“Keep up with Mama,” our big brother shouts quietly. Mama leads the way. She knows how to get to the other side of the fence. I follow my big sister, and my small brother is behind me. My big brother is behind all of us. We walk in a line just like the cars on TV that carry important people. Papa is not with us. We always find him on the other side.
“We have to go down here,” Mama whispers while holding the fence so that we can go through.
“Askies, lemme go first!” my big brother volunteers. He likes doing scary things before us so that we know it is safe. He crawls with his elbows and knees like my small brother did before he learned how to walk; bent over like the table in our living room. The soil is not red; it looks like Papa’s old car that stays in the rain a lot. I don’t want to touch the soil, because it will make my Christmas clothes dirty. My older brother holds the fence for Mama when it is her turn to cross.
I always miss Papa, because he never comes with us this way. He always goes to the big gate; where there are people who do not laugh. Mama says they take the book and they write things on it so that you can go to the other side.
“We will go with Papa when we get our own passports, don’t worry,” she says.
I don’t like crossing the big fence through a hole. I am scared of the soldiers, because they always have guns. They can stop us and ask questions in Portuguese. I do not understand the questions, but Mama always explains to us. Mama always tells us how to give answers to the soldiers.
“Onde você vai?”
“We are going back to school in South Africa.”
“De onde você está vindo?”
“We were visiting our grandparents in Mozambique to spend Christmas with them.”
I am always ready with my answers. I always practice. Mama always begs for the soldiers to let us go.
“They don’t have passports,” she tells them in Portuguese. Most times she gives them money for cold drinks and they let us go. It is always scary, and sometimes my older sister cries.
I am glad that we are getting closer to home, but the clouds cover the sky and become darker. It starts raining and Mama holds my small brother’s hands as we cross the road to hide in a spaza shop.
“I’m feeling cold!” My older sister says. Her teeth chatter as she speaks and it sounds like someone is knocking on a window with a R1 coin. Her skin has goosebumps and looks like the skin of a chicken.
“We’ll get a taxi soon and go home, hang in there,” Mama tells my sister, but I do not see any taxis when I look at the street. I only see water flowing just like it flows on the ground at home when I leave the tap open.
“Here’s one! Come quick!” Mama shouts. The taxi is warm. People look at us a lot when we get in, but they don’t say anything. Mama and Papa always want us to visit our grandparents even when it is scary and tiring. I love seeing my grandma, she is funny and she gives me a lot of food. I will always visit her every time, even when I get old like Mama and papa. Even when I get tired or scared I will always cross the big fence.