Hi, my name is Thando. That’s Zulu for love. My mama says it is because she loves me so much. I live with my mum, my cousin Santie, and my aunt Sallie. Santie and her mum just moved into our place two weeks ago. Auntie Sallie is my mum’s younger sister. This is the first time I have met her because I overheard Gogo saying her husband did not want her to visit us. They used to live in Mpumalanga before moving to Johannesburg to stay with us. Mum says Auntie Sallie had domestic issues so they had to come and stay with us. She never told me what the domestic issues were.
“Three months and twenty days!” Santie yells out.
“That’s four months either way, silly,” I say.
“No it isn’t!” she answers back.
As you can see Santie is very argumentative. I do not know why she likes to argue. It’s not even her house. So as I was saying, and I need to whisper this so she doesn’t interrupt, “I am four months older than her.”
Today is Santie’s 11th birthday. My mum says she is going to make it special. Auntie Sallie will be working this evening. She just started waiting on tables at a restaurant in Sandton and could not get a night off. So my mum is taking us to the movies to watch Jock of the Bushveld.
I hope it will be fun. We cannot wait. Or rather, I cannot wait. Today has not been fun so far. Anytime I want to play a game and Santie wants to play something else, we have to do what she wants. My mum says I have to play what Santie wants because it is her birthday. I have tried to suggest playing something else, but Santie always screams so that my mum can hear, “But it’s my birthday!” I hope next time she has a birthday she is not here.
After we have had a bath and it is almost time to go to the movies, Mum says she has a present for Santie and me. She has bought us dresses and shoes to wear to the movies. She says it is so that we can look like ladies. That is so lame. Like, why didn’t she buy us jeans or something? Santie’s dress is like mine, but it is red and mine is yellow. Then we both have the same pair of shoes except her pair is red and mine is yellow. I hate dresses. Santie loves dresses.
“Mum? We are eleven, not seven!” I say to Mum because I am embarrassed at the matching outfits.
My mum looks at me and says, “Wena, Thando, is that a way to say thank you? I will take that dress back to the shop and you will not go to the movies with us. Why can’t you be polite like Santie and just say thank you?”
So I say, “Thank you,” under my breath.
My mum looks at me and says, “I didn’t hear you.”
And I say again loudly, “I said THANK YOU.”
“That’s better. Now go and change,” she says. I see Santie smiling and pulling her tongue at me behind my mum’s back. I wish I could pinch her. She is so annoying.
We finish dressing up, I really hate this dress, and my mum says, “Let’s go girls.” We follow her.
When we get in the taxi to go to the movies, the taxi driver says, “What beautiful daughters you have, Madam.” So I smile although I know I am better looking than Santie. But then I get upset because he asks my mother, “Are they twins?”
And just as I am about to say no, we are just cousins, my mum says, “No, they are just sisters.” She is not my sister. She is my cousin!
We get to the movies and I hope I do not see anyone I know from my school.
And then it happens.
He says to me, “Well hello, Thando, aren’t you too old to be dressed in matching outfits?”
You see what I mean? I wish the floor could just open up and swallow me.
“What’s that to you? You are just a stupid boy who does not know fashion!” Santie answers.
OMG, why did she do that?
“Yes, whatever, Thando’s ‘twin’,” he says and both he and Sam high five each other and start laughing while pointing at us.
I nudge Santie and say, “What is wrong with you? Why did you have to do that?”
“He was being mean to you. I was just helping you,” she answers.
“Thanks a lot! I did not ask for your help. Siya is the cutest guy in my class and now I will be the class joke,” I say angrily.
“Is he your boyfriend?” she says rolling her eyes.
“Of course not,” I say. I wish he was my boyfriend, but now he will never be, thanks to her big mouth.
“Oh oh, Thando’s got a boyfriend, Thando’s got a boyfriend …” she chants.
It is at that moment that my mum comes back and asks Santie, “What’s that, Sweetie?”
And Santie says, “Nothing, Auntie. Thando and I were just joking.”
And my mum says, “Okay,” and hands each of us a box of popcorn, a soda and some Smarties.
“Thank you so much, Auntie, this is the best birthday ever,” Santie says kissing my mum’s cheek.
My mum smiles and says, “Oh darling, it’s nothing. I promise to make next year even better.”
Kill me now. This is the worst birthday ever. And it is not even my birthday. Also, Santie is going to be here next year?
When I grow up I want to be a documentary film maker. I am not sure exactly what they do, but a woman who came to our school said that she was one, and it sounded very cool. She said she records stories. So I am recording this story so that when Santie is grown up, she too will remember that this was the worst birthday ever!