It's early morning in late summer in South African and I'm on my way to my graduation. It is going to be a very hot day. Already the air is shimmery and full of the noise of Christmas beetles (Cicadas). My family are going to the ceremony to watch me. My parents and my grandparents.
We reach the college and there are friends already waiting for me on the steps. I have come from out of town so I am late, plus we had to stop to pick up my grandparents and that made us later still. I have travelled to town in the back of an already hot car between my grandparents while they argued with each other. This isn't unusual. This is what they do. Some people play sport or take up a hobby. My grandparents argue.
On the steps of the college I have to leave to get my black gown to wear. My mother kisses me. She looks so proud. She has tears in her eyes. My father is taking photos. He has tears in his eyes. He is so proud. My friends and I have to dash to get our gowns. Mine is too long. Or to be more honest - I am too short. The gown is amazingly heavy and smells faintly of old dust, ancient wool and moth repellent. It's not a good scent for a hot summer day. I run down the passage to get to my chair in time thinking that this must be how a bat feels with those big black wings.
The ceremony was actually incredibly boring. By a twist of alphabet and class I turn out to be the very first person to be called up. I get up.. go onto the stage.. shake hands.. and then I sit for the entire five hundred hours of the graduation ceremony.
Afterwards there is tea and coffee and a buffet table of snacks for students and family in the one hall. I can't find a plate so I juggle a piece of chocolate cake in one hand and a cup of tea in the other. My one lecturer brings a businessman over to introduce me. She thinks he might offer me a job. He says hello and congratulations and holds out his hand to shake mine. My brain goes into a panic. I have cake and tea in each hand. Cake and tea.. tea and cake. I quickly stuff the cake onto the saucer. I have cake on my hand, but before I can do anything he grabs my hand and shakes it. Now I am trying to stand calmly and talk to an important man in a suit that now has squashed chocolate cake all over his right hand.
I cannot remember anything I said to him. I gabbled a bit and then ran away and hid behind a pillar. When I finally come out I can hear loud voices.
My grandparents are arguing.
I don't know whether to laugh or leap out a window. They are arguing over a sausage roll. A sausage roll! There was one sausage roll left on the centre plate and they both reached for it at the same time. Now they stand on either side of the buffet table and my gran is giving grandfather a good ticking off for trying to take "her" sausage roll. She gives his hand a slap, takes the sausage roll.. and WRAPS IT IN HER PAPER SERVIETTE AND STICKS IT IN HER HANDBAG.
Ok. It is official. I am about to die of embarrassment. My grandmother has just stolen a sausage roll at my graduation. Part of me wants to die and another part of me wants to giggle hysterically.
Oh God, let me die now. Please. Shoot me. Squash me with an earthquake.
The ground will heave and tear asunder and the earth shall be no more. I have smeared chocolate cake over a prominent businessman and now my grandmother has nicked the last sausage roll off the buffet to take home for her pet dog.