"Be a good boy, Jabu," My mother would say to my six year old self as
I lay shivering upon the thin, dirty mattress of our bed. "No-body
likes a tsotsie - a scoundrel. You will go far in life, my son, and
good things will find you, if you are a virtuous boy."
"Yebo Ma." Yes Mother, I would say, looking around our tiny candlelit
shack of scrap corrugated iron. How guilty I would feel! How good must
all the little white boys and girls be to live in those beautiful
brick houses with lights on wires and pools full of clean blue water
right in the garden! Surely I, who tried all the time to be good, must
be a very bad boy already? Only a very bad boy should have to walk two
kilometres to fetch water, just for drinking, each day.
She was a very beautiful woman, my Mother. A good woman and religious
too. But nothing good ever came her way. My Father (whom for many
years I, as 'mfane', a small boy, believed held the misfortunate name
of Goodfornothing Tsotsie) gave her two things: I, a good for nothing
tsotsie now also, and the slow puncture - Aids.
She passed away just this year and with the last bit of air she
breathed "Be a good boy, Jabu." But what good is good if nothing but
bad ever comes from it? There is no good here in Soweto.
My Mother attended Catholic Church. She was a believer in God the
Spirit. I am unable to find Him. And now, I am joking to my friends,
that the only spirit I am willing to turn to, is that of the Methylated
variety. You see, we pour the liquid through a loaf of bread and it
turns from purple to white. And white is good. White will get you all
the water in the world, right there in your garden.
I am Jabulani. My name means 'happiness' in Zulu. But I am not happy.
And I am not a good boy.
First published: November, 2006
comments to the writer: