The woman leads Nobuhle into one of the rooms in a building at the back of the church. She motions her to sit on the bed.
“Who hurt you?” she asks, with concern.
Nobuhle sighs deeply. She has no strength to even explain. “Mama … I just need to rest. I’m tired and hungry.”
“Alright, my child. There is the bathroom. Take a bath. I’ll prepare something to eat. We have clean clothes donated by people from overseas. I’ll look for something in your size.”
When Nobuhle gets out of the bathroom, the clothes are laid out on the bed. She dresses, lies back on the bed and immediately dozes off. The woman arrives with the meal to find Nobuhle snoring lightly. She tries to wake her up, but Nobuhle is deep in sleep.
The woman leaves the meal on the bedside table, whispering, “Lord God I pray for this child in distress. Please help her, Lord.”
Nobuhle sleeps for the whole day and night, only waking up the following morning when the elderly woman is opening the curtains. She’s famished, sees the plate of food on the table and devours it.
The woman glances at Nobuhle and continues opening the curtains. “My name is Mrs Nkwanyana. What is your name?”
Nobuhle is ready to talk now. She introduces herself and tells of her ordeal while she eats. “So you see, Mrs Nkwanyana, I need to get my child back,” she says finally.
Mrs Nkwanyana is close to tears. “If you can get the child we can shelter both of you until you contact your family. The Lord says don’t turn away the needy. We are going to a church conference tomorrow, but I will leave you the keys to this room and the kitchen.”
It takes two more days for Nobuhle to recover to full strength. All the while, her thoughts are haunted with one purpose: I need to get my boy.
When she feels strong enough she makes her way back to Sqiniseko’s house; it is early evening when she gets there. His car is not in the yard, so she hides behind the old toilet in the yard and waits. Sqiniseko’s car drives up after an hour, and Nobuhle can make out two people getting out of it: Sqiniseko and a woman. The woman is holding Sthembiso to her chest. They go inside the house.
Her heart lurching, Nobuhle makes her way to the front door. She can hear laughter inside. She knocks.
“Who is it?” Sqiniseko shouts.
“It’s Nobuhle,” she answers, her voice broken, hurt.
“It’s me Nobuhle, Sqiniseko.”
Sqiniseko opens the door. “What do you want here?” he barks at Nobuhle with pure disgust.
“Sqiniseko … how are you?”
“I was very happy until I saw you.”
Nobuhle forces a smile, exhales. “Sqiniseko, I have come for the baby. I know you no longer want me. I’ve just come for Sthembiso. I also need my clothes. I am staying at the church in Vulani.”
Sqiniseko looks her up and down. “Do you think I will let you take my child? You must be out of your mind! Get out of here,” he fumes.
“Please, Sqiniseko. Let me have Sthembiso. I’ll go home in a few days. We will be out of your hair once and for all.”
“No!” Sqiniseko shakes his head. “Dumb woman. Get out of here before I hurt you!”
With the bravery of maternal love, Nobuhle pushes through the door past Sqiniseko. Her heart skips a beat when she sees that it’s Ntombi cuddling Sthembiso; she is shocked speechless. Ntombi and Nobuhle look at each other, in stunned silence.
Sqiniseko rushes to the bedroom. The sound of a gun being cocked snaps Nobuhle out of shock. Sqiniseko comes out of the bedroom aiming the gun at Nobuhle. She sees the look of pure hate in Sqiniseko’s eyes, turns and runs for her life.
She eats up distance by the metre. By the time Sqiniseko gets to the door and fires two shots, Nobuhle is tumbling down the earth ledge at the end of the yard. A bullet passes over her head as a spark in the dark. Nobuhle rolls, gets to her feet and is up and away into the night.
Tell us: Would you trust a boyfriend who keeps a gun handy?