It had been a challange choosing the right route to Ncome. I finally took the advise of the last person I spoke to who said, 'take the Babanango route, it's the shortest'. I did. I had to be there at least by 9:30. The function was to start at 10:00. I already had four people call me to say they are excited I'm coming. I could not be late. After all, I was representing the Office of the Premier.
I'm familiar with the Melmoth route, since I frequent it when going home. Since I was worried about time, I could not stop over and see Mama. I simply waved with my heart. I took the Babanango route. I must have drove for 5 minutes, when I was stopped. Stop-and-Go. I nearly died. I had an hour and half left.
I must have had 3 of these stops. I knew in my gut I would be late. I felt bad 'cause many people had given me different routes option but I chose the last one. I received a night before. I was angry at myself. Which impacted my speed. I started driving like a taxi driver. I didn't mind. I thought it's cool. If something happens, at least I am alone in the car.
My favourite part of the route was past Babanango town. The flat area leading to Nquthu. I could speed. Luckily traffic cops stopped me when I was going a bit slow. Saw my license. I handed him some free condom. We parted with smiles. When I got into a small town I was relieved that the main road cuts through the town. I didn't have to get lost. I stopped at the Engen garage to confirm I was on the right route. A young petrol attendant pointed me at the direction as if I'd drive for 1 km and be there. Not. A taxi driver I asked after driving for sometime, told me, 'you're gonna drive for some time'. I knew it was time. Call those who know I'm coming! I did. They met me on the main road intersection.
The first talk was for inmates in Medium B. I told them, 'you're a dull crowd'. They were. A music group sang isicathamiya, no one clap, cheersed or sang along. They just stared. I gave my motivational talk. One of the disturbing question. An inmate was telling me he can cure AIDS with traditional herbs. It took a lot for me not to cut me to size. I hate people who are in denial when millions of people are dying. The only comment I said was that, AIDS cannot be cured. I stressed that I know many traditional medicine which work as immune boosters. I had to get out of there. One young man asked me, 'if I shake your hand, will I get it?'. I said, 'do it and find out'. He laughed and walked away. Something in me said, 'chill'. I was consoled by that, if I've touched one person's heart and mind, that's enough. I was ushered to the next group in another section of the prison. My favourite crowd.
These inmates had all the swagger. Good looking brothers. Vocal. It was the first time I came across inmates same age as me. I told them, 'I could marry some of you'. That was a great ice breaker. It was a great discussion. Until the questions came. They were amazing. Staff and inmates asked me questions. Challenging questions. We joked, argued all the time with respect. I loved them. A few gave me words od support and prayers. But the majority of inmates began disclosing their HIV status to each other. It turned out to be an educational session. Some didn't know they were support groups, health workers and nutrients found in diet. It was an each one teach one session. I loved it. I absolutely loved it.
An old man came up and diclosed that he is HIV positive and he has changed his ways. He gave his own wise motivational talk. I smiled with pride, until he said, 'I've even stopped ukudlala (playing) with boys" I assume he meant having sex with young boys. I froze. It was like I got out of my own skin. I looked around. One younger inmate walked out. I thought about my son. I could hear nervous laughter and booing as if it was further away at a distance. At that minute. I knew one thing. There must be some good out of this. I hope one day I see it.
Finally I got a going away gift. The group cheered when I hug the inmate who made it. i was amazed at the quality of the work. I gave them my address so they can write to me. I told them I've a feeling my husband is within them.
As I was ushered out. I took radio dedications which would be read on radio next week. Chat to some as we walked out. I'll have to go back because the inmate who made a gift for me asked me for paint. I want to help, so that he can be motivated to work harder. The staff gave me two types of lunch. Yummy! So I didn't leave empty handed. I had food, motivation and a gift.
I enjoyed the drive back home. It didn't feel like a long drive anymore. But damn, I was so hungry. I wanted to save the food I got so I could with my son. I stopped at KFC in Melmoth, hoping to buy Pops. When the cashier shouted, 'Pops' and turned to me and said, '3 minutes'. I thought 'hell no'. I took chips and rushed out. I had to get back to the airport, drop off a hired car and take mine home. I felt bad again driving past my mum's place. I called to apologise, she was disappointed. I got to the airport at 6.30pm. 12 hours gone. Job done.