Wednesday, 30 November 2011

No Pictures (Journal Entry on Cape Town Trains)

Everyone has told me the stories about the tourists being robbed on the trains. The robbers and the knives. The robbers are kids or young African men. They are desperate wolves, street savages, city junkies, they eat without forks, just knives and knives. Tendon cutting, wound gushing knives! I should not take my camera. If I had a hunger pain, one so deep it stuck its jagged malnourished fingernails into me and I saw a camera as a cure, a meal or something that picks me up and takes me somewhere with brighter colour and happier settings, what would I do? There’s no telling.

Should I take my Camera? I picture a knife at the warmest vein on my neck. A man, clothes ripped, shredded, he must fight lions, the kings of jungles. No, he is a lion.  I am an antelope, a curious deer, a trained dog on the wild city trains. Should I take my camera?

But Ray, the stories of these robberies, they are not yours. You are not a twenty one year old white woman from Germany, or a white teethed American student with blonde surfer hair and a backpack full of prized goods. You don’t wear black tinted sunglasses that are too big for your face. No Ray, until you open your mouth people think you are from here, South Africa, beautiful South Africa. Take your camera.

Now I picture being asked a question by the man with shredded, ripped clothes. I don’t want to respond but I have to... in some way. I shrug my shoulders, he takes it as a sign of a challenge. He will not be brushed off, shooed away. He is not a fly I can swat, he is a king!  I say something.. something short, in one quick breath but I sound too unsure of myself. He smells a weakness; he sees a worried goat, a wounded bird. The claws in his eyes reach for me, or should I say knife, yeah, his knife, his rusty life-ending knife. My blood is sauce, hot sauce from Europe, it will be on his knife.. I will bleed to death, right there.. on the train... and on my birthday...

I will not take my camera.