The commune is empty. Split between the library and exam rooms. Filled with sentiment she stares at the furniture thinking it was fun while it lasted. Simple things like waking up and standing under running water always seemed like luxury back in the township, which may have contributed to her floppy marks. Studying was a mountain of a chore. She knew she had to study at some point, but she never had the will to do it. Keeping an average was the end goal and socialising took top priority. Dressing up in miniskirts to go to the TV room to get chatted up by boys was a little harmless fun. They wouldn’t bite and she was sure to not let any of them come close enough.

Fast forward to present day, she faces going back to the township a fallen soldier with her tail between her legs and failure plastered on her face. The neighbours who have chanted for her to excel, yet behind closed doors relish in the pain of the arrogant madam who thought she was better than everyone because she got into varsity. The audacity.

Picture a young inexperienced swimmer slowly walking into the ocean, after some time she is so deep in the water it has gotten above her head. There is no illusion as to what comes next. She either sinks to the bottom of the ocean or swims all the way to shore. Bear in mind that none of these solutions are easy. She dove into the water unprepared and unprotected, therefore the dilemma is whether she will sink or swim.

She sticks her neck out the taxi window and breathes in the scent of township soil. The smell is very different from wet soil, it’s more like they were infamous Lok’shin winds that have just died down. Home. The area is bustling with activity from the ever enthusiastic local vendors to children playing marbles, which is almost a rarity in the age of social media. Even amidst the warm weather, small hints of mogodu and amancina dust here and there. Winter is usually the perfect time for mogodu because a fly infestation is signi´Čücantly less, although precaution has to be taken, whether by constantly spraying the house with vinegar or placing a saucer with vinegar on the kitchen table. Households that are the other side of poverty use pesticides. Bongiwe felt that she would never be on the other side poverty.

***

Tell us: After leaving your home for a long time, how do you feel when you have to go back?