“My brother told me that my Dad went there one night and fought with him. I’m not exactly sure what went on but the whole family left the area. The house has been empty for some time now.
“Are you alright? You’ve gone very quiet,” Khosi said a few minutes later, as Lesego sat very still on the bed.
“I’m OK,” Lesego said, as if in a trance. Her mind raced. Why had her sister lied to her? There was no faith healer on Fourth Street anymore. What was going on with Nomsa? Had she given up completely and now just wanted to fade away? It seemed like a strong gust of wind could blow Nomsa far away – she was that thin and frail.
When Lesego got home she phoned and ordered the pizza.
“That smells good,” mom, said when it arrived. “I’m starving. Let’s see if Nomsa will get up and join us.”
Lesego went into her sister’s bedroom. Nomsa was awake and sitting up in bed, looking sad.
“I feel so ashamed,” she said. “I don’t understand how I could be so cruel to you and Mom.”
Lesego sat down on the bed and hugged her. “It’s OK. No soup tonight. I’ve ordered pizza.” Lesego had made her mind up not to say anything about the faith healer. She wanted to observe her sister first and see if she could understand what was going on.
“Gosh how I used to love pizza,” Nomsa said.
But she got up and came and sat with Mom and Lesego. She even ate a whole slice of pizza.
“I’ve decided to go to the hospital tomorrow to see the doctor.”
“I’ll take time off work and come with you,” said her mother.
“No, it’s OK Mom. I’ll go by myself. I know you can’t take any more time off work.”
Later that night when the family was in bed, Lesego woke up suddenly. She could not sleep. Her mind kept turning over on worried thoughts. Then she heard her sister getting sick.
She wanted to get up and help her but could not let go of the thoughts. Why, why had her sister lied to her and her mom? Was she lying about going to the hospital as well? She remembered her sister telling her about their lying father. Was Nomsa her father’s child, a liar?
The next morning Mrs Seoke woke up her daughters. “It’s time for school, Lesego. And Nomsa you had better get up before the hospital gets too busy.”
Nomsa moaned but she did as her Mom said. “I’ll see you both later.” Nomsa left the house as soon as she dressed herself. She wouldn’t eat anything but took a few sips of tea.
Lesego did not go to school that day. Instead she followed her sister. It did not surprise her at all that Nomsa did not go anywhere near the hospital.
Instead she went and sat down in the park. Lesego watched her for a while. She had no idea what Nomsa was going to do. For two hours Lesego watched her sister from behind the bushes at the park. Then Nomsa leaned back on a bench and seemed to fall asleep.
Not long after a young mother with two toddlers entered the park. The children jumped on the swings straight away. The mother sat down on the same bench as Nomsa.
Then suddenly there was bedlam. The woman started screaming and pulled out her cellphone.
Lesego rushed over. She had never been so frightened in her entire life.
“I think she’s dead! I’ve phoned the emergency number,” the woman said.
In no time at all the police and the ambulance arrived. They rushed the unconscious Nomsa to the hospital. Lesego explained that she was the sister, so the paramedics allowed her to come with them.
Lesego and her mother were pacing the waiting-room floor when a young, female doctor came walking towards them.
“Is she going to be OK?” they both asked at the same time.
“Can you come with me?” the doctor said. She ushered both women into a side room.
“Nomsa is suffering from an eating disorder called bulimia,” she told them.
“An eating disorder,” Lesego echoed. Then suddenly it all made sense.
“Nomsa has abrasions on her throat from where she put her fingers down. She’s been throwing up practically everything she ate.”
“It will take a while for her to get better,” the doctor said. “She will need to stay in hospital for a while to get her weight up to a safer level and get intensive counselling. She won’t get better overnight.”
“Things are starting to fall into place. I remember how she had talked about Marcus. I can see that it was not a good relationship. She talked about the way Marcus was looking at his tall and thin models,” said Mrs Seoke. “Has she agreed to the treatment though?”
“Yes, that is a positive step forward,” said the doctor. “She has now recognised that she has a serious problem; that she is way beyond just thin.”
It was six weeks later. Lesego, Zanele and Nomsa were in their living room trying to teach Khosi the monkey jive. The music was on very loud and the four young women were laughing and dancing around the room.
The door opened and Mrs Seoke stood looking at them. Lesego rushed over and turned the music down.
“It’s OK, darling. It’s time your mother learned to dance as well.”
The young women fell about laughing as Lesego tried to teach her mom the steps. At first she just stumbled and fell over but Lesego caught her in time.
Before too long they were all tapping their feet in time to the music.
Lesego looked at Nomsa with a huge grin on her face. Nomsa winked at her and asked her what was for supper, and Lesego knew her sister was going to be OK.
Tell us what you think: Have you any experience of this eating disorder among your family or friends? Do you think many models have eating disorders?