I’m still feeling upset about being dropped from Streetskillz when I reach home, a small corrugated iron house that I share with my mother. I pour Ronaldo some water, and leave the little dog sitting happily in his fruit crate kennel.
I stop speechless as I step into the house – there inside is the Professor.
“And this is my eldest,” my mother says. “Look my boy, an old friend of your father’s has come to visit.”
I’m so surprised I still can’t get a word out.
“Well aren’t you going to say hello?” she asks me. She turns to the Professor. “I’m sorry my boy has no manners.”
The Professor smiles. “Young men often prefer to do rather than to talk.”
“Well then he can ‘do’ something and put the kettle on,” mom says shaking her head.
I walk over to the kettle, fill it with water and light the small gas stove. My mind is buzzing with questions. The Professor was a friend of my father’s? Why had Ma never told me? She didn’t like to talk much about dad since he’d died, but surely she could have told me that my father knew the Professor?
A knock at the door interrupts my thoughts.
“That must be Ma Lettie wanting chickens for the shebeen tonight,” mom says, “You’ll have to excuse me. You’ll look after our guest Nathi?”
As she bustles out the door we can hear the squawk of the chickens as they’re unceremoniously pulled from their coop.
“I knew your father when I coached a team he played on in Johannesburg,” says the Professor.
“My father played soccer?!”
“Oh yes, he worked on the mines and played for a local side.” the Professor says, helping himself to some sugar. “He was a great player. We called him “Silver” because he was so valuable to the team. Well…until he decided to leave the game.”
“But why did he stop playing, wasn’t he good enough?”
The Professor frowns.
“It’s a sad story, young man. He was undoubtedly good enough, but people said he missed a goal in a big game on purpose because he’d been bribed.”
Image: Hi is for Home, CC-BY-NC-2.0
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