Ten years later

“Ma, this school in Johannesburg is offering scholarships. I’d like to see if I can get one.”

I handed her the glossy brochure. My mom perched her glasses on the edge of her nose and flicked through the pictures of the leafy school grounds, Olympic-sized swimming pool, hi-tech science and computer labs, and school orchestra.

“I would be a boarder there.”

Mom nodded. “I’d miss you, but it would be a great opportunity. Let me see the forms.”

So that’s how it all started. When I was awarded one of the three scholarships, I shrieked with delight. Even my brothers were proud of me. At that point I had no idea it was Busi’s school. I only knew it that moment I was standing on the quadrangle being introduced as her ‘sister’.

“What are you doing this weekend?” she asked me.

“Not much,” I replied.

While I loved my new school, at the weekends I was one of the few boarders left on the grounds. My mom could only afford to bring me home once a month and over the school holidays. I wandered aimlessly around reading and watching TV. None of my friends were around to speed up the passing of time.

“Then you must stay over at my house! My family would love to see you.”

“OK,” I replied and my stomach fluttered. I’m going to Busi’s house, going to Busi’s house! I thought. I could hardly contain my excitement.

On Friday afternoon, Busi’s mother pulled up in her black BMW. She climbed out of the car, looking thinner than I remembered her, but more glamorous, in her high-heeled leather boots and Gucci sunglasses.

“Lindi!” she cried, flinging her arms around me. “What a wonderful surprise. It’s been too long.”

Too long because you never called or visited as you promised, I judged her silently.

We drove through the wide streets with their high walls and security fences, and then up to a gate, which opened automatically. Once we were inside Busi jumped out of the car, grabbing my weekend bag.

“Come and see my room and the swimming pool.” She led me through a huge entrance with a water feature and koi fish swimming around in circles. Then we went into the lounge which was furnished with large overstuffed couches in beige. African masks hung on the walls. I followed her upstairs to her bedroom.

“Wow!” I said. The room was definitely fit for a princess with its thick pile, cream carpet, a four poster bed with a canopy and curtains in rose patterned fabric.

Busi opened her wardrobe and pulled out a box.

“Look, they’re all here! All the Barbies and their clothes. Remember these dresses? Your mom made them for me as a going away present. When we cleared the old toys out of my room, I told Mom I had to keep the Barbies and clothes. They were my memories of you. And now you’re here!” Busi beamed a broad smile at me.

I picked up the dolls’ clothes and ran my fingers over them. “Why didn’t you ever visit?” I asked. Tears welled up behind my eyes but I pushed them back.

“I kept asking my parents, but they always said they were too busy, and the drive was too long.”

“I guess they work hard to be able to afford all this,” I said looking around the room.

Busi shrugged. “Come, let me show you the rest of the house.”

Busi led me from room to room, each one seeming plusher than the next.

“What are these?” I said looking at a shelf in the lounge displaying objects made from what looked like glass. One was in the shape of an egg. It reflected the light in the room. It was beautiful.”

“Those are Swarovski crystal ornaments. My mom collects them. They are very expensive,” she smiled, “you can look at them if you like. I’ll be back in a minute.”

When Busi was gone I touched the egg. Then I picked it up and slipped into my blazer pocket. I didn’t know why I did it and I nearly put it back when I heard Busi.

“Let’s go swim!” she called, suddenly appearing in the doorway.

We went upstairs to change. I folded my blazer with the egg in the pocket into the bottom of my bag, piling my uniform, shoes and socks on top and securely zipping the bag closed. Perhaps I’d put the egg back later. I just wanted to look at it a bit more.

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Tell us what you think: Why did Lindi take the egg?