Hallo, my name is Christine…

The best part of this whole week was when Eddie and myself were reading the Huisgenoot on the pavement under a street light. We looked at the pictures and laughed a lot, although we could not read the words or understand it.

I am 9 years old and the only part of the world that I know,is Sneeuberg Road and the way to school. I also know where the station is and like to play there late at night with some of the other kids.  Some people say it is dangerous, but my mom does not mind. So I can’t understand why everybody is getting so excited about it.

My mother and father use drugs and we get a lot of people who come here to use drugs. This has been going on since I was a baby, so by now I am used to it.   When the boys arrive, they teach me how to make gangster signs and if I get it right, they give me five bob for a small packet of chips. Next to our house and across the street, strange people are selling sweets and chips.  Some people say they are from Nigeria, while others think they are from Somalia. I really don’t know, but the chips tastes nice.

Many years ago Aunty Lisa asked me a question and then taught me the answer. She asked: “How does Aunty Lisa feel about Christine?” And then I had to answer: “She loves me “. Then Aunty Lisa asked: “How much?” I told her that I loved her very much. That was a little game that was started long ago, but I still believe in her.  When she sees that I am not happy, we play a little game and then I feel a lot better.

Some evenings I run to Aunty Lewena when there is no food inour house. Or I scramble together five bob and buy a packet of chips. I sometimes feel that I don’t want to play with the children at her house. Mom does not worry about making food, and it is much more my father’s job.

At times there are too many people staying in our house. The social workers have visited the house a couple of times, but nothing happened.  Once I was very scared that they were going to take my mother away. They said something like that she was irresponsible with caring for my brother. There is something wrong with him. He has a strange look in his eyes. He is about three years old, but still cannot say a word. He also does not like to play.

I had a good little friend, but she could hurt one a lot if you did not do what she wanted. We are not good friends any more.  I don’t know why, but I battle to keep friends for a long time.

The young boys and taxi drivers really like me. Sometimes they do strange things to me. And they wink at me and I wink back. By now I know how to smile so that everybody will like me.

Round the corner there is a house with a cage and a big steel door.There is only  a small hole in the door, and a lot of things happens behind that door. It is all about drugs. I know that, because when my mother gets home, she gets busy with the small packets that she has bought somewhere. And I know then I must not get in her way.

I have an older brother. We have the same father.  Although I know he loves me, we fight a lot. Nobody likes him since he became 12 years old. I think everybody feels that he is now too old for them. Just the other day he smacked me, and I screamed and cried. The aunties at the Kid’s Club in Badsberg Close, told him to behave, and then he also started crying. Sometimes I feel sorry for him, because there is not enough space for him at his mother’s house. Her new boyfriend’s brother also does not like my brother. We have’nt really got a place for him in our house, and my mother does not like him. What I cannot understand, is why he does not eat Kellogs with us in the mornings when he has slept over. Or porridge, or whatever we had for breakfast. He always has to run around for  five bob to buy a packet of chips.

I remember once when auntie Lewena went on holiday and Aunty Lisa came to stay in the house. One night we had to make food in a big pot for the next evening.  My brother cut up the tomatoes and onions. Tears were streaming down his cheeks and we laughed so much that we also had tears running. Aunty Lisa allowed me to smell all the spices. We played a little game where I had to guess which spice was which. It was my job to put the spices in the pot with the other stuff.  It was a wonderful evening. I think I made a mistake at that time to tell all the children about the pot of food, because the next evening the house and even the steps outside were packed with children and there were more outside in the street. Everybody wanted some of the food that we made.

Nowadays my heart pains most of the time.  There is a lot of things in my life that are not right.  I already know what it is to sell my body to someone for 5 rands, and how to use my smile so that men will do whatever I ask from them.

I hope I do not become like my mother, because her heart is broken and she will never be herself again. Her eyes tell me that…every day of my life….