I watched Kaya walk toward me, with her mapondo wrapped in green wool, her purple sunglasses, red dress, yellow tights and big black boots and wondered, like I often did, how we ever became friends. She came new to our school two years ago and straight away we became friends, even though we’re as different from each other as two people can be.

“So what’s up, Dineo, tsala ya me?” she said, pushing my books to the side and plopping onto the bench next to me.

I put down the book I was reading. “Not much. I’m waiting for Matlho. We’re going to chess club.”

“Chess club?” She yawned in an exaggerated way. “Look what I have.”

She took three tickets out of her book bag. “HHP at the club!” she said, waving them in the air.

I grabbed them from her. “Where’d you get these? I heard they were very expensive.”

“I got my connections,” she smiled. It was true that she always had what was needed. People had been talking about this concert for months. But Matlho and I really needed to go to chess club, because we had a match coming up the next week. As I sat, considering the options, Matlho appeared.

Sometimes I got a shock when I saw him nowadays. We’d been friends since before we could talk; our mothers were friends when they were in school together. Matlho has just always been there. My buddy. But sometimes nowadays, when he appears, my heart jumps at how much he’s changed.

He’s grown tall − he towers above me. His boyish, round face has changed to that of a man, but still his naughty smile remains. His dark eyes, rimmed with heavy lashes were just ‘his’ for all those years. Now they seemed mysterious and, I admitted it… sexy. I couldn’t deny that my Matlho, the little kid I used to make mud cattle with, the one I raced wire cars with, the one who jumped bikes with me, was a grown-up man now, and a very handsome one at that.

“You ready D?” he asked, coming up to us. He saw Kaya and smiled. “Nice … er … hair?”

Kaya ran her long fingers along her green mapondo spikes. “Thanks, if that was meant to be a compliment.”

“It was.” He smiled and the dimples on each side of his mouth appeared. I had forgotten about those. “Come on D, we’re going to be late for chess.”

“You’re not going,” Kaya said. “I’ve got three tickets for HHP at Rollers and I’ve only got two friends I want to go with me.”

Matlho’s eyes became round with excitement. “Are you kidding me?”

Kaya waved the tickets in front of his face.

“What about chess club?” I said. I don’t like letting people down. Matlho and I were the best players on the team, and they counted on us.

“Are you serious, D?” Matlho said. “This is the gig of the year!”

Kaya put her arm around Matlho’s waist and they headed away from the school. I followed behind. Something about Matlho’s own arm hanging too around Kaya’s shoulder bothered me. But I followed, like I always did.


Tell us what you think: Has something changed in Dineo’s relationship with Matlho? If so, what?