The next day was Sunday and Nomsa and Avile went off to visit a friend. Thandi took a taxi to the old suburb and met Thandeka on the road. They walked the rest of the distance to church together. On the way Thandi told Thandeka just how much money she had already made.

“Wow!” Thandeka exclaimed. “Soon you’ll be overseas! What a dream come true girl!”

“Wish I could take you with me in my suitcase,” Thandi replied, and she meant it. She just knew that Spain would be even more fun with Thandeka!

“Maybe next time girl!” Thandeka laughed.

Thandeka was happy for Thandi and Thandi was so grateful for that. She knew that not every friend was happy when something good happened to you, and not them. They tried to bring you down. But not Thandeka. She really wanted the best for Thandi.

As they sat together in church listening to the pastor, Thandi’s cellphone lit up. It was Mark. She didn’t remember giving him her number. But it made her smile inside, even though she was trying to not think about him. She just couldn’t help herself.

Mybe we cd hv a party @ my place to raise money 4 da trip

We’ll c, she SMSed back.

“Hey, why you smiling like you just won the lotto?” whispered Thandeka.

Thandi was thinking about how wonderful a party would be. At his place! But as always, where was the money going to come from?

Thandi was amazed by how many people bought raffle tickets from her after church. As so many from her old community gathered around her, and handed over their hard-earned money Thandi felt so much love and care from them all. It made her stronger. She could feel it.

Monday will be better at school, thought Thandi, sitting alone on the taxi going home. I’ll keep on trying. I won’t give up.

Thandi was singing as she approached her front door, and then stopped dead in her tracks. Nomsa must have arrived minutes before her. Thandi could hear Avile crying. She could also hear Nomsa swearing like she’d seldom heard her swear before.

“Bastard! How could he do this?”

Thandi could see that the front door had been kicked open. Suddenly Thandi wasn’t singing anymore. Instead her heart was pounding hard in her chest. Running, she started shouting herself:

“Who did this? How could they do this to us?”

She stopped in the doorway. The scene that confronted her was one of total chaos. Everything had been turned over. Plates lay smashed on the floor. The clothes had been pulled out of the cupboards and drawers and lay strewn on the floor.

Nomsa was standing in the midst of it all, clutching handfuls of clothing and then throwing them down again in a rage. Avile sat on a pile of stripped-off bedding, howling his head off.

“Nomsa,” cried Thandi, rushing in and holding her tightly in her arms. “Thula, sisi. Calm down. You’re freaking Avile out!”

But Nomsa would not calm down. She did not tell Thandi, but she felt sure that she knew who had done this.

“We’ve just been robbed Nomsa,” Thandi said calmly. She needed to be strong for her sister, but she was terrified inside. “Come now. At least none of us has been harmed. Shhh, Nomsa, shhh.”

Nomsa was suddenly silent, and allowed herself to be rocked calmly in Thandi’s arms while Avile carried on screaming hysterically.

Nomsa reached for him after a moment and collapsed next to him, like a bag of laundry herself. Tears were running down her cheeks.

Will I never be free of him? she thought to herself. Will he never let us have any peace?

Thandi stood in the middle of the room and stared. The mattress had been overturned.

“The pendant!” cried Thandi, panicking. “Oh no – the pendant!” She started searching frantically on the floor under the mattress. But it was gone…


What do you think? Who has robbed them? Is Thandi still not going to be able to go on her longed-for overseas trip?