Zine is back at her flat. She is awake in the middle of the night. Her thoughts are running so fast that she knows she may not get a wink of sleep until sunrise. Mr Buthelezi gave her enough money for rent, but she still needs money for food and money to send back home to her children.

Zine wakes up and gets dressed. She joins the many people on the pavements on their way to work. She is going out to look for work as she has been doing lately. She enters office building after office building dropping off her CV. She has no luck because most of the places have signs that say ‘No Vacancies’.

Her feet are aching when she enters a restaurant. She asks to see the manager. The waitress sees that Zine is smartly dressed and hurries to call the manager.

“How can I help you, miss?” says the manager.

“My name is Zine Gumede. I’m looking for work,” says Zine.

“My name is Nhlakanipho. Do you have matric?”

“No, I don’t have matric. But please give me a chance, I am desperate. I have children who depend on me.”

Nhlakanipho looks at Zine sympathetically. “Do you have experience working in a restaurant setting?”

“No, but I can work here. I’m a fast learner.”

“My sister, there is nothing I can do for you at the moment. But if anything comes up I’ll give you a call. Drop your CV in the CV box over there,” says Nhlakanipho.

Zine looks into the CV box and her heart sinks. The box is full to the brim. All hope is gone as she leaves. She buys a schwarma and heads back to her flat. She finds Khanya relaxing on the couch.

“Khanya, I’m ready now,” says Zine.

“Ready for what?”

“I’m ready to join you in your line of work. I have tried everything but I can’t get a job. No one is willing to hire me.” 

“Are you sure about this?”

“I’m ready. I’ll manage. I have to manage because I can’t let my children go hungry while I’m still alive.”

“If you feel like that it’s fine. We start working this evening. You better get some rest because you will need to be alert when we start.”

They are ready to go at five in the afternoon. This is the first time Zine is going out with Khanya. She has no clue where Khanya is taking her. The Bolt stops at a place called Halmits Club.

They get inside, find a table and buy two beers. Zine sees a lot of people greet Khanya, it is obvious that Khanya is popular here. She is marvelling at Khanya’s popularity when two men in suits and sunglasses stop at their table.

“Hello ladies,” says one of the men.

“Hi guys. How are you? This is my friend Zine.” Khanya turns to Zine, “Zine, these are my friends Thabang and Sandile.”

“Nice to meet you,” says Zine, shyly.

They all sit at the table. After four rounds of drinks Khanya and Sandile leave. Soon Zine is in Thabang’s car. They are headed to Thabang’s house in Sandton. Half her heart says she should stop, pack her bags and go back home to KZN. Another part says she should persevere and work for her three children.

They enter Thabang’s house. The house is beautiful but dirty. The paint on the wall is old and flaking off. There is dust on the cupboards and sofas. Zine winces at the filthiness of the house. Thabang notices Zine’s reaction. 

“Is everything OK?” asks Thabang.

“I’m fine, don’t worry about me,” says Zine.

“Then why are you so quiet?”

They sleep together.

In the morning Zine finds Khanya cooking breakfast at their flat.

“Here is the money for groceries,” says Zine.

“Why don’t you look happy? What’s wrong?”

“What would make me happy about this life I live? I have to sell my body to get money.” Zine wipes away her tears.

“Life is hard, Zine. In this world you have to do anything to make a living. Don’t allow yourself to be a failure. Do you want to return back home with nothing to show for all the years you spent here in Jozi? Do you want to go back home with just the clothes on your back? Our parents are depending on us to take them out of poverty. So crying won’t help you one bit, Zine!”

“I don’t have your heart, Khanya. My conscience is telling me this is wrong.”

“Well then, it is clear you will eat what that conscience feeds you. Which is nothing!”

Tell us: What do you think of Khanya’s approach to life?