The coward 1/5

By Drum Digital
07 July 2014

Eli’s got a lot on his shoulders: matric, his siblings, money . . . and impressing his girlfriend

The train coach was filled with school kids, mostly from Spes Bona Secondary.

It was early afternoon and school was over for the day so everyone was in high spirits – everyone, that is, except for Eli.

Eli stood holding onto a strap, squeezed between some Grade 8 kids, worrying as the train swayed. Eli was in Grade 12, about to write matric, but he spent a good deal of time worrying about other things.

Right now it was mostly about his younger brother, Bokamoso. Bokamoso was in trouble at school for misbehaving. He was running around with a gang of wild boys who got up to all sorts of mischief.

“What am I going to do about that boy?” Eli wondered. “How do I make him understand he is heading for trouble? How do I stop him before he ends up arrested? Or worse . . .”

It was such a burden! And then there was his younger sister, Thandi. At least Thandi worked hard at school so Eli didn’t have to worry on that score. But her school dress was way too small now. It left marks on her skin when she took it off.

“And how am I going to get her a new one?” Eli worried. “Mr Padayachee will only pay me at the end of the month. And that’s still weeks away.”

On Saturdays and Sundays Eli did odd jobs for Mr Padayachee at his store, and at least that brought in a bit of money to help pay the bills. But it meant that Eli didn’t have much time to spend with Masego.

Masego was his girlfriend. She was also in matric at Spes Bona. Eli looked across at her now. There she was, at the other end of the coach, chatting to her friends. As the train screeched to a halt at the next station, Eli smiled at her but she didn’t notice. Eli really needed a friendly smile right now.

As the train jerked out of the station, a buzz of excitement went around the coach.

Lesego Dlamini, aka high Voltage, was going topside! Yes! He was going to attempt the rio run! Everyone began chanting: “Go, Volt, go!” All eyes turned to the window, where high.

Voltage was preparing himself for this great challenge. A train-surfer of note, he was fearless, laughing in the face of danger. He’d been on the roof 11 times! And how handsome he looked as his friends helped him onto the open window ledge.

Eli shook his head in admiration as high Voltage climbed right out into the rushing wind. Soon Volt’s handsome face and then his chest disappeared upward.

To be continued.....

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