“You will be late for school!” MaMsomi shouted.
MaMsomi was a very old lady. She raised two kids completely on her own, for they were abandoned by her only daughter, Sindiswa. Sadly, one of her grandchildren was no more. He was killed by gangsters. She was left only with Nomasonto.
“Gogo! It’s a bloody lousy and rainy day,” she replied, as she looked out of the window.
“Indeed, it’s raining cats and dogs,” MaMsomi agreed.
Nomasonto took her raincoat and her school bag and quickly left the house. It was a very small house made of mud, furnished with only a fridge, a bed and a stove. Her late grandfather, Masogesi, built it many years ago when he was working in the mines of Johannesburg.
As Nomasonto was walking, a car honked at her. It was Mabhiza, a well-known drug dealer, driving a Mini Cooper. He was known for selling marijuana, ecstasy (umgwinyo), and cocaine. He was staying in a suburb area where well-to-do people lived. When the car honked again, Nomasonto stopped, and because it was raining cats and dogs, she found herself inside the car.
“Ola sisters!” Mabhiza greeted as he lit his cigarette.
“Yebo bhuti,” Nomasonto replied with a smile.
“Don’t you see that you are late for school?” Mabhiza asked.
“I do see, and I have to be there soon. We are writing a very important test today. If I do not write it, I will get bad marks, which will reduce my chances of getting a bursary.”
However, Mabhiza, famously known as a womanizer, convinced her to go to his house.
“I want to give you something that will take you to higher places, places you have never reached before,” Mabhiza insisted.
“I wonder what you are talking about bhuti,” said Nomasonto.
Mabhiza went to his bedroom. He came back with a very small plastic bottle full of white and pink pills. He gave Nomasonto one of them.
“I wonder what this is,” she mused, very keen to know.
“Ha! Ha! Ha! Take it! You will soon lie down in green pastures,” Mabhiza laughed.
She swallowed it. After a few minutes, she felt alive and happy. She had never felt such an awesomely indescribable feeling before. Losing all perception of time, the two of them left the house to go to a well-known club, where they drank and danced the whole night.
MaMsomi did not sleep that night.
I wonder what is happening to my grandchild, she thought to herself. Maybe, just maybe, she went to study with Nomusa. But usually, she informs me if she won’t be coming back home… “Mamo! It’s 6 o’clock already,” MaMsomi said out loud in amazement.
After a few minutes, there was a very annoying knock at the door.
“Knock! Knock! It’s me Gogo. Please open!” Nomasonto shouted.
“Where have you been?” asked MaMsomi, as she was opening the door.
“Higher places you never reached in your youth,” Nomasonto replied, laughing.
She was still drunk. It was a Friday and Nomasonto decided not to go to school that day. In fact, she stopped going to school all together and became a party animal. Soon after, she left her home to stay in the furthest town with some friends she met in a tavern out and about.
After a year, she became sick. She was suffering from stubborn warts (which are caused by the papilloma virus), around her genital area. Her weight loss was drastic. Her friends advised her to go back home. She was of no more use to them since she could no longer attract men to buy them booze. On top of that, she discovered that she was HIV positive.
“I will go back to my grandmother and apologize for all my mischievous deeds,” she promised aloud as she was packing her things. Soon after, she arrived at the small mud house her grandfather had built.
“Knock! Knock! It’s me Gogo. Please open.”
This time, she knocked with a heavy heart, filled with shame. However, no one opened the door for her.
“No one lives in that house anymore. MaMsomi died last December…Oh! What a shameful death. She had no one to take care of her. Her only grandchild left her a year ago.” The voice came from a fat woman passing by, carrying 10 kg of maize meal. “We buried her next to her husband down there in that graveyard,” she said as she pointed with her short, thick fingers.
Nomasonto froze. Her heart was soon overwhelmed by severe pain. She stood there for about thirty minutes, barely able to breathe. Next to their small house, there was a rope they used to use to pull their wheelbarrow. She took it and ran straight to the graveyard where her grandmother was buried. There was a very big guava tree next to her grandparents’ graves. She noticed something intriguing. On that guava tree stood two crows.
“Mmmmm…! These crows have wings. They can fly above the clouds. They are free. They can go to any place, but they have decided to come here, to this graveyard. Well, nothing is promised in this world, but a graveyard…We will all end here.”
These were her final thoughts before she hung herself on the tree.
Tell us: What did you learn from this story? What other options do you think Nomasonto had?