TWAT - A short story

in apartheid •  2 years ago 

apartheid comic.jpeg

TWAT

Short story by Luke B

"Make sure you get some bread before I get back from work!" My father snapped at me with his usual dismay. "You eat like a pig."
I nodded quietly. I learnt a long time ago that arguing with my father was futile. It didn’t matter that I had not touched bread since I was thirteen years old; all that mattered was that I continued to nod. Which I did. Along with an involuntary shrug, followed by another, and another, and another.
"Stop that." He snapped again. I nodded once more. It didn’t matter that I had Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disease that affected my brain and my nerves. My father didn’t care about all of that, in fact, it was rare that he even acknowledged it. My tics – just like myself – went ignored in our little township. Until my father drowned himself in whisky. Then it was another story.
My foot tapped rapidly, mostly out of impatience at my father’s lingering shadow. I watched as he gathered his belongings, wondering if he was taking his time, out of pure spite. He knew that as soon as he stepped out of that door, sunshine would bounce off these walls like a missile. I knew he resented that. He resented my happiness, even if it was for a brief moment.
"I’ll be back at around 9pm." He snapped for the third time.
When he left, I scurried to my small bedroom. It was less of a bedroom and more of a mattress slumped in the corner, but that wasn’t my concern. My eyes were glued to one thing only. I picked up the guitar, the only thing that truly belonged to me. I ran my hands over the wood, and grunted twice with pleasure. Growing up, the only thing that ever brought me peace was music. I used to sing lullabies to myself as I fell asleep; it was the only time my tics took a back seat.
It was purely by luck that I found the guitar. I was coming back from the groceries, and noticed it sticking out of an empty bin. Without hesitation, I grasped it like a thirsty man reaching for water. My father beat me bloody that night, he told me that it must have belonged to the white man. I couldn’t steal from the white man. It did not matter that I had profusely explained that I had found it along with the rubbish.
I couldn’t say I didn’t understand where his frustration stemmed from. Living in apartheid wasn’t easy, especially now, when we seemed so close to change. But still further all the same. My father, along with most black men in the township, worked in the mines for almost nothing. We lived in a slum, and he resented my Tourette’s, he believed by now I should have been married, or at least working just as hard as he was.
But I had dreams regardless; I was going to become a singer. I knew it was possible because it was the only thing that could fight my Tourette’s and win every time. I needn’t dare tell my father however. He already told the neighbours that I was his brother’s kid. He barely needed an excuse to get rid of me.
"Dream a little dream of me…" I hummed. This was my favourite time of day, when the sun spilled uncontrollably into the house, when outside was filled with children laughing and the busyness of the day. I had nothing but my guitar and my voice, and that was more than enough.
I sang and sang until soreness tickled my throat. I sat on my mattress and continued to strum quietly until I fell asleep.
It seemed I had only been asleep a minute when the door slammed and abruptly broke my peace.
I was stunned to see that the sun had retired; I was even more stunned to see my father had already returned from work.
"What the fuck do you think you’re doing?" He yelled hoarsely. He was drunk. Something that I wasn’t surprised to see.
"Father." I said serenely. I could smell the intoxication reeking off him from the other side of the room. A scent so repulsively strong that it made me want to shudder.
"You disgust me! You sleep all day while I slave to bring money to this house." He stumbled towards me. "You make me sick!"
It didn’t help that it was at that very moment, that I involuntarily yelled – "TWAT!"
"I’m s. s. sorry, father." I stammered quickly.
But it’s no use; he loomed over me with a grimace plastered over his bulging face. He raised a hand over his head, and like lightening, it struck me.
I gasped and clutched my face. I should be used to this by now. He continued to strike me until I could feel blood trickling down my face. After he was done, I laid there, tears mixed with the blood until I couldn’t tell one from the other. I listened attentively as I heard my father open a cupboard.
"And where's the fucking bread I asked for?" He yelled as he advanced on me. I slowly tried to lift myself from the floor but before I could move, my father’s boot kicked me directly in the stomach.
"Father, please! BREAD!" I sobbed. "BREAD!"
"Shut up, you freak!" He screamed. He lobbied more kicks to my stomach, until I couldn’t breathe. This time surely I was going to die? I closed my eyes, and waited for everything to fade to black. After a few moments, my father retired to the bathroom, the unmistakable sound of vomit echoed around the house.
Slowly, I stood up. My sides burned with agony. I picked up the guitar, and quickly gathered a few of my clothes. Tonight, I had enough.
My father returned, it took him but a moment to see the backpack in my hands. "Where are you going?" a smirk etched on his face, daring me.
I couldn’t speak. I tried to open my mouth but words eluded me.
He spat on the floor beside me, and turned his back to me.
I slammed the door behind me.
"Where are you going?" He shouted again.
"Anywhere" I whispered.

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