When Busi got home she was cold, tired and miserable, and she was dreading having to confront her granny. She just wanted to run away. But this was the only home she had. She was also nauseous from the taxi ride and she felt like throwing up. She must look terrible, she thought, as she opened the door of their shack. She was horrified to find that her grandmother was not alone. The ladies from church had come around for tea. Their noisy chatter died down as soon as she came in. They just stared at her. She had disgraced her family – she saw it on her granny’s face in that moment. “Come here, ntombi,” said her grandmother.
“Gogo …,” she stammered.
“Look at you, Busi,” one of the other ladies said.
“Where did you sleep last night?” asked her granny, sternly. “Why was your phone on voicemail? I phoned all your friends. I was so worried, and none of them knew where you were. What is going on, Busi?”
“My battery died, Gogo,” she lied, avoiding the accusing eyes of all her grandmother’s friends.
“Your granny has sacrificed her life for you …,” one of the other members of the church group said, “and look at the thanks she gets.”
“Since when do you lie to the woman who raised you?”
She couldn’t look at them. They were all staring. She was being shamed. “Go and wash yourself and change your clothes,” her granny said. As she walked out of the kitchen she heard one of the ladies say, “Today’s young people – they would never be able to live through what we had to live through. You must watch her. Does she still get her period regularly?”
Busi went to the lean-to in the yard where they washed. She stared at herself in the small mirror balanced on a piece of wood. When last did she get her period? She panicked. Parks had always said he knew what he was doing. Since that first time in the hotel, they’d had sex several times: in the back of his taxi, on a blanket in the forest, sometimes with a condom, sometimes without. She rubbed her hands over her stomach and felt ill. The Coke and chips she had eaten in the taxi came rushing up and splashed all over the floor. This couldn’t be happening to her. No, not to her, please no!
Back in her room she looked in the box next to her bed. There was a packet of unused sanitary pads. Her granny always bought one for her each month. She could hear them talking. She felt that they were watching her. How had she not noticed that she missed a period?
She didn’t think. She just typed the words and sent the message.
Hlp me. I thnk I’m preg.
He had left her alone in that strange house. Was this it, had he disappeared again? But then her screen lit up.
Dnt panic bby, will c u l8er.
No mention of why he had left her, or where he was. She looked in the mirror again. Did she know this person staring back at her? “What am I going to do with a baby?” she asked herself. She mouthed the word “baby”, afraid to say it out loud.
She waited until she had heard her grandmother’s friends leave before she ventured out of her room. “What is going on, Busi?” her grandmother asked her again.
She didn’t know what to say.
“Are you going to have a baby, Busi?” This time her grandmother was direct.
“I don’t know, Gogo,” said Busi, barely audible.
Busi swallowed. How could she admit this to her grandmother? But her silence was all the answer her granny needed. “Tomorrow we are going to the clinic,” she said coldly. “I can’t believe you, Busi – you, of all people! What is going on in your head? Why are you playing with your life? And your mother and father trusted me! What am I going to tell them?”