Thandi swung her school bag over her shoulder as she walked the last few steps to her home. When she reached the door she stopped and listened. She could hear the sound of her gogo crying. Her sister Babalwa was yelling at the older woman. Thandi could hardly believe what her twin sister was saying to Gogo, who was very old, and nearly blind. She had been taking care of the girls since they were babies.

“I don’t know how you expect me to eat this food!” Thandi stood quietly at the door and looked at her sister in dismay. “Why can’t we have some decent food in this house for a change?”

“There’s nothing wrong with the food, Babalwa,” said Gogo, trying to coax her to eat something. “It’s a perfectly good stew and there’s lots of meat and nice vegetables in it.”

“I hate stew!” Babalwa lifted her plate and threw her lunch in the dustbin. “I’m hungry, Gogo. Now make me a sandwich.”

“Oh, Babalwa,” Gogo moaned, but she got up and began taking the bread out of the bread bin.

“And stop calling me Babalwa!” Babalwa yelled at her Gogo again. “My name is Thandi. Surely you must know the difference between the two of us?”

Gogo nodded her head slowly. Lately Babalwa had been trying to convince everybody that she was Thandi. It was as if she was ashamed at the way she was behaving. But she kept on behaving badly anyway.

“Hello, Gogo,” said Thandi, walking up to her and kissing her on the cheek.

“I can tell you apart even if nobody else can,” Gogo kissed her back. “How are you, wena? Did you have a good day at school?”

“Yes,” Thandi smiled at Gogo. She took the bread out of her hand.

“Sit down Gogo and I’ll make the sandwiches. The stew smells good. I’ll pour a bowl for myself.”

“I’ll have one too, with a slice of bread.” Gogo sat down gratefully.

Lately Thandi was worried about her. Gogo was the twins’ only close relative. Their parents had been killed in a bus accident when they were small and Gogo had been taking care of them ever since. Babalwa scowled at Thandi across the table.

“Why do you always have to be so nice?” she sneered.

“Why do you always have to be so bad?” Thandi asked her. “What on earth is the matter with you, sis? You’re going to get yourself expelled from school if you carry on the way you are.”

“It won’t be me that gets expelled,” Babalwa laughed. “It will be you. Remember everybody thinks it was you who hit that girl today. And now I get to sit home for a week.”

Thandi looked at her sister and slowly shook her head. “We may be identical in looks, Babalwa, but in every other way we are different.”

“Well now, Miss Goody Goody, you can clean up the dishes. Don’t forget to do all your homework. I’m going into the sitting room to watch all my favourite shows. I do not want to be disturbed.”

Thandi stood staring after Babalwa for a long time. She loved her sister, but at times like this she could simply strangle her.


Tell us about yourself: Have you ever experienced sibling rivalry in your family?