“Let me tell you a story my child,” he said as he slightly suggested that I take the seat right next to him. By now I was in no mood to argue with him, especially not after the entire car ride I endured from the hospital where he told me off every single chance he got; for my driving, for my hair, for the way my car was looking inside and out.
I obliged like a slave to his master and do as ordered. Taking the seat next to him, he pulled out his tobacco bag, rolling sheet and started to make himself a cigarette. I stood there, speechless at the fact that I was ordered down, only to watch him for a good dozen minutes making himself a cigarette. He did finally finish all that and lit it up before he began telling his story. After letting out a big puff of smoke, he started his story.
“When I was your age, I went through a lot. I know that it sometimes feels like I am reiterating but trust me it was bad. Like you already know, when I became an adolescent, I was shipped off to my aunt’s place in South Carolina. What you do not know is the reason why I was shipped off in the first place.” He took another puff of his cigarette, blew it and cleared his throat. It was the most dramatic he had been in a while but I was still locked into him, waiting for him to continue. The pause was longer than when he started his story and I realised that he was being dramatic on purpose this time.
“Oh yes,” he said taking two quick puffs before continuing. “Where was I? Oh yes, the reason. For you to understand the reason, you have to understand the level of discrimination I was facing in Andronia. It was more than anything I notice happening these days. Firstly, I could not go to school at all because no school would accept me. It was not because I wasn’t smart enough or what. It was the colour of my skin. I know right now that sounds like my opinion but I swear it was. The only 20 coloured children in the town did not go to school; coincidence? I doubt it! Secondly, I could not play out in public properly. I was like an unwanted virus because no one wanted to play with me and the few times I got a chance to play out in public, I become so emotionally abused that being home was better than going out at all. Growing up in a world where you were not accepted is a nightmare, especially as a pre adolescent teenager. On contrary to the novels with happy endings for children where they would walk around in the streets, playing football and smiling, this was the exact opposite. I could not take walks in the afternoon with my ‘hood crush and instead spent the entire time watching movies and reading novels. Worse off, I had no father figure to guide me or teach me or let me know that ‘it would be alright’. All I had was myself and my mom, who worked almost 16 hours a day, just to make sure that I was fed and had a roof over my head. Therefore when I tell you about what I went through, do not think I am just wasting your time.”
He leaned back onto his chair and finished off his cigarette. The entire time I was watching him, I noticed the amount of hurt he carries in his eyes. Those dark mysterious eyes had more stories to tell about his childhood but for now I would have to wait a little bit longer to find out more from them.