When I got home I felt excited, but nervous. The longer I waited for Mama to come home the more stressed I got. Before I knew it, I had eaten all the vetkoek that Mam Zondi had brought round. Then I felt awful, as usual. Nothing could fix me, I thought. Why bother to go to life coaching when I came home and stuffed my face?

But I had to be brave, Tasha had said. Something had to change, and I was the only person who could make that happen.

So I fixed a meal for Mama. I took the leftovers of chicken and I heated them in the microwave. When she arrived her dinner was ready, plus I had boiled water for her to soak her feet.

“Noluthando wam,” I called her.

“Yintoni ngoku?” she said.

After she had soaked her feet, and was relaxed and ready for bed, I took a deep breath.

“There’s something I want to talk to you about,” I said.

“Did you fail your test?” she said quickly.

“No, Mama.”

“Are you pregnant?”

How would that even be possible? I thought.

“No …”

“Uyagula?” she asked me.

“Hayi Mama, ndi-right,” I said.

“Then what is it?”

“I have brought a form home from the Girl Power Programme. It is an afterschool programme run by life coaches – they are trained and everything. It helps young people with social skills,” I said, trying to sound convincing.

“What ‘social skills’? You don’t need social skills – it’s a waste of time. Haven’t I taught you how to behave? You should be studying. When is it anyway?”

“It’s on Fridays. It starts at three and ends at five,” I answered her. “It’s after school. It’s just down the road from the school and Palesa will travel with me. She lives near here.”

“Palesa? Who is Palesa?”

“She’s a new friend.”

Mama’s face softened for a few seconds at the news that I had a new friend, before getting stern again.

“He wena, who will cook and clean, when you return at five?”

“Ndiyathembisa Mama, ndizocleaner ndipheke,” I said, reassuring her.


“Calm down, Mama. On Fridays I am going to wake up early and clean before I go to school, so that your house is spotless. I will still have time to cook supper when I get home. Just let me know what I will have to cook beforehand.”

“Okay, Bhelekazi wam, you can join the program – as long as you can keep your word,” she said as she signed the form.


Tell us: Do you think Mama lays too much emphasis on housework?