I decide that the only thing to do is to reply to this creep and tell him or her to leave me alone. I type and delete, type and delete three SMSes before I’m satisfied that I’ve said the right thing. I punch ‘send’.
i dnt kno wat ur talking abt & i dnt care awungiyeke!
Gogo is making tea to go with the porridge when I come into the kitchen. She turns around with a smile that slides off her face as soon as she sees me. I must look pretty bad because she says, “Haai! Lindiwe, what’s wrong with you?”
I think: Well, I’ve been getting some pretty weird SMSes from a stranger who seems to think he knows my life, the secret life I haven’t even told you about so that’s kind of stressful. But now isn’t the time to be confessing so instead, I lie.
“It’s nothing, Gogo. I’m fine…I’m just tired.”
“Tired from what, child? You look like you haven’t slept in days.”
I try to avoid looking at her, “Um…I was up late doing my homework.”
“Yes, I have a big test next week in Accounting. I’ve been doing well and I want to keep my grade high so I’ve been doing extra homework to prepare.”
She looks like she wants to smile with pride, but doesn’t quite believe me. I don’t blame her. Lying to Gogo is hard: you feel like her eyes see right into your heart. Despite her obvious suspicion, all she says is, “Hmm”.
I practically run out of the house once it’s time to go to school. It’s hard to keep lying to Gogo like this but I know it is better this way. It’s safer for her if she doesn’t know what I get up to some nights and I know she would try to stop me if she could. She doesn’t want me to be in danger, even if it means I am saving others from harm.
While I walk, I try to think of who could be sending the messages.
Hardly anyone speaks to me and very few people have my phone number. It is on the class list in the class register though, so anyone could get it, if they really wanted to.
But who would want to? Ntokozo, maybe? We used to be friends once, when we were younger. But when Ntokozo met Zakes, he became the centre of her life. They started dating and Zakes was suddenly the only friend she needed. She was too cool for me, with her boyfriend who bought her airtime and cooldrinks. Now she only talks to other girls also dating handsome boys in our school. No point crying over it. That is how it is.
Every few metres I walk, I think I hear someone walking behind me. I have to stop and look all around to make sure no-one is watching me. Every time I turn around, there is no-one there, but I still walk as fast as I can to school. I don’t even risk going by Ma Thlolo’s shop this morning. What if someone is following me? What if they were following me that night at the spaza? What if they really do know what I did?
I can’t keep asking myself all these questions with no answers. I need to find out what’s going on here and that means I have to start somewhere. I’m going to have to talk to Ntokozo.
As I walk through the front gates of the school, I see Ntokozo with a gang of her giggling friends. I want to talk to her but I hesitate. Then I think of that SMS and the chill from earlier finds its way up my spine again.
I take a few steps towards the group and clear my throat. “Um, Ntokozo, can I talk to you real quick?”
She half turns her head to look at me and smiles a smile that says she’s not impressed. “And why would I do that? Who are you anyway?” she says.
I can see her friends about to explode into laughter like she just said the funniest thing they’ve ever heard. This is so dumb, I think. My ears burn but I carry on, “Listen, I really need to talk to you. It’s important.”
“What could be so important that I would want to talk to you? Lindi, everyone knows you’re just a nerd: always sitting by yourself, reading, or sneaking around at break watching us all. You need to get a life!”
Her friends all laugh out loud now. Her words play over again in my head while I try to think of something clever to say in reply.
Before I open my mouth, I hear someone behind me say: “Ntokozo doesn’t need to know anything about this. Stop talking right now, Lindiwe. The person you’re looking for is me.”
Tell us what you think: Who could know Lindi’s secret?