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Slice of Life: Brotherhood’s indelible bonds

It’s one of those things that started as a joke, but then we talked about it so much that it became serious.

As far back as high school, he would always tell me that one day he would get my name tattooed on his arm. I would always assure him that I would do the same. After all, we had been friends since my earliest memories in preschool.

So one day, a few years after matriculating, I went to the tattoo parlour to get some designs done and I figured: “Screw it, why not?” I hadn’t even told him what I was doing. The next day I went to show him: I now had “NEIL MALOPE” along my upper arm.

It wasn’t long before he had my name in ink as well. It’s quite funny how people come to you to talk and someone will bring up the tattoo thing: “So, I gather you have a tattoo of Neil?”

“Ja.” Then the first thing they ask is: “What happens if you guys stop being friends?”

You start to realise that people are really scared; it’s a fear that in every relationship something is going to go wrong and it’s going to end. It would seem that, for many, that would stand as their greatest fear. Confronting the idea that you will part ways one day with your loved ones is frightening.

That’s why they can’t really understand what I did because in their minds, they’re like: “Yoh! What if this person does this or that? Or what if you fight?”

But it’s not that type of friendship. Even if we’ve fought before, it’s not like we’ve stopped being friends because of one fight.

We’ve been through so much together that it’s reached a point where he’s more of a brother to me. — Sibu Vilakazi, a 27-year-old inventor, as told to Luke Feltham

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Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham is a features writer at the Mail & Guardian

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