At Observatory Station the train fills up with lots of university students. It’s obvious that they are also going to the Zahara concert. They are excited and chatting amongst themselves about the bands and Zahara. Some are talking about university courses. They all seem so cool and clever. And suddenly Nwabisa seems more interested in the students and in chatting to them, than in talking to me. I am worried that if I don’t get her attention back soon, she might leave me behind.
“What will you do when you finish school? Do you think you will continue with dancing and maybe become a professional?” I ask quickly.
“I don’t know yet,” she says. But she’s not looking at me while she talks. She is staring at the guy next to her. “My mom thinks that I should go to university and get a Business Science degree. She says it will give me security and I won’t have to struggle like her. But I want to keep my options open.” She is talking loud enough for the guy next to her, the good looking one, to hear. She wants him to be impressed.
“If you go keep on dancing you might be famous like Zahara, or even bigger,” I say. This has got her attention back.
“If only it was that simple,” she looks sad suddenly, “dancing is hard work and very few people, even from among the most talented, make it to the top. Even our dance instructor says that apart from the hard work there is always the risk of injury. It’s a short career. It will be all over by the time I am 30. Then I might have to become a dance teacher. And I don’t know if that is what I want to do.”
“But, what about the travel and the fame? I ask.
“For now I just want to have fun. Zahara was born with talent, she had no formal training. She sang in her church choir and then got spotted. But how often does that happen really? I think I am just going to enjoy dancing at the studio and see how far I go with that. And you? Are you going to go to university?” she asks me.
“I want to do Forensic Sciences. You know, CSI, Miami style. You see, there is this –” But before I can continue her phone rings. She quickly reaches for it and answers,
“Hey babe. Guess where I am?” There is a pause as she listens. Then she replies, excitedly. “On a train from town to Rondebosch… Yes… to the Zahara Concert.” Then there is an “I know” and “Isn’t it just cool?” and “There are lots of varsity students here also.”
All the while I am imagining the silent questions on the other end of the phone. And yet I try to give the impression that I am not listening. So I cast my gaze down into the carriage. Some of the students are looking in our direction. I want to call Ridwaan or Stevo, my closest buddies, and I want to tell them how the date is going. I need some support here!
Tell us what you think: Who do you think Nwabi is talking to on the phone?