I go back to my room. It looks so small and empty. Everything is built-in - a 3/4 bed, wardrobe and a table. It’s so dull it makes me Miss Mrs Mali’s warm house even more. While sitting there, the door opens and a tall, light-skinned girl throws herself in without even knocking. “Hi, I’m Mongikazi but you can call me Mongi. I guess you are Aviwe. I was told I’m going to find you here, I will be your roommate!” Alright, who is this chick? She has unbelievable energy! She does not give me a chance to reply as she takes off her shoes and jeans, throws the jeans on the bed and kicks the shoes under her table! Unbelievable.
“I hope you don’t mind me taking my jeans off in front of you. Don’t worry, tomboys don’t make me uncomfortable,” she says while putting on her mini flowered skirt. “Tomboy? I am a tomboy?” I reply with a confused face “Yeah it’s chilled, I can tell. Look at your haircut, sneakers, plain t-shirt and skinny jeans! Don’t worry; it’s no big deal,” she says. Whatever she is talking about, I don’t care to know. I have been wearing my hair this short since I was 14 and that’s when I started dressing kinda like a boy. Babalo and I were playing twins.
Mongikazi talks a lot; she does not get tired of the sound of her own voice. I am sure she would have made a good radio talk show personality. Later she asks me to accompany her to the cafeteria to get something to eat, like she read my mind. I am starving. We go to the cafe and make our order. She stands in front of me quietly which gives me time to look at her without being distracted. She is tall and a little overweight. Every part of her is big. She has thick lips, chubby cheeks, thick eye brows and lashes and eyes. Her skin is flawless and a little light and yes, she is pretty.
After getting our order we go back to our room. It’s a 5 minute walk from the cafeteria to rez. We get to our room and everything goes back to where it was. She talks non-stop and I listen. I swear I will need pain killers or something. She is not only talking a lot she is also LOUD. Imagine. She talks about herself most of the time and asks me questions just to ensure that I am listening. I learn that she is from the Western Cape, and she is the only child of Mr and Miss Nkosana. She grew up in a God fearing home and went to a Christian school. She is a Jesus freak. She will be studying Bachelor of Education. That’s exciting, we will be attending church together. From our conversation I observe that Mongi is a very nice person and down to earth. I fall asleep when she starts talking about her boyfriend. She has dated so many boys in high school, she has lost count. That’s all I grasp.
Orientation ends two weeks later and I don’t know any of my flat mates. I only know my roommate and she also doesn’t know anyone except me. It’s Saturday afternoon. Mongs is good company and I get used to her talkative personality - she always does the talking and I do the laughing! I can’t wait for Monday, I want to be in class already. I hate waking up with nothing to do.
“Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!” I hear someone screaming.
“What, what was that?” Mongikazi asks.
Before I even get a chance to respond to Mongikazi, someone bangs on our door, with an urgency that was startling. I look at Mongikazi. She buries her face under a pillow. I go and open the door more out of curiosity rather than bravado and I find a girl, covering her face with her right hand.
“What is it?” I ask, worried.
She doesn’t reply. Instead, she takes my hand and leads me to her room, where I find two other girls. They look amused. I look at the girl holding my hand. “What’s wrong? Why were you screaming?” I ask. She looks at me and smiles then they all laugh. “Chill, its nothing. We are sorry if we scared you, we just wanted to see you, it’s been two weeks and we don’t know each other. I mean, we are neighbours and will be stuck with each other for the entire year,” she replies.
I look away. I can feel my bottle of anger filling up but I try to keep my cool. “What? Are you guys kidding me? Are you for real? Why didn’t you come to our room and ask whatever you wanted to know instead of screaming for attention?” I say, dying of irritation. “Hey, we are sorry we didn’t think it was going to be a big deal. It was the only way we knew it was going to grab your attention,” another girl replies.
“Well, my roommate is scared to death now because she thought something wrong happened to y’all,” I say before leaving them there and go to my room. I find Mongi crying and shaking. I sit on her bed and tell her that everything is fine and about the prank. Just after that someone knocks again. “Not a good time,” I reply to the knock. “Please let us in,” says a female soft voice behind the door!
“Oh, My God what do y’all want?” I ask, but I don’t get a reply. Instead the door is opened. It’s the 3 girls from next door. “We are really sorry, we didn’t mean to scare you, there is no excuse for what we did, and it was stupid. We just wanted to make friends,” says one of the girls. Mongi wakes up and smiles like she was not crying only 3 minutes ago and says: “Oh its ok angels. L’m Mongikazi Nkosana this is my roommate Aviwe. I don’t know her surname (she looks at me) How come I don’t know your surname but you are my roommate”
“Cause you never asked you idiot. Aviwe Minnie.”
We all laugh, Mongi tells the girls to make themselves comfortable. “Y’all can sit on Aviwe’s bed, there are not enough chairs,” she says to the girls who were standing next to the door.
“Oh, thank you Mongikazi. I kinda feel shy and dumb after that lame prank we pulled. Anyway, I am Nandipha, this is Amanda (points to the girl next to her) and this is Chumani (point to the girl sitting next to Amanda.”
“Nice to meet you guys, I was already tired of talking alone in this room so I hope you are not as quiet as my dear roommate. So are you all 3 roommates or? And what are you studying?
Nandipha replies before the others get time to process the questions. “Chumani is my roommate and Amanda is Chumani’s high school class mate. We are all going to be Education students! And you?
“How nice, I am also going to be studying BEd but Vee wants to be a professional liar. There is a lot behind that pretty innocent face.”
Everyone giggles and after that an eerie silence envelops the room. I know I suck in making new friends, that’s why I only had one friend in my entire life. Nandi, who looks like a talkative person, is smiling at her phone screen. I catch Chuma looking at me and then she looks away and smiles. Ok! The awkwardness increases like crazy! Luckily Mongikazi’s phone rings. We all breathe out, like we have been suffocated. Her phone keeps ringing and she ignores it. Nandi, who has been glued to her phone, seems interested by the unanswered phone call.
“Aren’t you going to answer that? Boyfriend problem?” Nandipha asks with a spark of intrigue in her eyes.
“No it’s nothing, just one of those boring lovers who doesn’t want to be dumped,” Mongi replies.
Boys seem to be Nandi’s favourite topic, so she puts her iPhone between her thighs and tells us to bring it on. She asks us about our love lives one by one and then she looks at each and every one of us while we are feeding her soul. We stay up all night talking about almost everything. I tell them that I don’t know my biological parents. My father died when my mother was pregnant and my mother died when she was giving birth to me, so I stayed at an orphanage home and got adopted when I was 6 months old. I know it’s a lie but I don’t feel bad about it. I decide that no one is going to know about my past. What Surprises me is that they all thought I was a lesbian. I tell them how a person dresses does not define their sexual orientation.
Nandipha tells us that she has two younger brothers and that she does not have time for a relationship. Her mother is a single mother and she is an alcoholic. Nandi had to look after her siblings when she was only 11. She had to hustle for food and clothes while her mother slept in every tavern. She woke up in the morning and prepared her siblings for school. When her mother came back from where ever she was she beat her up and demanded food even when they were out of groceries. She would tell them that they were bastards and they will never be anything in life.
Nandi’s story is pretty sad but something does not add up. She owns an iPhone 6, she is wearing Gucci and had Brazilian hair.
“You’re probably wondering who takes care of me. Well, I do what I have to do to survive. I am a survivor. Yes, that’s what I am,” says Nandi. We were dying to know who takes care of her, but after what she just said nobody has the guts to ask any further questions. The circle moves to Chumani.
“There is nothing interesting or deep about me really. I am virgin who saves herself for my husband and I stay with my parents,” says Chuma while sucking her thumb. We all die of laughter about the fact that, at the age of 18, she already thinks about marriage!
She then explains that her parents got married when her mother was 19 and her father was 24. Her mother was a virgin when she married her first boyfriend. She believes that true love still exists; we just have to be patient. All in all she gets the pressure of getting married at this age from her parents. She is such a young glowing girl full of life. She is lighter skinned than all of us. She smiles a lot. I guess it’s because she has dimples and beautiful smile; when she smiles her eyes close.
As for Amanda, she speaks soft and slowly and I hardly grasp her story. She tells us that her dad left her mother when she was 7 years old and he never came back for her - Amanda. She stays with her mother and stepfather. Her mother is a nurse and her stepfather is a police officer. From the tone in her voice I observe that she does not think kindly of her mother. She somehow thinks that her mother is the one that drove her father away.
Nandipha, Chumani, Amanda, Mongikazi and I just formed a very strong bond, we became family. I fall in love with all of them. I find my other family in P.E. I want to get to know them even more. I hope to.
They leave our room at 01:07am. Mongi is already asleep. I lock the door and get under my warm blankets. I smile and close my eyes. You know why? It’s because I know I have sisters in PE. Just when I am about to fall asleep I hear sobs from the other side if the room, softly at first and growing louder and more audible, I switch on the light and I slowly walk to her bed. I am shocked to see that her blankets and PJs are dripping wet; she is shaking and her eyes are closed. Not because she’s asleep but because she does not want to see something. She looks so scared. I put my hand on her shoulder.
“Mongi, what’s wrong?” I ask.
She doesn’t answer, but slowly opens her eyes and looks me. Tears trickle down her cheeks. “Can you please sleep in my bed tonight?” she says with a pleading voice. Terror and pain is all I see in her eyes. I don’t know what to think, I don’t know how to make her feel better. She moves up to make more space for me. I get under her blanket to lie next to her like she asked. She then puts her head on my chest and I put my arms around her shoulders. She falls asleep. I can’t sleep I am worried about Mongi. I want to believe that she was having a nightmare, but l recall that in the afternoon when the girl next door screamed, Mongi was terrified. Something is wrong with her. My mission is to find out what is eating her.