By six o’clock the next evening
Ntombi was in such a state she
didn’t know what she was going
to say to Mzi. What if the
conversation ran out? “Just be
yourself,” said her mother. That
was just great, thought Ntombi,
coming from her mother, who
hadn’t been herself since she met
In fact, when Mzi arrived, Ntombi
thought it was Zakes. He was driving an
identical silver BMW, the only
difference being that his didn’t
have a Pirates bumper sticker. Her
mother thought it was Zakes too.
She went out to greet him, and
was met by Mzi.
“Oh, I thought you were my
boyfriend,” said her mother. “I
“Oh God. How embarrassing,”
thought Ntombi as she introduced
them. “Mzi, this is my mother.”
Her mother looked confused. She
asked Mzi, “Do you know Zakes? He
drives a car exactly the same as
“Mama!” Ntombi wanted to
disappear into the ground.
“Zakes. No, I don’t know any
Zakes,” said Mzi quickly. “I
borrowed this car from my cousin.”
Ntombi got into the car as fast as
she could. She needed to get away
before her mother embarrassed
her any more. So what if Mzi drove
the same car as Zakes?
“Let’s go, Mzi! Bye Mama,” she
called out to her mother, who was
shouting questions about when
she was coming home. Too late for
that, Mama, she thought. She
leaned back. Here she was, being
driven by the hottest boy in matric
out on a date. It felt unreal.
* * *
Mzi turned to Ntombi. “Hey, your
mother seems great.” Ntombi felt a
wave of relief flood over her. “And
you look really cool. Nice!” he
added. Talk, Ntombi told herself.
Don’t just sit there in awkward
silence. Think of something to say.
“Something cool happened at
school,” she started.
“Cool things can happen at
school?” Mzi laughed.
“Well, I was asked to write a song
for the school mag.” But Ntombi
could see that Mzi wasn’t listening.
He was distracted and had started
SMSing while he was driving.
Ntombi knew this was dangerous.
Mr Dlamini had an accident while
SMSing and four people in the
other car were killed. But she
dared not say anything as Mzi
swerved and hooted at cars while
Then he pulled over. They were at
the back of what Ntombi knew to
be one of the rougher shebeens in
the neighbourhood. This was
definitely not Thabiso’s, where the
party was being held. An old sign
hung on one nail: Mama’s Tavern.
“I thought…” she turned to him.
But before she could finish Mzi
flashed one of his melting smiles.
“Don’t worry. I’m just picking up
some beers for the road.” He leapt
out of the car.
* * *
He had been gone for a few
minutes and some guys were
approaching the car. Ntombi felt
nervous. She got out and looked
around for Mzi. She wanted to find
him, but she was anxious to leave
the car unlocked at the same time.
There was a gap in the corrugated
iron at the back of the shebeen
and she peered through it. She
could see Mzi talking to someone,
but she couldn’t see who, as crates
of beers were stacked to the
ceiling. But then the man laughed.
Hadn’t she heard that laugh many
times before, and often at her own
expense? Ntombi quickly ran back
to the car and jumped inside. She
didn’t admit it to herself, but she
was frightened of what Mzi would
do if he caught her spying on him.
And she was far away from any
friends. She pretended that she
had been SMSing when he got back
in the car.
“Hey baby girl, why don’t you open
me a beer for the road.” Mzi
reached back and handed her a
quart and a bottle opener. “Do you
know how proud I am to be going
to the party with such a hot babe
The compliments felt so good.
Ntombi opened him a beer and
handed it to him.
“Drinking and driving…” he
laughed, and then took a swig. Just
as they turned onto the road that
led to Thabiso’s, a silver BMW
overtook them, hooting. Ntombi
saw the Pirates bumper sticker
flashing in the sunset.
“And the police would pull me over
for drinking and driving?” Mzi
laughed. “Look at that idiot.” Mzi
put his foot down. They were
flying along and he only had one
hand on the steering wheel.
Ntombi wanted to say something,
to ask him to slow down, but at
the same time she didn’t want to
spoil his fun. She was relieved
when they pulled up outside
Thabiso’s. “Bezibila in the party,”
said Mzi. He was right, the place
was cooking. There were taxis and
cars and crowds of people. As
Ntombi got out she scanned the
crowd for Asanda and Lettie, but
there were too many people.
Mzi put his arm around her as they
wove through the crowd. He
greeted friends as they made their
way towards the door. Ntombi felt
proud to be with him. Obviously he
knew a lot of people and the girls
looked envious as she passed. She
could almost hear them thinking,
“I wonder what she’s got to be
Mzi’s new girl?” As they were
queuing to go in she heard Lettie
and Asanda, further back in the
“Hey chommie,” they chanted
together, “you look so hot!”
Ntombi turned and smiled and
they waved at her. She was torn.
She couldn’t leave Mzi’s side,
especially now that he had his arm
around her and they were about to
go in. But at the same time she
really wanted to be with her
friends. She waved, but before she
could tell them to meet her inside,
Mzi was pulling her with him
through the crowd into the club. It
was too late.
To be continue.