Tempted by a white girl

2014-09-07 15:00

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In this edited extract from Kaizer Nyatsumba’s new book, Incomplete Without My Brother, Adonis, he tells the story of how, in 1978, he almost took a bite of the forbidden fruit.

When I was in Standard Five in 1978, I worked for a family whose daughter was a little older than me. She stayed at the boarding school and was fetched every Friday afternoon and taken back to Nelspruit on Sunday afternoons. She was a beautiful girl who often spoke nicely to me.

When I arrived at work one Saturday morning, the family was getting into a car and about to drive away. Their daughter told them that she was not keen to go with them. Instead, she would spend the weekend at home alone, busy with her studies in preparation for some tests.

The girl greeted me nicely as usual, and I proceeded to the garage to get the garden tools that I would need. I went about my work as usual, mowing the lawn, trimming the hedges and removing weeds from the garden.

Unbeknown to me, the white girl had been following my movements through the windows in the house, and at times she would come round to ask me if everything was still fine. Touched by her caring, I confirmed that, indeed, all was still well with me. Around 10am, I heard her calling my name softly. “Elliot. Elliot, kom eet,” she said.

I stopped what I was doing, went to wash my hands and proceeded to the door of the kitchen, where I found the girl waiting for me with the food. She had changed the clothes that she had worn when her family left.

She was now wearing a short, white skirt with a beautiful top which exposed a little more of her breasts than was usually the case.

Pretending not to notice the change of clothes, I accepted the food from her, mouthed the usual “dankie, klein miesies” and walked away to find a place where I could sit down and tuck into the food.

The brown bread contained more jam than usual that day, but I attributed that to the fact that she had a kind heart, unlike her parents. When I finished eating, I took the plate and the mug back and put them on the stoep in front of the kitchen. She would see it when she opened the door. I returned to the garden and continued with my work.

The sun was hot, so I had taken my T-shirt off. With my body thus exposed (that was not the first time that I had done so), I went on with the work that needed to be done. About two hours later, I heard my name called again, this time more softly than usual.

“Elliot, Elliot, waar is jy? Kom hier, asseblief.” (“Elliot, Eliot, where are you? Please come here.”)

Again I laid the garden implements down, walked to the water tap to wash my hands and approached the kitchen door. She stood leaning against the door, with a smile on her face.

“Elliot,” she said a little hesitantly, “will jy my naai?”

I did not believe what I had heard. As if in a reverie, I thought that perhaps I had misheard her or imagined the words she had just uttered.

“Ekskuus, tog, klein miesies?” I said, begging her pardon.

“Ek het net gevra of jy my wil naai,” she said, bolder this time, putting her thumb between her two preceding fingers to demonstrate what she meant. Okay, I had heard her correctly the first time, alright. She had just asked if I would like to sleep with her, to have sex with her.

Wow, what was I to say? Instinctively, I started sweating, my hands got clammy, my penis stood to attention and my tongue got stuck in my mouth. I was ambivalent, overcome with fear and excitement at the same time.

Was she teasing me, putting me to the test? Was she for real, did she mean what she had said? I did not know what to do or say.

“Jy?...?jy?...?jy is baie mooi, klein meisies,” I heard the words escaping from my mouth at a painfully slow pace at last, as though somebody else had uttered them.

“Jy?...?is?...?baie?...?mooi, klein miesies,” I repeated, “maar ek is baie bang. Ek wil net bietjie daaroor dink, asseblief,” I said, asking for an opportunity to think things through carefully, weighing up the risks involved.

“Moenie worry nie, Elliot. Ek verstaan. Dink daaroor en vertel my wat jy dink, maar ek wil graag met jou naai,” she said, slowly turning back into the house, closing the door behind her.

I remained transfixed on the same spot for quite a while, as if in a trance. Had she planned this surprise all along, I asked myself. Was that the reason she had not travelled with her family?

If I gave in to the temptation and went for it, and somebody got to hear about it or we were arrested – sex between blacks and whites in South Africa was a crime at the time – I am the one who would end up sentenced to many years to teach other black boys a lesson.

If we were found out, she would, without doubt, claim that I had forced myself on her, raping her. “No,” I said to myself, retreating as if in a reverie. “No, I can’t do that. I can’t,” I kept mumbling.

Gradually, order was restored in my trousers and I laboured on until I had finished everything that I needed to do, and left without even bidding klein miesies goodbye.

When I got back home that Saturday, eager to share my story with Adonis, he was not at home, and our younger siblings did not know where he was. Oh, the frustration.

After all, I had walked home hurriedly in order to share the story with him. Thankfully, he returned home shortly after my arrival. I took him by the hand and led him to our bedroom and closed the door behind us.

“What is it, Ntwana? What is happening?” he asked.

We sat on the bed and I told him the whole story, omitting not a single incident. He listened intently throughout, but once I had finished, he burst out laughing.

“Ahh, what a coward,” he said. “Who would have thought that you would be such a coward at a time like that, Ntwana? Our ancestors had offered you that golden opportunity, and what did you do? You ran away like a little boy, saying you wanted to think about it!”

“Please do be serious, Ntwana,” I begged him. “I really need your opinion here. What should I have done?”

Adonis went on enjoying himself at my expense. “Haa, baqinisile uma bathi amathanga ahlanzelwe abangenamabhodwe. I would have gone for it,” he said, using a profound Zulu idiom, which means opportunities befall those who cannot use them.

I sat there, listening to Adonis, and I began to blame myself. I wondered why I had been so foolish as to let go of an opportunity like that. Had I, indeed, acted foolishly? What if the opportunity never arose again? Adonis stopped laughing.

“Mfo,” he said, “I admire you for your sense of self-control. A lesser man would have gone for the opportunity and ended up in jail for the rest of his life. I was kidding, Ntwana; I would not have gone for it. I really admire your strength of character. For all we know, she may have been seeking to trap you.”

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