Posts Tagged ‘jozi


A Post For J-Rab

In another life, we caught moths together late one summer afternoon. The light slanted through the giant windows of the old manse I used to live in, catching tiny dust particles and turning them silver and gold, a haphazard universe only her and I could see.

She had this big glass jar with acetone-soaked cotton balls in it and every time we caught a moth, we’d carefully usher it into the jar and screw the lid back on. She’d put on a brave smile and try to ignore the muted tapping of the moths against the glass, but I could see it was getting to her.

She was catching them for an art project and I was helping her because though she didn’t realise it, she had caught me too.

I remember standing so close I could taste her, I could feel her scent sparking synapses like a lightning storm in my brain, triggering a dizzying rush of something so pure my heart started hammering like a maniac against a padded cell door.

In another life I remember driving with her to Kenton, my shitty golf packed like a sardine tin with all our friends, the Violent Femmes blasting over the speakers as we blazed through those pack-marked Eastern Cape roads singing, “I held her in my arms, I held her in my arms, I held her in my arms but it wasn’t you…”

We got hammered on the beach that day, splashing in the waves, building sand cities, getting good and wasted and laughing, always laughing. I never told her how badly I wished she was mine that day. Everything about her haunted me, her berry-brown skin, her flashing eyes, her floating hair.

I had to physically tear my eyes away from how goddamn gorgeous she looked in that bikini, an immaculate collection of curves, impossibly perfect in every way. The longer I stared the wilder my mind ran until there was nothing for me to do but throw myself headlong into the ocean in a futile effort to pull my shit back together.

How long did I carry that torch for her? That slow-burning flame that ignited the inferno that now burns like a sun inside us?

In one form or another I carried it from the moment we first met, first as blind passion, then as friendship, then as something deeper, something I kept hidden for a long time.

And then one night in the spring of 2007 I found myself at the airport, waiting to pick her up after nearly two and a half years of leaving varsity and moving a continent apart.

This old man was waiting next to me. I never told her about that old geezer. To be honest I never thought about him much until now. I couldn’t even tell you what he looked like, but I’d say he was in his sixties, he was waiting to pick up his son.

“Who are you here for?” he asked, “I’m guessing it’s your girlfriend?”

“What?” I said, caught completely off guard, “No, it’s just a friend. I mean, yes, she’s a girl, but she’s not my girlfriend, she’s just a girl friend I’ve known for a long time.”

“I see…”

“What made you think it’s a girlfriend?”

“You can hardly stand still! And you keep looking at the gate every time someone walks through it.”

“I do, don’t I?” I said and laughed. “I’m a bit nervous to see her, it’s been a long time. I’m kinda hoping she’s put on a lot of weight while she’s been over there.”

“Hahaha!” the old man chuckled, “That’s a strange thing to hope for.”

“There’s always been something between us, some kind of underlying tension. But until she left she was dating a good friend of mine, she dated him for nearly four years, so nothing ever happened between us and she lives in England now, so nothing can happen between us…”

“Hahaha, boy-o, you’re in trouble,” the old man said.

And right then as if on cue, she walked through the gates and my heart lurched against my ribcage, that old maniac had woken up again and was throwing himself, shoulder first with all his weight against that flimsy, splintered cell door.

“I think you’re right,” I mumbled back to him, utterly fixed on her.

She was every kind of beautiful in that moment.

I remember her in motion and just how close she was getting. And how every little thing anticipated her…

If it were a movie, I would have run up to her and lifted her off her feet in a big hug, twirling her around while the people gather there clapped and cheered.

Instead I jumped out of the crowd, not realising that she hadn’t spotted me yet, and scared her shitless. We still laugh about it to this day.

That was four years ago, four years to the day that our lives collided in a moment that had been built up since we’d first met.

And later that night, when both of us had imagined for five years finally happened, entire city blocks were levelled in the resulting cataclysm. A tidal wave of pent-up energy rolled through the streets, tearing up the asphalt, rupturing water pipes and collapsing the concrete skyscrapers of Jozi like they were card towers in the wind.

If we knew on that day that this is how things would have worked out, if we had known what we were getting ourselves into, all the good times, all the laughter, all the passion, and all the bad times too, all the heartache, the hurt, the careless things that people in love do to one another, God knows why – if we had known all that back then would we still have embraced like we did in that airport? Would we still have gone home together and later that night, fallen so effortlessly, so completely into each other’s arms?

If I could do it all again, everything the same, would I?

Of course I would.

She’s the best thing that ever happened to me and I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I still, to this day have no idea how I got so goddamned lucky.

Happy anniversary babe Winking smile

Your man,


Today we are South Africans

I have a love / hate relationship with this country.

It’s the little things that get to me. It’s the way taxis take to our streets with total abandon and a sense of entitlement that infuriates everyone they cut in front of and crash into.

It’s the way, after all this time, after all the fights we’ve fought, snot-nosed political troublemakers can step into the limelight and set us back twenty years every time they shake their fists in the air and bark their angry, idiotic words, inciting hatred and violence.



It’s the way a friend of a friend got robbed or stabbed or shot for his cell phone and we all heard the news and said “Thank God it wasn’t worse”.

It’s the way politicians get away with blue murder completely scott free, irrespective of what they’ve done and it’s the way we all bitch and moan about it until we are pulled over for drunk driving and get off on a R50 bribe.

It’s the way I’ve never, not once, wound my window down to give a beggar change. Their faces disappear from my mind the second they vanish in my rear view mirror. An endless parade of ghosts.

It’s the way we can’t forget, no matter how hard we try, that there was a time in this country when our fathers and their fathers before them committed atrocious acts of violence and cruelty because they allowed themselves to be governed by a system based on ignorance and fear.

It’s the way we live in eternal uncertainty, of our government, of our future and of each other.

So why stick around? If there’s nothing left to fight for, why fight at all? There’s a whole world out there full to bursting of greener grass, why not just leave?

I stay in South Africa because underneath everything, I love this country to pieces and I know that I can’t live without it.

Things get bad sometimes and sometimes it feels like we’re backsliding and like the precious balance that we’ve tried so hard to maintain is toppling, but if there’s one thing no one can deny about South Africans, it’s that we are a people who understand more than any other nation on this earth how powerful hope really is.



From the concrete skyscrapers in Jozi to the open, untouched valleys of the Eastern Cape; from the sugarcane fields of Kwa-Zulu Natal to the baking hot deserts of the Karoo and the proud oceans that wash the shores of this beautiful, haunted country, we are a people who are united by the hardships we’ve suffered and the moments of triumph we’ve shared.

And what better way to celebrate everything we’ve achieved than by inviting the world with open arms to experience what it’s like to live here, under the arching, golden African sun and the endless blue skies that stretch on above us, come summer, autumn, winter or spring.

The beauty of it all is that on some days we might be coloured people, waiting by the bus stop to commute back to Khayalitsha and on others we might be white people from the northern suburbs of Jozi, driving our Audis home after a long day in and out of meetings.

On some days we might be black children, kicking a soccer ball in the streets of Alex and on others we might be Indian women, dressed in brightly coloured saris behind tables of fragrant spices at the Oriental Plaza.

On some days we might be Chinese people and on others we might be Greek. On some days we might be Lebanese and on others we might be Afrikaans or Sotho or Zulu or Venda.

But today, we are all of us South Africans.



What a great day today is 🙂