As I get off the bus from work, I am frightened by the screaming young woman not too far from the bus stop. I check the watch on my wrist and it is already eleven o’clock at night. This is my village, I am not normally afraid of anyone or anything and I know most of the villagers in this area. The screaming is getting louder as I keep on walking slowly.

“Let go of me!” shouts a young woman whose voice sounds familiar.

It can’t be, I think to myself, realising that this is the voice of Nothando Mseleku, the girl from next-door.

I keep on walking toward where the screaming voice comes from because this is where I always walk when I come home from work. Now I am feeling scared but I don’t want to show it to anyone who might be looking at me right now. I try to regain my confidence by singing my mother’s favourite worship song louder, “The devil is a liar; he can’t get over me…”

“Shut up, you fool!” says a voice of a man from a distance, who sounds irritated. My heart is now beating faster. I stop, wanting to run away. The screaming of a woman continues and I am wondering what they are doing to her. This is a village I have been living in for ten years now but tonight all of a sudden everything is like hell.

“Let go of her!” I shout angrily.

I hardly see who those perpetrators are in the dark and the streetlights have been off for five days now. I wonder why no one is coming to her rescue. Maybe she is not screaming loud enough to get the neighbours’ attention, I think to myself. I have to do something, now.

“Hey you, that is my sister you are beating!” I shout again, hoping that they will run away and leave her alone. They stop and look at where I am standing. They don’t see me clearly in the dark either.

“This is my village and I will report you to the police, you cowards. Why are you beating up the poor girl? Wenzeni – What did she do?” I say, trying to scare them away.

But they are not scared. The rain is starting to pour and I can smell the dry soil from where I am standing when the raindrops hit the ground. I am afraid of walking because I think they will kill me so I cannot be a witness if they get caught. But I don’t care. The rain continues and my body starts to shiver of the cold wind. I keep on walking slowly but I am afraid.

I shout, “Run, Nothando, run home!”

“Run for your life and let those cowards beat me instead!” I continue.

But I know deep down that I am scared. I know they will defeat me if they catch me. I see the dust on a gravel road that has not yet caught up the rain. She runs quickly as they focus their attention on me. They try to catch her but she runs faster. I also run back and now they come for me. Behind me I can hear their footsteps that they are running faster. Why is this happening to me? No, I cannot die tonight. I get into a small bush and hide. My heart is beating even faster. They stop and search for me.

“The bastard ran away,” says one of them.

“Yeah, asihambeni – let us go”, says another man.

I sigh heavily as they turn back.