The crisp wind whipped against my cheek, I put my arms in my pockets and looked down as I walked faster- it takes less than a minute to drive over this bridge, why had I decided to leave my car so far. A group of Pedi girls cross my path, one of them asks “is that swagger” and the others laugh. I look up and see them looking at a young black man who is dressed like a black Willy Wonka. It is a Saturday in Braamfontein, obviously these girls don’t know that people in Braam wear their Sunday best on a Saturday and pose in the middle of the street for images to put up on their blogs. I am tempted to explain to them that swagger is a way of carrying oneself and not a dress sense but they laugh among themselves and one of them remarks “so this Jozi” and they all simultaneously clap once and carry on walking in the opposite direction of Braamfontein, to the Johannesburg where people dress normally I guess.
My biggest fear is falling through one of the broken glasses on the Mandela bridge, I don’t know how this would happen unless I slipped or someone pushed me but I have imagined it many times. I don’t think of myself as a snob but I’d rather die on the rails of a Guatrain than Metrorail. I walk as far away as possible from the glass window panes, I know exactly which glass pane is broken but to my surprise I come across it and instead of a square hole, there is a new glass put in its place. I tap the glass to make sure that it is really there- a group of men laugh and I laugh back.
I am almost finished with the journey over the bridge to Braamfontein when black Willy Wonka intercepts me.
“These will make you famous” he says to me in a rather gay voice. He is dressed in maroon pants that hover over his ankles, orange socks stuffed in shiny brown boots, a tiny brown waist coat, a yellow shirt and an emerald green jacket with green fur on the shoulders billowing in the direction of the crisp wind. In his a hand he holds a clear container with cupcakes in it. Behind him the gold building shimmers with the racing winter sun. My eyes are on his chest, he is a very slender tall man, I look up to meet his eyes. “I don’t want to be famous” I tell him with a kind smile.
“For only ten rand you could be famous” he almost sings the line as he lowers the container and opens it. I sigh as I see a dark, moist chocolate cupcake. “I have five rand” I inform him without taking my eyes of the chocolate cupcake. I have lied to him, I have more than five rand in my pocket, a few hundreds probably but this is Johannesburg, negotiation is key.
“They are ten rand” a stern voice this time as he closes the lid.
“I don’t want the fame, you can keep it, I just want the chocolate cupcake”
“Fine, choose one” he reopens the container and I hand him the five rand. He doesn’t lower the container to my height; sour from losing the negotiation but I don’t mind. I stand on tip toes and peek inside. I take the chocolate cupcake and notice an emerald green substance oozing from inside, I try to put it back but he tells me that they all have it and he shuts the container.
“What is it?” I ask him, holding it up to the sun to inspect the green ooze.
“It’s mint honey”
“You said these were chocolate flavoured”
“Mint chocolate flavoured, don’t worry”
“I don’t like mint”
“You won’t die”
“Why would I die, is there something dangerous in this cupcake?”
He throws his head back laughing, the gold building reflects in his round blue sunglasses- his skin is smooth as chocolate mousse and his teeth white like the clouds that slowly pass over. I put the supposed chocolate cake in my jacket pocket. I ponder if I should wait for him to finish laughing or should walk away. He stops laughing.
“You did not answer my question”. He looks at my empty hands.
“You’ll be fine, mint and chocolate is a fabulous combination. Enjoy”. He literally turns on his heels and walks on to Juta street where I guess his tribe resides- at least on Saturdays. My chocolate craving is gone, I look up at the other side of Johannesburg and above Bree taxi rank, a huge FNB billboard reads “How can we help you?”.