Hi, how are you. I am still fine. I thought I must tell you about my friends in the township in these times. Maybe your friends are as good as mine.
One cold afternoon in June, I was sitting next to the stove at home. I was playing ‘spinning’ with my sister’s sons. It was not ‘pap en vleis’ because I was losing my money fast. Then the front door opened. I looked up to see who was there. I found my best friends, Tito and Cisco, outside.
Tito had very important news. Tito tshayela Ie awtie nge daaideng. “Ek se, mfo,” said Tito, “we are no longer going to carry indzengana’. Ke bua ka pass’, monna. I think that we must have a big braaivleis.”
But I was having problems. I said, “Hey, ndoda, I have just lost my last 50 cents to my nephews. I haven’t got money for a braai.”
“Maar ntwana eke bhari. Wena, Thomas, you like meat, ne. We are not going to braai meat. We are going to burn our passes,” Cisco said.
Just then another friend, Okapi, walked past. Okapi stopped outside the house. He took out a handkerchief. He wiped the dust off his sharp pointed shoes. The children in my street like Okapi and his shoes. They even gave him his name. They call him ‘Bra Okapi’ because his shoes are as sharp as an Okapi knife.
“Hey, mfo, is it true that the dompas is dead ?” I asked Okapi. Okapi knows everything. He is a sangoma. “Ja,” said Okapi, “My bones tell me that now we can burn our passes. But maybe we must wait and see what my bones tell me tonight. I will give you a very good answer tomorrow.”
Then Tito and Cisco called Okapi inside. They wanted to watch ‘Rrabobi’ the flying man on TV. They sat right in front of my TV set. A few minutes later I heard one of my nephews crying, “Thomas, Thomas, come and see. Bra Okapi, Cisco Ie Tito are fighting.”
I ran to the front room. My friends were trying to do what ‘Rrabobi’ was doing on TV. “Stop it.” I shouted.”Rrabobi’ is just a film. Have you ever seen a person fly? People only fly in children’s films.” They sat down and kept very quiet.
At 7 o’clock it was time for TV news. The news said that people must no longer carry passes. And people can work anywhere they like. The man who was reading the news also said, “People are going to have the same passes as whites. So go to your nearest pass office and get a new pass. But remember to take your old pass with you.”
After the news I looked at Cisco. He was very quiet and I knew that he was not happy. “Batho ba, ba phapha,” he said crying. “Do you think that I can give them my pass? Hm? They mean to say that we will not have any braai tomorrow. No, no, no.”
“Ek se, gents,” said Bra Okapi, “I must go home. Otherwise I will meet bosiyayinyova’. The emergency does not scare those boys’ phela’. No-one spoke as Tito and Cisco followed him out.
The next time I saw Okapi he was in town. He was wearing old, dirty overalls. At first I did not know him. But when I saw his shoes, I knew that it was Bra Okapi.
“Hey, mfo,” Okapi said. “Do not call me by my name. The cops are after me. They say I told people to burn their passes. But I did not.” Then Okapi walked away quickly.
When I got home that day, I went to visit Cisco. I knocked on his door for a very long time. Then someone asked who was there. I said, “Ke nna, Thomas.” Then the door opened. I found Cisco’s mother inside. “Cisco, come out. It is Thomas,” his mother called. Cisco came out of the fridge. He looked as white as snow.
“Man, I am in hiding. I hear a lot of people are in hiding or missing, so I decided to go into hiding myself,” Cisco said. “I have been in that fridge since this morning. Yesterday I was under my bed for the whole day.” I asked Cisco why he was hiding. “Ke fashion’, monna.” said Cisco. If you are not hiding, ubhari.”
But Cisco came with me to visit Tito.
A DOMPAS BRAAI
When we got to Tito’s house we saw the door of a coal box close by itself. I was very surprised. So I looked inside. I found a ‘vuilpop’. Just as I was about to hit him, the ‘vuilpop’ said, “Please Thomas, don’t ‘moer’ me. It’s me, Tito’.’ “When I looked again, I saw it was Tito. I asked Tito why he was hiding. He said, “Everyone is hiding. Cisco was hiding. Bra Okapie is hiding. So I decided to hide too.” Then Tito got out of the box and washed himself.
“Gents,” I said to them, “I have just bought my girlfriend a necklace in town.” They both looked hard at me as if I said something bad. Tito almost fainted. “Mfo, do you mean that you no longer love your girlfriend?” he asked.
“Oh, now I see why you are surprised. I bought her a real necklace, not a tyre. Besides I do not think it is right to burn people alive,” I said to them. Then they looked happy.
We stayed at Tito’s pozzie’ and listened to music. There wasn’t any thing else to do. Heyta daar. Until next time.