“Fuck you, Dineo! You are stupid! Argh mxm!” exclaimed Theo, over the phone. He was blazing in anger, his voice could testify to that.

On the other end, Dineo held her breath, praying that Theo didn’t come for her. One beeping noise in Dineo’s ear and her worry was over; Theo had ended the call. She put her phone on the table and stretched out her hands to grab baby Jay, who was screaming his lungs out.

Tears in her eyes were threatening to fall again for the third time today. Obviously baby Jay was hungry and she too was hungry, so no breast milk for now. She rocked the baby in her arms, making sure to force a smile to soothe him. Slowly, baby Jay closed his eyes and fell into a sweet sleep. His mama put him on the bed and covered him. She searched the cupboards for something to nibble on, but bad luck was on her side.

Dineo sat down and inhaled, thinking about how her life turned; how she went from dreaming of becoming a neurologist to shivering in a shack with her two sisters and a baby who wailed on at her about food and all things related to money. But she didn’t blame little Thandi for sucking money from her, she also deserved a childhood filled with joy like her friends.

Dineo was now past childhood. The death of her parents caused her to grow up at the age of 18. Now all the problems fell on her, and Theo wouldn’t take care of their baby, baby Jay. He said he didn’t trust Dineo, and there was a possibility that the child was someone else’s.

“Sisi, why are you crying again?” asked little Thandi, standing at the door of the shack, withdrawn from reality.

Dineo drew some life into her and turned her head to look at Thandi.

“You really should learn to mind your own business. You left the baby crying to go and play, Thandi. What is so much more important in the streets than the baby, huh! You don’t appreciate me. I work for you: to feed you and clothe you, but you fail to follow a simple command,” snapped Dineo, waking baby Jay again.

He burst into tears, louder this time. Dineo threw her hands into the air.

“Mthulise Thandi, mina I’m going to bath, Zee will be here now.” She exited the shack carrying her toiletry bag and a dish. Thandi fetched baby Jay from the bed and held him tight and sang to him.

After a few minutes Dineo appeared from her bath and got dressed in all the beautiful clothes that she had. As soon as she heard Zee’s hoot she faked the best smile.

“Thandi, put baby Jay down, come and fetch money for food,” Dineo said.

When they got to the powerful steel machine that stood parked waiting for Dineo, she lunged into the car and Zee handed her a hundred rand note.

“Buy noodles and something for the night, also buy me sanitary pads and get yourself some kota. Don’t stay up till late, lock the door and don’t forget to blow out the candle when you head for bed.” Dineo added, “Thandi, change Jay’s Pampers two times only, don’t waste the rest.”

As soon as Thandi noted her sister’s instructions she disappeared into the shack. Zee left with Dineo for ‘work’. Later that evening the neighbour called Dineo to tell her that her shack had burnt down with her only family left inside.


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