Zelwande runs for her life. She runs along footpaths until she can see the house where she was almost raped far in the distance. Adrenaline saps out of her body when she believes she is safe from danger.
Her mind replays what just happened. She sits down behind some trees and weeps when she realises how dishevelled she must look. She takes a jersey from her bag and puts in on. She adjusts her skirt. She waits in the trees for a bit. It gets dark quickly. She goes back onto the road.
She quickens her pace when a car slows down and drives slowly besides her. The SUV is black, with tinted windows. She cannot see who is inside, and takes off running. The car follows her. The driver rolls down the window and calls out: “Hello”. Zelwande glances back and, surprised, sees a sincere smile on a handsome face.
“Hello, my sister. Where are you going? Can I offer you a lift,” says the man.
“Thank you for the offer but I’m close to where I’m going,” says Zelwande.
“It’s really not a problem. It’s not safe for women to be alone in the dark these days. Let me take you where you are going.”
“No! I said I don’t need your help. I’m fine!” Zelwande says tearfully.
“I’d never forgive myself if I left you to walk alone on this dark road. What is wrong, beautiful lady?”
“You can’t help me!” Zelwande stands still and sobs.
“Please get in the car, miss. I’ll take you where you want to go. I get worried when I see a woman in distress. Don’t be scared, I won’t harm you,” says the man.
Zelwande wipes away her tears. The concern on the man’s face wins her over. She feels she can trust him. Her feet are aching; she doesn’t know where she is going. The man gets out of the car and opens the passenger door for her.
“My name is Thobani Khumalo,” says the man.
“My name is Zelwande Mhlongo,” Zelwande says as she gets into the car.
Thobani looks at Zelwande for a while. They both break into smiles. Zelwande feels a warmth in her soul as she looks at Thobani. Thobani feels the exact same way. The car takes off.
“Where are you headed, Miss Mhlongo?”
“I’m going to Chatsworth, Unit 2. I was looking for work here in Merebank.”
“And you were going to walk all the way to Chatsworth?”
“Yes. Where are you headed?”
“I’m coming from a meeting, but I’m going home to Hilary.”
Zelwande’s eyes dart to Thobani’s ring finger. There is no ring. Zelwande feels a comfortablness she has never felt with any man, as they talk. It’s like they have known each other for a long time. Zelwande looks at this man as he concentrates on driving. He is tall, dark and handsome. He smiles easily. His expensive citrus smelling cologne fills the car. In no time they have reached Tin City.
“Thank you so much for your help, Thobani. May God bless you,” says Zelwande as she disembarks from the SUV.
“I’d never live with myself if I had left such a beautiful lady all alone on a dark road.”
They both smile.
“Can I get your number? Can I call you sometime?”
Zelwande is charmed, but she doesn’t have time for romance in her life.
“No,” says Zelwande.
“Please,” says Thobani.
“Tell you what. If we happen to meet again, I’ll give you my number.”
“Okay,” Thobani smiles.
Thobani watches her as she disappears between the shacks of Tin City. He gets out of the car and follows her from a distance. He smiles as he stores to memory the number of Zelwande’s shack, and all the landmarks around it.
Tell us: Do you trust that Thobani is a good guy? If so, why?