Wednesday, 30 October 2013
Monday, 28 October 2013
Monday, 16 September 2013
Everyday I take a taxi to work. Let me quickly point out that this is not by choice; I simply do not earn enough to afford a car of my own. More than three quarters of the people I commute with are in a similar financial situation as me though we never talk about this. I have silently concluded that this is the most important law amongst commuters; we don't ask each other why we are commuting. In certain conversations we may refer to owning cars of our own but I have since observed that such conversations are immediately followed by a quick silence; perhaps a sign that reality has set in and the thought of owning a car seems realistically distant. This is further testament of our economic status in the social hierarchy. With that said I am rather fond of the taxi.
There is no social classification amongst those who commute. This is because most of us who use taxis wish we were not subject to this form of transport. We have accepted that the taxi is the only economically viable means for us and with that we open up to each other in ways that are perhaps rare in other social settings. Similarly I have also witnessed rather alarming behaviour while commuting. I have seen drivers younger than myself hurl abuses at people old enough to be their parents. I have also had belly-wrenching laughs as a result of a joke or a story being shared by one of the commuters. In all fairness taxis are an experience that every South African should experience. Who knows, maybe we would be more tolerant of each other if we commuted together.
Month-end is a really special time for taxi commuters. This time is marked by the fact that the majority of the commuters have received their pittance after many hours of labour in their respective employ. It is during these times that the taxi driver will be asked for chama station by some commuter. Loosely translated, chama station refers to a pee stop. Such a stop is always requested by those who have had a couple of drinks that alter one's state of mind. What I have found impressive in this is that the taxi drivers usually have the patience to grant such a person such a stop. This despite the endless ques back at the taxi rank of anxious commuters eagerly awaiting to get home. Perhaps this is why the taxi drivers drive at such high speeds, more so at this time of the month. Mind you, less than one percent of taxi drivers are women.
Whenever I commute I always find time to observe the other cars on the road. From fancy cars to fast ones, the pristine and the not-so-roadworthy, I observe. I have also observed the people who drive these cars. There are those who just drive on, their minds on the task at hand I imagine. Then there are those who choose to wander while they drive. You can tell this type of driver by their wandering eyes when they overtake you or you overtake them. They will either have expressionless faces or an expression that compels you to look away. One particular type of driver has always fascinated me whenever I undertake these observations.
This is the type of driver who has arrived; the one who has made it. Allow me to quickly point out that those who think they have made it drive their cars while those who have actually made it are driven. The ones who have made it generally have no time to stare at people as they overtake the taxis that carry them. I always imagine them to play classical music as they drive the luxurious sedans, not a worry on their faces. I sometimes imagine that they are rushing to some important meeting, or they have some pressing business that they need to attend to. Even amongst this type of driver there exists another kind, one who is king of the road.
This type of driver is actually driven, and usually has an escort of cars with flashing blue lights. They travel at lightning speed though I have observed that they never have pressing business. Let me rephrase that statement, my bias defeats me. They give us the impression that they have pressing business by driving at such high speeds. I suppose that this is part of their act. I recently observed a few of them clad in blue overalls speed past us one morning.
When I bought the afternoon edition of the local paper I learned that they had been on an election campaign, and as part of their campaign they had decided to make an appearance at a rural road construction site. They ironically took the time to also visit a few locals in the area and listened to their concerns and made promises to attend to the challenges the locals shared with them.
With the elections coming up soon I am sure I will be seeing more of this type of driver. I think my constant referral to them as driver really elevates their status because they sit at the back and get driven. In any case, society has already elevated them. You can tell this by their bulging physique. I always reserve them a seat next to whenever I climb into a taxi. My ride with them in a taxi is drawing nearer.
Thursday, 11 July 2013
As customary, the last arrival is first to go in when the bloke down below gets tired. My turn promptly came before I had much time to psyche myself. I have always imagined what the mood would be like when my turn to have my own grave prepared came. Will the men have a sense of loss as they laboured? Will it perhaps be that they'll be merry and of jovial spirit, celebrating the life that once was (and still is)?
Tuesday, 9 July 2013
'I feel complete' was the thought that crossed my mind as I searched for the source of this love for the beach.
My love for the beach has been a turbulent one. Some 16 years ago I nearly lost my life at the beach. That was my first near-death experience. The swallowing of vast amounts of sea water and the visions of death that flashed through my mind on that day gave birth to the fighting spirit within. Ironically, my love for the beach was re-affirmed on that day despite the difficult and challenging circumstances. Isn't it said that true love triumphs and manifests through the most trying of times?
Having spent part of my childhood in Soweto, the beach was an unexplored avenue. It became a gateway for my imagination to run wild- it still does today. The vastness of the sea mesmerized me, and my inability to swim was compensated by illusions of walking upon the sea like Christ. Imaginations of sea monsters and breathing under water without any machinery captured me. The hard reality though, entailed evading white people's dogs that terrorized me. Couldn't they read the signs that said dogs were not allowed?! My love for the beach still remains though, despite these dogs.
While I'm at it, perhaps the absence of black people at the beach, with the exception of major holidays, is related to the ever-present dogs. Hmmm.
I regularly carry a stick with me. 'It adds to your beach comber tendencies' a friend said. Little did she know that it's there to help fend off over-zealous dogs keen on biting more than they can chew.
Just the other day I was walking along the shore and happened to strike a conversation with an American woman who flattered me by suggesting that I have an accent. What a joke, I thought.
I love how relaxed I feel when I'm at the beach. The inner child gets really excited as I splash and dive at the breaking waves. I just wish more black people would join me when I'm there. Perhaps they'll witness a miracle as I eventually walk upon the waters.
Monday, 29 April 2013
Just a few nights ago he had for the first time decided to let go of his fears and all that held him back. He had decided to confront his feelings and listen to his heart. Letting go of his carefully guarded mind was a hard-fought battle but he finally let go and surrendered for he saw the futility of fighting on. He risked being taken for a fool or even being rejected he silently contemplated as a cool breeze swept through the maize plantation bringing goose bumps on his dark skin as if to quench the inner fire raging through him.
It was not new this sensation he felt in his belly at every lingering thought of her. He had felt it for the first time a good four years ago. The only difference now was that he was now in a better position to deal with it and had the frame of mind to see it through. In his mind he knew very well that he didn't have a plan of action but to give his all. As for any expectations that accompanied his thoughts he quickly dismissed for many a time his expectations had not served him.
Friday, 19 April 2013
Wednesday, 16 January 2013
I am aware of your presence.
Nigh and light I do sense
The countless images you bring forth.
Lurking behind the shadows in my mind
Flowing ever so sublime,
I entertain you with great ease.
Of my dillusions you displease.
Terrible and wicked you are!
For that damsel there yonder
Surely is covered down under
Without me having to bother.
Terrible and fleeting thought
You and I have so long fought.
Yet you wage on, without a shudder;
For how long without surrender?
You are a part of me I acknowledge.
Some consider this to be a privilege -
To be at peace with you,
To learn that you can be subdued.
Dreadful and feeble thought
Life's companion you have been.
When I am gone and nought
take me where I have never been.
Tuesday, 8 January 2013
His thoughts of the shimmering moon upon the waters were interrupted by a figure walking towards him in the opposite direction. The figure was clearly under the influence of some intoxicating beverage judging from how its movements were a series of repeated steps in whichever direction necessary for it to remain on its feet. As the stranger got closer to the figure he noticed the figure transform into a young man of no more than thirty years of age. This young man stopped at the nearest bin and held it in both hands in a fashion that a person would when the alcohol turns in one's stomach and wants to make some escape in the same direction it had been consumed. It turns out that the swaying young man is actually looking for food; just like the two previous men the stranger had passed some paces back.
The stranger walked on, perhaps for some thirty paces and he found his attention diverted to some chatter on his right. He cast his eyes to where the chorus of jovial voices were coming from. It was a restaurant with an open deck looking out at sea. Seated in groups at the tables on the deck were white people enjoying the cool evening air, their generous meals before them, and everything else that white people enjoy. The stranger felt a surge of frustration and suppressed anger rush through his being as his mind wondered how, barely a few paces away, some men had been eating out of a dustbin. As he tried to reason on how things changed yet remain the same he looked over his shoulder before making his way across the street.
Across the street, on the stretch of grass regularly used for the flea market on Sunday was a marquee. This wasn't just an ordinary marquee. This marquee was especially erected for the Easter church celebrations. For what reason the church had decided to erect it at the beach, the stranger didn't bother to think. The frustration and suppressed anger he had felt only a few moments ago reached an almost unbearable crescendo accompanied by the music flowing from the people singing in the marquee. This unique blend of emotions and music made the stranger feel like crying. It couldn't be the frustration and suppressed anger that made his eyes well up in tears he silently concluded as he picked up his pace in an effort to get away from within earshot of the music as soon as possible.
As the stranger turned and continued his walk a smile appeared on his face. The uselessness and helplessness, the frustration and suppressed anger he had felt, and the sorrow brought on by the music from the marquee miraculously lifted off him. The gratitude expressed by the beggar had done the stranger a world of good.