Accounting was not easy, not at all, in fact only really abnormally smart people were good at accounting. That was what Sari was thinking as she waited for Mr Mbatha to call out her name. “You did fine, relax.” Lulu her closest friend said softly from behind her. Sari looked over her shoulder slightly and responded, “Yes, you’re right, you are abnormally smart and you have been teaching me this numbers stuff so I did do fine. Maybe a 50%, yes I will be happy with a 50%.” Sari’s name was called and she got up to get her exam and quickly sat down without looking at it. “And….?” Lulu asked. Sari hesitated. This exam was part of the last set of exams before the final exams and before graduating from high school. If Sari did well in these exams, then she could do better in the finals and she would graduate with a total which would be good enough for her to get admitted into university.
In Province, the availability of courses that women could do had increased in the past ten years. Now instead of only nursing and teaching – women could also do philosophy, finance and business. The women had always been required to do mandatory home economics training which began in the first year of high school and needed to be repeated until progress was satisfactory. Here they learnt about cooking, cleaning, sewing, child nutrition and everything that one needed to know about managing a home efficiently. Sari felt that her generation was lucky to have more options and even though she was unsure of which of the 5 courses she wanted to do, she knew that she wanted to educate herself further.
“How did you do?” Lulu persisted. Sari kept the exam faced down on her desk. Lulu snatched it and read out loud. “Wow, 82% you smart girl you.” Lulu playfully shoved Sari’s shoulder. “Really!” Sari snatched back her exam in disbelief and for sure she did get 82%. She was so thrilled.
“You know that this means that we need to celebrate this afternoon…. I’m thinking banana and peanut butter milkshakes at Dairy Café.” Lulu proposed.
“That sounds nice but I have no money. No allowance for girls, remember? It really stinks that we cannot go just the two of us unless somebody takes us.” Sari sulked.
“That’s okay, (Lulu moved in closer and whispered), I found some money in my big brothers pockets when I was helping my mom to do the washing.” The two girls giggled.
“That’s all swell Lulu, but who is going to take us, we need an adult or a male.” Mr Mbatha came to stand next to the girls and they both sat in silence, facing forward.
Young women under the age of 21 were not allowed to work for money or to get an allowance. If they were out spending money, they needed to be with an adult or with a male who would be paying, even if the male was younger. When these young women were sent grocery shopping or to purchase something all on their own, they needed a signed letter with the contact number of whoever had sent them or given them the money. This was so that whoever was selling could double check if they suspected any dishonesty. Having this law in place meant that if Sari and Lulu wanted milkshakes that afternoon, they had to find a male or an adult to go with, or send to buy for them, who would not ask them where they had gotten the money from.
Sari arrived home from school and looked for Tio all around the house but could not find him. She decided to go and have a look outside. They were not very close anymore but she needed him for the milkshakes and he always knew how to keep a secret. She would need to bribe him or make a deal with him, but he could be trusted. Outside Sari found Tio playing soccer with Phepi. She stood a few metres away and called for him. “Don’t interrupt me; if you have something to say come over here!” Tio yelled at Sari. The arrogant little brat! Sari came closer, dodging and ducking the ball as the aggressive game of soccer continued. She stood at what she thought was a safe distance. “I need a favour.” She did not want to speak in front of Phepi but Tio was not going to stop the game to have a talk with her. Sari told him that Lulu had some money and that they wanted milkshakes and needed him to go with them. Phepi laughed out loud.
“So what’s in it for me?” Tio asked as expected.
“Whoa, double date man!” Phepi roared excitedly.
“That’s crazy; I cannot go on a date with my cousin.” Tio responded, obviously annoyed by Phepi’s enthusiasm.
“No dummy. You go on the date with the friend and I go on the date with Sexy Sari here.” Phepi came up close to Sari and took his sweaty shirt off as he leaned into her. Sari pushed him away. “Eew! You must be joking!”