The wires at the side of the railway station were starting to make that noise again: the one that sounds like several wires that have softly been hit against one another simultaneously; this, coupled with the noise from the crickets, the singing of the weaver birds and the hawk that constantly hovered around us, created a perfect harmony of nature.
The red train indicator was 5 degrees away from pointing north. We
knew that it would only be a matter of time before we could hear the
first hooting. ''Uloliwe wayidudula'' (The train is approaching) We
heard Nannozi shout.
We had been playing this game from as far back as I could remember.
We called it Lindidwe-Zulu for 'waited for'. I think it was given this
name since we always played it in anticipation of the train. It was a
game of balance. We would walk on one side of the rail tracks and
maintain balance for the longest distance possible. Most times, I won
the game, although Bhekiziziwe, the newest member of the group was
quickly catching up and almost beating me at my own game.
He was agile and brave, with nice hair that extended from the sides
of his ears down close to his cheeks;making him look like he had
sideburns. He was ambitious and posed as a great challenge to my
position as leader of the group. Perhaps this was the starting point of
our great friendship: the one which would eventually lead me to changing
my name from Amahle Bafana to Amahle Bhekiziziwe: A name that would
still not change my identity in the group many years to come. They
called me A.B(pronounced as eibi)
The group was called Rainbow: with children from different races,
all brought together by the railway tracks. ''Umuntu ngumuntu
ngubantu'' was our slogan. My father had taught me this phrase. ''A
person is a person because of people.''
''Nang'esiza'', Aphiwe said just when the train started hooting.
We ran to the railway station full of nostalgia and excitement. It
was another day to see the train pass by and hear the driver say ''Hamba
Khale''(goodbye) to us. It was also the first day that Bhekiziziwe said
those words to me, ''Ngiyakuthanda.''