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"I can only tell you things that happened as I saw them, and what the rest was about only Africa knows." – Oom Schalk Lourens

Germiston South Africa in the eighties

When I was little

I use my dad’s step ladder to peer over into our neighbour’s garden. It is beige, like ours, and there are children, too. I tell them my name is Caitlyn because, at 5, I figure I can be whatever I want, which is to co-pilot a stealth helicopter that lives in a mountain and be in a fake-platonic relationship with an ex-army guy called Stringfellow.

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It’s dry and dusty. Volumes of mining waste rising and falling across the otherwise flat horizon, like great burial mounds; a piloerection of rubble surging in reflex to the fall of industry on the East Rand.

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Hillbrow from Ponte Johannesburg

The Dump

They stood hand in hand and looked at the dump. The history teacher with the clear blue eyes, one that skewed under stress, and the art curator with the soft cheeks and big beard. A dump for sure but their dump nonetheless.

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school building Johannesburg South Africa

Thirteen #1995

Picking pieces of dry grass from her school jersey, the girl braces as she bites. Butter overload (a sort of PTSD). But, you know, mom wouldn’t be mom if she wasn’t hacking a block of unsalted cooking butter and depositing the wedges onto brown bread with marmite…

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