This is the last of three teaser blog posts before May’s launch on Thursday featuring three of Tightrope’s spring titles! Today’s teaser is from Danila Botha’s new collection of short stores Got No Secrets. In Got No Secrets, Danila takes us into the private lives of 12 different women with one question in mind: what if these women were you? From addiction to abuse to suicide, from Hillbrow to Toronto, Danila’s writing and voice takes you to a place that is compassionate, provocative, often funny, and always fearless!
I like to fantasize about dropping out of school and being a singer or a rapper.
I love kwaito, township hip hop, and African singers. My mom has all the albums, from Miriam Makeba to Brenda Fassie, from Bongo Maffin to Mandoza. Kwaito adds colour when everything is grey and white—the buildings; the crap burger joints; the wet laundry that hangs out of people’s windows, showing off our underwear, reminding the world that we’re working class; the gunshots at night. It’s too bad my father was white. I’m a dushi, a mixed-race kid. I’d never be accepted if I wanted to make music like that. As it is, the kids I know from around here call me Coconut—a person who’s brown on the outside but white on the inside. They hate that I don’t go with them to one of the shit schools in town. I go to an almost all white school in Edenvale that takes me forever to get to. My name is is Colleen, which they call me at school, but in Hillbrow everybody calls me Coco. It’s okay. It doesn’t bother me anymore.
A nurse comes to call us into another waiting area. She and Mom chat. She asks my mom if I have Magama Amathathu, if I have AIDS. She says it because I’m thin, because I haven’t been keeping anything down. I’m about to snap, I’m about to say, “No, lady, not AIDS, just HIV.”
It’s the kind of joke my mom wouldn’t find funny. She doesn’t want a phalafala, she tells me, sharply poking me in the leg. It’s true, I know. The last thing we need is a fiasco.
Sometimes when I think about being sika, I think about how many years I’ve had these health problems, I think about how little money we have money wise, how my mom has to phanda to make ends meet, I get so angry. I understand why people deal drugs, why people rob houses, why stupid people get shot. Everyone just wants to get out. Everyone is desperate to get out of this place as soon as they can. And there are so many of us.”