The time has just past midnight so actually it is a Saturday morning. There’s a sound of helicopter roaming the skies probably looking for a stolen car. A lot of them find their way to my hood; I even know one of the hijackers. He lives a few houses away from my grandmother’s house; I grew up with him, he was friends with my older brother and now he is a gangster who does not harm you if he knows you and I guess that is how my car and I are safe.
Anyway last week Friday I went to see a queer movie title While You Weren’t Looking, it’s quite a long title and one I did not find connected with the film. There are many plot lines to it. Firstly there’s an affluent lesbian couple going through a crisis in their marriage (of course the butch one has to be the one who cheats), secondly there’s their adopted daughter who finds herself falling for a lesbian (Shado) whom she mistook to be a man and even though she learns of her true gender she still pursues the relationship and lastly there’s an upper middle class black man hiding the secret of his gay past from his wife and teenage son. All these stories take place in Cape Town and all characters are linked to each other through some peripheral human links which focus on queerness of each individual.
The characters much like South Africa are diverse and their back stories are rich. My attention was focused on Ayanda (who is the adopted daughter) and Shado’s relationship. I believe their story alone could have been the sole driver of the whole movie. I wanted progression from all characters but mostly from them two. Ayanda grew up in a liberated house composing of two mothers who give her everything she wants and on her eighteenth birthday she decides she want to research her roots, coincidentally on her birthday night she kisses Shado whom she thought was a man and this meeting leads to her going to the townships of Cape Town where Shado resides. I don’t understand why she going to the townships is seen as going back to one’s roots. Anyway with Shado’s grandmother and cousin gone they have the house to themselves and they proceed to have some hot lesbian sex. After their romp, whilst sticky and wet, Shado warns Ayanda not to fall in love with her; I don’t know why maybe it’s that hardcore exterior that masculine presenting lesbians like to present.
In the early morning while in each other’s warm embrace Ayanda and Shado are violently woken up by some gangsters who are linked to Ayanda’s cousin; on realising that the two were having hot lesbian sex the previous night one of the gangsters decides to rape Shado but luckily his mate stops him because they just want the money and so they take all of Ayanda’s possessions because they actually have value unlike Shado’s. Ayanda is clearly traumatised by this event and puts on some of Shado’s clothes, she and Shado decide that they will never see each other again.
I believe this story is pivotal to young queer people, to be strong and fervent in their lives despite the barriers that exist; Ayanda and Shado’s story offers no hope.
It has the typical stifling and oppressive tone so popular in Cape Town, you stay in your lane and I’ll stay in mine. I believe Ayanda and Shado’s story could have been told a là Blue is the Warmest Colour because their barriers are barriers that take time to break down, barriers that are only hard to break down because of classism and society’s perspective on queer people. Yes Shado cannot offer Ayanda any security be it financial or physical or even emotional but love is not that simple and the two obviously have a connection, a chemistry unparalleled to Ayanda’s former boyfriend.
It would have been interesting to see Ayanda and Shado grow closer or apart in their relationship over the years be it three, five, seven or even ten years. To see them navigate the barriers in their lives, to see them move on from the trauma that happened in the morning, to see the reactions of Ayanda’s mothers to their daughter suddenly becoming one of them, to see if Ayanda would wafer once realising that actually being lesbian has dire consequences if one is within a certain class, that lesbianism is not a social experiment and Shado’s growth is important too.
I think maybe I might be asking for too much. I believe in fairies and God and heaven but reality is hell and the reality is truthfully that’s how stories of same-sex love end up in South Africa. It is too much to bear and those who do are brave and love, for them, love is enough.
The cinema where I watched the movie was in Soweto and there was an impressive number of queer ladies and a few men- I believe this is progress for a South African movie focusing on a taboo subject. I believe to retain these small numbers, to keep them engaged so that they may fish out more numbers of viewers to local content, a little more positivity in the narrative of black characters could be allowed. Black people are more than their poor backgrounds and even the ones who’ve jumped up the economic strata must not be portrayed as solely money hungry individuals whose sole purpose is to ensure they do not slip back into poverty. Black characters choices do not rest solely on economic factors because they do get married, they do have multiple children, they lead homosexual lives and they all strive for a better life even if the circumstances do not allow.
I am not suggesting a total glazing over of the stark issues at hand of the queer black populous, I’m just saying give a little light to Shado.
I sometimes feel like if I had met Debussy he and I would have been best friends. I am listening to one of his pieces titled Arabesque no.1. I sometimes wish God gave me the gift of music or singing, it is a talent that is always readily accessible. When someone claims to be a singer they can easily sing on the spot to prove it but if you’re a writer you first have to go into your archives and prove your worth through publications or acknowledgements.
This year has been a storm and even though it has settled down, a gust every now and then reminds me that it is not all over. I am at peace. I understand that happiness cannot be found, it cannot be created, it is not locked away somewhere in someone or someplace; happiness is.
I did move out of Johannesburg at the end of January this year.
In the last few days of January, in the early morning when it was still dark I got a phone call from the hospice my grandmother was in and they informed that she had passed on. I felt at peace because the woman there at the hospice was no longer my grandmother and feel she deserved to go, she had done her part, lived life to the fullest and loved the best way she knew how. After her funeral I could not write. Actually as I sit typing this I wonder where time went and I wonder what I have done with that time. To clarify my paternal grandmother passed and I moved in with my maternal grandmother, actually she disturbed me right now to let me know that she is experiencing heartburn. I cannot recall what happened between January and May but I do recall making arrangements in June to travel with my friend and his play. We went to Cape Town for a few days and then to Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape for the National Arts Festival. It was my first time there and I really enjoyed myself. I cannot wait to go back next year. I wanted to document each day there but I was always too busy or tired because I was also helping with the play- I was a stage manager. It was my first stage managerial work and there were days when I felt I did well and there were days when I felt I was just losing it all but it worked out in the end. I gained some experience from the gig.
I remember my birthday well because on the night my cousin and friends went to Kitcheners. If you claim to live in Johannesburg city and do not know Kitcheners or Great Dane then you do not live in the city, you merely exist in it. Kitcheners and Great Dane are the night spots where the lost, middle-class black youth and other colours of the rainbow hang out. I actually prefer Melville or my bed to those two but on the seventeenth of July it was my birthday and it felt rather anti-climatic to go back home. Kitcheners was a ball of psychedelic energy, the DJ was playing some shit music but ironically enough people were filled on the dance floor dancing, probably high on the same thing as the DJ. The DJ booth was wrapped with fairy lights that made it seem like I was lost in a dark twisted Disney film. I can’t dance to good music and this DJ was playing shit music so I sat down and drank my rum. A handsome guy sat next to me and we started talking but there was nothing intriguing about him and so I kissed him just for the fun of it. We spent most of the night together but when the club closed we went our separate ways. One of my friends asked me if I was straight because I kissed him, I kissed him because I was bored not because I am straight- simple as that. I would not be amazed if I found out he was gay. It is Joburg after all, sexuality goes according to the time; in the day you are one thing and in the night another. That night I did miss my flat because I had to drive all the way home to Soweto and my grandmother was sleeping so my cousin and I slept in the car.
In August nothing much happened and now it is the last days of September. I spent most of last weekend with my baby sister at a water park; she is way more adventurous than me, she kept going on all the water slides repeatedly and I went on just to say I went on. An adrenaline rush is the last thing I need after the year I have had.
I have been going to the gym religiously; it fortifies both my body and soul. I recently acquired a personal trainer and I feel she is interesting and might add to the chapters of my life.
I feel I am coming into myself, meeting myself in the centre, stitching all remnants of myself together without disregarding the dark, painful and ugly pieces of myself. I feel like I have always been whole but I needed to be broken to realise this. I am fearless because death has touched me so many times without my permission and without any sensitivity to my condition and age. I have realised that money cannot buy happiness but it does make life more bearable and easier. If I fall, if tragedy strikes I know me. If love should come fiercely and strongly I will take it in like a wave breaking on me. I know it will hurt, it will sting but I will enjoy it leaving me by caressing my feet as it regresses from the shoreline preparing itself to come back and crash on me again. This is life lived.
My neighbours are preparing for a party. Their door is wide open and blasting 90s RnB music. I don’t know if I have mentioned it before but I do not particularly like RnB.
I have just came back from work and I found them blocking my door because they were taking photographs of their outfits in the corridor- one of the girls had really nice navy blue high heels that I wouldn’t mind walking in, she left her purse on the floor by my door and after taking numerous photographs she went back for it, she bent over in her navy blue heels and her shorts got even shorter; I don’t think she had underwear on, actually she definitely had no underwear on. I wish I was in a party mood like they are but instead I am sitting in my green plastic chair looking at a peculiar cloud suspended in the blue sky- it looks like an armchair and I so wish I could sit on it. I am eating a green apple as I type this blog/ journal post, that might not seem amazing to you but to me it is because more than a decade ago I swore off eating apples. I grew up eating apples, my grandmother packed them in my lunch every single school day, when I went to visit family members they would hand me a big red shiny apple and when I went out with my mother I would be fortunate enough to be a receiver of a caramelised apple- I hated caramel and hated apples even more because I just had too much of them- to me they were a poverty snack. My white friends in primary school had cheese, crackers, celery sticks and baby carrots and what did I have; brown bread with mashed boiled eggs and an apple. So when I went to high school I swore off apples and I met a friend who had also sworn off apples and that solidified our solidarity- our friendship was stronger because of the vilification of apples in our lives. So what happened why have I gone back to eating apples? This year I unconsciously decided to deal with my demons from the past twenty four years of my life, I have decided to confront all the bad and to deal with it instead of burying it in a pile of heartbreak, I feel these unsolved hurts maybe what is holding me back psychologically and also what prevents me from understanding myself more. I plan to recount all the bad things that have happened to me or around me and let them go, even thinking of getting a psychologist for this because shit I have a sordid convoluted history only they can decipher. I hope my psychologist will be older than forty, open minded and understand my background objectively. I would like to think that having a common ethnicity is important but I do not want to undermine the professionalism of a person because of the lack of it.
The cloud that looked like an armchair has changed form and now looks like a mushroom- amazing.
When I read my horoscope for this year it did not mention anything about love or finding the perfect girlfriend- which is really frustrating because I would like to be wifed like right now. Yeah I am a feminist but I have always dreamed of being a housewife, cooking, looking after the kids, dressing in the sexiest lingerie for my wife to find me in are all thoughts that run through my head while I am at work. That being said I do not believe in horoscopes that much- I only believe in them when they tell me of good news to come and when those good news do not manifest I get mad and swear off horoscopes until I’m destitute and I must return to them
I have just finished eating the green apple and noticed my 2014 calender is still up; a sign that mentally my mind is still in 2014. I must move on.
Twelve days left until I leave the city and I do not know how I feel. Right now when people are preparing to leave for parties, when the sounds of different taxi radios fill the red sky, the nauseating smell of cheap perfumes clashing with the smell of steaks being deep fried in cheap oil fill the corridors, and a group of women singing church songs which move my soul to the days when I saw the world through the veil of sweet innocence- I wonder why I’m moving but my mind is unchanged, I have to move for my own good. I question myself; Nobantu this, Nobantu that, Nobantu when, Nobantu who? I’m going insane. I need walls that will talk back. Right now I will put my radio on full blast and listen to golden classics of a gone era and deal with the pile of dirty dishes and the pile of dirty laundry.
It seems there is always a pulling happening in Johannesburg, be at the beginning of the day or at the end, a pulling of bags by family rushing out their flat to go to God-knows-where, a pulling of bags of a woman who has just arrived in the city looking up at the tall tall buildings with wonder, awe and fear, a pulling of an old shabby cart and on it a fruit shop packed up by a Mozambican man pushing it to God-knows-where those fruits are stored; I’ve often wondered but stopped myself because these thoughts come just when I’m about to ravenously eat a mango or two. Johannesburg pulls you in; it’s magical like that, not that pink or green fairy kind of magic but that purple and green ugly kind of magic. It’s not for the fainthearted, it’s not for the weak, the dependent, the naïve, the fearful, the hygienic, the socially correct kind because no matter how good your intentions you cannot correct Johannesburg- you found it as it is and you will leave it as it is- unless of course you’re a rich white man or the government.
I have exactly fourteen days left in the city. I always give myself a time frame for the things I want to achieve or experience, take for instance my mundane job when I started I vowed to myself that I would not work for more than a year and to date it has been a year, two month and two weeks. My CV is cleaned up and I am looking at finding other jobs, problem is the problem is not finding other jobs because other jobs will always be there, the problem is I do not want any other job than the job to write because in writing I interact with individuals like myself and my soul is rejuvenated and awakened when I am with like beings. I have been writing plays and short stories and submitting them to different forums- hopefully one of them will yield. In the meanwhile I am looking for jobs that will feed my creative soul.
Johannesburg was also meant to last one year but unfortunately I’ll be leaving before that one year is up. I have enjoyed my time in this city (this city I was so terrified of when I was a child, I would rather my grandmother lock me in the house than take me with to this city) and today I walk it like it is my backyard.
Last year for the first time I used the outside green park gym and even though I am impressed by government’s initiative I wish the park was bigger, in a better location and more inviting to females and tourists. The problem is the park is right by the taxi rank and we all know that is not a place where females feel safe. My first time at the park the gate was slightly opened (not inviting) and there was a security guard standing by it, he was kind and answered all my annoying questions. Inside the park was clean, a woman was fast walking around the track, youths were playing around the equipment and on the other side a fenced indoor soccer field was being cleaned. I ran around the track for about twenty minutes and then did some body weight training, while I was doing this the guards sat around and watched- I didn’t mind- I then went to the monkey bars and played like a little child before heading back to my flat. I am leaving Johannesburg because my soul is tired and my body is drained; I’m only now feeling the impact of the sad and torturing events that happened last year; it is like they compounded to form an emotional anvil which sits on my mind and I am not strong enough to be alone at the moment. I am going back to my beginning and there I know I will find peace. I don’t know if my mother was lying when she told me that a piece of my umbilical cord was buried in the backyard of my grandmother’s house- anyway I have a strong yearning to go back there and afterwards I will see. I am always restless and needing a move.
Today while procrastinating by people watching from the seventh floor I saw a lot of hot lesbians- don’t ask me how I know they’re lesbian I just do- anyway my legs are sore from yesterday’s workout but I’ve had like six cups of coffee so I’m buzzing with energy and so I think to myself I should run down and talk to one of them but as soon as I move my legs I realise it will take me forever to get down there and they will have been gone- for the first time in my life I wished I was superman so that I could swoop down and sweep them off my feet. I think I’ll do my people watching from the bottom floor at the fast food restaurant next to the flat- I’ll try my best not to look ratchet.
I’ve been thinking about being with someone and I am still thinking about it. It happens often at night at times like this when it is dark outside and the sound of crickets accompany the low voices of males walking the dimly lit streets, it happens when I prepare to go sleep solo, naked without anyone to talk myself to sleep with, it happens when I get lazy to cook because I mean I am alone, it happens when I see family members getting married and pregnant, it happens when I hear my heartbeat in my ears and I wish there someone to ask if they hear it too, it happens when I set alarms that I know I will miss and I wish there was another human to wake me up when it goes off, it happens when I think of her, and her, it happens each time I think of who will be the executor of my will, who will make sure my body is given to science because they alone will have understood me more than anyone, that over my dead body will I have fake people fake crying over my coffin because I have seen it happen too many times in my life time and it revolted me, it happens when I hope she will reject this notion of mine because she will have known my soul best through my body and she will not have scientists prodding it for eternity. It happens when I think of heaven and hell, and how I do not care about the hereafter as much as when she will be back to hold me because heaven and hell are the times when she’s around and when she’s not around.
Yesterday a double rainbow appeared across the sky after the rains. The city looked magical as some buildings were showered with the tiny beads of colour. The sky was cloudy and golden, and my heart was so happy.
It is a new year and even though I didn’t enter it so well I hope it will be a good one, one of breakthroughs and progression. Last year was hard because I lost my father so early in the year and a few months ago my grandmother got sick and has been in the hospital ever since. My relationships were broken and I am not sure were or with whom the fault lies in this regard; all I know is that I plan to mend those that deserve mending. I hope to make new friends and hopefully date someone who will love me as much as I will love them because it is painful to love and not to be loved in return.
Right now the city has clear blue skies and is quieter than most times. I can hear the birds which is unusual because usually the sound of people selling stuff and cars banging their hooters fill the sky. I have to be at work within an hour and I am dreading it. I cannot wait until I can take leave but when I do take it I hope to go somewhere far from the city, that means I have to save money, money I do not have.
My mind switches from states of nervousness to calmness. There is a lot of shit on my mind and I know writing should help me filter it out and soothe me but today I am unsettled, restless and listless. God help me.
Christmas Eve in the city is nothing special. The roads are emptier and it is quieter which is scary when you are used to waking up to the morning horns of taxis and the late night screams of a woman being robbed. I guess if you’re living in the city the lights of Christmas trees are nothing special, the city is always magical at night, if you cross the Mandela Bridge every night you would think it was Christmas every night. What I like most about the city when driving back from work is seeing the First National Bank billboard with the words “How can we help you” I think these words are rather ironic coming from a bank which knows that all people want from this place of gold is money and maybe a little fame.
My stepmother insisted that I go shopping with her and my baby sister. I do not know if I have not mentioned her before in my previous blogs but yeah I have a stepmother- both my biological parents are passed. Anyway we went to Clearwater mall and it was crazy filled. My baby sister was not in a good mood and I do not know why, I mean she’s only ten but I feel she does not feel that good about herself because of her size. I was big when I was her age my nickname was fatty and I sometimes had problems with the nickname and I sometimes didn’t. She did not want to buy any clothes because she felt that they would not fit her and that broke my heart; how can she think with all the jeans in the shop that there wouldn’t be one to fit her; the absurdity of it all. I believe I have to be closer to her now more than ever as she is about to get in the adolescent phase. I need her to understand that she is beautiful and that she must love herself and treat herself like she is her own treasure. This way she will excel in all that she does because she believes in herself and also she will not place her self-worth in another human being. I want her to be independent and I want her to not be amazed when a man or woman tells her she’s beautiful because she will already know that and expect it. I just want her to be strong. I know how hard it is to love yourself especially when you’re female and the whole world has expectations of you. I know how it is to feel trapped in a body that you feel you do not identify with but from experience I can say that hating yourself will not change. Love yourself immensely and make the change that is needed. My baby sister must not realise this in her twenties she must know it now. Anyway after shopping with her I had to go to work.
Work was a bore as always and to make matters worse my manager was not around so I could not wander around. I had to sit in the ticket booth and serve customers; none of whom were in the cherry merry Christmas mood and I do not blame them. Once you become an adult bills become your life. I long for my childhood days- I really do.
There’s someone I think I might be falling for; it is both good and it is bad because I should not be falling for her because well because she has a child and I think a boyfriend but the signals she’s been giving me cannot be read wrong, they are clear. And now I’m sitting in my underwear wondering if she thinks of me, if she thinks of me in the way that I think of her. If she sitting with her laptop on the desk, underdressed and burning when she thinks of me. I can never know because she is in another province now visiting her family for Christmas and also I am not telepathic.
I know it will rain tomorrow like it did today; it always rains on Christmas day and New Years day; I don’t mind- I like it very much when it rains, I like to step into the puddles, I like the smell and the feeling of the raindrops when they hit my skin- this is why I do not own an umbrella, why I have never owned an umbrella and why I never will.
I don’t know why it is that the happiest children are found in Soweto. I’ve been to the west and the east of South Africa but there are no happier children than that found in Soweto. I can’t help but fall into their happiness, I can’t help but skip with them when the skip that rope, I can’t help but run with them on the dusty pavements unafraid of reckless taxi drives, I can’t help but want to throw my head back and laugh and laugh as if the sun will not go down. Oh what beautiful children- how radiant they are, how at peace they are.
I went to see my grandmother today after being with Xoli in the Sandton. We ordered two healthy pizzas and just caught up on our lives which is funny because I had seen her about four days ago. I just love her. She kept telling me about her love life and it was interesting except when it came to me I had nothing to say. Actually I had a lot to say it’s just I don’t think she is ready to engage with me about my sexuality. She has to know that I am not straight; I mean I have dropped so many hints and even told her that I could date women. It hurts; it really does that when it comes to topics about relationships I feel like a void when I in fact have so much to tell. In time in time we’ll come to a consensus of talking about my relationships, I don’t mind waiting for her to get comfortable.
My grandmother was okay as always she had complaints and grievances about our lives, especially my brother’s. I just wish he would grow up and be responsible- the life he is living right now is stressful especially more so now that he has a girlfriend and two children- if he dies what will happen to them? I shudder to think. I hope wherever he is he is safe and breathing. I cannot go through another death this year- it would break me and definitely my whole family.
My other grandmother is in hospital- I think the stress of my father’s death got too much and also she is old and dementia has set in. I just want her to hold on until next year just to see another year- again I cannot go through another death- I simply cannot.
In my heart I feel like my play might not get picked up and to tell the truth that has truly devastated me or will devastate me. I have not yet got final word but I did get an email about the next workshop in July which made me think that maybe my work did not get picked. I think I now have to propose it to other theatres that may be interested. God-willingly I will find one that will be interested. I can only hope; I have no other choice. I can only keep dreaming; I have no other choice. I can only keep working on my craft; I have no other choice. I can never slip. I must never doubt myself and my worth as a writer. I’ll try each month to take a getaway trip to some nice lodge and write. Just to disengage. God be with me. God be with me this month and for next year. God be with me always.