Same (short story) – Sihle Ntuli

Before I even dive into this review, I would like to flag the fact that Sihle Ntuli is an M.A candidate at the School of Languages and Literature at my alma mater, Rhodes University. Yay! Totes going to use this as my claim to fame going forward. Read Sihle’s bio on the AFREADA website here:

This short (I have deliberately just said ‘short’ because I wouldn’t describe this as a story in the traditional sense of the word) is called Same and I was immediately intrigued about what the subject matter could possibly be. Ntuli simply takes the reader on a journey around the festivities of New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. He starts on a high:

“At first, everybody was excited about the coming year.”

Who isn’t exciting about the prospect of brand new year? Of washing the slate clean and being granted another chance, another shot?

Then Sihle takes us on the many places and positions human find themselves on New Year’s Eve – getting ready for jols, kicking back, all the while, the tummy tingling with anticipation and new shiny horizons.

“New Year’s parties and celebrations at local taverns and households came into their element shortly after sunset.”

Ah, and then in part two, Sihle gently takes off our rose-tinted spectacles to the realities of what a new year and a clean slate oftentimes brings. “The decline moved steadily into the first few days of the new month.” The well laid out plans of a ‘new you’, of doing things better this year, being more mindful, going to the gym.

We all know the quip, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same’. Sihle has taken a concept that every human experiences, to demonstrate this scarily true fact – that indeed, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The more our lives move forward and we grow, the more we rely on what we know and what we’ve always done. Eek.

My first encounter with Sihle’s work has left me thoroughly impressed. His deceptively easy reading-type style actually has you reading and rereading his work, to pick up on nuances that were easily overlooked in the first, second and even third reading. And I can guarantee that even more readers of Same will pick up on concepts and trains of thoughts that completely passed me by.

Look out for Sihle Ntuli – he’s certainly on my bookish radar now!

-Babongile Z

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