“Goodnight, baby,” her mother said, from the living room.

“Night, Mama,” Kganya smiled.

Kganya was so tired tonight. She’d had a long day. She had been at the park with her best friend, Lethabo, the whole day. She couldn’t wait to put her head on that pillow of hers and just pass out. Lethabo’s jokes exhausted her.

She peeled the blankets and got under them. Five minutes later she was out like a light.

“Kganya!” A soft voice called her. “Kganya, tsoha and come with me. I want to help you.”

The voice was soothing.

“Do you trust me, Kganya?” the voice asked.

“Yes,” she responded with a tired voice.

“Then wake up. There you go. Let me help you so you don’t fall.”

Kganya felt the hand touch her arm. Her eyes were still closed because she was so sleepy. She couldn’t bring herself to open them. The hand led her forward. She heard a creaking sound. She could tell that a door was being opened.

“There you go, you are doing great, Kganya,” the voice assured her.

Another creaking sound. She then felt the coldness pierce her skin. Her eyes opened a little as a reflex. She saw darkness, but the sleepiness was still thick in her eyes so she closed them again.

Her legs started moving. The stabbing sensation hit her under her feet. She realised that she was walking barefoot. She was walking outside, barefooted, with a stranger! Why couldn’t she stop? Why was she continuing to put her one leg in front of the other even though it was hurting her feet? She was also cold! Why didn’t this person give her a coat if they knew they would be leading her outside?

“No need to worry, I will be with you every step of the way. No need to fear.” The voice continued to assure her.

“But… who… are you?” Kganya asked.

“Shh, you will know soon enough, for now just concentrate on walking, Kganya. You are doing great.”

She should be scared, but why wasn’t she? Why was she so assured by this voice? She clenched her hand tightly. She could tell that it was a man’s hand. It was big and rough. She could feel the wrinkles on it, too, but she didn’t pay them any attention.

Serene air started penetrating her nostrils. Wherever they were, there was a vast area of greenery because the air smelled… clean! Under her feet, she could feel she was stepping on rocks, big and small.

“We are near, don’t worry,” the voice said.

She held on to the hand tighter than before. She was literally squeezing it.

Clicking sounds, then dragging, creaking sounds. Something was being opened? A steel gate? Yes, that must be it. She took three steps and the hand made her stop. The creaking and clicking sounds again. Then the hand led her forward. She started walking.

“We are here,” the voice announced.

Then the hand that she was holding on to like a lifeline disappeared. Her heart was beating fast.

“Haibo! Haibo! Where did you go? Don’t leave me alone. Where am I?” Kganya’s voice was shaking with fear. She was this close to bursting out in tears.

She wrestled with her eyes, trying to open them, but they didn’t budge. This whole thing took her back to the traumatic experience she had been through through last year, when she got trapped in a place between life and death called the Spiritual World, haunted by the evil voices of the Dark Souls. She’d felt alone and scared, but not like this. This was worse. Gogo Lesedi had promised her that she would be safe, but here she was, alone in nowhere.

She couldn’t hold herself back any longer. Her tears started gushing down her cheeks.

“Mama!” She cried for her mother.

Her ears detected the approaching footsteps. Someone was coming!

“Mama?” Her hope was restored. She stretched her hands forward.

“Kganya,” the voice said. It wasn’t her mother’s, and it was certainly not the voice that led her here. This one was a woman’s because it was, well, feminine.

“Who are you? I want my mother!” Kganya’s stomach tightened.

“It is me, Gogo Lesedi. I have been expecting you.”

“Gogo Lesedi?” Kganya couldn’t believe this.

“Yes, here, take my hand.”

Kganya took it. She squeezed. It was so warm.

“Where am I?” Kganya asked in confusion, but already feeling a little bit of relief.

“You are at my place. Let me lead you to your room, we will talk properly in the morning, in just a few hours.” Gogo Lesedi led her forward.

“Morning? In few hours? What time is it?”

“It is three in the morning.”

Kganya couldn’t believe this.

Tell us: Do you trust Gogo Lesedi? Why or why not?