“… all my trust in you Lord Jesus. I don’t know what this is but I know that you’re God. Please save me, Father. Please save me from this darkness Jehovah, I beg you to–”

I was in the middle of this prayer when Grandma shook me awake.

“It’s okay, Sbusiso, it’s okay. It’s just another nightmare,” Grandma said. This was the third time I had woken her in the middle of these terrible dreams, crying out.

I opened my eyes and quickly closed them. “The lights, switch on the lights!” I screamed.

The light came on and I was relieved to see that it was really Grandma. In the darkness, as she shook me awake, I had thought she was the old lady in the nightmare. Sweat got into my eyes when I wiped my face with my hands. I blinked several times and tried to dab my eyes with my T-shirt, but that made the stinging worse.

“Let me get you a towel,” said Grandma. She disappeared and came back with a big towel.

As I wiped myself I realized that my pyjamas were dripping wet with sweat. The bedsheet beneath me and the blanket were also so wet that if Grandma wasn’t Grandma I’d have guessed that she’d poured a bucket of water over me – like in one of those pranks on TV!

“Change your pyjamas and come sleep in my room,” she as she stared at my wet bed, with a look that was half shock and half confusion.

She was seated on her bed, staring at the blank screen of her dead TV, when I walked into her room. She looked at me and I realized she was less confused and more frightened. “What were you dreaming about this time?”

I sat down next to her and told her about the dream. The more I told her about the dream, the more it dawned on me how much I was scaring her.

“See? Prayer is the best weapon,” Grandma said. “God is the creator and master of all. With him on your side nothing can hurt you.”

“That’s true, Gogo. At some point I thought I was really stuck in that nightmare.”

Grandma stood up. “Let’s pray and thank God for saving you. Let’s ask him to keep protecting us.”

I stood up and we held hands. We prayed until my throat hurt. Grandma kept praying for half an hour after I had finished. I spent those 30 minutes trying not to collapse as I went in and out of standing sleep. But I slept peacefully in bed after that.

However, the following night, I had the same nightmare. It frightened me the same while I was in it, but frightened me a lot more when I woke up. Grandma and I prayed as intensely and for as long as we could.

But the dream came again the following night.

After I had the same dream for a week. I began to hear doubt in Grandma’s prayer. While I was still begging God to save me from the evil spirits that caused the dream, Grandma was asking God why he had forsaken her. I was frightened to weakness by that, and I remember crying, begging God to save me for her, if I was not worthy. She had been through too much.

* * * * *

“Sbusiso, wake up! You’re not going to school today!” Grandma shook me awake on the Monday morning after the week of nightmares.

“What?”

“Your bath water is ready. I have ironed your clothes. Be quick. Your breakfast is also ready.” She left the room and closed the door behind her.

I was confused. I considered following her and asking more questions but I knew that would’ve been asking for a hiding. The safe thing to do was to obey her.

Grandma talked from the moment I arrived in the kitchen and all through breakfast. She talked all the way up the gravel road to the tarmac where we’d find taxis. She talked as we waited for a taxi; she pointed at random visible mountains and told me their names. She told me everything there was to know about the Buthelezi clan and the Nkonjeni area.

She even shared some gossip about our neighbours. Apparently, the light-skinned girl I was in the same class with, Sindi Gumede, wasn’t Mr Gumede’s child but was the love child of Mrs Gumede and her white boss. Grandma was desperate to keep me from asking questions, and I didn’t.

That first taxi took us to the taxi rank in the centre of our small town of Ulundi. Grandma headed straight to the rank manager.

“Where are the taxis to Nongoma?” she asked.

I had only heard rumours about Nongoma. Themba had told me his older brother had gotten muthi to make him bulletproof from there. Apparently, Nongoma was the muthi capital of our province.

***

Tell us: Do you think that Grandma, who is a Christian, should not use muthi? Why or why not?