Thando and Nandi are in the kitchen of their tiny RDP house, early on the morning of Zikhona’s funeral. Nandi smiles.
“Why are you smiling?” asks Thando.
“I’m just thinking that it is so much like Zikhona to teach us a lesson, even when she is no longer with us.”
“What on earth are you talking about?” Thando looks at Nandi, more confused than before.
“I mean, she has shown us that if you carry yourself in a certain way, people will genuinely care for you. We are giving her a beautiful funeral without spending a cent. The Hamiltons, her old high school friends and all the people in our neighbourhood pitched in financially.”
Thando smiles for the first time since the death of his sister. “That’s true, Nandi. The way we carry ourselves is very important.” Thando is especially pleased at her comment, because he believes Nandi now understands that being of good character is important in life.
“That is why we have to be strong for her,” says Nandi. “And be the best versions of ourselves always.”
They carry themselves gracefully throughout Zikhona’s funeral. They are strong. It helps that people who speak at the funeral highlight the positive things Zikhona did. Not one speaker mentions her gruesome death. The day turns into a celebration of Zikhona’s life.
Later in the afternoon Thando sits in the backyard. He returns the many messages of condolence on his Facebook page.
“Thando.” It is the husky, rich voice of his friend, old man Albert from the library. “It is time I haul this old body home. It’s getting chilly.”
“Thanks for the support throughout this ordeal, Albert,” says Thando.
Albert sits on a chair next to Thando. The old man looks into his eyes and says, “How are you holding up, old son?”
“I am dealing with it, my friend.”
“I see. Stay strong, my boy. What about next year? How are the applications for varsity going?”
“It’s still early in the year, it’s only June. But I’ll get to it.”
“UCT is still your first preference?”
“Yes. But the course has changed.”
Albert is taken aback.
“Don’t worry, Albert, I’ll still study law,” says Thando. “But I want to be a criminal lawyer now, not corporate. I want to make sure rapists and murderers go to jail.”
“You can do well in whatever you choose, old son,” Albert shakes Thando’s hand and leaves.
Tell us: Why are Albert and Thembi very good friends for Bookworm to have, even though they are so much older than him?