I first thought Tapas was joking when I heard him announce that he was going to be living with us here on the Cape Flats. I was sure it was a publicity stunt or something. But he started building his Tapa Headquarters on our soccer field the very next day.
It wasn’t even a month and then we had a big skyscraper in the middle of the skiem.
Tapas gave everyone in the community his new technology, for free. Every house got a Tapa-Talk — that’s his version of Siri. We each got one of his Tapa-Tablets which we could use to connect to Tapa-Net, his internet connection, for free. The 60-inch TVs were also free and came with all the Tapa-TV channels. But, according to Tapas, the biggest gift he had to give us was Tapa-Tricity. We don’t have to worry about loadshedding any more because he has his own energy source. Apparently everything is powered wirelessly by a small golden ball? I dunno how that stuff works. But ja, everyone here is Tapa-obsessed. We even started a petition to legally change the name of the skiem from River View to Tapa-Town.
I can hear the people cheering in the next road.
“Ooh Tapa is coming!” My mommy pulls her red skirt sideways so the slit can be more visible. “Do I look alright?”
I nod and put her arm over my shoulder so I can help her walk outside to see the Tapas-Parade. Tapas drives through the skiem on Sundays. Everybody stands outside to wave, clap their hands, and throw flowers that they grew in their gardens at his limousine. I think it’s a waste of time because all you see through the tinted windows is his silhouette and his hand waving up and down like a mechanical toy.
“Hi Sharon, long time no see!”
A woman wearing a body-hugging silver one-piece jogs across the road towards us.
My mommy frowns at me and lifts her chin quickly. I shrug: I also don’t know who this woman is. The stranger stops in front of us, resting her hands on her hips.
“Hayi, don’t make like you don’t know me, Sharon! It’s me, Mrs Vigis!”
My mouth drops open. This woman can’t be Mrs Vigis, she’s way too young.
“My word, you’re looking good!” my mommy says to her. “Straight up, Jacob! What happened?”
Mrs Vigis laughs. We always used to call her Quasimoano because she had a hunchback and she liked to complain. But now here she is, standing tall with a big smile on her face.
She stretches her arms over her head. “My grandson mos works for Tapas…my eldest one, Jonothan, Kitty’s child. Ja, now he does construction work. I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Tapas is building a hospital here. Anyway, Jonny says Tapas is such a lekke guy, very down to earth. He’s not like other bosses, he’s got a big heart, that Tapas. I mean, one day at work Jonothan them was on lunch and he was telling the other workers about his ouma that has to suffer so with her back. Shame, he was always very concerned for me. Such a sensitive child you know, I mos raised him since he was a baby. In any case, Tapas called him up to his office because he heard what Jonny said about me through the cameras. So Tapas told him, OK, there’s this new health treatment he’s working on that will maybe help me, and if I want, I can be the first person to try it.” Mrs Vigis bends down and rests her palms on the ground in front of her feet without even bending her knees. “Jinne, Sharon, he sorted me out, hey, I could never do this before! And it was all for free, I didn’t have to pay a cent.”
Tapas’s black limo turns into our street. The people waiting on the pavement start cheering in unison, “TA-PAS! TA-PAS! TA-PAS!” Children run behind the car. Someone blows a vuvuzela. Mrs Vigis does a backflip.
My mommy looks at her, amazed. “When is this new hospital opening?” she asks. “I must make make an appointment.”
Tell us: Would you want to try out this silver suit of Tapas’s? Why/why not?