“Do people dress up for the State Theatre?” Modi asked her brother and sister-in-law at home that night.

“We’ve only been once. Some people were glammed up, others wore everyday clothes. It doesn’t matter,” Reabiloe said. “But it always feels good to dress up, nê?”

“We’re going straight from work, so I’ll have to change at the centre,” said Modi. She relaxed her hold on her little nephew, who had started wriggling around on her lap, and he slid down onto the carpet.

“A date is great news, but I have other not-so-good news,” her brother Jonase said. “Cousin Omphile is coming to stay for a month.”

“God, what for?” Modi couldn’t help the irritation she felt.

“She’s registered for a short coding course. Sorry, Modi,” Jonase added. “I couldn’t say no when Auntie asked. Whatever we feel about Omphile, family takes care of family.”

“I know. You’re a good person, Jonase. I’m so lucky that you and Reabiloe are taking care of me.” Modi was grateful for how little they charged her for board and lodging, as it meant she could save much faster than if she’d had to live elsewhere. “But hell, it feels like Omphile is following me here from Rustenburg. Copying me again, like she always did when we were kids.”

Jonase laughed. “I remember how you used to hide your toys and favourite clothes when she came to visit, because if you didn’t, she’d just take them.”

“It’s called stealing. Whatever I had, she wanted,” Modi agreed, sighing at the thought of a month of Omphile. “And if she couldn’t steal it, she’d break it or tear it – destroy it.”

While Jonase put Phenyo to bed, Modi and Reabiloe sorted through Modi’s clothes, deciding what she should wear for her date with Khotso.

The slinky, very pale orange dress had been a good choice, Modi knew, seeing the appreciation that lit Khotso’s face next evening. Her high, strappy gold sandals, and a super-fine gold shawl borrowed from Reabiloe and tied around her waist added a touch of glitz.

“You look stunning,” he told her.

“Not so bad yourself,” she said, admiring his jacket.

His car was a top of the range Audi, and Modi was impressed by how well he drove. No stupid showing off or almost lying down in his seat in an effort to appear chilled. Her last boyfriend’s driving habits had troubled her.

Oh God, she mustn’t spoil the evening by thinking about Neo. Surely she could keep in mind the lesson she had learned from him without actually remembering how he’d disappointed her.

“So, are you enjoying working at the ECC?” Khotso asked as they joined Tshwane’s evening traffic.

“It’s fun, but I need to be upfront with you. I’m only there until I’ve earned enough to pay for this cabin crew course at SAA’s headquarters in Kempton Park.” Modi sighed. “Problem is, my family isn’t poor enough for me to qualify as one of their assisted students, and I’m not rich enough to pay for the course without some serious saving first.”

“Wow! So you’re planning on flying high – literally!” Khotso said admiringly.

“I’ve wanted to work in the air ever since my first and only flight, years ago. My maths wasn’t good enough for me to try for a pilot’s licence,” Modi laughed. “But my English pass was excellent, and that’s one of the requirements. Another, would you believe, is being able to swim! Lucky there was this dam where the local kids all taught themselves to swim, where I lived outside Rustenburg. But I’m taking Saturday lessons to smooth out my style, and I’m also studying other languages with audio books.”

“I love that you’re so focused.” Khotso sounded so enthusiastic. “And doing it all yourself – or will your family help out?”

“No, I don’t want them to. They sacrificed enough for me when I was fifteen.”


Tell us what you think: Do you agree with Modi that we shouldn’t keep on expecting our families to make sacrifices for us?