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Joeseph & Trinesha
Maganthrie Pillay

There's nothing quite like summer in Durban. The sun shining brightly, the humidity caressing your skin. Food and sea smells intermingling and assaiing one's senses. People riding colourful rickshaws, shrieks of laughter as young and old greet each cool wave.

Trinesha stares into the sea from her vantage point of the wall that borders the sand from the paved area. She has opened her sandals and her feet are making elaborate designs on the sea sand. She is recollecting when she was five years old and swimming in the children's pool with only white children in it. A lanky, stern white man in a uniform with a big ugly mustache is shouting unintelligible words at her. The sun is warm on her face and the water is deliciously cool. She had been there for about fifteen minutes before he had noticed her, so she had a small victory. No one explained why we could not play in the water with the white children, but we knew that we could not, she thought.

Just a mere two years ago she was not allowed to put her feet on the sand as she is doing right now. There were security guards with batons and maybe even guns. She remembered, as a child, looking longingly at sun-kissed bodies laying on the beach, outstretched, little children building sandcastles. One day I will do that too, she thought.

Who have thought that today, 15 years later, a dream, a longing in the heart, had become a reality. It is not really different to the beaches that we went to, the Indian beaches, except that this is close to town and close to shops, at the fun fair and paved as well. What angered the adults was that even if they wanted to go there, it was not a choice, that beach was out of bounds.

A bald voice interrupts her reverie. "Give me some money." It is a young African boy, maybe eight years old. Only one of the many children who have run away from home in the townships and live on the streets of Durban.

I'm a student, I don't have any money, but I can share my lunch with you. The boy looks thoughtfully at the outstretched hand, "As long as it is not curry."
Trinesha makes like she is cross, "What a bloody cheek you have, suits me fine." The boy, "Just jokin an' ol' man."

He tries to mimic an Indian accent. Trinesha gives him a slice of bread, which he ravenously eats. She looks out at the ocean agaln, but is quite curious about this very bold and funny little boy. "Where are you from?"
"Kwamashu" the boy replies.
"And what are you doing here all by yourself?"
While dusting the last breadcrumbs from his mouth he mutters, "I came to swim in the sea."

He looks intensely at Trinesha, it is his turn to interrogate her, "What is that in your mouth, is it Jewels?"
"No it is railway tracks," she retorts.
"Can you kiss with it," he asks saucily.
"No, it is to guard against men and naughty boys!" She flashes them close to his face, and he recoils from that much steel on teeth.

"You speak very good English for a boy from the townships", says Trinesha, who has not bought his line about swimming in the sea. She wonders if he can even swim in the first place. She smiles at this.

Joeseph shifts uncomfortably, "I…I…learn it from friends."

"Do they live on the street here in town, or do they also come into town for a swim? Where are your parents?"

At this Joeseph is thrown. "None of your business", he whispers softly under his breath. Trinesha expects him to leave. Gently she says, "My name is Trinesha, Ubani igamalaku?" He laughs at her pronunciation. "Joeseph," he says. "I like you, Miss India."
They sit together watching the ocean now and Trinesha tells Joeseph about her childhood and her run-ins with the security. Joeseph can not keep up the story of living in the township. Trinesha discovers he has been living on the streets for the past two years and learns about his adventures. They part firm friends.

Since Trinesha is staying in town for the weekend as opposed to going back to Phoenix, where she comes from -- the all Indian Township, riddled with gangsterism, and the constant threat of invasion from the squatter settlement, growing rapidly in its midst --she goes back to the 3-star hotel she is staying at.

Rita, Trinesha's roommate, has learned all about Joeseph. She is riveted while Trinesha recounts some of Joeseph's adventures. They decide to go and watch "Fisher King", which is playing at The Wheel shopping mall, on Point Rd, known for its "ladies of the night" and its vibrancy.

They step out boldly, commenting on how much the streets of Durban have changed since the eighties. Immersed in their conversation as they are, they don't see the four big Afrikaners, their big stomachs hanging grossly in front of them, who are standing on four corners of the street ahead of them. Three of them have sjamboks (whips with rubber, long, snake like and phallic), one has a shotgun. As Trinesha and her friend Rita pass through, one of the men puts the tip of his sjambok between Trinesha's legs. While he does this he speaks in Afrikaans.

He seems to be the leader of the pack. He wears ammunition across his broad chest, decorated with the Nazi flag on one shoulder and the old South African flag on the other. He is also the largest of the four. He says, "Hey Coolie, die weer is lekker vanaand. Wat doen a mooi coolie miesie soos jy uit so laat?"

Still pushing the sjambok between her legs and following them. The other big-belly Boere low and loud, like hyenas or demons, their eyes glowing with excitement.

Trinesha and her friend, who are holding hands, tighten their grip and start to walk faster. Silently reassuring and conveying the need not to incense these hate-filled men. Having seen the shotgun and being two young Indian women alone, they realise that their best bet is to get out of the situation as fast as
they can.

Trinesha turns around to face them. "Excuse me," she says as politely and neutrally as possible, whilst she takes the ship from between her legs and throws it away from her. In her head and eyes however, "You bastard, we are going to get you one day! We'll see who'll be laughing then!" They are still laughing. Rita has started to cry.

One of the Boere say, "Ag shame moenie huil nie, jy is better as 'n kaffir, coolie miesie."

Joseph, undetected, has witnessed this whole scene. It makes him angry that these monsters have attacked his new friend. Not too far away, around a little fire, are six other boys sitting and talking. He runs to them, his posse, and plans their revenge. Soon they are armed with sharp instruments. They identify the car belonging to the Boere by the bumper sticker, which proudly states "WHITE RULE FOREVER." It seems this is the sport the Boere have planned for the evening. A black family passes by, a man, a woman and two children. One Boere quotes from the bible in Afrikaans. Another Boere grabs the man and wraps a whip around his neck. " Kaffir, lick my boots!" he booms, pushing the man's head to his dirty, smelly boots. The woman's eyes are dull and expressionless. The man's family stands very still. It's like they have been here before and wait for it to pass so that they can continue on their way. This gives the armed boys even more incentive to attack. Quietly, they rip the tyres, letting the air of all of them.

The girls, who made their escape earlier, are now at The Wheel, out of breath since they had run all the way, till they were certain that they were out of range. Rita is panicking and close to hysteria, " Let's call the police.
"To tell them what?" asks Trinesha.
Rita calms herself. "You're right, maybe they're cousins or something.
Trinesha takes a deep breath, "I can't wait for the elections, then this bullshit won't happen."
They walk to the ice cream parlor. Suddenly Joeseph runs up to them. "We...we took the air out, and ripped..." He is laughing, telling of their act of revenge. "Silly bunch of potatoes," says Trinesha, "now they won't be able to leave and they'll play their sick games all night long. Were you following me?"
Joeseph looks shyly at his feet and then looks at her with a naughty smile. "See you tomorrow, thanks for the ice cream," he says and runs out.
"Joeseph...!" Trinesha calls out, then laughs and orders another ice cream.

The next day, Joeseph is nowhere to be found. It is lunchtime and Trinesha stands outside the hotel basking in the December sunlight. From a distance there is music approaching and cymbals going. In the corner of her eye, she sees a colourful procession. It's the circus passing out of town. The streets are now filled with onlookers, waving and cheering the acts.

A little boy catches her eye. It's Joeseph with a clown's nose on, holding balloons and poking the clown in his stomach. The crowd cheers. He does not see her, but waves as he passes by into his future.

Maganthrie Pillay has been writing since childhood. She works as an independent film and TV producer and is presently working on De-Railed, her feature film debut.