I had even forgotten the last book I was reading at the library due to my week’s absence from the place. The uniform dresses I wore at school became shorter and shorter, they eventually became a skirt. I stopped wearing glasses and I never walked with my head bent again. As you read this, you notice that I changed. The point is you can’t spend most of your time with certain people and expect not to turn out like them. The influence is inevitable. The people you always surround yourself with are you.

The title of this story has a double meaning. First I’m refering to my former self. My friendship with Kamo and her friends changed me into doing things I thought they were cool at the time but now as I reminisce, I cringe in disgust, like was that really me? I don’t know who that girl is. Again I repeat, Kamo and her friends didn’t force me to do these things, which I’m afraid some of them are too drastic to be mentioned here. I don’t blame Kamo and her crew. I blame myself for joining them. I’m twenty two now and the phases don’t get as confusing as they are when you are around those ages. I’ve evolved and I’m still trying to figure myself out, learn more about Hazel. I feel like as we all grow we go through changes which make us feek like we don’t know ourselves anymore. You found yourself looking back to your younger days thinking, what happened?

The second meaning of the title is about Kamo herself. We had become best friends if I’m not mistaken. We pretty much did things together, most of the time with her other friends excluded. She’d come over at my home, vice versa. My mom grew fond of her and she’d sometimes cook her food. But our friendship ended. Because of a boy. Her boyfriend. Thando. The three of us would hang together and that’s when the affair sparked.

I wasn’t jealous of Kamo, nor did I feel the tiniest bit of love for Thabiso. Yes, he was good looking. Always clean (it was like he was allergic to dirt, you know such people), smelt nice, light skin, pink lips with a fresh face and no beard. Overall he was a nice gent. I was never bored when I was with him. I really liked the sound of his voice when he spoke English. And when he’d try to speak SeSotho, a language he didn’t know, I couldn’t help but laugh. He was a cool vibe. In all honesty I simply allowed the affair because of his money. Call me a gold digger if you want. He came from one of those families where you can get anything you want by just asking for it:

“Daddy can I have a new iPhone? “

“Of course, my boy. What else?”

Because of our affair, similar priveledges transcended to me. Sometimes I didn’t have to ask him for anything. We’d meet at our secret places: under King Bishop’s bridge near the river; at the back of Club Venice at night; or at Jola park opposite Oakdake shopping centre. We just had to make sure that we meet in places Kamo wasn’t frequented with. Sometimes we’d go to his room where I’d be hit with the smell of Kamo’s scent. So I need not ask if she had been here. In fact, Thabiso hated talking about her when he was with me. In numerous occasions when we’d chill together he’d get a call from Kamo and tell her that he’s away with his boys, or tell her something which will leave her convinced that all is good. In other cases I’d be the one who gets a call from her and I’d also tell her about my false whereabouts. After the calls Thabiso and I would laugh and kiss.

He would never come around to see me with empty hands. It was gift after gift, but I told him to hold it off for awhile because suspicions may arise. So he gave me more money instead.

And then later in the day when I’m chilling with Kamo, she’d often tell me how amazing his boyfriend is, or rather, our boyfriend. She’d tell me how amazing he is.”I know, ” I once said and smiled. And then sometimes she’d show me and the crew the gifts he’d bought for her— I remember once it was this shiny pink watch of which its numbers and hands were covered with tiny diamonds. “Oh, my God, chomz, this is so beautiful!” Bontle and the others had remarked, their eyes on Kamo’s wrist where this watch was wrapped around.

“Friend ,” they had said. “You are so lucky. Like..oh my God,” then they’d return their eyes on the watch. And I could sense some jealousy in their excitement. Me I wasn’t in the least jealous or envy. I had the same pink shiny watch at home. I was the first one to get it. I even knew that Kamo was going to get one as well.

Time went by, the affair got so deep Thabiso wanted to turn it into an official relationship. “I have decided,” he said.

“Decided what?’

” I’m leaving Kamo for good. You and I..” He paused to gather some air, “I’m tired of hiding, okay?”

But I was  not willing to lose Kamo either. So I had to make him choose. We carry on with the affair or we simply don’t. He chose the affair. He gave me more gifts. When Mama asked me where do these things come from I’d tell her I got them from Kamo. When Kamo asked me where did I get these things from, she thought I also had a well-monied boyfriend like her (you found someone haven’t you? Who is he?) I’d tell her no, I got these things from my mama. Until one morning  Kamo came over to the house and found my mom instead. My mom thanked her for the gifts. To keep a long story short, Kamo found out the truh. Thabiso was much pleased because she ended up leaving him, which now meant he was free to be with me. But I also dumped him, and I tried several times to apologise to Kamo but all my efforts resulted in failure. I also got a slap in the face, I didn’t fight back because I knew I deserved it. Since then, Kamo and I never said a word to each other. We finished matric in the same year, same school, same class. I never saw her again. I used to know her. I really miss her.

Tell us: how do you feel about this story?