The following morning after getting ready for school, I knocked at my mother’s bedroom door and she let me in. She was still in bed. My mother was off work that day.

“Mama, I have something to tell you,” I said.

“What is it Ayanda mntwan’am?” my mother asked.

“The boy you were telling me about the other day is in my class. His name was Xolani. He’s my friend …” I said.

“In your class? I’m sorry, my son. But what was he doing at a tavern that late at night? I can only say I am glad that you are sensible and don’t drink,” my mother said.

“This is what I want to talk to you about, Mama. On Saturday night I went out to a birthday party. Xolani was there but I left early. I swear I didn’t know that he would go to a tavern,” I said.

“Did you drink at this party?”

I nodded my head and looked down.

“You lied to me, Ayanda. You said you were going to study but you knew you were going to a party. What if something bad had happened to you, Ayanda? What if you were … you were the one lying in that hospital?” my mother said.

“I am sorry, Mama,” I said.

“Do you want to pass Grade 12, Ayanda or should I just send you back to Qoboqobo?” my mother said.

“I want to pass Grade 12, Mama,” I said.

“Ayanda, you are growing up now, my son. You need to think about the consequences before you make a choice. When I tell you not to do certain things, it’s not because I don’t want you to enjoy your youth. I was young once and I don’t want you to repeat my mistakes. Make your own mistakes. Choose your friends wisely because I don’t want to lose you,” my mother said.

I didn’t expect my mother to talk to me like this. She was always quick to throw something at me when I had done something wrong. I expected her to yell at me, at least, if she was not going to beat me.

“I am sorry, Mama. Xolani is a good friend – he is a good person, Mama. We just made a mistake,” I said.

My mother was quiet for a moment, then nodded. “Your friend is recovering. You can visit him after school. Now, leave my room before I throw this lamp at you because I am still angry at you for lying to me.”

“Thank you, Mama. See you after school,” I said, closing her bedroom door on my way out. I went to the kitchen and put three of the muffins she had baked in the lunchbox.

It felt like a heavy load has been taken off my shoulders after talking to my mother. At school I was in a better space and I was able to pay attention again. I was happy that Xolani was recovering and I couldn’t wait to visit him at the hospital. However, there was something that I needed to do first. I needed to see Sima and speak to her.

I spotted Sima sitting on the grass with Anathi at break. I walked over to them.

“Sorry, torho Anathi, can I have a few minutes with Sima?” I said.

“It’s fine. I was going to buy a juice anyway,” Anathi said, leaving me with Sima. I sat down next to Sima. We remained silent for a minute.

“I miss talking to you, Sima. How have you been?” I said at last.

“Doing fine, and you?” Sima said.

“I’m fine,” I said slowly, “Other than Xolani being in hospital. Uhm, about that night …” I said deliberately not finishing my last sentence.

“Yeah! About that night. I thought you had a bet with Xolani. A bet that you probably won,” Sima said.

“A bet?” I asked.

“Yes, I thought you guys had a bet about who was going to sleep with me first,” Sima said.

“Whoa! I don’t get you, Sima. All along Xolani had a thing for you? He never told me … all this time he knew I was trying to get the courage to tell you I love you. All the time he made out he was cool with it …”

“He’s been asking me to go on a date with him all year. And I have been turning him down,” Sima said. “You see, I was falling in love with someone else, although he never knew it,” she looked me deep in the eyes. “Do you remember what you said to me that morning when I woke up at your house?”

She looked away as she spoke. “You said you loved me. Well, I love you too, Ayanda,” Sima said. “It started the first time you helped me with an essay.”

***

Tell us: Why do you think Xolani didn’t tell Ayanda that he liked Sima?