“Please open the door, Aunt Zama! Please open the door, Aunt Nompilo! It’s me, Nothando!”

She can hear crickets buzzing in the silence of the night. 

“Please open the door!” She bangs harder on the door.

“What a nuisance! We can’t even sleep because of you and your comings and goings!” says Nompilo after opening the door.

“I’m sorry, aunty,” says Nothando respectfully.

“You are not sorry at all. Oh God! Thandazile, why did you have to die and leave us with your crazy child?” says Nompilo as she walks to her bed.

She looks for her blanket under the sofa. “Aunty, where is my blanket?”

“It’s here under my bed. It was getting damp under the sofa. Water gets in from the holes on the roof and the floor. Why did your man chase you away in the middle of the night? Why am I even asking that question when I know the answer? You are irritating. You have a talent for getting on people’s nerves.” Nompilo throws the blanket to Nothando.

“Thank you,” says Nothando. 

She wraps herself with the blanket and cries silently. She wonders about the source of her aunts’ hatred for her. If I wronged them in some way surely they can learn to forgive, she thinks. Am I not worthy of forgiveness? She falls asleep as many questions roam in her head. 

It’s been a week since Nothando and Xolani’s break up. She is doing well and wonders where she has received this mental strength. In previous times she would cry for days after breaking up with Xolani. She would call him all the time begging him to take her back. But this time the thought of begging for forgiveness has not once crossed her mind. Xolani’s parting words were too brutal this time around. They were too hurtful. 

What is hurtful this time is that she has finally seen the real version of Xolani. It hurts when she realises that she has been together with someone who only sees her as a sex object for two long years. It wasn’t the first time Xolani got angry when she wasn’t in the mood for sex either. 

Today she has found the mental strength to handle the break up. It’s not like before when she used to beg Xolani to take her back. She was afraid that Xolani was going to find another girlfriend, but that has changed. Nothando knows that even if she could see Xolani with another woman she wouldn’t care. She’d feel sorry for that poor woman for falling in love with a man as cruel as Xolani. 

Nothando can see progress on the horizon as the days go by. Today she is going to register to write the matric exams at the end of the year. She is emotional as she enters the school gates of Khanyisa High School. This is the place where she promised so much but never delivered the final product because of the migraine that prevented her from writing her matric exams. 

Her IsiZulu Language teacher, Mrs Langa, is ecstatic when they bump into each other in the corridors and she tells her the news.

“That’s great, Nothando! I keep telling my students that they can always come back to try again if they have not passed well. Even those that have failed have a chance to try again. I just know you are going to excel, Nothando! You were my best student!” says Mrs Langa.

“Thank you, Mam. Your words motivate to work even harder,” says Nothando.

Tell us: Where do you think Nothando’s new strength is coming from?