“””Nkosi, I swear, I’m going to put you into a chokehold after this!” I shouted, as the crowd of boys encircling us chanted loudly for a fight. I wielded two clubs in each hand. In front of me, was the big muscular brute that I had shoved just minutes ago. He took a swing at me and I immediately ducked, fearing for my dear life.

Nkosi, unfazed by my threat, shouted from the crowd. “I said stop him, not fight him, Ntsika!”. Next to him was Zandile, terrified that two boys were stickfighting because of her, and that one of them would no doubt be beaten senseless. She was being harassed by the brute earlier at school. He was demanding that she should go out with him. Repeatedly, she would shout ‘no’, and he would refuse to let her go, like a gnat.

Why I blame Nkosi for this predicament, you might ask? It was his genius idea for me to go and ‘stop’ the baddie from hurting her. “For once, stop gawking at the poor girl and grow a backbone!” He said. “Trust me, it’ll work out”, he said.

Stupid me walked up to the brute, shouted to him that ‘She said no!’, and shoved him away from Zandile, using the little false bravado that I had.

The big guy grabbed me by the collar of my shirt, “So you think you can take me on, huh? I’m going to make an example out of you, pipsqueak.” With that, he dragged me to where he would beat me up.

Everyone was in a frenzy, jabbering wildly and giggling like a pack of wild hyenas.

“Remember to hit him!” Nkosi shouted, with a grin on his face. “You can’t duck and cover forever!”

I scowled at him, “Easy for you to say! You’re not facing a stickfighting champion right now, you weasel!”. As I said that, I accidentally swung my club at my opponent, and hit him straight in the nose.

I couldn’t believe it. I landed a blow on him! It may have been by accident, but still, I landed a blow.

The crowd went wild with jeers and screams. I took a glance at Zandile. She was cheering me on. I felt the corners of my mouth spread out to form a smile.

I glanced at my opponent. He had a trickle of blood coming from his nose. He wiped it off with his hand, and bellowed out a scream that immediately made my smile disappear. The euphoria that I felt, was replaced by sheer terror. My instincts immediately told me that I needed to be on high alert.

He ran towards me with I did my best to block his attacks, but his moves were like lightning. A few seconds passed, and I soon felt a burning sensation on my head. He had landed a blow on my noggin. I had no time to react to the searing pain. All I could do was watch as everything slowed down and my numb body crashed down on the ground with a thud. All sounds became muffled. My entire world faded to black.

What the hell was I thinking? Standing up to a stickfighting champion? Dumbest idea I’ve…actually, dumbest idea Nkosi has ever had!

“Ntsika! Ntsika, come on! Get up!” Two voices that sounded distant called out to me. As I regained my senses, I could see Nkosi and Zandile, both shaking me awake.

“Are you okay?” She asked, wiping the drool off my mouth. I immediately turned red with shame and embarrassment.

“It was foolish of you to stand up to that guy” she said to me.

I squirmed nervously. I had never been this close to her.

“It was also, kinda brave of you,” she said, smiling at me. Her eyes glistened at me. I felt a warm sensation in my chest.

She stood up, and pulled me by the hand, helping me up. “Maybe, I can check up on you later?”

Still dazed, all I could mutter was a simple “Yeah”, with a broad smile on my face.