Gugu was woken by the sun streaming onto her face. She stretched and smiled. Africa, she thought to herself. Oh it feels so good to be home!

She sat up in bed, and then swung her legs out from under the light sheet she had been sleeping under. Her bare feet touched the wooden boards of the floor. They felt cool to the touch. She stood up, and walked to the kitchen.

“Hello Mama,” said Gugu brightly to her mother, who was standing at the kitchen washing the dishes. Her mother turned to her.

“Hello my child,” she smiled broadly. “Oh my child, it is so wonderful to have you at home.”

“It’s wonderful to be home,” said Gugu, “and it’s even more wonderful to see the sun shining! It’s almost a pity that I have only got two weeks to enjoy it.”

Gugu’s mother turned to the stove and began making Gugu some mealie pap. It was just one of the many things that Gugu had missed so much during her year away overseas. She inhaled deeply: “Oh Mama that smells so good!”

While Gugu ate her breakfast her mother loaded the washing machine with the clothes that Gugu had travelled in.

“You are spoiling me Mama,” said Gugu with a smile. “I’ve become used to doing everything for myself, you know. Even cooking.”

Gugu’s mother touched Gugu’s shaven head lightly as she passed. “Doesn’t this make you cold all over here?” she asked.

Gugu ran her hand over her smooth head, and replied, “That’s what warm hats are for Mama.”

“But,” said Gugu’s mother hesitantly, “do the boys like it?”

Gugu frowned. “Mama,” she said softly, “you agreed not to do that.”

“I know,” said her mother, with a shrug. “It’s normal for a mother to ask these things. I do want to be a gogo one day.”

Gugu sighed, took her empty bowl over to the sink, and gave her mother a pat on the shoulder.

“Anyway,” said her mother, changing the subject, “what do you plan to do today − your first day back in South Africa?”

“I’m going to visit Nomalunga,” said Gugu, as she shut the bathroom door. “Remember? I told you that yesterday.”

“Do you think that is a good idea Gugu?”

But Gugu had turned the shower taps on, and pretended she did not hear.

As Gugu rode in the taxi to Nomalunga she forced herself not to think about anything. She was getting quite good at that. For the last year she had tried not to think about Nomalunga very much at all. She had to do it. It was important for her not to think of anything that would distract her from her studies.

“Maybe,” she thought nervously, as she approached her destination, “I should have listened to my mother. Maybe this is not a good idea at all.”

Gugu walked the familiar street, and stopped at the familiar door of Nomalunga’s house. She knocked hard, and waited. There was no reply, and so she knocked again. The door opened.

A girl stood before Gugu. She was dressed in a tracksuit, and her long hair extensions were tied loosely together. She was smiling broadly, whilst cradling a baby that was warmly wrapped in a blanket against her chest.

She held the baby with one hand, and reached towards Gugu with the other.

“Nomalunga,” said Gugu softly, allowing herself to be embraced by the girl. Gugu felt the baby squirming between them, and pulled away slightly. She looked down at the baby, and then up at Nomalunga.

“Nomalunga,” she said again, softly, “have you already forgotten about us?”


Tell us what you think: What does Gugu mean? What has Nomalunga forgotten about?