Rumblings from the underground #3

Every day I come across a young white hobo, who stands beneath a tree on Cedar Road in Johannesburg, a busy afternoon intersection. He does not beg. He merely stands awaiting the generosity of passing motorists. His Mexican striped blanket slung over his shoulder, beard a little longer than the week before, his white sandaled feet stained brown with mud, yellow fingers; grimy and discoloured. It always strikes that he has this perfect little nose that remains dirt free. The motorists tentatively flag R10 notes at the edge of their half wound down windows and appear to almost throw the money at him on his approach, quickly moving the window from half-open to fully shut with deft speed. He returns to the tree. The other intersection hawkers stare at his pockets. He thrusts his hands into the ripped seams. He becomes a human safe. I drive on. Vivid images of rugby like tackling, talented pick pocketing to brute stranglehold grips sour my mind slightly, sure that none of these travesties actually befall him. Some days I have entire conversations planned in my head on approach the traffic lights to exchange with him, knowing full well that his vacant stare and constant muffled mumblings are probably drug induced. If the traffic light is red, I open my mouth to speak, but always withdraw the cave women like intonation to the inhale cavity at the back of my throat. Fear is a numbing motivational speaker at a busy intersection. I convince myself that my applaudable conversation would clearly not be as tantalising as the one he has with himself. I try to appease myself with the thought that the great poets relied heavily on opium to enhance their worded images. I find no consolation in these academic thoughts… Secretly I want to huddle him in my car and wash him. I consider ammonia, bleach, something that will make his rotting image disappears. But that’s just rude. I consider that the only reason I have a turbo injected car is to escape this interaction. That thought is not gratifying either. And so,  I transpose him by some mind magical force to a different time, a different place, a place….

Right AS Level’s, we know the following: 1) I can write (let that be a bit of inspiration! I am not some arb English teacher (there are many sadly) who only know how to crit! 2) I have started a character narrative, with two characters: me and the hobo (truly he exists and fascinates me immensely!) 3) I have used a first person narrative perspective, hence that this opening entails my thoughts, thus it is a true character piece 4) I have trailed the opening to a setting: note the word PLACE (this implies setting)

In the first two tasks on a) the mask and 2) Peter Pan I wanted you to focus specifically on the CHARACTERS – thus you would incorporate a) physical descriptions b) actions and behaviours c) thoughts (most of you used dialogue or direct speech; which is fine). The purpose of this rumbling is that you understand that SETTING narrative exists also. A setting narrative implies exactly that: that the setting will unfold the story and NOT the character.  Hence, the place becomes central to the plot of the story. Cambridge tricks you with questions like this; they will ask: Write a short story entitled ‘’The Immigrant’’, in which you bring about a sense of place and theme. (or some such) Can you see what they have done? The title implies a CHARACTER, yet the question requires that you write a full story based on SETTING and theme. Sneaky hey?! Don’t be fooled or caught by this in the exam, it is a common type of essay question and placed there to check if a) You have read the topic correctly b) remain within the style and form and employ the correct writing techniques that they require.

So, I leave it up to you to finish my story, but do remember I am creating a time and place paradox with my ending….you must tell the story from a ‘’Different time, a different place, a place…’’ thus you must make the place (the setting) central to the plot.

Task: Write the story (based on the place or setting from the point at which it stopped): 600-1000 word (You do not need to maintain my style of writing, simply tell the story from ‘’A different time and place’’…)

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