Suddenly the crowd separates and I’m thrown into an empty circle. I hit the ground hard, for the second time in one day. I curse Beno. I sit up. There is a weird and sudden silence. The crowd breathes like a single person. My skin begins to crawl. I stand up.
“Hey, Beno, you moegoe. Why you throw me around like that?”
“You see this girl? You see this pale-face girl with a German father? How come this girl lives in Extension 8 in her smart new house?”
The crowd begins to rumble.
“Leave her alone, Beno,” says a man.
“No, let Beno speak,” says another woman.
“It’s not her fault,” says the same man.
“No, it’s her mother’s fault,” says another man.
“I deserve to live there. My mother’s lived here her whole life,” my voice is shaky and weak.
“Why don’t you voetsak back to Germany?” snarls Beno.
“Voetsak, German. We don’t want Nazis here.”
You can call me anything. I’ve been called names my whole life. I’m used to it. For some I’m not black enough. For others not white enough. I’m a split personality. So what? Who cares? I will be whoever you want me to be. But I’m not a Nazi. Rage doesn’t come often to me. But when it does…
“I’m not a Nazi, you stupid mampara,” it bursts out of me. “Why you think you deserve a house? You don’t!”
Frenzy rises in the crowd. Beno points a finger at me. “No house for me. But a house and a garden for her.”
My mother has finally struggled to the edge of the crowd. “Child, please,” she whispers.
I walk away.
Beno grabs me back. The crowd edges closer. I begin to shake. I know something bad is going to happen. I feel something hard slam on my cheekbone. Hot blood runs down my cheek. I begin to cry. I am confused. How can this be happening to me? I struggle out of Beno’s grip. I stumble and fall. The crowd is shouting. Beno is shouting, “Bring me a tyre.”
I look up. I see S’bu clutching his telescope. His face is full of fear. “S’bu, please …” I reach out my hand to him. He turns away. My mother starts yelling at anyone who’ll listen.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves. Can’t you see this is only a tsotsi having fun with you?”
Beno laughs. “How did you get your house so soon, old woman? How? You paid good money? You opened your legs?”
The crowd’s anger spills over. They swamp my mother. I can see nothing. Blood, snot and tears smear my eyes.
“No!” I hear my mother screaming.
I fight through the crowd to get to her. Sirens scream in the distance.
Something happens. The crowd begins to move. I hear someone groaning. I know it’s my mother. I fight to get to the sound. When I get there it’s someone I don’t know, who’s been hurt.
The sirens get louder. People scatter.
Sand has been kicked up from the road. It fills the air like smoke. It’s blowing in the autumn wind. I see the Gautrain pull into Marlboro across the Jukskei. Then I see a crumpled body lying in the dirt. I run towards it. My mother is bloody, and still.
The few remaining people avoid my eyes, as my head falls back and everything goes dark.
Do you think Dudu should have fought Beno, like she did, or tried to find another way to protect herself?