“Do you see what you have just done? You stupid monkey!” roared Sizwe, coming forward with his fists up. Mbali did not flinch or run or cry. It was time to put these cowards in their place, he thought.

“I am not a monkey! Stop calling me that. I am human being just like you all.”

Sizwe and Mbali fought as people started rushing down from the patio to the pool to see what was happening.

“Help! Somebody! Help Senzo – he’s drowning!” shouted Senzo’s girlfriend.

“Senzo! Senzo!” everyone shouted. They were worried now, but no-one was prepared to dive into the pool, even though they knew that Senzo had not stopped drinking since he had arrived.

“He can’t swim! He can’t swim!” shouted his girlfriend.

“He’s my cousin! Somebody please, please help him,” shrieked a young woman in a jumpsuit, with a glass of wine in her hand.

“Somebody, please jump in and pull him up. Who can swim well?”

Mbali and Sizwe had stopped fighting and joined the crowd around the pool.

Without saying a word, without hesitating, Mbali jumped into the pool and plunged down to reach Senzo, who had sunk to the bottom.

“It’s Mbali! Can he swim? Can he?” asked one tearful young woman, looking shocked.

Within a few seconds the water stirred violently as Mbali broke the surface, dragging a limp Senzo up with him. Two guys helped pull Senzo out onto the paving around the pool.

“Oh my God. He isn’t breathing! He isn’t breathing!” His girlfriend was hysterical, jumping up and down, tears streaming down her face. “Oh Senzo! Please, God, help him,” she shrieked.

Mbali climbed out of the pool and quickly bent over Senzo. He took his wrist to feel for his pulse. It was there, but weak. He turned Senzo on his side and water spurted from Senzo’s mouth.

“Someone call an ambulance please. Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening,” Senzo’s girlfriend shouted. The party mood had gone sombre as everyone crowded around.

“I have just called. I dialled the number. The paramedics are on their way,” said Buyiswa.

Mbali put the heels of his hands against Senzo’s chest and started pushing down, doing CPR. Water gushed in spurts from Senzo’s mouth. He kept pushing until Senzo’s eyes opened and he coughed, choking on the water.

There was a murmur of relief through the crowd as they saw that Senzo was alive.

When the ambulance arrived and the paramedics were attending to Senzo, his girlfriend came over and threw her arms around Mbali, kissing him on the neck.

“Thank you, bhuti! Thank you for saving the life of my boyfriend. I owe you. I owe you big time.”

“It is fine my sister, it’s fine. I am just glad I got there in time,” said Mbali, scanning the crowd for Buyiswa.

The paramedics decided to take Senzo to hospital overnight, for observation, even though they could see that he was no longer in danger. Everyone watched as he was wheeled off on a stretcher to the ambulance, an oxygen mask over his face.

***

Tell us what you think: Did Mbali have any option except to save Senzo? How would he have felt if he had let him drown?