Rondebosch Station


This guy is clever. We are all together in this train but we are not talking to each other. Everyone is in a relationship, not with each other, but with their phones.

Everyone starts giggling at the newspaper seller’s antics when he stops next to us. I am happy he is here. He has separated us from the two cool varsity dudes. He looks at us and says, “SAVE YOUR BATTERY, BUY A NEWSPAPER!”

“Forget the phone,” he is talking to me, “forget the newspaper. Talk to her!” and then he shoots us both a smile. I put my phone away, then look at Nwabisa and say.


Nwabisa looks into my eyes and seems to instantly know that this is not just a sorry about the phone, but about all the things I said that upset her.

As we get up to leave the train there is suddenly a crush as all the students rush to get onto the platform. Everyone is shoving and pushing. I hear a shout and look around. There is a mom carrying her baby. She is pushing through the crowd looking for a seat as the others are getting off. I shout to her, “You can have my seat.”

The train jerks and she falls. “Arghhh!” she cries, “my baby!”

From that moment everything seems to happen in slow motion. The students step out of the way as if to give her room to fall. Groceries fly everywhere on the floor and disappear between legs, and under seats. She smashes into the frame of a seat then lands on the floor with a thud, still holding her baby tight to her chest. Then she curls up into a ball and begins to sit up.

There is a heavy sigh throughout the train. I rush forward and Nwabi asks her. “Are you Ok?” She looks dazed and confused.

She grabs her arm tight and says, “I don’t know. Take my baby. Is he alright?” Someone is keeping the door open and has called the guard, so the train won’t move off. Nwabi takes the baby from her, and I sit down on the floor beside her, to look at her arm. I notice that she can’t move it. “I think you’ve broken your arm. What’s your name?” I ask her.

“I’m Sandra, and my baby is Dillon,” she whispers.

I call 10 111. “Can we please have paramedics at Rondebosch train station. There’s been an accident on the train.” I am surprised at how calm and clear I am. Then I carry the mother on to the platform. Nwabi has the baby. “Help is coming. My name is Khaya, and this is my friend Nwabisa. We’ll help you.” I lay her down as gently as I can.

Nwabisa leans forward towards Sandra. “Dillon is fine,” she reassures her.

On the platform we are met by a security guard. “What happened?” he asks, “who did this?”

“Nobody did anything,” I tell him, “she fell. I think she’s broken her arm.”

We huddle together on a bench on the platform while students rush past us to get to the concert. That’s all they are worried about. Hip hop music is playing loudly from Rondebosch Common. And on the station platform Zahara’s ‘Loliwe’ track is playing loudly on someone’s cellphone. A group of girls are singing along.

It all seems far away. I am suddenly exhausted and sit down, holding Sandra’s arm. Nwabisa asks her, “can we call anyone?”

Then she touches my shoulder and says, “We should call her family and tell them what happened.”

I dial the number that Sandra gives me and she talks to her sister. She sounds happy to speak to someone at home and she starts to cry. “Meet us at Claremont Hospital,” is all I hear. Suddenly I notice the train is gone, and the crowds have disappeared beyond the trees and into the subways. The distant sound of the music in the stadium is soothing as we sit together.

Then the security guard announces, “The ambulance guys are here.” I see the uniformed paramedics approach. Quickly they examine Sandra and Dillon, settle them on the trolley, and wheel them off towards the ambulance.

“Thank you,” Sandra calls to us, and we wave goodbye.

Now, alone on the platform, Nwabisa takes my hand in hers. My heart skips a beat. This must mean she likes me as more than a friend. “You are a great guy,” she says, “especially when you are not trying so hard to impress me. Now, let’s go and have fun.”

And then something that happens that changes everything.

We are handing over our tickets to get into the concert when I hear someone calling, “Nwabi, Nwabi…” I turn to see a tall, good looking guy running towards us. As Nwabisa turns to him I can feel the electricity in the air between them. She gives him a killer smile, not the one she gave me, which I now know, in a split second, is just ‘friendly’.

“Hey, I didn’t know you were coming to the concert,” he touches her arm. I stand there like an idiot, watching. It’s like my feet are glued to the ground. I can’t move. I can’t do anything.

“It’s so great to see you,” she says. And I can see she really wants to hug and kiss him but, because of me, she isn’t.

“Come and join me and my friends,” he flashes me a look over her shoulder as he says it. “We are standing over there, on the left of the stage.”

She turns and gives me this sweet smile. “Do you mind?” she asks me.

“Oh, bring your friend,” the guy says.

“You don’t mind do you? It’s just I haven’t seen Vusi in SO long…”

“No, really, it’s fine,” I tell them. But it isn’t. Not in my heart.

“Thanks,” she gives me a hug. “You are such a good friend.” She takes my hand and squeezes it.

The only thing I keep telling myself to help cheer me up is this: I will be her friend still, after they have gone out and broken up. I say it over and over again in my head.

But as the music of Zahara fills the air I begin to let it go. There is so much love and happiness in the air. It feels like there’s enough for everyone. “Loliwe, Loliwe…” the words fill my head. I close my eyes. I hear a small voice reassuring me: “Don’t give up, there is someone out there for you. Someone who will look at you the way she looks at Vusi.”

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