Songezwa got into the car, and was immediately barraged with questions.
“What are you doing here?”
“Were you working in there?”
“Are you alright?”
She didn’t answer, but she looked like she was dangerously close to tears, so K8 told the other two to cool it. The car pulled away, and after a few minutes of driving Songezwa took a deep breath and told them everything.
“Ja,” she said. “I got a job at a strip club.” The others tried to interrupt, but she kept going. “Not taking off my clothes, just serving drinks. But they kept asking for my ID, because they said I looked too young to work there. So I tried to get a fake ID. That’s what that guy Chase gave you before the match. But when you lost it, I had to go in and say I didn’t have my ID. And they kicked me out. And I don’t have money to get home.”
“But why, Song?” said K8. “Why did you do all this?”
“I needed the money.”
“What’s wrong with you?” said Airtime, bursting. “Why would you work in a place like that? I thought you were better than this!”
K8 asked him to calm down, but Airtime was upset. He had been in the same class as Songezwa since they were little kids. He had always been protective of Song, and to know that she was living her life like this really hurt him.
“Where’s your dignity?” he asked.
Song got angry.
“My dignity? How can you say that? You don’t know anything! How much dignity would I have if my mother was sick and I didn’t do anything? If I just stayed in school, and kept painting pictures with all of you? How much dignity would I have?”
The car was silent.
“What’s wrong with her?” asked Sbu quietly.
“She’s HIV positive. I found out last month. She told me. She had to quit her job.”
“What about you?” asked K8.
“I’m fine,” said Songezwa. “I’m healthy. And I’m going to do whatever it takes to make money, okay? And if that means quitting school and working at a strip club that’s what I’ll do. And if you’re my friends, you won’t stop me.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
- What would you do if your friend was in this position?
- Do you think Sbu and Airtime are unfairly judging Song?