So, I am is’febe. Before being called is’febe by a shadow it never occurred to me that I could be one, let alone so much so that someone else could have reason to name me so.

See, dear reader, I was walking from the Hillbrow Shoprite to my cottage in Yeoville. I had a 500ml yoghurt, strawberry, in my hands, scooping the contents out with two forefingers. Just before crossing what I always assumed was the border between the two suburbs, I noticed three shadows behind me. Jumpy as a springbok, I hastened to enter Yeoville proper. I then found myself in a deserted stretch of road. The three shadows followed. They, I assume, found themselves in a stretch of road less deserted. Conscious (hahaha!) of nothing else, the stretch of road disappeared and became those three shadows. It could be said, without any hint of mysticism, that I now walked the shadows. They, I assume, continued to walk a road less deserted. The gap between us had, by now, lessened considerably. You, dear reader, could explain this closing of the gap physically. Physical explanations bore me. Locked as I was in the shadows, my movements were now a function of the laws that hold in shadows. If we isolate my movements, and explain them in terms of what directly controlled them, then it is to the shadows that we must look. Or, insofar as those shadows are ultimately abantu, it is to ubuntu that we must appeal for an explanation. Physical laws held sway over me only insofar as they held sway over shadows.

At any rate, when one of the shadows made a sudden move, perhaps to scratch an itchy bum, perhaps to pounce, I moved as suddenly. The shadow, perhaps having completed the bum scratching, perhaps aborting the pouncing, smoothly resumed its previous movements. I did not.

Heart pounding, limbs shaking, embarrassed that I had misread the move, I turned to them and said, in a second language, “Gents, I thought you were coming for me.”
The first shadow, perhaps starting the pounce, perhaps never having stopped from the moment he woke up, moved. I, despite my embarrassment seconds earlier, had never actually stopped my flight move. I narrowly escaped but the shadow almost caught me. Locked in that continuum, both of us recognized the moment. It is in that moment that he said it: s’febe.

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