It was late in the evening, cold. Mandi sat in the TV lounge staring at the screen, inattentive though. Her mind was on the next target. Thembisa had called her earlier, telling her she had found out that the third attacker was rumoured to be sickly, in hospital – admitted in the AIDS ward, and in a dreadful state. His name was Sibusiso.
Mandi sat there wondering how she’d creep in, in such a public space. Then there was a knock on the front door.
It startled her.
“Who is it?” Mandi yelled.
“It’s Khanya. Open up Mandz.”
“What are you doing here, Khanya?” She let her in out of the rain.
“Nothing. Just coming to check up on you,” the heavily pregnant Khanya said.
Mandi looked around suspiciously, then back at Khanya. She closed the door behind her to make sure that nobody was watching them. Her mom was still in the dark about everything.
“I’ve come to see how you are, Mandz. Am I not meant to?”
“It’s not that. It’s just a little late … and in your condition … I’d think you’d be in bed, getting foot massages or something.”
Khanya laughed. “If only I didn’t have a lazy sloth for a husband.”
“So how are you keeping up, Mandi?” Khanya asked lamely, seemingly trying to break the ice.
“I’m OK.” Mandi was beginning to get irritated.
Khanya looked at her intently, unconvinced.
“I’m OK, really. If this is about our conversation at your school, I was a little stressed that day, and I may have exaggerated a bit. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
“You don’t have to hide your feelings, friend.”
I should’ve seen this coming, Mandi thought. “I’m OK, really, Khanya!” she emphasised.
“That’s good to hear. Hey, there’s somebody I want you to meet.”
“The same person I wanted you to contact when we spoke last.”
“A social worker?”
“Yes, just a brief session. Are you willing to meet with her?”
“Yes, fine, I suppose it’s OK. Let’s give it a couple of weeks though.”
Khanya looked at Mandi mischievously.
“No, you didn’t …?” Mandi asked, growing really annoyed.
“She’s in the car.”
“Who’s in the car?”
Khanya pulled Mandi by the hand. “No, man, Khanya! You’re pushing it now. I’ve agreed but just not at this moment. I’ll see her first thing next week.”
“This is just an introduction, Mandi. I want you to see her for a second, literally. If you like her, then we can schedule an appointment. If not, then I’ll find someone else.”
They walked hand in hand towards the parked car. Khanya knocked on the driver’s door and beckoned to the woman inside.
A plump, serious-looking woman stepped out. She looked to be in her mid-fifties and had a nice smile. “Hello there, Mandi,” she said softly, extending her hand.
“Hi,” Mandi responded, reluctantly holding out hers.
“I’m Pamela Langa. I’m a social worker, based in Kwamagxaki Children’s Home. I’ve been active for over seventeen years, counselling victims of domestic abuse, paedophilia, rape.”
“I see,” responded Mandi, not giving an inch.
“Well, anyway, I just wanted to come and say hi. If you want to see me, don’t hesitate to give me a ring. Khanya’s got all my details.”
“Sure, I’ll do that.”
“Fine then, Mandi, we’ll see you next week,” Khanya said enthusiastically.
“Fine, I’ll see you guys.” Mandi sighed with relief and walked away.
She stood around the corner of her house, watching them drive off.
“Too little, too late, Khanya, my friend,” she whispered into the dark.
Tell us what you think: Has Mandi missed a golden opportunity to help get over her emotional wounds, or do you agree it’s ‘too little too late’?