Bride and bridesmaid..?

When Busi spotted Andiswa walking toward her with a slight swing to her hips, she shook her head in resignation. Beaming at Busi, Andiswa cheekily pushed up boobs that bulged out the tightest bandage dress Busi had ever seen. And just like that Busi knew the real reason behind their Saturday morning trip to the new spaza shop.

“Heya, girlfriend,” Busi said smirking at Andiswa. “I take it you’re thirsty for Spaza Boy Samuel and not some pineapple Tropika.”

“You know me too well, girlie,” Andiswa said linking hands with Busi. “That boy is fire. I may just pass out when he hands me the change.”

As they walked along the gravelly pathway littered with juba boxes, crumpled Snappers packets, and discoloured stompies, Busi heard the faint sound of children singing. Their sweet voices floated in and out with the wind. It made her think of Thatho and that voice note he’d sent her last night. Rich and satiny with just a hint of gravel around the edges, his voice could, in Busi’s unbiased opinion, put even Lewis Capaldi to shame. She imagined him singing a love ballad and smiled.

“So, who’s the guy making my chommie smile like that? Spill.” Andiswa unhooked her arm from Busi’s and stepped in front of her, blocking her path.

“And why can’t I be smiling about puppies and rainbows?”

“Chom, I know you.”

Busi fiddled with the hem of her hoodie. She knew that Andiswa had once crushed on Thatho, but that was over two years ago, and nothing had come of it. They were in Matric now, and Andiswa was into older guys, like Spaza Boy Samuel.

“It’s Thatho, from school,” Busi said, her face heating up with embarrassment. “I thought he was just a pretty face, but he’s sweet and funny, and smart. I like him. I think he likes me, he -”

Busi’s phone zinged loudly in her jean pocket. She yanked it out with impatient hands, almost dropping it to the ground. Her eyes sparkled with excitement as she showed Andiswa the Whatsapp message from Thatho.

One “Mzansi Will Smith” (your words, not mine) is hereby requesting one “African Queen” (my words, not yours) to accompany him on a date tomorrow. Please say yes.”

“What you waiting for? Hurry up and type “yes,” you lucky girl!”

Looking up from her phone, Busi noticed that Andiswa’s grin seemed frozen in place. As they walked beside each other, arms no longer joined, Busi thought she heard Andiswa whisper, “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.”

You’ve got it bad

Busi met Andiswa at their usual spot, a narrow alley where the kids played after school.

“Hey friend, I thought you wouldn’t make it,” Busi teased as she saw Andiswa.

“Oh come on Busi, I’m only five minutes late. Ubaba couldn’t decide on whether he wanted white or brown bread.”

Busi rolled her eyes while wrapping her arms around herself.

“Hmmm, I know that walk. What’s up friend?”

“Nothing, we’re just walking to Ma Patty’s shop,” Busi replied awkwardly, wrapping herself even tighter.

“Mina, I know you. It’s not even cold. Here we are in shorts and tops, so tell me what’s wrong?”

Busi’s face lit up, she then looked away sheepishly.

“Well, there is something. You know Thato in my class right?”

Andiswa rolled her eyes, “How could I not, we are all in matric and everyone knows each other.”

Busi laughed as she continued walking, kicking stones on the gravel road as she spoke. “I think I like him. A lot. We’ve been speaking quite often lately. He’s thoughtful and kind and has a killer sense of humour.”

Andiswa laughed as she pushed away a braid from her face. “Girl, you’ve got it bad. The beginning of a romance novel I’d say.”

Just then, Busi’s phone beeped. She stared at the screen and was elated to find a WhatsApp message from Thato that read: Hi Busi, I can’t believe I have to wait a whole day until I see you again. How about we make up for lost time with a movie this Saturday?

Busi was over the moon, she jumped up, nearly knocking over the row of dustbins outside the spaza shop. “Look, look at the message I just got from Thato,” Busi screeched.

“That is so sweet, you might just have found yourself a real keeper,” Andiswa said genuinely; but she quickened her pace, hoping not to lock eyes with Busi who would surely tell that she wished she was that lucky too.

Thato is hot!

Busi and Andiswa met at the park near the busy road with cars going north and south every 2 minutes on their way to Pinky’s tuck shop.

“You’re late, again.What happened this time? Wait…Let me guess, you forgot where you stashed your money?” said Andiswa, giggling.

“Well actually yeah, but I eventually found it after searching the entire house only to find it in my back pocket!” said Busi sheepishly.

Andiswa laughed hysterically. “You always find a way to crack me up,” she said, wiping a tear off her cheek. “It’s like you do it deliberately! Like you practice your jokes or something! Wait…You have been smiling like crazy since like forever! What’s up? It’s about a boy right? Come on tell me! Come on!”

“Okay-okay. You Know Thato right? Like thee Thato?” asked Busi, excessively blushing.

“How could I not? He’s like the cutest guy in matric,” said Andiswa, anticipating Busi’s next words.

“Well I think I like him and I think he likes me too! We’ve spoken a couple of times and I.. I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual! He’s so cute and he’s got that killer smile that drives me crazy! Have you seen his walk! OMG! The way he talks and his body is so…Oh my gosh! God is very creative! Friend, Thato is so hot!” said Busi trying to catch her breath whilst playing with the coins in her hands.

“Girlfriend slow down, he’s all yours. You have got it so badly! I don’t blame you though Thato is…”

Just as Andiswa was about to finish talking, Busi received a WhatsApp text from Thato asking her out on an ice cream date next Saturday. As she read the text, her eyes lit up and she couldn’t stop smiling. She screamed and jumped up and down. She didn’t know what to do with herself! She was like a baby after eating sweets for the first time!

Andiswa snatched the phone from her and read the text. “Girl this is so crazy! The cutest guy in matric likes my best friend! Best day ever! OMG! Girlfriend this is like so huge,” said Andiswa, embarrassed but trying her best not to get the energy down. It had been months since she’d been out on a date and she wished she also had a cute guy as her boyfriend. She didn’t want to envy her friend’s happiness.

Love and ice-cream

It was another vibrant morning in the lively township of Katlehong, taxis hooting and speakers blaring, as Busi and her friend, Andiswa, indulged in a catch-up on their way to the spaza shop. Andiswa had no shame in wearing her fleece gown out in the sometimes dusty streets. Busi, on the other hand, wouldn’t even be caught dead in pair of slippers.
“Chom!” Busi bubbled as they strolled, arms linked together “Do you know Thato in Grade 12B?”

“The one with a skaftin stomach?” Andiswa burst out laughing.

“Ha chommie!” Busi exclaimed, eyes threatening to pop out of her head. “Thato man! The one with the chiseled abs.” Every time she thought of him she looked to the heavens, eyes closed, and smiled. Today was no different.

“Oh! Yum-yum?” Andiswa asked.

“Dats the one I’m loving!” Busi responded, with a snap of fingers as if to confirm.

“Chommie… I think I’m in love.” she continued as they ambled along. “And this week he winked at me ko tuck-shop. I nearly died!” she exclaimed.

“Hmmmmmm!” Andiswa said approvingly.

Busi was about to elaborate when a noisy bus came rumbling down the street on its way to the cemetery. Funerals had become the focal point of many stokvels in the townships.

Just then, a WhatsApp message beeped on Busi’s phone. She beamed when she saw his name on the screen, stopping dead in her tracks. She read it out aloud in disbelief: Heyyy! I was wondering if U would like 2 go 4 an ice-cream after school on Friday. Please say Yes? That was followed by an emoji of a face with little hearts all over. Busi clutched the phone to her chest and started running in the same spot with excitement.

“What now chommie?” Andiswa asked startled by the sudden excitement.

“Thato just asked me on date!” she shouted.

“Wena na,” Andiswa said with a hint of sadness in her voice.

I’m going on a date!

Busi’s phone chimed with a notification. Her face beamed as she gently ran her hand over the phone’s screen.

“It’s him, isn’t it?”

“Him who? You are such a sucker for news, Andiswa.” Her eyes rolled in stark contrast to her smiling face.

“Don’t ‘him who?’ me, Busi, you know who I’m talking about. Thato.”

Busi giggled like she had when she’d first told Andiswa about Thato earlier.
“I kind of like him,” she’d told Andiswa.

“And?” Andiswa had pressed her for details.

“I don’t know, ok? He asked me for my numbers and I gave them to him but what if…?”

“What if what?”

“What if he’s got every girl’s number in the whole of matric, let alone our class? He’s kinda cute, you know.” She paused. Her dimples showed as her face beamed with a smile. “Ok, he’s hot.”

Thato was in fact the reason she’d asked Andiswa to walk her to the spaza.

“Well he has WhatsApp’d you. That’s a WhatsApp, right?” Andiswa’s eyes widened.

“Of course it’s Whataapp, silly; what else could it be?”

“Just checking. You never know with guys. It could be a ‘Please C-,”

“Ah uh!” Busi wagged a finger as if to say: ‘He wouldn’t dare!’

“It’s definitely not a Please Call, ok?”

They both laughed. Then Andiswa’s voice lowered. “I wish there was someone, any guy, going around asking for MY number. Even if it was to send me a lousy Please Call. I bet if I wrote my numbers on a blackboard guys would think they were a lotto prediction.”

Andiswa glanced at Busi and found her smiling coquettishly. “He’s asking me out, Andiswa. What should I say?”

Andiswa rolled her eyes. “You are such a dumb bimbo, you know that?”

The shopkeeper, a guy everyone called ‘My friend’ interrupted them. “Funani Mama?”

“Who’s your Mama, wena, my friend!?” Busi produced ten bucks. “I want a pack of fried chips.” She handed the chips to Andiswa.

“And then?” a flabbergasted Andiswa asked Busi. “Aren’t you gonna have any?”

Busi shook her head. “No. I’m good.”

Andiswa rolled her eyes. “Since when are you not eating chips, wena?”

She found Busi on the phone typing.

“Since I’m going on a date!” Busi stretched her arms and Andiswa gave her a bear hug.

“Congratulations, chomi.”

Focus, girl!

The winter noon sun felt like millions of razor cuts on Busi’s light skin. She wondered if her dark skinned friend accompanying her to the tuckshop, Andiswa, felt the same.

“Yoh, it’s too hot chommie,” Busi said.

“It is,” Andiswa replied. “It feels like I’m being fried.”

Busi smiled.

“We should get boyfriends with cars so we’ll call them if we need to go to the tuckshop,” Andiswa said.

“Yeees girl,” Busi excitedly agreed and they both laughed.

The township street was alive with a few fried chips containers, a car wash and young boys playing soccer on the street. Some boys that were probably doing matric or were a bit older than the girls whispered at them from behind the fence of a house nearby. The girls ignored them.

“On a serious note,” Busi suddenly said, “I think Thato, Mr handsome of our class, likes me.”

“No way.” Andiswa shook her head. “You’re just so into him you’re seeing things that aren’t there now.”

“But he asked for my number,”

“Oh my God Busi,” Andiswa dramatically covered her face with her hands. “Relax okay, Thato has my number too but he’s never called or texted, boys just like collecting numbers of pretty girls.”

“Okay.” Busi’s shoulders dropped.

“And anyway, we want boys with cars now, focus, girl.” She made a make-believe tunnel with her hands and looked into it with one eye closed.

They shared another laugh, but this time Busi was forcing it.

Busi’s phone vibrated in her pocket. She pulled it out, typed her pin and then dragged down the notification bar. There was a text from an unsaved number and she clicked on it.

Hey Busi, this is Thato, and I was wondering if you’d like to go out with me, the text read.

This caught Busi by so much surprise that her jaw dropped, her eyes opened wide and she stopped walking. Andiswa saw this and took Busi’s phone from her hand. She read the text and then looked at Busi with a confused face.

“I don’t understand,” Andiswa said.

“Me too,” Busi shrugged with a huge smile on her face and continued walking.

“Wow, lucky you,” said Andiswa with a smile that she thought would hide her jealousy, but Busi saw through it.

Sir Thato

“Gosh, this heat is unbearable. I should have worn something a bit more weather appropriate,” the tall, caramel skinned girl said. A car drove by and slowed when it got closer to the two girls. The driver filled the air with the sound of his whistles and hooting. “Men, are such dogs, Busi. It’s a good thing you decided not to wear anything too revealing,” Andiswa noted. “I swear I’m not marrying anyone. It’ll be me and my money until the end of the line.”

The girls continued walking along the pathway until they reached the spaza on the corner of Hemmingway street. The corner was bustling with smokers and gamblers.

“At least there isn’t a long queue at the shop,” Busi said. “We’ll be out of here in no time.”

Andiswa shot her a worrying glance. “You’re usually more vocal when it comes to the our rebellion against the male species. Is something bothering you?”

Busi let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. “Well, not all men are dogs. Especially not the one I have a crush on,” she said as she quickly turned to the shop keeper. “A loaf of bread and a carton of milk please. Andi, you want anything?”

A simple shake of the head was Andiswa’s response. “You have a crush on someone? Is it Thato? I’ve seen how he looks at you all the time. He’s all muscle and no brains. No wonder you’re attracted to him,” she said whilst rolling her hazel brown eyes.

“He happens to be one of the smartest boys in school, Andi. I know you’ll like him once you get to know him. Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Busi’s phone made a loud ping noise and she smiled as she stared at it. “What now? Is it Sir Thato the bold and the smart?” Andiswa said sarcastically in an awkward British accent.

“He just whatsapped me and he wants us go to the movies on Friday,” Busi exclaimed, an excited look painted on her face.

Andiswa took her goods from the shopkeeper and they started back the way they came. “Well, I am happy for you, Busi. I hope you enjoy it,” she noted with a sad look in her eyes. “Have some fun for my part as well.”

Andiswa hugged her and stormed off in the opposite direction. “Why is it that she doesn’t realize how perfect I am for her,” she thought as the tears swelled in her eyes. “I’m going to die an old cat lady.”

I’ll tell you who…

Busi meets Andiswa by her gate.

“Girlfriend,” greets Busi as they secretly handshake on their way to the spaza.

“Girlfriend do u wanna tell me something?” asks Andiswa as she can see Busi blushing.

“No! There’s nothing to tell” says Busi, turning the other way blushing.

Andiswa gives her a stern look that everybody surrenders to.

“Okay! Okay! Don’t give me the look, I’ll tell you,” says Busi as she takes a deep breath. “I like Thato and I think he likes me too,” says Busi, getting butterflies in her tummy.

“Thato who?” asks Andiswa as she gives another stern look to the boys playing loud metal music across the street who are whistling at them.

“Thato chommie! The tall, dark handsome with fait haircut in our class. The one who sits at the back of the class, the serene Thatho,” Busi says. The music is so loud she doesn’t hear a garbage truck hooting. It narrowly misses her.

While Busi is still shocked a WhatsApp text pops on the face of her phone. It reads,

Hey beautiful, your charisma and personality got me intrigued. Wanna hangout sometime? XXX Thato

They both read the text and reach for the sun. Busi’s face is glowing and beaming with excitement.

“What do you like about him?” Andiswa asks.

“I like his swagger walk, his sweltering gangly body to die for chommie. I bet his lips are succulent. And he’s conscientious and generous,” says Busi.

“Ohh! Congrats girlfriend.” By that “Ohh” you can tell Andiswa envies Busi’s love life.

“Who knew your googly eyes can lure a worth-it prey,” says Andiswa, sneering.

They continue their journey to the spaza.

Crazy stuff

“Yeah, crazy stuff going down KwaDube!” Busi giggled. Andiswa had given her the lowdown on the latest gossip. The cracked tar path to the spaza shop seemed too short now.

Andiswa narrowed her eyes, “Did you just giggle?! OMG! You did! Spit it out, whatever it is,” she demanded, arms crossed over her chest.

“Well…” Busi drawled, inhaling deeply before blurting out, “I might have a tiny crush on Thato from my class and there’s a slight chance he likes me too!”

Andiswa fell silent, the wheels in her head churning furiously as she wrapped her head around the revelation. “Thato!” Her hazelnut doe eyes bulged.

“Andy, he’s so cute. Quiet, so mysterious, always sketching. And his lean body, the epitome of gorgeous,” Busi dreamily sighed.

The buzz of her phone, like a sword, cut through her mini-stupor. “A message from him!” she squealed.

“Thato’s message: Hey! Wanna hang out? Feeling lyk good company 😉

Busi fanned herself dramatically.

A yellow, slightly battered taxi zipped past, honking for passengers. Grey clouds trailed behind it, engulfing them. They wheezed, and glared daggers at it.

Busi remembered the text and replied frenziedly, Sure, what tym?

Andiswa’s lips formed a thin line, her eyes clouded over in wistfulness. It hit her like a thousand bricks – she envied her best friend. What was wrong with her? Was it her chubbiness, freckles, bulging eyes, plain Jane personality, she wondered…