The day of the modelling competition has arrived and there is no turning back. My sister, Asanda, is not home to do my nails and make-up as she promised. Again she slept at her boyfriend’s place.

Agnes does my hair. She weaves black artificial hair onto my natural hair. This will last only for a day. Agnes agrees that after the modelling we will rip it off. I want my own look. I think to myself that I may come back to this weave look, but right now this is not what I feel like wearing.

“Hey girls, I am so sorry I am late.” Asanda comes in, drops her bag, and starts on my nails. When she works with my face one of my clip-on earrings falls off. She is furious.

“Nana, how could you cheat like that?”

“Sisi, I am the one being cheated here. I do not want to model. I do not want this look that is supposed to be beautiful. I just want to be me.”

“I always felt you were a bit crazy, wena. Now that has just been confirmed.”

On stage, Yandiswa walks in front of me. She looks like a robot. People cheer her on even with that fake smile. It is my turn and my heart is racing. When do I stop pretending and just be me? Today I have to do it in front of hundreds of people.

I walk on, trying my best. Down the ramp I go, at speed. Agnes is there in the front row, watching me. Then I slip, the heel buckles under me and I am falling. She is there catching me. There is a gasp from the audience, followed by the giggling of hundreds of girls. I hold onto her and don’t want to let go. She is the only safe person in the hall.

Our principal takes me home in his car once they have established that my arm is not broken. Agnes brings me painkillers from her house and remains with me for a long time.

“Please take these things off my ears,” I ask her.

“We need to learn to do things that make us happy Nana,” she says. Then she comes over and kisses me on the lips. Hers are soft. They aren’t demanding like the lips of Asanda’s boyfriend. I kiss her back.

She closes the door as she walks out. I don’t want her to go. I feel a whole mixture of confusing things inside.

That night as I lie in bed I think about my grandmother’s stories and how wonderful they are. She told me about the lady that worked on a Sunday and was stolen by the moon. To this day we can still see the lady in the moon leaning forward to get water into a metal bucket at a river.

I think about Agnes. Is it wrong to feel what I feel for Agnes? Have these feelings always been in me? Have I known in some deep place, all along, why I felt different from the girls around me?


Tell us what you think: You might be shocked by Nana’s feelings. Does that make Nana a bad person? What do you think about the story?

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