Archive for the ‘Metrorail Mondays’ Category

Each Other’s Language

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“Did you know that in Japan if the trains are running late, which is very seldom, the warders come around and apologise to every commuter for the inconvenience. On top of that, every commuter is issued with a letter confirming that the trains were delayed saving the employee the embarrassment of explaining and apologizing to the employer,” a guy in a neat white shirt and black pants explains to the guy standing next to him who is perusing a page of his newspaper.

Without taking his eyes off the page the man replies: “Well… Die is Africa; who cares.”

“I’m just trying to draw a comparison between the ethics and cultures,” the guy in white defends his statement.

Kan djy nie jou mond hou nie huh? the guy with the newspaper thinks to himself.

“Ek ry al vyf-en-dêtag jaa trein en laat kô is soe oud soesie ark my broe,” he answers.

For a few moments they travel in silence with the mechanical sound of the train almost overwhelming.

The guy in the white shirt curiously peeps into the other one’s newspaper. He looks at the guy holding the paper and enquires: “When is the shooting ever going to stop bru?”

The newspaper guy takes his time to answer while he thinks to himself: “Djy kan nou ophou Engels praat.”

“Waa skiet hulle sien djy?” he asks.

With a surprised look on his face the guy in white shoots back, “There!” and points to the picture in the paper.

“Sien; djy wietie waa nie. Djy kan nie Afrikaans lies ’ie,” the newspaper guy shoots back even faster.

“I can, but I prefer English. It is my home language,” the guy in white explains.

The newspaper guy’s eyes keep browsing the page. “Sien djy ek hou die koeran met twie hanne vas en ek staan op al twie biene? Djy moet al twie tale kan praat om jouself te kan balance,” he responds without looking up; his eyes still buried in the paper.

“I can speak Afrikaans, but my first response is always English. My Afrikaans sounds hectic man,” the guy in white retorts almost as if he is feeling sorry for himself.

“Ek kan Engels praat maa is comfortable in Afrikaans. Ek praat net Engels in self-defence,” the newspaper guy says sheepishly as he looks at the other guy for a second.

Looking baffled the guy in white asks: “What do you mean by self-defence?”
“Net as ek moet Engels praat want die plek is mos loaded met foreigners en wat wiet hulle van Afrikaans?” he explains his somewhat strange motive.

Again they are silent for a few moments.

“So do you think Afrikaans is a dying language?” the guy in white asks after their little interlude.

“Nooitie my pel; ôs praat Afrikaans hie innie land; different tonge vir different regions but Afrikaans praat ôs, soe laat jou kinnes die taal lee. Doen hulle ’n favour; vat my advice,” the newspaper guy explains, this time looking the guy straight in the face.

“My mother is English; my father is Afrikaans. I attended an English school and both of them speak English to me, but my father speaks Afrikaans all the time when he’s angry or upset,” the guy with the white shirt sheds more light on his preference for the English language.

“Vloek jou ma terug in Afrikaans?” the newspaper guy asks, closing the paper in order to turn the page.

“My mother never swears. She only says ‘God help us’ when my father goes crazy in Afrikaans.”

“Sê vir jou pa hy moet next time try om in Engels te skel as hy weer kwaad raak en dan kyk djy hoe hy gaan struggle. Sal djy my broe?” the newspaper guy suggests with a twinkle in his eyes.

A smile appears on the white shirt guy’s face. He thinks for a moment then answers, “Hy gaan sy tong raak byt buddy.”

They both burst out laughing. The newspaper guy gathers himself and adds: “My goeiste goeie genugtig’ gaan jou ma sê.”

The train enters the station and both of them move towards the door.

“Djy moet ’n koerrekte dag het my broe,” the newspaper guy bids his friend farewell.

“Cool man; same to you,” the guy in white replies as they part ways on the platform.

A language barrier isn’t always a stumbling block to peace and harmony.

***

Urban Dictionary
dêtag – The Afrikaaps word for “dertig” which is the Afrikaans word for “thirty”.
jaa – The Afrikaaps word for “jaar” which is the Afrikaans word for “year”.
soesie – The Afrikaaps term for “soos die” which in Afrikaans means “like the”.
wietie – The Afrikaaps term for “weet nie” which in Afrikaans means “do not know”.
koeran – The Afrikaaps word for “koerant” which is the Afrikaans word for “newspaper”.
biene – The Afrikaaps word for “bene” which is the Afrikaans word for “legs”.
nooitie – The Afrikaaps term for “nooit nie” which in Afrikaans means “never”.
kinnes – The Afrikaaps word for “kinders” which is the Afrikaans word for “children”.
vloek – The Afrikaans word for “swear / curse”.
skel – The Afrikaans word for “scold”.
koerrekte – The Afrikaaps word for “korrekte” which is the Afrikaans word for “correct” in this case meaning “fantastic”.

“Kan djy nie jou mond hou nie huh?”
“Can’t you be quiet?”
(Literally translates to ‘Can’t you hold your mouth?’)

“Ek ry al vyf-en-dêtag jaa trein en laat kô is soe oud soesie ark my broe.”
“I have been riding the train for thirty-five years and being late is as old as the ark my brother.”

“Sien; djy wietie waa nie. Djy kan nie Afrikaans lies ’ie.”
“See; you don’t know where. You cannot read Afrikaans.”

“Sien djy ek hou die koeran met twie hanne vas en ek staan op al twie biene? Djy moet al twie tale kan praat om jouself te kan balance.”
“You see I am holding the newspaper with two hands and I am standing on both legs? You must be able to speak both languages to be able to balance yourself.”

“Ek kan Engels praat maa is comfortable in Afrikaans. Ek praat net Engels in self-defence.”
“I am able to speak English but I am comfortable in Afrikaans. I only speak English in self-defence.”

“Net as ek moet Engels praat want die plek is mos loaded met foreigners en wat wiet hulle van Afrikaans?”
“It is only when it is a must that I speak English because this place is loaded with foreigners and what do they know of Afrikaans?”

“Nooitie my pel; ôs praat Afrikaans hie innie land; different tonge vir different regions but Afrikaans praat ôs, soe laat jou kinnes die taal lee. Doen hulle ’n favour; vat my advice.”
“Never my pal; we speak Afrikaans here in this country; different tongues for different regions but it is Afrikaans we speak, so let your children learn the language. Do them a favour; take my advice.”

“Vloek jou ma terug in Afrikaans?”
“Does your mother swear back (at him) in Afrikaans?”

“Sê vir jou pa hy moet next time try om in Engels te skel as hy weer kwaad raak en dan kyk djy hoe hy gaan struggle. Sal djy my broe?”
“Tell your dad that next time he should try to scold in English when he is angry and then you look at how he will struggle. Would you my brother?”

“Hy gaan sy tong raak byt buddy.”
“He will bite his tongue buddy.”

“ ‘My goeiste goeie genugtig’ gaan jou ma sê.”
“ ‘My goodness good gracious’ your mother will say.”

“Djy moet ’n koerrekte dag het my broe.”
“You must have a fantastic day my brother.”

Hidden History

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“The trains are messed up again today,” a guy, not looking a day older than twenty five, says to his friend standing next to him.

The train maintains a constant speed paying no attention to his remark.

“I take it as it comes; no stress,” the friend replies nonchalantly.

The guy scratches in a bag slung over his shoulder, opens his lunch box, and takes out a sandwich. Before he takes a bite he manages to say: “Been up since five this morning and never had a chance to have breakfast. I had to fix the wife’s hairdryer this morning. The dog chewed the chord in half, fortunately it wasn’t plugged in.”

He takes a bite of the sandwich and shakes his head. The friend looks at him and rolls his eyes. Within seconds the sandwich is devoured.

“Elke oggen se ding,” he says while the sandwich makes its way to his stomach.

“My wife got so fed up with struggling with her hair that she eventually had it cut short; almost schoolboy style,” the friend comments.

I wonder… should I have another sandwich? the guy with the sling bag thinks. Rather not, let me wait for teatime, he finally decides.

“I saw that time I met your motjie, that she has Malaysian features,” he suddenly thinks out loud.
The friend looks at him with a grin on his face. “Yes she hails from the Bo-Kaap,” he says casually.

“Bo- Kaap nogal, but waar kry sy daai features, blush complexion oval eyes and dark hair?” the guy with the sling bag explains.

“Djy het oek my motjie gestudy ou bra,” the friend replies seeming almost surprised.

“No, no, not in that way. It was just my observation,” he laughingly explains himself away, waving his hands.

“OK, just checking, but she says her grandfather’s ancestor came to South Africa in the seventeen hundreds as a Malay slave. Her grandfather on the other hand carried an Identity Document which classified him as Cape Malay,” the friend says shrugging shoulders in a manner which suggests: That’s what she says. I can’t argue.

“Wow, cool!” the guy with the sling bag exclaims with a ‘tell-me-more’ look on his face.

“She says that her grandfather told the story that his grandfather was a tailor. His daughter became a dressmaker while her three brothers were master-builders. They were part of a group who designed and built the houses in the ‘Ses’. Those guys were skilful, productive and contributed towards the economy in an area where people of all races lived together in harmony. Everybody was like family during that time; according to the motjie,” the friend further unravels the history of his wife’s foreign features.

The guy with the sling bag thinks for a moment then says: “So the term or title ‘Cape Malay’ is derived from ‘Cape Malaysian’ and doesn’t necessary mean all Cape Muslims?” and waits for his friend’s response.

“As far as I can understand and I’m not an expert on the topic I’m just listening to the motjie’s stories,” the friend explains shrugging his shoulders.

He continues: “She says that Afrikaans, the way we speak it on the Cape Flats, has its roots in the Bo-Kaap. Words like motjie; baadjie; piesang; piering; tramakasie and boeja all come from the Malays.”

“So Afrikaans isn’t the language of white people or die boere?” the guy with the sling bag asks looking even more curious.

“Nooitie! Afrikaans is ôsse taal. Daai is ’n misconception,” the friend explains looking somewhat irritated.

“Wow! Djy sê daai ding bra,” the guy with a sling bag replies while adjusting his baseball cap.

“For example, my surname is November,” he continues. “My father says the name was given to slaves who arrived at the Cape during that month.”

“So all the Novembers could possibly be related,” the friend teases.

The guy pulls the baseball cap over his face looking baffled. “Miskien moet ek it ytcheck,” he manages to say through the cap.

Arriving at Salt River station Table Mountain towers into the clear blue sky with a wealth of history laid at its feet.

***

Urban Dictionary

motjie – An Afrikaaps word for “wife” originating from Malay.

Bo-Kaap – A residential area on the edge of Cape Town’s city centre. Previously occupied exclusively by people classified as Cape Malay.

Ses – The Afrikaans word for “six” in this case specifically referring to District Six in Cape Town.

baadjie – The Afrikaans word for “jacket” originating from Malay.

piesang – The Afrikaans word for “banana” originating from Malay.

piering – The Afrikaans word for “saucer” originating from Malay.

tramakasie – An Afrikaaps word for “thank you” originating from the Malay / Indo-Arabic “terima kasi”.

boeja – An Afrikaaps word originating from Mala/ Indo-Arabic which means loosely means “uncle” and is usually used to endearingly refer to a mature Muslim man.

boere – The Afrikaans word for “farmers” which as in this specific case is also used to refer to White Afrikaners. In Afrikaaps it is also used to refer to police officers irrespective of their race as during the Apartheid years the South African Police was exclusively commanded by White Afrikaner males.

nooitie – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans term “nooit nie” which means “never/not ever”. The word “nooit” on its own also means “never”.

ôsse – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “onse” which means “our”.

ytcheck – An Afrikaaps term for “check out” combining the Afrikaaps word “yt” for “uit” meaning “out” and the English word “check”.

“Elke oggen se ding.”
“It’s an every morning thing.”

“Bo- Kaap nogal but waar kry sy daai features?”
“Bo-Kaap mind you, but where does she get those features?”

“Djy het oek my motjie gestudy ou bra.”
“You’ve also studied my wife old buddy.”

“Nooitie! Afrikaans is ôsse taal. Daai is ’n misconception.”
“Never! Afrikaans is our language. That is a misconception.”

“Wow! Djy sê daai ding bra.”
“Wow! That’s what you’re saying buddy.”

“Miskien moet ek it ytcheck.”
“Maybe I must check it out.”

A United Front

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The early morning breeze greets us with a cold hand as it rushes down the platform. A few commuters try to hide, others bravely stand their ground ignoring its attempt to cause discomfort.

A newspaper vendor walks past encouraging potential customers to purchase the daily paper by saying: “Fresh from the press eksê. Good cop love affairs wat flop. Don’t get caught napping on the job. Thank you. Dankie.”

He turns and smiles when he hears: “Hello hiesa,” from a voice behind him.

“Thank you. Dankie,” he says as the newspaper is swiftly exchanged for a silver coin. He continues with his rhyme as he strolls off.

The train appears with a peace sign painted on its face as if to apologise for unexpectedly running on time.

“Die ou mense is geworried oor hulle pension. SASSA wag ees vir ’n court ruling,” a guy says to a friend as we leave the station.

“Ek hoo’ die move,” the friend replies.

He then explains further. “My neighbour het twie laaities op skool. ’n Ou lady van siewentag, Haa’ dogte is dood ennie laaities is by haa’. Hoe gaan sy maak as haai grant nie ytstiek nie?” he asks with a concerned expression.

“Daai is ma een example wat ek van wiet. Daa’s duisende soes daai,” he goes on to say
“Ek wietie ou bra. As ’ie gel nie geroof word ’ie dan, is haa’ ’n problem mettie service provider. Ôs moet ma bid broe,” the friend calmly explains.

“Ek is al blou gebid al. Dit raak net worse man,” the guy says out loud, almost shouting. He pulls up his hoodie as the wind rushes through a broken window.

“Djy moenie pluck veloo’ nie brother. Stay positive and things will change for the better,” the friend encourages him.

The guy with the hoodie looks in silence at his friend for a brief moment.

The friend looks at his cell phone then back at the guy with the hoodie.

“Miesies Jacobs kyk na my laaities na skool. Soe kry sy extra income en ôs gie ha mee as wat sy charge, want die laaities slaap somma daa as ek ennie motjie uitgaan en laat terugkom. Sy’s ’n sweet old lady, maa sy battle to make ends meet. Times are tough.” The guy with the hoodie explains further, shedding more light on the situation.

“Het miesies Jacobs net die een dogte gehet?” the friend asks casually.

“Ja man; haa’ man is voo’ die dogte dood. Dit was net sy ennie dogte ennie twie laaities,” the guy with the hoodie replies.

“Julle is mos nou haa adopted family ou broe. Wiet djy daai?” the friend says looking him straight in the face.

“Of course wiet ek daai. My motjie het haa’ ma jonk veloo’ soe miesies Jacobs is n mother figure vi haa’.”

“Hulle het gebond die moment toe ôs daa intrek,” the guy with the hoodie proudly explains.

The train reduces speed as we enter Mutual station where the bulk of commuters leave the carriage.

A vendor enters and immediately goes on the attack.

“Your one stop mobile refreshment shop; always on time,” he announces his arrival.

He glides down the passage with an eagle eye looking for potential customers giving the slightest indication of reaching for their purses.

“Ek agree met jou dat die ouens in die boenste kantore moet hulle act together kry but ôs communities moet mense soes miesies Jacobs embrace. Ôs is selfish en te self-centered. Ôs willie involved raakie. Daai’s mossie ôs se problem ’ie” the friend tells the guy with the hoodie who in turn listens attentively.

“By the way hoe is haa dogte dood?” he asks.

The guy with the hoodie clears his throat, steadies himself and says: “Baie sad storie. ’n Stray bullet van ’n gang fight while sy in ’n taxi ry. Innocent my broe.”

“Ek blaas somma ’n gasket as ek daaraan dink,” he says looking sad and agitated at the same time.

The friend hides his eyes in his right hand and shakes his head in disbelief.

“Sometimes wish ek ’n lightning bolt wil die no-good jongens doodslat ou bra man,” he continues with his eyes still hidden away in his right hand.

“Djy moet bid broe. Moenie pluck veloo nie,” the guy with the hoodie whispers. His friend glances at him in silence. A smile starts to appear on his face.

“Ôs moet begin saam staan irrespective of colour religion creed or class. Only that way gan ôs die criminals van parlemin tot Parkwood beat. Daai’s hulle biggest fear. Ôs is die majority but die criminals wat die minority is rule vi ôs. Does that make sense?” he asks the guy in the hoodie who shakes his head from side to side indicating ‘no not all’.

“Die bra praat die waarheid. Ôs moet minner depend op politicians. Ôs moet ’ie masses mobilise just like in the old days; a united democratic front,” he quietly thinks to himself.

“But wait…” his thoughts continue. “Lat ek gou die motjie remind miesies Jacobs gaan brood bak en vye jam maak net soes my ou girl back in the day”.

***

Urban Dictionary

ekes – An Afrikaans slang word meaning “I say”

hiesa – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “hierso” which means “right here”.

geworried – The Afrikaaps way of saying “worried”.

ees – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “eers” which means “first”.

hoo – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “hoor” which means “hear”.

twie – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “twee” which means “two”.

siewentag – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “sewentig” which means “seventy”.

haa (1) – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “haar” which means “her”.

haa (2) – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “daar” which means “there”.

haai – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “daai” which means “that”. (Haai also happens to be the Afrikaans word for shark.)

ytstiek – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “uitsteek” which means “to be visible” but in Afrikaaps means to “arrive” or “show up”.

dogte – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “dogter” which means “daughter”.

Miesies – The Afrikaaps version of the word “Mrs (missus)”.

laaities – A South African slang word for “children / kids”.

veloo – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “verloor” which means “lose”.

motjie – An Afrikaaps word for “wife”.

jongens – An Afrikaaps word for “guys” usually but not always meant to infer that they are “thugs”.

doodslat – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “doodslaan” which means “beat to death”.

boenste – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “boonste” which means “top / highest / uppermost”.

parlemin – An Afrikaaps way of saiyng“parliament”.

Die ou mense is geworried oor hulle pension. SASSA wag ees vir ’n court ruling.
“The old people are worried about their pension. SASSA is first waiting for court ruling”

Ek hoo’ die move.”
“I hear the move.” (Move meaning the situation/story.)

My neighbour het twie laaities op skool. ’n Ou lady van siewentag, Haa’ dogte is dood ennie laaities is by haa’.”
“My neighbour has two kids on school; an old lady of seventy. Her daughter is dead and the children are with her. ”

Hoe gaan sy maak as haai grant nie ytstiek nie.
“What will she do if that grant does not arrive?”

Daai is ma een example wat ek van wiet. Daa’s duisende soes daai.”
“That is but one example which I know of. There are thousands like that.”

Ek wietie ou bra. As ‘ie gel nie geroof word ‘ie, dan is haa’ ’n problem mettie service provider. Ôs moet ma bid broe.”
“I don’t know old friend. If the money isn’t being robbed, then there is a problem with the service provider. We must just pray brother.”

Ek is al blou gebid al. Dit raak net worse man.”
“I have prayed till I am blue. It only gets worse man.”

Miesies Jacobs kyk na my laaities na skool. Soe kry sy extra income en ôs gie ha mee as wat sy charge, want die laaities slaap somma daa as ek ennie motjie uitgaan en laat terugkom.”
“Mrs Jacobs looks after my kids after school. That way she gets extra income and we give her more than what she charges, because the kids just sleep there if the wife and I go out and come back late.”

Het miesies Jacobs net die een dogte gehet.”
“Did Mrs Jacobs only have the one daughter?”

Ja man; haa’ man is voo’ die dogte dood. Dit was net sy ennie dogte ennie twie laaities.”
“Yes man; her husband passed away before her daughter died. It was just her, the daughter and the children.”

Julle is mos nou haa adopted family ou broe. Wiet djy daai?
“You are after all her adopted family old brother. Do you know that?”

Of course wiet ek daai. My motjie het haa’ ma jonk veloo’ soe miesies Jacobs is ’n mother figure vi haa’.”
“Of course I know that. My wife lost her mother when she was young so Mrs Jacobs was a mother figure for her.”

Hulle het gebond die moment toe ôs daa intrek.
“They bonded the moment we moved in there.”

Ek agree met jou dat die ouens in die boenste kantore moet hulle act together kry but ôs communities moet mense soes miesies Jacobs embrace. Ôs is selfish en te self centered. Ôs willie involved raakie. Daai’s mossie ôs se problem ‘ie.
“I agree with you that the guys in the highest offices must get their act together but our communities must embrace people like Mrs Jacobs. We are selfish and too self-centered. We don’t want to get involved. That is after all not our problem.”

Ek blaas somma ’n gasket as ek daaraan dink.”
“I just about blow a gasket when I think about it.”

Ôs moet begin saam staan irrespective of colour religion creed or class. Only that way gan ôs die criminals van parlemin tot Parkwood beat.
Daai’s hulle biggest fear. Ôs is die majority but die criminals wat die minority is rule vi ôs.”
“We should start standing together irrespective of colour, religion, creed or class. Only that way are we going to beat the criminals from parliament to Parkwood. That is their biggest fear. We are the majority but the criminals who are the minority rule us.”

Die bra praat die waarheid. Ôs moet minner depend op politicians. Ôs moet ‘ie masses mobilise just like in the old days.”
“The brother speakes the truth. We should depend less on politicians. We should mobilise the masses just like in the old days.”

Lat ek gou die motjie remind miesies Jacobs gaan brood bak en vye jam maak net soes my ou girl back in the day.”
“Let me quickly remind the wife that Mrs Jacobs will be baking bread and making fig jam just like my old girl (my mom) back in the day.”

Another Opportunity

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It’s early morning and the train isn’t really in any hurry. It has no desire to make up for the five minutes delay. At Vasco station, with its unique ambience, commuters hurriedly get on board. A lady who looks like she is in her late twenties elegantly walks in and makes her way to the other side of the carriage. She finds herself a space, leans against the chrome frame, crosses her legs and sighs softly. She is dressed in a knee-length skirt, a slim-fit jacket, a white shirt, a fine gold chain with a cross hanging just above her cleavage. She immediately attracts the attention of her fellow passengers. They have a “shouldn’t you rather Uber or at least travel in Metro Plus” look on their faces.

One gentleman in particular shows a keen interest in her and indicates to the guy next to him to keep the space open. “Give me a minute. I’ll be back in a flash,” he says.Without waiting on the reply he jumps up and walks towards the mysterious lady. She stands at a slight angle facing the window.

“Excuse me, sorry to interrupt your thoughts, but you are welcome to use my seat,” he politely offers.

She turns to face him looking surprised as if her thoughts were a million miles away.“Oh thank you; sorry I was lost in my thoughts,” she says with a smile.

“No problem, it’s all good,” he says with a smile, “allow me to usher you to my seat.”

“Thank you again,” she whispers while walking towards the empty seat. As she settles in the guy gets his laptop bag from the overhead shelf and thanks the guy next to her. He glances at her for a second.

I know this chick from somewhere, he thinks while positioning himself against the support pillar.

What a gentleman, they are quite rare, she thinks while crossing her legs.

How am I going to do this now? he contemplates.

The train reduces speed and enters Goodwood station. The guy next to the lady gets up, grabs his bag, and walks towards the door.

The guy leaning against the support pole looks around for a moment and sits in the vacant space next to the lady.

“When you give you shall receive,” he says to her with a pleasant smile referring to the newly vacated seat.

“Oh yes, that was quick too,” she replies smiling back at him.

“Um… I’m Larry by the way,” he introduces himself as he reaches out his hand.

She offers her hand saying, “I’m Jen. Pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise,” he replies not leaving her gaze.

Soft delicate hands, he thinks while slowly letting go of her hand.

“I’m almost sure I know you from somewhere and it’s not my opening line,” he continues still smiling sheepishly.

She looks at him for a few seconds, looks down for a moment and whispers through her deep thoughts, “Larry?” Suddenly she asks a little louder, “Larry who?”

“Larry Johnson,” he replies, his words almost overlapping hers.

She looks down thinking hard and deep.

“And what is your surname?” he asks looking at her shiny curly hair.

“Jenny-Lee Williams,” she answers in an almost uncertain tone, as if he’s not supposed to hear or know it.
His eyes light up and a radiant smile appears in a flash.

“Yes,” he says. “I know you. You’re a pastor’s kid. We were at primary school together more than twenty years ago. Djy’s darem mooi groot nou.”
With a surprised, almost shocked look in her eyes, she manages to smile and look puzzled at the same time.

“I remember you now. Ek wiet djy het my gesmaak, but we were what twelve, thirteen? You came to our house a lot. You were Thomas’ friend I remember, yes,” she explains looking at him, now very composed and calm.

Ek smaak jou somma wee, the thought rushes through his mind.

“But what happened to you? The last time I heard your family had moved to Joburg. That was long ago?” he asks as he quickly gathers his thoughts.

“Yes, I came back to study, got married; divorced with a four year old son,” she explains looking down at her folded hands.

“I’m sorry to hear that,” he responds sympathetically while at the same time thinking: mmm… another opportunity to finally have a bite at the cherry.
He interrupts his own thought by asking: “How are your parents doing? Where is Thomas? What’s he doing with himself?”

“My parents are both retired. Thomas is still in Joburg; married; three kids; very happy. My son is living with my parents while I’m studying part-time.
That’s my life in a nutshell. How about you? What have you been up to?” she asks looking at him, smiling.

“I never married, but I do have a son of seven. Things didn’t work out as planned unfortunately, but life goes on. I’m doing IT; live on my own and basically enjoy life,” he answers in short.

But djy kan ’n weeken’ kô spend, no problem, the thought races through his mind.

“I also live on my own in a security complex. I don’t have much of a social life because of my studies, but I also don’t have much of a social circle. My ex-husband wanted people around him all of the time that cost him our marriage,” she says with a concerned look on her face.

“I’m getting off now. I assume you are going to town. Can I give you my number? Let’s get together, have coffee and chat about things in a more relaxed environment. Would that be fine with you?” he asks and without waiting on her reply he offers his business card.

“Yes sure, Larry. I’ll text you later. Really nice seeing you again,” she assures him.

“Same here Jen; looking forward to hear from you,” he replies looking at her while they gently shake hands as a parting gesture.

Her warm smile confirms that she’ll make contact again. He gets up and walks to the door as the train drastically slows down.

Nogal not bad, she thinks looking at him.

The train stops and a second later the doors open. Larry looks over his shoulder, smiles at Jen and waves her a goodbye.

Is this finally another opportunity to have a bite at the cherry? Most definitely yes, he thinks while dreamily walking towards the subway.

Meanwhile Jen is saving his number on her phone after which she slips the business card into her bag.

***

Urban Dictionary

darem – The Afrikaaps word related to the Afrikaans word
daarom” which means “therefore” but as in this case can
also mean “rather” or “after all”.

wiet – The Afrikaaps version of the Afrikaans word “weet
which means “know”.

smaak – An Afrikaaps word derived from the same Afrikaans word
which means “taste” but in this case it means “to fancy
someone in a romantic way
” or “to have a crush on
someone
”.

somma – The Afrikaaps version of “sommer” which is an
Afrikaans word for “just ” / “rather”/ “out of the blue”.

– The Afrikaaps version of “kom” which is the
Afrikaans word for “come”.

nogal – An Afrikaans word meaning “after all

“Djy’s darem mooi groot nou.”
“You are rather beautifully grownup now.”

“Ek wiet djy het my gesmaak.”
“I know you fancied me.”

“Ek smaak jou somma wee.”
“I have a crush on you out of the blue again.”

“But djy kan ’n weeken’ kô spend, no problem.”
“But you can come spend a weekend, no problem.”

A New Journey

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“The 7h10 train from Strand to Cape Town is delayed due to technical reasons,” the voicemail lady announces.

“Ja, OK tell me something new,” a commuter says in frustration.

“Hulle het niks skaamte,” another voice adds to the choir.

A street kid roaming around stops at the guy who has just raised his opinion and asks: “Het pa nie n twie ran’nie? Ek wil ’n brood koep asseblief.”

He looks at the kid; assesses him with a keen eye and says: “Wie’s jou pa? Wa’s jou pa en ma? Moet djy nie innie skool wiesie?”

The kid changes his approach: “My pa is dood uncle. My ma is ’n alcky.”

“Djy moet ’n ouma het of ’n uncle; broes en sistes. Wa’s jou family?” the guy enquires with the voice of a policeman.

“Hulle is in ’n home uncle. My family het getrek plaas toe. Ek wiettie waa’ nie,” the kid answers, looking sincere and honest.

“Nou waa’ bly djy?” the guy asks in a softer voice.

“Onne die brug hie’ oppie stasie uncle,” the kid replies standing with his arms folded behind his back.

“Nou hoekom issit die eeste kee’ wat ek jou sien?” the guy asks his stern voice back in action.

“Nie uncle, ek bly net drie dae hie. Was ees op Tygerberg stasie but hulle wil hê ek moet glue sniff en dagga roek. Ek prefer ma om op my own te survive,” the kid says with a shy honest look on his face.

The guy looks at him with a thousand questions in his eyes.

He turns to the gentleman standing next to him asking: “Do you think this kid is for real?”

The gentleman in his early thirties with his eyes fixed on the kid takes his time to answer but eventually says: “My gut feeling says yes but at this age they have mastered the craft of manipulation, so I’m not sure. I guess one has to discern.”

The kid’s eyes are cast towards a pair of battered trainers with the popular symbol hardly visible. His jeans have seen better days.

“I would like to attend school again and do my matric, but the home had no space for me. The social worker placed me with a family that I don’t know and I was treated like a stranger. Their dog got better treatment, that’s why I decided it’s better on the streets.”

“I’ll survive. It’s tough out here uncle but I’ll survive,” the kid explains in fluent English taking the two men aback. They seem blown away.

They stare at him with wide eyes in total disbelief.

“How old are you boy?” the gentleman in his early thirties asks.

“I’m thirteen years old uncle. I passed grade eight but can’t continue.”

The train’s siren sounds in the distance. The five minutes delay felt like forever. The two guys’ eyes are still fixed on the thirteen year old street kid.

“What do you think?” the guy asks his friend.

“I think this is worth pursuing. This boy deserves another chance,” the gentleman says still looking at the kid.

“Listen boy, I think you have to come with us. Let’s see what we can do. I’m not making any promises but it’s worth a try. What do you think?” the guy with the policeman’s voice says, but this time a little softer with a tone of compassion.

“My name is David uncle. Yes I can go with you. I’m hungry and dirty and I need a good sleep. Thank you uncles,” the kid says in a soft voice that’s hardly audible.

The train comes to a squealing halt almost in agony. David and his new friends get on board. The carriage is crowded and stuffy.

“My laaitie is nou dêtien met allie opportunities en boenop messed up gespoil. Ek dink die laaitie deserve ’n kans,” the guy with the policeman’s voice says to his friend who nods in agreement.

The train picks up speed as if it realises that it’s been delayed.
For someone a new journey has just begun.

***

Urban Dictionary

skaamte – The Afrikaans word from the word “skaam” which means “shame”.

ran’ – Pronounced “run”, it is the Afrikaaps version of “rand” which is our South African currency.

wiesie – The Afrikaaps version of “wees nie” which is Afrikaans for “not be”.

alcky – A slang word meaning “alcoholic”.

wiettie – The Afrikaaps version of “weet nie” which is Afrikaans for “know not”.

dêtien – The Afrikaaps version of “dertien” which is the Afrikaans word for “thirteen”.

boenop – An Afrikaaps word meaning “on top of” or “over and above or “added to that”.

“Hulle het niks skaamte.”
“They have no shame.”

“Het pa nie n twie ran’ nie? Ek wil ’n brood koep asseblief.”
“Does dad not have a two rand? I want to buy [a loaf of] bread please.”

“Wie’s jou pa? Wa’s jou pa en ma? Moet djy nie innie skool wiesie?”
“Who’s your dad? (Asked sarcastically) Where’s your dad and [your] mom? Should you not be in school? ”

“My pa is dood uncle. My ma is ’n alcky.”
“My dad is dead uncle. My mom is an alcoholic.”

“Djy moet ’n ouma het of ’n uncle; broes en sistes. Wa’s jou family?”
“You must have a grandmother or an uncle; brothers and sisters. Where’s your family?”

“Hulle is in ’n home uncle. My family het getrek plaas toe. Ek wiettie waa’ nie.”
“They are in a [children’s] home uncle. My family have moved to a farm. I don’t know where.”

“Nou waa’ bly djy?”
“Now where do you stay?”

“Onne die brug hie’ oppie stasie uncle.”
“Under the bridge here on the station uncle.”

“Nou hoekom issit die eeste kee’wat ek jou sien?”
“Now why is it the first time that I see you?”

“Nie uncle, ek bly net drie dae hie. Was ees op Tygerberg stasie but hulle wil hê ek moet glue sniff en dagga roek. Ek prefer ma om op my own te survive.”

“No uncle, I am only staying here for three days. At first I was on Tygerberg station but they want me to sniff glue and smoke dagga. I prefer to rather survive on my own.”

“My laaitie is nou dêtien met allie opportunities en boenop messed up gespoil. Ek dink die laaitie deserve ’n kans.”
“My kid is now thirteen with all the opportunities and on top of that, [he is] messed up from being spoiled. I think this kid deserves a chance.”