I ask if he is making friends… She tells me he has black skin, lifting her arm to show me in case I don't comprehend the significance.
Thursday 19 June 2014
“How have you been?” I ask as she takes off her headscarf and hangs it up to dry.
“Oh, you know … fine,” she answers, not looking at me.
“And how is your boy doing?”
“Yes … fine,” she says while changing shoes.
I ask if I can get her a cup of tea and she doesn't refuse.
While the kettle boils, she sits at the kitchen table and lets out a small marsupial-sounding noise, a sigh that ends with a wet click inside the cheek.
“He wants to play football, you know … and I tell him he must finish his classes and get good grades.”
“Is he any good?” I ask, as only a man can focus on the specifics of his footballing talent.
“I don't know. I heard of it just now. He wants to play for the student team, but I say he must not waste time or he will have to go back …” she whispers “… if it is football he wants why did I bring him here to me; he can stay in Zimbabwe?”
I ask how much time the football would take up. She says training in the week and matches on Saturday … she thinks he already plays because he is never around when she comes back from French classes.
I ask how old he is and tell her how difficult it is to hold him back; he's an adult after all.
She tells me it is for his own good, that if he gets bad grades or fails he can't stay in the country.
I ask if he is making friends, spending much time with people outside class. She tells me he has black skin, lifting her arm to show me in case I don't comprehend the significance, and says it is hard.
“If you hold him back, you have no guarantees his grades will continue to be good,” I offer, “and if you let him play you don't know for sure his studies will suffer.”
She nods silently and takes a sip of her tea.
“You have to show you trust him but set conditions … tell him he can play but it would be a trial,” I continue.
“Yes, you think so?” she reflects.
“I do. It's going to be hard enough for him to get a job once he finishes studying, so he will need the social contacts … people from the football club can help him. An employer looks for well-balanced young people and he'll need to show he's a team player … not just good at school.”
She brightens up and takes another sip of her tea. The doorbell rings. I don't feel the urge to answer it.
“Perhaps tell him you agree to the football providing his grades stay good and that it is a positive thing for his CV.”
“Football yes, I can show I trust him … Do you have sugar, Mr Melisma?”
This story is taken from Mr Melisma, please, Christian Nielsen's debut collection of short fiction. Also read The Box. You can order your copy from Amazon