Archive for the ‘Metrorail Mondays’ Category

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.”

Remembering Differently

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“Hello Candice… I’m going to be a bit late because of the trains being delayed… Yes tell me about it… OK see you later,” a lady speaks into her mobile and then hangs up.

She flicks her wrist and takes a quick glance at her watch.“I don’t believe it,” she whispers. The phone disappears into her bag.

Two guys aged about twenty five walk towards her, smile and politely greet: “Good morning Lucy,” almost simultaneously.

She smiles and responds with a: “Hi, morning guys.”

“Fancy seeing you here,” the stocky built guy says.

“Ah well that’s life; never a dull moment,” she replies glancing at her watch again.

“Why do you look so on edge?” the skinnier of the two guys enquires.

“I haven’t travelled by train in ages. My lift is not available today. I considered Uber but my budget is depleted; you know how it goes,” she explains looking a little agitated.

“Ah relax gal; take it in your stride. My motto is less stress is best,” the skinny guy teases.

“It’s easy for you to say. I’m never late. I don’t like being late. It feels as if I’m stealing something,” Lucy explains with a stern face.

“Oh come on guys, let’s chill. There’s nothing we can do to change the situation. Joost passed away. The price of petrol went up. Putin is bombing Ukraine and it’s all out of our control,” the stocky guy interjects.

Lucy smiles for a moment then says almost in a whisper, “I grew up being a big Joost van der Merwe fan.”

The guys look at her; they giggle for a moment, then the stocky guy says through his giggles: “You mean Joost van der Westhuizen Lucy, right?”

“Oh yes, that’s right. Why was I saying van der Merwe,” she snaps shaking her head in disbelief.

“Why a Joost fan?” the skinny guy asks.

She smiles for a moment. “Oh, he was an athlete, a great rugby player, a fighter and he was very good looking,” she answers.

“But hysie ees van ôsse mense nie!” the skinny guy exclaims.

With a surprised look in her eyes Lucy glares at him, for a moment forgetting to look at her watch.

“And what is that supposed to mean? The guy is South African,” she calmly replies almost asking.

“You know what I mean. He comes from a privileged background; specifically Apartheid South Africa,” the skinny guy argues pulling up his shoulders.
“Yes that’s right,” the stocky guy adds.

Lucy looks at them in disbelief.

She looks at her watch, looks up in the air and rolls her eyes as the movement of her lips suggest she’s saying: “Oh my goodness”.

The guys’ eyes are fixed on her, patiently waiting on her response. She takes a deep breath, sighs and starts by saying: “My son attends a Model C school and he’s sport crazy. He doesn’t understand the old South Africa. He is completely colour-blind.”

“At his eighth birthday party last year, we had a multi-colour, multi-culture, multi-racial party with about twenty kids. They ate, played and had fun without any incidents except for the odd spilling of beverages and popcorn.”

“It’s the responsibility of their parents to explain the history of our country to their kids but it was my responsibility to look at them with post-apartheid eyes and be a good host.”

“Those kids represent the new South Africa and hopefully it would be them who will steer this country into the right direction in terms of equality and a better future for all.”

“This generation of leaders just don’t cut it, but before I go too deep into politics, let me stop right there.”

“Yes, Joost was my hero because my brother and my family were rugby crazy and he had a poster of the 1995 World Cup squad pinned on his wall.”

“The challenge facing us is how we will be remembered. What legacy did we leave behind? How did our lives impact society?”

Without waiting for a reply or explanation from them, she looks at her watch and says: “Sure enough, I even remember being late for school at times when travelling by train.”

***

Urban Dictionary

hysie – The Afrikaaps version of “hy is nie” which is Afrikaans for “he is not”.

ees – The Afrikaaps version of “eens” which is Afrikaans for “once” or as in this case “even”.

ôsse – The Afrikaaps version of “ons se” which is Afrikaans for “our”.

“But hysie ees van ôsse mense nie!”
“But he is not even (one) of our people!”

A Scary Act

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It’s a sunny windless morning outside. Inside the train the smell of perfume and cologne overwhelm the senses; each one has its own character and charm.

“Wat klap soe?” a guy asks a group of three friends as the train makes its way to the next station.

“It staan soe,” a guy from the group replies.

“Hosh,” the first guy replies.

“Gaan ôs soe dala my ma se kin?” another guy asks.

“Aweh ôs staan op haai nomme. ’n Man moet ’n kroon kyk, of wat sê die broese?” another guy in the group interjects, looking at the rest of the group.

“Sounds like a robbery,” a young guy says to his friend as they hide their phones simultaneously.

His friend next to him has a worried look on his face as he whispers, “But they don’t look the part bra.”

“You never know. Crime has no identity,” the young guy whispers almost inaudibly.

The tension is clearly visible.

“I think I’m gonna move to the next carriage bra,” his friend whispers.

“Don’t make a sudden move. Predators react harshly,” the young guy advises his friend, looking at him, trying hard to control his own anxiety.

Goodwood station is windy as the train comes to a halt and the doors separate.

“Manskap vang ’n pos; Google ’ie vyfster om te sê. ’n Man is illegal oppie waentjie,” a taller guy in the group commands another guy in the group.

“Saloet,” the guy replies looking out the carriage door, scanning the platform from left to right.

“Hoe lyk hulle?” the taller guy enquires moments before the door shuts.

“Nomme ma se kin,” the guy at the door replies.

Meanwhile the two young guys are trying hard to remain composed.

“I told you we should have slipped out now,” the one friend reprimands the other.

“Wait, we are almost there,” the young guy calms his friend. “Just two more stations,” he adds.

“Could be two stations too many bra,” the friends shoots back.

“Don’t worry. Just take it easy man,” the young guy replies in a controlled voice.

“Die nomme maak vol,” one of the guys in the group of four says to the rest.

“Sonop manskap; ôs staan soe,” another guy agrees.

“’n Man is afbiene djy kô kry. Soe om te sê, hoe gan ôs vistêk? Ek kyk ’ie afdraend. Respek manskap,” the taller guy in the group explains to the group.

“Bra this is becoming too much now. At the next station I’m out of here. These guys are up to no good,” the guy tells his friend looking agitated.

Commuters are paying no attention; either reading the paper or busy having their own conversations.

“Just relax bra. If they really had bad intensions they would have made their move a long time ago,” the young guy tries to put his friend at ease.

“You sound very sure of yourself,” the friend replies.

They look at it each other for a moment; trying to find assurance in each other’s eyes.

“Eksê cat, wa staan ’ie jumpers nou?” the tall guy in the group asks one of the young guys.

For a few moments he’s flabbergasted, looking at his friend.

“The time you!” his young friend nudges him but he’s too nervous to utter a word.

“Oh!” he says.

“Ten minutes to eight,” his friend replies on his behalf, coming to his rescue.

“Saloet ma se kin,” the tall guy says almost smiling.

The young guy just nods, at the same time with a stern look at his friend says: “You must relax. You’re gonna wet your pants.”

“Easy for you to say,” the friend replies.

“Het djy daai pyp op jou manskap?” a guy in the group asks the tall guy as three pairs of eyes look at him without a wink.

He hesitates for a moment.

Some of the commuters look up from their newspapers and phones.

“What did he say now?” the anxious guy asks his friend.
From the look on his face time just came to a standstill. His eyes are now fixed on the tall guy.

The tall guy looks at the rest of the group then slowly replies: “’n Man het ’ie pyp oppie set gelos met ’ie laaste scene waa’ ’n man mos inloep by rai take-aways om ’n skoot af te haal djy kry.”

“Aweh, ek kry hai nomme,” another guy in the group replies.

The young guy suddenly bursts out laughing while his friend looks at him completely confused.

“What? What?” the friend asks whilst the young guy struggles to compose himself.
After a little while he says: “These guys are extras in a movie. They are not real gangsters. I told you to relax. Just ask them.”

The group of four simultaneously burst out laughing with the tall guy asking: “Het djy gedink ôs is gangsters? Naai man, ôs act in ’n movie as gangsters; no ways bra.”

The rest of the group can’t stop giggling.

The anxious guy lets out a deep sigh of relief and adds: “I was worried about my laptop and iPhone.”

Salt River station is overcast; still humid with no sign of rain.

***

Urban Dictionary

hosh – Cape Flats Gangster term. It is used as a greeting as well as an affirmation as in: Yes, I Agree.

nomme – Cape Flats Gangster term from the Afrikaans word “nommer” which means “number”. In this case it means “the plan” or “the situation”.

kroon – An Afrikaaps term from the Afrikaans word for “crown” meaning “money” and it originates from when South Africa was a British colony and ‘the crown’ was on the currency which was British Pounds.

dala – Cape Flats Gangster term meaning “do what you need to do”.

manskap – Cape Flats Gangster term from an Afrikaans word that means “comrade” or “a soldier who reports to you”.

sonop – Cape Flats Gangster term from the Afrikaans word that means “sunrise” and it is a symbol of the 26 Numbers gang. It is said as an affirmation.

afbiene – An Afrikaans slang word also said as “afbene” which from Afrikaans translates to your “legs are off”. You are “legless” meaning you are “broke”.

vistêk – The Afrikaaps word for “versterk” which is the Afrikaans word for “strengthen”. In this case it is a Cape Flats Gangster term for getting money.

vyfstêr – An Afrikaans slang word originally meaning “five star” which made the analogy that “prison is a hotel” but later evolved to also mean as in this case “police officer” as well as “prison warden, police station and prison”.

jumpers – A South African slang word meaning “time”or “hands of time” from English “jumpers” because the hands on a clock jump from one marking on the clock to the next.

pyp – An Afrikaans slang word for a “gun” from the standard Afrikaans word also “pyp” which in English is a “pipe”.

Wat klap soe?
“What is happening?”

It staan soe.
“Things are going as intended.”

Gaan ôs soe dala my ma se kin?
“Are we going to do as we must my mother’s child? ”

Aweh ôs staan op haai nomme. ’n Man moet ’n kroon kyk, of wat sê die broese.”
“Yes, we stick to (stand by) our plan. A man must find money, or what do you say brothers?”

Manskap vang ’n pos; Google ’ie vyfster om te sê. ’n Man is illegal oppie waentjie.
“Soldier, you have to be on guard; Look out for the police I mean to say. I am illegally on this train.”

’n Man is afbiene djy kô kry. Soe om te sê, hoe gan ôs vistêk? Ek kyk ’ie afdraend. Respek manskap.
“I am broke you see. I mean to say, how are we going to make money? I see the downhill. Respect comrades.”

Eksê cat, wa staan ’ie jumpers nou?
“I say cat, where do the hands of time stand now?”

Het djy daai pyp op jou manskap?
“Do you have the gun on you comrade?”

’n Man het ’ie pyp oppie set gelos met ’ie laaste scene waa’ ’n man mos inloep by rai take-aways om ’n skoot af te haal djy kry.
“I had left the gun on the set with that last scene where I actually walked into the take-away to fire a few shots you see.”

The Recommitment

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A man in his late thirties looks asleep in the corner with his head resting on his bag. Every so often his eyelids flutter. Another day; another dollar, he thinks as he almost falls into a deep sleep.

Why is Keeanu in jail for peddling drugs while I’m doing my best, working my butt off in order for my kids to have a better future? Where did I go wrong? His thoughts start rushing through his mind again. His face cringes for a second.

The motion of the train causes his head to move in a steady rhythm, as if it is trying to put him at ease like a mother singing a lullaby to a restless child.

I should have disciplined him; been more strict and tough on him, but children have rights today… rights which disempower us as parents. Look at what it brought to my house; shame and heartache.

Ek moen net my voet neegesirret.

He sighs and chews on something that’s non-existent. He makes his head more comfortable, wishing that the train ride could just go on forever. His thoughts are momentarily disturbed by the voice of a boisterous vendor.

“Nuwe jaa’; nuwe resolutions. Julle kry ‘n kramp vi’ Trump. Puma te expensive; blame vi’ Zuma, but Marvellous Miley issie ou mettie bargains!”

Some commuters stare at him with a look of ‘watte-nonsens-praat-die-man?’ while others support him gladly while smilingly shaking their heads, amused at his sales technique.

But Beryl warned me about this kid with the flashy lifestyle; always looking good driving the latest model car at 22 years old. Why didn’t I become suspicious? Why didn’t I enquire, ask more questions? I got fooled by his innocent face and good manners. His thoughts rush again.

But wait… I can’t blame him. I must take it on the chin. I’m drinking too much over weekends, neglecting my wife and children. Keeanu needed me; wanted my attention. We used to do everything together. Fishing, hiking, private jobs, what happened? Who and what took his place?

His eyelids become soggy. Tears threaten to exit his eyes.

Alcohol and drunkards took his place; from Friday till Sunday. I saw the questions in his eyes but I was too intoxicated to do anything. Too self-centred; selfish; you have a problem Greg, he tells himself.

Djy is ’n nwata, ’n loser. Djy is siek. Djy syp tewyl jou laaitie jou makee. Nai man ou Greg man, he harshly tells himself as a tear ends up on his hands folded on his lap.

Oh Lord help me. I need to save Kim from that flashy boy’s claws. I can’t lose her; No not Kim, the apple of my eye; My ienagste meisiekin’. Thank God Beryl is holding on; since high school, the only love of my life.

Tears are softly rolling down his cheeks. His left hand wipes them away. His eyes remain closed; looking deep into his soul. The train slows down as we reach Salt River station. The train driver applies the brakes a few metres away from the platform.

This is where I get off. I’ve had enough; family first from now on, the way it used to be, Greg tells himself as he opens his eyes to a new beginning.

***

Urban Dictionary

neegesirret – The Afrikaaps word for “neergesit het” which is the Afrikaans term “have / had put down”.

kramp – An Afrikaans which is pronounced like “krump” and means “cramp”.

nwata – An Afrikaaps word meaning something that is “fake / not up to standard / of poor quality / weak” or it refers to “someone who does not live up to expectations” or someone who is a “flake”, who is “flaky” or “weak among their peers” or “having no backbone”.

syp – The Afrikaaps word for “suip” which is the Afrikaans word for “drink heavily”.

make – An Afrikaaps word for “makeer” which in Afrikaans means “need” or other cases means“the matter”.

ienagste – The Afrikaaps version of “enigste” which is the Afrikaans word for “only”.

meisiekin – The Afrikaaps version of “meisiekind” which is the Afrikaans word for “girl / daughter”.

“Nuwe jaa’; nuwe resolutions. Julle kry ‘n kramp vi’ Trump. Puma te expensive; blame vi’ Zuma, but Marvellous Miley issie ou mettie bargains!”
“New year; new resolutions. You are getting a cramp for Trump. Puma too expensive; blame Zuma, but Marvellous Miley is the guy with the bargains.”

“Djy is ’n nwata, ’n loser. Djy is siek. Djy syp tewyl jou laaitie jou makee’. Nai man ou Greg man.”
“You are a flake, a loser. You are sick. You drink heavily while your child needs you. No man, old Greg man.”

Keeping the Promise

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The carriage is a bit crowded as we enter. The train is on time. Is this a fresh start with new intentions for 2017? Would this be maintained?

“Ek is nogal ’n bietjie laat,” a lady says to the commuter next to her. In return she just nods and smiles politely. The train gains momentum; stretches its legs almost suggesting: Today I’m gonna be on time.

The lady continues: “Ek soek plek vi’ my klonkie. Die skole is vol. Ek haloep al heel wiek ron,” looking affectionately at her son of about nine years old. With a shy glance he looks around puts his hands in his pockets and leans against his mother. She places her hand on the side of his face and pulls him closer.

This seems to have triggered the interest of the lady next to her and she responds by saying. “Ek het net soe gesukkel met my kind. Gelukkag het ek haar ingekry, maa’ hulle is ampe’ veetag in ’n klas.” The eyes of the lady holding her son widens at hearing that.

“O gonna Piet, my good lord!” she exclaims.

“Ja die skool is twie teachers short maa’ hulle is innie process om die situation te address,” the lady explains.

“Ek het laasjaa’ apply maa’ hulle lat nou wiet die skool is vol. Die klong moet nou van voo’ af nuwe vrinne maak en aan alles gewoon raak,” the mother explains while affectionately caressing the boy’s cheek. She looks at him and whispers to him: “You’ll survive, hey boy?” Without looking up he nods approvingly.

The mother continues: “Die principal sê hulle gaan plek maak, maa’ nog niks lat wiettie. Ek kan mossie die kind by die huis hou, niks doen, my arms vou, en vi’ hulle waggie,” she says with concern in her voice.

At Mutual station commuters gather at the door waiting for the train to come to a halt. A man looks at his watch for a moment. A wry smile appears on his face. Did the watch smile at him first?

“Mommy are we getting off at the next station?” the boy softly asks his mom.

“Yes my boy,” the mother replies.

The lady next to her looks at him; smiles and says: “Shame he’s a sweet boy, hulle moenie soe met hom maakkie.”

He looks at the lady for a moment; she smiles, but he quickly shifts his eyes to his mother.

“Yes, he’s clever too. I’m positive that he’ll be fine. It’s a pity I can’t have him in a private school because he’s dedicated to his schoolwork and the results show. I just trust things will work out fine,” the mother says with pride. She then adds: “For a single mother of three kids, things are a bit tough sometimes.”

The boy almost gets onto his mother’s lap, puts his arm around her and whispers: “Before daddy closed his eyes, he made me promise him that I’ll look after you one day.”

The two ladies’ jaws drop almost simultaneously. They look at the boy in total disbelief.

Both, at the same time open up their handbags, each grabbing a tissue to wipe away the tears.

The boy looks through the train’s window with an ‘I’m-gonna-do-this’ look on his face.

The smog hangs low over the station as we enter; the aftermath of the fires on the Table…but the sun is silently shining through.

***

Urban Dictionary

klonkie – The Afrikaans word for “little boy”. It is the diminutive form of “klong” which is a word for boy originating from the time slavery at the Cape. It presumably comes from “klein jong” with “jong” being a “young male”. Though derogative in origins, it is now used affectionately.

haloep – The Afrikaaps word for “hardloop” which is the Afrikaans word for “run”.

wiek – The Afrikaaps word for “week” which has the same meaning in Afrikaans and English.

ron – The Afrikaaps word for “rond” which is the Afrikaans word for “round /around”.

veetag – The Afrikaaps word for “veertig” which is the Afrikaans word for “forty (40)”.

laasjaa – The Afrikaaps word for “laasjaar” which is the Afrikaans word for “last year”.

vrinne – The Afrikaaps version of “vriende” which is the Afrikaans word for “friends”.