“Why are you so well dressed in the evening, Ayanda?” my mother asked. I was helping her button the shirt of her uniform.
It was around 5 p.m. on Saturday. My mother was working a night shift on that day at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital as a nurse. I was doing Grade 12 and she wanted me to spend most of my time at home studying. Matric exams were coming up soon.
“Am I? You must be buying me only the nicest clothes then Mama,” I said. I definitely was not going to tell her that I was going to a party.
“Do you see grey hair on my head, Ayanda? Where are you going?” my mother pushed my hands away so I would stop buttoning her shirt and answer her.
“I am not going anywhere, Mama,” I said. She looked at me and I could tell she didn’t believe me.
“I am serious, Mama. Why would I go anywhere when the exams are around the corner?” I said innocently and she believed me. I deserved the best actor award.
It was true that the mid-year exams were around the corner and I was serious about school but I had to go to that birthday party. Xolani, my new friend, had told me about it during lunch break earlier that week. Sima, my high school crush, was going to be at that birthday party. The party was for her friend, Anathi.
I didn’t really like Anathi, I found her too forward to be Sima’s friend. She lived with her older sisters and they allowed her to do whatever she liked. Xolani seemed to be only excited about the free booze that was going to be served. We had just reached the legal drinking age that year and we wanted to enjoy ourselves behind our parents’ back. Even though I was allowed to drink alcohol by law, my mother would have beaten me until I was sober if I came home drunk.
“Well, thanks for buttoning my shirt, my son. Go to bed early tonight. You also need enough sleep,” my mother said. She took her purse, walked out and I heard her start the car and drive away.
I waited about ten minutes, until I was sure she wasn’t coming back for anything. Then I gathered my wallet and keys and slipped out the front door. I locked the door and gate behind me and walked over to Xolani’s house, where he was already waiting for me outside. We exchanged the usual greetings and walked together to Anathi’s house. The party had already started and the music was blaring.
“Chief, are you sure you weren’t lying when you said Sima was going to be at Anathi’s party?” I asked Xolani when we got closer to Anathi’s house.
“I’d never lie to you, Chief. You see? There she is, I told you,” Xolani said, pointing over to where Sima was standing with a group of other girls. She wasn’t talking but laughing shyly at what other girls were talking about.
My eyes locked with Sima’s. I waved at her and she came over to where I was standing with Xolani. I saw some of the guys who had been eyeing her looking at me with envy.
“Molweni,” Sima greeted us.
“Hi Sima, it’s good to see you. I was on my way to get something to drink,” Xolani said leaving me with Sima.
“It’s nice to see you too, Xolani,” Sima said.
“Hi Sima, is there something wrong with your phone? I’ve been trying to phone you all day but your phone went straight to voicemail,” I asked.
“Hi Aya, no my phone is fine but I changed my phone number last night,” Sima replied. I wanted to ask why she changed her number but her face expression advised me not to.
“So what was so serious that you had to phone me all day?” Sima asked, smiling.
I felt my face flush. “No, nothing serious. I was going to ask if you were coming to the party.”
“I wouldn’t have come if my strict mother didn’t decide to attend her overnight church service. Anyways why did you want to know if I was coming?” Sima asked.
Xolani came back with two cans of Castle Light and a can of Strongbow.
“That was quick,” I grinned, relieved. I wasn’t ready for the direction my conversation with Sima was taking. I wasn’t ready to tell Sima that I had strong feelings for her.
He gave me a Castle Light and held out the Strongbow to Sima. Sima refused the drink.
“Hayi! Sima girl, you see we are all drinking mos. Just take the Strongbow and celebrate my birthday like everyone else because no one is going to drink Coke at my party,” Anathi said, walking over to us. She must have been drinking before her party began because she was already tipsy. Some people at the party were now staring at Sima.
Sima took the cider and stared at Anathi who was smiling. She opened the can and took one sip.
“Well, it’s not bad is it? Enjoy yourselves my friends, I still have other guests to greet,” Anathi said and left.
Xolani was still standing with Sima and I. When Sima wasn’t looking, I signalled Xolani to give us some space. He chuckled and left us.
Sima pulled a sour face at the drink.
“You’ve never tasted alcohol before?” I asked Sima. She nodded.
“I can tell because that’s one of the sweetest alcoholic drinks,” I said, opening my can.
“Really?” she asked.
“Yeah, I once stole a sip of my aunt’s Strongbow when she wasn’t looking back in Qoboqobo,” I said.
Sima laughed. She took another sip and then a gulp. She was now drinking her Strongbow as though it was a soda.
Tell us: Do you think Sima should have drunk the alcohol? What else could she have done?