But the wound I inflicted festers in me. It’s like Lisa and I are of the same damn flesh. Over the days the yearning grows from an ache to a burning in my chest. What on earth is happening to me?

I phone my mother in Soweto.

“Mama, what would you do if I had a girlfriend who is white?”

“No, Langa. It can’t be.”

“I don’t. But what if I did?”


“Why, Mama? You educated me. You made sure I can get somewhere, and that ‘somewhere’ has good white people in it.”

“No. They have been ruined. They will only use you. You can be friends, but never go too close.”

“Mama, that is the old thinking.”

“Langa, please, I want you to keep your roots. Not go and make coloured children.”

“Mama, how can I keep my roots if I have no father, even?”

“Your uncle Dumile gave you something special. He taught you his music to give you a strong future.”

Oh, my word. My mother is clever. She is persuasive. She digs deeper and deeper with the sharp edge of her spade. Let’s face it, my mother has always been quite psychic. She senses the voltage running between Lisa and me. It’s like she knows that this thing might not only be about making music. It might also be about making babies.

I sigh.

“Okay Mama, relax. Keep it cool,” I back down; cowardly. When I end the call I feel gutted inside, drained of joy.

At least Lisa’s mother will be happy. It is like our two mothers are tearing at us from opposite sides, with all the bitterness of their prejudices.

After a week Lisa texts me on WhatsApp.

You want to jam again?

I ignore the surge of eagerness that moves through me. I don’t answer, but the electromagnetic radiation of our cellphones seems to hiss between us. She knows I read her message; she would have received those two blue WhatsApp ticks. She is too proud to keep trying.


Tell us what you think: Is Langa doing the right thing by resisting Lisa, considering race relations generally in South Africa?