The Outside World

“Can I go play?”, Senzo asks his mother after changing from his school uniform.

“First, have you finished eating your lunch?” his mother asks. “Yes, I have, and put the plate in the sink. So can I go play?”

“Ok, you can go. But be back by 5”

Senzo picks up his bicycle, and rides within the townhouse estate, trying to find a friend to play with. He knocks on John’s door, and his aunty opens. Seeing Senzo, she calls out “John! Senzo is here to play with you!”

John runs downstairs, opens the garage, gets his bicycle, and they start racing through the 3 streets of the estate.

“What if we went outside the gate?” John suggests to Senzo.

“But we aren’t allowed to” Senzo retorts.

“We’ll be back quickly, and nobody will know”, John sneakily schemes.

They see the security guard performing his security rituals on a visitor at the entrance gate, while the exit gate is halfway to closing. “Race you outside!” John shouts as he speeds off. “Wait!” says Senzo as he rushes to catch up. And 7 seconds later, they find themselves in the outside world, with cars racing the tree-lined streets of Fourways, Johannesburg.

They ride to the corner of the street and see a man sitting there with a paintbrush and a paint roller next to him. Senzo has started learning to read at school and tries to make up the word on the piece of cardboard he’s holding up. Phonetically, he reads out “P-A-I-N-T-E-R, painter! Do you paint?”. “Yes my boy”, replies the man “and where are you going?” “We are looking for adventure” John responds. “Oh ok! Do you want to go and see a magical place?” the painter man asks.” Excitedly, John and Senzo look at each other, and scream at the same time, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

The painter picks up his brush and starts waving it in the air in an 8-figure a motion. After a few air-strokes, the space in front of them becomes thick and dense, and a tornado-like wind forms. “Ride in here with me”, the painter man says.

They ride their bikes into this strange wind, and suddenly find themselves in grassy field, with trees surrounding. “Where are we?” asks John.

Suddenly, the painter man whispers to them “quickly, follow me and hide!”, and runs towards the trees surrounding the field. Senzo and John jump on their bikes and speedily follow the man. Peeking behind the trees, they see a strange man-like figure digging holes in the ground as if looking for something. Then suddenly, another man-like figure appears from the ground and then disappears back into the ground, while the first one follows him and digs holes into the ground to try and find him.

The first creature looked incredibly unpleasant. A dark cloud surrounded its grotesque head. Its eyes looked like balls of fear and misery. The claws on its hands were formed to snatch the life of its victims. Altogether, a very scary sight to behold.

“Who are those?” asks Senzo nervously. The painter man replies “they are from outside this world, from a place…” “From outer space?” John interrupts excitedly. “Something like that”.

“The name of the one disappearing into the ground is Walumbe. He came into this world, but is bringing bad things like sickness. The one chasing him and digging holes into the ground is called Kayikuuzi. He’s trying to take him out of the world so that he doesn’t bring those bad things. But looking at how it looks now, it seems that he can’t catch him”.

“But you didn’t answer me, where are we?” asked John frustrated. “We are in a place long long time ago. The place doesn’t have a name yet. Many years from now, it will be in a kingdom called Buganda. Many years after that, it will be in a country called Uganda”, answered the painter man.

Walumbe was exhausted from all the running and disappearing into the ground. He tried to hide from Kayikuuzi, and found a tree to rest behind, not too far from Senzo, John, and the painter man. Their hearts started pounding in their chests from fear. Sweat started dripping from their foreheads. Senzo stepped back and a twig snapped, drawing Walumbe’s attention. The boys screamed, got on their bicycles, and rode as fast as they could toward a clearing they saw in the trees.

“I told you we shouldn’t have gone outside the gate!” panted Senzo with tears streaming down his face.

“Then you shouldn’t have followed me!” replied John, also crying with breathless shrieks.

The painter man ran after and overtook them. He took his paintbrush, again performed air-strokes in a figure 8 motion until the tornado-like wind formed again. The boys rode through it and the painter-man ran through it. Suddenly, they found themselves back on the street in the outside world.

Exhausted and relieved at the same time, they didn’t have enough energy to continue riding their bikes. Resting on the pavement, Senzo asked: “Who are you, Mr. Painter?”. “I was given the name uSiyazi by a prophet many years ago.” “What?!” said the boys in confusion.

Seeing Senzo’s father’s car at a distance, they hide so that they won’t get into trouble for leaving the estate and talking to strangers. After he had passed them and entered the gate of the estate, they snuck next to the exit gate, waited for it to open, and rode back in, riding around the estate like any other normal day.