“You’re not reading that boring Shakespeare book again, are you?”

Nandi looked up from where she lay on her bed. She sighed and muttered under her breath, then looked down at her book again.

“What was that?” asked Beauty, sitting down heavily on the edge of the bed. Nandi felt her fists tightening with irritation.

“Of course I am. It is my Grade 12 setwork book,” she said, trying to control herself.

Beauty was Nandi’s cousin. She had dropped out of school in Grade 10. Nandi knew that unless she stopped her reading to chat to Beauty, she would have no peace for the rest of the afternoon. Nandi knew the routine. Beauty wanted to tell her some idle gossip about the neighbours. If she didn’t listen, Beauty would begin the same old complaining about how Nandi never did any work around the house, but only studied all the time. Nandi had heard that argument for too many years.

It had started right after her mother died and her aunt had taken her in. Not a day passed without her being reminded about how much of a burden she was to her aunt and her cousin.

Beauty started chatting on and on about how Sipho had cheated on Nomvu, their next door neighbour, again. Nandi was so bored with it all.

In her head Nandi was thinking about the sad, but beautiful, love story of Romeo and Juliet – a forbidden love that could never be.

Nandi was one of just a few students studying Drama for Grade 12 at her school, which was in a small town amongst the apple orchards. The auditions for the role of Juliet in the school play were coming up the next day. If only Beauty would shut up and leave her in peace so that she could learn her lines. But Beauty was still going on about what the church pastor had told her Nomvu should do. Nandi rolled over onto her back and closed her eyes.

An actress was the only thing Nandi had ever wanted to be. For years she had entertained herself by paging through the YOU magazine. She pictured herself walking up the red carpet at some celebrity event, looking beautiful in a glittering evening gown, on the arm of a very handsome man.

“Mama!” shouted Beauty suddenly. “Mama, Nandi is just lying around again. She’s not doing any work. It’s not fair Mama.”

The vision of herself, famous and beautiful, faded behind Nandi’s eyelids. The reality of her life hit her as she heard her aunt’s voice shouting at her to do the washing.

“What’s the point?” she said to herself quietly as she stood up. “The likelihood of any of my dreams coming true is as possible as Romeo and Juliet having a happy ending.”


Tell us what you think: Is it possible for Nandi to reach her dream of becoming a famous actress? Will her cousin and aunt let her finish her studies and give her a chance to be successful?