L-Section

The houses in L-section tear themselves in two. Built to be four roomed homes - the standard really is a kitchen, a lounge and two bedrooms - they stand when I am born as two halves of a creaky whole. They were made simply, to house simple people. They were made by simple people too, who thought when they were done, they could squeeze two Black families in two halves of a four room house.

The kitchen-bedroom and the lounge-bedroom house a family of 'X', who share the shower and sink outside with their neighbours at number 348 'b'. People often call them matchbox nightmares or rail-road carts but such people do not know the discomfort of a fart swallowed from a sibling’s itchy midnight ass.

There's nothing sweet or romantic about the houses of L-section - maybe later in the 90s when young men come back from some secret location in army fatigues one can talk of politics and poverty or the anger that black men in 80s and 70s South Africa embraced and silenced. Right now, L-section is quiet. It rests like a lilly on the surface of the botanical pond just 'being'. People attend church, stokvels and women curse each other over men without jobs and children all over the townships. The young dress and scent themselves looking forward to a 'night on the town', ready with nowhere to go, and pace the streets with expressions usually spotted on the faces of those who've lost their entire earnings at the races.

They retire, all of them, the twice fallen, twice resurrected alcoholic minister of the apostolic faith mission and the whore with choice assorted bastards; to their two-room halves of a morose side 'A' or 'B' of a section 'L' Kwa-Mashu home. They are carpenters and iron smiths behind these walls and they stretch the breath-sized spaces into football fields that sleep 6 to 8 and negotiate sibling rivalry, infidelities and minor domestic storms as they listen to Radio Zulu audio dramas at eight o'clock.

The houses in L-section are fatter now I hear. One family vacates one half and leaves it to the other. They pack their belongings into wheelbarrows and cart them further down the road. The drunks and thieves disappear, the ice-cream cart sings to newborn nuclear 2.1 and indoor plumbing helps little girls escape the grubby hands of opportunistic neighbours who fail to woo women their own damn size.

ANON