We sat on the bus next to each other, me and Matlho. We were heading for the chess match in Joburg. “Did you see how they’ve arranged this match?” I asked, showing him the programme. “Once we’re through the first round, we’ll have an easy ride to the finals.”

“Yeah, I saw it.” He didn’t look at the programme. He was looking out of the window at passing traffic. He’d been funny lately. Closed, distant. He’d hardly talked at all since we had left.

“So what is it? Did something happen at home?” I eventually asked. I had heard my mother saying his parents had been fighting. I hadn’t asked Matlho about it because I thought he’d bring it up. His father was a long-distance truck driver and often only came home after weeks on the road. This caused problems in the house. Especially because he was a jealous man, and Matlho’s mother was a beautiful woman.

“You know how they go at it. Nothing new. It’s not that.”

“Then what? The last week or so I have seen something’s been bothering you.”

He turned to look at me. He looked like he wanted to apologise, like he was guilty. “It’s about that night, the night of the HHP concert.”

We had had a lot of fun that night. When we got to the gig at Rollers, some of Kaya’s friends were already there. They’d kept seats for us at the front and they were drinking. We don’t drink − not even Kaya − but we had fun anyway. It really was a great night, though I had a lot of explaining to do to the chess team the next day. “Yeah, what about that night?”

“After we dropped you at home, Kaya and I sat up, at the park. The whole night.”

“Really?” That was odd, I thought, because Kaya had not mentioned anything to me. “What were you doing?”

“Talking mostly. She’s cool, you know. Interesting.”

“I know, she’s my friend remember?”

“Yeah, okay.” He went quiet again. He was not telling everything.

“So? Then what happened. Something’s going on.” I wanted to know, but I was scared of what he was going to tell me.

Matlho suddenly got very serious. “We kissed. It’s kind of like, I mean … it’s like we’re sort of dating now.”

I sat back in my seat. I tried to control my emotions. Why did I feel like someone had punched me in the stomach? Like I wanted to cry? Matlho was my buddy, my best friend. That was all. We were friends. And Kaya was my friend too. I should be happy for them, right? But why had they kept it a secret from me?

“Okay,” I started, “that’s nice. I think you two make a nice couple.”

Matlho smiled. “Really? We, sort of, thought you might freak. That’s why we put off telling you until we were sure it was something that might stick.”

“Really? Me? Freak? Why?”

“I don’t know, like we’re both your friends … I don’t know, I thought maybe you wouldn’t like it.”

I patted his hand. “No, Matlho, I’m fine with it. Really.”


Tell us what you think: Is Dineo really fine with Matlho and Kaya being together?