After a long, bumpy bus journey that seemed to take an eternity, Mila finally reached Cape Town at six o’clock in the morning. Everything looked different since the last time she was here visiting her older sister, Viola, three years ago.

She smiled as she remembered the good times she had had with her two little nephews. How they had chased her around with a small bucket full of beach sand. How she had dragged them into the foamy white waters at Gordons Bay, giggling as they ran backwards, terrified of the big, roaring waters. They were little boys then. Now they were 10 and 12, all grown up, she thought, smiling.

“Go well my dear. I hope God fulfills your wishes,” said MaTogu, the elderly lady Mila had been chatting to all the way from the East London. Now that they had reached their destination, their journeys had to part.

Enkosi, Makhulu. Thank you for the wise words and all the life advice you shared with me. I learnt a lot from you last night,” said Mila, smiling tenderly at the old woman.

“You will find a job. You will! I can feel it. You are going places,” she said, looking Mila straight in the eye. Mila was anxious. The competition for jobs was going to be high, especially as she was only armed with a Matric certificate and had no experience whatsoever.

“May you be well too Makhulu. May God heal your knees,” Mila said, putting her hand on the old woman’s bent shoulders.

Mila stood next to the bus as people got their luggage. She had already collected her big suitcase and was now waiting for Jack, her sister’s husband, to come pick her up.

“Hi Mila. You must be so exhausted. That old woman kept you awake all night with those boring tales of when she was growing up.”

Mila turned to see a handsome guy who looked like he was in his late 20s. He had been sitting behind her in the bus.

“I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. So you came here to look for a job, right?”

“Yes! I hope I find something soon,” said Mila.

The young man shook his head sympathetically.

“Not that I am discouraging you, but it will be hard, especially if you only have a matric certificate. The corona has made things worse. Babe, there is so much competition now. People have lost jobs. I am talking about people with experience,” he said, coming closer to Mila.

Who was this guy? Why was he chatting to her? Did he want to ask her out on a date, Mila wondered, as she admired his clothes, his fancy watch and the golden chain around his neck. They looked expensive. She also noticed the petals of a flower tattooed on his chest, where his top button was undone.

“I don’t even know your name or where you live,” she said. She felt a twinge of guilt for wanting to see the rest of his tattoo. But who could blame her – for the guy was just too handsome. His body was toned. He looked like he had stepped out of a magazine.

“Oh sorry babes. That’s so rude of me … not introducing myself first.”

“And please don’t call me ‘babes’, ndiyakucela torho. You know my name,” said Mila, moving a step backwards from him. But he kept on coming closer to her.

“Ahh sukaa!” he laughed, revealing even, beautiful, white teeth. “Come on Mila, don’t be too serious, babe. I know you are from the villages but this is Cape Town. You need to loosen up a bit. We are all about love and life here, you see,” he said, pulling her closer, as if about to kiss her.

All of this was too quick and confusing for her. And even more confusing were her feelings. She didn’t know what to say.

Mila wondered where Jack was, as she stepped away from the guy. She wished he would arrive soon.

“Okay babes, my name is Monwabisi, but everyone calls me Monza. I work for a modelling company here in town. Our offices are based in Claremont.”

“I have never been to Claremont,” said Mila shyly.

“I can help you find a job in just a short time,” he said. He snapped his fingers as if, to him, landing a job in Cape Town was child’s play.

“Really? Now that would be awesome,” said Mila, her beautiful eyes lighting up.

“Yeah, Mila. You know, I can take you places. With a face like this?” he said, running his fingers over her face.

“Hayibo, stop it now!” Mila pushed his hand away again. She could not let this stranger know that she was enjoying his company.

“You know what babes, when I first saw you last night, glowing under those bus lights, looking like a princess, I was like – my goodness! Here comes Cinderella.”

Mila laughed out loud. But part of her held back. Her mother had warned her to be vigilant and cautious because Cape Town, just like Joburg, was a big city and she had heard many horrible stories. It was even worse for young people coming from the slow life of the rural areas, searching for greener pastures in the city.

“Give me your number so we can chat more – that is if you are interested to earn dollars,” he said with a twinkle in his eye. Monza took out his slim silver 12 Pro Max iPhone.

Yoh! It’s the latest, Mila thought, as she gave him her number and said, “Wow! That’s a nice a phone, Monza.”

“It would only be a matter of time before you also owned one just like this. I promise you, just stick with me and all your money problems will be a thing of the past.”

Mila quickly put her small phone back in her handbag, hiding it. The screen was full of cracks.

“Oh there he is. Ubhuti!” she said, as suddenly her face lit up when she saw her brother-in-law. “I am over here, Sbari!” she called out, waving. She dragged her suitcase towards him, leaving Monza standing there.

“Wow, you go just like that. You don’t even say goodbye,” Monza called after her. Mila stopped and waved.

“Oh, sorry Monza,” she called back. “I am tired maan, and I just saw my brother. All I need now is a shower and then to tuck myself into bed. Bye-bye bhuti.”

“Okay fine babes. I will call. Sharp. Sleep well!”


Tell us: Do you think she should contact Monza?