“Yebo, Chief! Now you’re talking,” Xolani, said excitedly. “Ndiphathele i-gwinya, Chief.”
I searched my pocket and took out a R50 note. This money was supposed to last me for two days.
“Don’t forget the juice, Chief. I am thirsty, yho!” Xolani said, looking at the note that I was folding in my hand.
I walked to the tuckshop and queued behind Sima. She bought an apple and a juice.
“Sorry, Sisi, do you have a loose ten rand?” Sima asked the tuckshop owner.
“Hayi, if I give you loose ten rand where will I get loose change for other customers?” the owner asked.
Sima turned to me and asked, “Sorry, torho. Awunayo i-change?”
Anathi was standing a meter away, talking with other girls while waiting for Sima.
“Ha-a, sorry I have a fifty rand. I will see from the change that I get,” I said. I turned back to the counter, looking at the snacks and drinks.
“Thenga, bhuti,” the shop owner said.
“Uhmm, just give me that orange juice and a bunch of apples please,” I said. Sorry Xolani, I am not buying junk food in front of this beauty, I said to myself.
“Will two five rands do?” I asked Sima after getting my change.
“Yes, thank you so much,” Sima said. We walked together since we were going in the same direction.
“You are new here right?” Sima asked.
“Yes, I am and you?” I asked. I felt stupid for asking her this question because she was obviously not new.
“Me? No, I schooled my Grade 8 here,” she said, laughing.
I looked over to where Xolani was standing. He looked away and began a conversation with another learner. Anathi smiled at me and continued her conversation with the other girls. She was giving us space.
“Nice, so I guess talking with you makes me safe,” I said.
“Safe from what?” Sima asked, lifting her shoulders.
“From … bullies? Don’t you guys have bullies who bully new learners here?” I said, jokingly.
“Hayi, I can’t imagine seeing such a tall person being bullied,” Sima said, laughing.
I thought about asking for her number but I was afraid that would ruin the mood. I felt it was too soon. At least I was making her laugh. That was enough for our first day talking together.
“You haven’t told me your name, by the way,” Sima said.
“Oh! Sorry, I am Ayanda and I am in 12b,” I said.
“Ayanda in 12b? Oh! You are the new learner that Mrs Linge was saying writes better essays than all the other Grade 12 learners?” Sima said. I saw a sparkle in her eyes.
I just smiled. “But you haven’t told me your name yet.”
“I am Sima. You know? I am good at my science subjects but I’m struggling with languages. Perhaps, you can help me,” she said.
“Well, I … I don’t mind helping,” I replied, smiling.
“Thanks, I have always wanted a friend that can help me with essays,” Sima said.
My heart sank on hearing the word ‘friend’.
“Hayibo! Sima, I am waiting for you kaloku girl,” Anathi said. She was complaining because Sima and I had spent most of the lunch time talking.
We said our goodbyes, Sima went to join Anathi and I walked to where the annoyed Xolani was waiting for me.
“You shouldn’t have lied, Chief. You should have told me you were going to Sima and I wouldn’t have stood on your way,” Xolani said, sulking.
“Sorry, Chief maan. Here is your juice nemali yegwinya. I couldn’t buy igwinya in her presence, Chief,” I said.
“Why not? She’s also human mos. She also eats amagwinya. By the way, what did she say when you told her how you felt about her?” Xolani asked.
“I didn’t tell her, Chief,” I said.
“What? So you were just doing free stand-up comedy for her? I saw her laughing,” Xolani said.
“We are just friends for now,” I said.
“What? Friends?” Xolani said, laughing.
I looked at Xolani laughing. Instead of seeing someone who was innocently teasing his friend, I saw someone who was happy with the outcome of my conversation with Sima.
In the days and months that followed, Sima would ask me to edit her essay drafts before submitting them and I would. Xolani, teased me about this. He said Sima was using me.
It took almost a year for Sima and I to be at the same party. The party last night.
When Xolani told me Sima was going to be at Anathi’s party I didn’t believe him. But then I saw her there. I would drink half a can of beer and tell her how I felt, that was my plan as I smiled at her. If she rejected me I wouldn’t hurt as much as I would if I was sober.
Tell us: Do you think Sima is only using Ayanda? Why?