It was evening in the small village and everyone in the neighbourhood was preparing for supper. People were shocked when they heard loud sounds within the neighbourhood.

“Fire! Fire!” a young man shouted.

People in the neighbourhood were so confused about what caused the fire and unfortunately things were damaged in Nobuhle’s home. Her family had to take the few clothes that were left and look for a place to sleep. It was bad in the family, they were crying. Nobuhle was still young, but she remembered everything that was happening, there was nothing she hated more than seeing her mother cry.

No one was able to help because the people that were causing the fire were following them. They had to move from town to town until she was sent to live with a family member in another city. Months later, Nobuhle was living at her aunt’s house.

“Nobuhle! I’ll come back later, cook that pap,” said the voice of an angry woman.

“Ma!” she answered. She knew that her aunt was drunk as usual.

She woke up in the morning and came late from drinking alcohol. Things were hard, Nobuhle had to grow up at a very young age. Sometimes she asked herself if her family was still thinking about her because she would go to bed with an empty stomach.

A few months later Nobuhle was back with her family and her mother had a new baby. Later her mother went to get married and moved to Cape Town, leaving her behind. Things were fine and at last Nobuhle thought she was finally happy, not knowing she would be left behind with her grandmother. Nobuhle’s grandmother was a very kind and caring woman, she would do anything for her family.

Nobuhle was doing well at school, but things changed when she faced sexual harassment, but she couldn’t tell anyone. Her grandmother was old and she didn’t want trouble, people would talk. Nobuhle changed and she started drinking alcohol at a very young age, but nobody could understand why she was drinking.

Time went on. Nobuhle heard that her mother was arrested and things were hard in Cape Town because her stepfather was abusing her mother. There was nothing more painful than this; sometimes she wished she had died in that fire.

One late night Nobuhle came back home and was followed by a man. She was drunk as usual, but the man didn’t rape her because she was still a virgin, that’s what he said; she hated herself for believing him.

“What if something had happened,” she said, but it was hard for her endure all the hardships. No one knew what was happening, they were just judging and blaming.

One day she got a call from her mother. Nobuhle was in Grade 9. She asked her mother if she could come to Cape Town. Her mother agreed because she was having a third child.

Nobuhle had been in Cape Town for a while. Things were so hard because her stepfather was always angry and drunk. She decided to escape with her mother, but she knew her mother would leave her behind and go back to her husband.

One day her stepfather chased them out. They had nowhere to go and there was a small child. It was so painful for her to go through this again, she just couldn’t understand why her mother didn’t leave the man. She always wished to go to play with other kids, but she would be shouted at if she did that.

One day she went to live with other family members. She ran away from her mother’s house because she was almost raped by her stepfather’s friends. Sometimes she would think of dropping out of school and going back to her grandmother. At least she loved her and didn’t want her to go to Cape Town.

Nobuhle’s mother took her to her uncle in a small suburb. She wasn’t used to the good life, but she had to pay the price. By this time she was in Grade 12. Every day Nobuhle had to clean the house by her herself even though there were many children. She was shouted at and beaten almost every day. School was the only place she found peace.

One day at school they were taught about depression. She knew she had it because she went to bed in tears every day and she avoided people because they would ask questions. One month later she found out after so many years that the person who caused the fire in her home was her father. Her world was shattered and she had a breakdown and she started smoking cigarettes.

After Grade 12 Nobuhle went to live with her cousin. Finally, she was happy, but she had flashbacks of everything that had happened. She attended therapy that was paid for by her boss, but the contract ended. She went back to her small village and found a job. She was so happy that she could spend her time with her family after so many years of hardship and pain.

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