Sipho secretly watched the girl smile and whisper as she continued with the phone conversation. He glanced at his own phone and checked the time. Damn it! he thought. It has been over 45 minutes already. What are they are discussing? The end of the world?
He pushed back his seat and sat there with his arms folded over his chest, an annoyed look on his face. Just as he was falling asleep, the girl finally finished talking and put the phone down.
Sipho glanced at her and jokingly asked, “Did you tell him that you are cheating with a stranger on a bus?”
The girl laughed and softly slapped his shoulder, “Suka! I don’t even know your name.”
“I’m not responsible for your ignorance,” Sipho said.
The girl looked at him and smiled. “I’m Amanda. And you?”
“Sipho at your service!” he answered.
Soon they were quickly exchanging other pleasantries. He discovered that she was a first-year student at the University of Cape Town, studying medicine. She was going back to there after the semester break.
He imagined how she’d look in a doctor’s coat, with a stethoscope around her neck, complementing her beautiful, enchanting face. He smiled to himself and turned to Amanda, with a beam on his face.
“So I can call you Doctor Bae?”.
“No!” Amanda responded with a sweet giggle. The melody in her giggle made Sipho wonder if she wasn’t just an angel in disguise, come down for a holiday among humans.
The bus picked up speed as it cruised. Brown bushes rose from each side of the road, as they left behind any sign of civilization. Eventually all the city lights had faded in the distance. There was nothing but darkness behind them, and more darkness in front of them. Condensation dripped down the windows as Sipho and Amanda continued to converse. The mist outside got thicker and whiter as the bus rattled endlessly along the road.
Amanda was fascinated by the stories Sipho told, of his rebellious acts in high school, and his travels around the country. How he had put toy snakes on his geography teacher’s desk, and how he and his university roommate once hitchhiked to Durban, went for a sunrise swim in the sea, and then travelled back in time for lectures.
And he was awed that she had loved just one boy since high school.
“We have been together since Grade 8,” she told him proudly.
“You are kidding me!” exclaimed Sipho in wonder. “You cannot be serious. Don’t you get bored of him?”
“Not really. We know everything about each other now,” she said.
“But that’s what makes jolling so fun,” he said. “The quest to discover, uncover more about your lover.”
Sipho reached down into his bag and took out a packet of red apples. He laid it on his thighs and tore it open. It still had the price tag on it.
“Why are these apples always so expensive?” Amanda commented.
Sipho looked at her with a serious expression. “Because they are holy apples watered with holy water and blessed by priests, obviously.”
The pair roared with laughter, disturbing the calm silence on the bus. Heads turned and glanced at them with the contempt and disapproval only adults could summon. One woman removed her glasses, stared at them, and stuck out her tongue. She frowned.
But Amanda and Sipho sat back into their chairs, giggling hysterically.
“What’s going on back there?” yelled the driver.
“Lutho Baba,” Amanda quickly answered in a loud, but shy tone.
“Hhay mahn!” the driver exclaimed. “Youngsters!”
Murmurs rose among the disapproving passengers. Amanda and Sipho went back to their own devices and began devouring apples. They talked and talked, so engrossed, so enthusiastically, that they barely noticed when the bus came to a stop outside a garage.
“What’s happening?” Amanda asked.
“Toilet break, I think,” Sipho responded.
He had just stood up to follow the line of exiting passengers when a cold breeze blasted straight at him. He gritted his teeth together and ran back to his seat.
“Ahh! It’s cold!” he exclaimed. He looked at Amanda and his face lit up as an excellent idea came to him.
“Please lend me your smallanyana blanket,” he said. She’d had the little blue item wrapped around her for the whole bus ride, to keep warm, only occasionally taking out her hands to press her phone or hold something.
Amanda shook her head as Sipho continued to eye the blanket.
“Not happening! What will I use to cover myself?” Amanda asked him.
“Then come with me. We’ll wrap it around us both.”
“Awa! What will people think when we go into the garage like that?” she demanded.
But she unwrapped the blanket as they got off the bus anyway, and pulled it around them as the cold air whistled at their faces. They snuggled closer for warmth, watching passengers in their heavy coats and warm jerseys headed for the garage shop.
“It’s biting cold, yussis,” Amanda said, linking arms with Sipho.
“Don’t be a cry-baby, hawu,” Sipho said, taking her warm hand in his as they headed towards the garage shop. He looked into her eyes, and smiled.
“What are you smiling about now?” Amanda asked him, as she looked down at her shoes, escaping his gaze.
“I was just contemplating that you are cuddling with a stranger,” he laughed. “I don’t know which side of you I like more: the innocent medicine student or the rebellious, cheating girlfriend.”
Tell us: Do you think Amanda is warming up to Sipho? What will happen next?