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„I want to live like animals-careless and free” – the music is on full blast in the car while I’m driving around in Johannesburg. And that’s exactly how I feel: careless and free. The only obligation I have is my job, which I enjoy enormously. The sky, like a blue blanket, wraps my thoughts in every day as I make my way to the school.

There’s just one thing I cannot get out of my head: Dylan. A normal 16 year-old teenager, with lack of confidence, but with a bunch of good intentions. I caught him several times in the library when I knew he was supposed to be in class. Only once did he approach me and told me why he was playing truant. He never looked into my eyes, though. Typical teenager, I thought. So spoilt, they can even afford the luxury of being depressed and skipping school in a country that offers them the lifestyle one could never afford back in Europe. Not my problem. But then again, it is, because I find myself contemplating about the reasons why he doesn’t think that school is compulsory for him? On the few occasions, he did pay respect to me and visited my classes, I just didn’t find the key to him, which still bothers me, as I park the car in front of the school building.

The african breeze, like a gentle and natural air-conditioner that is never turned off, smoothly caresses my face and calms me down as I get out of the car. Kids play in the red sand and when I get to the teachers’ meeting, my calmness is suddenly replaced by the agitated bits of voices, pieces of information, fragments of sounds that are coming from every direction of the room. I settle down, and take my notes, as usual, waiting for some important dates and messages to jot down. Slowly, the most important message sinks in. There’s nothing to write down today, but still, so many things to talk about. „Yes, he was alone, the whole time.” „No, he didn’t tell anybody.” „No, we didn’t know.” „Yes, that’s why we couldn’t reach the parents.” „Yes, already three weeks ago, but we were only informed yesterday.”

My thoughts are racing as I head home. I nearly hit a man getting out of a black taxi. He starts cursing at me as I dash away as fast as I can. Out of his way, out of everybody’s way, out of my own way, if only it was possible. „I want to live like animals-careless and free”, like a mantra, the song helps me to keep the connection with reality as I imagine Dylan taking the golden shot. No parents, they are having the holiday of their lifetime overseas; no maid, she was sent home eralier; no driver, he was off that day; and no gardener, it’s a low-maintenance garden. Just Dylan and a credit card. It had been like that for three months. I turn off the music and get out of the car to breathe. Only questions pop up in my head and dance around in the air, like the yellow weavers, flying around and almost suffocating the tree with their heavy nest. It’s time to go home to my family.

Johannesburg, 2003

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