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Modjaji Books

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Read Meg Vandermerwe’s “A Hijack Story”

This Place I Call HomeThe first story in Meg Vandermerwe’s debut collection, This Place I Call Home, appeared in the Mail & Guardian earlier this month:

Is one of them coming? He knows this can’t be right. He’s fled guns before. Held up not to the back of his neck — his occipital crest, under siege right now — but his heart, his very soul.

Uganda. 1972, Idi Amin and his gang of barbaric murders: those bastards came in their jeeps and kicked down doors. Stole your home, your land, assaulted and insulted you. He survived that. So this shouldn’t be happening to him again. Not now, not at his age.

The ground is too hot. After a long morning of ferocious Durban summer sun, it’s scalding his soft right cheek, the fleshy palms of his hands spread out flat in front of him on the tarmac as the black bastards try to figure out how to override the Mercedes safety lock. His chunky gold wedding ring is already gone — its absence a gnawing worry, like that anxiety when you’ve forgotten to do something very important. In one of those bastard’s pockets. There’s a red-skimmed welt in its place where they tore it off.

That’s not all. His Rolex watch bought in Singapore when he went there for Jasminda’s wedding; his wallet; his shoes; his belt that they’ve used to bind his feet, too bloody tight — it’s cutting off his circulation, his feet have already gone numb. First the left then the right, there’s a combination of tingling and pain moving in waves up and down his shins. Medically speaking, of course, he knows the pain is just an illusion. Block the body’s ability to transmit the neurological signals, the brain’s ability to receive them, and the pain disappears, that’s how painkillers work. Panado, aspirin, Myprodol, those are the best. The biggest brands aren’t always the best but in this case he would recommend it every time unless the patient is pregnant or has allergies. Now so many people claim to have them, you have to be careful, don’t want to be sued.

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