Cape Town Stories 9

Two brown people buying a muffin and two lattes on a sunny Sunday in Gardens. Not at a Pick’nPay, at an almost-fancy cafe where you can find croissants made with real butter and other foreign patisserie. No koeksisters. You feel me.

My card is rejected. Once, twice. No cash. The woman behind the counter – I presume the owner – is not amused. She does not believe that I want to pay. Has not smiled once. Not when we entered and especially not now, the third time I put in my pin code. I call my mother. (I lied when I said it was my card). My mother and I communicate in German. Hence I say something like: “Mama, die Karte funktioniert nicht, ich versuche gerade zu bezahlen”. The woman’s face changes instantly. No longer tense and irritable. My mom from her side sorts out the problem with the card, I hang up and look into a pair of customer friendly eyes.

Where are you from, what language is that?

It’s German.

Oh wow, you’re from Germany!

That’s so lovely, so your mother is German?

The payment suddenly seems not so important.

Yes.

Such a nice place, my daughter once went to….

Two brown faces turn to look at each other. Both of us realise in her eyes we have just gone from being two poor Coloured people disturbing her business to two friendly tourists – exotic, not gangsters. I pay and I remember Pretty Woman and I wonder what the film would have been like had she have just tried to buy a coffee instead of an expensive dress.

Two brown people leaving a cafe with a muffin and two lattes on a sunny Sunday in Gardens.

Home is

my parents‘ house

playing Marco Polo in the round plastic pool my father patched frequently „Papa, der Pool muss papariert werden!“ the neighbours would hear me shout across the lane

Home is

the bed I slept in, Bibi Blocksberg ringing in my ears night after night as I dozed off

Home is

where the wind crashes against the roof of the house, of the car, the school building, always with me safe inside, wondering about those who are without shelter, lying on porches, pavements, in front of Mr Parker’s corner store, the Ferrari shop, where behind bulges of blankets a glass wall houses cars in shiny red and black

Home is that place where the question „what are you?“ follows me from all nooks and crannys of the Mother City, from the woman on the market asking tourist prices of me, to the man standing on the pavement who explained that my hair looks „white“ but my teeth „zulu“

but leaving my white German mother uninterrogated by the same question

Home is the words I speak

the food I eat

the songs I sing

when I am left to myself

with the thoughts of my past and present wrapped around my soul

Home is the place with the person I love, head resting on chest in moments of joy and pain

Where I remember my first thoughts though

where the playground I played at still lures children to play amongst „Hundescheiße und Schaukeln“

Home is where the question „wo kommst du her?“ follows me from all nooks and crannys of the Hauptstadt, from the old man at the bar to the woman studying Asien-und Afrikawissenschaften, who claims I look „exactly“ like her friend because „Ihr habt genau die gleichen Haare!“

The place where I ride my bike alone in the middle of the night, in the heart of the city, without fear, but where I never frequent the outskirts on my own, because children’s playful words telling on each other „Dat sach ich dem Führer!“ ring in my ears and make me wonder who their parents are

Home is the words I speak

the food I eat

the songs I sing

when I am left to myself

with the thoughts of my past and present wrapped around my soul

Mangoes

Mangoes

is there anything better than letting the sun kiss your face

the grass tickle your bum

naked

(hot) brown on

(soft) green

peeling into the mango’s skin with your teeth

sweetness dripping

dripping down the side of your hands

your mouth

your face

onto your legs

into the grass

sticky

happy

the world pauses

when youre eating mangoes

eating mangoes naked in the sun

looking up at the

blue skyes

feeling full

of orange joy

Cape Town Stories 8

I’m getting out of the car just as a white parking attendant angrily chases away a black man begging. I tell him not to be so rude to people,and that he has no authority over what people do on a public street, but as was to be expected said white parking attendant does not appreciate a black woman calling him out on anything, so he quickly turns to vulgar language (okay, so maybe I swore first, but, you know). I do not back down and so he finally turns to telling me to go back to my own country. That was a first to me: White homeless South African man tells South African WOC to go back to her country.

Cape Town Stories 7

You know those sweet old retired grandpas you see leisurely wandering the streets of Cape Town? With friendly toothless smiles until you smile back and their smile turns into a lip smacking, tongue twisting cunnilingus imitation and then you realise their hair is not fucking grey from wisdom but just lack of pigmentation. And their souls are not pure and friendly but old and horny. Sies! Really now, Cape Town men take street harassment to another level. Risking their own lives to throw a „hey sexy girl“ and a licking of lips at you over their shoulder while they almost drive their bike into the car in front of them. Stop sexual harassment and arrive alive!

 

Cape Town Stories 6

You know those people who consider themselves good drivers? Those people who think that them being alive is proof of their excellent driving skills?
So last week I drove to work with a guy who gets high in the car. Now I wasn’t even stressed about him being high behind the wheel (because you know, when in Rome), what stressed me out is that he ROLLED HIS JOINT WHILE DRIVING ON THE HIGHWAY!!! Don’t ask me exactly how he did it because obviously I had to shut my eyes damn tight in order to concentrate on praying to the traffic gods. But apparently I shouldn’t even be worried because he is such a skilled driver he can even do that when he is drunk! :O :/

Cape Town Stories 5

I’m parking the car in town, I get out the car, my afro jiggling and bouncing and all, the parking attendant says to me „yoh, white people have a lot of hair!“. I’m thoroughly confused, like „am I white?“. She’s like „Are you not white?“. I’m like, „uhm, no, I don’t think so. I’m black…?“ She’s like „You look white“ she takes another glance and reconsiders: „but your teeth look Zulu.“ Yoh, Mzansi, you confuse me on the daily!

Cape Town Stories 4

I went to the public swimming pool with a friend and his little nephew. A day filled with sun and fun but also a valuable life lesson. I learned that day from the nine-year-old how to make new friends. Pretty simple really. Just walk up to (or jump into pool next to) a person whose face you like and ask: „can I play with you?“. The answer, I was assured, is always yes.

Cape Town Stories 3

I’m at a fish shop at the harbour, want to order some slap chips and deep fried fish. But before I get a chance to order, one of the ladies working there walks up to me to tell me that I am not allowed to be in there looking „like that“. I look down at my basic black jeans and black top and back up at the scene; tables covered in plastic table cloths, dirty floor tiles and people eating their food off of colourful plastic plates. I ask her if she is joking. She points at a sign on the wall that reads that guns are not tolerated inside the fish shop, which I get, and that men may not be barechested. I point out that I am neither a man, nor is my chest bare, it is my back that is uncovered. She says it’s the same.