The wind blew in the direction of travel while Jonny sat in the back of the hiked yellow Mitsubishi bakkie. Sadly he watched the village of Nwakhuwani slowly retreat into the horizon and disappear, and in his mind, the past also dissolved as the future came into blurred and uncertain vision.

He hadn’t been in the big city since he was an infant with his late mother. When he got out of the bakkie, there stood a swathe of asymmetrical buildings, juxtaposed with the sweltering humdrum of cars and people passing at rapid speeds, air too dense to freshly breathe and, in all, a picture of true bewilderment in comparison to what he was accustomed to.

After wandering around heedlessly to get to the taxi rank, he approached a random man by the corner of a shoe store, and nervously asked, “Good day, uncle. Sorry to bother you. Do you know the taxis to Soweto? Zola specifically? I’m lost…”

A short brooding middle-aged man, with a doodled scar across his face, turned around and reluctantly responded, “You’re new here, boy, huh? I can smell the village on you kilometres away.”

Jonny laughed, “Yes, mister. I’m lost. Please help.”

“When you turn right just after that van, neh, you’ll see an alleyway. You cross it, and you’ll see a shopping complex on the left, and on the right-of-right just next to the garage. Then you walk, walk, and keep on walking. You’ll see MTN rank. You won’t miss it. You ask those Zulus, they’ll tell you which taxi to take – they own them,” the man explained, conducting an orchestra with flailing arms mapping the sought-out destination.

Immediately after entering the dingy piss-smelling alleyway, to Jonny’s innocent surprise, two ruffians jumped and attacked him. It was clear that, had Moses parted the sea for him, he wouldn’t be allowed to pass through. Although quite a giant for his age, he had no chance against the thugs, as they unloaded and beat him black and blue and took whatever little he had in his possession.

“Yes, village boy! Welcome to Jozi, son, bhari. You’ll see a rat lifting a tiger for breakfast around here if you don’t wise up, the man with the scar said savagely, tagging along with his friends, for he’d set Jonny a trap, which, by calculation, seemed to be a habit of theirs: to target the lost and naïve.

Battered and bruised, tears rolled down Jonny’s cheeks. Then a light bulb in the deep forest of dismay switched on in his brain. He remembered, he’d written his uncle’s number down, and stashed it in the depth of the left pocket of his shirt.

“Hi, hi. Please, mister, can you help me out with some money. I’ve just been robbed…”

“Ma’am, please help. I need to make a call. I’m lost, and I’ve just been…”

The pleas were lost in an ocean of no response. Johannesburg is a fast-paced beast whose own caregivers can get preyed upon if they’re not wary, hence the ever-alarming cautious nature of its people. And Jonny was learning a harsh lesson that it was every man for himself in this rough-hewn city of dreams.

“Hayi ngwana lo. Hayi ngwana lo. Tatane unidlelamusati wamina!” He sang and danced heartily by the robots of Bree Street, gyrating his hips in true Tsonga style, and earning his cent by the hour of the sweat, entertaining people.

After four hours in the baking sunny afternoon of turmoil and exhaustion, he made enough for transport and to call his uncle for precise directions to his house.

“Uncle. I’m glad you picked up the phone. I’ve been trying to get a hold of you. I was robbed. That’s why I’m only calling you this late…What’s your house number, and immediate location? I’ll be there soon.”

“Pfeu. Ah, ay, ay, nephew. Eish. Just had a drink or two. Say you were robbed? You? Haha, come on. The last time I saw you, you were one thick and big rat of a baby, you must be a giant now. How’d rascals even try you? I’m in Zola, house number 10, don’t miss, 10 like Ronaldinho!”

Jonny dashed for the taxi rank immediately after the call, with some enthusiasm, to see out the day positively.

Tell us: What kind of person do you think Jonny is? What does his first day in Joburg show about his character?