Fiction: Do Not Run. “Short Kids Story.”

Malek Sherif

A Legal Disclaimer for a Fictional Story: This is a work of fiction and cannot be presented as fact. Unless otherwise indicated, all the names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents in this book are either the product of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

In the genius of apartheid, the vast majority of people were able to turn against one another. It was all about hatred, plain and simple. You divide people into factions and make them hate each other so that you can rule them all.

The black population of South Africa was roughly five times greater than the white population, but we were separated into several ethnic groups speaking various languages, such as Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, Sotho, Venda, Ndebele, Tsonga, and more. In the pre-apartheid period, various tribal clans engaged in conflict and battle. After that, the white rule took advantage of the division to consolidate its power. Groups and subgroups were established for all nonwhites. Then, to keep the factions at loggerheads, they were granted different degrees of rights and privileges.

Among these differences, the Zulu and Xhosa peoples of South Africa stood out as the most divisive. The warrior of the Zulu people is the Zulu man. He takes pride in himself. He fights with all of his might. They plunged into combat with spears and shields against warriors with rifles when the colonial troops came. Thousands of Zulu were slain, yet they refused to surrender. Instead, the Xhosa take great pleasure in their ability to think for themselves. My mother's ethnicity is Xhosa. Nelson Mandela was a Xhosa leader.

Even though the Xhosa had long conducted a war of attrition against the white man, many leaders adopted a more agile strategy after learning the futility of fighting against a superior opponent. They observed that whites "are here whether we like it or not." Let's see if they have any tools that we can utilise. Let's study English instead of being averse to it. Our understanding of the white man's words will allow us to push him into a negotiation. "

The Zulu fought against the white man in a battle. The Xhosa and the white guy played chess. In the beginning, neither was especially effective, and they both blamed the other for a problem they had not caused. The resentment grew. A shared adversary kept these emotions under control for decades. Then, apartheid fell, Nelson Mandela was set free, and a civil war broke out in black South Africa.

In certain high-profile Hollywood productions, stunts like someone leaping from a driving automobile or being tossed from a moving vehicle are commonplace. The individual falls to the ground and begins to roll. Then they come to a halt and seem unfazed by the experience. When I see anything like that, I immediately think, "That's a load of shit," because it's so ridiculous. Even worse is being tossed from a moving automobile. My mother tossed me from a moving automobile when I was nine years old.

In particular, a Sunday was the day that everything happened. We were on our way home from church, and every Sunday in my youth meant church, so I knew it was a Sunday. We never missed a service. Throughout my life, my mother has been and continues to be a very devout person. Like true Christians in every sense of the word, indigenous peoples all over the globe, black South Africans assimilated the religion of their colonists.

When I say "adopted," I mean "imposed on us against our will. The white guy was severe with the indigenous man. He advised her to turn to Jesus in prayer. "Christ will rescue you," he said. It was at that point that the native replied, "Well, we do need to be rescued—saved from you, but that is beside the point." Let's give this Jesus thing a whirl, shall we? "

My entire family is religious, but unlike my mother, who adhered strictly to Christian doctrine, my grandmother practised traditional Xhosa spirituality and regularly spoke with the spirits of our ancestors while maintaining her Christian faith. When I first arrived in the United States, I was baffled as to why so many black people had converted to Christianity from their traditional religions.

My understanding of Christianity deepened as I spent more time sitting in those pews: If you're Native American and pray to the wolves, then consider yourself savage. You're primitive if you're African and you pray to your ancestors. On the other hand, it's a basic sense for white people to pray to a person who can transform water into wine.

At least four evenings a week, my family attended church, in some form or another. The prayer gathering was held on Tuesday night. On Wednesday nights, a group of people gathered for Bible study. Youth church was held on Thursday night. We were off on Friday and Saturday. (It's time to sin!) After that, we attended church on Sunday. To be exact, there are three churches in the area. It was for this reason that we visited all three churches: My mother believed each one provided her with something unique. The first church sang a joyful psalm to God.

Unlike the first church, the second provided a far more in-depth study of the Bible. You could sense the Holy Spirit's presence when you went to the third church because it delivered a sense of fervour and catharsis. Each of these churches had a particular ethnic make-up, which I noted by chance as we made our way back and forth between them. It was a mixed-race congregation at Jubilant. The white church was the analytical church. And the black church was a passionate, cathartic place of worship.

Rhema Bible Church was a mix-and-match congregation. These enormous, ultra-modern, suburban megachurches like Rhema are becoming more and more common. Ray McCauley had a huge grin and the demeanour of a cheerleader as his pastor. Pastor Ray was a Mr Universe contestant in 1974. He finished in a tie for third. Arnold Schwarzenegger took home the trophy that year.

Ray would be on stage every week, trying hard to make Jesus cool. There was a rock band playing Christian contemporary pop music in an arena-style setting. As long as you didn't know the lyrics, you could still sing along with everyone else since they were all there on the Jumbotron for you to see! In essence, it was a night of Christian karaoke. When I was a kid, mixed-gender churches were the best.

Rosebank Union, in Sandton, a mostly white neighborhood of Johannesburg, was known as the "White Church." Because I didn't have to attend the main service, I enjoyed the white church. My mother would attend the service while I attended Sunday school for children. We were fortunate enough to experience some fantastic literature as children in our church-sponsored Sunday school classes. I was personally invested in the story of Noah and the deluge since it favored my favorites. However, the legends of Moses dividing the Red Sea, David defeating Goliath, and Jesus flogging the money changers in the temple all had a special place in my heart, as did others.

I grew up in a household where popular culture was not a big part of my life. My mother did not let Boyz II Men into her home. Are there songs about a man who is up all night grinding on a girl? Not. That was out of bounds! I'd heard other kids singing "End of the Road" at school, but I had no idea what they were singing about... I'd heard of the Boyz II Men but couldn't place them...The only music I'd ever heard was soaring, joyful hymns praising Jesus. Movies have the same problem. My mother didn't want me to be exposed to sex and violence-laden films as a child. That's why The Bible was my go-to action film. My idol was Samson.

My hero was him. With a donkey's jawbone, what could go wrong? That's a lot of swaggers. What about the Old Testament and the Gospels? Eventually, you come to Paul writing Ephesian letters, and it loses its narrative. Chapter and verse are all you need to know about what I've just read. Every week at White Church, there were Bible games and quizzes, and I won every time.

Black churches followed. Any time there was a black church service going on, we went to every one of them. An outdoor tent revival church was the norm in the area. My grandmother's church was an old-school Methodist congregation of five hundred African grannies in blue-and-white shirts, patiently burning in the hot African sun, holding their Bibles and praying. The black church was difficult, I'll admit it. There is no way to cool off. There aren't any song lyrics shown on the Jumbotrons. After three or four hours, which perplexed me since the church was about an hour and a half—in and out, thanks for coming.

I used to spend an inordinate amount of time at Black Church trying to figure out why time seemed to pass at such a glacial pace. Is it feasible to halt the passage of time in its tracks? There must be a reason it stops at black churches and not white ones. In the end, I concluded that because of our greater adversity, black people need more time with Jesus. My mother used to say, "I'm here to stock up on my blessings for the week," and I've always taken her advice to heart. A Starbucks Rewards Card, she thought, was a good analogy for how many rewards we gathered by attending church regularly.

One bright spot remained in the history of the black church. In the third or fourth hour, I'd be able to observe the pastor exorcise devils from individuals. Demon-possessed people would rush around the auditorium, screaming in different languages. The ushers would tackle them and hold them down for the pastor, much like bouncers at a nightclub.

The pastor would aggressively shake their heads, exclaiming, "I throw this devil out in the name of Jesus!" Even if some of the pastors were more ferocious than others, they would not relent until the demon had been cast out and the congregation members had become comatose and slumped on the platform. The guy had to be knocked down by the force of gravity. Unless he fell, the devil would be too strong and the pastor would have to go after him even harder. A linebacker is a position that you might play in the National Football League. It didn't matter. That priest had you in his sights. That was a lot of fun.

I enjoyed church because of the Christian karaoke, action movies, and faith healers. I hated having to go to such lengths just to go to church. Every step was excruciating. At the time, my family and I called Eden Park home. For the white church, it took us an hour to get there; for the mixed church, it took us 45 minutes; for the black church, it took us another 45 minutes. Then, on certain Sundays, we'd go back to the white church for a special nighttime service, as if that wasn't horrible enough. I'd be exhausted by the time we arrived home at night.

Things began as they normally would on this particular Sunday, the one in which I was flung from a moving automobile. The first thing my mom did for me was wake me up and serve me oatmeal for breakfast. While my mother clothed Andrew, my nine-month-old brother, I had a bath and afterward, we walked out to the driveway to get in the vehicle, but it wouldn't start when we had everything buckled up and ready to leave. My mother drove an old, beat-up Volkswagen Beetle in bicolor orange color that she had acquired for close to nothing. Because it was always breaking down, she was able to get it at a very low price.

I've never been a fan of used vehicles. Most of the problems in my life have been caused by a used automobile. I was detained for being late to school because I was driving a used car. Cars that were too old to drive left us stranded on the motorway.

My mother's marriage was similarly sparked by the purchase of a used automobile. My mother was shot in the back of the head because of a Volkswagen that wouldn't start. I'll take a new vehicle with a guarantee over a mechanic who turned out to be my husband, stepfather, and guy who tormented us for years.

A nine-hour trudge, from a mixed church to a white church to a black church and back to a white church again, was simply too much for me to bear. A vehicle ride was awful enough, but using public transportation would make it much worse. When the Volkswagen wouldn't start, I prayed, "Please say we'll just remain at home," in my brain. I'd appreciate it if you could simply tell them we're staying in. To my relief, I looked over and saw my mother's resolute expression on her face, with her jaw set.

She called out, "Come." "Minibuses are our mode of transportation." My mum is as pious and uncompromising as she is. Once she's made up her mind, it's over. Challenges like a broken-down automobile simply made her more eager to continue on her journey.

The stopped automobile, she said, was the work of the devil. If you don't attend church, you're in the hands of the minibusses, minibuses are required. To challenge my mother's religious stubbornness, I would try to politely give her a different point of view.

It's possible that the vehicle won't start because the Lord knows that we shouldn't go to church today, and thus he made sure that the car wouldn't start so that we could remain at home with our family and have a day of rest because even the Lord rested. The devil is speaking, Trevor.

To which the respondent replied: "No. Because only God can start an automobile." "Since God is in charge and we pray to God for this," the respondent said. Every once in a while, Jesus will tell you, "No, Trevor! You're wrong!" to test your mettle and see whether you can keep going when the going gets tough. just like Job, if that comparison helps. It may be a trial.

Ah! Mom, I'm confident you're correct. There are many ways to assess our faith, but perhaps the most important is whether we are willing to accept what has happened and praise Jesus for his wisdom. What about your mother? "No. What you're hearing is the Devil." Go ahead and change into something comfier now.

The word "sun'qhela" has a wide range of meanings. Don't undercut me, don't underestimate me, and just give me a chance. It's a command and a threat in the same utterance. When children are young, Xhosa parents are likely to tell them this. When I heard that, I knew the discussion was done, and if I spoke another word, I was going to get spanked.

When I was in high school, I was a student at a private Catholic school called Maryvale. Every year, I took first place in the Maryvale Sports Day competition, and my mother took home the parents' award. Why? To avoid being kicked in the** by her, I was constantly on the run. No one ran as fast as my mother and I did. In other words, she wasn't one of those parents who said, "Come here and get your hide." She would bring it to you for free. She, too, was a thrower.

You could feel whatever was around her advancing on you. As a result, if the object in question was fragile, I had to grab it and place it down. The ass-kicking would be much worse if it broke since it would be my fault as well. To escape, I'd have to grab and drop the vase she tossed at me. I'd have to ask myself, "Is it worth it?" Yes. The question is whether or not it can be broken. Yes. Immediately after snatching it, they put it on the ground and fled.

My mother and I had one of those Tom and Jerry relationships. I was the bad one; she was the strict one. Even if she sent me grocery shopping, I wouldn't return straight away because I would spend the change from my milk and bread purchases on video games at the store. Playing video games was a lot of fun. When it came to Street Fighter, I was a true pro. A single play may keep me occupied for days. I'd put a penny in, the time would pass by, and then a lady with a belt would be behind me. A race has begun.

To escape, I'd run out the door and into Eden Park's dusty streets, clambering over walls and dodging through private yards. In our community, it was nothing out of the ordinary. Trevor's mom was always there for him, and everyone knew it. Even though she could run at full speed in high heels, she made a habit of kicking her shoes off as she pursued me. She could throw her heels into the air and not lose a beat if she performedmaneuverarre maneuvering with her ankles. Suddenly, it dawned on me: She's going full bore now.

Until I became older, Mom had an uncanny knack for catching me, but as my speed increased, she had to resort to sleight of hand. She'd cry, "Stop! Thief!" if I was going to flee. She'd do that to her kid, no question about it. When it comes to mob justice in South Africa, everyone wants a piece of the action. She'd shriek "Thief!" inciting a thneighborsgry neighbor to attack me as I screamed, "I'm not a thief!" or "I'm her kid!"

As soon as my mother said "realized," I realized I had no choice but to get on a packed minibus and get to school. We got out of the car and walked around to see if we could get a ride. When Nelson Mandela was freed from jail, I was five years old, almost six. I recall witnessing it on television and everyone's joy at the end of the show. Because we were pleased, I didn't care what the reason was. However, I had no idea how important it had been for so long to eliminate apartheid in South Africa and how much it meant.

However, the violence that followed is what I do remember, and it is what I will never forget. The "Bloodless Revolution" refers to the victory of democracy over apartheid in South Africa. Because of the small amount of white blood that was shed, it was given that name. The streets were covered in black blood.

As the apartheid government crumbled, it became clear that a black man would take control of the country. Which black guy was the question? There were outbreaks of violence between the African National Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party as they fought for power. In a nutshell, the political dynamic between the Zulus and Xhosas was a proxy battle between the two ethnic groupings.

The Inkatha was a Zulu-dominated nationalist movement that was very armed and resolute in its beliefs. The ANC was a diverse group of people, but its leaders were predominantly Xhosa at the time. Rather than joining together for peace, they turned on one another and engaged in acts of barbarism that were beyond comprehension. Riots erupted around the city. At least tens of thousands of people died. Necktie tying was a widespread practice at the time.

When someone was pinned to the grotiretire a rubber tire would be placed over their body, holding them afterward, he would be doused with gasoline and set ablaze, and he would die. Inkatha was targeted by the ANC. The ANC was done in by Inkatha. On my way to school one day, I came upon one of these burned remains at the side of the road. My mother and I used to watch the news together in the evenings on our little black-and-white TV. Dozens of individuals were slain. A hundred people were killed.

Eden Park was located close to the East Rand townships of Thokoza and Katlehong, which were the scene of some of the most brutal Inkatha–ANC confrontations in South Africa's history. At least once a month, the neighborhood would be on fire as we drove home. Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in protest. To get past the throng and overtired blazing tire blocks, my mother would drive her vehicle slowly. You'll never be able to fathom the intensity of a tire's flames. It seemed as if we were driving into a furnace as we passed the blazing barricades. The phrase "I believtiresan burns tires in Hell" was one of the things I used to tell my mother.

When the rioting broke out, the neighborhood heeded our advice and stayed inside. My mother, on the other hand, is an exception. To get through the blockades, she'd go straight out, and she'd give the rioters this look. Please excuse me. I'm not a part of this garbage. It didn't matter how bad things got; she never faltered.

That has always awed me to no end. It didn't matter that there was a conflict just in front of our home. She had a to-do list and a list of locations she needed to be at. In the face of her broken-down automobile, she refused to give up on coming to church. My mother would tell me to "Get dressed," even if 500 rioters were blocking the major route out of Eden Park with flaming tires. I had to get up and get ready for work. "You must attend school."

Asked whether he was worried, the man said, "Yes, I am." That's my opinion, anyhow. That's right, "you're the only one here, yet there are a whole bunch of you." She'd add, "Honey, I'm not the only one." All of Heaven's angels are supporting me. To that end, I'd remark, "Well, it'd be good if we could see them." "Because I don't believe the rioters are aware of their presence."

Then she'd advise me to relax and not be concerned. "If God is for me, who can be against me?" was a mantra she lived by. She had no fear. Even though she should have On that carless Sunday, we went on our customary church tour, concluding at White Church, as we always do. We were the only ones walking out of Rosebank Union in the dead of night.

I was fatigued after a long day of going from mixed church to black church to white church. At the very least, it was nine o'clock. Late-night outings were discouraged in those days because of the violence and disturbances. There were no minibusses at the intersection of Oxford Road and Jellicoe Avenue in Johannesburg's wealthier, whiter suburbs. Nobody was around.

I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs when I saw my mom and tell her, "See? To avoid this, God had us remain at home. After seeing her reaction, I decided not to say anything. This was not one of those instances when I could speak crap to my mother.

Waiting for a minibus took forever. Despite apartheid's absence of public transit for blacks, whites nevertheless relied on us to clean their restrooms and wipe their floors. Because there wasn't a formal public transportation system, African Americans made up their network of bus lines that were run by private groups and were not legal.

There was a lot of money organized in organized crime, and that's what the minibus industry was. Various factions took various paths, and battles broke out over whose territory was in control. Bribery and other unethical practices abounded, as did a tremendous quantity of violence and large sums of money paid to keep the peace. You didn't, however, take the path of another team. Route thieves would be put to death. Due to their lack of regulation, minibusses were also problematic. Whenever they arrived, they arrived. They didn't when they weren't supposed to.

I couldn't keep my eyes open as I stood outside of Rosebank Union, drowsily snoozing. I don't see any minibusses. My mother eventually suggested that we try hitchhiking. After what seemed like an eternity of walking, a vehicle pulled up and parked. It was a free trip, so we accepted the driver's offer. A minibus drove straight in front of the vehicle and cut us off, leaving us stranded in the middle of the road.

One of the Zulu drivers stepped out with an iwisa, a traditional battle stick used by the Zulu people. They're used to inflicting severe brain damage on the victims they hit. Another man, his comrade, exited the passenger side of the vehicle. A group of men approached our vehicle, yanked out a guy who had volunteered to drive us and slammed their clubs in his face. I don't see why you're taking our customers. "What's the point of picking up strangers?"

It seemed as though this man was about to be killed. I was aware of the fact that it occurred. It was my mother's turn to speak. That guy was only trying to help me out, you know. "It is time for you to move on." With our permission, we'll join you on your journey. "That's exactly what we were hoping for." So we exited the first automobile and boarded the minibus, as instructed.

The minibus had only the two of us in it. South African minibus drivers are infamous for whining and haranguing passengers while driving, in addition to being violent criminals. This particular motorist was enraged to the extreme. His lecture to my mother about being in a vehicle with someone other than her husband began as we drove along. My mum did not tolerate strange men's lectures. When he heard her speak in Xhosa, it genuinely enraged him to hear her tell him to keep his mouth shut.

There were as many misconceptions about Xhosa and Zulu females as there were about males. It was common knowledge that Zulu women were polite and obedient. Prostitution and unfaithfulness are common characteristics of Xhosa women. When I saw her, I realized she was my mother's tribe's archenemy, an isolated Xhosa lady with two young children—one of whom was mixed.

As he yelled at my mum, my mom continued telling him off, and he called her names, yelled from the front seat, wiggled his finger in the rearview mirror, and became more and more dangerous until he screamed, "That's the issue with you Xhosa women." "Tonight, you're going to get your lesson about being a slut."

He sped away. When he came to a junction, he simply slowed to look for traffic before rushing right through. Death was never far from anyone's reach in the past. There is a chance that my mum may be raped at the moment. We may all die. All of these choices were plausible. At the time, I was so exhausted that I didn't realize the danger that we were in; I simply wanted to sleep. My mother, on the other hand, maintained her composure admirably. So, since she didn't show any signs of terror, I had no idea to panic. She didn't give up; she simply continued pleading with him.

"But, I apologize to you." "No," he says, "there's nothing to worry about. It's easy to walk—" "No." Oxford Road was deserted, with no other vehicles on the road. My seat was very next to the sliding door of the minibus. My brother Andrew was in the arms of my mother, who sat next to me. "Trevor, when he slows down at the next junction, I'll unlock the door and we'll jump," she murmured in my ear as she peered out the window.

By the time she finished speaking, I had fully fallen asleep and could not hear a word she was saying. The motorist slowed down a little at the next traffic light to glance around and inspect the road ahead. My mother grabbed me and flung me as far as she could after opening the sliding door. Then she grabbed Andrew, rolled around him, and jumped out of the way of my path.

When the agony set in, it seemed like a scene from a fairy tale. Bam! I slammed against the ground hard. We crashed and rolled and tumbled together as my mum landed next to me. Now that I was awake, I felt like a new person. Suddenly, I was awakened from my slumber. When I finally slowed down, I was hopelessly lost and had to be hauled to the ground. When I turned to see who was around, I noticed my mother standing up. She shouted as she turned to face me.

"Run!" There were no other runners like us; we were the only ones to do so. Just like that, I was on the right path. In a society where violence was constantly lurking and ready to explode, it was learned by instinct. Every time police armored or armored vehicles swooped down on the townships, I knew what to do: Run for shelter.

The best course of action is to flee and seek cover. Five years ago, I was well aware of this. Getting flung off of a speeding minibus could have frightened me had I lived a different life. As an idiot, I would have stood there asking, "What's going on, Mom?" My legs hurt! What's up with that? However, nothing like that happened. I fled when my mom told me to. When the lion came, I bolted like a gazelle.

A group of guys exited the van and attempted to pursue us, but they had little hope of succeeding. They were smoked by one of us. I guess that they were in a state of shock. I can still remember the expression on their faces as they finally succumbed to defeat. What's going on? A mother with two tiny children running at such a high speed? This team was the defending champions of the Maryvale College sports day, and they had no idea what was before them. We continued driving until we reached a 24-hour gas station, where we contacted the cops. The males had vanished by this point.

I still had no idea what had triggered all of this; I'd been operating solely on adrenaline. I only noticed how much agony I was in when we stopped jogging. The skin on my arms had been scuffed and ripped. I had been slashed and bled to death. Mom was too... Thankfully, my little brother was unharmed. Fortunately, my mother had taken care of him and he had not been harmed at all. I looked at her in disbelief.

How did it happen? Is there any reason we're chasing after each other? "'Why are we running?'" you ask. That group was out to harm us. " You didn't even tell me about that!? You just threw me out of the car! "I told you so." "Why on earth didn't you just leap right away? "

"Jump!" I was fast asleep! " "So you think I should have just left you there?" That way, I may have been alerted before my death was hastened. We went back and forth a lot. The fact that I had been thrown from the automobile had left me dazed and enraged, so I didn't grasp what had occurred. I owe my survival to my mum.

She added, "Well, at least we're safe, thank God," as we recovered our breath and awaited the arrival of the police to transport us back to our apartment. At nine years old, I was well aware of the dangers. This time, I was not going to keep my mouth shut.

There is no such thing as "Mom, I'm sorry." God has nothing to do with it! When the vehicle wouldn't start, you should have heeded God's advice and stayed at home, for the devil misled us into going out tonight. "

"No, Trevor! You're wrong!" The Devil would never do anything like that. We are here for a purpose, and that purpose is part of God's plan. And so it went on and on, with us once again debating the will of God. Finally, I said, 'Look, Mom.'" "Please consider inviting Jesus over to our home for a visit next week. because it wasn't a good night. "

She burst into a wide grin and began laughing uncontrollably. This small child and his mother, both covered in blood and mud, stood together in the light of a gas station in the middle of the night, smiling through the agony together.

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With over a decade of writing stories for the local paper, Malek Sherif has a uniquely friendly voice that shines through in his newest collection of children's stories, which explores the importance we place on the legacy.

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