About a hundred meters away from the busy intersection the robot turns orange.
“It’s time to stop,” it says. “Sit back, relax and take a look around you.”
Her eyes, yes, as always, looking down at the road.
And on her soggy, grimy, corrugated-cardboard ‘licence plate’ are four similar downcast faces.
Sabotaged by the climbing ivy wrinkles of unnecessary worry and… confusion.
“Just look at her! She could pack bags at ‘Clicks’ if she were not so lazy! She makes more money here! The fool! The… the…
The robot turns green and the car rolls away…
It’s Sunday; we sing a hymn and a tatty old man stumbles in and sits down.
He is sitting alone, by the last stanza…
On my way to school a taxi flies past, full of noisy, tightly packed, screaming ‘animals’ off to their enclosures.
They are unaware of themselves.
Just minutes after…
But, this time full of children. “Gateway Village Bus” flickers in the sunlight.
Little faces—badly deformed—are pressed up against the windows.
As the bus goes on, they smile at me so warmly, oblivious to the hurtful, harsh criticism filtering through my ‘sophisticated’ mind.
Their faces disappear down the road.
Sometimes we pass “the flats” on our way to the city.
Two young girls play with knives. They hack away at an empty cardboard box lying in the mud while their parents lie drunk on the patio…
My mother drops me off at the school gate. I wave good-bye and walk into yet another sad story.
Some stand in groups and talk about their exciting weekends. How they went to the ‘Vaal’ with their speed boats and had a really good time.
How they worked all night on Friday, but got a good wage.
They laugh together.
Their friendship is special and warm.
As I walk over to my own group of friends (happy to see me), I see others walking side-by-side sharing with one another… and I see those standing alone, looking at their watches, reading through their school diaries. Looking busy.
I know that they are just shielding themselves from the reality that no one is willing to be their friend.
I turn my head and walk on. Much faster then before.
“Got to get to my friends now!”
The bell rings. We go to class, only to face more mysteriously withdrawn characters. Only, they sit at bigger desks. They are less approachable.
Yet, they have lives, too.
Some of them.
After school they climb into their cars and drive off.
But I’ll see them again tomorrow… perfectly veneered.
Well, I only have to see them for a few more months. What’s more, I have my own veneer to polish.
And yet, when I go home (to my comfort zone), put on my music and stare out over the hilltops and see the ‘sophisticated’ human anthill from my mansion in ‘Florida Hills’… it hurts…
Because I wonder how much I actually care.
“Not much,” I say and pick up a magazine on the glass-topped coffee table.
“So?” I think.
“Who cares anyway?”