She kissed me on the lips and I felt all the sharp needles in my heart disappearing. It was as if I had been kissed by an angel. She kissed me again and giggled. She started dancing again, beckoning me with a finger.
I grabbed my djembe and beat it, trying hard to master the skill that she taught me. We danced and danced until my feet got blisters, but I never felt any pain. It was as if my body had no blood in it anymore.
Once again, she held my face gently and as she looked deep into my eyes. I saw him knocking at the door – as if I were seeing through her eyes – a young man opened the door. I tried to see his face but his hat was pulled low over his eyes.
She removed her hands from my face and the man disappeared. The rain had stopped and I heard birds chirping outside. Jackals barked in the distance, a sound that shocked me as I knew they howled at night, not in the morning.
I stepped outside and saw an old woman gathering wood in the bushes. I greeted her, but she didn’t reply and I went back into the hut to ask Tebatšo if it was her grandmother.
“Yes, she is,” she told me, playing with a string of beads.
“I think she is angry. She didn’t even look at me when I greeted her,” I said, my eyes glued on the green, black and white beads in her hands.
“Here, wear this,” she handed the beads to me with a sad face, tears brimming in her sunken eyes.
I took the necklace and put it on. I knew then that I could never leave her; that the only thing left for me was to get a job and take care of her.
“Finally! We can go home now. Do you want me to go and tell your grandmother with you?”
She paused, thinking. “You know what? Maybe you should go back home alone first. Go tell them that I’m still alive.”
I stepped towards her with a frown, disappointed.
“Don’t worry,” she smiled. “Next time we will go back together. I don’t want to scare them. You said my father had a stroke, right?”
“Imagine how shocked he will be when he sees me after so long. He might have a heart attack and die,” she held both my hands and kissed me gently.
I knew she was right. I kissed her back and grabbed my djembe drum, ready to leave. My heart pounded. It was as if she were taking a piece of it with every kiss.
“Promise me I’ll find you here when I come back.”
She nodded with a smile. Her hand reached for my drum. “Leave this. I’ll remember you with it whenever I miss you.”
I hesitated, but then handed it over to her. I found it difficult to say no to her. My heart was hooked.
I left the hut, running like a rabbit among the bushes. I knew my boss was going to be elated when he heard the news that his daughter was alive. In fact, the whole village was going to be. The disappearance of that girl once caused headlines all over the country and everyone was still wondering what really happened to her. I didn’t stop to think about her grandmother and why she kept her granddaughter alone with her in the hut. I didn’t stop to think of anything but telling her family the good news.
Tell us: Why is Tebatšo reluctant to go back to her parents and the village? How is she able to show Gift a vision of the man with the hat?