Hope is slowly coming back into Nothando’s life as she studies for her matric exams. She does nothing but work and study. Her focus is more on her future and she starts searching and applying for bursaries.

She applies for NSFAS and bursaries from private companies. She is disheartened that the results she uses to apply are from Grade 11 which she did three years ago. She keeps hope alive and applies for as many bursaries as she can. She is studying one day when a landline number flashes on her cell phone screen.

“Hello,” says Nothando.

“Hello. Am I speaking to Nothando Luthuli?” says the female voice.

“Yes, Mam.”

“Nothando my name is Sebenzile Dladla. I’m the CEO of Sebe Enterprises.”

Nothando quickly connects the dots and remembers she applied for a bursary from Sebe Enterprises.

“Yes, Mam.”

“Nothando, I’m looking at your CV here. Your Grade 11 results are impressive.”

“Thank you, Mam.”

“And the motivation letter accompanying your CV is truly brilliant. I just wanted to tell you that my company will award you a bursary if your matric results meet our requirements. We will offer you a full bursary that covers tuition, accommodation and you will receive a stipend each month.”

“Thank you, Mam!”

“My company chose you because we believe in offering young women second chances in life. Good luck,” says Sebenzile.

“Thank you!”


Nothando has poured her heart, mind, body and soul into studying for her matric exam. Today the matric results are coming out. She buys the paper at the local spaza shop and heads back to her aunts’ shack. She sits on the bench outside. She dries her sweaty hands on the sides of her jeans. She opens the paper and looks for the name of her high school. She quickly finds Sinethemba High School and runs her finger down the examination numbers until she finds hers.

“I passed! I passed!” she screams. 

She enters the shack screaming in joy. Her aunts glance at her and show no reaction.

“Congratulations. That’s one less body in this small shack. Our live scan go on in peace, our boyfriends can come visit now,” says Nompilo.

“Hawu, Aunty Nompilo? So you are happy I’m leaving and not because I passed?”

“What do you want me do? Do you want me to cry?”

“No, I’m not saying that. So you won’t miss me just a little bit?”

“When did you ever hear me saying I miss anyone?”

“Can I ask you something? It’s about Mama. What was she like?”

“Your mother got sick and passed away.”

“You really hated Ma?”

“We were not the best of friends. She was our parents’ favourite. She was their princess. They had even saved money to send her to university but she chased men and got pregnant with you. She passed away and instead of the money being passed to me so I could go to university, that money was used for your mother’s funeral,” says Nompilo. She clicks her tongue, her face in a frown.

“But aunty, can’t you forgive her even in death?”

“Your mother messed up my life. I live in this shack because of her. And in her death she left us with you. You look just like her, you walk like her. Every time I look at you I see her. So just go, Nothando. Go and never come back.”

Instead of breaking down, Nothando leaves and heads to her friend Nonhlanhla’s shack. She knows she has to leave the toxic environment of her aunts’ shack. She decides to never allow them to break her spirit. She finds Nonhlanhla sitting on a chair under a tree.

“I’m leaving in two weeks, my friend. I’ve already been accepted at DUT and my results mean I have got the bursary!”

They hug and scream in joy with Nonhlanhla. “Congrats! Where will you stay?” 

“I’ll stay at res,” says Nothando.

“I’m so happy for you. One of us will finally leave this hell.”

“You have to go back to school and get your matric, Nonhlanhla. Education opens doors, there are no two ways about it,” says Nothando.

“That’s true. I’m registering next year. I want to change my life,” says Nonhlanhla.

On the day she leaves for Durban University of Technology, Nothando stands on the road waiting for a taxi to Durban. She looks at the shacks of Zidindini. It’s a bitter-sweet moment as she thinks about everything she has gone through in this place. She has suffered here, but all that suffering has contributed to making her the strong independent woman she is becoming. She decides at that very moment that she will start writing a book about her life. 

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