Mudira paused at her gate to admire the view, but Bulelwa seldom had time to pause at all when she came home from school. They were both now in Grade 12. Her cousin was usually waiting impatiently just inside the door, with the baby on her hip. The girl had left school a year earlier, in order to have her baby.

“Well, you took your time,” was what she usually said, as Bulelwa came up the path to the small RDP house. “You know I have a lot of work at my own house, just waiting to be done, and now Themba is crying and I will have an awful afternoon with this child! You are so inconsiderate!”

Bulelwa always ignored her cousin and walked on by, pausing only to kiss little Themba on his round, soft cheek, which always seemed to be wet with tears.

“Gogo has been particularly demanding this morning,” continued Bulelwa’s cousin, “wanting tea every five minutes. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to do th–”

Bulelwa cut her short. “Don’t you blame Gogo, or me, for the fact that you could not keep your legs closed when you should have been studying. It was not me or her who impregnated you. You were a poor student anyway and I can find someone else to help her – and take most of her pension – like you do. How will you afford those new shoes then, I wonder?”

Bulelwa slammed the door, leaving her cousin on the path outside, and Themba wailing even louder.

Hayi, hayi my child,” said Bulelwa’s gogo softly, her voice rising up to meet Bulelwa from the dim corner of the room. “You are too harsh.”

“I am tired of her, Gogo,” said Bulelwa, dropping her bag onto the floor and going to her grandmother, bending down, and kissing her. She straightened and sighed. “But you are right, Gogo. I will try to be better. I guess I am just really hungry.”

“Oh dear,” said Gogo softly again. “Between them they have eaten all the bread!”

“And Lunga?” asked Bulelwa, her brow creasing into an angry scowl. “Why did he not go to the shop for a loaf?”

“Lunga,” said a voice behind her, “is no woman’s servant. You are home now. You go!”

Bulelwa spun around to face her brother. Lunga was standing in the bedroom doorway, grinning at her.

“You think you are as good as a man, Bulelwa, always ordering everyone around in this house. You think I haven’t seen how you and that Mudira hold hands, here in this very house. ‘Best friends’ you always say! Ha! And you are always turning down every friend of mine who wants you …”

Bulelwa spun away from Lunga and opened the front door. She had enough taxi fare change to buy a loaf of bread. The spaza shop was only two houses down.


Tell us: How would you describe Lunga’s attitude towards women? Why? Is this a common attitude in your community?