People often encounter problems in their homes that cause them stress, which mostly affects their academic performance and their mental stability. This essay is about three girls who attended Nelson Mandela University who left their homes trying to escape family problems, to live in a house that was closer to their campuses to avoid academic disturbances.

Ayema was a third year education student who was thick and loved food as much as she loved her cooking. Zipho was a business management graduate, and now a second year Accounting student who also had a part-time job that kept her schedule busy. She was the busiest in the house because she had to balance her school work with her side hustle. I was a third year education student who was passionate about storytelling, and I happened to share a room with Ayema.

One cold evening we sat in the lounge with the roof that leaked every time it was raining. We all sat quietly and watched television until Zipho started talking about life. I was curious and always interested in knowing how people viewed life and its experiences. So I curiously dived into the conversation without realising its capacity. The conversation got deeper. As we conversed, it felt like it was only Zipho and I in the room, until I looked at Ayema to my left and realised that she was no longer with us.

Is she asleep? I asked myself. If not, why would she not partake in this conversation?

Zipho continued talking, and before I realised, we were already swimming in the deepest parts of it. I wanted to back down the minute I realised its depth, but I knew I could not. The room got colder as the raindrops fell from the leaking ceiling to the dilapidated tiles. As we were in the deepest part of the conversation, I noticed some drastic changes in Zipho’s swimming patterns. She was no longer swimming. She was drowning. She needed some saving, but never gave any signs of needing help. I contemplated saving her, but I remembered that some people prefer to suffer alone. Suddenly the conversation ended, and Ayema spoke for the first time since we had gotten into the room.

What just happened? I asked myself with a heavy heart, like winter clouds waiting to precipitate.

Zipho abruptly got up and left the room after realising how vulnerable she was throughout the conversation. Everything was normal for Ayema and a different story for me. We sat quietly for a few minutes, and the sounds of the raindrops became louder as it got darker.

“Did you hear Zipho’s story?” I asked Ayema a few minutes after we went to our room.

“Were you even listening?”

“What story?” Ayema responded with confusion.

“The story about life and disturbances?” I responded. “The story about her mother’s death?!”

I was already losing hope and confused.

“I promise I did not hear anything,” Ayema responded with a soft voice. “Are you okay? Your eyes are teary and your voice is…”

I started retelling Zipho’s story about how she lost her mother who was sick for a long time and how nurses in public clinics ignored them when they needed help for her mother. Ayema came closer and held me tightly as I was starting to break down.

“She said that death is a huge disturbance in life, and I could not save her, Ayema,” I cried. “I wanted to be there for her but I did not know how. Now I am stuck here wondering how she is doing.”

Ayema brought a box of tissues, gave me hugs and wiped my tears throughout the night. People go through a lot of difficult things they usually do not talk about. The capacities differ with experiences. Others come to a realisation that their problems are nothing compared to what others go through. Some keep themselves busy all the time to avoid mourning and feeling the pain, forgetting that in order to heal you have to get to the root of the problem and let it hurt so that you can get better.


Tell us: Do you think that the main character should’ve checked up on Zipho? Why?