On Thursday morning Zinzi arrived at work early. She was very excited. She knew Themba would be waiting for her … with the surprise.
She pushed against the door of the shop, thinking that Themba was inside. But the door was still locked.
Zinzi searched through her bag for her shop keys. A cold fear began to settle over her.
She heard the phone ringing inside the shop. She quickly unlocked the door, ran to the phone and lifted the handset.
Her throat felt dry and her legs were weak as she answered, “Themba’s Corner Store, good morning.”
“This is Themba’s brother speaking from the General Hospital. I am phoning about Themba. There’s been a bad accident … I am sorry to have to tell you, he didn’t have a chance. He was killed instantly.”
Zinzi’s body slipped slowly to the floor. She sat there dry-eyed for some time, limp like a rag doll.
After what seemed like a long time she stood up carefully. She closed the door behind her, locked it and walked back to the taxi rank.
Then she sat on a bench and waited. The day passed. She didn’t notice. People stared at her. She didn’t notice.
Late that afternoon, Zinzi stood up and joined the queue.
That evening Mama asked yet again, “Zinzi, do you promise you’ll always stay with me?”
Zinzi looked at her for a long time. Then her face softened. The tears were just behind her eyes, but they didn’t spill over.
“Yes,” she answered, “I will never leave you.”