Short Stories, Tale Africa

Sing Me (5)

By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa:

Today, we celebrate two months of our relationship with Zain. He is in my room, half naked, posing for a painting I’m doing. I am happy to say I’ve got my groove back, and I thank this man for it. I’m starting to develop feelings for him, I think it’s because of all the care and support he shows me.

“Uyati baby you have secrets,” he says with a goofy smile.

“Keep still babe, you’re messing with the face.”

As if he would listen, he laughs and asks, “Why didn’t you tell me you can paint?”

I shake my head and smile. I continue working in silence and after a few moments he starts singing – trust Zain to keep still!

“Udlala kabi um’ udlala ngenhlitiyo

Ung’tsintsa kabi, um’ utsints’ imizwa yami

Udlala kabi uma uts’ uyangtsandza

Keph’ uts’ angkhulume ng’tsini

Uma song’tsintsa le nalena

Inhlitiyo yam ishaya tigi gigi”

I just laugh. This was the first Swati dance song I heard and he was singing it. He doesn’t sing it like the owner, he somehow makes it sound classical – it’s lovely. I’m starting to love the sound of Swati – imagine! This has become our song even though I’ve never sang it in front of him, but I normally hum it around the house.

“Why did you stop singing anyway?” I ask.

We did meet in music class but he doesn’t live as a singer like me.

“I didn’t stop. I lecture music, so singing forms a huge part of my work. I just decided to study further so I can share the passion with other children.”

I nod in agreement remembering how nice it was teaching the youth in the church choir back home. Maybe he did choose the right path, I should also look into it.

“Zain Bhembe,” I find myself saying out loud.

He smiles and says; “Abongile Sokana.”

Oh shucks! I’m falling for this guy.

I made it into the musical at the Market Theatre. The audition wasn’t as easy as the one in Cape Town, I was called back twice. The last time I was so nervous I wanted to cry, I was so sure they were going to send me back. I was ready to pack my things and go back home, study teaching via Unisa and teach in one of those rural schools in Pedi. Of all my mother’s children, I’m the only one who likes staying with the grandparents, everyone prefers the city life. At long last Cordelia told me I made it into the music and gave me the brief of what was expected of me.

The play was a musical version or rather an adaptation of Cynthia Shange’s ‘For Coloured Girls Who Have Considered Suicide: When The Rainbow is Enough’. I was relieved, this is one of my favourite stories and I loved Taylor Perry’s film adaption as well. The title of our production is ‘When The Rainbow is Enough’ and it puts the story into the modern South African context – I’m so excited. It is a very moving story that needs one to be in touch with their emotions. The training is exhausting but I have to push, the rebirth of my career depends on it. There is acting required from us, but thank heavens there is no dancing for my character! I got the role of Samantha, the original Lady in Green, who performs the “bring back my stuff” poem. I have to translate it to Xhosa, perform it and then sing the same poem in English later in the show. Translating it was a breeze, I don’t know whether it was because I enjoyed it intensively or just that I could relate to it.  Am at the stage where I am demanding life to bring back my “stuff”; my music career, my love gone with all the failed relationship, and my sense of independence – I want it all back!

The play isn’t showing yet but we’re at the final stages of rehearsals now. Everything is falling into place and in a week or so the marketing begins. Going for interviews and all the advertising drill is a job on its own, a job I’d rather not do.

I finish the final touch ups of Zain’s painting and put it away to dry. He left a few hours ago because he had an afternoon class; this lecturing business looks like fun because he doesn’t have to be around campus everyday.

“Inhlitiyo yam ishaya tikikiki.”

“Ye wethu! You’re speaking Swati now?” Snowy exclaims.

I am caught up in what I’m doing I’m not even aware of the song I’m singing. Tonight there is a PJ party at one of my collegue’s flat. I agreed to go so I can get to know everyone on a more personal level; today and tomorrow we are off so it was a perfect night for that. Snowy will be dropping me off later. She didn’t want to join the party, my sister is naturally antisocial.

“That painting is pretty nice hey, I’d say it’s your best work yet.” Snowy says.

I turn to face her, she is studying my painting like it’s truly the best thing she has ever seen.

“I guess your short courses have finally paid off.” She adds.

“Wow! Thank you.”

I think this is the first time my sister is complimenting me without making it sound like a joke.

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