The first discrimination towards Sipho that he took note of was when some local vagabonds started calling him names and mocking him in public.
“Daai een is a twin-plug stay away from him majita,” they would say in a mixture of English, Afrikaans and a bit of all the other African languages. It was their streetwise dialect, a jargon that measured your street savvy. If you don’t understand, jy is a moegoe, finish and klaar.
Some even went a step further and physically challenged Sipho. When he defeated them bare handedly they drew their knives and ganged up on him. “Real men” are cowards when weaponless but powerful when equipped with a knife and a gang.
“He only defeated me because he has two powers, that of a man and that of a woman,” they tell each other.
When he tried befriending them they pushed him away and said he was cramping their style. It was as if he had a contagious disease that will kill them all if they talked to him. They hated him with an acidic passion without any root or reason that he was aware of.
He felt alienated and small. Suicide became a constant thought that seductively tried to lure him to the other side of life. Maybe it was better that side, people were not judged and criticized—they just “rest in peace”. And that’s what he needed: peace…
The second incident was when he came home one afternoon, his lips smeared with crimson-red lip-stick. On seeing him his father went berserk. He charged towards him like a bull whose horns have been stricken by lightning and he grabbed him by the collar.
Tightening his grip so he couldn’t break free, he slapped him repeatedly until Sipho lost all consciousness and the world went black as death. The only sounds he could hear were those of his parents arguing. His mother’s calm voice sweet and soft like a whispering wind argued with reason.
“You had no right to do that… absolutely no right,”
His father’s voice was rough as if he had swallowed a barbed-wire and it roared with anger like a lion that is being scolded for killing a buck.
“How dare you say that to me? I am the man of this house. He is my son, not my daughter…” he responded with a fury of flames that threatened to burn at the slightest provocation.
She silenced herself knowing that trying to argue with him was a futile thing to do. When angry he was a block of bricks nobody could go through, not even his wife. Her silence seemed to urge him on to a more violent outburst.
“Are these your teachings? You influenced my boy to be a girl, huh?” he admonished, making it sound more of a statement than a question.
In his black world of pains, Sipho thought, if only he knew what effect his absence had on me, he would’ve understood. Or maybe if he knew that the lip stick on my mouth was from kissing my girlfriend and was over-smeared deliberately so that he could see I was a straight, heterosexual guy. Only if he had given me time to explain…
All Sipho wanted was for his father to acknowledge him as a different man with a different life from his. But the father wanted a replica of his younger self, a son that would fulfill all the dreams he couldn’t fulfill.
Later on, Sipho’s elder brother came home, after days of not sleeping home, only God knows where he slept. The other thing about him was that he was truly troublesome and a hot-head known to be a real ladies man.
Oh! Yes he was a ladies man… he had impregnated two girls at the age of twenty and had spent three-years behind bars for rape. Still yet, he was a real man and was their father’s most praised son; the golden boy.
You can only imagine Sipho’s anger later on, when he overheard his father narrating the occurrences of earlier on to his golden boy. With pride in his voice he said, “I beat the lights out of him…he knows me by now.” They both roared heartily with laughter.
Foolish men, chained to conservative foolish beliefs of ancient times, Sipho thought to himself laughing away the anger of being misunderstood for his differences.
“I am more of a man than both of them,” he laughed out aloud.
Tell us what you think: What is the one misconception that people have about you? How do you deal with it?