You are not a true Jhb person unless you have been mugged at least once. That actually is a huge compliment if it only stays there without being harmed. Make no mistake about but South Africa has long passed its sell-by date. Name one thing that works well in this country just one. I will wait. Ok, I cannot really wait because it will be forever. Crime is so synonymous with us that the World Cup had so many travel warnings because of it. I know some people complained about how the world was being racist but the truth is all of us have to double watch our back whether at home or on the street. I however had never been robbed before.
“Mum it’s me again!”
I told my mother when i called her back with the car in motion.
“What happened and why are you cry mntanami?”
She asked very concernedly. To people who hardly ever come to Jhb it has to be the scariest thing imaginable.
“They stole my phone mum but i am fine.”
I said in between sobs.
“Yho yho yho…”
She said panicking and i know my mother as soon as i hang up the phone she will be crying too.
“I will be fine. I am using a friends phone.”
I told her as my poor mother was already in full panic mode.
“Did they hurt you?”
She asked me helplessly. People never acknowledge that one of the hardest things about being a mother is the feeling of hopelessness or helplessness you have when it comes to protecting your child in such a violent country.
“I am ok mum. They just took my phone off my ear when i was talking to you. i was with my friend who is helping me get a job so everything is fine!”
I told her. I had not intended on telling her about the job part but at this moment a little bit of good news would have soothed her.
“Let me get back to res and i will call you back properly.”
I told her and at least she did not argue much and had it not been because I had been on the phone with her I would not have called and told her. She panics a lot and is overly dramatic that one. I dropped the phone and thanked Abisola.
“Are you fine? I should have warned you not to talk on the phone on the street like that. i thought you knew. I am sorry!”
She said and that exposed my naivety. I had naturally assumed because we were in a place with so many people no one would actually dare rob you a people are supposed to protect each other. Guess not.
“It’s ok. It was my fault in any case. I should have known better.”
I told her.
“When I first came to South Africa I was robbed in Braam coming from the church. Imagine I had never ever been robbed in Nigeria which has three times the population here and in about a month I had already been a victim. It was my father’s phone and I had begged him to give it to me before I came. I was so hurt!”
She told me. I could see she was still touched about that.
“How long ago was that?”
I asked her.
“Three years ago in two months. Wow, time flies hey!”
She told me and I could see she had been here a while then. She definitely knew more of Joburg than me.
“How often do you go home to Nigeria?”
I asked her.
“Up until six months ago, I had never gone back. It was hard then but since I got my citizenship I have been there 4 times already. I missed it so much. The food, the smells, family of course everything.”
She said and i could understand where she was coming from. I sometimes missed everything about Mooi River even our one traffic light.
The years hit me but I could not even say it out loud because I do not think that is what had been intended to come out. In South Africa we are angry at the wrong people, she had gotten citizenship in half the legal time not because she stole it but because a South African made it and gave it to her for whatever price.
“I am sure they love that hey. As soon as i am working i will go home more often because i miss my mum esepcially.my father not so much hey. He is a bit of an ass but i do love him.”
I told her perhaps unnecessarily but she just laughed and said fathers everywhere are the same. She was obviously older than me and quite tall too not that the height influenced her wisdom. I liked her and she was gentle.
We made small talk all the way back to the residence but I was still quite shaken. I gave her Katlego’s number for Ada to call me when he came.
“Thank you for today. It really was fun until the drama!”
I told her as she dropped me off.
“We should do this again soon. Next week I won’t be at church though so probably the week after!”
She said as she was about to drive off. I guess it was a date then. When i got to the room Katlego was there lying in bed reading a book. She had to be the last person I knew in the world who still went to buy paperbacks and actually read them. She as exclusively into African authors because she always argued how woke they were.
“What book are you reading now?”
I asked her.
She said without looking up and immediately I recognized the title because this must be the third time she was reading it. It was her favourite. I did not even have to ask whom the author was.
“I am expecting a call on your phone later.”
I told her.
“On my phone? What happened to your phone?”
She asked me sceptically. I then went on to explain to her about my day from church to lunch and the incident.
“Oh my God Samke, I am sorry are you ok?”
She asked me at the end.
“Yes I am ok but i was so traumatised!”
I confessed to her but at this stage, the tears have dried up and the shock was gone.
“So you gave my number to your mum? I thought she already had it?”
She asked me a bit surprised. When we moved in together she had made us swap our parents numbers in case something happens and also to give our parents each other’s numbers.
“Oh i meant i gave Ada your number so that he can call me when he comes. He told Abisola he was coming and …”
I didn’t finish the statement because she immediately said,
Sitting up immediately putting her book down.
“Yes i did that i ….”
Again she did not make me finish that.
“How could you do that? How could you give him my numbers?”
She asked me in horror.
“I am sorry I should have asked but…’
For a third time, she stopped,
“I know you going to thing wrong of me but these people are dangerous. Why do you think we are constantly warned about them? I know how I sound and I don’t like how I sound but there are so many examples of how dangerous they are! Now you gave him my numbers oh God come on Samke you can’t be that naive! Zamo i see but not you!”
She said and i was so lost as this stage. She had not even given them a chance and now there was no way i could ask her for advice about the money he had given me.
“I know what you mean. He asked to see me and I agreed because I need to make him aware that there is nothing that can happen between us. I am not xenophobic though. At home, we are taught that only Zulus matter so much so that we don’t even like abeSotho and I don’t want to be that person. I am sorry. I will personally delete your numbers from his phone!”
I reassured her. My intention was not to make her feel guilty but the look on her face had turned into one of guilt.
“With these guys, you just have to be super cautious that’s all. We can go on Facebook and Twitter right and type in Nigerian and you will see for yourself.”
She told me and again it was something i knew. This was fair warning and to a certain extent she had a point. I was caught in an awkward corner because i am not sure what exactly i had done wrong. She was being dramatic but to be fair even at the party she had been very apprehensive.
“I am really sorry about what happened!”
I told her again.
“Its fine, it’s done.”
She said and went back to her book. A part of me felt like she was dismissing me like a child but oh well. An hour later her phone rang,
“Samke I think it’s for you!”
She said. She did not pick it up.
“Hi Sam, it’s me I am where I dropped you yesterday!”
It was Ada and that accent was unmissable.
“I will be right down!”
I told him. I thanked Katlego for the phone but she did not respond. She was still pissed off and part of me understood that. I will make it up to her later. It took the present he had given me and walked out with it.
I said to him when i got to the car. I stood at the driver side and he said,
There was no smile on his face and his tone was not the sweet tone i think i had gotten used to from him.