I buy a huge, ripe watermelon, Anela’s favourite. I’m going to cheer her on, even if she leaves me lost and forgotten. I carry the heavy fruit into their kitchen and drop it too hard on the table. It cracks. Khuzani’s still in his pyjamas. On Fridays he only runs the soccer clinic after lunch. The house is strangely quiet. No smell of perfume drifts into the kitchen. I pat the watermelon. “You want to play one bounce?”
Khuzani laughs. Ma Makwena comes in and touches my head in greeting.

“Thanks, my boy,” she says about the gift. She asks Khuzani anxiously, “Any more SMSes?”

“No, Mama.” Ma Makwena picks up a long knife. “Don’t worry, Mama. She’s nearly eighteen.” She sighs.

“I know. But she always comes home.”

“She’s with a friend, Mom. That’s what she said.”

Just then the gate clicks closed. Anela’s happiness makes the tiny kitchen buzz. She laughs, “Mama, you can put away the knife.”

“Oh, thank God.”

Khuzani asks, “Did you get a lift?”

“Uh uh, I caught a taxi.”

“Why so early?” Khuzani asks.

“Raynard had business to do.” It’s like she just plunged MaMakwena’s knife between my ribs. Ma Makwena is also shocked.


Anela nods. “He’s beautiful, Mom. He’s so kind.” She rests her head on her mother’s chest. “It was … the best night of my life.”

It’s as clear as the morning sun in the sky. She had sex with the guy. My stomach clenches into a fist. I can’t force a smile. I can’t even come up with a joke. Khuzani says, “You stayed with the guy?” She nods defiantly. Khuzani speaks for all of us. “Raynard. Is he for real?”

“Brother, do you think I would wait so long to get it all wrong?”

There it is. Confirmed. She slept with him. Her mother says gently, “Anela. You”ve known him for one day.”

“Mom, come on. When a girl knows, she knows.” Ma Makwena still looks worried.
“And, Raynard loves my stuff. He’s giving me a whole hour on Saturday night. He says the place is packed with people from all over the world, not just locals.”

“But what’s he like…?”

“Relax, Mama. He’s wonderful.” There is that dreamy breeze in her voice again.
Ma Makwena strokes her daughter’s hair off her face.

Suddenly I miss my mother’s love. I can hardly breathe, but I grab a soccer ball at the door. Khuzani follows me out. We kick around a bit, but today I am clumsy. “Hey, Mzi, what’s wrong with you today?”

“Still waking up,” I say. But Anela’s confession shocked me awake – inside it’s like I have died. For the third time I kick the ball wild. I fetch it from the road, then roll it through the doorway of Ma Makwena’s house. I catch sight of the cracked watermelon still waiting on the table. A big green watermelon. This is all I have to offer. Not quite a trendy night club. I say, “See you later bhuti. Good luck with your training.”

I weave between the stalls. The guy who sells smileys knew my father long ago. They worked together at a leather tanning factory when I was small. That was before Dad dropped us and disappeared to Gauteng. “Hey, Mzingisi!” shouts Jakes, “What have you lost?” But I wave and keep walking. Somewhere inside I want to laugh.

I do have connections, you see. I’m good friends with the guy who sells sheeps’ eyes and sheeps’ cheeks.


Tell us what you think: Do you think Anela made a wise decision to sleep with the club owner? Is Mzingisi putting himself down more than he should?