Across the scotching horizon of Joburg, Nthabi, my supposedly pride, silently sits next to a stranger about to dissolve into the seat of this Inter-Cape Bus as we leave for Cape Town. I sit so close yet so far, she changed seats after discovering that her cursed seat had a malfunction, it cant lean back, ok, I understand, 12 hours on the road sitting up can be a pain in the butt, literally, but she doesn’t have to switch from the entire section and leave me companionless, where is the love?.
As the Inter-Cape Bus slowly makes its way out of Joburg, we all sit anxiously anticipating the wet shores of Cape Town, we are all caught up in our little worlds, everybody minds their own business and ignores humanity, like before we parted, there was an irrelevant confusion with guy who forgot his suit case that posed no question mark to the white lady who sat next it, and when the black leathered suitcase screamed out of frustration, we left 15 minutes late. As our surroundings change from the shadow of city buildings to the fading orange sky across the open land, time sings a song of loneliness, Nthabi my disliked step mother, sits next to the stranger brother spilling news of tomorrow on a cell phone, that captures her punctual imagination when we set foot at the Convention Centre and experience the North Sea Jazz.
The night keeps opening its mouth wide and the world outside the bus keeps looking more and more like moving pictures changing characters from scene to scene then fading to black, then suddenly we stop, our first stop after 3 hours on the road.
Nthabi quickly jumps off like a child in ‘Toys-r-us’ during Christmas time, I step out side for a breather, I am still broke, art life is not easy, we were born from patience. As everybody gets in the bus, I take my last drag of my Styvie Blue and take my time up the stairs, sometimes being on crutches can be fun coz time is on my side. Back to my lonely seat where Nthabi now sits on the other end by the window making it extremely difficult for me to keep on loving her the way I did a day ago, the stranger brother now sits next to me offering some of his KFC, don’t get me wrong, but a man has his pride, so I refused even though my stomach was saying something different. The couple in front of me shares their chips so romantic that it reminds me of the reason why I embarked on this journey, to get closer to Nthabi. A group of Afrikaaner people at the back conversate like black people, so loud I can’t even hear my phone ring.
As hungry and irritated as I am, the only thing making sense is my pen and paper, and the light guiding me through this page, Snookie wont stop calling but the reception is so bad not even God can answer the priest’s prayers, and looking at my situation, I need to hear a comforting and loving voice.
As I imprison my self to the page, the world outside keeps getting more and more dark with no possible knowledge of which part of the country we trotting through, finally Snookie gets through, my savior, my Elvis. We talk about everything under the sun, funny how one can connect with people that one has no interest in making out with. After hanging up, I am reminded of the cold reality I placed myself in, coz the entire trip was build on feelings for a woman who is now spiritually separated from me with an innocent face buried in yesterday’s hope to free sensation, where is the love? I mean, I have known her for some time now, we could have switched seats, I don’t mind a rewarding pain, but no, she decided to dance to a different tune.
The bus keeps moving despite our feelings about the movie playing from the small screen in front of us, the romantic couple in front cuddle while the Afrikaaner group at the back keep behaving like soccer hooligans in a Pirates and Chiefs match. This is a love movie, dem, and she is into deep for me to enjoy it with her, so I keep my eyes busy and appreciate the glittering stars of Africa, if only they can shine this bright in Joburg.
Scenes from this movie remind me of how I met her, she was taking pictures of me during an interview I had on my book, and she seemed to be more interested than the journalist, later that day she called and the rest is history.
Finally we stop, this time only a few people jump off, people like me who feel neglected and besides, I am craving for a cigarette, the first drag drags me closer to the sky and the second pulls me back to the fact that I am on bus ride to Cape Town with no one to share my love with. Same routine, slowly walk up the stairs to my notepad, Nthabi turns and twists in her seat far from my warmth searching for a comfort zone, if open minded people’s relationships are like this, I rather tie my heart to a pole and let it freeze.
As soon as I reach my destination, I will question the past for today’s experience. The moving movie moves out of the sight of passengers who cant wait for sleep to knock them out. An explosion of laughter erupts from the ‘soccer hooligans’ at the back, in my reality there is nothing to laugh about, coz the Maroon moon is not evident to prove how I feel about this prolonging journey which is a waist of money and a new dimension to my world, a world of a young poet in love with an older lady who just terminated our binding contract, ha ha ha.
I am trying very hard to keep my pen releasing ink at the drop of my thoughts. The persistent presence of silence slowly makes its way in between the spaces of occupied seats, reaching the lower section of this bus. This night is so familiar, yes, I saw it last night before I slept, but the only difference is my feelings. In the dark every face looks the same. Neo and stranger brother telepathically connect as they both get sucked in by the demon of sleep, while the people of the Bus, sleep with dreams open to the naked eye, and orchestrating different sounds of fart.
I can’t stop writing, feels like I am a pregnant woman complaining about attention, well you know what, if I don’t take it all out on the page, who else will listen, even my fingers are feeling the pressure.
In the midst of my projection, we enter a small town that looks dry and demarcated, and as we drive pass the residences, a feeling of segregation and racial separation surfaces, the ghost of apartheid haunts us all. We stop again, but this time for two white people, who look like hikers, my crutches on the floor keep tripping people going to the toilet and making them look like fools in a strong Woodstock wind. And as we drive out of the sad town, the cold and lonely face of reality erupts, and the deafening silence grows.
Back on the road that darkens the path of the righteous common man and woman, but my faith lies in the pen to tell of how Eve tricked me to coming on this prolonging trip, Nthabi is no longer with me. My only love is Poetry, I think I will do her right now.
Somehow the road looks the same, but all roads do when the love is no more. We come by a pick up point and all I can see are pale faces of the “oppressor”, Nthabi loves to say, whom by some force now sits where I can see her, she tries to sleep but cant, and wakes up only to find me imprisoned by the page. The bus hostess announces her anticipation for dreams while I n I tries to stay awake and listen to sounds of the night, the outside world keeps looking more and more like a fading moving picture. I wonder how much these guys made? But anyway, money goes back to money noma kanjani.
No words blue pen? No more words to destroy the silence? and so I join and sing the depressing song of sleep.
“Cape Town was nice”, says Nthabi, whom was distant at the North Sea Jazz last night. Never the less, I had so much fun I wouldn’t trade it for any companionship on the bus ride back to Joburg, HOME. I was VIP baby, and that means everything on the menu is FREE, from expensive drinks to exotic platters and finally my favorite, all access. I drank myself to a point every woman was beautiful, but because I was alone, I had to slow down and slowing down got me panicking, some how Cape Town looked like Joburg, the weed must have been too good coz when I thought I saw Newtown in Kappa I freaked out, like that was enough, the maxi taxi guy that had dropped me off earlier became shady, coz when I called this guy, he kept on saying I am coming but in the background I could hear people saying, ‘don’t go, tell him a story’, Xhosa punk!!!.
I stayed with a friend of mine from my kasi, Nasi. Nasi has a reality of his own, he lives in Mowbrey, an area that has a silent racial tension, staring you in the face, the place feels like Windsor, not the one in England “the way of the world, England” but the one near Randburg in Joburg.
Today I bought a cheap Safe Way walkman, coz I was clear that when the silence shows its face in the bus, I will be far from her womb. We got on the bus later in the afternoon.
We drove through the night, Nasi gave me some music, some of that good Hip-hop ish. I am too young to go out with Nthabi, and so while she sits next to me on the lower deck of this Inter-Cape bus, she keeps telling me how happy I make her feel but my feelings for her have changed, feels like I was never into her, and so, the walkman is my lover, the hip-hop in my ears is my close friend while the world sleeps, again.
The night has swallowed all of us and only the unsettling smell of human gas is the no.1 enemy to my nostril. I wonder if I should sleep, do Poetry, or just let ‘Mother Nthabi’ comfort me. Just when darkness thought sleep is the ruler, a woman burning from refreshments she bought on our first stop, stands up camouflaged by the night and heads in the toilet, poor man has to move for her and sacrifice his rest, I guess its manners to do that, coz I went to a boys school so I know what that means.
‘This bus is farting,
coz the engine is hurting
we must stop coz must lungs are yearning…..’
“Mak why don’t you go to sleep”, Nthabi questions me, and I respond with a look of authority that mailed her back to P.O. Box sleep coz she disturbed me in a session with Poetry. I think Snookie likes me, and all I want is to taste her fruit but spending time with her on the phone evokes lost feeling of a youthful love, mmmh, interesting. Nthabi keeps moving, her eyes opening, but I think she is not aware of it, coz she looks a bit confused, I think we are stopping, NO, we are not !!!! The crave continues, walking on the philosopher’s dusty shoes.
While trotting through some small town, there’s a gentleman eager to stay alive, sits in vain drinking a Redbull determined not to sing the music of sleep, and that is the fight we nocturnal creatures face in this noisy bus with comfortable seats, which make the fight harder, but then again “ to deny your own impulse’ to deny the very thing that makes you human”.
Up front by the entrance there are steep stairs, and on the second or the third step lies a door, behind this mysterious door sticking out in the middle of a stair way, is where controllers of destiny reside and one them is a Capetonian junkie, every time the door opens this colored addict comes out looking suspicious and edgy, though he perfectly hides his wicked ways with a cunning and charming personality, the way he communicates with people-utla thusa kure ke motho wa batho-but one thing I don’t understand is his attention to the job, he never comes to check on ‘us’-The Clients. Nthabi keeps searching for the ultimate position of comfort, tried to sleep on my broad shoulders, clearly that didn’t work.
In the glittering black face of the night, we move so slow feels like the world hasn’t changed. The bus is tired, so we stop for some juice, while I juice my self too with some fire. When I walked back in the bus, the stench of Mosses burning bush gave birth to a cloud of eyes facing my direction, and the truth gave way to Nthabi’s non-verbal language turning towards the window and closing her eyes hoping to catch a dream floating on past waters of her experience the night before…mmmmh, I doubt it.
After driving for quite a while, out of the heavens, a brave man, one of ‘us’, went to the middle door and spoke for all of us out of desperation for service, then a couple of minutes after Jesus of the Inter-Cape spoke for his people, we ceased movement in the equator no man’s land and for what? Lord knows. This bus sounds unworthy though looks safe, I guess I will have to leave my fate to the hands of this Inter Cape to deliver us safely to the land of backstabbers and gold diggers, even Jesus is not safe in Johannesburg coz a man never walks alone, BUT, its home to many of us.
Its morning time on this Inter-Cape bus, so the first thing for me do now, is to put my phasers on stun coz the Star Fleet Enterprise is in a different universe altogether.
The controllers of this wrack are Capetonian coloreds for real, they are playing old blues music that one listens to when drunk on Sunday, and then by some celestial spirit we people of the bus managed to push our bored energies to the music players, and they stopped playing that shit, this is not your living room Mr. Bus Driver. Nthabi sleeps again but this time on my shoulders, I really don’t understand this woman, she keeps on reminding me of my space yet visits my personal space and then expect me to be cool, shit, I cant be cool, no matter how angry a man can be with a woman but when she offers her fruit, by all means we shall do what we do, EAT THAT FORBIEDEN APPLE.
The cool calm junkie wants to do business with me, coz he saw me blaze fire earlier on, and the two people on my right, a young girl and an older lady exchange sweet and delicate words of a strong friendship bond as if they have known each other for years, but they only met last night. In front of them is a guy who is reluctant to pass out but one way or another, we all have to sleep, and so the sleep catches up with him, just as he is about to find that perfect pozi of comfort in his early stages of sleep, the colored junkie disrupts him from heaven, and for what? just a light conversation, small talk, I would have told him bricks.
The two lovers behind me indulge themselves in cuddling. Anxiety in the bus is louder than the streets of the home we all anticipate to reach.
We stop again, the scotching sun pierces through the transparent skin of this bus caressed by morning dew, just bought myself a Redbul and some mineral water for Nthabi, who now rests her knowledgeable head on my shoulder, and again my deep jazzy blues love for her expands, I have a weakness for women, eish!
Moalady is concerned of how far am I from her womb……
Finally 2 digits, home is around the corner.
I have been siting for a while now, and feels like my bladder is going to betray me, I am too insecure to stand up and go to the bathroom, coz check it out, when you on crutches or have a disability of some sort, the only thing you have from people not staring with eyes of shame, and end up tripping you, is your personality and dignity.
No more stops, I can almost hear the hearts of people in this bus scream in jubilation. The colored junkie announces our arrival and praises the almighty for a safe and many unnecessary stops in the journey.
The gates of Park Station open its homey arms to our arrival as we slowly drive in, home is home, the blossoming smiles on the faces of people welcoming us reminds me of why I love this beautiful, yet godforsaken place.
We park, get off and then impatiently rush to the back of the bus to conceive our luggage, the two blessed drivers stand in front of us in relief calling out our code numbers for goods. My bag and Nthabi’s are shouted like my Latin teacher back in high-school, Mrs. Nelson, announcing who’s got the highest grade between the borders and the dayboys.
We quickly fly in only to be disappointed by Nthabi’s younger sister, Bridget, whom, was supposed to be here earlier than us but didn’t, and we all know how punctual Nthabi is when it comes to being on time. The fast movement of time gave birth to Nthabi’s panic coz she was running late for wok.
My work is where ever I am at……
Thank god for MOB, my boy. A couple of minutes after Miss Punctual bounces, Mobster comes through, ever so chilled and relaxed, bringing me back to my senses and we drive out.
Got home, my mother’s face had never been so beautiful, her hug reminded me of how much of a boy I still am, and my younger brother, all of a sudden looks taller then me, but I have only been gone for a day, I guess I grew up during the time I spent on the bus ride to Kapa, and on the way back I was a little bit older, and a little bit wiser. The bus ride opened my eyes to another world in me, I love my brother and mother, and even when time has rode on with my years, I will always be a baby, in my mother’s eyes.