Short Stories, Tale Africa

The Maiden and The Bear (4)

By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa:

Ntombikayise has never been brave enough. Marrying a guy like Mnqobi is not for the faint hearted. They should?ve given her another brother – Nsizwenye maybe. He is a decent young man just caught up living with hooligans. I, on the other hand, love the thrill. I am an adrenalin junkie and love danger. That is how I ended up with Mbongeni. A taxi driver is known to be rough – a Mbhele taxi driver is a bonus! Even though he is a Dlamini, there is Mbhele blood running through his veins and it shows. He is not just a hot head. He is also a very nice guy and would make a perfect husband for me. My mother always says I’m too young to be thinking of marriage but it?s my final year in high school, and I’m already mapping out my future. I want me and my friend to marry into the same family and we will be friends forever.

I have been attending the reed dance for four years now. It?s nothing to me really; just a way of getting out of the village and, as Mnqobi says, parading for the King. I have no intention of marrying that old hag but being there is fun. The attention is to die for. I, Makhosazane Hadebe, am beautiful and I know it. The Zulu princes always drool over me and for some reason the royal family refers to me as ‘Princess’. That is what my name means but I don?t think it?s because of that. And frankly, I don?t care to know as long as they don?t think I’ll marry any of them.? I’m taking Ntombi with me this year. I’ve already paid for her and convinced Mnqobi to let her go. With all this fighting happening between the Mbhele’s and the guys from Emadlangeni, Mnqobi was desperate to get Ntombi out of the village. Apparently some people have noticed she’s his weakness and would use her to get to him. In just another day, we will be leaving Mgabaye and it will be my friend’s very first time to go outside the village. I’m so excited.

I am done packing our traditional clothes. Well, it?s all mine but I have enough to clothe the whole village ? that is the advantage of being the only child. I get new clothes every time I go somewhere. This year I didn?t buy anything for the reed dance; I took my old clothes because I had spent a lot on food and transport for the trip. I can’t wait to see the look on Ntombi’s face when I tell her we are leaving tomorrow. I walk into exhibeni, the hut used as a kitchen. Ntombi’s mother is sitting on the grass mat knitting something. I don?t think she likes me, but then again she doesn?t like anyone. Ntombi is on her knees making the fire and there is smoke all over. I sit on the floor next to her with a ridiculous grin on my face. I love how people look at me when I do this; the puzzled looks are fascinating.

“Sanibonani”

Ntombi’s mom gives me the look, I love it when she frowns at me – just don?t tell her that, she might just stop. I just like how she’s always uptight. Ay this woman.

“Hello Makhosi,” Ntombi says as she puts another piece of wood in the fire.

I look at her mother again as I try to structure the surprise I’m here to deliver.

“Mama,” I begin as I watch her lower her knitting and look at me. This woman is scary ay! Ntombi also pays attention and sits next to me.

“Can Ntombi come with me to the reed dance tomorrow? My cousin Pinky was suppose to come but she has caught a flu and my mother has already paid for two.” Any fool can hear that lame explanation is a lie but hey…

“Okay,” she replies and continues with her knitting.

I’m shocked and so is Ntombi. This grandma didn’t even fight. Maybe she was expecting this. It?s difficult to read her expression. But then again, I stopped trying a long time ago. She instructs Ntombi to stop cooking and go prepare. We quickly stand and run out of the hut. I cannot believe the joy on my friend’s face. I haven?t seen her face light up this way since Mnqobi’s attack. She has the most amazing eyes, big and brown, nicely placed on her ebony face. She is fair in complexion with a cute dimple on her right cheek. She is a real beauty with an equally beautiful body. She is a bit short, chubby with her perfectly curved hips and butt and B-cup boobs. I do not befriend ugly bettys of the world, hello!

I may have slightly bigger boobs than her, maybe a bigger butt, and maybe taller. Heck I’m just bigger than her but the Hadebe beauty is there, in every pound of this body. We compliment each other, Ntombi and me; and I truly thank God for being her friend.

“Cousin Pinky huh?” She asks as we enter the hut they sleep in. She is laughing so hard; I do not have a cousin named Pinky. I love seeing her this happy.

“Pinky from that other aunt. You remember that one from that place?”

We both laugh. My father is the only child just like I’m his only child. I don?t know any other family other than my mother and father.

We’ve been sitting in this hut for more than an hour pretending to be packing. All we’ve been doing is talking and laughing about things that don?t even matter. I packed everything we need at home. I literally just need Ntombikayise Ngcobo alone, everything else is provided.

Mbongeni is taking us to the departure point with a wounded Mnqobi who insisted on seeing us off. Mbongeni’s taxi is full; almost all the Mbhele brothers, then Ntombi and I. They have started travelling in groups because of the threat hanging in the air. Mnqobi is the most guarded one because apparently he needs to heal properly and is the main target. I choose not to pay attention to the fighting, until it is absolutely necessary. I am forced to watch Mnqobi kiss the very nervous and shy Ntombi in front of everyone because they cannot be left alone – this family though!

We finally get out of the car and we are escorted by the twins inside the house. This is it! Ntombi’s first trip out of the Mgabaye village. I don’t know if she is as excited as I am for her. This trip is going to be epic. I can feel it.

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