“You’re looking and dancing well, Lesedi.” Ma’am has called her back at the end of the pre-lunch class. “It gives me confidence that our Christmas performances will be a success.”
“Thank you, Ma’am.” Lesedi is blinking in surprise because it’s so unusual for Ma’am to praise anyone, a small nod her usual sign of approval.
“I conclude,” Ma’am continues in her rather formal way, “that the young man now courting you is better for you than the previous one, that lazy individual who dropped out of the Academy. Of course, some dancers react badly to being in love, but the lucky ones blossom.”
“Um…yes, Ma’am, thank you, Ma’am.”
Lesedi doesn’t know what else to say, and her face is on fire. Who knew Ma’am paid so much attention to her students’ romantic lives?
“That will be all,” Ma’am dismisses her, seeing her hesitating, unsure if there’s more to come or if she can go. “Won’t he be waiting for you, your suitor from contemporary dance?”
Suitor. Lesedi giggles at the word, rushing along to join Siboniso at their favourite coffee shop. Their morning classes so often overrun that they now have an arrangement that whoever finishes first will go ahead and place their order.
The pavement is crowded, people jostling each other, and the traffic in this part of Jozi is hectic, with taxi horns blaring nonstop.
Two gogos with four machangani bags between them are taking up most of the pavement. As Lesedi speeds up to pass them in the narrow gap between them and the street, she feels something — a hand, a fist? — in the centre of her back.
Pushing her. Hard.
She’s stumbling, she’s going to fall into the road, in front of a car—
A hand grabs her upper arm and hauls her back on to the pavement. One of the gogos has dropped her bag and saved her.
“Don’t be in such a hurry, stupid child,” she says, adjusting the bag on her head before picking up the one she has dropped.
“But…” Lesedi is shaking violently, too shocked to speak properly. “Someone…hawu, thank you, mama…auntie—”
She doesn’t know how to address her rescuer, but the woman isn’t interested in her thanks, already moving on.
Lesedi pulls in a trembling breath, looking behind her. Someone pushed her, an accident surely, or maybe some would-be mugger, or a bad joke, or someone disapproving of the tiny chiffon skirt she has on over her footless tights.
There are too many people going both ways for her to pick out someone looking guilty, or pleased with themselves, or hurrying away — everyone is hurrying anyway.
She’s still shaken when she joins Siboniso at the coffee shop. To take her mind off her fright, she tells him about what Ma’am had to say earlier.
“I’m so happy I’m not bad for you,” he jokes, before getting more serious. “Because you’re good for me, Lesedi. You fill up my life.”
“Now that’s a better line than I’d like to get to know you better,” she teases.
Inwardly, she feels a glow of warmth, her narrow escape forgotten. This is the happiest she has ever been, and she’s determined not to do anything that will attract bad luck and spoil things.
Tell us: Clearly Lesedi and Siboniso are falling more deeply in love, but even without the bad luck the superstitious Lesedi is imagining, can anything else sabotage their romance?