Monday morning arrived and, with relief, Kamvi put on her school uniform. She had poured her own muesli into a bowl and taken some fruit from the kitchen. After nearly seven years in the hostel she could not bear to eat the hostel breakfast of eggs and bacon anymore. She kept her own supplies in her room.

“What the point is of me paying such enormous hostel fees, I just don’t know!” her mother had complained every month. “You live off Woolworths’ and don’t seem to eat a thing there!”

“Well … you could also put me in a cardboard box on the street,” Kamvi had retorted once, and her mother had never said a word about her shopping sprees again.

Guilt, Kamvi had soon realised, was her most powerful tool where her mother was concerned. She had learnt over the years that attaining excellent academic results and keeping herself looking very good, together with a good dose of guilt, could get her just about anything she wanted.

The problem was that there was never very much that she did want. Apart from books. And love. She often wondered if the love that she read about in her books really existed. She could not wait to find out.

“You take everything so much for granted Kamvi,” Nikita had once said. “You pretend not to care about stuff like clothes and shoes, but that’s because you have everything already.”

Kamvi had shrugged. She knew that Nikita was probably right. She really did not care much about material things. One thing she was sure of was that Nikita and the other girls could not talk about anything else. But yakking about clothing and hair and cellphones and celebrities bored Kamvi to tears.

And sex. The girls also talked about sex. To those conversations Kamvi listened, whilst pretending not too. They were all much more experienced then she was. Nikita was the most experienced of them all, and she liked to shock the girls, with her tales of sexual encounters with both boys and girls.

“I haven’t decided which of the two species I prefer more,” Nikita often said, with a laugh.

Kamvi was not sexually experienced at all. She had been kissed by a sweet Swiss-German boy on the ski slopes near Saint Tropez. She had been on holiday there one Christmas with her mother, and her mothers’ latest boyfriend.

After she’d spent a week of wobbling down snowy slopes and riding the cableway back up, he had finally found her sitting on the hotel’s deck, warming her hands around a cup of steaming hot chocolate.

He had been her instructor. He was young, maybe only seventeen at the time.

“You are doing well,” he had said awkwardly, hovering, and so she asked him to sit down, which he did. He had pulled off his knitted cap and for the first time she had seen his head of bright golden curls.

Peter, she had thought to herself. Heidi and Peter. She smiled to herself, knowing that she was no Heidi, but growing up she had loved those books.

And so had begun a few days of a snowy Swiss romance. A romance that she had not even told Nikita about, and which her mother had not even noticed, being as wrapped up as she had been with her own lover.

Serge – that was his name – had kissed her passionately a few times and she had let him unbutton her fleece and place his lips against her breast, whilst all the time muttering about her ‘chocolate’ skin.

Kamvi smiled to herself. He was a sweet memory, nearly as sweet as the many slabs and boxes of Swiss chocolate that Kamvi had brought back to school, and which Nikita and the other girls had gleefully consumed.


Tell us: Is Nikita right that you don’t care about material things only if you have so much stuff you can take it for granted?