Streets are never empty. People shouting, grabbing one another by the scruff of the neck or just laughing the day away. Teens sitting the day away on road pavements. Everyone is running, to or from something in this place. I am running as well.
I packed my bag and bid my study mates goodbye, “Tomorrow majita!”
I tightened the strips of my backpack. I kneeled and tied my shoelaces. I looked up ahead to the pitch black night. I made it out of the squawking, partially rusted school gate. I started running.
To survive in this place, one needs to keep running. The cold land breeze brushed my cheeks as I picked up the pace.
I have always dreamt of being a doctor and the midyear exams were close at hand. Nailing them would’ve earned me a place in University. In our own way, we were running.
Everyone in Georgedale is running, to or from something. It was around seven o’clock, too dark for eyes to see. One really felt the need for streetlights.
I was doing my best to avoid paths and darker passages, I didn’t want my path to cross with that of amaphara – the hooligans.
Left-right, left-right my feet tapped the ground. The less noise they made, the faster I knew I was running.
While I was thinking to the rhythm of my feet hitting the ground passing by the bus stop, I heard a high-pitched voice screaming repeatedly and louder with every step I took, “Help!”
As I slowed down, three men in dark hoodies were circling an older woman, perhaps in her forties. It was too late to turn back, they’d seen me. For my life, I started running. That moment I wished I was deaf. As I blasted past the scene, she screamed louder, “Help me, my boy!”
It wasn’t the first time I experienced that dilemma. The first time, I tried to help but I ended with a bruised face and breathing through my wound! However, the second time felt different. I can never be sure of what happened but as I passed, one guy had a knife on the woman’s neck. The second one was all over her and the third scouting the surroundings.
I couldn’t identify who those guys were, partly because I was running away and it was dark. The guy with the knife was wearing white sneakers, with three black stripes.
“Run along boy!” the third one pointed at me.
I wasn’t too far away when I heard a chocking sound, this time the guy with the knife was leaning down as the body lying down was shaking vigorously. I knew what was going on.
When I got home, I got in the kitchen and mother was still cooking. I went to our bedroom and took off my clothes. As I leaned down to untie my shoelaces, my heart kept racing. I placed the shoes under the wardrobe. I looked all over the room but my white sneakers with three, black stripes weren’t there.
“Mom, have you seen my white sneakers?”
“No,” she kept staring at the pot, “Maybe your big brother wore them.”
Before I could say anything, the kitchen door swung open and my father appeared from the dark. Mother left the pot and walked towards father, “What going on, Khabazela?”
“Just as I got out of the bus, we saw a woman lying down bleeding. She had been stabbed and I am going to run there to help where I can!”
He threw his bag on the floor and the door banged behind him. We looked at each other with certainty. I went back to our room, took out my workbooks and resumed chasing my goal.
Everyone is running, to or from something. In my own way, I am running.