So I did my research on school sites on the net, and it was sooo simple! Using just a cardboard tube, tape measure, scissors and glue, and two different strength lenses I bought, I actually made a basic telescope. I mean, not that it helped me see the faraway stars any better, but for sure the moon! (I’ve put the full instructions at the end of my story.)
“Wow,” Musa said. “This really works.”
I held it up to my eye. As I gazed at the moon, I started to laugh.
“What’s so funny?” he asked.
“You know how telescopes make things upside down?”
“The Northern Hemisphere says that people in the Southern Hemisphere see the moon upside down.”
“So with the telescope switching it around, we’re now, according to Northerners, seeing it right side up.”
I started laughing again, expected him to join in. But he didn’t. Instead, he waited until I went quiet to say, “If there is no gravity in space, is there a such thing as up or down?”
I didn’t have an answer to that.
Nor did I have an immediate answer to this: the problem with achieving your dreams is that new ones bloom to replace them. We’re never satisfied with what we’ve got.
Now that I had made my telescope, I wanted to see further out, know more about the universe. Both Musa and Mrs Haffajee were encouraging. Mam even lent me books on space and gave me more computer time. I read tons, learned loads of facts. I also found myself daydreaming about making a massive telescope.
It started after reading a blog post about a man building a Dobsonian Telescope. It was over 1.5m long, and so big, it needed a heavy-duty stand. The scope used a truss tube – the thing that lets light in – that was 31.75cm. Huge. When he was done, he could look at things like the Lagoon Nebula and the Trifid Nebula.
Nebulas! These are nurseries where stars are born.
“I’m turning green with envy,” I told Musa, while we played with my tiny ‘scope.
“Better than being jealous,” he said, putting out his hand.
I passed the telescope. “What’s the difference?”
“Envy isn’t typically mean. It’s sometimes almost like a compliment. You might wish that you had that telescope, but you are not thinking bad things about the person who has it, right?”
“Sure, I mean, it was his time, hard work, and money. I think what he did was amazing. I just wish I could afford to do the same.”
“Right, right. But jealousy is when you’d wish him ill will, want to steal it … although it is more complicated than that.”
“Hey, don’t brush me off,” I said, poking him in the ribs. “When you ask me questions about stars and meteorites, I try to tell you all I know.”
He lowered the telescope and looked at me. “Jealousy can also mean afraid to lose something. Like, say you started hanging around somebody else at night, sharing your telescope. If I got angry about it, that would be jealousy.”
Breath left my lungs for a beat. I had to blink three times before air re-entered my body. “Sounds kind of sweet of you, if you really felt that way, I mean.”
He shook his head. “That isn’t sweet.”
I was mortified. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply–”
“No, you misunderstand.”
I looked up at the sky, wishing it would suck me into the great beyond. “Okay, sure.”
He sighed. “It’s like this, you see. You know Thabiso isn’t the man that fathered me, right?”
I looked at him, surprised. “But he calls you his son all the time, and you call him Tata.”
Musa looked away, not at the sky, but somewhere off into the distance, into the great black of the night. “That’s because the man who made me went to jail after hurting my mama.”
But Musa didn’t seem to hear. Just kept talking. “He would get so jealous of her, even if she was just thanking the man who sold her a bag of sugar. Mama almost miscarried me, he beat her so badly. That’s jealousy. It is wrong, toxic; a kind of evil that nobody wants.”
“I’m sorry.” I didn’t know what else to say.
“Eh, doesn’t matter,” he said. “I’ve got a good father now, and my mother has a good husband. That’s what’s important.”
I know there are better words out there, but all that fell out of my mouth was, “Yes, that’s what’s important,” like a parrot.
“Which doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy spending time with you.”
And the breath left my lungs again.
Tell us: Khanyisa says that the problems with dreams are that once you reach them, ‘new ones bloom’. Do you agree? If not, why? If so, is it a good or a bad thing?