It’s a balmy Saturday afternoon. Thokozani sits on a stool outside his one-room shack, washing his sneakers in a green basin. Sphiwe’s shadow falls over him. It takes a few seconds before Thokozani recognises Sphiwe.
“I’m not sure if you remember me, but I’m Sphiwe. I was once here with Zinhle.”
“How can I forget you, man? You go so high off lean that you threw up all over my room,” says Thokozani.
“Eish, bru,” Sphiwe scratches his head in embarrassment. “Can we move past that, please? I came here to ask about Zinhle.”
Thokozani stands up and wrings his sneaker. “Okay. Ask away,” says Thokozani.
Sphiwe lets out a deep sigh. “When was the last time you spoke to her?”
“I can’t really remember. It’s been a while. Why do you ask?”
Sphiwe leans on the corrugated iron sheet that makes up one part of the shack wall. “I think she has blocked me on all social networks, and I can’t get through when I try to call her.”
Thokozani sits down and unties the laces of his other sneaker. “Hold on. You are saying she blocked you? Maybe she blocked me too because I can’t remember the last time I saw her status updates on WhatsApp and Facebook.”
Thokozani walks into his shack and comes back with his cell phone. He checks for Zinhle on all the social networks and even tries to call her. There is a look of disbelief on his face when he says, “I think she blocked me too. I wonder what the hell I did to deserve being blocked by her?”
“I asked myself the same question,” says Sphiwe. “I’m really worried about her, man.”
“She’s a big girl, Sphiwe. She probably doesn’t want to be in contact with us anymore. Does she even still stay here in Amaoti? The last time I saw her was when you guys were here and that was many months ago.”
“I don’t know. I have to go,” says Sphiwe.
Zinhle sits outside in the shadow of her room. She is looking at the road as young boys laugh and run after a white sedan. She’s wearing a brown straw hat and a flowing frock that blows in the breeze. Zandile, Vincent’s daughter, is walking down the street. She waves at Zinhle and smiles. Zinhle smiles back. Zandile walks over to Zinhle.
“Hello, girl. How are you?” asks Zandile.
Zinhle is confused, but greets back. “I’m good, how are you?”
Zandile notices distinct confusion on Zinhle’s face. “I’m Zandile, Vincent’s daughter. My father has told me a lot about you.”
Zandile glances at Zinhle’s protruding belly and smiles.
“Oh, you are Zandile? Your father has told me about you,” says Zinhle.
Zandile is tall and slim with dark chocolate skin. She leans against the wall next to Zinhle. “How far along are you? It looks like you are pretty close.”
“I’m due in three weeks,” says Zinhle.
“Oh! That’s good news, is it a boy or a girl?” asks Zandile.
Zinhle sighs and says, “I didn’t want the doctor to tell me. I want the gender of my baby to be a surprise.”
“My son is 18 months old,” says Zandile.
“Wow, he’s grown. It’s getting chilly. Let’s go inside.”
Zinhle tries to stand but it is difficult. Zandile hooks her arm on Zinhle’s and helps her into the room.
Tell us: Do you prefer surprises in life or do you like to know what is coming your way? Why?