“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.
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.”