“My name is Phumeza Nana Sitha, or simply Nana. And I have many questions,” I tell the tall man standing in front of me. His face is in the shadows. I look down at his big shoes.

“Ask, Nana.”

“I want to know why I feel different from the other girls.”

“I can’t answer that.”

“Is it decided before we are born? That this is how our lives are going to be?”

“All I can tell you is that your happiness comes first.”

“But how? If I am so small, against a world so big?” I wait for an answer but the man vanishes before my eyes.

I am flying.
Then falling.
Trying to get back home.

“Kuruku… kugu… u… u…!” Our rooster wakes me up from my dream with his loud crowing.

“Nana!” I hear my granny calling me. “Wake up! Remember you will be married one day. No man wants to pay lobola for a woman that sleeps late.” There we go again, me being reminded of why I am alive.

“Makhulu, I am getting up now,” I tell her as wriggle out from under the blankets.

Behind egoqweni I clean my teeth and wash. On the fire stands a three-legged black pot. The mealiemeal porridge boils furiously and the lid dances up and down.

“Hurry up. You need to catch the bus,” my grandmother tells me.

Today I am leaving this place where the rooster wakes me up; where I walk down the footpath to fetch water from the river; where girls are born to marry men. Where I belong, but don’t belong.

“Where about in Cape Town are you going?” the woman at the door of the bus asks.

“1783 Sisulu Road, Masiphumelele,” I reply.

“Oh, eMasi. Is that not in Fish Hoek?”

“I believe so.”

She laughs: “You can bring me some fish when you come back.”

I just nod then I enter the bus. Just as I sit down two men come stumbling down the aisle. The one trips and falls flat on his face.

“Oh look, Marvelous. You are hopeless maaan,” his friend complains as he helps him up.

“Join us,” Marvelous says holding up a sealed glass container. I can smell forty seven per cent alcohol. He is standing swaying next to me. I know that smell from my father.

“No thanks, I am fine,” I tell him.

“No you are not, you think you are kreva you…” He jabs a finger at me as he slurs drunken words. Then he stumbles to the back seat.

My dad uses the same remedy: forty per cent proof. He takes it on Fridays till Sundays. He has no set dosage for it. He just goes until he has no notes left to exchange for it. He dances like an idiot and sometimes wets himself – only to wake up and demand respect.

I close my eyes and hear my sister’s voice: “Where about are you now?”

Sise Dikeni, seyizohamba ngoku. We are leaving Alice now,” I reply, although I know she can’t hear me.

“Hurry up! Cape Town is waiting for you,” she tells me.


What do you think? Will Nana like the city better than her village? How do you feel about her father’s behaviour? Are you enjoying the story so far?

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