It’s been described as the pinnacle of African achievement. Cape Town is hot with World Cup 2010 fever, yet my experience has mostly been confined to our little lounge, staring at a tiny black box.
My father has been talking up this event for months. He diligently saved ten rand each week of his paltry labourers wage in some deluded hope that he might snag a ticket. When reality finally scored its goal, like it always does, the years’ worth of savings were drowned in the shebeen around the corner, like he always does.
I on the other hand, actually made the effort to take the train and the two minibus taxis required to travel from the dour Cape Flats to vibrant Green Point, to see the new stadium, as well as to sample what all the fuss was really about. The tourists were friendly, but they stank of whiskey and seemed weighted by their pockets, as if the African soil were rooting them to the spot where all humankind originated from. My boyfriend and I had fifty rand to spend and although we drank slowly, when our empty 500ml beer glasses were whisked away by the barman, we resigned ourselves to the long trek back home.
As the train stuttered along I remember thinking that the World Cup might be in South Africa, but it’s all an illusion because real, flesh and blood South Africans will never truly be a part of this World Cup.
Tonight South Africa is playing France. My father is predictably in the shebeen. My boyfriend, Jared, has just been paid from his new job at the docks and because of this he is being hounded by two of his friends, Derick and Shafiek. Jared has bought some crystal and we’ve been blissfully hitting the glass pipe for the past hour or so.
“I spoke to that ou that says he’s a Saligie the other day,” says Shafiek.
“That guy isn’t a Saligie! He’s a fucking vagrant!” shouts Jared, laughing.
“He looks like them, man! You can clearly see that they’re family. But get this, he says that his brother, you remember that whole thing with his brother, right?”
We all nod. How could we possibly forget the night when the biggest drug dealer in South Africa was shot and set alight by a group of crazy, religious vigilantes? The image of his burning, bloodied body was all over the TV news and in the papers. It’s an image that will forever be seared in the memory of every South African.
“He told me that before that shit went down, his brother buried a stash of drugs and cash. And I know where that place is. He told me when we were smoking some crystal. He told me in detail where he thinks it is. I was supposed to help him dig this weekend but I say fuck him, why don’t we go find it?”
It doesn’t take much to send a bunch of crystal meth addicts out on a mission, especially when that mission involves cash and drugs.
Thirty minutes later and we’re in a park with shovels. The boys dig at Shafiek’s designated spot and I light a cigarette, doubtful that they will unearth anything. The night feels like it’s riding on a wave of smoke, as we continually hit the pipe and Shafiek’s designated spot grows wider and wider.
After two, three, or four hours of digging, it looks like they’ve dug up most of the park. Just as I am about to say I’m leaving, Jared’s shovel hits something. He pulls out a black suitcase from the earth. We congregate around our treasure as Jared opens the briefcase: neatly packed inside are two see through plastic bags. One contains rands; the other a white powder. Shafiek and Derick hug each other ecstatically and howl to the moon. Jared kisses me in a way that makes my knees tremble.
We get back to my house and my father is still at the shebeen. Someone will probably come knocking soon, telling me that I have to fetch him. The boys dip their fingers in the plastic bag with the white powder – heroin. Jared disappears to the kitchen and returns with aluminium foil while I count the money. They chase the dragon and as hit follows hit, their voices quieten and they vanish into their lucid dreams.
I finish counting: half a million rand and change. Enough to actually enjoy the World Cup. Enough to drink whiskey and look weighted down by my pockets. Enough to see other things and not this godforsaken Cape Flats every day. Enough to ignore an alcoholic father who thinks of beer before putting food on the table. Enough to dump a boyfriend who lives for getting high and sees no issue with his friends flirting with his girlfriend in front of him.
Enough to leave.
I hit the last of the crystal in the pipe and I pack my bags.
Brazil 2014, Russia 2018, here I come.
About the Author
Jason’s debut novel, Risk, was published in 2013 by Umuzi, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Risk was nominated for a South African Literary Award in the Best Young Writer category. His short fiction has been published in the South African Sunday Times “Twenty Years of Democracy” special edition magazine and his recently completed second novel, Epic is a recipient of the National Arts Council literary grant.
In addition to being an author and educator, He is also a filmmaker and my script, Risky Business, was a finalist in the Kevin Spacey Jameson Scriptwriting competition. He’s currently teaching at a university in the People’s Republic of China, where He is working on his third novel, Fugue State, which is set in Beijing, as well as editing a documentary film, Hard Livings, which he’s hoping to finally release in early 2018.
About the Illustrator-
Mawia Hunter is trying to reflect the art and beauty of Africa and rebuild his past and Roots of Sudan.
World Cup is one of the many amazing pieces of fiction from the upcoming edition of the literary collection The Machinery.
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