Uncomfortable is the word.
Like many economic hubs of activity in the country, Stellenbosch is growing. There are plenty of road works and infrastructure projects in every direction. All trying desperately to cope with the rapid expansion of the city.
As you drive in. You will witness a familiar phenomena – Well, at least it’s familiar around these parts – Black bodies working on the Roads. Upon the scaffolding of nearby buildings. On the roadside. Hitch-hiking to the next destination. Or maybe even cramped up at the back of rickety old pick up truck.
Every now and again.
Succumb to the temptation.
And lift your head just a little.
Allow your eyes to feast upon the beautiful greenery and take in the richness.
Of the winelands that give this land it’s fame.
Succumb to the trance. Of the sight of twisted Grape Vines.
That drive this local economy. Like Gold mines.
And just remember.
That as long as you keep your head tilted upwards.
With your nose carefully poised above your face.
You won’t have to meet the eyes of the bodies whose hands built – no build – this place.
So this morning. Much like most mornings.
While coming in to work. I was caught behind a pick up truck.
It carried anywhere between 5 and 8 grown men stuffed in the back.
As we slowed down and sped up along the narrow road into the city.
I can’t help but notice they are looking right at me.
Sometimes they are laughing.
Sometimes they are pointing.
Is it all in my head?
Now to be fair though, I must look rather silly through the windscreen. Trying to sing along to the tones Alicia Keys blaring through my speakers.
But I feel uncomfortable.
To have that gaze upon me.
I can’t tell for sure, that they’re even looking at me.
But for some reason. I think they can see through me.
They see right through me.
Alone in an empty car.
Surrounded by enough space on my clean seats.
To easily accommodate each of them in front of me.
I catch my own eye in my rear view mirror.
In a moment of vanity.
I see myself with great clarity.
I look well rested.
I can still taste the depth of my first coffee used to wake me up. While my body protested.
I wonder when they woke up?
As I try to avert my eyes from the sight of the pick up truck.
Already today, how far have they traveled? And why are they smiling? About what could they be talking?
I think again about my morning.
About my fight with the alarm. Trying to get 15 more minutes in.
I wonder if they did it. What would happen to these men?
If they decided, like me, to tempt fate.
At least I know for me, that the world will be kind. If I run late.
Driving in to work.
Moving through the city.
Driving down a road called Adam Tas.
Stopping at the Train station.
Waiting for a wave of black men and women.
To cross the road.
From Left to right.
Turning my head.
Casting my sight upon the White walls of the buildings that make this city.
A neat allegory, on it’s own.
Like some kind of twisted performance art?
Turning up the volume. And changing gears.
I forget that I’m late.
I don’t worry. I’ll see it all again tomorrow morning.
Once again. While..
Driving in to work.