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Cape Town Stories 24

Rondebosh Main Road, 7.30pm. The sun is setting, but I rush to the little Woolworths on the corner to do some last minute grocery shopping (and by that of course I mean ‚buy one item‘, this is after all the shop that sells poppy seed samoosas and sliced bread for R54). I am aware of the impending dark and the laptop I am carrying on my back feels heavy and obvious so I walk briskly and with my eyes strained and my body alert. I detect suddenly two men walking in front of me, and as I move faster I notice them notice me and I hear their footsteps quicken too – or is it imagined? Not willing to take any chances I cross the street. But they do the same, following not far behind. Heart beating faster, clutching onto the straps of my backpack I move away from the pavement and walk on the road, so that at any time I can run across the street again. I feel them quicken their steps behind me, this time I am certain. I scan the road ahead of me „anyone around that can help me?“, but the street is deserted, no one to run to, my heartbeat accelerates, my body is ready for flight. Just as I turn to cross the street again one of the men has caught up with me „Excuse me!“ he says. „Fuck“, I think. My head turns to see both men approaching me but before I can say or do anything he has continued: „I just wanted to tell you I really like your style!“. He smiles and now I actually see his face: cute-looking boy, nose piercing, large eyes, cheekbones that don’t need Fenty to pop; he looks like these young boys that skate and wear dangly earrings, very jadensmith-y, but smiling. He says: „I just really had to tell you, I saw you and you look dope, like an artist, your style is really cool“. I realise I have literally just been running away from two boys who had merely had to work up the courage to give me a compliment. Our society so often denies us beautiful and even banal experiences and encounters with other people because we constantly live in fear and are forced to be sceptical or even suspicious. By the way, these men were wearing hoodies that read „Matric 2018“ which means that they did their matric a whole 12 years after me. Which means that grown-ass men can be a whole 12 years younger than me. Realising that was really the scariest moment of that encounter :/

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