by Simamkele George
It is a usually chilly lazy afternoon in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, in the small breezy town of Simon’s Town, just beyond the outskirts of Cape Town. The locale is in its flagship higher education institution known as Simon’s Town School, a school that did not necessarily represent the demographics of the small town, with the black, coloured majority.
Though still registered as a ‘private institution’, it is far from it. With faded memories of its glory days when the school was used as a training facility for the youth for the South African NAVY (Today it is still the only school that offers Maritime and Nautical Sciences as subjects) , its infrastructure is ancient and run down; Simon’s Town school is too far gone. Sentiments shared by our Mathematics teacher, Mr R Mostert. My favourite teacher. We always called him ‘Monster’. He is a burly Afrikaans man, outspoken and frank. One time he told us: ‘I don’t love Mandela, I respect him’. He turned to Themba and said ‘I saw another job offer today and the only thing that stopped me from applying for it was the deadline. My respect for this school is gone.’ He always laid it on the line.
Themba was the class clown. Themba was ‘cool’. Themba was a hot – head though. Nevertheless, I had always been infatuated with the idea of being ‘cool’. It always had been my yearning, where I had always been the ‘nerdy kid’, coming – of – age.I reminiscence this one time he invited me to his not – so – humble abode in the stunning Camps Bay beaches. We were about to be ‘lit’. He produces a coloured fumed spoon – like, hemp – pipe and I fixed my inhale position. I was cool now. I befriended the cool kid and I was a cool kid too now. The new kid.
He never warned me I would choke though.
I remember how everybody in Simon’s Town school used to cough though, for which until this day I cannot to ascertain why. Monster adored his limited edition 1981 Meerschaum pipe as well. I guess, one of the subliminal offshoots he caught was he could always get wind of who would be using pipe or who would not. He would always make banter about it: ‘Boy, if in these five years you are in this school and I do not catch you with unwanted substances I will retire. Standard eight is a long time my boy.’
It would be subsequent years later that Themba, and others would be expelled after they were caught red – handed. ‘Damn, you were not careful enoughThemba’,‘they came out of nowhere’ he said‘it’s like they knew we were there’. He was adamant.‘Why were you not touched bro’?’ I did not know why.
Murmurs were maybe somebody in the hierarchy stood up and said something.Maybe somebody sang. A ‘stool pigeon’ some went as far.
In the end Monster would see the day I ended my stay at Simon’s Town School, and he would fulfil his bet. What a banter.