Takunda had made a cool 600 dollars, hosting at a party with Dimitri.
Shreya and Takunda were at Southside Galleria.
Shreya needed a new backpack.
Her old one was coming apart at the seams.
Shreya didn’t like to waste money – she was the type to repair such an item over and over with thread and glue – but yesterday the bag had truly given up.
There was a computer and music shop somewhere inside, and Shreya knew she’d find something cost-efficient there, something practical.
She walked alongside Takunda in the mall taking in the window displays with interest.
Shop after shop was emblazoned by the resident designer’s name or label title.
Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Vera Wang – all these top designers had once been like her. Students in design school, dreaming big, hoping one day to run a fashion empire. Some, like the names she saw in the stores today, succeeded – others failed.
What was it, Shreya wondered, that makes someone like Marc Jacobs rise above the rest, achieve success? Do I have such a quality? she thought.
They entered the shop they were looking for, an electronic warehouse called PUSH PLAY.
They wandered through the enormous aisles of computer accessories, DVDS, TV game consoles and tablets.
Finally, they landed in the aisle where you found slipcovers and bags for your laptop.
This was just what Shreya was looking for.
The computer she had just won would need extra care – it was so expensive.
She perused the prices, her eyes widening at the prices.
“100 dollars? For a BAG? That’s insane!”
“Everything is more expensive in New York,” said Takunda, thinking back to the lavish lifestyle led by the ladies he’d visited with Dimitri.
“Are you kidding?” Shreya looked at some other products.
She found one, bright yellow, with a specialised zipped case for your laptop, phone, and folders. Very nice.
Her breath caught in her throat when she saw the price. “220 DOLLARS?! Takunda, let’s get out of here.”
“No, Shreya, this is good quality stuff. You won’t find these brands in South Africa. Trust me.”
“How do you know?”
“My mate Dimitri works in a shop. He compares what brands each country has. You know, market research.”
“Which one would you choose, if you were going to buy one?”
“I guess this one,” said Shreya, indicating the bright yellow one with the clever set of pouches.
“I’ll buy it for you.”
“Takunda, no, it’s a waste of money.”
“Shreya, you need a bag, we’re here, let’s just get it.”
“You don’t have any money.”
“Who says so?”
“What are you saying?”
“I won a prize.”
“At the coffee shop. It was a raffle. People were pledging small amount for people running a race for Cancer. I spent 10 dollars on a ticket…”
“Yeah. And I won! 200 dollars!”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“It slipped my mind. Anyway, I wanted it to be a surprise.”
Shreya didn’t feel as excited as she should have been. Something was off, but she couldn’t quite place what.
“Shreya, please. Let me do this one thing. You’re always paying for me, getting me stuff; I want to reciprocate. For my own sake. Do you understand?”
“I’d really rather you spent it on something you really need.”
“This is what I need, though. Ok?”
Shreya smiled. “Ok.”
Claire related the contents of Buhle Zungu’s controversial Facebook status to Stephanie that afternoon before Stephanie went off to work.
It was 4.20 PM.
Stephanie was curling her hair in the living room with tongs, with the TV on.
“Don’t you think that’s just outrageous?”
“You should ignore people like that, Claire.”
“And what, just let them spew their hateful bigotry all over the place. Someone has to do something!”
Stephanie sighed. “I’ve learned just to let that stuff go.”
“Do you think that’s what Nelson Mandela thought when the majority of South Africans were oppressed under apartheid? Ag, it’s bad, but I’ll just let it go?!”
“That’s not really the same thing, Claire.”
“Of course it is!” cried Claire, impassioned now. “Prejudice is prejudice. Whatever the reason or context, it’s someone trying to attack and belittle a particular group. It’s against the constitution. Discrimination is wrong.”
Stephanie sighed again, this time more heavily. “You can’t change someone's mind like that. Her mind is so trapped about what’s in that precious little book of hers, she can’t think for herself. Those Christians are brainwashed, Claire. Give it up.”
“Not all Christians are like that,” said Claire.
“Uh, your Mom?”
Claire knew it was true. It had taken her mother years to accept the fact that Claire couldn’t change her sexuality.
“It’s wrong. What’s she’s doing is wrong,” Claire insisted.
“Whatever. You won’t get through to her and her friends. You might as well try explaining physics to cows.”
Claire scowled. She didn’t like how Stephanie had just given up.
She wanted to do something. Needed to.
What is Claire going to do?