When their mom came home after ten days Thandi ran into her arms and started sobbing.

“What is it?” her mom said.

“Nothing,” said Thandi, wiping her tears. She couldn’t stress her mom out by telling her about Nomsa and Themba and how hard it was looking after Avile. Not when her mom was working so hard to save money for University.

“It’s nothing. It’s just, I’m so happy to see you, Mama.”

“And I have good news. The woman I work for. She is a teacher at one of the good schools in town. I told her about you. How you do so well at school…”

Thandi saw Nomsa look at her with pain and bitterness in her eyes when she said this. She was jealous, thought Thandi. And for a moment she felt sorry for her sister. It could have been her.

“It is difficult to get into the school and pay the fees. But she told me you could try for a scholarship to the school. She is going to tell me how to apply. I have brought back the forms. You need to write an essay about yourself.”

“About me?”

“Yes. You know, what you like doing. Why you want to go to the school so badly.”

How I don’t want to look after Avile, although I love him, thought Thandi. How I never want to see Themba again. How he treats me when I am alone. How I want my sister to be happy. Those are the things that welled up in her heart. But she couldn’t write about those things. She couldn’t write about how things really were. She would have to write about her hobbies, about church, about her dreams.

“The school is further away,” said her mom. “It would mean you coming back late each day.”

“Why would you want to go to a school like that?” snapped Nomsa as she picked Avile off the floor where he was playing with a dirty spoon. “With all those rich white children?”

But Thandi knew that it was because Nomsa would have to pay Pinky more to look after Avile then. There was something in Nomsa’s eyes that frightened Thandi.

Thandi took the forms and tidied them away, as she set the table with three places. Her Mom had brought a chicken home with her. It smelt so good that Thandi’s mouth watered.

Nomsa cleared the table after supper, while Thandi washed the dishes. Nomsa thought Thandi wasn’t watching, but Thandi saw her pick up the scholarship forms from where she had put them on the side table.

For a moment Thandi thought Nomsa was going to crumple them up, and throw them away. When Nomsa saw Thandi watching her, she tightened her grip on the papers.

“Hey,” said Thandi, “put them down, you’re going to tear them!”

Nomsa held on to the forms, and then, suddenly threw them at Thandi. “Take your stupid forms,” she said, “I was only going to read them.”

Later that night, Thandi hid the forms in a suitcase under the bed. She couldn’t forget the look in Nomsa’s eyes as she had held onto the forms. Thandi felt as though she had to hide them and protect them, as if they were solid gold.

Those forms had begun to feel as if they were the most precious things in the whole world.

Tell us what you think: Do you think Nomsa really wanted to get rid of the forms?