Christmas is family time after that night at the park. I think it's safe to say I'm done with alcohol for now. OK that's a lie.
Sebe spent the whole night with Sabelo giggling and blushing at whatever he was selling to her. It was annoying but what choice did I have really?
Oh well enough about those festivities uncle and aunt believe in going to church on Christmas. The whole house has to attend I don't know how I feel about that but we'll see how it goes.
"Finish up Gugu you'll be leading the church in a song for the offering and Sakhile will be the one praying for the offering"
Aunt says standing by my door I chuckle to myself. Yeah right.
"I don't think so aunt"
"Hay andikuceli Gugu ndiyakuxelela tshini!" (I'm not asking you I'm telling you)
She tells me walking out of the room. What do I know about gospel? Heck I don't even listen to Gospel. I try and think of the songs mom normally listens to or plays around the house when she cleans and one comes to mind. I just don't know the words to the song. The service is from 8-10am. I go on Google and download the lyrics I sure hope I remember the song lyrics word for word. I practice while showering aunty has put me in a tight spot. I get out and lotion then get dressed and head for Breakfast. We gave cereal and go to the car this thing of leaving with the pastors requires us to go in early as 7. Apparently there's a prayer at 7:15 and then at 7:30 we'll get to practise with the choir. I don't even know how to speak their language I don't even know how they feel about me singing an English song or Xhosa song in their church. I'm literally a foreigner in their church
. Just as we are driving my uncle stops the car for some old woman. He turns to us
"Make space for gogo Mabuza"
He commands Sakhile slides next to me and this Mabuza woman. She gets in and thanks my uncle and aunt for the lift.
"And who is this one? I've never seen him around"
She says that talking about me
"He's my nephew Ma"
"He's my brothers son from the Eastern Cape Mthatha. He just completed his matric too and is visiting us for holidays"
She says sounding really excited
"That's nice. My neighbor and her friend have also just completed matric. She is a very smart girl with a very bright future ahead of her. Wena Gugu are you smart?"
She asks turning to me. In my head I'm thinking 'what's this gotta do with me? Why's she talking about her neighbor and then me?'. I chuckle
"Uhm... I don't know how to answer that question ma but I think I might be going to varsity next year"
I say Sakhile nudges me and soon a text pops up on my screen. Its him alerting me that this grandma is Sebe's neighbor. It doesn't explain anything though because she doesn't know me. My uncle parks his car and Sakhile and I are the first one's off the car.
"What's her story?"
I ask as we make our way into the auditorium
"She's the neighborhood spiritual whatever. She's been called many names around here some believe she's a witch but dad believes the woman is sent by God to do his work. Dad believes that God speaks through her"
I nod a little confused
"And what do you believe?"
I ask as we take our seats at the back of the auditorium
"That dad is probably right. I don't know man I've never shared more than a greeting with that woman you'll have to ask Sebe seeing that they are neighbors"
He says annoyed
"Do you think she's coming?"
I ask he shrugs
"Should have asked Gogo Mabuza then. I think she'll pull through though"
He says with a shrug.
"You ready with a scripture for the offering?"
I ask nudging him
"Yah its the same ish every year man. They always do this to me"
"Lucky you. This is new to me"
I say nervously
"You got nothing to worry about you have a great voice"
He says patting my back. At 7:30 we are called to rehearse. We rehearse and it actually goes great I'm bonding with the choir. There's a cute girl that's been throwing some vibes towards me. She's prettier than Sebe but. BUT! Sebe is literally a breath of fresh air. There's this thing about her as a whole that draws you to her.
"You have a nice voice Mr Maseko"
The pretty girl says I chuckle
"I'm Mr Ncenjane Mr Maseko is my uncle and cousin"
She chuckles shyly
"I'm sorry I thought you probably the prodigal son or something"
She says jokingly. I laugh
"That's my cousin Sakhile"
I say pointing at him she smiles and nods
She says holding her hand out to me
I say shaking her hand. We stand in place and she leads the first song as people start to walk in and those sitting stand up to join her singing. She has a nice voice no doubt but she's not for me she has this slay queen look going on. My cousin walks up to the pulpit. I chuckle.
"Good morning church"
He says and the congregation responds
"I am Sakhile Maseko last born of our mother and father or as some call me the prodigal son"
We all laugh at the last part
"Merry Christmas everyone. I'll make it quick so that you guys can rush home and cook those Christmas lunch's"
He says I see his dad chuckle. My eyes are searching for Sebe but to no luck. Maybe she's not here or she's sitting far.
"This is the part that most people don't like about church. Giving. Some will even come late to avoid giving but the word of the lord tells us that when you give you sow a seed for your blessings so that the good lord will multiply them over and over until they over flow. So as we are about to give may we not kid ourselves and rob ourselves of blessings. Give unto the lord and it shall be given back to you good measure pressed down and shaken together until it overflows. May we hold our seeds in our hands close our eyes an bow our heads as we pray"
He says and we do as he says. He prays for the offering and says his amen then leaves the pulpit. I take the mike and go up front. My heart is beating out of its chest but what choice do I have here?
"If it had not been for the Lord
Who was always on my side
The enemy would have swallowed us
Would have drowned in the waters
But our souls have found An Escape
A hiding place in You
The Fowler's snare is broken
Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
And i'm nothing without You without You
You are the air that I breathe
Can’t live without You without You Jesus
In You I live and move and have my being
Hosanna to Jehovah
You are the air that I breathe
In You I live and move and have my being
Nothing without You without You
You are the air that I breathe
Can’t live without You without You
In You I live and move and have my being"
I go on singing Dr Tumi's Nothing Without You the church stands on its feet to join me singing. I didn't think I'd be able to but hey its happening. By the time I am done its like the holy spirit is in this place I can literally feel the presence of the lord in this place. My uncle approaches the pulpit and I wrap it up and leave the stage. He tells the church or rather brags about Sakhile and I telling them that some day we will lead the church
"One day these boys will lead the church"
He says proudly I nudge Sakhile who laughs. We sitting at the back bored AF waiting for the service to end. Uncle preaches about the birth of Jesus and his great sacrifice so that our sins may be forgiven.
"Did you see her while you were on stage?"
He asks I shrug disappointed
"Don't worry this is a small neighborhood. You'll bump into her soon and hopefully alone this time"
He says trying to comfort me but I'm not convinced. Sabelo is just always there
"There's that Sabelo guy that acts as if he's her purse"
I say sounding annoyed
"Leave Sabelo to me"
He says confidently. Who am I to argue?
Uncle prays and soon after we ready to leave of cause he won't leave immediately because he's the senior pastor and there's some things they need to discuss which means we'll leave in an hour or so.
"Sakhile please bring me a glass of water"
We are startled by that gogo from earlier. Sakhile drags his feet to the office
"Your name is Gugulezwe right?"
She asks and I nod
"Are you ready?"
She asks I look at her with furrowed eyebrows confused
"For what Mah?"
"The war set before you"
She says calmly
I ask she reminds me of mom with her riddles
"The one you seek requires love like no other but the love that comes with her comes with a great war. Its not going to be easy Gugu but it will be worth it in future"
She says so relaxed I'm confused. Dumb even
"What are you taking about Mah?"
I ask hoping for some clarity
"You have to be strong in spirit and physically else all that you have worked so hard for will come crumbling down"
"Here is your water Mah"
"Oh thank you son God bless you. I should go attend that meeting. Goodbye boys"
She says walking away. I don't know who's more confusing her or mom. I've just become dumber than before thanks to her. Who is she even talking about?
Sakhile asks I shrug my shoulders
Oh Christmas it's finally here and I definately don't feel like celebrating. The day since Grandma died I spend it a Bulo's I sleep there on the 24th wake up the following day and prepare for church which always lifts my spirit up in a way.
"Ayy girls nisibonile iskhatsi?"(Girls did you see the time?)
Bulo's mom says as she barges into the room
Bulo groans under the blankets that pushes her mom to pull the blankets off
We both exclaim
"Ningatsi nywa kimi nina vukani nitilungise angifuna kuhlala emuva mine"(Don't ma me wake up and get ready I don't want to sit at the back)
She says then looks at me her face changes like she just remembered something
"Ohh my baby"
She says rushing to hug me and my tears involuntary fall betrying me I didn't want to cry at all but hugs always manage to make me cry.
"She's happy nana look at the woman you've grown to be. Uyasebenta and I'm pretty sure you passed your matric with flying colours. Keep on praying and it'll all be well"
She says smiles then brings me in for a hug a one Bulo joined. Bulo's mom breaks it and kisses my forehead she likes doing that
"It will all be better"
"It's already better ma I have you in my life"
She smiles pulling me in for a hug breaks it then goes to dictator mode instantly.
She says in a firm voice leaving Bulo and I break into laughter how can a person change modes so fast?
"Umama is punishing us for going to that party"
I say to Bulo getting out of bed she laughs
"I know it was fun though"
"Those guys sure know how to throw a good party"
"As much as I'm not a party fun I really enjoyed myself "
I say taking toiletries and putting them on the bed
"Because you were cooped up in Sabelo's arms bese utsi awumutsandzi"(then you say you don't love him)
"I did say and I still stand I was just having a good time and he gave me one "
I say going out to pour bathing water and Bulo follows me with her basin I pour for her too and we go back to the room.
"Nisheshe nine lapho!"(Hurry up!)
Bulo's mom shouts as we leave the kithen
"Don't string the guy along Sebe"
I roll my eyes
"He really is a good guy babe"
"You team Sabelo now?"
"I know I hated him a school a part of me still does cause he was an asshole which I'm sure is still there underneath everything "
"I'm starting to like him I won't lie love that I'm not sure of"
"So what you thinking of doing?"
"Just go with the flow "
She nodds and we continue getting dressed. Growing up villages or townships rather you get used to bathing with other girls not in the same water no but in the same room it's not surprising as some people make it out to be I mean do you know how fun it is bathing and gossiping laughing and even giving advices at the same time? Try it some time.
"Angifuni kunilandza lapho Sebentile!"(I don't want to drag out of that room!)
Bulo's mom shouts she always does this when she wants something done she tells me not Bulo cause that one takes forever.
"Now that is enough to take get Sakhile's attention"
I say looking at her as she ties her braids
"Usho nje?"(You think so?)
She asks looking at herself
"Trust me if he doesn't then angati nami"(I also don't know)
"Ngisite ngibophe la"(Help me tie this up)
She says and I help her tie her braids she's wearing a black under the knee high waisted skirta white loose blouse and white ankle all stars I asked her why she's not wearing heels today.
"I need to be as comfortable as possible today"
She says helping me with my hair braiding it. After a few minutes she was done and I got up to put on my dress a floral navy blue off shoulder dress that's juts below my knees. Bulo and I went out to dispose of the water
Bulo's mom says as we get inside the house
"Kodvwa ma asidlanga"(But mom we haven't eaten)
"It's not my fault that you were busy talking about boys"
She says then goes to her room probably to get her bag and so do we before long we on our way to church and when we get there it's packed as always this time of the year. We get in as Sakhile's cousin starts singing.
"I didn't know he can sing"
"Didn't even think he's the church type"
Mthokozisi goes to the kids and Bulo and I sit with the youth as mr puncher sings and I must admit his voice is so angelic you see yourself next God having a conversation like old friends laughing and having the time of your life everyone is on their feet singing along and the holy spirit is moving in this place. Mr puncher gets down and Mr Maseko gets up to start preaching the birth of Christ and all.
I'm really not listening it's like I'm no longer in church but some place and Mr puncher is with me and it looks like we are dating or something cause he's giving me flowers they are white excuse me but I don't know flowers by names and I can't even distinguish between them what catches me off guard though is him calling me by my clan name which I'm sure he doesn't know ngoba he's Xhosa and I know they don't know our clan mames just like we don't know theirs unless we know each other on a personal level. "MaHlubi I'm sorry I know I've said this before not once even but please believe me this time I mean it forgive me sthandwa sami".
Someone nudges me I look by my side and it's Bulo
"I lost you for a moment therewhat's up?"
"Sorry I just had a weird dream"
"Hhaybo Sebe it's broad day light wena uyaphupha"(and you are dreaming)
"I know I know this just doesn't make sense"
"Let's go the service is over "
She says standing and I notice everyone is also leaving
"I really need to speak to Gogo Mabuza"
"The dream or whatever it is that I saw"
"You do remember the dinner we having at the Radebe's"
She rolls her eyes
"How can I forget we'll start at Gogo Mabuza then the dinner"
I nod and we stand by someone's car waiting for her mom and just in time she's rushing to us
"Hambani sisi niqalele nipheke sisaya emhlanganweni nomfundisi"(Girls go and start cooking we are going to a meeting with the pastor "
She says giving us the keyskissing our foreheads then rushes back to church.
"Wente kahle wangagcoki ema heels"(You did good by not wearing heels)
I say as we walk with Mtho between us holding our hands.
"Simakadze ngabe ngiyini kulokushisa!?"(Lord what would I have been in this heat?)
She says and we both crack up laughter.
I say cracking up in laughter even Mtho joins in.