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Harriet Bentley
 
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The Pretoria Chronicles: The Closet Racist/Compulsive Smiler Who Lives Next Door.

03 April 2014, 13:33

I’m back home in Johannesburg for a week with a borderline head cold and an almost empty house at my disposal. It’s a nice change from my shrieking commune of girls as my only visitor so far has been my maid knocking on my door asking where the other halves of my mismatched socks are. Silly Peggy, I haven’t owned a pair of matching socks for years, they’re far too hard to keep track of.

The eerie thing about home is its normality. My family is incredibly bizarre, I won’t lie about that. Between a brother who dresses like he’s in the steam punk/Victorian era and a grandmother who blames everything on race, tattoos, delinquents and the government my life pre-varsity has hardly been uneventful.

It just hasn’t been as eventful as this past quarter of school has been.

I never got around to explaining about our closet racist neighbour, I’ll call him Pik Botha for the sake of protecting his identity and avoiding a lawsuit.

Pik Botha is the cousin of one of my roommates and is studying Theology at our University. He can be seen, without fail in khaki shorts, brown strap on sports- sandals and a two-toned button up brown shirt. Pik Botha also has a habit of smiling at me like I’m a koeksister he’s dying to eat, even whilst I shoot him uncomfortable dirty looks. It can be said that Pik Botha scares the crap out of me.

When I met Pik Botha, the first thing he offered me was help around campus (because according to him, our high-quality, state-of-the-nation top varsity is filled with thugs) and the other thing was movies from his hard drive. However, because I’m a girl who likes free things, especially if the free things include movies for my hard drive I tend to make dumb decisions. Dumb decisions like grabbing my roommate Raechel and making her come with me to Pik Botha’s room for free movies.

To this day, I’m pretty sure I could have sex with a pimple and it would still be a better idea than going with Pik Botha to his lair of religion and racism.

Pik Botha’s cave was very brown, and filled with crusty socks, dirty mugs and mountains of religious reference books (I counted atleast 6 tattered Bibles). He had animal skin carpets strewn across the floors and Raechel was almost swallowed by his double-mattressed bed as she sat down. The room was hot and sticky with Pik Botha filling up the majority of the space. However, the most disturbing thing in there, and the only splash of colour amongst the many shades of brown and gunk was the old South African flag of his that remained tacked to the wall.

This is when our suspicions were born. The old South African flag represents the old Apartheid regime, it’s never been officially banned in South Africa but the stigma attached to it is that of racial intolerance and segregation.

“Why do you have that flag on the wall?”

“Uh. It was there when I got here”

“So why don’t you take it down?”

“Because…uh…it would be vandalism”.

We were far too tired to argue and far too alarmed to care as we scurried out of his room, thankfully he didn’t do something creepier like cut off our big toes. However, this was the beginning of our theory that Pik Botha is not a rainbow nation kind of guy.

The second event occured when Pik came over unexpectedly for tea. He sat across from us, smiling his hungry smile and told us that if we invite any “black people” onto the property we will be evicted, his back up argument was that the rules are in our lease contract. They aren’t. Raechel and I ran away and pretended to sleep in my room to avoid any further conversation.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen Pik Botha. The last time was when he told us about his “girlfriend” that he has no pictures of who is actually a lesbian (?). I’m not too sure how Pik Botha defines the term “dating” but I really hope it’s not just staring at someone like their a syrupy pastry, because then I may have a boyfriend.

He invited us to a two-man braai, we declined, and occasionally I see him walking towards me on the way to campus so I cross the road. The plan is to invent a boyfriend for me with a blatantly African name just to freak the little racist out. This means engaging in conversation with him however, a feat far too draining and offensive for me to handle.

It’s times like those when I view my grandmother’s rants about dreadlocks and “the Chinese” (what the hell Gran, I don’t understand you) as just another Thursday night.

Embrace diversity readers, or one day you’ll get a secret alias and a blog post written about you.

www.dalliance.wordpress.com

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