Bantu, the language

I do not remember much from the time when I landed in Kansas. I think there was much emptiness, and a decent quantity of desolation keeping it company. I saw both from the sky as the aircraft landed, so I guess they could not have come from inside me.

Have I memories of the time I wish they are of those two falling without the father knowing of it.

I have naught but the madness that comes from personal choices.

When I heard a voice ask “Ndiphi?” I thought my personal choice had come for me. It was not. Disappointed, I had to focus hard to recognize what I was experiencing. Bantu, the language, impinged on my senses. It must have been this out of place experience that made me think of the Germiston train station. When I first went to Africa I had also thought of Germiston. But this was not Africa. I was in America. That is not what I told the language. To it I said, “In Kansas.” I said it in English.

Have I memories of that instant, I wonder at the collision of insignificant moments, words. People.

I remember feeling cheated later. I should have given Bantu a Wizard of Oz line with a township twist.

I could get a taxi to Lawrence, if I was willing to pay R500. It really was not so bad in dollars, less than a hundred. But I was not counting in dollars. Was there a cheaper taxi? Yes, R220. No, was there a taxi I can take to Lawrence, please, not a maxi taxi. No. A train? No. Where could I get that $35 transport again? Someone calls, they give the person on the other side a description of me. Just out the door, Sir, and wait for them to pick you up.

All the while the presence of Bantu on my senses, insistent, insubstantial, out of place. Perhaps the Dorothy line would not have been very funny after all. In JFK, where the last leg of my journey started, the last call for passengers to Johannesburg had not tickled me much either.

Walking to the door and into the sunlight of Kansas must have been hard on the language, for it asked again, “Ndiphi?”

“Kansas,” I answered, “then Lawrence and the University.”

I wanted to, but did not ask why it had come with me.

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