When Linda’s Grade 12 school year started, Sipho began buying her clothes. He had now joined his uncle’s thriving grocery and clothing business in Cape Town. On weekends Sipho would take Linda shopping there. Then they would eat out at fancy restaurants. Sometimes he would give her groceries from his uncle’s supermarket to take home, or a bit of “pocket money” to braid her hair.
She had grown very fond of him; somehow his teeth did not appear to be that yellow anymore. Linda now had enough money to do her hair and buy new clothes regularly, and still bring something home for her aunt and her cousins. Aunt Rosy did not even bother to ask where she was getting all these fancy clothes.
“You should come visit again tomorrow. I have something special for you,” Sipho said one day.
Sipho had bought Linda a new cell phone. It meant he could call her whenever he liked. He started calling her at night. Linda never spent a night at Sipho’s place, but they managed to spend time alone. One day they were in his car, in a carpark near the beach. It was time to take her home, but he didn’t want her to go. He reached over and pulled her closer. She resisted at first, but then she gave in to the delicious, radiating warmth spreading over her body.
About three weeks later, when she looked at Sipho his yellow teeth somehow made her feel sick. It was hard to concentrate at school. When the sick feeling didn’t pass after two weeks, she went to the clinic.
The sister looked at her with a raised eyebrow and said, “When did you have your last period?”
Linda couldn’t remember exactly. It seemed a long time ago.
“You must do a pregnancy test,” the sister said, giving her a package with instructions.
Linda was shocked.
“You young people must be more responsible,” the sister said, looking at the two clear blue stripes on the test stick. “Who is going to look after this baby?”
“I didn’t know it could happen so easily,” Linda said. “My boyfriend told me it could only happen if we went all the way.”
She was too nervous to tell Aunt Rosy. She would just keep quiet, she decided. Her aunt would find out before long.
She was almost eight months pregnant when Aunt Rosy realised that her fuller figure wasn’t only because of the expensive food Sipho bought for her. She had taken Linda for a check-up at the clinic after several bouts of dizziness and fainting at school. The sister told her that Linda was going to have a baby.
She was furious!
“Yinile! How could you be that stupid, Linda? You know how much I am struggling in this house with my children. I work so hard to make ends meet, and you? Instead of concentrating on your books you run around with older men!”
Aunt Rosy spat out the words like venom.
Sipho meanwhile, was nowhere to be found.
“I’ve tried calling his number several times, but it goes straight to voice mail,” Linda said to her classmate one day, tears rolling down her cheeks.
Boniwe had come to borrow the scientific calculator Sipho gave to Linda a few months back. It was still in its packaging, unused. This was because Linda hadn’t been to school for several weeks. Aunt Rosy suspected she was feeling sick because Sipho had disappeared and she was heartbroken.
“You know the education department allows pregnant teenagers to attend school these days. You must go back, girl. It will take your mind off that blesser of yours,” Aunt Rosy said to Linda.
One morning Linda felt a deep, stabbing pain in her abdomen and couldn’t stand up. Aunt Rosy was at work in Muizenberg cleaning the doctors’ flat, so her aunt’s friend Elsie next door called an ambulance and she was rushed to hospital.
“We are going to have to do a caesarean section,” the doctor said kindly. “You have very high blood pressure and we need to get your baby out soon.”
Linda looked at him and said, “I am afraid, doctor.”
He took her hand. “Don’t worry, my child. Everything is going to be alright.”
Tell us: Do you think Linda can keep the baby?