Sometimes I feel so angry about everything. There are times I want to smash my fist on the kitchen table. Like my father. There are times I want to smash people’s faces in. Like Mr Lekoko’s.
“Yes, Mr Lekoko!” (Smash.) “How does it feel to be the one hurting for a change?” (Smash, pow, whack!) “This is payback time now!” (Another punch in his mouth – so it drips blood instead of gossip. Then maybe break his arm so he won’t build anything any time soon!)
Or like Mma Molefe, my mother’s fair-weather friend. “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” is how the saying goes. But when Mama was in need, Mrs Molefe deserted her. (Smack, whack!)
Or like learners at school who whisper behind my back in the corridor. (Smash, bash, thunk!) Even those kids playing their clapping game.
I look down at my hands and they are clenching into fists. I am strong now, no longer a twelve-year-old boy. But if I storm next door and attack Mr Lekoko, what will happen? The police will come and arrest me, as if I am the criminal. As if I am the neighbour who behaved with no compassion. And how fair is that?
I close my Maths homework book. I am too angry to think straight.
But this time I am angry most of all at myself. “This is your fault!” I tell myself. “Why didn’t you read the whole article to Mama from the start? Then Mama would know Dineo’s full story. Then Mama won’t be hoping for things that won’t come true.”
This is what the newspaper said: ‘Mrs Maphakwane was incorrectly diagnosed by the Naledi Clinic. When she demanded a second test several years later, the results proved negative. The judge ruled that damages were due to her because of this error.’
Yes, and that is the difference between Dineo and my mother. Dineo’s diagnosis was wrong, but my mother’s was correct. That is why Mrs Maphakwane will be compensated and my mother will not.
Can you see how unfair this is? But what can I do? Nothing! Just sit here on my bed while my rage builds up and up until maybe I will explode.
At school, at the boundary fence, Kedia Ndwape had asked, “Please write an article for the school newspaper, Kesha. Your essays are so good. I really want to publish some.”
So, what if I punch with words instead of my fists? What if I can use my writing to let people know that stigma is still alive and well?
Yes! Because I don’t think they realise. Perhaps they believe the billboards that say: A FRIEND WITH AIDS IS STILL A FRIEND. Perhaps they believe the TV adverts that show HIV-positive people treated with respect and kindness.
Maybe they think that stigma doesn’t happen any more. That it is yesterday’s news. Maybe I am the one who can help them understand.
“Go for it, Kesha,” I tell myself. “You are a sixty-carat writer. So use your talent. Use it or lose it!”
I pick up some blank paper. And I begin writing: “It started with a newspaper. Yesterday’s newspaper that lay clean and neatly folded on a bench…”
Tell us what you think. Will Kesha’s writing help him deal with his rage, and help people suffering stigma due to AIDS?