Coming of Age
They Call Me Nothing
by Jenny Young
LUTHO dreamed of being a hero when he was a child but after his parents died, he lost his identity and became a nothing like the nickname his cousin, SIPHO, gave him.
At fifteen Lutho is involved with a housebreaking gang. When 11 year old STELLA calls him a hero, his childhood dream resurfaces. He goes to a counselling centre run by a little church in the nearby white suburb and meets KAYE, a sixty year old woman who is battling issues of her own.
Worlds apart, Lutho and Kaye are united by their common love of books and eventually are able to help each other find healing and purpose..
Coming to the church was probably a mistake. What if they know? What if they call the Police? I listen intently, ready to run. No gunshots, no running feet, only the uneven pounding of my heart. I feel exposed. For seven years I have been invisible, a nothing. Nobod...
Chapter 2. Kay
I am totally out of my depth. I didn’t expect to counsel a child. I have spent most of my life avoiding children. Now here sits this boy, expecting me to help him. I saw him on the CCTV when he buzzed. I assumed he was the son of one of ...
When I hear the police sirens, I feel like I have jumped off a high building and am waiting to crash. My body takes over from my mind. Before I know it, I am out of the door and slinking quickly away from the front entrance. The book is still in my hand and the tast...
I dream about Peter again. I feel his warmth in my arms. He looks so tiny. I smell his sweet milky breath and the baby shampoo on his face. He makes gurgling sleepy sounds. It almost sounds like he’s purring.
A big black octopus oozes through the...
I lie shivering on the hard concrete. The towel has fallen off. I grab it and wrap it around my body again. I am afraid to go back to sleep because I don’t want that dream again. Is it nearly morning? It is dark. I listen carefully. There are...
I take the back routes to Alex. The small printing business on the corner has an open car gate and I slip in. The sun warms my skin as I make my way around the building to a gap in the fence leading to the paint factory. Two w...
Friday starts badly. I wake to the sound of Marshmallow getting sick on my bed. “Off the bed!” I kick her off and she promptly gets sick on the carpet. "Stupid Cat!" I stomp out of bed and jerk my gown over my arms. "Can't you wait to get outside before ...
I don’t know why I agreed. Maybe it was because the police won’t think of looking in a respectable white lady’s house for a thief. Maybe it was because I told her I am a thief and she didn’t turn away from me, like Stel...
I thought Jasper might show aggression to the boy. Usually he barks more at black people. However, he seems to view this visitor as a friend. I inwardly heave a sigh of relief. Dogs are very good judges of character and he would have shown if he thought the boy was ...
I never thought I would see Lucky again. He looks terrible. I can see he is on Nyaope. His eyes look like they are made of glass and there is a big black empty hole in the middle of each one. I don’t notice him until he calls my na...
Chapter 11. Kaye
Dora bustles in to the lounge. “I told that boy to play with Jasper,” she says. I think he’s smiling.”
I follow her to the kitchen and look out the window. Jasper is sitting abo...
I pull the blanket right over my head. It smells clean and dry. I take a few deep breaths of the freshness. As I relax I see Lucky’s eyes in front of me again. Did he mean what he said or was he just trying to boast about his brother? Did Sipho really find my ...
Lutho looks taller this morning somehow, less insubstantial. I can’t put my finger on it. He can’t have grown noticeably overnight.
I have lots to think about. Gogo Kaye said it was stealing when I told her how I get my clothes. I have never thought about it as stealing before but now I begin to wonder. What would Bab...
The sun is getting low by the time I get near Stella’s yard. I find a place where I can see the stoep of her Gogo’s house. I don’t want to visit when Stella is around. I have hidden my e...
Sunday is Dora’s day off. Jasper wakes me and I get up to let him out. I get back into bed and continue reading my book for about an hour before I get up, bath and dress. I notice that Dora has washed my new top and I decide to wear it with my jeans.
I get up before the sun rises. I fold the blanket Gogo lent me and place it neatly on a chair. I don’t want to wake Stella or her grandmother so I sneak out quietly without washing my face and hands. The door locks itself when I close it as softly as I can. The early morni...
I wake before my alarm goes off and lie in bed enjoying the warmth. My mind goes back to the conversation I had with the Major. He is happy to meet Lutho and help him find a way forward. He is even prepared to come to the counselling centre for the meeting. I smile to m...
Catching a taxi to Soweto is much easier in the early morning. I ask to be dropped off at the Jabavu library. I hope it is still there.
When the taxi stops I sigh with relief. There it is looking like the head of a crocodile. T...