Short Stories, Tale Africa

Nobody Sees the Future (1)

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By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa:

I woke up with that feeling this morning, that it's going to be a long boring day’ feeling. I’ve been feeling weighed down and tired most of the morning. I don’t feel like sleeping, eating, talking or doing anything. This is why I like living alone; I can embrace this mood and not worry how other people feel. Imagine waking up feeling like this and having to explain yourself when you don’t even know why you’re feeling like that. It is going to be a long day…

I just finished making eggs and dragged myself to the couch in front of the TV. My flat is small, really small, but it's enough for me. It’s a studio apartment with very limited furniture. I have tried to separate the furniture to create a feel of a home. The lounge area has one sleeper couch neatly decorated and covered and my entertainment set – a TV, DVD player and speakers on a small glass stand. There is no space for a coffee table, not that I need it. The bedroom corner has my bed, a small stand with a side lamp, a wardrobe and lace curtains carefully tucked on the side – I use them to separate the room sometimes and I somehow feel they add mystery to the whole room, I don’t know why. I am a crazy person after all. The kitchen is separate with just a few built-in cupboards, a fridge, microwave and a two-plate oven stove. I love baking, when I’m in a mood.

Suddenly, I don’t feel like eggs; but I’m not one to waste food so I force them down. I only resigned from work two days ago, but I’m already starting to regret my decision. I’m also very emotional and irrational, on top of the craziness. My father always told me I’m a ticking time bomb and would joke about how I shouldn’t date because I would kill the guy. I was not offended by that, well not anymore, I’ve been to a psychologist a couple of times – three times actually – and I decided I’m fine like this. I finish the eggs, with no bread or whatever, and go to the kitchen and quickly rinse my plate and put it away. Being a cashier isn’t what I want to do with my life anyway, I had to leave. I’m not scared of change but I’m not too comfortable with risks as well. I’m 23 and I’m allowed to weigh my options, but my boyfriend shouldn’t hear that. Ah! That one thinks he’s my heaven-sent but I don’t; I think he is just another guy passing by. My sisters have what they call a ‘Mandy-time’ (three months), that’s how long my relationships last.

I feel like ice cream. I walk to the ‘bedroom’ and change shoes. I check if I have enough money in my jeans, R20, that should be enough. I lock the door and walk out. The beauty of living in town. It’s not a hot winter day today, it’s just a Durban winter day. I walk slowly up Smith Street passing a couple of streets, waiting at some traffic lights and finally cross towards the Workshop. I still prefer the ice cream I buy at the workshop, no specific reason. I walk inside the center and look around, a bit of window shopping and then finally walk out on the other entrance towards the ice cream stands. The crowd here! I don’t know why there are so many people at the Gugu Dlamini park (in front of the workshop-if not part of it), even the ice cream stands are busy. Such lines! I felt this was going to be a long day. I decide to just join the queue and wait for the ice cream. I have nothing better to do anyway – on the first weekend of the month, my birth month July. My father usually says I’m this moody because I was born in Ntulikazi (July in Zulu meaning month of wind). He says I’m a rare tornado.

“It’s my first time in Durban,” someone says behind me sounding ridiculously excited. Damn tourists! I ignore them, maybe she is not talking to me.

“Do you come often?” The voice continues this time a hand on my shoulder. I get irritated and turn around to meet the most innocent eyes I’ve ever seen. Such beauty, such a beautiful child! I’m speechless, it smiles.

“I’m sorry to bother you, I’m just so excited. I can’t believe I’m in Durban,” it continues. Okay fine ‘she’. It's just so pretty I can’t believe its human.

“School trip?” I manage to say.

It nods. She looks 13/14 years old, I’ve never been good at reading people but I can tell she’s a fresh teen. A brave child for speaking to a strange, grumpy lady who probably looks like an overgrown freak – that’s what my brother calls me – I’m seriously tall. I don’t usually talk to strangers but this is a beautiful little girl.

“Where are you from?” I ask

“Newcastle and you?”

“I live here”

She looks totally stunned. She asks a lot of questions, apparently she didn’t know anyone lived in Durban. Children though! What is this, a visitors' town? She then tells me there is some kwaito star coming to perform here, which explains the crowd, and how she never thought she would ever see a celebrity and such large waters. She’s a delight and before I know it we are buying ice cream and walking away towards the crowd. I hate crowds! I see a woman shouting running towards us but I can’t hear what she’s saying and then as she gets closer I hear the name ‘Buyi’ and ‘damn this child’ and ‘grey hair before her time’. Strange people! I look at the child next to me and judging by the look on her face, she is Buyi and that’s her teacher. I remember I was also mischievous at her age and my teachers….

“BOOM”

What’s that sound? I turn around and its… It's… Mayhem! There is a lot of smoke coming from the stage or is it in front of it? Then gunshots… People start screaming and running around. Some fall and others don’t even stop to help them, they run over them. More gunshots. I turn around in panic, what’s going on? What is this? I can’t run I feel like I’m watching the end of my life. Where will I run to? I hear another loud banging sound and I remember there was a child next to me.

“Buyi” I say softly. She’s not here! I panic. I think I saw the teacher being pulled away by the crowd at the first gunshot sounds but where is this girl. I run towards the entrance into the workshop hoping to find some sanity, Buyi, peace, anything but this! It is bloody but people are running on top of bodies and a large number of them coming towards my direction. Shit! I turn around and run outside, run around the ice cream stands and madness…its madness. Why won’t these banging sounds stop? Where is it coming from? People are coming from everywhere, running towards every direction, I feel my head spin. I’m tired, I’m scared, I’m running – am I? I’m bleeding, I’m dying. Buyi…

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