“I’ll be back now now, Ma. There’s amaphara being chased and I just want to see quickly.”

“And what are you in those things? Abongile–”

“I’ll be quick Ma!”

He was already on his way, barely breaking his momentum, knowing any slight hesitation would mean the end of his excursion.

“Abongile! Who’s going to chop these carrots? This child!”

He made sure to not shut the door loudly, fearing tipping her into even stronger anger.

The three other boys were already in the street ahead of him, slowing just for a second to let him catch up. Long shadows draped the narrow street as the sun drew closer, almost kissing the horizon made up of mountains that looked like puckered up lips, in the distance.

“Lutho didn’t want us to call you, but I insisted,” Avela said.

Lutho mumbled something.

Abongile didn’t say anything, focusing on trying to catch up to Siphenathi who was stripping away from them. But he mentally noted the little piece of information, filing it away for another time, for the next little quarrel that happened between them.

He was, sort of, the leader of their little crew; he fought the hardest and was the most forceful, at times dictating little matters like who was fouled in a soccer match, or how they should spend an otherwise quiet afternoon. Little things that seemed important to young boys on the cusp of their teens, barely even masturbating, unaware of the small changes already set in motion by puberty.

They still found the lion’s share of their joys in the roar of the wind against their ears as they tried to outrun each other, adding points to an imaginary scoreboard they didn’t really know the score of. There was a joy, a thrill, to stretching their lungs, hearing their feet drum the street in anticipation of the new experience that lay ahead.

They had at times heard of, and even talked about, the fate thieves, killers and rapists sometimes suffered via the ‘justice’ of angry mobs. All four of them had never seen it happen; it had seemed like the spectacle happened around them, seen by people they knew, but never them. They knew the stories, knew secondhand about how people would be beaten until near death … then burnt with car tyres around their waist, to help them the rest of the way.

Even though Avela said he had insisted, Abongile knew it had to be Siphenathi who had decided the matter in the end. Whether or not he got to be part of this experience, or it was told to him like intsomi, that he could only imagine.


Tell us: What do you think about the relationship between the friends? Is it typical of young boys?