In the carpark at the railway station a big black SUV pulled up slowly. As Linda went closer she recognized the driver from somewhere. Then it dawned on her. She was a principal at one of the high schools in the township: Mrs. Jemima Solotsi. She had heard her aunt speak about her as a beautiful, intelligent lady. She couldn’t let the principal see her and she went to hide in the bushes nearby.
But Mrs Solotsi did not show her beauty tonight. There was anguish in her face, which meant there must be anguish in her heart as she sat in her car. Tears had smudged her carefully made-up face.
Dear God, I have nothing to say, other than that my soul is shattered. My heart is beyond repair. For the last twenty years I have endured pain with the man I have loved with all my heart. Seeing him with another woman, a woman who can give him something that I am unable to give to him, makes me feel like a failure. I can’t live like this. Thando was my first love. He still is. But now I can also say truly, he will be my last….
Sadness and anguish seemed to be choking her as these thoughts ran through her mind. She gasped for air. It was as if she wanted to cry and wail out loud, but could only utter long, deep moans. Maybe she had cried for too long.
She reached out for something on the passenger seat. With shaking hands, she took the gun and cocked it. Then slowly, with a shaking hand, she lifted it to her head.
“You promised me, Thando, to be with me through it all, in good times and bad times, in hunger and plenty. You did not fulfil your promise. Instead you humiliated me with another woman. It was not my fault that I couldn’t have a baby, but for twenty years you mocked me day in and day out. You treated me like a nobody! Well, now your wish is fulfilled. I will be nothing. I will be dust!”
A baby’s cry stopped her from pulling the trigger. It was piercing and heartbreaking. She put the gun down and got out of the car looking to see where the sound was coming from in the darkness.
Linda, crouching in the bushes, saw Mrs. Solotsi coming towards her. The screech and rattle of a train approaching drowned out the noise of the baby’s wails. She stood up and saw the lights of the carriages. Now was her moment. Before Mrs. Solotsi found her, she had to run for the tracks. The baby was screaming now and wouldn’t stop. She had no time to waste.
Though it was dark, the moon was up and bright, as if smiling above her. It had come to remind her that there is a God in heaven who watches over us.
“Who is there?” Mrs. Solotsi cried out.
Linda took a deep breath and darted out from behind the bushes, heading for the railway tracks. Her heart was pounding in her ears.
“Oh, my God!” screamed Mrs Solotsi. “Who is that? No! God, no!”
Now the train was just a few meters away, and the brakes screeched. Linda was about to lunge forward onto the tracks when she felt someone grab her by the hand. The train thundered past.
“N-o-o-o! Leave me alone!” screamed Linda, trying to push her away, but Mrs Solotsi held her firmly.
“Come! Come to my car. We will talk now. Come, my baby.”
All Mrs Solotsi could focus on now was this young mother with her wailing baby.
Linda broke down in sobs. And as she did the baby boy began to cry louder and more desperately than ever.
“The baby is hungry. Are you breastfeeding or do you have a bottle with you?” asked Mrs Solotsi.
“I can feed him,” Linda said. “I will feed him in your car.”
Mrs Solotsi led them to her car. Linda was still sobbing quietly as she handed the baby to Mrs Solotsi and got into the back seat where she could feed him more easily. Mrs Solotsi tried to calm the baby by rocking him up and down. Soon he was quiet. When Linda was sitting comfortably, Mrs Solotsi handed over the warm bundle.
“This is your child, right?”
As Mrs Solotsi got into the driver’s seat she saw the gun. She quickly hid it in the cubby hole.
“What is your name?” she asked.
“So you wanted to kill yourself?”
“Because of this child; I could not take care of him,” she said, her voice shaking. Tears started to flow down her face again and she wiped them with the baby blanket.
Mrs Solotsi looked at her with pity, forgetting about her own sorrows for a while. Then she took out the gun and showed it to Linda.
“I came here to kill myself too, because I felt inadequate as a woman. I could not give my husband what he wanted – a child.”
“Are you Mrs Solotsi? I recognise you.”
“Yes, Linda. I am Mrs Solotsi, the principal of the high school. You can call me Jemima.”
Tell us: Do you believe in fate? Or do you just think it was a coincidence that Mrs. Solotsi and Linda found each other?