Three days after the final exams Nozuko had gone shopping with her friends Bulelwa and Liezel. It was easy being around them because they didn’t talk about the heavy stuff. It was boys, clothes and parties they always talked about and everything else Bulie said must be left to chance. They had a nice Saturday out, just the girls, and nobody talked about school, Mazibuko or his son. She didn’t even talk about Thulani because he also was a tiring soul lately. So they headed home in giggles and bags full of summer clothing.

“Mama, you’ve got to see the stuff…” she stopped in middle of the living room when she saw Thulani sitting there with her parents. They all had this serious look on their faces and Nozie didn’t like the tension, she could tell she was the centre of conversation. She tightened her grip around the parcels, walked over to greet her parents, kissing them each on the check and looked at Thulani and said a cold ‘hi’ which he returned with a warm smile.

“Zuko, could you sit down for a minute we’d like to talk to you.” her mother was smiling and patting the open seat next to her on the two-seater couch.

“Ok, I’ll just drop these in my room then.” she glared at Thulani when she turned a corner and already he was regretting his visit. She came back and sat next to her mother trying to assess what this meeting was about, but both her parents had on their poker faces and Thulani wouldn’t even look her in the eye. She started boiling from inside and her face felt hot but she sat and waited for someone to say something.

“Ntomb’yam, my girl, we’re here because we care about you and we’d like to help you.” her father started half expecting her to snap as it was her reaction to everything lately, but she kept quiet.

“You’ve been through a great deal and we know you’re strong but you need help… you never dealt with what happened and we can see it’s affecting you.” he paused and looked at her and she still didn’t move so he continued. “Your mother and I think it’s time you saw a counsellor regarding what happened.” Nozie shifted on the chair as if suddenly feeling something uncomfortable underneath her. She looked from her father to her mother and still Thulani couldn’t look at her. This is a freaken ambush!

“Tata, Mama, I’m fine. I promise you there’s nothing for me to deal with. I’m sorry for the way I’ve been behaving lately but that was just the stress from the exams. But I assure you now I’m fine.” She said calmly and smiling at her parents. This is what she did best, convincing people through the power of speech.

“Your behaviour lately has been so erratic and we know it’s more than the stress of the exams. It’s like you’re a completely different person.” Her mother tried to reason with her and she in turn tried not to blow a gasket.

“Fine then I’ll see a counsellor, after I come back from Cape Town.”

“Are you planning on coming back?” Thulani was looking straight at her this time.

“Of course I am, why wouldn’t I?” she hissed at him though her pitch was just above normal. And Thulani was mumbling something that Nozie couldn’t hear.

“It’s not a good idea that you go away. We must deal with this while it’s still fresh so you can move on with your life. It’s terrible what happened to you love and…” her mother took a sour turn.

“WE? We have nothing to deal with! I’m the one who has to deal with this every day, not you, you and definitely not you!” she stood up, pointing at them as she directed her anger to each of them. “I’m trying to move on with my life but you people won’t let me. And you Mama will never know how terrible it is, none of you can!”

“Nozuko that’s enough! Kwanele maan!” her father roared. “Now we understand you’re hurting and we want to help you but I will NOT have you disrespect us like that again. Now sit down and listen.” She was crying uncontrollably now and her mother was comforting her.

“You will not go to Cape Town or anywhere else for that matter, until this is dealt with. Can’t you see my baby how it’s eating you up, destroying all your relationships? Now we love you and as your parents we know what’s best for you. Now you will see someone about it, and we’ll be there for you.” the man had spoken.

“Now sisi, you can take a gap year if you want. But we can’t let you leave.” She just lay on her mother’s lap and cried her heart out. She had no energy to fight and it was useless arguing with her parents. So she cried for the very first time since it happened. Thulani saw that it was a family moment and he felt like an intruder so he excused himself and went home. Nozie’s dad saw him out assuring him that he just needed to hang in there, he did the right thing.