Jail Birds


Jail Birds

    Gavaza is busy mopping and cleaning the cell for a new prisoner, one of these political detainees. They don’t put them in with the others.  They keep them by themselves. Each one gets a cell, like in a hotel. Since they released Mandela in February, the jail is filling up with teachers and students. They have nothing to do, so they just make trouble. Gavaza looks around the gloomy cell painted dark grey, with an open toilet cubicle and a drinking fountain next to the low wall. They will bring a bed in here. Political prisoners are too good to sleep on the floor. Now I have to look after this one, the first woman to come here. Hai, extra work for me. Why do these people want to fight the government? They should keep quiet and mind their own business. Now I have to keep my eyes on this woman, make her clean the cell, make the bed and not do anything funny. Watch her in the shower; see if she’s hiding anything in her bum.
    Simon, one of the warders calls and Gavaza goes into the charge office. Two white security policemen are there with the woman, small and skinny with grey hair. Gavaza wants to laugh. What is this old coolie doing here? How did she get involved in all this political nonsense in a bantustan? So old and wearing shorts, hau, hau, hau! She is sitting there very quiet but she doesn’t look frightened. One of the security policemen shouts at Gavaza, “Search her bag. Look for papers and bring them to me.” Gavaza looks at the cheap suitcase on the bench near the door and then begins to go through it. She sees a box of tissues. She goes through the tissues very carefully. She looks up and sees the woman watching her. There is nothing here. She turns over the clothes, looks through a book and blank foolscap sheets that are inside one of the shirts; looks through the rest of the clothes and can find no papers so she closes the bag. The security policemen, who have been talking with Mrs Van Zyl, supervisor of the female section, notice that she has finished and one of them orders Simon to lock up the detainee.  Mrs Van Zyl, Gavaza and Simon accompany her to her cell. Gavaza wants to laugh again.  How can this small gogo be so dangerous? “Even I can kill her like a cockroach.” In the cell, Mrs Van Zyl sees that there is no bed and orders Simon to bring one in immediately. 
    When Gavaza returns with the woman’s supper at five o’ clock, she sees that the bed is in and the old coolie is sitting on it. She has put her bag on the built-in seat and the sleeping mat is on the floor alongside the bed. Gavaza gives the woman her supper: six thick slices of brown bread, two big fat sausages, half a tomato and a mug of coffee. When Gavaza comes back to collect the plate and mug, she sees that the coffee mug is empty and half a slice of bread and the tomato have been eaten. The sausages have not been touched. She is shocked. What’s wrong with this woman?  Simon told her that security picked her up early in the morning and she hasn’t eaten all day. And now to leave all this food on her plate! She thinks she’s too good, eh? All right, she can starve then.
    When Gavaza takes the food back to the kitchen, the supervisor becomes worried. “Why didn’t she eat?” Gavaza simply shrugs. She can’t understand why her supervisor is making such a fuss. So what if the stupid woman didn’t eat? But Mrs Van Zyl is going on about hunger strikes and inquiries into prison conditions and all sorts of rubbish like that. I should have quietly put all that food in a bag and taken it home. That’s what I’ll do next time. After her chores, Gavaza goes out to hitch a lift back to the village. When she gets home, just after 7 pm, she has to cook for the next day. She has a family to feed. She’s up by four in the morning, and by 5 am is out on the road hitching again.  It takes at least two hours to get to work. She is at the prison by 7 am. She goes to wake up the woman and orders her to make her bed. She loses her patience when she sees how the woman is doing it and shows her the right way. At first the woman resists and then she laughs and gives in. Gavaza doesn’t think it’s funny.
    When Gavaza brings the broom, the woman stands to one side so Gavaza can sweep. Who does she think she is? She’s the one in jail.  Gavaza pushes the broom at her. “You sweep!” The woman looks a little confused and then takes the broom and sweeps. Gavaza is surprised to see that she can handle a broom. Then she tells the woman to go out into the yard to wash. The detainee sticks out her hand and says, “My name is Lutchmee.” Gavaza backs away, stares at the hand and tells her not to waste time. This woman has no respect. I am a police matron. They should give us uniforms. Not these overalls. She watches as Lutchmee brushes her teeth. The water is boiling hot and she can scarcely rinse her mouth. She asks for a plug for the sink and Gavaza tells her to use the wrapping from the soap to block the hole. Then the woman washes the clothes she has been wearing. To shower, she pushes the button on the wall and the water shoots out from the built-in spout in a short boiling jet. She has to keep her hand on the button if she wants a continuous spray. But the water is boiling hot. Gavaza laughs to herself as she watches the woman running and jumping through the spurts. After she has showered, Gavaza sends her back into the cell and goes to help with the prison breakfasts.
    In the kitchen, she finds Mrs Van Zyl fussing about what to feed the woman. She puts together a plate of porridge and coffee. Just like in a hotel! These troublemakers get special treatment but people like her, who work and do everything they are told, are treated like dogs.  She takes the prisoner her breakfast and when she goes back for the plate finds that she has not eaten the porridge. “I can’t eat this porridge. The milk or something has gone off.” Gavaza smells the plate and wrinkles her nose. Again the woman offers to shake hands and repeats her name, Lunchy or something. Hey, these coolies have funny names. Doesn’t she know she must respect me? I am in charge of her. She gives Lutchmee a contemptuous look, collects the plate and mug and goes off to the kitchen. 
    Mrs Van Zyl throws up her hands. The woman is not eating.  She will have to report it to the station commander. Gavaza can’t understand the fuss. Lunchy was toyi-toying against the government, now why are these Afrikaners so worried about her? They should be glad if she kills herself. But this is not her problem. At lunchtime, the plate comes back again almost untouched. Mrs Van Zyl sends for De Lange, the station commander, and Gavaza hears them talking. The station commander complains about having to cater for people with different backgrounds. What does the woman expect? That they should start cooking curries? 
    Later that day, friends bring a whole lot of supplies for the woman, biscuits, chocolates, juices and a bag of wool. De Lange is so pleased that he picks up the supplies himself and marches off to Lunchy’s cell. One of Lunchy’s friends, a tall white woman demands to see Lunchy and even though they all tell her she is not allowed, she pushes her way through and Gavaza has to run after her to try to stop her but the woman storms into the cell right behind De Lange. The kommandant is taken aback and stands open mouthed. Lunchy is glad to see her friend and gives her a big hug. It’s funny to see this short black woman embracing this big white woman. As her eyes inspect the cell, the friend tells Lunchy that they have brought her embroidery and that puts a big smile on Lunchy’s face. Gavaza is waiting to see what De Lange will do. She is afraid he is going to blame her. But he is just staring at the intruder and motioning her out. Then De Lange finds his voice and tells the white miesies she must leave but the miesies is very cheeky and the kommandant almost pushes her out.  When they have gone, Lunchy starts laughing.  Gavaza wants to know what is so funny and she says, “Rita is fearless. Nobody can stop her once she makes up her mind to do something.” 
    The kommandant comes back. He is very pleased with all the food that Lunchy’s friends have brought and tells Lunchy he is trying to get her transferred to another jail where she can get her own traditional food. Gavaza can see that Lunchy wants to laugh. No respect, even for the kommandant! Lunchy tells him she doesn’t need special food, but they mustn’t give her meat, she’s a vegetarian. The baas shakes his head. She will be better off somewhere else. When he leaves, Lunchy looks through the parcels and then offers most of the food to Gavaza. Hau!  I can’t take it. If they catch me I’ll be in trouble. What’s wrong with this woman? She doesn’t want even her friends’ food. Then Lunchy takes the wool and a big piece of cloth from the bag that she was so happy to receive and shows Gavaza the embroidery that she is working on. Gavaza covers her mouth and laughs. She calls that embroidery. Sies! It is so ugly!  Lunchy puts the cloth on the bed and says she is going to start working on it right away. Gavaza leaves shaking her head and laughing. She has to go and help with supper.
    The next day, when Gavaza comes to Lunchy’s cell, she gets the shock of her life. Lunchy has used some of the wool to make a line and has tied it from the window bars on one side of the cell to the window bars on the other. She has hung her towel, panties, bra, shirt and shorts on the line. Gavaza takes one look at this, covers her mouth and rushes out of the cell.  She comes back within a few minutes with Simon who tells Lunchy, “You can’t have this line.” “ Why not? I need it to hang up my washing.” When Gavaza reaches up to pull down her clothes, Lunchy explodes.
    “ Don’t touch my things!” Gavaza stops in her tracks; Lunchy seems much bigger than she thought. “Get out of here. I put up the line; I will take it down!” Gavaza leaves with Simon but she is annoyed. The stupid woman. Doesn’t she know that they will get in trouble if the kommandant sees the line in her cell? If she doesn’t take it down, I’ll show her who’s boss. When Gavaza takes her lunch plate, she sees that the line has come down and she is relieved. But the woman is sitting there pulled up, not smiling and greeting her as she usually does. Gavaza doesn’t mind; that’s the way it should be and she thrusts the plate at Lunchy.
    But the next day Lunchy is friendly again. She shows Gavaza all the supplies she has stacked up on the bench. She can’t eat all this food and asks if Gavaza knows anyone who needs it. Gavaza looks at the bench covered with plastic bags of biscuits, chocolates and juices. It’s a lot of food but I can sneak it all out over a few days. The family will be pleased.  She tells Lunchy she will see. Then she hands over the plate of food. Mrs Van Zyl has been making a great effort to get the woman to eat and Gavaza waits to see what Lunchy will do with the half tomato, some chips, a slice of avocado, vegetable pickles and bread that she has brought. She is sure Lunchy is going to explode again. Such rubbish food! No meat, no pap! But Lunchy looks up with a big smile and thanks her. Gavaza is shocked. She is thanking me? I would never give anyone food like that. Hau! She thinks I make her lunch. What a stupid woman!   She goes off shaking her head while Lunchy tucks in. 
    Over the next few days, all the parcels are cleared out and Gavaza’s children and grandchildren are very happy with the treats that she brings home. Lunchy asks her about her family and her work in the prison. Gavaza doesn’t respond at first but Lunchy keeps pressing and she begins to tell her about herself. Lunchy looks very surprised to hear that Gavaza has been working at the prison for ten years but only earns a hundred and fifty rands a month even though she works seven days a week from seven in the morning to five in the afternoon. Gavaza is fifty-nine years old and looks after women prisoners and does the washing.  Her husband, in his sixties, works on a farm and earns a hundred rands a month. They live in the village of Boyi with their nine children, ranging from age nine to forty. 
    A week after she has been detained, Lunchy’s lawyer comes to see her and Gavaza is very surprised when Lunchy asks her to come and meet him.  He is Advocate David Mabasa.  He greets Gavaza and shakes her hand and she makes a little curtsy as she greets him. Gavaza doesn’t know why she has been called to meet the advocate. All she knows is that Lunchy is strange and she must expect such things from her. After the visit, when Gavaza takes her plate, Lunchy removes the serviette and is very pleased. She thanks Gavaza copiously. Oh keep quiet, woman. What are you getting excited about? Potato chips, a tomato, a slice of avocado and two fish sticks! Maybe Lunchy is happy because Mrs Van Zyl put a serviette over the food. But she is acting as though I am treating her special. Me? She’s mad. Why does she think I am doing special things for her? If it were up to me, she would get the same as the others.
    On the second Saturday, Mrs Van Zyl gives Gavaza a plug for the washbasin in the yard and Lunchy gives Gavaza a big broad smile and washes herself from the basin so that she won’t get burned.  At lunch time, Gavaza again brings avocado, tomato, fish sticks, boiled vegetables and a cup of tea. Lunchy starts to dance around like a mad woman singing, “Tea, tea, Gloria’s tea.” When she tries to take Gavaza’s hand to dance with her, Gavaza pushes her aside and she falls on the bed laughing. Despite herself Gavaza laughs too. The woman is mad. Who is  this Gloria? The next day, Sunday, Gavaza comes running in. The kommandant wants all the wool and the embroidery. According to Mrs Van Zyl, the Major from the security branch came last Thursday and saw Lunchy working on the embroidery. This morning he phoned and shouted at the kommandant who shouted at Gavaza and the warders and sent them to retrieve the embroidery and search the cell. The Major thinks Lunchy has papers and books in the cell. They don’t find anything except some scraps that Lunchy uses to wrap her sanitary pads. They take the scraps and the embroidery and wool. Lunchy looks disappointed. Well, she can’t have privileges.
    That afternoon, Rita, that tall woman who pushed her way into the cell the week before, comes to visit Lunchy. Again Lunchy calls Gavaza to meet her visitor. Gavaza doesn’t want to but this is a miesies and she feels obligated to shake hands with Rita and curtsy. Gavaza sees that Rita has brought a lot of parcels for Lunchy. After the visit, Gavaza brings lunch and when Lunchy sees the plate, her eyes grow big and she smiles. Gavaza sees a lot of vegetables, two baked potatoes, pumpkin, cabbage with cheese sauce, tomato, fish sticks and rice. A lot of food today but no meat.  How can people eat like that? When Gavaza comes  back later to collect the plate, she sees that it is almost empty but Lunchy hasn’t eaten the rice. Hau! But Indian people like rice. Lunchy is sitting on the bed reading the Bible. The Bible! But she is not a Christian! Lunchy smiles and says her friend brought it.
    The next day, Monday, Gavaza goes off to the kitchen leaving Lunchy washing in the yard. A few minutes later she runs back. Lunchy is still at the washbasin, “They want everything clean, clean. The Major is coming.” Lunchy, towelling off, exclaims, “Again? That’s the third Major in the last three days. What do they want?” Gavaza is mopping furiously. She can’t trust Lunchy with the job today, not when the Major is coming. “This is Major from Security. You better watch out.”  Lunchy acts like she doesn’t care. But when Major van Wyk comes, she’ll jump. That afternoon, a Major comes to inspect the cell. It is not the Major from the security branch. Like the others, he asks Lunchy about the food. Hau! Lunchy says it’s fine. He is there for a few minutes and then off to the cells of other political prisoners. Gavaza goes to the kitchen to fetch Lunchy’s food and sees that it is almost like yesterday’s, except there are no potatoes. But that mad woman will like it.
    Before Lunchy can eat, a warder comes in and tells her that the doctor is waiting to see her in the charge office. “Why?  I didn’t ask for a doctor.”  “Come. Come. The doctor’s waiting.”  Lunchy follows him and Gavaza goes out with her. Gavaza shakes her head. First the majors, now the doctor. They keep on checking. We are not ill-treating the prisoners? Only security police do that. I wonder how Lunchy will like the doctor; he doesn’t know how to talk. He only shouts. Gavaza watches as the doctor rudely calls Lunchy and talks very roughly to her. Lunchy talks back and looks at him like he’s a fool. Gavaza laughs to herself.  Hey, that doctor didn’t get it all his way today. After lunch, Gavaza finds Lunchy with the Bible again. Lunchy spends the rest of the day and the next day reading the Bible. Good. Maybe, it will help her to stay out of jail.
    On Wednesday, Gavaza is annoyed with Lunchy. She wants clean sheets. But it’s been raining everyday. Can’t she see that? She asked for clean sheets on Monday. Tuesday she asked for clean sheets
again. And again today. “What must I do? It’s still raining.” “Don’t they have machines for washing?” “No, I do washing.”  Then she says,
“The people here are mad, and you will go mad because you work for mad people.” Hau, she has no respect. How can she talk to me like that? Then Lunchy tells the warder she wants to see the kommandant. Hau, she is going to complain. I better find some sheets. Gavaza goes off to the laundry, looks through the cupboards, eventually finds some and takes them to Lunchy. She leaves when Lunchy goes to wash and because she is quite disturbed about the sheet incident, forgets to stay and lock her up and doesn’t realise that she has given Lunchy extra time in the yard until one of the white policemen shouts at her. He had been to see why Lunchy wanted to talk to the kommandant and found her lounging against a wall enjoying the sunshine. Then Gavaza receives a phone call and rushes off because her daughter is ill. She is glad she didn’t see the kommandant.
    When Gavaza comes in the next morning, she is surprised to see Lunchy wearing a sleeveless shirt. ‘Why you dress like that? You want to get sick? It’s cold and raining.” When Lunchy says, “I have hot flushes,” Gavaza frowns and looks about the cell. What is she talking about? I don’t see anything. Lunchy asks Gavaza about her daughter. Gavaza tells her she had an upset stomach but she’s all right today. Gavaza’s nine children all live at home. Six of them are working but make no contribution to household expenses. Lunchy wants to know why she hasn’t kicked them out. Hau! What kind of question is that?  So Gavaza retaliates, “And your children? Who look after them now.” Gavaza is shocked to hear that Lunchy is not married and has no children. Gavaza shakes her head. Not married. No children. What kind of woman is this? “You looking for man?” Lunchy laughs, “What for?” Gavaza shakes her head. You can’t trust women who are not married.  They are evil. After lunch, Gavaza comes to release Lunchy so she can have her afternoon wash. “You hurry up. Security Major coming just now. You put on nice clothes.” “Why?  He’s not my boyfriend?” Gavaza laughs. But the Major does not come.
    Friday, while Lunchy is showering, Gavaza can no longer stand the sight of her ugly legs. “Your legs are grey. Why you don’t put lotion on your legs.” “I don’t have any.” “Buy some.” Lunchy just looks at her. “Ask the policeman to buy for you. Write note and give him.” Lunchy is surprised. “I don’t have money.” She really is stupid. “Didn’t they take your money when they bring you here?” “Oh, I forgot about that.  I had twenty rands on me. You mean they will let me have it? Oh good. Bring me a pen and paper.” “Ask warders. They give you paper, they give you money.” The next day, Lunchy dances up to Gavaza and pulls her skirt up to her knees and shows off her legs. “Thank you Gavaza. Now I can enter a beauty competition.”  
    On Sunday, while they are making the bed, Lunchy asks Gavaza if she is ZCC (Zionist Christian Church) and if she is going to Morea next weekend. “Easter not next week. Not for two weeks.” “Oh good, my brother is coming next week. I thought he would be caught up in the Easter rush to Morea. I was going to tell the lawyer to tell him not to come.” As she is tucking the blankets under the mattress she says,  “Today is Sunday. Don’t you go to church?” Gavaza puts her hand to her heart. “How much it hurts me. I can’t go to church. But I worship at home . . . You too, you better pray in here.” Gavaza is shocked to hear Lunchy say, “I don’t have to. I am not a Christian.” “You don’t believe in Jesus?” “No.” Gavaza wants to go down on her knees right there and then. Instead she orders the heathen out to wash, hurries her and locks her in so she can’t spend any time in the yard. 
    Later that day, Lunchy is still going on about church. “Why don’t you ask the station commander to give you leave to go to Morea? Isn’t Easter the most important time for Christians?” Gavaza frowns and snaps at her, “They don’t give time for church.” Lunchy persists, “At least you have a service here then?” Gavaza shakes her head in frustration and walks out. Lunchy has funny ideas. Church service in a police station? What next? That evening, as Gavaza is leaving to go home, Simon tells her, “That Lunchy, she sent for the kommandant and told him you are a Christian and he must let you go to church on Good Friday. He didn’t like that. He told her that you are a policeman and policemen are on duty twenty-fours hours a day. Then Lunchy asked him, ‘Do you go to church on Good Friday?’ De Lange went red. He was so angry. He told her he is the kommandant and this is his police station. She mustn’t tell him how to run it. I could see Lunchy was worried. She told him not to blame you. You don’t know what she is asking him. You know nothing about this. But the Kommandant just turned and walked out. I think he went to call the Major.” “The Security Major? Hau, hau, hau! That woman is a troublemaker. Why doesn’t she mind her own business?” 
    The next morning, when Gavaza comes to work, she is kept waiting. By the time a warder opens up Lunchy’s cell, she is fuming.  She has been waiting since seven for them to open up. As she is going into the cell, someone calls to her to come and help with breakfast. She shouts back, “I’m busy.” She tells Lunchy, “They don’t treat me right. They tell me, so many time, I am old. I can’t work nice. Hau, yesterday Mrs Van Zyl, she come in the yard and she take her finger over the floor like this, then she hold up finger and say, ‘Look at this dust. You too old.’ Today, I’m not going to help for the breakfast. If they shout, I’m going to tell them they must pension me off. Then they will keep quiet. They don’t want to hear that.” Lunchy says, “Good. We Black women must stand up for our rights.” What does she mean, ‘we black women’? For the rest of the week, Gavaza finds the Kommandant, Mrs Van Zyl and other white personnel rather abrupt with her. She is given extra duties and has to stay on past five o’ clock. On one occasion, Mrs Van Zyl asks her, “You looking for trouble with the Security police?” Gavaza is shocked. Did they report me to the Major? Hau, hau, hau!  It’s all that Lunchy’s fault. She is a stupid woman.
    On Saturday, Gavaza receives bad news and is very upset. Lunchy wants to know what’s wrong. Gavaza doesn’t want to talk to Lunchy; she is in trouble because of her. But Lunchy persists and Gavaza needs someone to talk to. “Yesterday, my brother, he die. He only forty years. After he get money in bank, he collapse.  He give his wife money and she put it in the pocket, then he fall down dead right there in bank. Why she put money in pocket? She put money in pocket and she kill him.” Lunchy gives Gavaza the change from her twenty rands so she can visit her brother’s family. Gavaza puts the nine rands in her pocket. She mustn’t think she can butter me up. Soon afterwards, Gavaza comes back to tell Lunchy that her brother is here. Lunchy is very happy. She has been worrying about him. Gavaza knows he went for a big operation and is not so well but he has come all the way from the big city, all the way here to the north, four hours driving. She is lucky to have her brother. My poor brother, to die so young. Gavaza doesn’t go to the front office when Lunchy’s visitors come. She is too sad. When Gavaza takes Lunchy her supper, just a mug of coffee - that’s all she ever asks for - Lunchy gives her some of the food her brother has brought.  It is delicious; Gavaza enjoys the roti and curry. 
    On Tuesday morning when Gavaza comes to the prison Simon tells her, “Major van Wyk was here last night, with his partner. They came to see Lunchy.” Gavaza can’t control her anxiety. “The Major!  Did he ask about me?” “I don’t know. They took Lunchy into that little office there. They talked to her for a long time. I hear the Major talk, talk, talk. Lunchy, she didn’t say much but she was arguing. They coming back tonight.” Gavaza rushes off to see Lunchy to find out what happened. Did the Major say anything about me? She finds Lunchy sitting on the bed frowning. “So Major Van Wyk come to see you. What he say?”  Lunchy looks like she is not going to talk.  It must have been bad. 
    Then Lunchy says “Oh he had a lot to say. First he took out his gun and put it on the desk. Then he said, ‘I do not wish to hear any sarcastic remarks from you or I will keep you in detention for as long as I like.’ Then he told me I was one of those who organised the stay away in Gazankulu. I said I was not but he didn’t believe me. So I told him, ‘If you don’t believe me, why are you talking to me. Send me back to my cell.’ Then he said, ‘I am a Christian.’” “You didn’t tell him you not Christian?” “I didn’t but I am very glad I am not. He said, ‘I go down on my knees every night and thank God that there are cowards in this world.” So I asked him, ‘Are you calling me a coward?’ He said, ‘You are afraid and ashamed of what you have done.’ ‘No I’m not.  But I won’t confess to things that I have not done.’” “Yes, yes, but what he say about me?”  Lunchy looks puzzled. “What he say about me?” “Why would he ask about you?” “He didn’t ask? That’s good. But he’s coming back tonight?” Lunchy nods. “Maybe he will ask tonight.” “Why? What have you done?” “Me, nothing. It’s you. You tell the kommandant to send me to church.” Lunchy bursts out laughing. “Yes, that is a crime isn’t it?” Gavaza shakes her head. Lunchy is crazy.
    The next morning, when Gavaza comes in Simon tells her, ‘Hau, you should have been here last night. The Major, he was so angry. When they come out of the little office after interrogation, he look like a tomato. He shout at me to take Lunchy back to her cell.  Then he ask about her embroidery and Lunchy smile and say, ‘Oh, you took that already.’ Then the Major ask, ‘What you got to read?” Lunchy’s smile get bigger and she say, ‘The Bible.’ The Major say nothing; he just march out. His assistant is dancing around. He look like he want to box Lunchy’s ears.” “What  they say about me?” “I don’t know. I didn’t hear what they
were talking inside.”
    When Gavaza goes into the cell, she finds Lunchy happily snuggled in bed. “Get up, get up. We must make the bed and then you must wash.” Lunchy drags herself out of bed and helps Gavaza make it. “What happened last night? What did the Major say?” Lunchy smiles. “He asked me about you. He wanted to know if you belong to the Christian Women’s Association. He said he knows that the Christian Women are planning to blow up the police station.” Gavaza’s hand shoots up over her open mouth and she stares wide-eyed at Lunchy. They can fire me now and I won’t get pension. Lunchy quickly says, “No, no. I am only joking. The Major didn’t ask about you. He wanted to know about the celebration I organised when Mandela was released. He wanted to know about the Youth Group and the teachers’ group and mainly he wanted me to give him names so he can go and arrest people and put them in jail.” “He didn’t ask about me?” “No, no. Anyway, why should he arrest you? You’re already in jail.” “What you mean? I am a police.” Lunchy takes her towel and goes into the yard. Gavaza follows her.  “Why he so angry? Simon tell me he very angry.” Lunchy laughs, “He kept on calling me a liar so I jumped up and banged so hard on his desk, his gun almost fell off. I told him I’m not giving him names. He got angry because I was rude to him.” Gavaza can’t believe that Lunchy would dare to shout at the Major. They mustn’t blame me for that.  This woman has no manners.
    On Good Friday, Gavaza arrives late and is very cross. She has more duties because some of the other matrons haven’t come to work. She tells Lunchy she is not going to do the extra work. Lunchy stops sweeping and leans on the broom to listen. Gavaza says, “Go on, sweep!”  Lunchy replies “Yes, baas,” and springs into action. Gavaza laughs.  Then she tells Lunchy that this morning, she called Mrs Van Zyl by her first name, Hannelie. “Mrs Van Zyl look up with big eyes and ask ‘What happen to ‘miesies’?’ I ask if ‘miesies’ is her name and Mrs Van Zyl give me a dirty look and say, “Ja.” Lunchy laughs and tries to shake Gavaza’s hand but Gavaza doesn’t allow it. On Sunday, when Gavaza takes Lunchy’s plate, she greets her in Tsonga. Simon, who is Shangaan, has taught Gavaza how to greet in Tsonga. Lunchy is pleased and tries to answer but she can’t understand what Gavaza is saying. She laughs with Gavaza and tells her, “You have learned more in one morning than I have in two years.  But now I have plenty of time to learn and you can teach me.”
    After lunch, a security police officer comes in and asks Gavaza to take him to Lunchy’s cell. He tells Lunchy to pack her things; she is going home. Lunchy can’t believe it. Surprised and excited, she turns to Gavaza who is standing there, a policewoman on duty. She doesn’t look at Lunchy. So Lunchy is going home. That is how it has been with this lot of detainees. Keep them for twenty-eight days and then send them home. The security they don’t tell us anything. They just come and go, as they like. They bring these people, dump them on us and we have to look after them. Just when you get used to one, they take her away.  Lunchy, who is packing quickly, keeps looking up at Gavaza who ignores her attempts to communicate. Gavaza looks at all the parcels still piled up on the concrete bench. Lunchy says to the officer who is watching and waiting, “I don’t want this stuff. I would like Gavaza to have it.”  He shrugs. Lunchy asks Gavaza to take all of it and the stuff in the fridge. Then Lunchy picks up her suitcase. “This is so sudden. I can’t believe I’m going home. Goodbye Gavaza. Thank you for all your kindness. I will never forget you.” Lunchy tries to hug her but Gavaza fends her off. Then Lunchy goes with the officer and Gavaza sighs with relief.  Now she can go back to her usual routine without having to baby-sit anyone. Hey, they mustn’t bring any more political prisoners! They take too much advantage.




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