The South African sun rests on my face as I step out of the car. I step on the ground of good quality education and pure bliss. The air here is different, it’s more liberating. It’s the air of success.
I offload my luggage from the boot and wave goodbye to the Uber driver. I have never seen so many white people in one place. I spot some sitting on the staircase near the entrance, others rest underneath a tree not far from where I stand.
The building is large. I will get lost on my own. I need to ask for directions to the dorm.
I have never spoken to a white person before so I decide to question the first black person I see. A young dark-skinned girl dressed in a yellow dress.
“Hello,” I greet, “can you please direct me to the dorms?”
She flashes her teeth with a smile and says, “Go straight and turn to your left. You’ll see the reception area and you can ask for your dorm room number.”
“Thank you, so much!”
The people that I encounter do not fit the description of promiscuous or drug addicts.
I knock on a door, which the receptionist directed me to. A loud blaring sound almost damages my hearing when a light-skinned girl with short hair opens the door, a cigarette between her lips.
I let out a cough before saying, “hello, my name is Rufaro Nhamo. This is my dorm room.”
“Yeah, sure, come in. I’m your roommate,” the girl remarks as she opens the door wider, giving me access into the room.
I reluctantly enter. There are papers strewn on the floor and the stench of weed meets my nose. A shirtless man is lying on the bed, he turns his head when I clear my throat.
“Ekse, who are you?” the man asks, squinting his reddened eyes.
“Babe, meet my new roommate. Her name is Rufa…”
“My name is Rufaro,” I offer help in pronouncing my name.
He rises from the bed and stands before me.
He is a few inches taller than I am. His complexion is slightly darker than mine. Black is beautiful, I recall my aunt’s voice reassure me whenever I seemed to admire the beauty of light-skinned girls, completely oblivious of my beauty. This guy too would have been a dark beauty, were it not for the ugly scar that crosses his left eye.
“Where are you from?” the dark man asks.
“I’m from Zimbabwe,” I reply.
I inwardly pray that my discomfort isn’t written on my face or evident in my throaty voice.
“Okay cool, you don’t mind me visiting my cherry, right?” he questions, “I’m Tshepo and my cherry is Lesego.”
Cherry. That term. Is it meant to be a romantic gesture? Tino always calls me a cupcake.
“Make yourself at home, roomie. I will be back soon,” Lerato says as she and Tshepo leave the room.
I take my cell phone from my handbag and type a WhatsApp message to my aunt Tinashe.
Me: Good afternoon aunty. I’ve arrived at the University. Please tell Gogo that I love her.
She responds within seconds.
Aunt Tinashe: Hwl my baby. I’m glad to hear that. Have you settled yet?
Have I settled in yet? Do I tell my aunt that my roommate smokes weed and that her boyfriend’s stare gives me goosebumps?
My roommate is a friendly aunty. I think that I’m going to enjoy my stay.
I switch my phone off and throw myself on the bed.
“UCT is one of the best universities in the country. Are you a rich kid?” Lesego asks me when she returns from escorting her boyfriend.
“I am on the Mastercard Foundation Scholarship,” I said.
“I am glad to be sharing a room with a brainiac.”
No one has ever called me that before.
“Which course will you be studying?” she’s trying to make conversation.
“Amazing. I have a friend who is studying Mechanical engineering, Reabetswe. I will connect you with her and maybe you could study together,” she reaches out into pocket and takes out a cell phone, “give me your phone number.”
“I don’t have a South African cell number yet. I will have to get a local sim card.”
“That’s not a big deal, I have a sim card in my drawer. You’ll need to go to Pep to Rica it.”
Tell us: What do you think will happen next?