It is quiet now. It is not quiet like you could hear a pin drop kind of quiet but it is quiet enough for the city. A few hours ago the sounds of drums vibrating through the tall city buildings had me thinking thousands of Zulu men were going to come barging through the streets- sadly this did not happen. A half an hour ago my neighbour was listening to some opera, I don’t know what was being said but I felt suddenly like an anvil plunging to the depths of a dark sea- this feeling could also be attributed to the fact that I just finished Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.
The month of July was heavy with action and inaction. I had the opportunity to go to London for a workshop with the Royal Court theatre. I was at first shocked by how many white people I saw in the train, in the bus and walking on the streets- I don’t know what I expected it is in England after all- anyway after getting over the shock I really enjoyed myself. I did not want to leave, I feel in my heart I will return; I don’t know when and I don’t know how but I know I will be going back there. Also it was summer there so I escaped the middle of winter- I’m very glad about that.
Today was very cold, I could not stand it. I had on my hoodie and boots but the chilly wind whipping my face made me really mad or maybe I was mad that I was working on a Sunday. I only love my job when it is payday and on all the other days I really feel like hanging myself, as I’ve mentioned before my job is not hard it’s just not stimulating enough. Jobs like tiller, or bus driver, or miner, or street sweeper- any kind that falls under the blue collar should have a time limit, like you work three to five years and afterwards you must find something else. I feel that while working people should be studying or gaining skills to get a promotion or a different kind of job; this way the brain does not remain stagnant in its growth, the soul too does not tire of life.
What I enjoyed about London was that I felt freer, the streets are safer and the transport system is well integrated. I walked to the supermarket at eleven at night without any fear. I felt like there was no policing of individuals so I could wear whatever I wanted to without the fear that someone will shout at me from across the streets discriminating slurs like “fag” or “bitch”. There is no sheep mentality in London- that is everyone does their own thing and is content with being in their own world and at the same time they do not feel threatened by others’ differences. I was on the tube which is an underground train and there were this girls dressed like strippers, I honestly thought they were strippers because they were so scantily clad but I got off on the same station as them and I was walking behind and I overheard their conversations- turns out there are just typical females in their twenties simply enjoying life. The freedom to be what one wants to be in London is mainly what keeps drawing me back to it; that and it’s theatre culture. There are so many theatres there and all different kinds of productions. I saw quite a few shows some of which I liked and most which I did not like and having that experience made me want to write more.
Landing back home on the twentieth was a bitter joy but the sky was clear, crystal blue and the sun was mild. I came back on a Sunday, the only day on which the city tries to slow down. I slept on the Gautrain and then had to carry my heavy bags to my flat and by the time I got to the flat on the seventh floor where I stay, I was heavily sweating. I put down my bags and stood by the window and let the sombreness of the city fall over me. My flat overlooks a park and in the park they are colourful swings, a small soccer field and a basketball court where more soccer than basketball is played. Little children were playing soccer enthusiastically while some homeless people cheered them on and other hobos were sleeping with their dry mouths agape. A taxi sped by and pedestrians were scurrying to the other side of the street. Sunrays were filtering themselves through gaps of the tall buildings and a weak breeze floated by. I knew that no matter how much I liked London, I will always love Johannesburg. Johannesburg and its dirty streets, the people selling sports brands on the streets, the women braiding hair on the street corner harassing me to do my hair, the man selling cosmetics right outside Clicks, the speeding taxis, the sprinting pedestrians, the joyful screams of children at the park, the screams of a woman who was just mugged, the screams of men fighting over money, the screams of jubilant high school girls talking about God-knows what, the shrill cries of a baby on a back of woman with a heavy suitcase on her head, the baby who’s playground is the pavement, the prostitutes who don’t wear underwear and sit with their legs open, the beautiful buildings, the ugly abandoned buildings, the white buildings, the colourful buildings, the skateboarders, the young hobos who speak English very well, the Pakistanis selling towels and blankets, the mini concert held on the street corner by a struggling gospel artist, the dodgy tall dark men hitting on you, the women who turn with you and smile- all of it is Johannesburg and all of it is beautiful. There is life; there is forcefulness towards life, towards living life no matter how bleak it is. I am here and I will make it. I might make fifty cents today but I’ll come back tomorrow with the hope that I will make more, but I will not leave this city, no, I will keep coming back, rising with the sun and working long after its set. This is my city and I am in love.