Nangamso lived in a two-roomed house in Gugulethu, a township in Cape Town. Her mother, Nontando, was a domestic worker who had separated from her father. Her stepfather, Monwabisi was a bricklayer. Her stepfather was not making enough money for their family, but her mother did what she could to put food on the table and clothe her children.

Nangamso was in her teenage years, and just like her mother she feared God. She was bright at school and was every teacher’s favourite. She had only one close friend, Kelo.
Kelo and a twin brother, Lebo. They did everything together, from studying to house chores. They lived with their mother and uncle. Kelo’s mother had Alzheimer’s disease, it worsened as the days went by. She would forget who they were. Every day Kelo hoped that her mother would get better. Her uncle took her to every psychiatrist available. Lebo couldn’t deal with his mother’s condition and it led him to smoking weed and hanging out on street corners with peers who were avoiding their own problems.

Despite all this, there was a worldwide pandemic happening, which led to many breadwinners losing their jobs, especially in developing countries. This included Nangamso’s family as the nationwide lockdown resulted in her mother and stepfather losing their jobs. They had no clue how they were going to survive and how they were going to put food on table. Nontando prayed hard for their situation to change whilst Monwabisi drank ginger beer every day.

Lebo’s uncle was an essential worker and was still able to put food on their table. Her mother though, her condition continued to worsen, she now couldn’t speak properly and this was creating a semantic barrier between her and her twins.

Nangamso’s family would constantly need help, Kelo’s uncle would provide them with essential foods. With everyone being at home this meant that food depleted faster than usual and there was no way of preventing this. Despite the situation Nontando never lost faith in God and kept praying for better days.

The virus affected more people each day at an alarming rate. Some people were careful and some were just ignorant and ignored all necessary precautions. As this happened more and more people got affected and it came closer to home.

Kelo got to see this when her uncle tested positive for the virus. She did not know what to do as her uncle was admitted to hospital. They were now left with a mother who would cook and forget the stove on. She now had to fill in her mother’s shoes when her uncle was away, and this drained her day by day. Things went from bad to worse as her brother continued with drugs.

Nontando found a job at a funeral parlour. It was a huge risk, but she did not waste the opportunity to work. Although the job paid her peanuts, but as long she could feed her family she didn’t mind.

Lebo manipulated his mother’s condition to his advantage as he stole every last piece of her jewellery. Each day he sold his mother’s jewellery until there was none left. He would say he asked for it from his mother knowing very well about his mother’s dementia. He would use the money to feed his addiction and would also buy himself expensive clothes. Kelo would be frustrated by this as she sometimes had no money for menstruation pads but her twin was splurging money made from their mother.


Tell us: What did you think of this story?