I was doing laundry outside when chaos broke out. I quickly ran to the gate to check what was happening. The police were all over. People were scattering, some were scrambling over the walls and dead bodies of teenagers were lying all over the street.

I went back to the house to check if Sipho was around. Sipho is my 17-year-old brother — he was one of the gang members. I tried my best to keep him from the life of gangs, but I truly failed to do that. No one in my community wanted to assist me. My mother went to jail when I was in matric. She was jailed for murdering my father who was attempting to rape me. I couldn’t go to university because I had to get a job so that I could take care of Sipho. I was a domestic worker.

When I got into Sipho’s room he wasn’t there. I kneeled down and prayed.

“Creator of the universe and everything in it, I come to you heartbroken. All I’m asking for is that Sipho changes his ways and becomes a better person.”

Just before I said amen, Sipho came in running.

“What have you done Sipho?” I asked him.

“Nothing serious,” he said to me.

I just stared and left him there. I went back to do Mrs Pillay’s laundry. Mrs Pillay was my madam. After I finished with the laundry I went to the house and prepared dinner. As I was peeling potatoes, Sipho came out of his room, carrying his bags.

“Haibo! Sipho uyaphi? Where are you going?” I asked.

“I am going to Johannesburg sisi, but don’t worry I will visit you,” he said, leaving.

I ran after him, begging him to stay, trying to warn him about that big bad city. He stared at me, turned his back on me and left me crying like a mad woman at the gate.

After some time, I went back to the house and called my friend, Nontsikelelo, to come sleep over. The next day I went to work and asked for an early lunch from Mrs Pillay, so that I could see my mother in prison and tell her about Sipho. Mrs Pillay agreed and I went to see my mother.

“Nokukhanya! I am so happy to see. Why did you stop visiting me?” my mother asked.

I couldn’t even utter a word. I just broke down.

“You are only 24 but your emotional intelligence baffles me and you’ve been like that since your childhood. You recall those moments you used to comfort me? Now talk to mama,” she said.

“Mama, uSipho has changed. He’s busy committing crimes, dropped out of school and yesterday he took all his bags and left. I tried all my best to convince him to stay and I never stopped praying.”

“Nkosi yam!” she exclaimed.

“Khanyo you should have told me when this all began. I know there’s nothing I can do but I would have advised you. All we can do now is to pray more,” my mother said.

We had a long conversation until visiting hours were over. When I got home I received a call from a hospital in Kimberley notifying me that Sipho has been involved in an accident. I threw myself on the bed. I was numb.

The following day I withdrew money from the bank and bought a bus ticket. I took a bus to Johannesburg to fetch Sipho. Later that day I arrived. Sipho was in ICU and he needed a liver. I begged the doctor to transfer him to Robert Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley, where I will always be available. Two days later he was transferred. I had to come up with ways to make money so that Sipho could get a liver transplant.

I went to try my luck at the bank but they wouldn’t give a domestic worker a loan. I decided to go to Mrs Pillay and ask for assistance. She promised to talk to her husband on my behalf. Her husband was a medical doctor. I was relieved. Later that day Mr Pillay came to my house.

“You are a very sexy lady Khanyo, and I’ve been craving for you since day one,” he said, brushing my thighs. I removed his hand and told him to leave.

“Oh wait, I hope that you didn’t think I would help you for free. Don’t you dare think about telling my wife. I will tell her you’ve been throwing yourself at me.”

“Get out Bastard!” I shouted that angrily.

A few days later Sipho’s condition was getting worse and I had no choice but to give Mr Pillay what he wanted. Weeks later Sipho was discharged from hospital. My life was never the same, Mr Pillay kept coming for more and Sipho went back to his old ways. Guilt was consuming me every time I saw Mrs Pillay. She has been nice to me all these years but I betrayed her.


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