It is strange what you can do when there is no other choice. I feel the blood pumping through my arteries. My lungs are taking in great gulps of air. My heart feels like it will explode right out of my chest. It’s what they call adrenaline, I think.

But I am not thinking at this moment. My brain has shut down. All I can see is Lebo’s face above me, bleeding. Unconscious. Sliding closer and closer to danger.

I grab onto the top of the window, one-handed. Stand up on the window ledge, legs wide apart for extra balance. With my free arm, I am tugging my bleeding friend’s limp body over the roof edge. Guiding him tight against the side of the coach, wedging him safe with my own body. Slowly, slowly until his upper body is inside the window and Dan pulls him into his arms.

Dan lays Lebo on a now-empty train-seat. “He must have slipped. Maybe the roof is still wet from yesterday’s rain.”

Precious wipes away the blood. So much blood, yet the cut on Lebo’s forehead is quite small.

“Lebo!” Precious calls his name over and over. Shrieking. “Lebo, wake up!”

Is it concussion? Or is he dead? I can still hear his voice: “Hey Ndaba, I train-surf to feel alive, not to end up a corpse.”

There is silence inside the coach, it seems everyone has stopped breathing.

Lebo’s eyes flicker slowly open.

“Hey, Ndaba the hero,” he says in a shaky voice. “Hey, Ndaba aka Simba.”

All over the coach, there is huge relief. The pupils break out into chants: “Ndaba aka Simba the Lion.”

But I do not feel like a hero. I am still stuck sitting on that window ledge. I can’t move, not even enough to get back inside to safety. My whole body shakes uncontrollably.

I know for a fact now: I will never be able to train-surf. It needs more courage than I have. Masego’s eyes will never shine with pride that she has a boyfriend who is brave.

Precious says, “Lebo, next station we are getting off. I am taking you straight to the clinic. Do you understand? Don’t even think of arguing!”

And that is when Masego walks into the coach. She has been next door, singing with the ZCC people. She sees nothing except me, sitting there on my window ledge. And she goes crazy. Her beautiful eyes flash with anger.

“Ndaba! Don’t you even think about it. You go Topside and we are finished. Do you understand? I don’t want some idiot train-surfer for a boyfriend! A real man doesn’t risk his life for nonsense. A real man knows how to value his life. Get down from there. Just get down!”

“Give him a break!” says Dan the Man. “This dude just saved Lebogang’s life!”

My body is suddenly able to function again. I get down. I don’t even care that the other pupils have heard her speaking to me like this. As if I am a naughty child. No, I don’t care! Because I heard the panic in her voice. And there is only one reason why she would panic. Am I right?


Tell us what you think: What does Ndaba mean? Why does he think Masego is panicking?