Sometimes the wind blows so hard in Siyakhula Section that the shacks rattle and shake and nobody can sleep at night, fearing their roofs might blow off. When you open your door in the morning sand from the coastal dunes stings your face and your legs, as if the wind has been lying in wait for you.

Linda lives there with her aunt, Rose Dabula, and her four young cousins. Aunt Rosy works as a domestic worker twice a week in nearby Muizenberg. Her employers are two young doctors, who live in a flat with a view of the sea. The other three days Aunt Rosy sells vetkoek and home-made ginger beer near the train station. It is a demanding job for her. She has to wake up very early to make a profit selling to the rushing workers in the early hours of the morning.

Linda came to live in Cape Town four years ago, in Grade 8, just after her mother died. She still cries every time she thinks about that fateful day she and her mother were crossing a busy street in East London. The sound of squealing brakes and her mother’s screams are still raw in her memory.

Linda’s life was turned upside down. She was suddenly all alone. Her mother was a single parent and Linda did not even know who her father was. Her mother never talked to her about those things when she was growing up.

The only relative she knew of was Aunt Rosy, her mother’s older sister, who lived with her four children in Cape Town. The eldest of Aunt Rosy’s children was a girl of thirteen years old then. The youngest, the only boy in the family, had just turned six. Linda was fourteen.

She hoped she wouldn’t be a burden to Aunt Rosy. Her mother had left her with no money to continue her studies, and she wondered if her aunt, who was already struggling to support her own children, would be able to help her to finish school. For days she cried and cried. Then she packed her bags and took the grocery money her mother kept in an old peanut butter jar on the table by her bed. It was just enough to buy a bus ticket to Cape Town.


Tell us: What is hard about going to live with relatives?