Ethan was having problems getting a handle on his new course in Computer Programming...
All anyone could talk about on campus was the SRC president, Buhle Zungu.
She was a prominent spokesperson on campus, often opening official campus events, and she had quite a following.
The thing was, she was devoutly religious.
Which shouldn’t have been a problem.
Except 5 days ago, she had used her high status to make a controversial comment.
She took offence to the fact that in the USA, all the states had officially legalized gay marriage.
This is what her Facebook status said:
“We are not normalising sin. What is the world coming to? Homosexuality is wrong, it says so in the Bible, I will never support this madness.”
The status reached 2,600 people in 12 hours.
Then, the newspapers picked up on it, since she was a public figure in the Breyton’s Bay academic community.
The LGBT community at Breyton’s Bay Tech insisted online that she retract the comment. She refused.
“Please don’t ask me to change my opinions. Only God knows what is righteous. And this is sin. I will never take back what I said,” she said arrogantly in a status.
What was appalling to Claire, who read the online furore off her phone in the student coffee shop, was the amount of support the comments received.
She scrolled down the 489 comments, her blood boiling.
It seemed this hormophobic woman had a lot of people who agreed with her.
It made her face hot with anger.
She sipped on a coffee and read some of the comments:
- You tell them, girl, they are dirty.
- You speak the truth. Gays must leave. Unafrican.
- What’s stopping me from marrying my dog now?
- Please stop talking about gays, I am so sick of them.
Claire was deeply angered, but also deeply worried.
She thought of Uganda, where homosexuality was illegal. That was as nonsensical as making women illegal, or black people illegal – since being gay was not a choice, but a biological reality.
She felt like commenting, felt like really going for the jugular, but then stopped herself.
“These people are not reasonable. Anything I say will not reach their deaf ears,” she reckoned silently to herself.
“Hey,” she heard a voice next to her say, and a sound of a chair being pulled up.
Tasneem was wearing a light blue dress, and a pink head wrap. She wore her trademark thick spectacles. Claire looked back at her phone.
“You been following what Buhle said?”
“Yup,” said Tasneem sighing. “I wish she would jump off a cliff, to be honest.”
“I think she should be expelled.”
“That’s a bit rash, don’t you think?” said Tasneem, blinking.
“No. What if I got on a pedestal here, and said ‘I know we are living in a multicultural society, but I still think blacks are inferior, mentally. I don’t think they should be allowed to marry whites, and they shouldn’t be allowed to vote.’ Can you think of the outrage? I’d be crucified!”
“It’s not the same, really,” said Tasneem.
“Of course it is. It’s prejudice, using religion as a mask. If she was REALLY Christian, she would recognise Jesus’s instruction to love one another, and not judge.”
“Hmmm,” said Tasneem, thinking. “Still, it’s against their tradition, I suppose.”
Claire clicked her teeth, annoyed. “Well, I for one, think it’s high time people stop using ‘tradition’ as something to take away from the basic human rights of others.”
Tasneem could see she was deeply upset, and pressed the issue no further.
Ethan was a ball of nerves.
His first test was coming up on Friday.
Try as he might, his sample coding was still coming out all wrong.
He’d approached the teacher, who’d lent him some manuals, but it was still very difficult for him to get a handle on all the terminology.
Sometimes he’d look at what he’d written, a line of simple code for instance, and it looked like a foreign language to him, a mess of number, symbols and letters.
He groaned as he input a fresh code into his computer programme, and it came up with ‘error’.
He swore passionately.
How am I going to get through this test? he wondered, stressing.
He thought of getting a bad result. What if he failed?
Then, he imagined Mrs. Vorster’s face, upon learning that Ethan was too dumb to even pass the course he’d fought so hard to do.
And the marriage that hung in the balance.
That was an extra stress.
She’d offered to put up the money, for the tuition, on the understanding that he’d marry her daughter.
“Screw this,” he said, kicking back his chair, and throwing his pen at the wall.
It splattered onto the carpet, ink leaking out.
“Damn it!” he swore.
He was really riled up.
He felt stupid. He felt powerless. He felt anxious.
He went into the kitchen, flung open the cupboards.
He pulled out a bottle of Southern Comfort. It had been sitting there for months, it had been a present from one of the parents at Annelisa’s crèche.
Hungrily, he uncapped it, and poured himself a glass.
He poured it down his throat with abandon.
It mellowed him somewhat.
“That’s better,” he thought, then went back to his room where he’d left his study manuals.
He looked at his notes – they were all over the place.
“Double check this,” and “commit this to memory” were scrawled over some of the pages in highlighter.
It was here, now, slightly tipsy, that Ethan first considered the act of cheating.
It seemed like the only way to pass.
Cheating? Ethan? Really? Will he go through with it?