Sandile walked through local park on his way to school with a plastic bag in hand carefully looking for warm cow dung to pack into his bag. Thoughts of her ran through his mind. He thought how he would present the bag of cow dung to the love of his life Anelisa when he got to school. He had been in love with her since he could remember. He was ten years old and for all his life he had been in a love with Anelisa. She moved into one of his grandmother’s flats in the back of her house by the garage when they were three years old. His grandmother Rhundu was a local businesswoman in the town of Cofimvaba whom was deeply religious and had an immeasurable social consciousness. She was hard working and honest to a fault. When Sandile was three years old she had used the revenue from her spaza shop to build some flats in the back of her house for low-income people in the town of Cofimvaba who could not afford their own housing. Anelisa’s family was the beneficiary of Rhundu’s religious zeal and efforts to make the world she lived in more egalitarian for all. He and Anelisa played together everyday after school sometimes marbles and sometimes a stick game which had been invented by the local kids from a near by village of Emcumgcu. They both attended the primary school in Cofimvaba called Village. Aside from Friday mornings they would walk to school through the local park to Village school which was about five minutes from their houses. On Fridays Sandile would get up at five am and go to the local park where some of the cows grazed looking for warm cow dung. The cow dung was used to clean and maintain the floors in the schools classrooms. The boys would gather warm cow dung in the mornings and it was the girl’s responsibility to apply the cow dung to the classroom floors during their lunch breaks.
Sandile’s mother and father were separated by their work but he had learned all he needed to know about love from them. His mother was a social worker in East London and his father worked in the mines in Johannesburg as a shop steward. He did not know what a shop steward was but he surmised that his father was in charge of all managing the people when they went on strikes in the mines. This was a regular occurrence since his father would often come home during the many strikes and tell Sandile that he was negotiating with the mine owners for his future, by guaranteeing himself and all the other men whom worked in the mines a better life through getting better salaries. His mother’s job as a social worker was easier to understand and he knew that like his grandmother she helped people in need. His mother Phumla was a staunch catholic whom was very religious but extremely open-minded when it came to the needs of her children Sandile and Nobuhlali Sandile’s sister. Although she seldom made Nobuhlali and Sandile go to church with her since she lived East London she insisted that they had to know the bible. She asked that Rhundu their grandmother have a daily bible study with. They would read some verses from the bible chosen by Rhundu and then she would recite biblical stories to them every night before bed. She had made sure that they both memorized the Lord’s Prayer and every evening after their bible study they would recite the lords prayer together. Rhundu on the other hand was a Methodist, but her religion and her daughters of Catholicism were not in conflict. Sandile and Nobuhlali’s father Aggrey was a Catholic and therefore when he married their mother Phumla before they were born she converted from being a Methodist to Catholicism. For Sandile it was all much of a same much-ness. Jesus was Jesus and God was God, Jesus’s father and marry was Jesus’s mother. He had difficulty however with the Holy Spirit since it was incorporeal and did not have human representation. For him the closest thing he had seen which resembled the Holy Spirit was lighting during a thunderstorm. He was the kind of person whom needed physical representation for everything in order to understand religion. On many of his walks to school with Anelisa he spent the time narrating to her the religious stories that his grandmother had told him and his sister the night before. His sister Nobuhlali however did not attend Village and attended a near by Catholic convent run by some nuns from surrounding villages. Their grandmother had witnessed so many young girls in the village of Cofimvaba getting pregnant and she thought it was best to shield Nobuhlali from this phenomenon by sending her to the local catholic convent. Since Anelisa did not have the privilege of going to the convent, Sandile thought in his daily narrations of his biblical stories to Anelisa, he could also impart on her some of his spiritual wealth. In some way he hoped that this would shield her from any harm that would befall her in life. He wanted to protect her and for her to feel safe in his presence as his mother felt protected and safe with his father.
“Good morning Nkwenkwe”. This was a name Sandile had come to hate because every time someone called him nkwenkwe it was a reminder that he was not a man and that he still had a long way to go before he could be with Anelisa as his girlfriend. He was still a boy and uncircumcised (Nkwenkwe). Sandile was late for school again for the umpteenth time and he was going to get another beating from the teacher that he loathed the most Mrs. Nontish. Mrs. Nontish was rather sadistic about the corporal punishment that she gave out for students whom came into school late. She would ask them to stick out their hands with their palms facing downward and then she would take the edge of the ruler and hit them several times on the top part of their hand. Sandile tried in vain to explain to Mrs. Nontish that he was late because he could not find cow dung but his pleas fell on deft ears.
“Mam Nontish, excuse my tardiness but I could not find fresh cow dung. I had to walk behind the cows at the park for two hours waiting for them to poo so that I could collect the cow dung”.
He wanted to tell her why he was late, but he also did not want to beg since Anelisa was looking at him from the corner of the classroom.
“So why did you not wake up earlier Sandile? You knew you had to bring fresh cow dung today since it is Friday. You have delayed your whole class. Class what do you think I should do”?
All the children wanted to see Sandile squirm just a tad bit since every year he came at the top of his class as the number one student since the children were in grade A. They were now in standard 3 and Sandile continued to outperform the other students in class.
“Everyone whom thinks Sandile should get a hiding for being late raise your hand”.
All of the children raised their hands accept for Anelisa whom simply put her hands over her mouth as if anticipating the pain for Sandile. Sandile could not control his annoyance and blurted.
“Bloody heathens! This class is full of opinions”.
“Nkwenkwe what are you saying now? Do you want a double beating for your foul tongue? Are you implying that the students are overly opinionated because their consensus is for you to rightfully receive punishment for being late”?
“Kind of Mrs. Nontish, but as my mother always says – opinions are like arse holes everyone has one so please due your worst”.
Sandile closed his eyes and stuck out his hand and prepared for the ruler to make contact with the back of his hand.
“Well done Nkwenkwe you have just earned yourself another well deserved trip to the principals office and to get another shambock beating yet again. But before you go I must administer my punishment for your tardiness”.
Mrs. Nontish took out her wooden ruler and struck Sandile ten times on the back of his hand, one lash for every minute that he was late for class. Sandile kept in the tears from the throbbing pain not wanting to seem less of a man in front of the class, and especially in front of Anelisa. Anelisa still had her hands over her mouth and Sandile could see tears flowing from her eyes. As always she felt the pain for his punishment as she had on so many occasions. He could not tell if she was crying because of the beating he had just received from Mrs. Nontish or for the one he was going to receive from the principal. She reluctantly raised her hand to get Mrs. Nontish’s attention.
“Mam but he told you that he had to wait on the cows for two hours, I don’t understand why you had to do that”.
There was an eerie silence in the class, with Nontish staring at Anelisa hoping she would be intimidated turn away at some point and recant her words. But Anelisa did not back down she stared at Mrs. Nontish straight back. Sandile was rubbing the back of his hand trying to abate the pain while mentally preparing for the beating that he would get at the hands of the principal and his shambock.
“I just found that so unnecessary. And you knew that the class was not going to vote in Sandile’s favor and they never do. Maybe you should stop giving him such high marks and he might make some friends”.
“Young lady, I am not doing this for your entertainment or mine, I am doing this for Sandile’s benefit. I am assisting him to become a responsible young man. It’s not enough that he had good grades but he has to learn to be more responsible for his actions. And you are not here in my class to make friends young lady but to learn”.
Anelisa was not going to back down.
“So why send him to the principals office then if you have taught him his lesson”?
“You know why Anelisa, because of that devilish mouth. This child is bright but dear God, his mouth is of the devil. He is going to the principals office and that is that”!
There were no further words between Mrs. Nontish and Anelisa just a staring contest to see who would back down first. Sandile did not want Anelisa to be sent to the principal’s office as well and chose to diffuse the situation.
“Well I guess that is my cue to go to the principals office then”.
The whole class let out a somber laughter knowing how intense Anelisa’s loyalty was to Sandile. She had a deep love that the children had come to understand in her intensity in her feelings for him and how she always sought to protect him from harm from others and himself. Mrs. Nontish took her eyes off Anelisa and took a seat behind her desk. Anelisa was the one student whom could intimidate Mrs Nontish not only because she was a good student since she always came in second in her class closely behind Sandile, but that she was fiercely loyal to Sandile to a fault. Mrs. Nontish thought that Sandile and Anelisa behaved and acted more like husband and wife than many other married couples that she had seen. Over the years of teaching them, her and the other students had a secret respect that they harbored for their love for one another. Mrs. Nontish begun to organize the papers on her desk in preparation for the mathematical lesson of the day. She always started off the day with math and ended in English since she found as the day progressed the children lost interest in their lessons throughout the course of the day. Her position was that the children could always learn English outside the classroom whilst watching television but math had to be taught in the classroom.
“Alright Sandile please go to the principals office. I am sure you will sweet-talk him as you always do and find a way to escape your punishment.
Sandile glanced lovingly at Anelisa as if to thank her for her intervention. He was not however scared to go and see the principal Mr. Dabula. Mr. Dabula was a short soft-spoken man, who only admitted corporal to his students as a last resort. He preferred to talk his students through any problems that emerged during their studies. He took a special interest in Sandile because of his performance in school and also his sharp wit. With regards to his relationship with Anelisa he thought at first that it would slow down Sandile’s school performance and personal growth. However after watching them for a number of years and how they supported and motivated one another he also developed a sacred respect as the children in their class and Mrs. Nontish had for their relationship. Mr. Dabula used the times that Sandile was sent to his office as chance for him to develop Sandile’s personal skills and to also introduce him to the art of morning tea. As Sandile approached the door to Mr. Dabula’s office he tried to think of the perfect opening line to a conversation with Mr. Dabula. Mr. Dabula appreciated happy and grounded children and would not discipline them if the child immediately showed remorse for their actions. Sandile knew he had one sentence to make an impression on Mr. Dabula. He knocked on the door softly twice in case Mr. Dabula was in a bad mood and did not want to be bothered. He would be able to tell what he should say based on the way Mr. Dabula answered the knock.
“Nkwenkwe is that you again? Dear God you are coming to my office every Friday now”.
Sandile slowly opened the door to give Mr. Dabula time to open up to the idea that he might not need corporal punishment this time around. He stuck his head through a small opening of the door.
“Yes its me master Dabula, mind if I join you for tea”?
Mr. Dabula let out a bellowing laugh, knowing that he would not have to administer punishment on Sandile today since he showed some remorse and his quick wit yet again.
“Sure Nkwenkwe come in and take a seat”.
Mr. Dabula’s office was a small room in the middle of the two brick face buildings that constituted the school Village. In the center between the buildings were the morning registration grounds where student’s names were called out in the morning. Mr. Dabula’s office sat at the back of the school behind the registration areas in between the parallel buildings next to the teachers lounge. He could see every classroom from his office window and a clear view of the whole school.
“Nkwenkwe, you know I can see everything from this office and I noticed that you walked in ten minutes late to class this morning”.
Sandile snapped back.
“Sir it was not my intention, but the cows would not poo and I had to walk behind them this morning for two hours in the park waiting for them to poo so I could collect fresh cow dung for the class floor”.
“Nkwenkwe, I cant tell if your obsession with fresh cow dung is a result of your concern for your class floors, or if its to make Anelisa’s job easier than the other girls whom might receive hard cow dung from the other boys when they have to clean the floors”.
Sandile looked down and fiddled with his fingers and could not tell if he should be on the defensive with Mr. Dabula or to stay calm. He decided to opt for respect in order to pacify Mr. Dabula.
“Master Dabula, I like to do things correctly and properly like yourself I like perfection weather it’s for myself or for Anelisa since she is like a sister to me”.
“Nkwenkwe you already have a sister and I highly doubt you think of Anelisa as your sister”.
It became increasingly clear that Mr. Dabula did not want to administer punishment on Sandile and he decided to take a more relaxed tone with Mr. Dabula.
“Sir one day she will be my wife”!
“Well you already behave like husband and wife all you need now are the rings and the wedding ceremony”.
Sandile was confused, as he did not know exactly what husband and wife acted like accept from the example of his father and his mother whom had a loving relationship although they lived so far apart. Sandile’s father Aggrey was from Accra Ghana and also used to be a teacher in village. But he thought his services were needed elsewhere in South Africa and so he went to live in Johannesburg to be a shop steward and work with trade unions. He spent a lot of time educating his fellow employees on how to exercise their rights and also lobby for better work conditions. He enjoyed his work and was a community leader in the village of Cofimvaba. He had arrived in South Africa in 1972 and met Phumla in 1973 and soon after they had Nobuhlali in 1974 and Sandile two years later in 1976. The year now was July 1985 and a state of emergency had been declared in South Africa. Mr. Dabula wanted to talk to Sandile about what this meant for his fathers work. He also had other things on his mind like manhood and the meaning of love but was not quiet sure how he should structure the conversation with Sandile.
“You know Sandile we live in difficult times, and I am sorry that this will be the last time that we will speak for a while”.
Sandile was confused and did not how to respond to Mr. Dabula, was he ill and was he going to die on that day?
“Sir is everything ok”?
“You know Sandile, going to the mountains to get circumcised does not make one a man. It is just a ritual that we have been going through for centuries so we pass it down from one generation to the next in hopes that we will also pass down lessons of manhood to the next generation”.
Sandile wondered if this was it. Would Mr. Dabula put him in the back of his van and whisk him off to the mountains to get circumcised on this day? He was somewhat excited and at least hoped that now people would stop calling him Nkwenkwe. But at the same time he was fearful of the manhood cut. His initial thought was to delay Mr. Dabula as much as he could and then when he was not paying attention to run out of his office to his grandmothers house and tell her that Mr. Dabula wanted to take him for initiation at such a young age. His grandmother would certainly be furious he thought.
“As I was saying Sandile, I have learned a lot about manhood from you in the way you treat Anelisa and how she treats you. She is becoming a woman in developing her nurturing abilities”.
Sandile took a deep breath, perhaps Mr. Dabula was leading elsewhere with his conversation and he was not going to take him away to circumcision school.
“Sir do I have to get married to Anelisa now? Should I not go to circumcision school first”?
Mr. Dabula laughed out loud, stood up from his desk and walked over to Sandile and hugged him. He looked down on him knelt by his side.
“Ideally Sandile in five years from now you would have gone to the mountains for initiation but I don’t think you will get that chance as we have to leave here in the next hour when there is a window for me to take you to the airport in East London where you will fly to Johannesburg and then from there London and you will meet your father there with your sister. Your grandmother applied for a passport for you already and a US visa and has packed your bags and they are in my car for me to take you to the airport in East London. Your mother is already in the United States of America and she left five months ago to get things ready for your family’s arrival. Please you must understand Sandile that we live in difficult times and that is why I must help you to leave”.
“But what about Rhundu my grandmother. I have to tell her I am going, I have to tell Anelisa where I am going”.
Sandile began to panic. He still had so many things to do and experience in the village of Cofimvaba and could not bear leaving his village so abruptly. Mostly he thought about all the moments he had planned to spend with Anelisa in his mind and could not reconcile leaving her behind.
‘But sir I thought you were going to take me to the mountains to become a man so I can marry Anelisa. I don’t want to go to America, I want to stay here and become a man and marry Anelisa”.
“Sandile, there are too many complications with going to the mountains in our community at the moment anyways as many young man are dying due to infections and circumcision doctors whom are not well trained. It will be better for you to go to a hospital to become a man. You will achieve the same result in a safer environment. You can do all of this in America”.
Sandile’s panic turned into anger as he felt that Mr. Dabula was taking away his chance to become a man in his own village. He was destroying his rights of passage by making go to this foreign place America which he had only seen on TV with shows like the A team and MacGyver.
“Take me to the hospital now then Sir, so I can get circumcised and become and man and then I can take my grandmother and Anelisa with me to America”.
“That will not be possible Sandile as we have to leave to East London in the next half an hour when our travel window opens up. We have a boarder patrol whom will give us safe passage from Transkei then”.
“But why does my family have to leave to this place America, why can we not stay here”.
“Things are complicated in South Africa Sandile at the moment and your parents will explain to you when you get to America, please try and understand. I am sure the ancestors will forgive you for not going to the mountains for circumcision and going to a hospital in America”.
“What do the ancestors have to do with this Sir. You are confusing me”
“You will understand when you are older Sandile for now please we must prepare to leave here”.
Sandile had so many unanswered questions and he wondered what Anelisa would think if he left without saying goodbye. She would feel abandoned by him and this would break their trust forever. He could not bear letting her down or breaking her heart. She had become his life and he derived his life meaning from the love he received from her. All he knew was that he could not leave her behind even though he was not yet a man he wanted to take her with him.
“I want to speak to Anelisa right now sir, please”!
“Alright Nkwenkwe wait here in the office and I will go and get her in the classroom so that Mrs. Nontish does not ask any questions”.
Sandile could see Mr. Dabula walking to his standard 3 classroom from his office. A minute later he came out with Anelisa and was signaling her with his hand to hurry into his office. Anelisa looked confused and scared. She knew that something was wrong although she did not fear being punished for any wrongdoing. As she walked to the office she feared something might have happened to Sandile during his punishment and she thought the worst. When Anelisa and Mr. Dabula walked into the office Sandile was sitting in the corner of the office in a fetal positions shaking. Anelisa began seething uncontrollable anger.
“What have you done to him master Dabula”?
“Anelisa no, don’t yell at him he has done nothing. I have to leave here today and I will not be back for a while”.
“What, leave to where, where are you going and have you told Rhundu”?
Mr. Dabula intervened.
“Nkwenkwe, we don’t have much time, please say goodbye to Anelisa and let us go”.
“Anelisa I have to go to meet my family in America. I promise I will come back for you when I am a man”.
Anelisa knew from the expression of haste of Mr. Dabula’s face that this would be the last time she would see Sandile for years to come. She hugged him with all her strength and did not let go. She was however confused as to where America was.
“Sandile are you going to that place that we see on the A team and MacGyver. Is that America? Will I also see you on TV as well”?
Mr. Dabula thought it was best to take some time to explain to Anelisa and Sandile what was happening so their goodbye could be more peaceful.
“Anelisa you will not see him on TV. I was explaining to Sandile that we live in difficult times. As you both know we live in this homeland called the Transkei and as black people we are somewhat prohibited by the laws to live in certain parts of South Africa and to pursue political action for our equality within South Africa. Sandile’s father works with the trade unions in Johannesburg and is very involved in our liberation movement and therefore has attracted the attention of the security police and left the country last night with Sandile’s sister Nobuhlali. Sandile’s mother is also politically active as an underground operative in East London using her job as a social worker as cover. Therefore the security police were after her as well and she left for America five months ago. Rhundu, Sandile’s grandmother was afraid that the security police would come after Sandile as well so she has asked that we organize for him to leave the country today. She did not want to tell Sandile before in case the information about his departure came to the knowledge of some members of our community who are working with the security police. Anelisa, do you understand why Sandile has to leave now”?
Anelisa nodded her head with tears running down her face. She thought about her brother Solomozi whom the security police had taken from her parent’s house in the dead of night and how traumatic the experience was for her and her family. She had a flashback back to the night that they dragged through the house screaming and beat him until he was unconscious and then put him into a security van. Five months later her family received Solomzi’s body and the security police told Anelisa’s family that he had hung himself. She could not bear going through the same experience with Sandile. She suddenly panicked when she realized the gravity of Sandile’s situation and more tears streamed down her face.
“Sandile, please you must leave with Mr. Dabula now, I don’t want what happened to my brother Solomzi to happen to you. Mr. Dabula please take him now”!
Mr. Dabula hugged Anelisa and rubbed her back in an effort to calm her down. She was now crying out loud and he was afraid other teachers in the school would hear her.
“Please Anelisa do not make too much noise we do not know which teachers are also working with the security police here at Village. There is a lot of witchcraft in this small town and people are always disappearing for ominous reasons by the security police. I don’t want them to come after your family again as a result of an informant here at school”.
Anelisa understanding the sensitivity of the situation stopped crying immediately and whipped the tears from her eyes. She was trying to put on a brave face for Sandile and also let him know she would be fine. Sandile was desperate for more time with Anelisa and could not find the right words to say to her.
“If I was a man now I would take you with me to America. I promise I will come back when I am a man and deal with these security police who hurt your brother”.
Mr. Dabula wanted to take some of the pressure of manhood off Sandile and to give Anelisa some hope for their future.
“Sandile as I said to you before, you do not need to go to the mountain to be a man, you will be able to do it in hospital in America. I am sure the ancestors will forgive you and then when you are ready Anelisa will be here waiting for you”.
“But sir if I don’t go to the mountain, the other boys will call me nkwenkwe all my life I must go”.
“Sandile manhood is not found in the mountain but it is found in your heart and how you treat others. God and the ancestors will see how you have treated Anelisa and will be kind to you, as they have granted you manhood now through your maturity. We live in difficult times and you must learn now at an early age to be able to make difficult choices. That is the essence of manhood”.
“Sir you said we had thirty minutes, can you not take me to the mountain now before we leave? I was to take Anelisa with me”.
Anelisa could feel the love Sandile had for her pouring through his soul and his plea to Mr. Dabula.
She grabbed his hand to comfort him and let him know that she would be fine. She avoided eye contact with him knowing if she were to look upon him she would break down in tears again.
“No Sandile that will not be possible we do not have the time, and your lift to the airport is will be here shortly. I can tell you going to the mountain has its own complications and when I went there in my youth I had difficulties and I ended up in hospital. The doctor that was performing my procedure was not well trained and I got an infection and had to be treated in hospital. Many young people are going to the hospital to become man now a days and there is no shame in that”.
Anelisa squeezed Sandile’s hand in hers and without looking at him in the eyes she concurred with Mr. Dabula.
“Sandile, Mr. Dabula is right its better to go to the hospital and then you can come back from America when you are a man. I will be here in Cofimvaba waiting for you”.
Sandile gave Anelisa another hug and as he pulled away there was a soft knock on the door. The person knocked three times and then waited ten seconds and knocked another three times and opened the door. In came white burley man in his mid fifties. It was Mr. Andreas whom owned a local spaza store in town. Sandile and Anelisa grabbed one another in angst not knowing that to expect. They thought perhaps he had come to inform on them for the security police.
Mr. Dabula shook Mr. Andreas hand and they both looked down on the frightened children.
“Don’t worry nkwenkwe, Mr. Andreas is here to take you to East London. There will be fewer questions if the security police do a boarder check and will think you are his errand boy. I will drive in the opposite direction of East London to Queenstown in order to somewhat misguide the security police in case we are being followed whilst you and Mr. Andreas drive towards East London. Mr. Andreas is a friend of your grandmothers Rhundu and has been assisting us to organize your departure during church”.
There was so much subterfuge that Anelisa and Sandile had difficulty keeping up with what was taking place but they both wanted to be strong for one another. Mr. Andreas addressed Sandile in a soft tone with a baritone voice.
“Nkwenkwe your grandmother has given me your bags and your passport to take you to East London. I will tell you what you must do to get to London to meet your father and sister from Johannesburg on the way to the airport in East London. Come we must go whilst our window is open for travel”.
Sandile let go of Anelisa’s hand and followed Mr. Andreas out of the office door. He looked back at Anelisa one more time and rushed over to her and gave her one more hug and a kiss on the cheek. The hug was to show her that he would miss her dearly and the kiss was to let her know when he was a man he would return for her. His departure with Mr. Andreas was quiet abrupt, which left Anelisa with a hollow feeling in her heart.
“Come Anelisa we must make sure you get back to your classroom before questions are asked. If Mrs. Nontish asks you where Sandile is, tell her that I have sent him home to his grandmother Rhundu for his insolence”.
Anelisa scurried out of Mr. Dabula’s office and ran back to her classroom. When she entered the class she was out of breath and was breathing deeply. Mrs. Nontish took notice.
“So I guess you were also given punishment. Birds of a feather flock together. Where is Sandile”?
Without hesitating and with no emotion she answered:
“Mr. Dabula sent him home for his insolence”.
“Serves him right, that boy’s mouth is of the devil”.
Anelisa walked over to the corner in the back of the classroom to her seat. On her seat was a Pep plastic bag, which was still warm. It was the fresh cow dung that Sandile had gotten her that morning. It was the last reminder of the boy who she had come to love. She was reminded about how meticulous he was about everything and also how he tried to make her life easier whenever he was around. She took the cow dung and placed it on the floor on the side of her seat. It was the last reminder of the boy she loved whom would one day come back a man. That afternoon she patiently waited outside the classroom with all of the other girls with water bucket in one hand and a plastic bag with cow dung on the other whilst the boys removed the chairs and the desks from the classroom. She thought about Sandile’s future and what kind of man he would grow up to be. When the time to clean the floors with the cow dung came she rushed into the classroom to the place where Sandile’s desk sat and she picked her spot to clean. She took some cow dung out of the plastic bag and applied it to the floor in semicircles whilst sprinkling some water on it to make sure it would absorb into the floor. As she went through her ritual she said the Lord’s Prayer and asked that the ancestors and God protect Sandile in his travels. With each semicircle she was letting Sandile’s spirit go and acknowledging the role he had played in her life by cleaning the area where his desk used to be. As she cleaned the water on the cow dung mixed with her tears and she though about all of the mornings that they had spent together with him reciting biblical stories on their way to school. She thought about all of the attention that he used to give her to make sure she always felt safe and protected in his presence. Mrs. Nontish noticed her crying as she cleaned with the cow dung on Sandile’s space.
“What’s wrong now ntobi? Sandile should appreciate you cleaning his space every Friday. When he comes back on Monday he will thank you”.
Anelisa knew however that she had said her goodbyes and she would not see Sandile for years to come.
“Its nothing Mrs. Nontish, I am just so grateful that Sandile took his time getting me this fresh cow dung since it made my cleaning easier”.
“Yes that boy is always so meticulous and is always thinking of you first. I am sure you are also always thinking of him as well”.
For the next couple of years that would be the extent of her and Sandile’s relationship and that would be in her thoughts and imagination of a time gone by. Nostalgia would become her friend and comfort as she grew into a young woman. She did not want to give anything away about Sandile’s departure that morning and so she kept the façade going with Mrs. Nontish.
“Yes mam I am sure I will see him on Monday when we come back to school”.
“Sometimes I think the ancestors have ordained you to be together in this life”!