Just then there was the sound of
girls laughing outside in the street.
“It’s the giraffes,” Zinzi said from
the couch where she was watching
Days on TV. She called Ntombi’s
three girlfriends the giraffes
because they were taller than
other girls. In turn, they called
Ntombi “shortie”, although she
was average height. Ntombi
opened the door and hugged her
friends Busi, Asanda and Lettie. At
least she could rely on them for
support. Asanda and Lettie had
also been chosen to compete in
the singing competition and
Ntombi could see that they were
on their way to the practice. Busi
was going along to watch in the
hope of attracting the attention of
Unathi, who was also competing.
At the last practice she sat in the
front row seats in the hall, blowing
kisses to Unathi and holding up a
big piece of paper with “I love
Unathi” painted in lipstick. Unathi
had just smiled and waved.
Ntombi had told Busi that Unathi
had a girlfriend back in Jozi, where
he was from, but Busi wouldn’t
listen. She didn’t want to hear.
“Come on, lazy girl,” Asanda
laughed. “We’ll be late.” The
practice was in the school hall, a
“I can’t go,” Ntombi told them.
“You must be joking!” Lettie said.
“What’s wrong with you? I
thought this was your dream?”
“Mama went out and I have to
look after Zinzi.”
“You know what this means. Mr
Masondo is not going to be
“I know.” Ntombi was close to
tears and her friends could see it.
Mr Masondo was their singing
coach and he was strict. Two
missed rehearsals and you were
out of the competition.
Asanda gave her a big hug. “Listen,
we’ll bring you the lyrics back and
help you practise. Cheer up. I’ll tell
Mr Masondo that you got food
poisoning.” Asanda was the queen
of excuses, and with her charm the
teachers always believed her.
“Thanks chommies. You’re the
best.” Ntombi tried to smile
bravely, but she felt terrible.
“By the way, there’s a party on
Saturday at Thabiso’s Tavern.
We’re going,” Busi said. “Why don’t
you come? It should be fun.
Unathi’s going to be there with his
cousin from Jozi.”
“How many times do I have to tell
you Unathi has a girlfriend?”
Ntombi despaired of Busi. She
really lost her head over boys and
forgot who she was – the
intelligent and charismatic girl
who had a great future if she could
just stay focused.
“He’s never mentioned her,” said
Busi. “And anyway evidently his
cousin is even better looking, and
I’ve always wanted to go to Jozi.
They say the men are hot up
“You’re going to burn yourself one
day,” joked Ntombi. “Just be
“Yes, Mama,” the girls laughed.
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