Story: Paper Doll


A short story by Lebohang Mashiloane

I was oblivious to the fact that I’m the girl who walks into a 14 seater Quantum and knocks until today. Surely, I’m not the only one who still embraces the tradition of letting people know you have arrived.

Shocked at my new realization I sat down at the back seat next to the window, being sandwiched in this heat.


I was the only one in the back seat until an elderly man walked into the taxi without knocking and greeting. I might have been embarrassed by my taxi manners but his non-existent taxi manners were disgusting. It’s only Ubuntu to greet, the ill mannered madala just sat next to me.

Disgusted, I opened the window wider. He looked at me and flashed me a fake smile exposing his rotten front teeth, the smile was similar to the one whites use to show tolerance when things don’t go their way.

After collecting the taxi fare from the back, he opened his bag pack and took out a 2 quire book covered in pink, the book had a name tag – Samson Masina. I assumed that’s his name. “Do you like my cover? “, he asked with a genuine smile this time around.

When I said yes, he knocked on the cover,(ko-ko-ko-ko) the same way I knocked when I entered into the taxi.

Right there and then I assumed that he wasn’t mentally stable, after knocking he opened the book.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Here next to me there was this man in his late late sixties with a paper doll house, playing ‘house’ (aka uyadlalisa) in the taxi.

“Do you want to play with me?”, he looked at me without blinking, his eyes were blood-shot red you’d swear he was high on dagga.

Before I could even answer him, he asked if my hands were clean. Surely my hands were cleaner than his.

He had a sandpaper texture to his palm. His nails had dirt inside as if he had been digging up the earth.

My mother always told me that I must not play with dirty kids. Obviously the senior citizen lost his marbles, because the ‘play book’ has existed for a while.

I stretched out my hands to assure him that they were clean before tracing my fingers on his paper kitchen pasted in the book. “This is a beautiful house, you have Mr Samson”, I said admiring the paper kitchen. “Shhhhh Shhhhh”, he held rough finger to my mouth. “Don’t call me by that name hey. Delilah is searching for me, she wants to cut my hair and steal all my power. I’m Samson of course.“, he said before flexing me his triceps and biceps, which caught the attention of a new audience of passengers.

At an instance, the strong stench of his armpits made me faint before I got home from school. “This will be an unbelievable tale in the dinner table tonight,” I thought after a taxi queue marshall woke me up with a whole 500 ml bottle of water. The ‘ko-ko-ko-ko’ once again met me when that empty bottle landed on my forehead by the self-appointed lifesaver.

Luckily my new friend and fellow passengers fought for me when the driver demanded I mop up his taxi before we left.


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