It was Saturday morning. When Thandi woke up she saw that Babalwa’s bed was empty. It was very unusual for her sister to get up before she did. Thandi walked into the kitchen. Gogo was sitting on a kitchen chair, staring into space. Thandi knew that she had been crying.

“What’s wrong, Gogo?” Thandi ran over and knelt down beside her. Hot tears poured out of Gogo’s eyes and ran down her face. Then she lay her head down on the table and sobbed even louder.

Thandi knew she wasn’t going to get Gogo to talk when she was in such a state. She also knew it had to be something that Babalwa had done. Thandi looked all over the house but she could not find her sister. Then Thandi boiled the kettle and made Gogo a cup of strong, sweet tea, just the way she liked it. Gogo looked up at her. She smiled through her tears.

“Babalwa said she wished I was dead. She called me an interfering, silly old woman. She said she can do what she wants.”

“Where is she now Gogo?” Thandi took Gogo’s hands in hers. Gogo shook her head. “I don’t know. After she yelled at me, she ran out of the house.”

“I’m sorry, Gogo,” Thandi said.

“You’ve got nothing to be sorry for child.” Gogo looked deeply into Thandi’s eyes. “It’s your sister that’s causing all the worries. There’s something troubling that child, Thandi.”

Thandi nodded her head. She felt exactly the same.

“Do you think she’s taking something?” Gogo slowly sipped her tea.

“Do you mean drugs?” Thandi asked.

“Yes,” Gogo said quietly. “There has to be some explanation. Babalwa was never like that before, Thandi. It’s like she’s turning into a different person right before our eyes.”

Thandi stood at the sink washing the dishes. After she had spoken, Gogo had become quiet again. Now she was sitting, staring into space. Thandi knew she was very, very worried about Babalwa. Thandi felt that if Babalwa was here right now, she’d slap her! How could she do this to Gogo? She looked as if she had aged ten years overnight. Thandi finished washing the dishes.

“Come on Gogo,” she said softly. “I think you should lie down again. I’ll clean the house and do the rest of the chores.”

“You’re a good girl,” Gogo said, stroking her face softly. “You remind me of Masego in so many ways.”

Masego had been the twins’ mother and Gogo’s daughter. Thandi knew, even after all this time, that Gogo missed her daughter very much. When she got a faraway look in her eyes, Thandi knew she was thinking about Masego. Gogo had a framed picture of Masego beside her bed. Every night before she went to sleep, she kissed the picture and said a prayer for her daughter.

Thandi walked into the bedroom and began tidying up. She looked over at Babalwa’s side of the room, and slowly shook her head, annoyed. Everything was a mess. Thandi made her sister’s bed and began picking her clothes up off the floor. She was hunting for Babalwa’s other school shoe and when she looked under the bed Thandi gasped out loud. There was a roll of rand notes lodged between Babalwa’s other shoe and an old magazine.


Tell us what you think: Where does the money come from?