I must be happy

Even though english is spoken in Stellenbosch where I moved to 7 months ago, words are used in new contexts that are alien to me. For instance the auxillary verb 'must' is used liberally by everyone and my little girl has caught onto it. She goes 'Mum, you must make me some hotdogs today.' In the same vein, a beggar in the streets approaches me and politely says 'you must give me two rands.' 'Excuse me, I must what?' I wonder in shock.

So the other day as I was seated outside the library with a fellow student, a not so beggarly-looking man walks up to us and begins, 'Good morning sir' referring to the gentleman I was with and 'goodmorning to your girlfriend' meaning me. 'Who told you she is my girlfriend?' barks the gentleman. Off to a bad start, the guy, who turns out to be a beggar, tells a long winding story about divorce and jail and ends with 'you must just give me five rands to add to what I have so that I can go to such and such a place'. Needless to say, he didn't get anything from the annoyed gentleman and as a rule I don't dish out money.

But I can relate to this begging culture because I do it all the time when I am applying for research funds or scholarships. Unfortunately I can't tell the funders 'you must give me 50 000 USD.' Instead I have to answer terrifyingly difficult questions like 'discuss the role of women in promoting university education in your home country and highlight how your research will contribute to this...(1000 words). What the...