The house was in NU 12, one of the under developed communities of Motherwell. The whole community was made up of little shacks that seemed to be put anywhere the residents could find space. There was one tap at the end of the dirt road and it was dripping, gashing out gallons of water and it was tied up with some plastics. The water ran down the street and landed in the hollow grooves of the earth in front of the people’s shacks. There was a garbage dump not far from the tap and it was buzzing with flies and the stench of a dead animal reeked from miles away.

It had rained two nights ago and the street was just a puddle of mud and the kids were playing in it. Nozie walked until the house described by the children in the street was visible from between the other shacks. It was tiny and the planks looked old and dry, it was painted pink in some century but now all that had faded. It wasn’t straight either, just a bit skew leaning to one side with a small white door. She stood in front of the house and wondered how she would feel if she lived like this. That’s why Nora never wanted anyone here, she was embarrassed. But that still didn’t excuse her behaviour of late and Nozie needed answers.

She walked up to the door and knocked, she knocked again only this time a little louder. She knocked the third time ready to turn and leave if nobody answered and suddenly the door opened.

“What do you want?”

A chubby looking woman in her early thirties stood at the door. It was hard to tell her age really because her face had wrinkles and scratches, you could tell she was a friend of the ale. She was standing at the door and her whole frame filled the little door way and Nozie couldn’t see past her.

“Hey, are you deaf? What do you want?” she barked again and she had hoarseness to her voice that wasn’t from sleep.

“Is this Nora’s house?” Nozie gave her best smile and the woman was not happy.

“Who are you?” she pouted her lips.

“I’m Nozuko, Nora’s friend…from school.”

The woman gave Nozie a look that said ‘snob bitch’ and it made her feel uncomfortable.

“I’d like to talk to you about Nora’s grant.”

It was the only thing she could come up with. She hadn’t expected to be intimidated by looks. So she elaborated her story when she saw the woman wasn’t moving.

“Can we talk for a minute so I can explain to you how the school wants to help Nora get grant.”

The woman sneered and looked behind her in the dark shack, tiptoed and pulled the door gently so that it doesn’t make too much noise when the hinges screeched. She stood some few steps away from the house and put her hands on her hips, tilted her head to one side and asked, “So, what’s this about Nora’s grant.”

Nozie could see in the sunlight that the woman’s eyes were swollen and red, she must’ve been crying all night. On her right eye there was an almost fading patch that was evidence she was hit, or fell as they like to say.

“As you know Nora is very bright so the school is willing to give her a grant based on her performances at school. But lately she has been doing very badly and the school is thinking of not giving her the grant. So I need to know what’s wrong with her so that I can talk to the principal and explain.” She stopped talking when the face hardened.

“How much is this grant?” she growled.

“R2000… a month.” Nozie was too good at poker faces, she didn’t even flinch. The woman looked around and dropped her head a little, and went to stand across the street.