All it ever takes to bring one back to reality is one heartfelt incident. Just one incident to burst one’s perfectly built bubble. Truth be told, reality sucks. I mean, there never is a happily-ever-after. So, one builds up these scenarios in one’s mind because only in one’s mind can one control things. Basically, one’s bubble is simply there to provide one with a sense of… hope. And hope is what keeps one going as it enables one to believe in a better tomorrow.

Now, having hope isn’t easy. So, imagine how difficult it must be for one to have hope when living in a township which is demoralizingly despondent. And with death hanging around every street corner, it’s no wonder that in townships hope turns its back on one.

I used to believe in a better future too once, but that was long ago. There is no such thing as hope here.

I grew up in a tiny township called Capricorn. I lived there for as long as I can remember. I would wake up to the sound of laughter from the children playing outside. Their loving parents also sitting outside enjoying the morning sunshine while watching their little ones’ play. I remember struggling to choose which game I wanted to play since there was just so many options such as ‘three sticks’, ‘skipping rope’, ‘on-on’, and my utmost favourite, ‘catch and free’. I loved Capricorn. It was my home.

Until the day it happened.

It still feels like it was yesterday. I had just finished grade 8 and it was December holidays. The warm sun was burning my already perfect dark brown skin as my mom and I went shopping for the coming festive season. But that year’s festivity did not last.

When my mother received the phone call, I was certain it was some trivial joke. You see, my scenarios did not include this at all, so I refused to believe it. Only when I stood next to an open casket looking down at his pale and lifeless body, did it begin to sink in. From a single stab wound that could have easily been fixed with a few stiches, I lost a family member at the ripe old age of 24.

He had bled to death. It wasn’t quick. No, instead it was a slow, tormenting and solitary death. I remember begging God to bring him back. I mean the Holy Book said he brought Lazarus back from death, so it wouldn’t have been the first time, right? Somehow, I was still clinging to hope even in the face of death.

But like I said there is no hope here. Just like there is no hospital close to my township because according to the government, we are not that important. Yet we too must pay tax. So much for the right to health care!

There is a saying that goes, “No amount of darkness can dim even the tiniest bit of light,” But that’s a lie because the darkness of that day destroyed all the light I possessed within me. My bubble burst. My hope perished. And speaking of faith, who the hell was God even?

After that day, I began to see everything for what it truly was. Capricorn reeked of poverty. It was visible everywhere. From the malnourished children to the unemployed parents who used up all their grant money for alcohol. They drank so much that one would think their redemption would be found at the bottom of the beer bottle. The children I once played “mommy-mommy” with are now actual mothers. I am now the only girl in my road who is still in school and ‘miraculously’ not pregnant. The boys I once played catch and free with, I now fear because they have become cold-blooded murderers. They are now just figures, be it a 26, 27 or 28.

The very people I once felt safe around are the very ones who now try and harm me. Home is no more.