We met in his shack. I was nervous as hell. What do I say to him? Do I hug him first or do I wait for him to hug me? What if things get awkward between us? I had thought to myself. Sure, we had talked a lot on the phone about our feelings for each other but this was real now. No screen to hide behind. This was the time to reaffirm all the many things we had chatted and talked about on the phone.

It started in Grade 6. We were in Grade 5 when we first met. Any girl will tell you that she just knows when a boy has a thing for her. Really, it’s the subtle things. The stolen stares when he thinks you are not looking and the eagerness to do things for and with you. The over protectiveness. We were in the same group. Thando was in the seat opposite mine. He never said anything to me in Grade 6, but it was impossible not to notice he liked me. But I was pretty good at ignoring stuff that I just didn’t know how to deal with.

The following year in Grade 7, things started getting heated. We were not in the same class any more. I remember being slightly disappointed by that. We were always silently competing for the top-of-the-class position in Grade 6. I really don’t know who was smarter. But I can say we were the best learners in Mathematics.

Then the guy started to express how he felt about me. I really don’t remember how many times he told me he loved me because there were just too many to count. I started to avoid him. But I do remember the endless gestures he made, expressing his love for me. I received a love letter from his friend, Alizwa, who was his messenger. He did not say where the letter came from, but I knew undoubtedly it was from Thando. It was enclosed in a yellow envelope.

Even to this day, I still remember the contents of that letter like the back of my hand. He wrote that he had two things he wanted to tell me. I was nervous as I read his neat oblique handwriting. He wrote that I must not show it to anyone. The first thing he wanted to tell me was that he loved me. He talked a lot about how he felt about me but the point of the matter was he loved me.

The second thing was that he wanted to ask me to be his date for the Grade 7 farewell ceremony. I took out my scissors and started cutting it into a million pieces and then threw them in the bin! This was the best way to make sure that nobody else saw it. The least I could say was yes. And yeah, my face gave him no opportunity to ask about anything relating to the ‘I love you’ part.

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