It is a chilled Friday afternoon at about one o’clock just after cleaning time. We are busking our delicate songs of humanity, unity, liberty and love, something me and my friends are very fond of. Sthesh and I are tenor leads, backed up by Tso and Mabhena in second tenor as well as Bongz and Thami in bass. A bright light, with a smooth and refreshing breeze, pierces through the widely open widows, filling the atmosphere as if it meant to blend delicately with our music.
Ntombenhle had promised me that she would come to listen to me and my fellows sing and that she would bring her best friend Zinhle along. I had long ago fallen in love with Ntombenhle, since the days I used to see her with Meshack under the tree in front of the feeding scheme kitchen.
Each time I thought of her, I had this feeling of ridiculousness because I always promised and swore to myself that I’d go and speak to her, but it took a really long time for that to happen. Actually, it happened through Malinga, a friend of mine. Malinga is his surname, his name is Siphesihle but I call him Sphe. I don’t really comprehend the reason for him to be addressed by his surname, I just know it’s like that.
We were chilling outside the Junior Class corridor facing the school’s main gate, chatting out loud, unfolding to each other our ghetto fantasies.
“e Skelem,” I heard a voice calling my name and I looked up. It was Malinga.
“Ekse Sphe,” I replied in greeting.
“Kukhona umuntu okufunayo, someone is looking for you,” proceeded Sphe.
“Who is it?” I ask in wonder.
“Masambe uyeke ukungibuza ipas nespecial (let’s go and stop asking this and that),” he turned and walked away with me behind him. We came around the corner past the sports grounds, appearing from behind the feeding scheme kitchen, facing Ntombenhle and Meshack’s tree.
She was standing with Zinhle beside the roller door of the Grade Eleven Technical Class, a spot at which we usually host our rap ciphers. As soon as I realised that she was the person who wanted to see me, I felt like my dreams were coming true; like my fantasies were becoming a reality.
“Sengizokubona ke ndoda (see you later, man),” Sphe concluded, and left abruptly. Zinhle went to chat to the rest of the band.
So I spoke to her and we decided that she’d come to my class first thing in the morning on the following day. Actually what she wanted was my music. She said that she had once seen me perform at school on Valentine’s Day, which was about three months ago.
I wondered why she had waited so long to eventually approach me, but it rushed quickly through my mind that I had actually also waited as long as she had, probably even longer. After all I, as a guy, was supposed to make the first move.
The next morning, she came to my class as we had agreed. I handed her my demo disk, I asked for her numbers and she gave them to me. I called the following day and one thing led to another.
Here she is today in my class to see me. I am drowning deep in her gorgeous big brown eyes.
I keep stealing glances at her warm smile, her petite nose and her cute dimples that make her look like a doll. What a beauty she is! One of the things that reminds me how much of an artist God is. She looks at me smiling, she keeps giving me this smile, the same smile that made me believe that having her would be a privilege that I would be proud of and cherish, no matter that the world may shatter into a billion micro-particles.
“Hello,” I say looking straight into her eyes.
“Hi Muzi,” she flashes a bright smile to my dark face as if to brace it with some enlightenment. My mind and feelings simultaneously race up and down, my heart ponders at the reality that finally, I get my chance with her.
“Yini? (what?),” she asks, bringing me to the realisation that I have been standing there staring and not saying a thing.
“Your smile,” I say looking at the bright smile decorated by the dimples emerging from beneath the smooth cheeks.
“What about my smile?”
“It just makes me feel as if the world is a spectacularly wonderful place to exist in.”
“Isn’t it so?” she asks, her words accompanied by a giggle, evidently blushing.
“Well, if people like you are part of this existence then I couldn’t be happier and more appreciative of being alive.” I am now caught between words and action and I am unsure of what to say or do. I want to offer her something to eat, but I had no money on me, because I only took half of my lunch money today and I had already used all of it. It was as if she is reading my mind because, just at that moment, she saves me from my misery and says, “Let’s take a walk to the tuck shop to get some snacks,” and so we leave the class.
This feeling of prestige overwhelms me once again as we walk, holding hands, through the largely exposed assembly area, when almost everybody is fascinated by the sight of an ordinary Standard Nine boy, holding hands with a high class Matric girl and both absolutely absorbed in the moment, apparently oblivious to the chemistry of the world around them.
I feel like a king taking a slow romantic walk with his queen past a bunch of admirers who marvelled at our companionship. By the time we get to the tuck shop, it has already sunk in, and is pretty much obvious, that Ntombenhle is now my girlfriend.
“Awu Ntombenhle, uhamba nobaba wasekhaya na?” (Are you with your husband?) Sis Ouma asks, pretending not to notice anything.
“Sizobe sixoxa ezamalobolo soon,” (we’ll discussing lobola negotiations soon), says Ntombenhle.
“Singakujabulela kakhulu lokho. Nifuna amakota?” (We would really love that. Would you like some bunny chows), Sis Ouma says, receiving a R50 Mandela note from Ntombenhle.
“Ufuna ini ikota or?” (Do you a bunny chow or?) Ntombenhle turned to ask me.
“Ngicela ipie,” (may I please have a pie), I say, randomly making the decision secretly in my head.
“Kuphela? (is that all?)” she asks. I nodded in confirmation. I received my pie and we went to sit down under the tall apple tree beside the cottage waiting for her kota.
“You don’t talk too much do you?” she asks as we sit down.
“I am not much of a talker.”
“That’s what I am saying,” she says. There is silence for a moment.
“Can I ask you a question?” I ask breaking the silence.
“Shoot,” she says, absent-minded and oblivious to the sense of possible urgency.
“Where did you get the license to drive me so crazy?”
“I got it from the Department of Love Affairs,” she blushes in reply, just before she stands up and goes into the tuck shop. The bell rings and children start running to their classrooms in excitement that finally it is time to go home. Ntombenhle returns holding a bunny chow in her hands.
“Let me go and get my bag and we will meet at the gate,” I say as I grab her hand and smoothly brush the back of its palm, then let it go. I stand there, watching her taking her steps into the corridor, her nicely shaped hips swinging side to side as she cat-walks her way towards the staff room corridors.
I couldn’t, not for a second, stop thinking about her, and most overwhelmingly, I couldn’t stop imagining myself in Paradise, living my dreams with the love of my life, my ever smiling Ntombenhle.