Welcome to the Big City
Back in 2005 when I was as chubby cheeked, fat infused, tender kneed, tender eyed, braid-haired, bra-less, knee-skirted, sometime-pant-wearing, boy-hungry, age-unripened, dream-dreaming, rafter-shoed, eyes-unopened girl of 18. I was single and may or may not have desired to have a boyfriend. I do not remember.
What I do know is that it is the last year I was ever single. I never received a single letter, nor did my phone ring because I did not have one. The only one I had ever had, had been stolen.
It was stolen on a Monday, I know this because I had spent the weekend bugging my daddy for his phone- a Nokia 7210, and I had Nokia 5100.
By Monday I had worn him out. He handed it to me gruffly and I switched the sim cards.
“I put money in your account, so if you want any,” he didn’t finish off.
Every time he did something nice and fatherly he scowled and fidgeted, affection was easier for him when he was drunk then he would cheerfully summon us,
"Come here my children, I want to talk to you," we would duck and dive under the covers.
Sometimes he would be so persistent only a cadaver could ignore him, and we would all troop to the lounge, yawning and grumbling.
"Sit with me a while, I love you my children all of you, I know sometimes you think daddy doesn't care but daddy loves you." He would make an attempt to hug the nearest of us and we would self consciously fold into his embrace.
I went to town, around midday and it being my first week in the big city I made a beeline to the nearest ATM. Half afraid I would get lost somehow.
That’s when I met him. Tall, dark and bunny toothed,
“Excuse me sisi, hello my sister, a minute of your time please.” I do not have the vaguest idea as to how I felt about this. I am not what I was back then, I believed in the goodness of mankind.
“Sorry my sister, if you could just listen to me, I have a proposition for you.” I loved being propositioned.
“I am looking for people to help me with a stock take over lunch, and I would pay you.” Daddy had only given me Z$1500 enough to buy a pair of jeans. There is something about the smell of freshly minted money that makes you more I want more.
“You would pay me?”
“Where is this place? Because I need to be going home soon.”
He named the street, I knew of it. I had no idea where it was. Everything was so new and different. On our way to my new gig, we met a guy and roped him in. I helped convince him, I did not want to be alone with this guy, but I wanted his money.
“Listen you guys, need to put your stuff in an envelope before we get there, can’t have valuables everywhere.”
I put everything I had, my phone, and my money all of it. So did the other guy. I handed it to the guy and he handed it back,
“You need to put your name on this, and keep it”
I did, and tucked it under my arm.
After walking for about 5minutes he had me wait for him in the doorway of some fancy looking clothes shop. The shop assistant was an Indian woman and I didn’t dare go inside.
He had huddled us together in that doorway,
“Wait here, I need to go and get you coveralls.”
He took off with that other guy, mumbling something about needing help with the stuff. I stood there waiting, with my envelope tucked safely under my arm still. I don’t know how long I waited; my phone was still in the envelope. I thought about going into the Indian’s shop and decided against it. I don’t know how long I stood there but finally my fear of my father won over.He did not like to return home and not find any of us there.
The money was not worth it. I took the envelope from under my arm to take out my phone.
It was gone.
All of it.
In lieu of my money and my phone was a stone wrapped in khaki paper and news print carefully cut. I had felt the envelope and thought it was the one I had put my money in.
I did not react, guess fear does that to you. I merely stood there, flashing on images of daddy.
Yelling, hitting, yelling, hitting.
Eventually when I got home, dad was there and very mad.
|If he had done it like this, I wouldn't have felt so stupid|
The same thing happened to L years later, she was 17. Although I still gave her the squint eyed judgy look whilst at the same time reassuring her that it happened to the best of us. I like to think that I am one of the best.