From a distance I watch boys sing and dance with their sticks towards Sivuyile’s house. The girls are singing behind them. I rush back to my house and fetch my stick and small blanket. Tata asks me to sit down but I ignore him. I run out instead. I am thinking of uBongeka right now. Gqabagqaba must not think he will take advantage of her today. When I get there the boys have just been served meat and they eat all of it. How am I supposed to stick fight with an empty stomach? I drink umqombothi, instead. Bongeka winks at me. I did not quite say yes to her request. Honestly, uGqabagqaba I am scared of him. She does not have to know that though.

There is a commotion coming from near the kraal. Buti Luxolo is in a fight! He is battling with another man who was supposed to watch the boys for the night. He has him on the ground and is hitting him with a stick. I can’t believe my eyes. This man is known for his brutality in the village and everyone is scared of him. Buti Luxolo is very brave. All the boys watch.

Apparently this man said a woman that got raped last week asked for it because she walked alone to the bush to collect wood. Buti Luxolo reacted and hit the man. People cannot believe what has just happened. But I understand – he is thinking of what happened to Mama. I am proud of him.

“No, I cannot leave with you back to kwaNtsela tomorrow.” Behind me I now hear the voice of someone trying to be confident. It is Bongeka. Gqabagqaba is squeezing her arm. I try and work up the courage to go to him and tell him to let her go. I take a sip of umqombothi. My heart is racing. I fear he will want to fight.

I walk up to them. “Let her go,” I tell him. He lets go of her arm and runs towards me. I stand firm. Today I am not running. But in my mind I am thinking, I am scared of this dog.

He grabs me by my T-shirt, yelling, “What do you think you can do to me? Hey?”

“Mbongeni, we can do this. Yes, we must fight because she is my girlfriend. But if you beat me, know that you will have to also deal with my brother.”

“You think I am scared? Hah! Who is your brother?”

“My brother is Luxolo. Yes, that one.” I point to where Luxolo is standing over the man on the ground.

Gqabagqaba lets go of me and turns to Bongeka. “Honestly, do you love this boy Bongeka?”

“Why would I date him if I did not? I love him.” Bongeka says walking towards me. She puts her hand around my waist and kisses me on the neck. “I really do,” she says turning back to Gqabagqaba.

Kwedini, do you know how I got the nickname Gqabagqaba?”

“Do you think we even care right now?” Bongeka says bravely.

I walk Bongeka home. She is very impressed by the fact that I stood up for her.

“So, that kiss. Did it mean anything?” I ask her.

“Not really,” she tells me. She takes my stick from my hand and throws it to the ground. She kisses me on the mouth. “Are you happy now?”

I just smile when she says this.


Tell us what you think: Does Bongeka really have feelings for Mphum?