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