Tebogo quickly slipped into the house and was relieved to see her mother had not yet returned. She got out of her clothes, put on her nightgown and lay down on her mat in the corner of the sitting room. She was happy. She loved being with Monica’s family. She fell asleep smiling.
A few hours later she heard her mother fumbling with the lock. Someone was with her, a man. Tebogo stayed very still, hoping they’d think she was sleeping.
“Hey baby, get it open. I can’t wait much longer,” the man said.
Tebogo’s mother said, “Shhh… there’s a kid. We need to get in the bedroom first.”
Tebogo could hear that they were drunk. Her mother turned on the overhead light. Then Tebogo remembered the bag of food Monica’s mother gave her. It was on the table. She hoped so badly her mother wouldn’t see it. She had meant to hide it so she would have food for the rest of the weekend.
She opened her eyes a little and saw the man pushing her mother onto the sofa, his hands on her big breasts, kneading them like dough. But then her mother saw the bag. “What’s that?” she slurred.
She opened it and started eating Monica’s mother’s cake. Tebogo was not sure what came over her but suddenly she shouted: “Leave that. It’s mine!”
Her mother and the man looked at her, where she now sat up on her mat. Tebogo’s mother came toward her, knocking her leg on the table. “Who the hell do you think you are? This is my house! My house! Do you hear me? I own everything in this house – even you!”
She pulled Tebogo from the mat and slapped her hard across the face. Tebogo fell to the floor and her mother lunged towards her. The man, much older than her mother Tebogo could see now, grabbed her. “Leave the kid alone. She didn’t mean anything,” he said.
Her mother struggled for a bit but then gave in. “Go and wait for me in the bedroom. I’ll clean the mess up and be there just now,” he said, smiling at Tebogo.
Tebogo was surprised her mother did as she was told. Once her mother was in her bedroom with the door closed, Tebogo grabbed up all of the food and pushed it back in the bag then hid it under her blankets. “Thanks mister,” she said.
“No problem. What’s your name?” he said, sitting on the mat next to her.
He leaned towards her, and to her shock, pushed his hand under her nightgown. Tebogo stayed still, still as stone, and wished she could disappear. He reached his long fingers into her panties and she closed her eyes and tried to be anywhere else but where she was.
“When are you coming to bed, baby?” Tebogo’s mother shouted from the bedroom.
“Just now,” the man said. He got up, smiling at Tebogo. He put his finger in front of his lips and said to her: “Shhh! Our little secret, Tebby. Neh?”
Tell us what you think: What should Tebogo do?