Love and attention

Tuesday 12 March, 2013: 

Slade’s still a bit grumpy with me. He doesn’t say so, but I can tell. That’s alright though – I’m still a bit grumpy with him, too. I don’t say so either. We spend our breaks together, just like always, but there’s a slightly grouchy atmosphere between us. It isn’t until this evening that we sort it out on chat:

keen as as to paint miss, i just told my aunty she said yo allgood haha so ue dont worry later an try make me txt her an shit, but yoza keen as

haha, i will txt her on the day, not gonna even think twice about it! yeah, yeah i know, but only cos i want everyone to be algd with it, so that it’s win-win for all of us.

yehr why tho, i jus asked her she said allgood

because when i talked to her the other day she said that i should make sure that i text her when we are painting. so can you stop hassling me about it?

i allready sussed it out tho

yes i know that.. but that’s exactly what you said last time and then you hadnt even.. or maybe you thought you had but your aunty’s mind was working in mysterious ways. 

haha yo allhood then miss, an stop mentionin my aunty around the bros i get fucked off wanna boost aha

well you’ve only got yourself to blame for that state of affairs. do you think i liked it when i had to cover for you and the shit hit the fan that night? ok though bossy boots, i’l just text her and say nothing in front of the others. it was just the other day i had to, when she sent that text saying she wasn’t algd with me yet. it made things real awkward for me. anyway everyone’s parents/families are different tau’s parents do heaps of crazy shit all the time & i think he wishes they would worry about him more like your aunty. but yeah i get what your saying. Ok, i do. i just hope you can see what i’m saying too

nah ur the bossy one aha im kickback, yip allhoood miss

your the bossiest one of all, tau is the stubbornest, zion is the most humble & kepaoa is the most bugged out, i rekn. oh well you’re all beautiful in your own way. but kickback you say… pfffffffffft!!! and who can blame me for being bossy when i have to put up with all of you doing my head in, oh well, least life’s interesting

haha nah not bossy kickback rumbler ce, haha yo ur right about quest, yo allhood miss, gangsta niggas allways more intersting hahaa

 

Later, Tau texts to see if he can borrow twenty bucks. I go round there, and he’s super-drunk. He’s just stepped out little Michael, over something and nothing. Taken offence at something Michael has said, and whacked him a couple of times in the head. Michael (wisely) has taken off home at that point. And Tau is left bewildered at himself. I turn up right then, and he comes for a little drive with me. Keeps saying, over and over, “I need to… apologise,” stressing this word with tender care, as if he’s sounding it out to himself.

“All good, Tau,” I tell him. “You can do that when he comes back.”

“Yeah, I need to apologise,” he says again, just to make sure.

“Algood, algood – he’ll understand,” I reassure Tau, meaning it.

 

Tau’s scent, which is so familiar and familial to me, is overlain by days of him being hot, not washing, and wearing the same clothes. I don’t care about the acrid overtones, to be honest. It doesn’t make a difference to me. I always look at Tau with loving eyes, that’s just the way it is. In the car, I sit close to him, touch his arm, speak to him in exactly the same way I always do, with love and attention and tenderness. I can’t do it any other way. I can’t feel any different, even if my heart’s squeezed with worry about him.

I can sense that Tau isn’t ashamed to be around me. His shorts are ripped, and he sits tired and calm, letting himself be temporarily soothed by the car ride to the shops, and a little talk. When we get back, I press my fingers against his arm for just a few seconds, then stroke his shoulder, and he leans into me, resting for a moment.

 

Thursday 14 March:

On my way to work, I drop Kepaoa off at court. He’s up on robbery and assault charges. Stand overs: only a phone, but he hooked the guy. The cops traced him through the sim, which he used.

Elroy’s supposed to be meeting him there. Kepaoa talks about how he and Elroy are always there for one another. He’s ok, when I leave him this morning. But by the time I go get him again, he’s stressing out. Elroy hasn’t turned up. He’s been at court by himself all day. The duty solicitor asked him questions in a big loud voice, so that everyone could hear. And his lawyer told him he might go to jail.

We talk about it, all the way to training. Kepaoa’s at the gym from 4 till 8, just sweating things out. Pick him up, and we talk about it some more. He shakes his head, over and over and over. Eats a big plate of spaghetti bolognaise, lays on the couch, shakes his head some more. “Man, I’m dumb!” he says. “I’m fuckin sick of going to court all the time, straight up.”

I see his eyelids flutter, a couple times. Then his round head tilts, and he drops straight to sleep, as unselfconscious and trusting as a kid. Just lying there on the couch, having given up on the day’s problems. I go over and put the blanket on him; tuck the pillow under his head while he snoozes. He grimaces for a half-second and falls back sound asleep. I just stroke his head for a second. It’s late, and I go to bed.

 

Friday 15 March:

Slade lights up a ciggie in the car, as we’re exiting the school driveway. I couldn’t give a fuck, in fact I’m positively insouciant about it – making him grin. Anyway, he asks me first. And, “Why not?” I reply. “We’re off the school grounds now. And it’s not like it’s illegal or anything.”

“Churr Miss,” he says, putting lighter to ciggie and taking a long drag. He settles back and rests his elbow on the car window, blowing casual smoke out into the open air. As we drive past people walking and at bus stops, I’m filled with happiness, honestly.

From Slade’s, I head to Carthill, picking up Kepaoa (and Elroy) for his Winz appointment at the town centre. Kepaoa, who hates Winz, is huffing and harrumphing as soon as we navigate our way inside the front entrance.

“Did you see the way that lady looked at me?” he asks, incredulously, as we leave again. “Like they’ve never seen black people asking them questions before.”

This cracks me up, and I rub his irate shoulder. “Nah, all good,” I tell him. “It’s alright… who cares about her.”

“And fuck, look at that little kid looking at me,” Kepaoa goes on, eyeing up a five year old in a parked car. “Fuckin little shit!”

“Nah, nah… he’s alright,” I shush him. “Probably just playing round, waiting for his mum or something.”

“Playing with his dick,” puts in Elroy, making me snort with laughter.

“Looking at you, faag,” Kepaoa tells his brother.

“Boys, boys…” I pretend to sigh. “Can you please just speak lovingly to one another.”

They look at me, quite content. I feel my heart beat with love for the both of them.

 

 

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