For a change Karabo was sober. He could not remember the last time he was this clearheaded. It was a state that was almost unfamiliar to him and without seeking to admit it to himself, he enjoyed this moment of clarity. He could think and reflect on his life, the critical decision he recently took to drop out of university and his relationship with Zanele. In light of his discussion with Zanele the previous night, he thought it would serve him well and her to take their relationship seriously. He needed to show her respect, express his love better and appreciate her more.
Outside the dry leaves were scattered on the ground, a sign that the autumn season was in overdrive. Soon autumn would be over and the winter of 2010 will set in. The preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup to be held in the country were in high gear. Despite the protests throughout the country, the masses were beginning to warm up to the idea of Africa’s first World Cup tournament, even as the weather became chilly.
As Karabo walked into the university library that afternoon, he was greeted by the loud noise of silence. He had not been to the library since the beginning of February when he was still officially a student of the university and had forgotten how quiet it was inside that building, totally ignorant to the raucous going on outside. Karabo looked around to see if Samantha was in the library. He had agreed to meet her at half-past four to help her with her assignment. The time was twenty minutes before five o’clock and Karabo knew he was late. He did not have her contact details so he couldn’t exactly call her. He concluded that he would have to wander around the library to search for her as if looking for a lost sheep. The library was big and therefore this would not be an easy task. Fortunately, as he was about to walk further into the library, Samantha came to meet him.
‘Hi. I see you were about to go on a search’, Samantha said to Karabo. He was relieved to see her.
‘Yes. I wasn’t sure where to start as we didn’t agree on the exact spot we were going to meet.’
‘Apologies. I don’t think we have been properly introduced. I am Sam…Samantha’, she said as she confidently extended her to Karabo as if they were about to sit down to discuss a multimillion-rand deal.
‘So formal…Pleasure to meet you Samantha but Zee did tell me who you are’, Karabo said as he shook her hand. Samantha was smiling. She guided Karabo to a table where she was sitting which was not exactly close for the library was vast.
Two people were sitting at the table large enough to be a dinner table for a family of six. The male student was tapping at the laptop keyboard like it was second nature to him. The young buck would often stop to show the female student the screen, as if to confirm if what he was doing was correct.
‘Guys, meet Kay’, Samantha introduced Karabo to the duo. ‘Kay, this here is my sister Nicole… And this is her boyfriend Sello.’ They couple shook Karabo’s hand.
‘I think I have seen you around campus’, Nicole said to Karabo.
‘So you can’t be a first year’, she added in a manner that suggested that she did not approve of him if he harboured wishes of dating his sister.
‘No ma’am. I am not’, Karabo responded, adopting a formal tone. He was mocking Nicole who came across as overly protective of her younger sister.
‘No ma’am. You are smooth’, Nicole flashed a smile, a smile that Karabo could not decipher if it was fake or genuine.
‘I met Kay at his girlfriend’s place yesterday. I asked him if he could help me with my assignment and he was kind enough to agree’, Samantha said to her sister adopting a serious tone.
‘I am only teasing Sam. No need to get your knickers in a knot’, Nicole responded to her baby sister who was visibly irritated.
‘So what are you guys doing?’ Karabo asked to break up what was turning into an awkward conversation.
‘We are building a site for a newspaper’, Sello quickly answered.
‘A newspaper site?’ Karabo asked. ‘Yes. We are launching our own newspaper in a week’s time’, Sello replied.
‘That is cool’, Karabo said. He was impressed with the initiative.
‘Yes. We realised that mainstream media doesn’t necessarily represent the majority’s point of view even though they will painstakingly argue that they do’, Nicole added.
Karabo could not tell if Nicole was being obnoxious or responding to his question genuinely. His impression of Nicole at that moment was of someone who did not like him.
‘No, truly; this is a great idea guys. Well done on taking this initiative’, he ignored Nicole and congratulated them. He liked the idea.
‘We are actually looking for opinion makers, writers so to speak; maybe you should consider contributing to the paper as a columnist Kay’, Samantha looked at Karabo who was seated next to her. She suspected that there was more to her sister’s animosity towards Karabo than meets the eye.
‘I doubt that I would make a believable opinion maker Sam’, Karabo replied. He now called her Sam to provoke Nicole. He looked at Nicole as he answered Samantha.
‘But you are a Political Studies student. You form opinions all the time, if not arguments’, Samantha responded, determined to convince Karabo that he would make an excellent voice to the paper that she, Nicole and Sello were starting.
She did not know Karabo that well, but the little she had learned about him convinced her that he was exactly the voice they needed in launching their project. She had also heard that in addition to being a skirt-chaser, Karabo was popular around campus, a mini-celeb so to speak. In addition to his famous brains, his popularity would be a bonus point their site needs to take off.
‘Used to be…I dropped out. I am sure Zee told you that’, Karabo said, his face serious as a homeless man begging for money to buy cheap alcohol.
‘Yes, I know that’, Samantha sharply responded.
‘That is not the point. Dropping out does not mean you suddenly lose your ability to think or form an opinion’, Samantha added.
Karabo realised that he underestimated her. He had thought she was a brainless spoilt brat. He was too quick to judge her. He began to see that she understood her purpose in the world. She was not in this world to be a follower; she was here to be a leader.
‘Sam, I think Kay has made his point. He is clearly not interested in this project’, her sister chimed in, indifferent and no longer bothered with being diplomatic.
‘On the contrary; I am interested, and very much impressed with your energy. Count me in. Is there a particular subject you would like me to write on?’ Karabo asked Samantha.
‘No. And that is the point of this newspaper. We would like our writers to have the freedom to write about whatever subject they are comfortable with, and from there we can learn who is who in the zoo. For instance, I am assuming you will be writing on politics and not fashion. Am I assuming correctly?’ Samantha asked Karabo. He chuckled.
‘I am afraid that you are correct, but don’t be fooled. I know a thing or two about fashion. Don’t be surprised one day when I send you a column on the influence of David Tlale’s designs on the evolution of fashion.’
Samantha smiled. She was content with herself. She now had six writers in total, including her sister and Karabo. ‘We hope to launch with fifteen writers but six is still fine. The rest will join as we go’, she informed Karabo.
‘That is true. It is like at a taxi rank. No one wants to sit in a taxi that is empty yet they all want to leave. They first want to see a few people seated inside before they can enter’, he said. Samantha smiled, evidently impressed by the comparison.
Karabo had made peace with the unresolved animosity that was very much alive between him and Nicole, but for the life of him he could not pinpoint its origins. Earlier Nicole had mentioned that she had seen him around campus but he could not remember her.
‘So Nicolette, what is it that you study here at UWC?’ Karabo was directly challenging her.
‘Who told you that my full name is Nicolette?’
‘I just assumed’, Karabo defended his guess.
‘Or Samantha told you’, Nicole shot back.
Quietly sandwiched between Nicole and Karabo, Sello continued to write code for the site. He had been silent for much of the conversation but he was beginning to sense that his girlfriend did not like Karabo. Her tone towards him was aggressive and full of hostility.
‘Love, you have not answered Kay’s question’, Sello interrupted. He wished to make Nicole aware of her naked hostility. She shot him a look of defeat.
‘Sorry. My major is Chemistry and I also dabble in Communications and Multimedia Studies’, Nicole answered Karabo in a friendly tone albeit not sincere. She looked at Sello as if to ask, ‘How is that?’
‘That is interesting’, Karabo responded.
‘You say that lot, as if it is your point of resort when cornered’, Nicole shot back.
It was now evident to Samantha that Karabo and Nicole knew each other from somewhere, although the former does not seem to recall. She suspected that either Karabo could not remember meeting Nicole before or he was an excellent thespian. Nonetheless she was now convinced more than ever that the two have a history – a delicious history if Nicole’s attitude is anything to go by.