Standing next to an old rusty braai stand with nothing but her cigarette and an iPod whispering the lyrics “I wanna tell you something” in her ear to keep her company The grey white cigarette smoke flowing around her shaved off head that’s swinging to the sweet and slow rhythm of “I wanna tell you something” by Alicia Keys.
A first year BCom lass at Rhodes Cathrine “Cathy” Dlamini*, lives for smokes, shots and only met her lecturers twice in the first week of the first term. Its first term and everyone is buzzing around like bees with excitement to be in lecture halls and starting their degrees but Cathy had only met her lecturer twice in five lectures and her absence was of thin air like the wind with no direction, this 19 year old survived first year by taking risks. Not attending lectures in a first year is risky, periling you being excluded by Rhodes, by the faculty of BCom, by your folks and by your Equilibrum friends. Being a risk taker makes you realise and learn what kind of an individual you really are but yet it’s scary to find out who you really are after 18 years of your life being this one person but being another in only one year and it challenges yourself being and picking out the perfect but yet cool friends is a challenge on its own.
Freshman is all about challenges with risky businesses to survive all the obstacles and traumatising scenes that you are exposed to and explore your true self. The most risky thing in first term is being myself and coming out of closet and admit to being a lesbian. The risk of being looked at in a different way, being pushed disrespected by fellow students at Equilibrum just because of my sexuality and being called a “Moffie” and “Sqepe” (My short skirt) says Cathy with a humbled but sad tone. Homophobia is implied on campus, having to get ugly looks and whips after you walk by just because of your sexuality. “I am going to die a painful and sad death because of student apathy” she says with pain and tears in her brown eyes. “The death of Siwe – my brother hit home, could not work and dated many girls for the pain to fade away become a junkie with dull black clothing for two months” says Cathy* with a tears dripping like an open tap.
Cathy* befriended tequila shots and apple sour in times of need, 20 smokes a day damaging her lungs to feel better after all the “moffie” “Sqepe” calling and emotionally embarrassed most of the time, punching trees and walls. “I survived the atrocious looks for being myself by just being myself and not changing me because of other lost souls now after seven months of my survival of being herself I LOVE BEING GAY IN GRAHAMSTOWN” Cathy* says with a sigh of relief.
“You haven’t been eating!” say UMama from the dining hall, Molo sis” the housekeeper would greet in a very polite and motherly register the care, support and love in Grahamstown I made it, and survived my first year.” Says Cathy tossing a gold ball in the air and a big smile.
Yep that’s me!!!!
* not real name.