Sbu’s uncle took them for lunch at the Manhattan Café, a local take-away that sold snacks and magazines. Airtime, Sbu and Uncle Mandla sat around the one small table inside. Airtime ordered a hamburger, and Mandla had a steak and kidney pie. Sbu wasn’t hungry, but he had a plate of chips after his uncle insisted.

“The last time I saw you, you must have been five years old,” Mandla said. “Look at you now. You’re a man.”

“Almost,” said Sbu. “I haven’t gone to the bush yet.”

Sbu didn’t remember very much about his uncle. He knew that Mandla and his father had been very close, and he remembered his uncle coming to visit every weekend and bringing sweets for him and his sister. Then his uncle had gone to Johannesburg, and Sbu hadn’t heard of him since.

“How come you’re in Cape Town?” he asked.

“Family, of course!” said Mandla. “But the timing couldn’t be better. I’m setting up a new branch of my company here.”

“You have a company?” asked Airtime, impressed.

Mandla waved a hand dismissively. “It’s nothing,” he said. “Just a second-hand goods business.”

“Have you spoken to my parents yet? Do they know you’re back?” asked Sbu.

“Not yet,” said Mandla. “I want to surprise them. I’m going to open up my business and invite them to the launch. Which reminds me. I’ve got a lot of setting up to do. Do you know anyone good at computers? I can pay.”

Sbu and Airtime looked at each other.

“I think I know the perfect person for you,” said Sbu.

Image: David Stockwell, CC-BY-NC

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have you ever done a part-time job? What did you do? What was it like?