When Sibu moved into iLanga Avenue, Mrs Magona told all the neighbours to bring a little bit of this and a little bit of that, to welcome him. So Sibu made good friends. They liked him and he liked them.
Unfortunately there was one thing that upset everyone. Sometimes Sibu sneezed. And his sneezes were the worst sneezes in the whole world. When he stood in the doorway of his little home and went … sniff, sniff, sniff, …aaah, aah …, everyone panicked.
One morning, Sibu opened his front door. Out ran a little black cat and out stepped Sibu. He lifted his head, opened his mouth and said, “Ah, aaah …”
“NO!” yelled Mrs Magona. “Don’t let him sneeze. The last time that happened, it blew my washing into the vlei. Stop him right now!”
“NOOO!” screamed Mr Samson. “The last time Sibu sneezed he blew all my red roses flat. They were beautiful and just ready to sell. Stop him!”
“Ah, AAAH, AAAAH …” went Sibu.
“Noooooo!” shouted Jabu and Nozi. “The last sneeze blew our homework away. The teacher wouldn’t believe us when we told her it was because of a sneeze.”
“Aa, aaah … That hurts! Please take it off,” said Sibu.
Mr Samson brought Sibu a glass of water. “Hold your nose and drink this,” he said.
Glug, glug. Sibu swallowed and started to cough.
“Quickly,” said Jabu holding out a bowl of porridge. “Eat this.”
“It will keep your mouth busy,” said Nozi, “and wiggle your nose.”
“Aaaaaa …” said Sibu pushing the bowl away. “Ah, aaah …”
So everyone just stood and stared and waited.
The little black cat sitting on the wall watched and waited. She knew exactly what would happen. The washing would soar, the flowers would flatten, the homework would fly, and then three important things would happen. Her fur and whiskers would wave in the big wind. The sand would blow into the cracks of the wall … and then … best of all … the mice would run out. And she was hungry.
“Aaaaah … tishSSHH …” Everyone bent down and tried to hide. “… SHOOOO!” went Sibu.
Off soared the washing into the air. Down went the flowers, flat against the ground. Away flew Jabu and Nozi’s homework. And to the little black cat’s delight, out ran the mice.
“No,” answered Sibu.
“Did you smell something?” asked Mrs Magona.
“No,” answered Sibu.
“Well, what did you do?” asked Mr Samson.
“I did what I do every Saturday morning,” said Sibu. “I got up and washed. I had my breakfast. I sat in my chair to read my book, and, as usual, that little black cat came in to say hello.”
Everyone turned to look at the little black cat.
“Is she your cat?” asked Mrs Magona.
“Oh no!” said Sibu.
“Who does she belong to?” asked Mrs Magona. Everyone shook their heads.
“Then we’ll have to chase her away. Look, your jersey is covered in black fur,” said Mr Samson pointing.
“You’re allergic to cats, Sibu,” said Mrs Magona. “That’s why you sneeze. We will have to chase that cat away.”
“No,” said Jabu and Nozi together. “We’ll take her home with us. Ma said we could get a cat.”
“And how do you plan on keeping her away from Sibu’s house?” asked Mrs Magona.
“Easy,” said Jabu. “We’ll do what you always say.”
“Really? And what’s that?” asked Mrs Magona.
“Give her a little bit of this and a little bit of that to welcome her,” replied the children.
So Jabu and Nozi went up to the little black cat, stroked its fur and spoke soft words. To everyone’s amazement the cat got up and followed them home.
“Aaaah,” said Mrs Magona proudly. “It works every time.”
“And now,” said Sibu, “I’ll make my beef stew to celebrate NO MORE SNEEZING.”
That evening the neighbours sat around the fire and ate Sibu’s delicious stew.
And the little black cat? Oh, she was far too comfy and warm to bother Sibu. She knew that at Jabu and Nozi’s house, she would always get a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of love.