Pamela sat with a pen in her hand staring at a blank page in her diary. Next to the diary lay a packet of unopened Dunhill Lights. She thought this would be a piece of cake, a walk in the mall, but it wasn’t. The more she tried to think, the harder it got. It would’ve been easier if this were a grocery list or her agenda for the next day, but it was neither. She was trying to write down her reasons for leaving her husband. She hoped that they would outweigh her reasons for staying. But she couldn’t think clearly. And it wasn’t just her that this decision would affect; it was her three boys too. The true loves of her life. What would happen to them?

She put her pen down, opened her pack of cigarettes, took one out and torched it. She took a deep drag and allowed the nicotine to float about in her head. Ahh, nothing like a cancer stick to clear the mind, she thought as she exhaled. It would be a blissful way to die, floating all the way to hell, she thought. Heaven didn’t allow people with thoughts like she had – especially about her husband. But this method of suicide took forever to work and he’d be home soon. After all, the mall wasn’t that far away from their house. Suddenly Pam was overcome by fear.

Mrs Pamela Ntethe, the beautiful designer and businesswoman, mother of ‘Cape Town’s most dishy and trendy teens’ as far as Seventeen Mag was concerned. Wife to the infamous Ndumiso Ntethe; BEE entrepreneur. From the outside it looked like Pamela had it all. They lived in a triple-storey dream home in a quiet suburb in Cape Town. Life should be perfect, but over the years the fairy tale had been crumbling.

At 36 Pamela was mother to three boys and married to her high-school sweetheart, Ndumiso. But since their wedding day she had been reduced from an outgoing, happy-go-lucky beauty to an introverted soul who had no friends. All the money she had could never buy her a single day of happiness in her marriage. She looked down at her Gucci white-gold bangle on her bruised left wrist. It was almost time.

She’d have to endure another session of being told what a failure and a miserable excuse for a woman she really was. And she would have to sit there and take it, along with a punch or two if she dared speak back.

She was burnt back to reality by the filter on her lips. She stubbed out the cigarette.

“Pam, how will you get yourself out of this one?” she muttered as she stared at the blank paper.


Zandile lay on her bed with a thousand thoughts buzzing around in her head – plans that were going nowhere slowly – and the ambition of a billionaire. The only thing that was proof that she still belonged in the land of the living was the steady rhythm of her heartbeat. Even though it was already afternoon the day hadn’t begun for her yet.

Why should she bother getting up? She had no social life, no job, no money and no boyfriend. Just a floating body with a mind filled with dreams. Life would be easier if she just went back home to Gwili-Gwili village in the Eastern Cape. She’d be working at Ntozonke’s Supermarket as a teller weekdays and baking scones and muffins for funerals over weekends. She would save most of her money as she’d be living at home rent free. She could even buy a pair of shoes or two, and buy clothes rather than make her own. Not that she regretted being able to sew. It was one skill she would never trade. It would come in handy one day and make her tons of money. But right now she had no job. She stared at the ceiling wishing an answer to her life would float down.

She was in the big city now; the land of fish and money, Cape Town. She had been here for two weeks already and still nothing seemed promising. Her aunt, not her aunt by blood, but the woman who shared their clan name, had taken her in. It was expected of her by Zandile’s family. What Zandile hadn’t expected was the way her aunt treated her, like a slave. The only way out of the situation was to get a job. The pressure was huge and she was close to giving up.

In her mind she drew a line. On one side there was life back home in the village; on the other the big city. But she knew in her heart that life in the village wouldn’t really be a life; not the life that she dreamed of. She’d lived village life for the past twenty-odd years and nothing seemed to change. People left the village – they didn’t make plans to stay there.

At 22, Zandile didn’t have anything to her name, except the clothes in her suitcase, her Matric certificate obtained at Gwili-Gwili Comprehensive School, and her ID. She needed a job, fast! But she needed money to apply for a job, to prepare CVs, to make calls, and go for interviews.

“Come now, MaZandie, you know all this. What you need is a proper plan, a full-proof …” she told herself. Then an SMS came through on her cellphone from her cousin.

C u soon need to chat

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Tell us what you think: Why do you think Pam is thinking of leaving her husband? Should Zandile go back to the village or hold out for a better life in Cape Town?