“So, I’ll see you later neh? And please, lipstick. Or at least mascara. OK? ”

I watched Naledi rush off and felt as I often do with her: a bit annoyed. But Naledi is my girl. We met when we both still wore nappies. It’s nearly genetic that we should be best friends; we don’t really have the choice not to be. But on the surface you’d think otherwise.

I mean, look at her: long weave swinging down her back, just touching her bum, which is squeezed into her tight Levis. Pink Converse on her tiny little feet. Fingernails manicured, fire engine red. Make-up perfect. Off to meet her new boyfriend who, “Isn’t really my type but he’ll do until someone better pitches up.” That’s my Naledi.

And then look at me: PEP takkies, jeans from the Chinese shop, Steve Biko T-shirt (my fave even though it’s faded from the sun, or maybe because of it), dreads that need some attention. And make-up? Nope, makes me hot. Varnish on my nails? I bite them short. Designer anything? No, not interested. And a boyfriend just to fill the gap before my real boyfriend shows up? No. I can’t do that. I believe in love. True, undying love – and I’m still waiting for it.

I’m just me – you get exactly what you see. And even though Naledi tries, like when she insists I wear lipstick and mascara, she doesn’t really push. OK, she does push, but I don’t mind too much. OK … I mind a bit, but I’m used to her. She’s pushy, I’m pushable. It’s like we’re the two sides of those Chinese opposite yin and yang forces making up a whole.

So that night we were going to the club. Not really my scene but Naledi insisted I join her because, “New boyfriend is a bit boring.” So I’m to be the boredom-deflector. I will put on mascara and likely lipstick too so that I don’t get cross ‘Pouty Naledi’. I will wear my flat pumps instead of my PEP takkies. I will try to do something with my dreads that doesn’t offend Naledi’s sense of fashion. “It’s eye abuse, Kea.” And I will go off to listen to the relentless house beats that will make my head pound the next day. I’ll do it for Naledi. My buddy, my girl. Wouldn’t you?


“Nope, not that shirt.” Naledi marched to my wardrobe. “Where’s the blouse we bought at the mall last month?”

“I gave it to Pippa.” That’s my little sister. Pippa is Naledi’s clone. She worships Naledi like the Hindus worship Shiva. Naledi strode out of my room and was back in seconds with the red blouse in her hand and an angry Pippa following behind.

“You said you were giving me that,” Pippa whined.

“I am. I just need to wear it tonight so Naledi doesn’t have a meltdown.”

“I’m not having a meltdown.”

She pulled my black T-shirt with the sparkles off over my head – the T-shirt that I think is way better than the slinky, red blouse with a neckline that plunges nearly to my navel. Then she pulled the red one over my arms and down my body. “And no PEP jeans. Off!”

“They’re not PEP je–”

She held up her hand and shook her head back and forth. Naledi was good. Very good. She seriously knew her stuff.

She reached into her bag and pulled out a small bit of cloth. To my surprise, and then immediate fear, she held it up to show me that it was, in fact, a tiny, eeny-weeny, black mini skirt made of lycra and that I – shock-horror! – was meant to put it on.

“I … Naledi … you know me … and skirts … and this one is only just barely falling within that definition. Before the night is over my panties will be revealed to the world – you know this! I know this. So why are we even playing at this charade?”

“Stop it. Now put it on.”

There is a face Naledi gets. It’s a serious face. An ‘I’m-just-about-to-lose-my-patience-with-you’ face. That’s the face she had.

I wriggled into the skirt. I tried my best to accept the situation. And just when I was able, when I got my mind to the point when I thought, ‘I can handle this’, she pulled them out.

Did I gasp? I think I gasped.

They were tall.

They were spiky.

And in some alternate universe, they fell within the definition of the word ‘shoes’. Not my definition, but someone’s … somewhere.

I wore them. Of course I wore them.

So, that’s me then. Wearing a red blouse with a plunging neckline, a black piece of cloth that had only the smell of a skirt, and a pair of shoes that made walking a very brave and dangerous act. That was me on the night I met a guy and fell in love at first sight – for the first time ever.

And the last.


Tell us: Have you got a friend like Naledi? How do you deal with her? Or are you like Naledi, and have a friend like Kea? Which girl do you relate to most and why?