It is a winter evening in Cape Town, with heat that feels like summer, but with the colours of winter because the night enters swiftly.
With heavy feet and tired eyes, I step on the Bellville bus at past five. I find a seat near the front because, after 5 months of commuting on my own, I still become anxious over the fact that perhaps my body memory might fail me, and I’ll miss my stop. So I sit near the big window. The anxiety of missing my stop is a different type of anxiety. I think different modes of public transportation, along with its benefits, elicit different types of anxieties. And at different times too.
At peak hour, the bus station feels a little eerie. It’s packed to capacity but the collective aura of people wanting to get home after a tiring day of labour, makes the hair on my arms stand up, and it makes my hand clutch my pepper spray a little tighter.
As I settle in my seat, in the background I suddenly hear an oncomer, a man who takes on the role of a walking tuck shop stroll down the narrow passageway of the bus, and he recites:
cool drink, cool drink, coooool drink
how does he alter his voice like that?, I think to myself
he spots a customer and
R2 each. Two raaaaaaaand
she makes a purchase.
he doesn’t buy.
Okay, have a lekker evening.
he says, as he hops off the bus with a spring that is unknown to me.
As I look around the, I’d like to think that the Lower Plein is quite literally the scum of the city. Cape Town’s unclaimed baby. However, despite sharing the same dark cloud that is the hustle for provision, its people are as diverse as the rainbow nation that South Africa claims to have.
In it (the terminus) there are:
people who eat caramel popcorn before supper time,
people who read,
people who block the world out with their earphones,
babies who hang on their mothers back,
aunties who get off at the Woodstock stop,
In between the uncomfortabilities, I find comfort.
In the strangeness, there is familiarity as we all journey downwards Voortrekker Road.
I try to look at life through a rose-coloured lens, especially, when it comes to Cape Town’s public transport system. It’s the only way to stay alive.
I have no idea where this post is going but I want to share this:
In the seemingly inconvenient, you can find an opening for creativity.
In the outward unsafeness of it all, you will find profound strength and increased trust in the One who made you.
In the chaotic separation, you will find an inner flame of gatheredness. The gatheredness is in you. It always has been.
In the same way that all the answers and the cures are within you.
It’s all in the body. Whatever is reflected inside the body, is manifested outwardly.
As is the body, so is the self.
And this self is over-burdened
And this self is starved
And this self is polluted
And this self is begging. Constantly begging
for a new life.
Lower Plein Street may not be the prettiest sight, but it shows more truth about the Mother City’s inner state.