“I was cleaning Analo’s bedroom and making her bed with fresh sheets when I found this envelope under the mattress.” Nomalizo gave Thobela the envelope when they were sitting at supper. Analo hadn’t talked since she and her mother had got home. She had shut herself in her room and cried.

Thobela scanned the report and looked at Analo, who couldn’t meet his eye.

“I saw Nomzabalazo’s child, Lilitha, walking down the road and I asked her why was she back from school already. She attends the same sessions with Analo. She told me Analo had stopped attending long time ago. She was at school playing soccer. And I found out she had faked my signature on the indemnity form!” Nomalizo stopped shouting and gave Thobela a ‘say something’ look.

“Didn’t we tell you to attend extra classes?” Thobela asked Analo.

“You did father,” Analo replied.

“But we were just being crazy, heh?” Thobela raised his voice.

“Hayi, Tata.”

“Then why didn’t you listen to us, Analo?”

“Uxolo Tata.”

“You will never play again or else–” Thobela threatened.

“Please father. Soccer is everything to me and I am good! Just ask our coach. Come and see me play. I’ll show you. I promise to go back to the tutorial group and work hard …” She took a deep breath. “But I’m not going to be a chemical engineer. I don’t want to choose Physical Sciences next year because I’ll fail again and again. Do you want me to do something I will never be good at and don’t enjoy?”

Her parents looked at her, stunned. “In fact,” Analo continued, her voice getting higher and higher, “I hate it! I’ll try my best til the end of the year but next year I want to only do subjects I like and that I can pass.”

Thobela and Nomalizo sat in stunned silence as their daughter wept. It hurt Thobela to see his daughter shed tears like this.

“Is playing soccer what you really want?” his voice was softer.

“Y… yes father,” Analo answered.

“I can see you are passionate about it …” He paused, then he turned to Nomalizo. His face had changed.

He had realised, thought Analo. She had made him stop and realise that what they were doing was their dream, not hers.

“But what about engineering? I’ve told everyone …” Nomalizo was struggling to accept this.

“You have to agree, Nomalizo, that you can’t do something you hate, and be good at it.” He turned to his daughter. “But school is very important, Analo, and passing this year with options is important. Soccer might be your passion, but it isn’t everything. That is something most footballers realise too late. Your mother and I want you to be happy my child. We did not finish school. You can see from our standard of living how that has affected us.”

He paused before continuing. “I will let you play soccer. But only if you do continue the tutoring; you will need it to help you with Maths and to pass Natural Science this year. You will only play soccer on Wednesdays,” Thobela put Analo’s report on the coffee table and went to his bedroom.

Nomalizo looked at Analo with a question in her eyes and followed her husband to their bedroom. Analo could see she hadn’t been convinced by Thobela’s words.


Tell us: Have you ever felt you are doing something only for your parents, not yourself? If so, what?