Every summer holiday we go down to Umlazi to visit my father’s mother. My granny is as old as the hills outside Durban. Every holiday I am squashed on the back seat fighting for space with the suitcases and cooler box packed with half the fridge. You would think we were going for a year, or moving house. Every year we listen to the same gospel tape of Rebecca Malope, all the way to the outskirts of town. “Your dad is in love with her,” my mom always teases, and he rolls his eyes.
So I knew when I got in the car this year to make the long trip that it would be exactly the same as last year. But I was wrong. I had no idea of what was waiting for me on the beach in Durban.
It was just the three of us in the car: my mother, my father and me, fifteen-year-old Busi, who according to my dad is developing ‘an attitude’. “The dictionary definition of an ‘attitude’ is the way you think or feel about something. Do you want me not to think?” I ask him, knowing that this is cheeky.
“Very smart, Busi,” he says. “You know exactly what I mean.”
And I do. This is my dad who says things like ‘the youth of today’ and ‘we were never like that’. My mom clicks her tongue in agreement. It drives me crazy. They have just forgotten, it was so long ago they were teenagers. I plug in my earphones, listen to the songs on my phone, and try to forget that as we are cruising down the N3 towards boredom, all my friends are cruising round the mall in Soweto and hanging out with boys.
My cousins aren’t even in Durban this year. They are heading for Jozi. Maybe we’ll pass them on the way and they will wave.
I can write a message on a piece of paper and hold it up against the window. A message saying: ‘HELP. RESCUE ME!’
“Are you listening to that noise again?” shouts my dad. He thinks I can’t hear him.
“Leave her alone,” my mom tries to keep the peace.
“It will be fun in the sun.” My dad sounds like an old advertisement.
“What’s fun?” I ask, taking off my earphones. “I’m a teenager if you hadn’t noticed. I need to be with my friends.” All I have now are my soulful R&B songs and loneliness. Loneliness. I don’t even want to look at my cellphone. I don’t want to see the messages my friends are sure to be sending me from the mall telling me what a cute dress they saw, what cute boys are chatting them up.
“We can go to the aquarium and see the sharks,” says Dad. I have seen the sharks every year. When I was ten it was exciting – now it’s just boring. Life is cruel!
I look out the window: 300 kilometres still to go. I shut my eyes and try to escape into the music. “Is this a dream … or a beautiful nightmare?” Beyonce sings. I know how she feels!
Tell us what you think: Do you feel sorry for Busi? Do you think she’s lucky to be going on holiday to Durban?