Mmoloki left, still angry, on Sunday and I felt bad about that. Before she got into her father’s truck she said, “But you’re coming to Nokeng for our matric dance, right?”
* * * * *
Monday at lunch, Fani was uncomfortable. “Is anything wrong?” I asked.
“No … not really … why do you ask?”
“I don’t know. Is there something you want to say to me?”
“No … well, yes, actually. I wanted to know if … I mean I thought maybe you’d like to maybe go to the matric dance with me?”
“Sure. When is it?”
“Two Saturdays from now, on the fourteenth of September.”
“OK, that sounds cool.” I liked Fani. He was sincere and kind. The dance was going to be great.
Later, at home, I called Mmoloki.
“So you got home OK,” I said.
“Yeah, we got home fine.”
“Listen I’m sorry for how things went this weekend.”
“I have some good news,” I said.
“What?” Mmoloki asked.
“Fani asked me to the matric dance here. I wish you could have met him. I think you would have really liked him. I told him yes.”
“That’s nice. When is it?”
“Of this month?”
“That’s our matric dance date. So does that mean you won’t come now?”
How did I not remember that? I didn’t know what to say. I’d already told Fani yes, and besides, was it even right for me to go to the matric dance in Nokeng? I didn’t live there anymore; it wasn’t my school. It was as if I was holding tightly to something I was no longer part of.
“I’m sorry, Mmoloki, I forgot. Maybe I can come to Nokeng the weekend after the matric dance. It’s a four day weekend, so then we can have more time together.”
“I don’t know, Baleka. Maybe we should just forget about it. To me it sounds like you’ve moved on and it looks like you’ve moved on without me. You’re a city girl now, with a city lifestyle. I don’t think you have any space in there for me.”
* * * * *
Three weeks later I was heading home to Nokeng. When the bus stopped, I saw Ntatemogolo standing with Mighty and my eyes filled with tears. I rushed out of the bus and straight into Ntatemogolo’s arms.
“Oh I missed you!” I said. Then I bent down and hugged Mighty. We walked the short distance from the bus stop to Ntatemogolo’s house next to his general dealer. Nokeng looked so tiny and sounded so quiet. Everything seemed familiar but different. I had been sure I was going to die when I left this place, but I hadn’t. Despite feeling a bit lost, though, I was happy to be back.
The next morning I woke up early and rode my bike out to Mmoloki’s house. I was worried, because in the end I had gone to the matric dance with Fani. It was fun and I finally started to feel as if I could be happy in Joburg and that I could have new friends there. But Mmoloki had been hurt that I hadn’t come to Nokeng for their matric dance. She had stopped responding to my emails and Facebook messages, or picking up my calls. She was angry and I was scared that maybe our friendship was over.
The rains had started early in Nokeng and everything looked green and fresh as I cycled out to her house. The day was crystal clear with the sky washed to a sparkling blue. When I rode down the driveway, Lady came to the gate of her paddock and whinnied to me. She remembered me!
Mmoloki was waiting for me at the door when I got to the house. “Let’s go for a ride,” was all she said.
Silently, we got the horses ready and rode down to the river. Once there we dismounted and sat down on the bank.
“We’re friends forever, that’s just how it is,” I started. “But we need to accept that I’ve moved away. My everyday life is not the same as yours. I can’t try to keep living in Nokeng if I’m living in Joburg. I’ll go crazy and I’ll be so lonely.”
“I get all of that. I expected it. I knew things would change; I just hoped it would take a bit longer. You’re right, Nokeng is not your home anymore. Your home is in Joburg and I need to accept that,” Mmoloki said, though I could see her eyes filling with tears.
I hugged her. “I don’t think there’s a law that says a person can’t have two homes. Maybe Joburg and Nokeng are both my homes.”
“Maybe.” Mmoloki smiled and Mighty rushed forward and licked the tears from her cheeks.
“So are we friends again?” I asked.
“We never stopped being friends.” She smiled then. “So, tell me all about the matric dance and your Fani.”
I smiled at her, and just like that I knew I was back home again.
Tell us what you think: Where is ‘home’? Is it where you are or where your heart is? Can you have two homes?