In a moment Bulelwa was on her feet. She rushed around the house fetching buckets. Then she remembered the hosepipe, lying coiled up, unused during the drought. Bulelwa did not care about the drought now. She held a bucket in either hand, grabbed a towel, wet it. And looping it around her face she opened the kitchen door and went outside.

There, it was dark and Bulelwa hardly lifted her head to look around her. Keeping low to the ground she found her way to the outside tap on the side of the house. She turned it on. Water! Lying next to it was the hosepipe. With shaking hands, she connected it to the tap.

Water gushed from the end of the hose and Bulelwa ran with it to the white picket fence. The grass outside the fence was alight and the wind was fanning the flames and making them bigger and bigger.

Inside the garden, sparks were landing in amongst the spinach and Bulelwa ran to douse them with water. And so she began to fight the fire, moving backwards and forwards, putting out any sparks or embers that landed on their property. She was aware of huge embers flying through the air above her head, and she even saw one landing on the roof of her neighbour’s house and set the whole place alight within minutes. She could feel the terrible heat from the blaze across the road, but she refused to look.

Bulelwa wet the walls, the grounds and the roof of their house. She filled buckets and rushed with them around to the other side of the house that the hosepipe could not reach.

Once, she went inside to check on Gogo. She found her on her knees and was alarmed, until she realized she had deliberately allowed herself to slide onto the floor. She was praying. Bulelwa left her there and went back outside.

Bulelwa worked with the hose and the buckets for a long time. She did not think, she merely acted. Her arms grew weary. She kept thinking the water was going to run out. It never did. She felt the prayers of her grandmother.

And then – carried on the wind, amongst the awful wailing of the gale and the explosions and the roaring of the flames, Bulelwa heard her name. Someone was calling her! She paused, gripping her bucket tight. She looked around and there, through the darkness and the smoke Mudira appeared.

Bulelwa stood transfixed and silent, gripping her bucket while Mudira ran to her and embraced her tightly.

“Give me that,” said Mudira loudly, grabbing the bucket, her words being snatched away by the wind. “I have come to help you.”


Tell us what you think: Why has Mudira come back to help Bulelwa? What does this tell us about their relationship, and her character?