a town within a city

At the edge of my vision is the start of the township. Small shacks made of aluminum dot the landscape. If you were to walk there, your feet would kick trash at every step. These are the informal settlements. Take the first right, and you will arrive on my street, Blinkbonnie.

Waves of people walk home from work in the 5 o’clock setting sun, and school children in plaid uniforms run in between them. Small bare feet kick soccer balls in a car park to the left. On the right, a hair salon operates out of a concrete block with no windows and a gap in the wall for a doorway. Up ahead, the street steadily climbs a hill. At the top is my host family’s home.

Turn left into the car park you find there, and walk back down the hill a bit. A dirt path takes you past the car full of boys playing house music. They are brothers and cousins of the people who live here. Go down past Keira’s house, my sweet twelve-year-old neighbour who loves to play with my hair and my phone. Walk past the house with Hindu statues, blasting out Indian music, and onto the house with the red car. This is where I’m standing.

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Behind me, a humble home sits with its door open, but gate closed. Inside, my sister Zama watches soapies while my mama cooks dinner. The smell of carrots steaming with chilli powder and potatoes wafts through the gate, and out to where I am standing.

In front of me, tall grass with glimpses of wildflowers reveals only the roofs of houses perched on the hill below. Above these houses, a clothesline holds onto long pink nightshirts, blue polka-dot pyjama shorts and an orange beach towel.

The wind feels like a soft touch, gently wrapping my body in its arms. Winter has turned into Spring and if I look far enough, I can see the ocean. Perhaps, this is where the cool air comes from. The waves crash into sand, and from there, skyscrapers erupt from the earth. A freeway snakes in between these buildings, and cars look like ants making their way home.

Out there is the city of Durban, but right in front of me is the township of Cato Manor, my home for now.