Nothando wakes up with her feet aching in the morning. She worked late into the night yesterday. It’s Sunday and she has to work again tonight. She studies hard because matric exams are only a few weeks away. Hunger pains hit her an hour into her study session. She is looking for something to eat when Nonhlanhla knocks at the door.
“How are you, my friend,” says Nonhlanhla
“I’m good. Wow you look so pretty today, Nonhlanhla. Where are you going?”
“I’m going to church. We are having a revival today. We worked late into the night yesterday preparing food,” says Nonhlanhla.
“So there’ll be a lunch?”
“Wait for me to get ready. I’m coming with you.”
“Hurry up then. I don’t want to be late.”
Nothando hurries to get dressed in the one beautiful dresses she wears on special occasions.
“I’m so hungry. I’m ashamed to think that while other people will be listening to the sermon we will be thinking of food,” says Nonhlanhla.
“Speak for yourself. I love going to church and hearing the sermon. There’s just something that is soothing about hearing the word of God in a church setting.”
“Wow! People can change. I didn’t know you like going to church.”
“It’s true I didn’t like going to church, but lately I even read the Bible. It brings about a peace in my soul. It’s just that I’m usually working most of the time, but I went a few weeks ago. Pastor Zungu is brilliant. His sermons make you do an introspection into your life instead of blaming others for your failures.”
“This new Nothando is deep. As long as there’s enough food I’ll be satisfied,” says Nonhlanhla.
They are greeted by a table with muffins and juice at the church entrance. Nothando takes three muffins and wolfs them down quickly. She gulps down the juice and exhales satisfaction as the hunger pains disappear. She looks around and feels embarrassed because while she took three muffins everyone else only took one.
Soon the sermon starts. Nothando is happy deep in her soul because there is a band today. She sings at the top of her voice. She feels her soul and body releasing all the stress in her life with each song she belts out. She is not the best singer in the world but she sings loudly because the band instruments drown out the fact that she is out of tune.
They eat the delicious lunch and talk with other church members. Nothando is happy as she says goodbye to Nonhlanhla and heads to her aunts’ shack. She finds Xolani standing outside the shack. All the peace she has gained in church suddenly evaporates.
Anger fills every word coming out of her mouth. “What are you doing here, Xolani?”
“I came to check on you, my love. I want to apologize for how I treated you. My life is worthless without you. Please forgive me,” says Xolani.
“Do I look like a fool to you? The only reason you are here is because you know I got paid yesterday! You want my money, then you’ll kick me out when it is finished like you always do!”
“No, it’s not like that at all. I love you. I have changed, please believe me. I’m no longer the man I was before. During this time apart I realised how much I need you in my life.”
“Please just go, Xolani. You are the one who said never to call you. You said you didn’t want to see me again! What do you want from me? Go! Go and don’t turn back.”
Xolani clicks his tongue. Rage shrinks his face into a scowl. “Do you think I’ll go down on my knees begging you?”
He takes a menacing step towards Nothando. Nothando stands her ground.
“This is the Xolani I know! Go ahead, hit me! Hit me!” She shouts loud enough for the neighbours to hear.
“Don’t you want me anymore, Nothando? Have you found another man?”
“I don’t need to explain myself to you. But I will answer your questions so you get out of my life forever. No I don’t have a new man. Yes, I don’t want you anymore.”
“You are lying! You have a new man, you loose thing! I don’t want you anymore!”
It is all so clear to Nothando now, as she looks at Xolani walking away angrily. All Xolani wanted from her was sex and money. As soon as her money ran out he’d start a fight and kick her out.
Tell us: What do you think Nothando experiences at church?