51 Imbali Street

I feel a nudge in my ribs.

‘’Here’s the bus,’’ says Nomi. ‘’We’ll have to sit in the front ‘cos the ‘Yaya sisters sit at the back. You must be a member to join them.’’

I climb into the bus with Nomi, grateful to have someone to sit with.

Nomi pulls out a mirror and pretends to comb her hair. She is watching the back of the bus. She starts to giggle, so I peer into the mirror too. The ‘Yaya Sisters’ are stretching their legs out on the back seat. The boys in the bus are having a good look at what is on display.

This is so different from St Lizzie’s bus trips, I think to myself. “A seat for everyone, and everyone in a seat,” the teachers would say.

This school bus bumps along the narrow township roads and hoots loudly at children and animals along the way.

‘’So where do you stay, Zoe?” I hear Nomi asking.

‘’Oh, just around the corner,” I say. I don’t want Nomi to know where I live with my grandmother on Imbali Street.

I am still so angry with my mom for dumping me on Gogo’s doorstep and running off with her latest boyfriend. Poor Gogo, she isn’t really equipped to deal with a teenager, or what she calls “this new generation”. But she is trying her best to be supportive.

“Nearly there,’’ I tell Nomi. “It was nice to chat to you.”

Then, waving goodbye to her, I get off the bus as fast as I can.

Gogo had wanted to meet me, but I’d assured her I was a big girl now and would find my own way home.

Not far from the bus stop I pass the spaza shop. I remember the fun I used to have there when I was little. Gogo would give me some pocket money to buy sweets. The shop had not changed much. The old shopkeeper stood out on the steps waving and hoping I would come in. Perhaps he remembered me.

But I had to get to Gogo, before she came to find me.

I looked about for a KFC, but only saw a garage, a cafe and ‘Dube’s Den’ on the other side of the street.

Imbali Street is ahead of me. I mutter under my breath. I’m feeling rebellious. How could any self- respecting parent treat her daughter like this? I feel furious as I think of my mom sunbathing in Mauritius.

Gogo is waiting for me. She’s excited and can’t wait for me to get to the door. Maybe there’s a phone call for me. My mom calling me back to the city! I hold my breath and wait for Gogo to give me the phone. I’m busy planning my apology, just to get away from here.

I reach out, but Gogo’s hand is empty. No phone! I feel abandoned. I follow Gogo to the lounge and see Mrs Zondo, from next door, is having tea. Gogo can’t wait to bring me inside and introduce me to her friend. It’s the last thing I feel like doing, but I try to remember my manners. I curtsey politely and offer my hand in a respectful handshake.


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