At breakfast in the hostel the next morning, Miss Langley, the hostel head, made an announcement.

“Mr Steve Wilson, the new English teacher, is going to be moving into the hostel today,” she said in her clipped, efficient tone. “He will help out as a hostel parent until his accommodation can be arranged. We will be glad to have him.”

Kamvi choked on her muesli.

“Oopsy,” said Nikita, making a show of bashing Kamvi on her back. “Relax and swallow, girl. Relax and swallow!” And then Nikita burst out laughing.

“Shut up!” said Kamvi, recovering her composure and pushing her bowl away.

“Oh Kamvi,” said Nikita, reaching out and touching her leg under the table. “You’re not going to break poor old Sipho’s heart again this year, are you? You know we both love only you. I hope you’re not going to give your heart away to some cheap and nasty American!”

Nikita laughed out loud before getting up and walking to the kitchen with her plate.

Kamvi watched her pause to plant a kiss on the cheek of one of the ladies in the kitchen. Unathi was Nikita’s aunt. She had been the hostel cook for many years. She had also raised Nikita. Nikita’s mother had died when she was only five years old and Unathi had taken her in as one of her own. The school had extended a bursary to Nikita because she was sharp, bright as a button and extremely talented in just about any sport.

Not like me, thought Kamvi to herself. She hated all forms of sport, even table tennis, which was set up in the hostel common room. Nikita and Sipho were always trying to get her to play.

In fact, right now, after breakfast, in the few minutes remaining before school started, Kamvi settled down in an easy chair to enjoy her cup of tea, and Sipho and Nikita came in. They picked up bats and began to hit the ball to each other.

“A new year,” said Nikita, slapping the ping pong ball hard, so that it whizzed low over the net. “You and me Sipho. Let’s play to see who will win Kamvi’s affections.”

Sipho returned the shot skilfully. He remained silent. He hated Nikita’s jokes, and it showed.

“You’re not funny Nikita. The way you are is unnatural. It’s against God’s law for two women to be together!”


Tell us what you think: What is your response to Sipho’s statement?