By six o’clock the next evening Ntombi was in such a state she didn’t know what she was going to say to Mzi. What if the conversation ran out? “Just be yourself,” said her mother. That was just great, thought Ntombi, coming from her mother, who hadn’t been herself since she met Zakes.

In fact, when Mzi arrived, Ntombi thought it was Zakes. He was driving an identical silver BMW, the only difference being that his didn’t have a Pirates bumper sticker. Her mother thought it was Zakes too. She went out to greet him, and was met by Mzi.

“Oh, I thought you were my boyfriend,” said her mother. “I mean…”

“Oh God. How embarrassing,” thought Ntombi as she introduced them. “Mzi, this is my mother.”

Her mother looked confused. She asked Mzi, “Do you know Zakes? He drives a car exactly the same as yours.”

“Mama!” Ntombi wanted to disappear into the ground.

“Zakes. No, I don’t know any Zakes,” said Mzi quickly. “I borrowed this car from my cousin.” Ntombi got into the car as fast as she could. She needed to get away before her mother embarrassed her any more. So what if Mzi drove the same car as Zakes?

“Let’s go, Mzi! Bye Mama,” she called out to her mother, who was shouting questions about when she was coming home. Too late for that, Mama, she thought. She leaned back. Here she was, being driven by the hottest boy in matric out on a date. It felt unreal.


Mzi turned to Ntombi. “Hey, your mother seems great.” Ntombi felt a wave of relief flood over her. “And you look really cool. Nice!” he added. Talk, Ntombi told herself. Don’t just sit there in awkward silence. Think of something to say.

“Something cool happened at school,” she started.

“Cool things can happen at school?” Mzi laughed.

“Well, I was asked to write a song for the school mag.” But Ntombi could see that Mzi wasn’t listening. He was distracted and had started SMSing while he was driving. Ntombi knew this was dangerous. Mr Dlamini had an accident while SMSing and four people in the other car were killed. But she dared not say anything as Mzi swerved and hooted at cars while texting.

Then he pulled over. They were at the back of what Ntombi knew to be one of the rougher shebeens in the neighbourhood. This was definitely not Thabiso’s, where the party was being held. An old sign hung on one nail:  Mama’s Tavern.

“I thought…” she turned to him. But before she could finish Mzi flashed one of his melting smiles.

“Don’t worry. I’m just picking up some beers for the road.” He leapt out of the car.


He had been gone for a few minutes and some guys were approaching the car. Ntombi felt nervous. She got out and looked around for Mzi. She wanted to find him, but she was anxious to leave the car unlocked at the same time. There was a gap in the corrugated iron at the back of the shebeen and she peered through it. She could see Mzi talking to someone, but she couldn’t see who, as crates of beers were stacked to the ceiling.  But then the man laughed. Hadn’t she heard that laugh many times before, and often at her own expense? Ntombi quickly ran back to the car and jumped inside. She didn’t admit it to herself, but she was frightened of what Mzi would do if he caught her spying on him. And she was far away from any friends. She pretended that she had been SMSing when he got back in the car.

“Hey baby girl, why don’t you open me a beer for the road.” Mzi reached back and handed her a quart and a bottle opener. “Do you know how proud I am to be going to the party with such a hot babe like you?”

The compliments felt so good. Ntombi opened him a beer and handed it to him.

“Drinking and driving…” he laughed, and then took a swig. Just as they turned onto the road that led to Thabiso’s, a silver BMW overtook them, hooting. Ntombi saw the Pirates bumper sticker flashing in the sunset.

“And the police would pull me over for drinking and driving?” Mzi laughed. “Look at that idiot.” Mzi put his foot down. They were flying along and he only had one hand on the steering wheel. Ntombi wanted to say something, to ask him to slow down, but at the same time she didn’t want to spoil his fun. She was relieved when they pulled up outside Thabiso’s. “Bezibila in the party,” said Mzi. He was right, the place was cooking. There were taxis and cars and crowds of people. As Ntombi got out she scanned the crowd for Asanda and Lettie, but there were too many people.

Mzi put his arm around her as they wove through the crowd. He greeted friends as they made their way towards the door. Ntombi felt proud to be with him. Obviously he knew a lot of people and the girls looked envious as she passed. She could almost hear them thinking, “I wonder what she’s got to be Mzi’s new girl?” As they were queuing to go in she heard Lettie and Asanda, further back in the queue.

“Hey chommie,” they chanted together, “you look so hot!” Ntombi turned and smiled and they waved at her. She was torn. She couldn’t leave Mzi’s side, especially now that he had his arm around her and they were about to go in. But at the same time she really wanted to be with her friends. She waved, but before she could tell them to meet her inside, Mzi was pulling her with him through the crowd into the club. It was too late.