Shrinking Violet

“Get up! All of you,” Miss Makhuzeni exclaimed.

“Today we’re going to the playing fields. We will play a little game. To the fields, now!”

I shrugged. The sound of her voice gave me a stomachache. I didn’t play sports. I was bad at anything that involved moving my body- anything that required rhythm for that matter. At this point, I had no choice. It was for marks. And I needed to stimulate my hyperactive mode, which I never had. We all swarmed out of the class, and ran to the netball field. We were definitely not playing netball. In primary school, they had tried to lure me to a netball game. It was a mess! I was just not into it. I had told them a million times that I didn’t want to do it. I was now in a junior school, and I wasn’t going to allow that to happen again. On this day, we were playing an ancient game called “Molo fish”. We had to be divided into two groups. One person in a group would be a leader and the rest would line up behind him or her. A line was drawn in front of the leaders. The leaders had to pull each by the hand and only one hand was used. Other players would assist by pulling the leader. Here is the trick, the leader to step over the line first loses and so does the rest of the team. Not difficult, hey? Easy as ABC, but I messed that one up too.

“First round. Sandy, you’re against Gift’s team. Please lead,” Miss Makhuzeni said abruptly and peered on her recording book. Sandy was my best friend. She was timid but not as all thumbs as I was. She loved dancing. The two teams gathered along and formed two lines. It was a fun game and I was excited to watch.

“Molo fish. Uphume nin’etotini? Khaw’ze sibambane, ngeezozandla zinentsente!” We would sing prior to the game. We would only sing that line and everyone would hold on tight, and pull, as hard as they could. The two leaders would fight for victory. They pulled and pulled and pulled. Finally! The other team accepted defeat. And the chain broke and some fell on the dry grass and corroded soil. The first round was up and Sandy’s team won. Gift stepped over the line. Laughter lingered across the field. Everyone was breathing heavily.

“Well done Sandy and your team!” Miss Makhuzeni smiled as she swayed the switch up-side-down.

“We’ll have other teams to play.”

“Lord, let it not be me. Let this round pass without this lunatic of a woman shout my name,” I though to myself. Now my heart was protesting in fear and every one of my muscles contracted. The palms of my hands felt wet.

“Asanda you will lead against Anthony.”

The mention of the name ‘Anthony’ gave me goosebumps. I was sweating. And my heart pounded even more. Why the sudden reaction? My body secreted adrenaline as fast as it could.

“Violet. Hurry up. Behind Anthony. In fact, no. Lead. Anthony. Behind Violet.”

“But ma’am, wait. I can’t do this,” I argued against the idea. It was definitely not a good idea and I was not up for it at all. The whole school was filled with rumours that I was with Anthony. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. And actually, there was something between Anthony and I. We were crushing on each other. I couldn’t explore that because I was afraid. I had heard a lot of stuff about love and relationships and how it broke people down. I didn’t want to add to the statistics. I’ve seen people hurting. I loved Anthony so much and it hurt. But I feared the unknown degree of hurt I’d experience if I would accept Anthony’s proposal. I let it go. But things were very awkward.

“I won’t repeat myself, Violet.”

I did not have a choice. We all lined up, forming two groups once again. I could not help but think of Anthony’s hands on my waist. He had never touched me before, not even my hands. We just had random ‘hellos’ when we passed each other on the hallway. We never talked. We were good friends on Facebook and we would chat until dawn.

“I’ll hold your hand. Give me your hand.” Anthony whispered to my right ear. I shivered. That was not the way to do it at all. I gave him my hand.

“Violet! Anthony! What the hell are you doing?” Miss Makhuzeni screamed in fury.

“I can’t do this ma’am. I can’t.” I said in a soft voice, holding tears.

“And why the hell not? Is he your boyfriend?” she pulled her eyebrows over the hideous spectacles. The whole class bust into laughter and some making nasty comments.

“Don’t mind her. Let’s try. We’ll be fine.” Anthony reassured me.

“Okay,” I sighed.

He placed his hands on my waist. Everyone was set and ready for the game. All I wanted was to run away, as further, as fast as I could. The song went on once again.

“Molo fish. Uphume nin’etotini? Khaw’uze sibambane, ngeezozandla zinentsente!”

Unlike the other children, I had a long face. I wasn’t enjoying the game. I stepped over Anthony’s feet and almost fell to the ground. Fortunately, he was still holding me, tightly. It was a whole mess.

“Violet. Sit down sweetie.” Miss Makhuzeni said.

I broke off from the chain as soon as I heard those words. I wanted to run away, to class, the toilets- just anywhere away from the field! The session was not over yet, so I sat down. I didn’t want to show disrespect, as much as I hated Miss Makhuzeni. Anthony took my place as leader. He was amazing. His team won.

Beep! Beep! Beep! Those were text message alerts. Who could be texting me at that time? It was 21:00 pm and I was in bed. I had just finished doing Maths homework. I drew the cellphone underneath my pillow. It was Anthony. I was expecting his text, after what had happened earlier.

Anthony: Hey.
Me: Hello.
Anthony: How r u?
Me: I’m good. And u?
Anthony: Me too. I’m sorry about what happened earlier. I didn’t know Miss Makhuzeni was going to do that.
Me: Actually, I think Miss Makhuzeni has heard the rumours… about us. Why are people doing this to me? Why can’t they mind their own business?
Anthony: Really? Do you think she does?
Me: Yeah. Surely. Ezi mpukane eziluhlaza are after us. We can’t allow them to step over our heads. We both know the truth.
Anthony: Lol…Yeah. We both know the truth. Violet, I love you. I’ve never met anyone like you. I’ve dated but I swear, I’ve never seen anyone like you. You’re different. I just wish we were more than friends. But you ‘can’t’ and I respect that.
Me: Have you done the Maths homework?
Anthony: Yeah…I did it soon after washing my school socks and shirts. Have you done it?
Me: Yeah. It was a little difficult. I hate Mathematics!
Anthony: You can’t say that. It just takes a lil practise. I know you can do better.
Me: Thanks Anthony. You’re the best. Have a great night. I’ll see you 2morrow. And don’t be late for school.
Anthony: Lol…I won’t. Sleep well my soulmate. I love you.
Me: I love you too friend.

Those texts gave me a broad smile and my face lit. I had done all my work for the day. I was ready for round two of a screenplay- the story of my life-drama! However, I had to swallow the bitter pill. It was almost the end of the fourth term. I was ready for high school. But to be honest, I was more anxious than excited. In High School there were older kids- matriculants! They earned respect everywhere and were the talk of the village. They were the ‘cool’ kids. But when I reached matric I realised that there was nothing cool about being a matriculant. For most students, being a matriculant meant losing morals and getting reckless during the prom night- basically, getting all the unnecessary attention. It was way more than that and you wouldn’t realise until you really got to do matric. I tossed-and-turned in mom’s warm blankets. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking. It was like a whole meditation session. The thoughts about Anthony and his words had consumed me. Thinking about Anthony every time I went to bed had become my daily tradition.

“Could Anthony really be the one for me,” I turned to the other side of the bed, “or I’m just fooling myself. After all, he is so shady. He bunks classes. He’s always late for school. He’s bubbly around everyone else but me.He talks to everyone but never utters a single word to me. The number of times he has spoken to me are countable. He says “sorry” when I’m standing in his ways or bumps at me by mistake. I wonder if he has a girlfriend here. Or back home, in the city. I have seen a lot of chicks tagging him in their pictures, on his Facebook profile. I must say, they are hot!” the thoughts went on and on and on, and before I knew it, I was out.