matt's notebook

Part 2 - Caba

Sabonaan' bantabami (Hello my children)

1. Main Road

The Headmaster furls his bicep to his boy Lekker's head,
Lekker who has his history inked into his wrists,
lines darker than his given sibling's lips,
Hopeful, 11,
Promise, 8,
2 of 9,
Magogosikole's, housemistress, 16 years.

'What are the called?'
'Natal Wild Bananas'

Hopeful raises his hands,
'Look. Level. Like this.'
Hopeful stands to attention,
Hopeful takes the tray of young Strelitzia nicolai,
Hopeful carries his cargo like the crown jewels,
brow darker than this given treasure's stems,
thinks mild metal bananas, mild-mannered bananas.

'Yebo, bahambani?
Bashaya idamu nomabashaya utshani na?'

Promise raises her chin,
'No thank you'
Promise turns on her strops,
Promise hides behind her Headmaster's hands,
Promise smiles at the new boy on the pavement,
eyes lighter than her given father's face.
'we're gardening.'
thinks no thank you nearly always the right answer.

They march down Main Road,
Lekker beats his arms in a tattoo,
Hopeful guards his box of wild banana pups,
Promise drills herself to be a beauty queen,
Headmaster marshals his ears to rank her words
above the warm, salted, pounding Indian Ocean surf.

Matthew John Williams
Draft 3 - July 2003

Magogosikole - lit. Mrs Grandmother-school, (nickname for Masitole, housemistress at a KwaZulu-Natal grammar school)
'Yebo, bahambani? / Bashaya idamu nomabashaya utshani na?' - 'Hello, where are they going? Are they going to swim or are they running away?'