In the early hours of the morning we arrive in Cape Town. I give the driver the piece of paper with my address. When I get off the bus I am confused. I don’t know how I feel to be here. Far from everything I know.

When I stop outside the number on the paper I stare and hope it is the wrong address. The shack is not even straight. The bus drove past many proper houses, but this is where I will be living? I wonder if my dad still drinks. And if life will be different with him now.

When my mother left me with my granny she said she would be back in three weeks. That was four years ago. I have questions for both of them. The only person I am really looking forward to seeing is my sister.

But my family are not the first people to talk to me in Masi.

“Good morning. My name is Chinouyazue,” a young man greets me, standing in the yard next door.

“I am Nana. Pleased to meet you.”

He leans over the fence to shake my hand. He has a pair of white shoes on and a spirit level for building in his hand. I am amazed by his good manners. He speaks to me like a friend.

“Bye shimwara. I will see you much later, if I am lucky today,” he says, leaving for work.

“Bye bye, Chinouyazue.”

“Please call me Chino. I think it will be easier for you.”

Then my mother opens the door. She is already dressed.

Aah, intomb’zana kamama.” She is happy to see me. “Sizoncokola ukubuya kwam ntombi. We will talk when I come back.” My mother is going to char today in Fish Hoek, but she will be back this afternoon, she tells me.

My dad kisses me on the cheek, hands me a R10 note, and then runs off to work too. I hardly have time to look at him properly.

Uphi Asanda?” I ask my mother.

“She worked late shift and should be home any minute now,” she tells me as she picks up her bag to go.

I have the shack to myself. I must learn to call it a house, I tell myself.

My mother has been gone two hours and my sister is not back yet when I hear the sound outside. I run out as five police vans pull up along the street. I see our neighbour, Chino, is in the back of one of the vans. He looks through the wire mesh windows. A police officer pokes him in the face with a baton. Then the officer turns around and greets me.

“Hello missy. Do you know this man?”

I hesitate.


Tell us what you think: What is Nana going to tell the police officer? Why do you think Chino has been arrested?