Monday, January 12, 2009

"On my way to Court", she said...

I was driving back home. I was 23:30 and I saw her from the side of my eye - the small woman pushing a pram on the dusty sidewalk in the dark. A pram?? I looked again in the mirror, and eventually stopped. It is a dangerous stretch this time of night with many lurking drug lords and gangsters. No place for a woman and a baby (?). She looked no closer than eighteen years old and the baby was tiny and quite wet.

Her name is Shereen, with baby boy Chadley and she is on her way home to Ocean View, she said as I stopped beside her, having turned again. "Get in, I'll take you", and I threw the passenger door wide open. "Why this time of night... with a baby so small?", I inquired, as she started breast feeding to get the baby to quiet down. "I am on my way to Court... tomorrow", she added.

So, this is how my rather full day ended - taking Shereen to her home close to midnight, so she could get a lift from family who demanded she be there tonight already in order to be driven to the Court house: in the morning. She is claiming R800,00 from the father in the SA Navy for "child maintenance" (as she calls it) and described to me how baby boy Chadley needs "way too much" for an eight-month old and she can't keep up. She never asked me for money or for any other help. Maybe the drive in the middle of the night from a perfect stranger, when she so clearly feared the walk, was quite enough. And maybe she will get the R800 for little Chadley tomorrow.

As for me, I know I will return to their shack - "that one without the windows and the door wide open" where the drunken man was scratching his stomach and the rubbish was rotting outside the front gate. I want to keep track of little Chadley...

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