Bongiwe’s baggage becomes a ton heavier as she steps into the house and is immediately bombarded with love. “Welcome home!” Mamncane exclaims and rushes towards her and showers her face with kisses. Lethabo was gripping tightly at her waist.

“Ung’phatheleni?” (What did you bring for me?) He beams.

“Awungibulisi k’cala?” (You don’t greet me?) She bursts into laughter, uncomfortably so. When your heart is burdened with news that will impact negatively on your family, not even laughter will remedy the wound.

“I brought you pizza. You said you like it angisho?”

She reaches into her bag and pulls out a medium sized box containing an even smaller sized pizza. That’s logical in business lately. He digs in almost immediately. Mamncane never buys him these things. Last month Bongiwe had to use some of her book allowance from her student loan to pay for his school trip that had to be coupled with a colourful lunch box. There’s another load added to the madness; having to pay back the loan after having to bend over backwards to get it approved.

“How was school mntanami? Show us those distinctions” Mamncane asks jauntily. She looks into her eyes and sees a glimmer of hope that was dim until the start of this year when she wished her good luck moving into the city and now she has been tasked to shatter that spark.

“They’re still calculating our test scores they’ll tell us when they’ve added them to the website” Bongiwe lies. “Akhona amasi? (Is there any masi?) I’m starving.” She makes her way to the fridge with hope that it changes the subject.

The days following her return prove even tougher. Mamncane has told everyone she knows how proud she is of her little girl who is on the road to be the first in the family to obtain a degree and build them a double storey house. She had promised that after she gets employed, her first pay cheque will go towards erecting a tombstone for her mother and Mamncane will have the rest.

All the time she wasted, lost in the world of coming and going as she pleases and the tranquillity she felt knowing that there wasn’t anyone nagging her. Staying up late, having meaningless conversation with peers who had agendas, discovering wi-fi meant movie-marathon Fridays and all day shopping Saturdays. Gallivanting, her head stuck in the clouds and even a pregnancy scare was not enough to remind her of the true purpose of her journey into the big city. All of this was gone now.


Tell us: Have you ever wished that you hadn’t told people about your journey because in the end you came back empty handed?