Amahle’s foot taps the concrete floor. She’s seated at her desk, waiting for Ziyanda to return with Musa. The students inside Amahle’s class move around and make noise like they usually do during break-time. Amahle watches them and listens to their conversations, trying to distract herself from thinking about how her conversation with Musa will go.

Musa walks into the class alone. He puts his left hand in his pocket, pulls it out, scratches his head with his right hand, folds his arms and unfolds them all in the short time it takes for him to walk from the door to Amahle’s desk at the corner of the class. Amahle is nervous too, but it doesn’t show because she has put on that frown of hers.

“Are you mad at me?” Musa asks as he pulls a chair and sits down next to Amahle. He realises he’s too close to Amahle and pushes his chair back to leave some space between them.

“You didn’t do anything wrong,” Amahle replies without looking at Musa.

“Do I have teeth?” Musa asks.

Amahle’s eyebrows furrow in confusion. She looks at Musa.

Musa smiles wide, flashing his big white teeth, and then he laughs. “I finally made you look at me,” he says.

Drop-shaped dimples appear in Amahle’s cheeks as she can’t help but smile back.

Musa pumps his fist in victory. “And I finally made you smile,” he says. “My job here is done!”

“You’re crazy,” Amahle shakes her head with the smile still on her face.

“I know,” Musa says and squints at her dramatically. He nods his head slowly and brushes his chin with his fingers. “And you’re beautiful.”

“I know,” Amahle imitates Musa’s overly serious voice. They both burst out laughing.

“Wait, can I ask you a favour?” Musa asks while Amahle is still laughing.

“No,” Amahle stops laughing and the ‘boy-repellent’ frown takes over her face. “Where’s Ziyanda?”

“Uhm, she’s …”

“We’ll talk another time, I need to eat,” Amahle stands up and leaves.


It’s afternoon and schoolchildren are now passing by on the street outside Amahle’s home. Ningi is inside, seated on a couch in the living room. The TV is off but she’s staring at it as if a very interesting program is on. Her eyes are glittery with tears. The fingers of her left hand rhythmically tap the coffee table in front of her while her right hand clasps her iPhone like it’s an enemy’s neck. Her eyes occasionally move from the blank TV screen to the clock on the wall. A few minutes later, the sound of the kitchen door opening makes her shoulders jump.

“Come here, Amahle!” Ningi calls.

Amahle walks into the living room. “Mom, did you say something?”

“I said come here you stupid …” Ningi manages not to cuss at her daughter but the tone of her voice says it all.

Amahle freezes at the sight of her mother’s face. “What … What’s going on?”

“What’s this?” Ningi quickly turns on her iPhone. She taps it a few times, slams it face-up on the coffee table and points at it. A video plays on the phone, showing Amahle talking and laughing with Musa.

“Is this …” Amahle takes the phone. She watches the video with a frown and then turns the screen towards Ningi. “Mom, what is this?”

“Wow, she’s asking me,” Ningi gets up and balances tight fists on her hips as she bends towards Amahle. “Are you dating, Amahle Zondi?”

“No! Of course not, Mom,” says Amahle. “Just please explain this. Who took this video? Did you send a student to … Oh my God! Mom! Is this how you always know when …”

“What did I say to you about boys, Amahle?” Ningi shouts.

Tears fill Amahle’s eyes. She puts her mother’s phone down and turns to leave the room. “I can’t believe this!”

Ningi quickly grabs Amahle by the arm and pulls her. “I’m talking to you goddammit!”

The force of Ningi’s grip pulls Amahle off balance. She trips on the corner of the couch Ningi had been sitting on. A sharp yelp shoots out of Amahle’s throat as her head slams into the wall behind the couch before she tumbles to the ground.

Tell us: What do you think about Ningi’s behaviour?