I am back in the village running up the hill with the bottle of booze. I hear Nosiviwe’s voice as I open the door. Sabelo is trying to push me out of the house. Why?

“Hey chommie…” Nosiviwe runs up to me, excited. “Chommie chommie yam. You brought my favourite bottle.” We hug and then the lights go out. We run screaming and giggling. Is this a game? To the bedroom where the light is on. Then that light goes out. We are in the pitch dark. It isn’t a game anymore…

I open my eyes. I am lying on a bed. But there are noises of cars outside. I am not in the village. My eyes are blurred. I see stars then light then dark again. And then I hear a familiar voice. My aunt’s. I feel wet. I have wet myself. I see the rope lying on the floor, and the stool knocked over. But I am alive.

“The ambulance is coming. Just keep breathing, my sweetie,” she takes my hand. “Thank God I found you in time.”

Later, much later, in the hospital, my uncle stands at the foot of the bed. “Doctor Smith, will she be fine? What about the child?”

“The baby is fine and she will make a quick recovery, I am sure of that. If you hadn’t come…” then he stops.

“When will you discharge her Doctor?” Auntie asks.

“Tomorrow afternoon. I want to monitor the baby until then…”

I don’t remember much of what happens in the hospital. Nurses. Drips. Crying sounds of patients in pain. I cry on the inside.

When I am back at home, my aunt says. “You scared me mntanam, my child. Never do what you did again. You must tell me if something is wrong. We didn’t even know you were pregnant. ”

“I’m sorry Auntie.”

Nosie comes to see me. “That bitch Sandy. I am so sorry Noni…” she says, taking my hand. “She will soon find out just what a playa Sandile is. You deserve far better than him.” She takes the picture of Sihle and stares at it. “Tell me about him,” she says.

But I can’t. “Everything is a mess, Nosie. I feel like the world has turned against me. What have I done to be punished like this?”

Uncle says, “We love you Nonyaniso and we will support you. Never ever try to kill yourself again Makhesa.”

Sandy sends an SMS:

Please find it in ur
heart 2forgiv me chommie.

Maybe one day I will see her again. But not right now.

Auntie tells me, “Forgiveness is the greatest weapon we can use to rebuild the broken bridges.”

Uncle asks, “Is it a boy or girl?”

“Hopefully it’s a girl,” says auntie.

“It’s a girl. The doctor told me when they did a scan in the hospital. I wanted to know.”

Uncle says, “I was thinking that we should name her Siphukhanyo.”

I am not even sure that I want this child and they are already naming her. How will I tell Sihle that I am pregnant? How? I need him by my side. I need him to stay with me. Surely he will if he really loves me, like he says he does? Sandile calls, but I ignore it. Ten missed calls. He can wait. I switch off my phone.

That evening I hear aunt and uncle talking in low voices. Then they come to the sitting room where I am watching TV.

“Noni, that was your mother. The police…well one of your friends, Nosipho, has remembered something of the night of the rape.” I stare at them. My heart is thudding. “Nosipho remembers what her attacker wore. She remembers what the boys who raped her wore. The girls in the village had been too afraid to come forward.”

“It’s time you called home,” my uncle says softly.

I phone Mama and we both cry.

I phone Sihle. “I have something to tell you.”

“I’m listening,” he says. And I know he really is. He really listens to me. Not like Sandile who was always wanting to talk…to be centre of attention: talk, talk, talk…“This is really hard, Sihle. Please don’t judge me.”

“You can tell me.”

I hesitate. There is only one way to say it. “I am five months pregnant.”

There is silence. The longest minute. He knows what this means.

And then he says, “It will be OK. When I said I love you I meant it. Under life or death situations I’ll stick by you and I’ll support you.”

“Thanks a lot Sihle. I love you with all my heart.”

“I’m coming soon,” he tells me.

* * *

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