by Carla Grauls
Setting: The foot of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa
Time: Winter 2002
Character: ANELE, male, Zulu, just out of his teens
ANELE sits on a log, all his possessions are set out before him—a dirty shirt, a faded photograph of his family, an empty plastic bottle and a plastic bag. He holds a lead pipe in his hands. He talks to himself, distressed.
I was living in Joberg, in Hillbrow. I came to Cape Town after my mother died.
The first night I was here they robbed me. The first night. (shakes head) They took all my things, my money, my I.D., everything, even my nice shoes. I had nowhere to go. No friends. So I came to this park and I found a place to sleep under some bushes. It’s hard, you know. I haven’t eaten for six days. There’s this white guy who sleeps there in the bushes, but he lets me sleep there. This white guy, he smells, you know.
One night the police come. The white boers, they come and wake me up and kick me here (points to bruise on forehead) and in my stomach. They ask me what I’m doing here. But they leave the white guy, they don’t beat him, they just leave him alone. So I got this pipe (holds up lead pipe) to protect myself. So the police won’t beat me. And next time, next time I’m prepared.
Yesterday I see this white girl, she’s going for a walk in the forest. She is alone. I follow her with the pipe. I walk softly so she can’t hear me. But she walks faster. She knows I’m following her. She runs. I run after her.
She takes off her shoes and runs. But I am faster. I am angry. She is alone so no one will know what happens. She is just a white girl. I can only see her hair moving as she struggles to run up the mountain. I am not thinking, my body is just moving. When I come to her she turns around. She is crying. In her hand is a small rock, not big enough to draw blood. I take the pipe. I am going to beat her…
I am not a rapist. I am not a criminal. I’m just desperate. I have no food, no money, no family. I have nothing. They said things would be better but they are not. In Hillbrow I lived in one room with another family and I saved money to come here to start a new life, but they took everything from me, everything and now I sleep in the bushes. And the police come to me in the night, they find me hiding and tell me I don’t belong here. The white guy he just watches.
The white girl begs me to leave her. She asks me what she has done to me. But I can’t answer because she has done nothing to me. She has done nothing.
I haven’t eaten for six days. The police, they beat me with their sticks.
(He looks out into the distance)
I… (coughs, blinks, his voice gets choked) I was living in…
(ANELE places his lead pipe down gently before him. He wipes the back of his hand under his nose and sniffs. He looks out into the distance, waiting.)
copyright © 2010 Carla Grauls. All rights reserved. ___________________________________________
Carla Grauls is a South African-born writer living in London. Her theatre work has been highly commended by the Soho Theatre. As an emerging screenwriter, Carla has won recognition from the BBC, Channel 4, and is currently developing a feature film script through a European mentor scheme. Her short fiction has appeared in Dark Tales.