Nobuhle walks out of the police station in a daze. She feels like the world is pressing on top of her. She knows the only refuge she can possibly find now is within the walls of a church, but has no idea where the church is. The sun will rise soon, people will see her and her bruises and scars. She hurries, her steps moving along trails far away from the main road.
She has not eaten since yesterday. Her whole body aches; she feels dizzy and sits down. Her head is bowed, eyes closed. She hears footsteps and when she opens her eyes a pair of bare feet are in front of her. She looks up to see a boy, maybe twelve years old, staring down on her. A wheelbarrow with a full twenty-five litre water container is next to the boy. Sticks of sugarcane are next to the water container.
“Are you alright, Sisi?” inquires the boy.
“Yes, I am fine. Just catching my breath,” Nobuhle says, but feels dizzy as she looks up at him. She bows her head again.
“Are you sure, Sisi?”
“Yes, I just need a minute. Where is the nearest church?”
“It is there, in the next village beyond that hill.” The boy points to a hill a few kilometres away.
“What is the quickest way there?”
“This trail is the fastest but it is rough. The main road is better.”
“Thanks,” says Nobuhle gratefully. But she is so weak she is close to collapsing.
The boy tilts the water container and cups water in his hands. “Sisi, take a sip of water,” he insists.
Nobuhle can hardly move so the boy comes towards her with water cupped in his small hands. She drinks. The boy does this several times then breaks a stick of sugar cane open and hands it to her. Nobuhle devours it.
“Where do you stay?” asks the boy. “I can run to get help.”
“No!” says Nobuhle, biting into the sugar cane. “I’ll be alright. Thanks.” She can feel her strength coming back.
“It will be no problem, sisi. I can run get help. My home is not far from here. I can get you some food if you want.”
“You are very kind, but no,” Nobuhle says and rises to her feet. She takes the rest of the sugar cane stick and starts along the path.
Adrenaline and sugarcane propels her up the hill and beyond, to the church in the next village. She sighs with relief when she walks through the gate and sees that it is a branch of Holy Baptist Church, the same church she grew up attending. The same church where her father is a pastor in the Stanger branch.
She knocks on a door at the back of the church. An elderly lady opens. Nobuhle cannot hold back tears as soon as their eyes lock.
“Come in my child,” says the woman. “What is the matter?”
“Mama, I …” Nobuhle runs out of words.
“You need a place to stay?”
Tell us what you think: Will a Christian church and prayer be able to undo what the sangoma and Ntombi have done?