garden with the boss.’ Wilson continued. ‘My father sells vegetables up in this area. They were librarians.’ Suman looked at him. Wilson?’ ‘I shine floors and I clean windows. and she tells me how we must feed him so he can be strong. Suman nodded. 54 . One of them gives me clothes for my baby. ‘What kind of work do you do. ‘I am an African Zionist.’ she said looking up at him while he waited to get off the bus with other Africans. leaving Indians who’d reach Verulam a while later. bunches of sweet rough-skinned litchis. ‘See. As she sat alone for the remainder of her journey. I want to keep it. secretaries. and heavy red watermelons. Each night she cleaned her nails to get out the sand and smells of fresh garlic. and one was even a doctor. teachers. what do you mean?’ He was puzzled. Suman thought about her job. ‘What do you think you will do in a few years?’ ‘Ou.’ She became silent again and watched the foaming white waves as they passed by the beachfront. but my brother helps him now. They sold boxes of kidney and peach shaped mangoes. ‘I am a big man in my church now.’ He laughed and shook his head. just as working for her father had not been enough. But shampooing hair was not enough either. My madams are happy with me.new contrast ‘In Galloway House. ‘The job it is good. I have a good job. He is getting old and cannot climb up on the back of the van so easily anymore. onions. Their customers were mainly housewives who lived in the area. In Zululand sometimes babies die if they don’t get good food. ‘God is good to me.’ He pointed to a block of duplex flats disappearing in the distance as the bus gathered speed. Why couldn’t she too feel content like Wilson did? She enjoyed talking to the clients that came into the hairdresser’s. ‘See you tomorrow.
and Wilson in awe of her ambition. She knew that African Zionists met on Wednesdays. and then we will wait. ‘Ou.’ ‘Aren’t you bored with it?’ He looked up at her and laughed as he shook his head. and that his group held meetings close to South Beach. only the nurse told me he has enteritis.’ Suman said. ‘Ai – my baby he is sick. why did you come?’ ‘How is your baby?’ ‘No good. and he sleeps a lot. All the time he is vomiting. When she saw him. Every night I pray to God to help us. I must get off now. They know what to do. Only He can help us. ‘How long have you been in your job?’ ‘Eight years. Suman in envy of his contentment. ‘I am so sorry. Yesterday we took him to the hospital. he wore a long white and blue robe with the cross hanging around his neck. Tonight I will ask Him again. He was talking to the group he led.’ ‘Wilson.’ 55 . My wife she is crying. Suman. I have to go back now and pray. ‘Do you want me to go with you and your wife?’ ‘No it is a good hospital. Try your best to do what I told you. She decided to wait for another bus that would take her down to the beachfront. Last week we took him to the witchdoctor and she gave him some herbs. ‘That’s why I came here tonight to ask God for help. The madam who tells me how to look after my baby has gone on holiday. Suman. ‘Did you speak to a doctor at the hospital? What sickness does he have?’ ‘We didn’t see the doctor. ‘What’s wrong?’ she asked.’ ‘See you tomorrow Wilson.’ She told him gently. And so they traveled together each afternoon. Two weeks later when she saw him. He is very sick now.’ He stared out at the passing scenes. But the next day Wilson was not at the bus stop. why don’t you speak to the doctor?’ she urged. Wilson walked over to her. Wilson was subdued.’ He sighed and stared at her with his large sad eyes.new contrast The next day Suman asked Wilson.
’ The next week Suman rode a double-decker bus that traveled from Pick n Pay to Verulam. He sat hunched up against the window. for his child. what are you saying?’ ‘I have a new job. It was a rainy day three months later. Things are different.’ Wilson’s eyes moistened as he sniffed and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. You have to speak to the doctor or find another one. Tears filled her eyes. I will get paid more money.’ He walked away. ‘It is hard. ‘I’ll save more and then I will be able to study. She wants her baby. I am a Zulu.’ His mouth was down-turned. ‘Maybe. you are not in Zululand now where your baby brothers died. Yes.new contrast She grabbed his sleeve.’ He smiled and looked at her gently. ‘this is a better route for me. Maybe we will never have more children. But you know Wilson I looked for this job myself. ‘You have to speak up and ask for another opinion. He will do that. Why did the baby die? She cried for Wilson. ‘I’m so sorry. after this week you won’t see me here again. I tell her God will give us another one. Africans and Indians huddled together in the bus shelter. ‘My wife says her dead father is angry because she didn’t please his spirit. God is good to you.’ ‘Ou. Suman hurried to the bus stop. she cries every day. He waved back. When she saw him eight days later. his eyes downcast. and for his simple wife. Some of them are better than others. ‘Yes. My wife. ‘Wilson. I am going to be a cashier at Pick n Pay. Suman felt angry.’ ‘Ou. ‘I went to the witchdoctor. I believe that. and I found it. As she passed by her previous bus stop she waved to Wilson who stood laughing and chatting with waiting passengers. ‘They couldn’t help us. Suman turned and left.’ she said.’ She shook the water from her polka-dotted umbrella.’ She raised her voice. ‘Wilson. with the sound of their prayers disappearing into the crashing waves. The witchdoctor will tell us that. and she will help also.’ He grew impatient. The baby was very sick. She reached her home.’ When she walked home to her parents’ clean little house in Verulam.’ 56 .’ she thought. Wilson wore a black band around his arm. ‘What can I do?’ he yelled.
57 . Better.’ Petunia’s eyes lit up. Someone a bit more famous this time. ‘Do your job!’ he shouted towards the cellar. I’ll get you someone new. Daddy. sat several of their country’s best writers chained together. Each one banged away at their respective typewriters. ‘Promise?’ ‘Of course. soaked in the smells of tobacco and Old Spice. ‘Not today. between the furnace and the previous year’s Christmas decorations.new contrast Joe Mynhardt By Any Means Necessary ‘I want someone else.’ ‘I want someone else!’ ‘What happened?’ ‘They rejected it again.’ Her words grew softer. Daddy. ‘I think they’re doing it on purpose. Petunia thought she heard muffled cries and sneered. Now let me first go and sort this out. The smell of mildew garnished with day-old food irritated his nostrils like a cheap cigarette. He hated going down there. doing their best to write a publishable novel for dearest Petunia. Daddy has a lot of work to do. Under a dim lit lamp swinging from the ceiling. eyed her from behind his oak desk.’ Her father banged his foot against the polished floorboards. Her chin quivered. dear. I don’t think they like me. the metal clinks of ancient typewriters growing louder with every step. sweetie.’ Petunia’s father made his way through the wood panelled foyer and the main kitchen towards the back of the pantry.’ ‘Thanks.’ ‘Don’t cry. He unlocked the door of the cellar and traversed its crooked steps.’ Petunia demanded. A middle-aged man. ‘Everyone likes me.
in a tent. sleeved as if an arm. 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. When her Daddy remarried. On this night. leaking and reaching towards her as they moaned. privately. one of those Evangelicals. The space where her family had been. 58 . who’d lost her own one year before. instead. a place hemmed with the hum of immigrants. my Mom tells me about her first time seeing the happyclappies. past the road’s touristing ribcage of tusks. ‘Il Diavolo! Il Diavolo!’ She raised us Catholic. shook the Pope from him like a rock out a slop. they took my Mom. cheeseclothing people pulsing.new contrast Genna Gardini Il Diavolo: On our way to the King Shaka Airport. and pushing. as she still calls her). her new step-mother (or Zia. something in them rubberizing bone. through the toll rising priced and plonked on the corner like hard plastic pushed in playdough. They began to attend.
La Fortune. until there are only brief flicker-flashes of cognizance in misted bright eyes. I saw a tall slim figure Bustling with joy and lovely vigour. Just before the sun set. I met my love. And the wheels of awareness fade away until all that’s left is a silhouette.new contrast Irene Emanuel Flicker-Flash The wheels of sanity spin in ever diminishing circles until Dementia takes hold and disables the brain. a cardboard cut-out of a missing person. 59 . in the valley of the shadow of death. That. Denis Tembong La Fortune Far deep down the hill. Between the huts that stoop low and still. As I move to and fro Knowing not where to go.
But just when hope seems to come. That is left to starve and turn white. Then hope. Than sprout like fresh season corn. Far at the back yard greeted the firing gun. Seconds afterwards. Shattered and roamed the sky like kite. it cried and sighed. like flying ribbon.new contrast In a little gentle tune. Regretting that it had better die. Doubt and uncertainty storm. The Little Black Lad When the little black lad was born. 60 . 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.
Dark rain clouds lie. Floats a white dove. A little below the Avenue. peace. Indeed we need the gentle dove. Yet. At an hour no one knew. Chilly bangs! Pang! are heard. in countless numbers That none of them ever remembers. But far beyond. And up above the sky. And put an end to their goals. Betray the inhumane batter. When on their promises The sun has settled and ceases To shine. That. Storm the streets as a test To the goodwill of the powers that will. They with heavy hand seize and kill These hopeless souls. 61 . peace. is the rainbow. To show a sign. Then loud screams like herd Doomed for the slaughter.new contrast A little Below the Avenue When little children in another protest. They desire to see. And on a nearby tower though. peace.
It is her 62 . bound by a gleaming ring of confidence but in her poem a carnival clown.new contrast Damian Garside Ontatile Writes Ontatile (Mamang) writes her poem an amalgam of everything she has ever heard. Suddenly the muse arrives with personalized number plates. 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). whispers into her ear as intimately as if he were a cell phone at that moment they look absolutely inseparable.
Ontatile writes. even as there are tributes flowing from the radio. even as an entire national culture conjugates her: Ontatile has written. I only see it. away from her even as text messages stream in. 63 . lose some precious decorum allow her imagination to run to her. recycled.new contrast first time to let rip. still must write and write and write and write and write the world. much re-configured. with her. Her (inner) world. is writing. get to see It when redrawn.
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 .
The sea is great and grey today. Each maudlin. Lying together. Motes of dust dance. Opening my mouth and entering me.new contrast Kyle de Villiers Lying together I often question myself. Its claws dig into my back. And find inside of me. 65 . I see a church and great shafts of light. a lake. I see these things from my shelf. Its stench is suffocating – sulphurous. with painted face. They kick the tarantella most joyously. a church. a tree. Burden There is a burden with a hairy back. A handful of pebbles. One hollowed. Each is a character. Pressing down on me. And it churns with purple prose. And the sun is pale and meek. the sand a fine chalk. one cracked. The beach is misted. All in a heap. I can see a little. they waltz. Another smooth and the other Jagged. Lying together.
I feel these things. Instead I would write… …About the earth. The poetry that I would write you The poetry that I would write you! If only you had a name. that vulgar. twirling shadows. Of the first sip of a cup of tea. Or of your eyes as oceans of love. I would write about the smell of a new book. About every grain of sand. I would write about spindly black illustrations and of the sound of rain. With my face pressed into the ground. deep brown of wooden floors. That I relish. a face. conducting long. I would write about simple. pretty things. You aren’t that opulent. I would write about you. 66 . While on me: A great burden with a hairy back. riding each swell. Of the flickering candle.new contrast Through the plastic. Of phantom sounds and phantom sights. I would not write of gold or pearls. Of the warmth of a heavy blanket. And of the sea shells. Of reflections in the water or of a cushion of moss. this love this life. Of light blue or of the dark.
our little noddy man tossing and turning rocking and rolling singing himself to sleep. 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 . Gentle blonde boy sandwiched between two unruly sisters. dazzled. ‘Make a man of him’ my father said. he.new contrast Lise Day Noddy ‘I can’t hear you when you shout’ my brother told my mother. I loved to Dance You asked me to dance I. So he was sent to boarding school to rid him of that gentle disposition so he could be taught to hear when people shout.
Not in this house of the heart. but out in the world where nothing claims your presence any longer. I think. clean. I have lost you.new contrast Forgot The choreographed steps I improvised You staggered and fell I took a bow. Eleni Philippou In Eternal My grief for you bangs like doors in the night. 68 . The neutral smell of viscose sheets. It opens and closes with the erratic winds of memory. the ashtray. empty. the lamplight — white as calcium.
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.
waking into language to be born. he felt. if we listen carefully enough. nursed the bruises and his shin. swashbucklers. 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. 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.new contrast because past and future are one. must refrain from causing fellow poets pain. and we hear. the scent of the sea and the woman’s song as that-which-is-not. Who’d ever think that writing in rhyming couplets could be sin – 72 . the blue of the guitar. Spender took one on the chin. struggling to sing. dons the words the poet speaks. both dead and alive.
supplied collective hippodromes for sport. at most a beat-up Niva jeep was all he needed to round up sheep or count the stars at night. proud herder. His past sloughed off like a booster rocket Tochtor earned the people’s pride as far away as Samarkand where his nephew. 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. with some wit applied this nomad bypassed evolution’s slide— a fast-forwarding typical of Russia’s skills at forming men against their wills.new contrast thus causing others sore distress? Today they like Roy even less! Aureille. His father. the sounds of crickets and of frogs? He touches now and then a talisman for luck and stalks the skies. or did he choose this orbit? Through empire. horse-breaker and trainer. Was he chosen. What does he miss most in his cosmic craft? The scent of wormwood and graceful feather grass. 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. no falcon at his wrist. 73 .
95 umyss: fermented mare’s milk Sharbat: camel’s milk yoghurt Kifir: buttermilk 74 . sharbat and kifir. 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. cravings for kumyss. too old to claim innocence – what privilege. 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. 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. touched by wonder.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. the nomad warrior lord who once held Europe in his thrall by tossing plague-infested bodies over city walls. for Tochtor Aubakirov. first Kazakh cosmonaut Alma-Ata VI.
to give nothing as at the start.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. ‘The world’s a great idea consisting of the thoughts of souls so that whatever is unfurled’s the sole reality. glancing at the advancing fans askance as Matthew moved to grab him from the mess ununderstanding men had caused. insisting mathematical regimes should be explained by which a finite string of numbers is obtained.’ with snorts 75 . ‘Elides the one the other is the simple answer. renormalising infinitude by dividing both sides of an equation – somewhat scandalising science – with two eternities. 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.’ sang Jess.
spinning about some strands of verbal spam to prove words prove whatever can be said. ‘Nothing and all. ‘We have to be discreet. the man is merely taking you all for a lark. ‘pitch our message at the ranks in different guises. Jesse.’ was interjected by Jesse. since what inheres 76 . others the whey.’ said Mark indignantly. Your thinking’s make them real. and some only the tanks in which the milk is kept. ‘The very fact that you are deft with words disproves your saying words can live lives of their own. ‘We need converts and not such mockers as you are. ‘and give the run of sentences direction. Some will like the curds.’ stepped in St John. directing at the tall and lean leader of black troops further words of wisdom. dear.’ ‘Exactly as perverts always must congregate to lick a dike. A few will like and drink milk straight. ‘What is concrete?’ demanded one in black.’ came in Jesse.’ shot back the lengthy one. are not to be trusted and better left alone.new contrast scratching his ears.’ was interjected by a redhaired black. ‘Don’t worry. for all men are all things and everything is interlinked in spheres appearing to the likes of you as rings or merely outer shells. Steal no thoughts from me.
including gawking John.’ The crowds dispersed like water off a camel’s back and only Mag and May remained with rowds in Ioannes. The vice-grip crushed. which soon grated all present.new contrast cannot be touched. while all the rest. ‘Where have they taken my son?’ enquired May despirited.’ called Jess as he was bundled in a van. as they themselves were gripped by other arms clad in ubiquitous dark. ‘Don’t be dismayed. A glint leaping into the air announced the sun 77 . We always strived to keep your laws. ‘Regime. ‘Try to hail Maggie and May that they can raise alarms all over. Matthew and Marcus then nabbed the perpetrator to little avail. Lucas. The others stood stunned.’ Matt uttered in a scream. were brusquely brushed aside. 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. tortured. incarcerated or killed. one Benedict Quisling.’ At this a man stepped up and grabbed Jesse in a vice-like grip. This is my quest and I shall take it to my end. Marcus and black brother Matthew because his mood lacked tint and tincture. ‘but now you desecrated ours.’ Lucas keened. you have started your last.
’ Jess did. ‘Before you hid out from the law and why was that?’ Quite puzzled Jessie denied all knowledge of such acts. sighed John. ‘Please console his mother. The first man held a broom stick. only to get a smack. His body hearkened for sustenance. May. in fact subtends the grounds from under us’.’ ‘We’ll do that. including May. The mountains stood apart from human habitation. speak against. The facts. prodding Jess on questioning. ‘Your group – how large is it? And give me names. however.new contrast was changing tack. protecting weeping May against herself. 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. Night was forming a pen in which their shadow-selves were forced to stay against the rising of the sun. ‘Just facts – 78 . bro. The second nuzzled in closer. Jesse had been received unceremoniously and slammed into an empty cell in wee hours of morning light forming idly into another day. asking him again. defining it as those within the loop of friends and family. The men watched Maggie go. promptly darkened by his interrogators in a room deeper inside the fort.
‘The names of co-conspirators or we shall pry them from your family.’ chipped in second in similar vein. without the fish of life. but merely steered a course away from yours. why hide away?’ ‘I did not hide. who tore some more at Jess. They placed him on a ledge between the floor and ceiling.’ came from the bill of first.’ ‘For hiding.’ ‘Hell.’ second seconded first’s thirst for knowledge of sources.’ was wailed in mockery by first.’ ‘His father too.new contrast if you were innocent. the ever-widening sea. Remaining in the bay of politics you did not see the source. ‘Cholesterol resides in shellfish and it is a sin to eat un-kosher things.’ second shot back.’ put in first. shallow. Jess responded that his dad was everywhere. ‘You are a shell. if only by some miracle – and this is difficult to credit – if we knew just who the bloody hell his father is. ‘We are glad to hear that he’s within our jurisdiction. ‘ and hereby I arrest him too. Forget the games – your friends are dead and you can only try to save your mother now. No fiction seemed possible between these two in quest 79 . the dog is speaking poetry. on which I sailed across your darkening horizon.
A new and snipping sound rose into the air as blood was drawn at last. ‘Don’t leave a mark. end to end.’ Through hurt 80 . 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. so evil that they could boldly sing in unison: ‘He’s standing. Jesse underwent the whipping as silent as a church until the strain toppled him from the ledge.’ exclaimed the third in abject fury. ‘Why don’t you jump and then we’ll see’ ‘whether you fall or rise’ ‘or stand stock-still. threatening in glistening shades of black and blue.’ The third interrogator chuckled at the spin imparted by these two.’ was alternated in duality by twin brothers-in-arms or -law. You are much too verbose. without a bend or buckle in the upright man of pain and suffering. still said no word. Unearthly clicking noises filled out the air. It’s a miracle. ‘keep it soft as fawn so that no evidence exists.’ The two took up the strips of rubber. remaining in the background murkiness before emerging with some rubber hose with which to tap the truth.new contrast of truth. Silence will bring its own reward. ‘Clean up this mess and do it now.
‘and tell us who and what you are. He strained to drag air down into his lungs. The laughter rang far-off through muffling layers of the bag.new contrast and agony Jesse addressed the men from off the floor: ‘If truth is evidential. even entering the ken of mystery. At the last.’ First said: ‘Shut up. Let’s talk with him again.’ So Jess was caught up in a three-way hold of hands as first. you hoary pig. followed by words: ‘He’s really in the dwang nogal. Inside the sudden. second and third made up a tress constricting breathing further till the glands of Jesse’s neck corded in sympathy with their black ministrations. First his nerve-ends prickled and then the trussing of the bag made free breathing impossible. the three cut him some slack. keep still and hold your head. 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. ‘Speak or snort some more. The bag holding Jess fast was lifted with an evil flourish. who wasn’t in the room as yet. then facts are bold.’ from first.’ A creak in Jesse’s neck became a crick as thirst 81 .’ The third had handed him a canvas bag with which to crown the face and neck of Jess.
‘And who’s your father?’ was interposed by third. Could I bother you. sir. Second then said: ‘No. Thus she checks my course without directing. 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. swelling as if undernourished. The course of blood was redirected to the curst limbs twisted in interrogation. second and first. for liquid sustenance?’ Vile flecks 82 . ‘Mother remains my source forever. The hell had passed when third adjured the other two: ‘Triangulation will only find the truth inside a turd or other matter left behind.new contrast for liquid twisted him. 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.’ Then the two. ‘Your contacts all are known to me. but there. A live one needs the care of singularity. but you must earn my trust. left third and Jess alone. Jesse was bonetired as well as -dry like desert sands. disappearing somewhere in the flue of government like smoke. 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.
I cussed 83 . Vinegar balsamic is the best and you shall have the best.’ Jesse replied. Pouring a measure he asked if it was a sin to be associated with Mag’s whoring even in an administrative way. sighing lightly: ‘My group’s a gathering of people striving to be holy. I’m classed as asian other and it is my wont to live my life with what I have. my captivating sir. not unlike a festering paw dogging a beast’s running. because it remained illegal to pimp but not to whore.new contrast in black and blue were pocking Jesse’s skin and third decided to take pity. ‘I see that sin and law do not necessarily always work in tandem. but first. We don’t oppose political parties. striving for the bright eclipse of earth by heavenly things. tied only to higher things inside a ring not of this earth. My mother May and Mag support us wholly in our quest for light beyond another day. I shall not shirk from pouring more Modena. but pour me more’. Jesse did not gainsay statement nor implication: ‘Please. confirm/deny my fears you are a Slav and/or a communist. look past the drag of the diurnal. don’t skimp.
The features blurred on Jess assuaging primary needs to drink and live. defaced my bursting physiognomy much like the burgeoning specks of blood the sheen of outer surfaces right now. I realise that zits and bruises heal in greater schemes. The weal of everyone is what concerns her. At this the third decided it was time to stop the tease and grant the man his wish. 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’. 84 . Please. Because she wears no ring Maggie is not a prostitute. Degree being quite paramount in everything.new contrast my circumstances last at age thirteen. give me somewhat to drink’.
com. politics and history. 85 . croc-E-moses is a poet artist musician. She is currently a Literature student at Oxford. coaxes and attempts to incite in sight. Nguti South West Province of Cameroon. Denis Fonge Tembong. Gail Dendy was first published by Harold Pinter in 1993. University of Yaounde. She can be contacted at gennagardini@ gmail. Her current area of interest is an exploration into emotional responses to literature from a psychoanalytic perspective. was published by Modjaji Books in 2010. and The Fire in Which we Burn and poetry is collected in Isis X (Botsotso). was born in 1968 in Fonki Village. Most recently she has been shortlisted for the Thomas Pringle Award 2010. Her poetry collections: A life stripped of illusions. Genna Gardini is a writer based in Cape Town. which she maintains through reading extensively and travelling widely. and the EU/Sol Plaatje Poetry Prize 2011. Since the early 1980s he has had a considerable number of poems published in literary magazines here in South Africa and the United States. UK and the USA.new contrast Contributors Arja Salafranca’s collection of short stories. Eleni has a keen interest in South African culture. Cameroon. Her seventh collection is entitled Closer Than That (Dye Hard. She has edited two anthologies. Ecole Normale Superieure Yaounde and the University of Yaounde. She has an MA in Creative Writing from UCT. 2011. HA Hodge is a poet and editor. Damian Garside has been published in New Contrast since 1977. where he obtained the DEA in English Literature and a Postgraduate Teacher’s Diploma. Eleni Philippou was born in Johannesburg and studied English Literature and Political Studies at Wits. He hosts the Off-the-Wall poetry gigs in Kommetjie and Kalk Bay. the latest The Edge of Things. He was born an April Fool in sub-arctic Canada and has now lived over half his life in South Africa and Swaziland. He tinkers. Awards: two Sanlam Awards and the 2010 Dalro Award for poetry. Elisa Galgut teaches in the Philosophy Department at the University of Cape Town. GBHS Buea. with subsequent collections appearing in South Africa. Educated in GSS Fontem. Diliza Madikiza is a journalist and has worked for various South African newspapers and magazines. He is currently Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the Mafikeng Campus of North-West University. 2011). The Thin Line. He is currently a research student in the Department of English.
com. A selfdescribed angel of orange and a peer-dubbed creep. She forms part of the Eastern Cape poet-group. when she moved to Durban.new contrast Irene Emanuel was born in Johannesburg. published by Protea Boekhuis in 2002. In 2010. He hopes to marry these in a new genre of gratis verse. played cricket for Natal. Die Zuid Afrika Huis in Amsterdam. As poet. The conservation of the natural habitat is an enduring passion. a paper exploring poetic responses to the Aids crisis at a symposium on Poetry and Medicine at Warwick University. Library of the Living Dead. Raf Gangat studied at Natal University in Pietermaritzburg. then went on to become a diplomat. Joe Mynhardt is a South African horror writer and teacher. she presented ‘States of Emergency’. From Weenen in KwaZulu-Natal. She has always loved the rhythm and sound of words and started rhyming when she was about four years old. Patricia Schonstein Pinnock is an internationally published novelist and poet. She loves books. Joe is also a moderator at MyWritersCircle. the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria. where she lived until 2002. was published in 1976. Microhorror. serving in 86 . She is a Member of the ‘Pleached Poetry’ writing circle. Lara Kirsten is a travelling pianist and poet. www. His work has been published at Pill Hill Press. Kyle de Villiers is a diverse reader with a noted love of lewd ‘gentleman’s literature’ (especially those with pop-up pictures). His first collection of poems. who present readings and publish collectively each year. Koning in die Buiteland. She draws her inspiration from her natural surroundings – the flight of a malachite sunbird. Pages of Stories and many more. He is currently studying English at UCT. she has performed at the Baxter in Cape Town. Although Italian.patriciaschonstein. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Cape Town. she grew up in Rhodesia and now lives in Cape Town. Lise Day has retired after teaching English most recently at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. the way a frond unfolds in sunlight. Kyle dreams of being taken seriously one day. followed by Verban: Verbinne in 1982. Julian de Wette is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College in the United States. Flashes in the Dark. Julia Kramer lives in the eastern Free State and works in the northern Drakensberg. He left South Africa in 1972 and returned in 2000. and at the AfrikaBurns Festival at Tankwa Karoo. Ecca. Julia writes in both Afrikaans and English. Her short stories and poems are published in various periodicals. Johan Geldenhuys is a semi-retired financial terminologist who divides his time between business dictionaries and poetic fiction.com. both published by Perskor and Tussen Duine Gebore.
His writing is one result of this thoroughly dissatisfying situation. A product of his times. She was born in South Africa. Siddiq Khan resides in Cape Town. Abu Dhabi and Ramallah where he married. having served as Secretary. Zita has been published in several genres. Vice-President and President of the Indianapolis Branch. After setting up an English radio station in Jerusalem/Ramallah. adventures. and immigrated to the USA with her husband and two sons in 1976.new contrast Beverly Hills. She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women. threats and opportunities presented to him by his society. of whom he is an irreconcilable enemy. where he was born. He lives in London where he is writing a novel and critical essays on post-1970 SA theatre. His work includes nearly 300 poems. he now lives there. 87 . an assortment of short stories. his time’s been spent within the murderously narrow range of passions. 27 plays and two mystery novels. Tom Byrne was born in New York in 1949. He attended Boston University. Living in Cape Town for the past 10 years he is working on a compendium of flash fiction. Indiana. banker and taught history of South African drama at Stellenbosch University. Zita Nurok is an elementary school teacher living in Indianapolis. Karachi. Robert Greig has published three volumes of verse and worked as a theatre critic.
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