Kwakhala insimbi yekhefu, ikilasi lase liqala umsindo futhi, linyakaza njengoba bonke abafundi sebegijimela umnyango. UMihlali wama yedwa wanganyakaza.

“Ingabe uyafuna ukuzohlala nami ngesikhathi sekhefu?”

UMihlali waphenduka wabona enye yamantombazane ahlala nawo ehostela, u-Angelique, eme eceleni kwakhe. Wayemomotheka. UMihlali naye wamomotheka.

“Yebo ngiyathanda, ngizoza…” kusho uMihlali, izwi lakhe liya ngoncipha. “Kodwa kunokuthile okumele ngikwenze kuqala…”

U-Angelique waqhikiza amahlombe.

“Okwakho-ke lokho,” kusho u-Angelique ehamba, ngokushesha enyamalala esixukwini.

“Ake ume …, kumemeza kancane uMihlali, ephakamisa isandla sakhe. “Ngizoku-…?”

Kodwa u-Angelique wayesehambile.

Ngeke ngisamthola manje, kucabanga uMihlali njengoba ejikela ngokunqikaza ekilasini likaMnu Casa.

“Kuhle, usufikile,” kusho uMnu Casa lapho uMihlali evela emnyango. “Ngena ntokazi. Ngena.” UMihlali waya ngakuye ngokunqikaza.

“Vala umnyango. Bese uyakhiya.”

UMihlali wenza kanjalo.

“Woza lapha,” kusho uMnu Casa, esho emomotheka. “Ungesabi. Ngizokusiza nje kuphela. Uyazi ukuthi leli ithuba elihle kuwe. Ngizokusiza ukuthi uphumelele. Ngifuna ukuthi ube okungcono kakhulu empilweni yakho, yilokho kuphela.”

UMihlali wanyakazisa izinyawo zakhe, wabe esebheka phansi ukuze abuke ukukhanya okungena emafasiteleni aphezulu kwedlule ezicathulweni ezimnyama zesikhumba, ezicwebezelayo zikaMnu Casa.

“Uzodinga izifundo ezengeziwe lapha kulesi sikole esisha, kuze kube yilapho uhambisana kahle khona nesimo. “Lesi sikole sinamazinga aphezulu kakhulu. Ingabe uyakwazi lokho? IMaths izoba yisifundo esinzima kunazo zonke. Kuhlale kunjalo vele.”

UMihlali waphakamisa amehlo akhe futhi. UMnu Casa wayefuna ukumthinta. “Khipha incwadi yakho yeMaths bese uzoma lapha edeskini eduze kwami.”

UMihlali wasondela wabe esevula isikhwama sakhe. Ezama ukungaqhaqhazeli, wakhipha incwadi yakhe yeMaths wayibeka phezu kwetafula. UMnu. Casa wasondeza ngakuye incwadi wayivula ngokushesha ngaphandle kokubheka ngisho nekhasi lokuqala. Wayebheke uMihlali.

“Sondela, sondela,” kusho uMnu. Casa, emomotheka naye njengoba ayehlezi esitulweni sakhe nje. “Woza, woza, kunomsebenzi okumele wenziwe.”

UMihlali wasondela eceleni kwesitulo sakhe. Njengoba uMihlali wayemi eceleni kwakhe nje wezwa isandla sikaMnu Casa sithinta umlenze wakhe saze safika ezinqeni zakhe. Wabheka phansi, esenaye uMnu Casa, wabona ithikhi egqamile ebomvu imi kamnandi eceleni kwesibalo ngasinye ayesenzile ekhasini lokuqala elimhlophe qwa encwadini yakhe yesikole entsha.

Kodwa uMnu Casa akuzange akuqaphele lokho. Kunalokho wathi: “Kushisa kakhulu ukuthi ungagqoka leli bhulukwe elimpunga. Kumele uphole ukuze ukwazi ukufunda kahle. Kusukela namuhla kumele ugqoke isikhethi. Kulungile? Uyangizwa Mihlali?”

Kodwa uMihlali akazange akuzwe lokho.

Engqondweni yakhe wayesebuyele endaweni ayekuyo ngenkathi u-Abram emthola eyedwa komunye umgwaqo wasepulazini, noma ngaphandle, bekude nezindlu zokuhlala abasebenzi emini ngoMgqibelo, lapho bonke abantu babedakiwe khona.

U-Abram wayevamise ukumthola ngalezo zikhathi, lapho uMihlali engafuni ukuhlala nabanye abafana namantombazane ababehabula amabhodlela epulasitiki ewayini eliphuzi elinuka phu. Kunalokho yena wayezihlalela ngemva kwendlu kaGogo, noma abheke umabonakude noSenaso.

Engqondweni yakhe wayeye kuleyo ndawo lapho yonke into yayiluhlaza okotshani noma okwesibhakabhaka khona, njengasehlathini elijulile elingaphansi kwesibhakabhaka esimile, esingenalutho. Wayeya kuleyo ndawo efanayo njalo ngomqondo lapho u-Abram emthinta. Indawo eyayivela ngasehlombe lika-Abram langakwesokudla, lapho ayelala khona ngokuthula kuze kube yilapho u-Abram eseqedile ukumhlukumeza ngokocansi, kuthi ekugcineni lapho eseqedile, aphume kuye bese egqoka ibhulukwe lakhe.

“Khumbula ukuthi kuzokwenzekani uma ungawuvali umlomo wakho,” u-Abram wayejwayele ukusho njalo. “Khumbula ukuthi kukhala esami isicathulo lapha, ngisho noma uyintandokazi ehlakaniphile kamninipulazi. Ngizokwenza ukuthi wonke umndeni wakini uxoshwe kuleli pulazi.”

Bese ehamba kanjalo-ke u-Abram engabheki ngisho nasemuva. Akwenzekanga kanye nje kuphela lokhu, kule minyaka emithathu edlule.

Engqondweni yakhe, uMihlali wayephume ebhodini lokubhala namadeski waya kuleyo ndawo efanayo yehlathi elipholile eliluhlaza okotshani. Wezwa ukuthi isandla sikaMnu Casa sase singenile phakathi kwemilenze yebhulukwe lakhe elimpunga, sehlisa uziphu wakhe, nokuthi umunwe omkhulu onoboya wawudonsa iphenti lakhe. Uzipho oludlekile lukaMnz Casa lwase lumuklwebha, kwabe sekukhala insimbi.