RCA In-House, Short Stories, Tale Africa

Babili (Part 1)

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By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa:

I know it’s just choir practice, but because my so-called boyfriend is next to me it’s a drag. I stand at the back line as second alto, and he is next to me where tenors begin. I usually do not mind him being there but today he made a comment that I couldn’t ignore.

He said, “Don’t you think this dress is a little short for choir practice?”

I resented that. The dress was just above my knees. The truth is that our relationship has been long over, I am trying very hard to persevere and now I’m just waiting for him to give up. I don’t respond to his intimate advances like hugs and kisses. I want to be an impossible girlfriend because he won't accept it if I dump him. Even though he is not violent, he makes threats and doesn’t take rejection very well. He doesn’t hurt me physically but emotionally I’m a wreck. He has exhausted me.

After choir practice I bumped into Kefiloe, just outside our church. It’s been 5 years and I can’t believe how good he looks! I had a ridiculous crush on him when I was 18 but seeing him now, I think I just fell in love with him all over again. I even forgot I had a boyfriend following me; I just went there and hugged him long and hard. Thabo – the boyfriend- didn’t even move. He just looked at me and I wasn’t bothered. I was smitten by this long lost friend. On the other hand; Kefiloe looked really happy to see me. He even kissed me on my forehead. He always made me feel like a little girl, even though he was just 5 years older than me. But I have to admit this was the greatest hug I had ever had; it was warm and tender, I loved it. I love him. I think it was after 7 minutes when we finally let go of each other and I gazed into his eyes, I probably looked like a love sick puppy.

“Ayanda, you’ve grown. You’re even more beautiful,” he says, very softly.

“Thanks, you’re not bad yourself.”

“Wow!”

We are standing in front of each other now. He is looking at me like I’m a gold bar; the greatest treasure he has ever found. His eyes are piercing through my heart. It’s like he’s undressing me with his eyes and I’m allowing him. If it were anyone else but him, this look would make me feel violated but because it’s him I feel wanted, I love it. I love him. But where was he all this time? Kefiloe!

“I thought about you every time I visited Durban, hoping to bump into you or just see you from a distance. I went there every year since I last saw you in 2011. I missed you. Wow! I didn’t expect to see you here.”

We are staring in each other’s eyes, holding hands. Somehow I feel bad that he has been in Durban so many times and I never saw him. I also didn’t expect to see him in Pretoria, at my church especially. Last I remembered, he was in Free State where we used to go to the same university. He is from Mpumalanga and I am from KwaZulu Natal.

“What brings you here? I know you’re no church goer and why are you in Pretoria?” I ask.

“Work brought me here and I’m fetching my friend, Siv, who sings here,” he replied.

“Siviwe is your friend? That moron.”

“He is such a fool, always a joy to have though.”

“And he has a great voice. I wish I could say the same for you,” I joke.

We laugh. Kefiloe couldn’t sing to save his life, this I know about him. And Siviwe is the noisiest, and funniest guy in church. Everyone loves him.

“I see you’re still the Zulu girl I loved so much at varsity. And your Sotho is still as brilliant,” he said.

I didn’t even realize I had switched to Sotho. I switch so easily and I’m fluent. He used to love how I sounded whenever I spoke his language. Damn it; I have forgotten about Thabo!

“I have to go Kefiloe, was so great to see you.”

I pull away but he grabs me and gives me another hug and whispers; “Give me your numbers, I can’t lose you again”.

I give them to him and he lets go. I just had the best moment of my life. I am not looking forward to facing Thabo. To my surprise; he is still standing next to the door, the same position I left him when I saw Kefiloe. He has a poker face, showing no emotion. It freaks me out. I wave to him and he just follows me to the car silently. We drive to his flat, he doesn't look at me or say anything. What if this thing with Kefiloe pushed him over the edge? Should I be going to his place?

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