“Sthe!” kusho u-Ayanda.

USthembiso akamuzwa ngoba uzicabangela umcabango omnandi wezinsuku zakhe esemncane.

“Sthembiso, okwesihlanu kuphela ngikubona ujabule kangaka empilweni yakho!” u-Ayanda umbamba ehlombe, emnyakazisa embuyisa umqondo ukuba ube nabo bonke abantu lapha e-lounge yasemzini wabo.

“Uthini? Uthini, Aya?” kusho uSthembiso, ukumamatheka okujulile kugcwele ebusweni.

“Izikhathi engakubona ukhazimula kanjena yilapho kwakuzalwa izingane zethu, nangesikhathi sishada.”

“Ngijabulile,” kusho uSthembiso. “Ngijabulile ngoba uThobekile usivakashele. Ngiyaziqhenya ngaye.”

Udadewabo kaSthembiso, uThobekile, kanye nomyeni wakhe uMandla, bahlezi komunye u-sofa ngaphesheya kukaSthembiso noAyanda. Bavakashile ngempelasonto yePhasika. Amawele anamathele kuThobekile; laba bobathathu ubungeke ubahlukanise kusukela ngoLwesihlanu efika uThobekile. Ngempela kukhona ukukhazimula ebusweni bukaSthembiso njengoba ebuka udadewabo ehleka nezingane zakhe. Ukufana phakathi kwezingane zakhe nodadewabo kugqamile. Bobathathu bafana nomama kaSthembiso noThobekile owashona bebancane. Ukufudumala enhliziyweni kaSthembiso kuthinta umphongolo wezinyembezi. Usukuma aqonde esicabheni, asivule, adedele umoya oqhamuka ngaphandle ukuba uhwamule amaconsi ezinyembezi ezibambelele ezinkopheni.

“Imvula isiyekile ukunetha,” kusho uThobekile emamatheka. Kodwa izwi lakhe ligcwele umunyu ngesikhathi ethi, “Sekufanele sihambe.” Usondeza amawele kuyena, awaqabule ebusweni. “Ngo-June laba bobabili kufanele bangivakashele. Kodwa kufanele nibapakishele izingubo ezifudumele ngoba kuyabanda eQwaqwa akudlalwa.”

USthembiso ubambe izinyembezi njengoba ebuka isibhakabhaka. “Kodwa ungahlala kancane nihambe ekuseni, Thobe.”

UThobekile ujeqeza umyeni wakhe, aphenduke abuke uSthembiso. “Nathi besicabanga lokho kodwa singena ekuseni kakhulu emsebenzini kusasa futhi kukude eQwaqwa. Kuyagcwala nasemgwaqeni emuva kwamaholide ePhasika.”

Imoto kaThobekile nomyeni wakhe yacelelwa komunye umuzi ngoba umgwaqo omncane ongena egcekeni lomuzi kaSthembiso awukaze ulungiswe selokhu walimala ngesikhathi kunezikhukhula. USthembiso unyuka kuqala eweni elincane elinamatshe acijile. Uzishiya phezulu izikhwama, ehle asize uThobekile noMandla ukuze banyuke.

“Bazonilungisela nini umgwaqo?” kubuza uThobekile uma befika phezulu. “Kuyingozi ezinganeni nakubantu abadala ukuhamba le ndlela nsuku zonke.”

“Angazi, dadewethu. Babalungisela ngokushesha ngaphesheya komfula ngoba ikhansela lendawo linabalandeli abaningi khona. Asilingani kule Ningizimu Afrika entsha okufanele ngabe siyalingana kuyo.”

Bama isikhashana, bobathathu behefuzela.

“Kwaze kwamnandi ukukubona futhi, dadewethu,” kusho uSthembiso. Uphenduka abuke uMandla, amxhawule, “Ngiyabonga, sibali, ngokungilethela umngani wami.”

“Usale kahle, mfowethu. Mngani wami omkhulu kunabo bonke emhlabeni,” kusho uThobekile.

UThobekile uvukwa umunyu esikhaleni. Izinyembezi zigeleza ezihlathini. USthembiso ubamba udadewabo, amsondeze eduzane.

“Ukuthi nje ngiyazikhumbula lezonsuku sisobabili kuphela emhlabeni, Sthe,” kusho uThobekile ephethwe isibibithwane. “Wangiphatha kahle, Sthe. Ungumfowethu kodwa ubuye udlale indima yokuba ubaba. Ngabe angilutho emhlabeni ukube awukho, Sthe. Akekho umuntu onenhliziyo enhle njengeyakho.”

Babambana agcine ewehlisile umoya uThobekile.

“Ukube wawusezicathulweni zami ngabe nawe wenza njengami, Thobe.”

USthembiso ubuka iPower indlaleka phansi kwakhe isikhathi eside emuva kokuba udadewabo nomnyeni wakhe behambile. Izinkumbulo zesikhathi bebancane zibhukuda ekhanda lakhe. Bakhula behlupheka beyizintandane kodwa babehlezi bejabulile uma behlangene noThobekile.

Izulu seliphenyile emuva kwempelasonto yemvula. Abantu baphumile ezindlini, basemagcekeni abo amancane emuva kokuvalelwa imvula izinsuku ezintathu. Ukubona izingane zigijima zidlala kukhumbuza uSthembiso izinsuku zakudala bedlala noThobekile. Kufudumala inhliziyo, amamatheke. Umoya oshisayo umshaya ebusweni, umqondo ubuyele esikhathini akusona njengamanje. Amafu amnyama adlula ubusuku athushuka esibhakabhakeni. Ukushisa kudlula ngokushesha, esikhundleni sakho kuzwakale umoya obandayo onuka njengolwandle. USthembiso uhamba ngokushesha ephindela emzini wakhe.

*** 

Sitshele: Ngabe umndeni kaSthembiso uzovikeleka esivunguvungwini? Ubona kufanele babaleke manje?