Wednesday 8 February, 2012:
Kepaoa comes in early to do his Winz forms. It only takes half an hour, but: “Can’t I just stay?” he asks, after they’re done.
“Nothing much happening here,” I say.
“All good, could just kick it here anyway?”
“But… you can’t really roam round the place, even with a visitor’s pass,” I tell him, thinking that’s what he’s after. “You know Ms Kirk will get you off the school grounds if you’re walking around on your own.”
“I don’t want to walk around,” Kepaoa tells me, implacably. “I just wanna stay in here.”
And so there he is, all day. He doesn’t talk to many of the kids; a couple of seniors come in at lunch to see him. He pretty much ignores my classes (politely) – just sits there with his earphones on, looking content enough.
“Aren’t you getting bored yet?” I ask him, just after lunch when he still shows no sign of wanting to go home.
“No, I like it,” he replies.
“Ok,” I say, slightly mystified.
At 3:15, signing out at reception, Kepaoa reaches out and hugs me there in the foyer, in a wistful kind of way.
Zion’s back at school too, wearing the senior white shirt and braving the whole day alone: no Leroi yet.
Friday 10 February:
Sports day, and I’m rostered with the senior boys. The kids like it – or at any rate the ones who don’t just stay away. But I can’t just stay away, so I have to suffer through all the razzmatazz: Deans’ speeches; and staff costumes; and a running tally of house points announced periodically by megaphone. I feel crushed, as the day drags on, by the false feeling of pretending to care either way about ‘participating and contributing’.
The only part of the day I enjoy is when I sit on the field with Andre and watch the relays, and he talks to me in a natural and normal way – which means I don’t have to use my ‘acting’ voice anymore, but can just speak as myself again. Even though Andre loves sports day, he doesn’t care about that stuff either; in fact he tells me he came to school late so he could just miss all those speeches. He just wants to run, and kick it with the boys.
Then at home, Tau seems to have gone off the radar a bit this week – he’s either round at Noa’s (drinking) or back here (hungover) playing Leroi’s PS3. And although it worries me to see him like this, I think: well, things ebb and flow, they do… and I tell myself that at least here he’s ‘safe’ (if you can ever really call Tau’s life ‘safe’). He can hole himself up in the shed if that’s what he wants to do, and get stoned, and play games, and go to Clancy between times. I guess it’s something; better than nothing.
But I do miss the more open, pliant side of Tau. I miss seeing the side of him that’s into beginning the new semester; or wants to come in and watch Animal Planet, or just hang out for a while and talk. I see him kind of engineer his life into certain patterns, and isolate the other possibilities – and it’s kind of hard to talk about these alternatives with him. Funnily enough, it’s when he’s drinking that he wants to talk about it; when he’s had just three or four cans, and is on that happy buzz. But of course to stay on that buzz, he has to drink more and more… and the original ‘easiness’ goes, and something harder kicks in.
Oh I love Tau just as much as ever and no less – and I’m not judging. But sometimes it’s painful seeing him grow up, and not knowing what will be… knowing there’s a chance that things could just come off the chain, in one setting or another.
Saturday 11 February:
Just the usual multimedia events show of music, TV, facebook and phone. This includes another long conversate with Kepaoa (who, incidentally, would have loved sports day: yeah hard man imiss tht!! Wuda tryd nd dne erything man wuda bluragd hard!)
And once again, I’m consoled by these unpoliced exchanges between people, which school can’t monitor: the things that cross over boundaries and consolidate alliances. And I say that most sincerely, because equality’s everything to me these days, it’s pretty much all I have.
Because, with Tau… I’m struggling. This morning I stop into the sleepout to say hi as I go out, and I feel like I’m barely there, barely exist. My throat feels all choked up that Tau doesn’t want to talk to me, at least not today. But I think: well, it’s ok; can’t have everything – sure can’t have it all, at least not all of the time.
So I just go to the car and I don’t cry. And I won’t cry. Part of me feels crippled by the thought of Tau not wanting to… I don’t know. I guess maybe he can see I don’t have anything so great. It’s ok – but for an instant, I feel a huge, overwhelming, longing to go back to the days when I was special, or beloved, or even ‘beautiful’ in Tau’s eyes. And when things were all just starting out, and I didn’t know what was around the corner…
Oh well, I can’t go back, and guess what – I don’t want to go back. I chose my path with no regret. And even if I lose, will that matter? I don’t think it will, not if by doing any of this, I ever helped Tau, or any one of them.
Sunday 12 February:
This morning, I feel like someone who’s preparing to go all the way down. Don’t I always? But right now it’s more like that than ever. As if I’m going out to meet whatever might be stood there, waiting, in a dark place – and I sense the same feeling in Tau. Things seem so heavy, like clouds charged with rain, or the air carrying some kind of invisible weight: extra gravity.
At first I wonder, in surprise: Oh, is this how it feels, to not care about your life? But then I resolve to just be brave. It still deeply and powerfully affects me that Tau is brave – and so I’m ashamed to be weak. And by afternoon, the sensation clears a little.
In the evening, I get a text from Kepaoa: igotchu miss!! Yeahp hope u algudz nd errdang fyn ay gotchua bk miss. nau liez
For some reason it just makes me want to weep. I feel tears start to swell up in the corner of my eyes. I blink them back to reply: Thanks tht means a lot, dont be nice tho its makn me cry lol
I go lay on my bed and little quiet tears roll down my cheeks, and I hug my pillow, and make no sound, and no attempt either way to cry or to stop crying.
Ngaaaw straight uhp miss inau ikant du much but anydng u wnt nd need help wd igtchu! Alday miss u dne so much fo me
Floodgates open. I can’t stop crying now, and all the while Kepaoa and I text back and forth; back and forth… couple of hours later I dry my eyes and cook spaghetti; make salad:
Ay man dats nyc az bawlanayze! Whts with tht again howu maket?
Bawlrnayz, iforgt how ta maket. Inau its tht pasta stik thngys nd mince watelce? Aha
Yhp man dats ma fav dsh!! Hnestly! U makn it?
Salad wat salad?
And I tell him how worried I’ve been about Tau. I can hardly tell anyone – maybe nobody else – but it’s ok to tell Kepaoa, and I don’t know why.
As the night wears on, I get something like a syndicated history of Kepaoa’s life, and then maybe I start to see why:
Yeah fk dm bicchz!! Yhp tht algudz thts wea da machete kame in nd dat mngral bicch mob gt cent ta hospital tht waz me nd ma brathaz duin lucky he didn’t die dats wat we wur hope ae. We got arestd dat tym hah crakuph! Bt yeeh il neva change fo anywum!! Bt lyf down thea waz hard foa our famly, if we went sumwea tym limit waz ten minits neva waz alowd owt unles we drve wid dad. lock down hard ae. Skrapc nealy evrydae it waz gangsta bt at da same tym dangerous fo owr famly ay we had to lyk half sleep unau?
thts why im hard on ma lil brathaz aye idnt want thm ta fall in da same catagorie az me elroy nd ma oldr brathaz ay. I want dm ta be better nd du better thn me nd dat aye.. alda tym me ma oldr brathaz always blued uhp dwn thea! We fkn hate slobs nd dawg shts!! Nd da fng dat realy fuks me off jst lyk that iz if sumwum kalz me black honestly ms that ticks me lyd dat, ilyk ma colour bt if thy aint same az me dnt be kaln me dat aye.
havu herd dhs sayn? ‘black people run fast bt pwoblemz run fastr’ neva kan run frm da pwoblmz ay haha. Up heaz good bt idk dwn thea felt lyk hardowt hme!
At midnight, texts are still flying back and forth. I’m fully aware that the powers that be would be alarmed at this overt disregard for ‘professional boundaries’. But the blurring of boundaries – no, the deliberate crossing over of boundaries – is the only thing that’s ever given me the strength and hope to believe that anyone can make it through the surveillance which both enslaves us and makes us partners in our own enslavement.
And furthermore, although our texts are frank, and a certain intimacy between the two participants in the conversation is evident, there is nothing ‘inappropriate’ about them. Without the word of a lie, there’s nothing like that at all. I ain’t like that (and I feel sorry for those silly bitches who are). And so I rest my case. Equality is my guiding principle. And crossing a few boundaries is nothing to me anymore.