Since Grade 1, me and Shawnie were best buds. We’d play at each other’s houses and sleep over and stuff. It was a jol. When we were like 12, we’d go off to the Magaliesberg and hang out there. Me and Shawnie, and Shawnie’s brother, and his buds, and their chicks, would all pile into Shawnie’s brother’s dad’s bakkie and spend Sundays walking in the gorges and arbing by the rock pools. They smoked zol. Not me and Shawnie though. His brother wouldn’t let us. But that’s where we started cigarettes. Stuyvies blue.
I’m not good on my feet to be honest, so I was quite scared in the Magaliesberg. There’s this moerse high cliff there that okes jump off into this rock pool. Flip, it’s a long way down. The first time I went there, I dragged myself on my arlie to the edge, but being such a bangbroek, I couldn’t jump off. I sat looking over, thinking I’d land skew and like break my back and like die or something. The others never died. They jumped and they were fine.
Shawnie stayed at the top with me, saying it was nothing, that I should just jump. “Just jump, Eddy,” he said, “it’s nothing.” All the okes at the bottom, and the chicks, looked up from down there and they were like, “Come on, Eddy, don’t be such a poepol.” But I couldn’t.
Then, Shawnie’s brother, who was this really good climber, climbed up with some sarmies. He also said it was nothing. But I still couldn’t. So he left us the sarmies and jumped off like it was nothing. I checked, and sure as nuts, he came up in the middle of his bubbles, went over on his back and, ja, he was fine. He put his arms out like Jesus, splashed a bit, then rolled over and swam to the side.
Shawnie said, “You see, Eddy, it’s nothing.” But even though I felt like a poepol, I still didn’t jump. Feeling like a poepol was better than dying.
Shawnie’s brother and the others walked down to where the lunch spot was. Their lunch was more than sarmies, it was coffee with condensed milk and rusks as well. Shawnie and me, we stuffed around at the top, and I was like, “Sorry Shawnie” every five minutes, cos I felt kak about not jumping. But Shawnie was cool about it. He was a real bud. He was my best bud.
Ja, I still remember that hey, sitting there, smoking Stuyvies Blue and eating sarmies; and Shawnie saying that it was flippin’ high and that most people wouldn’t jump it. But the thing was, all the others had jumped, even the chicks, so I still felt kak.
From then, when they said they were going that way, I’d say I was sick or busy or something. I didn’t say that to Shawnie, though. You could tell him the truth and it was cool. He was that kind of oke.
Then he died.
Ja, about two years later when we were like sixteen, he got klapped by a car on his fifty. That was then the second time I went to that spot. It was Shawnie’s favourite spot and we went there to scatter his ashes. Everyone jumped, ‘cept Shawnie’s folks and the others who were, like, old. I took off my shirt and my rockies and dragged myself on my arlie to the edge.
The last oke that jumped was Shawnie’s brother. He stood there, in his under-rods, pointed his arms, and just before he dived I checked that he was crying. Then he did this somersault, like those okes at the Olympics. Flip, I never even knew he could do that. Up he came with his bubbles and he shouted, “Come on, Eddy, do it for Shawnie.” There was this echo, you know, cos of the rocks and everything: ‘do it for Shawnie’ … ‘awnie’ … ‘awnie’.
I ended up going back to the cars with Shawnie’s folks.
Ja, it was a kak day that. I still remember it, more even than that first time with the sarmies and everything. Every year on New Year’s day – cos that’s when we scattered Shawnie’s ashes – every year I say this year I’m gonna jump. But I never have. I’ve never even been back to that entire spot.