My aunt and I can tell your future just by the way you walk and by your everyday activities.

It’s like it’s on our calendar that every Saturday morning when we do the laundry and clean the house: there’s going to be a victim of our gossip and someone will have their fate decided for them as they pass by.

“Hhayi! That girl is pregnant I swear! If she’s not, in the next two weeks she will be going to the clinic for ARV’s I’m telling you,” said my aunt sweeping the stoep as Nobuhle passed by. I knew her as the girl who mostly hangs out with boys and is drunk every weekend. I couldn’t really argue with my aunt. Nobuhle already had 3 kids at 21 and she doesn’t seem to care for them. The girl has been falling pregnant since she was 16 and as for the fathers, Hhayi! I doubt she knows who the fathers of her kids are!

The next Saturday morning my aunt and I were already doing the usual: cleaning, doing the laundry and acting like ‘gods’ when Sbahle passed by. Sbahle is beautiful and smart, and according to my aunt’s and my fate-deciding skills, she is one of the few in our community that will make it big in life.

“That girl is smart uyazi Kwanele and very beautiful,” my aunt smiled. “She will make it big one day.” She paused for a few seconds then she chuckled. “Kodwa yhoo! Her mother!” My aunt clapped once and laughed out loud for a few minutes. “Uyazi Kwanele,umama walengane akaziphethe kahle neze! Phela she stole our stokvel money using the term ‘borrow’! Hayi and we the idiots, the caring stokvel idiots, lent her the money because apparently her husband had lung cancer and that was three months ago! Just yesterday, I saw her husband drinking and smoking and to my surprise he seemed fine! Yhoo lomfazi! Hhayi she’s related to the devil himself,ngiyakutshela!”

Two weeks later and I had to go to the clinic to collect cough medicine for the neighbour’s one-year old daughter. To my surprise I saw Nobuhle and went to greet her, and then we started chatting. That was when she told me she had come there to collect her ARV’s because she got HIV from her stepfather who rapes her in return for a place to live. She also told me that the three kids are her father’s children. And as a way of dealing with her rape she prefers drinking her sorrows away, feeling safer around a group of guys.

At that moment I realized how wrong my aunt and I were by judging Nobuhle when we knew nothing about her, we didn’t even know her last name.

“That is the story of my life, Kwanele. Never let a man define your worth. Work hard and be your own woman. I wish those were the words my mother said to me before she died. You know, at times I just want to die, I want to be no more, I want to get rid of this pain.” As she said those last words she cried a river.

One week later she was found dead in her room. She had eaten rat poison alongside with the three kids. May their souls rest and find peace.

When we got back from the funeral my aunt ran up to Sbahle and they started chatting.

“How are you my child?”

“I’m doing okay Ma.”

“Where are your parents?”

“Well, Ma, my father died two weeks ago from lung cancer because he refused taking his treatment and he was cremated. My mother is drowning in debt and she doesn’t have a single cent for a loaf of bread, but I’m trying to study and do well with my matric so I can at least find work and help my mother out.”

“Hhawu!Kodwa ngane Yami!Ubunzima obungaka! Tell your mother to not worry about her stokvel loan. I’ll pay the money back. Sbahle, whatever you need you come to me whenever, I’ll help you in any way I can. I’m really sorry for your loss, my child.” Then she gave her a warm and assuring hug.

Nobuhle killed herself because of rape and gossipmongers didn’t help in any way. Sbahle’s father was really sick with lung cancer. My aunt and I judged them without knowing their stories. Hence it is said to NEVER JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER. I don’t know who said that, but whoever did was a very wise person. Henceforth I shall never judge to never be judged. Lesson learnt!