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Juliet, die Vinnigste Slak

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(slow reading)

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Marli staar verbaas na die advertensie: "Dis sowaar nie 'n grap nie, Ma," roep sy kombuis se kant toe, waar haar ma slaai maak vir aandete. "Daar is oor twee weke 'n slakwedstryd hier in Vancouver. En dis van daai vieslike grootstes sonder doppe wat ons doodmaak in die tuin, nie van die kleintjies wat mens in Suid-Afrika kry nie." Sy gril en lees verder. Die inskrywingsgeld is $10 en die prysgeld is $500. Sy maak seker sy tel die nulle reg, spring op en druk die artikel onder haar ma se neus in. "Ma moet deelneem," sê sy ferm en hoop dat sy nie te desperaat klink nie. Haar ma bars dadelik uit van die lag, druk haar te styf vas en soen haar alweer. "Hoekom moet ek deelneem, liefie? Jy kan mos self, Marli," sê Ma Jana en gooi die tamaties toe met fetakaas.

Marli sug: "Maaaaa, dit sal sosiale selfmoord wees as ek in graad tien aan 'n Slakwedstryd deelneem. Niemand, niemand, niemand in die hele skool sal ooit weer met my praat nie. Ek is mos klaar die weird wit kind uit Afrika in hierdie plek. Nee, ma sal moet help. Ons kan die prysgeld deel. Dan koop ma iets mooi en ek koop 'n Nano-Ipod. Ek is die enigste, enigste kind op aarde wat nie een het nie." Sy gee haar stem so 'n ekstra desperate draai, sodat haar ma haar jammerder moet kry. Sy weet mos dit werk, ma's is te maklik. Veral haar eie ma vandat hulle hiernatoe getrek het twee jaar gelede.

 
•1•
With astonishment Marli stares at the add: "This is really not a joke, Mom," she hollers in the direction of the kitchen, where her mom is making salad for dinner. "In two week's time there is a snail race here in Vancouver and it is those yucky biggest ones without the shell that we kill in the garden, not the small ones that we have in South Africa." She feels grossed out and reads further. The sign up fee is $10 and the prize money is $500. She makes sure she counted the zeros correctly, jumps up and shoves the article in her mom's face. "Mom, you have to participate," she says firmly with the hope that she does not sound too desperate. Immediately her mom bursts out laughing, gives her a big hug and kisses her again. "Why do I have to participate, my love? Surely you can do it yourself, Marli," Mom Jana says and covers the tomatoes with feta cheese.

Marli sighs: "Maaaaa, to participate in a 'Snail Competition' in 10th grade will be social suicide. No one, no one, no one in the whole school will ever talk to me again. In this place I am already the weird white kid from Africa. No, Mom, you will have to help. We can share the prize money. Then Mom can buy something nice and I can buy a Nano-Ipod. I am the only child in the whole wide world who does not have one." She gives her voice an extra desperate twist, so that her mom will feel even more sorry for her. She knows it works, moms are too easy. Especially her own mom, since they moved here two years ago.
 

Slow 2

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Haar ma lag: "Goed, my liefie, ek sal jou help want ek weet jy gril vir slakke. Maar jy sal die gogga moet leer om vinnig en reguit te loop. Gaan vertel solank vir Pappa en roep hom vir ete." Marli bly sit. Sy staar na haar ma, doodseker dat haar ma nou glad nie meer lekker is nie. Die vreemde land raas nou beslis met haar kop. "Toe, gaan roep vir Pappa en Ruan, ek wil opskep," sê haar ma vrolik. So, asof hulle nou net oor wiskunde huiswerk of koekbak gesels het.

Ruan sê: "Julle is nie lekker nie, dis definitief 'n grap, wie op aarde laat slakke resies jaag? Veral vir so baie geld? Dis 'n grap vir simpel mense . . ." Hy vou dubbeld soos hy lag en kruip op die grond rond soos 'n slak sal doen.  Marli gee hom haar heel vuilste kyk.

Pa Gert meng in: "Nee, dit is nie 'n grap nie," sê hy en sny die vleis. "Dit word vir liefdadigheid gedoen en die prysgeld kom suiwer uit die mediadekking wat daaruit kom. Dit was verlede jaar selfs op die sewe-uur nuus. En mens noem die goed 'n 'Slug', nie 'n slak nie, daar is 'n verskil in grootte en soort." Marli kan sien hy sukkel ook om nie hard te lag nie, dit amuseer hom vreeslik. "Julle twee sal maar moet deelneem, hoe lyk julle plan van aksie?" Hy praat ook daaroor asof hulle werksbeurte uitdeel om die huis reg te pak.

 
•2•
Her mom laughs: "OK, my love, I will help you because I know that snails freak you out. But you will have to teach the bug to walk fast and straight. Go tell dad in the meantime and tell him dinner is ready." Marli stays seated. She stares at her mom, quite certain that her mom lost her marbles. This foreign country is making noises in her head, for sure. "C'mon, go call Dad and Ruan, I want to dish up," her mom says cheerfully. Just as if they were just chatting about math or baking a cake.

Ruan says: "You guys have lost it. This is definitely a joke, who on earth let snails race each other? Especially for that much money? This is a joke for dumb people ..." He doubles over with laughter and crawls on the floor like a snail would. Marli gives him her dirtiest look.

Pa Gert interrupts: "No, this is not a joke," he says while cutting the meat. "They do this for charity and the prize money comes squarely from the generated media coverage. It was even on the seven o'clock news last year. And you call these things a 'slug', not a snail. There is a difference in size and type." Marli can see he also battles not to laugh out loud. It is very amusing to him. "You two will just have to participate, so what is your plan of action?" He also talks about this as if they are divvying up tasks to straighten out the house.