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U3A Writing: Twelve

Zawa Conradie wrote this piece for her 12-year-old daughter. “She is between being a little girl and a young lady, and I am fortunate in that I have a close and open relationship with her. There is so much to be said, so much to learn, (by us both). So little time.”

“Daddy, you know when the ‘In Touch’ team had lunch at Wimpy?”

“Yah?”

“Peter sat right opposite me…”

“And…? Did you talk to each other?”

“Not really. But you know what happened? We like both reached out for the menu at the same time and our hands like touched and Dad it was like ZZZWWIIIISSSHHH electricity through me.”

“Nice! So what did you do?”

“Nothing Dad. He wouldn’t look at me; he’s too shy. But I know that he also felt it. He whipped his hand away like I had burnt him…”

“He didn’t say anything- or you?”

“He normally doesn’t say much. When I smile at him at school then he just looks down and goes all red”

“So what are you asking me, Mibi?”

“I dunno, I am just telling you, Dad”

“Nice feeling, hey? Don’t you just go weak at the knees?”

“Yeeees! What is it? And I know he is worse and I can’t help it!”

“So what now, Mibi?”

“Dad, I just want to see him every day. Even if we don’t say much”

Long silence.

“Maybe you must write him something and then he may write something back if he’s too shy to talk to you…?”

“Maybe I could do him one of those silly Roses-are-red things?”

“Roses are red, Violets are blue, You’re very shy, I bet, but it’s nice to know you…”

“No Dad, never!”

“Why not? Don’t you like it?”

“I do! But I can’t say that!”

“Well, is it nice to know him?”

“Yep…”

“Maybe just send him a sms” [short message service]

“Jaaa! But I have sent him hundreds. He is always out of airtime…”

“Then write him a little story. On paper. Or maybe send it as an e-mail. About a boy and a girl and all sorts of stuff. Just communicate with him.”

“Ja, but I’m scared…”

“About what? What’s going to go wrong?”

“I’m just scared…”

“No, you’re not. It’s excitement that you feel…”

“I dunno, Dad…what if he doesn’t like it or someone else sees it? Like Ashley or Mrs Foord…”

“OK, then just go up to him and give him a hug!”

“In front of everybody?! NOOO WAY, Daddy!”

“What are you afraid of, Mibi?! Maybe one day you’ll wish that you had…”

“Dad, it just doesn’t work like that! I can’t just walk up to him and hug him. At school.”

“Didn’t you hug him after the camp?”

“Yes…”

“Was it nice…?”

“Very nice. But it was just to say goodbye. Lots of kids hugged.”

“So was your hug just a normal one?”

“No…”

“Then try and meet him at some unexpected place around the school grounds; so it looks accidental…”

“Ja, that sounds ok…but then what?”

“Just chat and see”

“See what?”

“What’s the other side of the mountain…”

Silence.

We are both fiddling with our nails. No eye contact.

“Maybe I should give him something…”

“You’re already giving him a whole lot of your thoughts, Mibi…”

“Ja, but maybe something that he can have and keep and only he will know it’s mine.”

“Like…?”

“Like a photo or a scarf or a beanie or something. Like a plant.”

“What about a pet rock?”

“Jaaa! Then he can keep it in his room and look after it!”

“Maybe draw your face on it…”

“No, just a nice rock that is smooth and nice to hold…”

“I’m sure he’d like that, Mibi…I would have…”

“Thanks, Dad…maybe I should put some of my perfume on…!”

“No, Mibi, it’s not your armpit you’re sending him, it’s your heart!”

Silence.

More silence.

I steal a glance at her, deep in thought, a slight Mona Lisa smile.

“Does this mean that I am not going to your matric farewell with you anymore, Mibi…?”

“Daaahad…”

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