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Showing posts from April, 2011

Otherwordly isolation

I lean across the reception desk and catch the attendant’s eye. “Sawubona,” I say, dusting off my rusty Zulu. I see you.
“Sawubona, ninjani?” she replies. I see you, are you well?
“Ngiyapela.” I’m fine. She grins at me.
“You must be a doctor.”
“I am! How did you know?”
“It is only the doctors around here who use Zulu. Even if it is only the greetings.” She arches an eyebrow.
“I used to work here, at Hlabisa hospital up the road. I have a few other Zulu words, you know like ‘Does it hurt?’ and ‘Take a deep breath’.” She laughs. And then launches into an excellent impression of an elderly Zulu lady rattling off a series of complaints, waddling across the reception area clutching her back in mock agony. She gets it exactly right.
I have come up to KwaZulu-Natal for a few days. Tonight I am staying in the Hluhluwhe-iMfolozi game park, 20 minutes or so from where I used to work. Awarded my entry ticket, I drive into the park. The sun is low in the sky, the kills bathed in amber light. I take…