It’s Friday, a few days later. Nomvelo is feeling happy because her mother came to visit her for a few hours yesterday. MaNgubane came with chocolates and chips that Nomvelo shared with the other initiates. Nomvelo didn’t tell MaNgubane what she has been going through at the Ndlovu home because she didn’t want her to go back to Eshowe upset.
Nomvelo is in the forest with the other initiates. Ndlovu is teaching them about muthi. Ndlovu points with his stick, then the initiates cut a branch, pick leaves or dig out the roots. Then they toss them into a large sack. They follow Ndlovu until he finally stops and turns to face them.
“All of you can go back now. Only Nomvelo will stay behind because her ancestors are commanding me to teach her about a special ritual she needs to learn,” says Ndlovu.
“Me?” Nomvelo asks fearfully.
“Do you have a problem with that?” Ndlovu stares into Nomvelo’s eyes.
“No, Baba,” she answers.
“Good. It’s not right to go against your ancestors’ commands,” says Ndlovu. He looks at the other initiates. “All of you hurry back home because this is an urgent matter.”
The initiates leave quickly. Ndlovu walks further into the forest with Nomvelo. He keeps showing Nomvelo different plants that produce a variety of healing muthi. They get to a rock and Ndlovu sits on it.
“Come, initiate. Sit next to me. I have something important to teach you now,” says Ndlovu.
Nomvelo sits next to Ndlovu.
“You see, initiate, this thing of ancestors and your calling is something you have to accept wholeheartedly so that your journey is successful. Are we clear?”
“The path that has been chosen for you is not easy. You still have a lot to learn. But no matter how hard it gets you must persevere until the end. You must stay strong until you become a sangoma,” says Ndlovu.
He smiles and holds Nomvelo’s hand. She pulls her hand away.
“Don’t be scared. I don’t bite,” he says.
He pulls Nomvelo close to him and starts fondling her breasts.
“What are you doing, Baba?” Nomvelo protests.
Ndlovu doesn’t answer. Nomvelo can feel his immense power as he peels off her clothes. He overpowers her and gets on top of her. Nomvelo screams but they are too deep in the forest for anyone to hear her screams. Ndlovu rapes her on the rock.
“Get dressed and follow me back home. If you tell anyone about what happened here I will cast a spell on you that will make you insane, then I will kill you,” he sneers.
Nomvelo can see Ndlovu’s lips moving but she doesn’t hear the words. The brutal attack on her body has brought on a deafening silence in her mind. She can feel tears running down her face, but everything is completely silent. She is in disbelief. No, this cannot be happening to me, she thinks. She gets dressed and sits by the trunk of a nearby tree. She holds herself and rocks back and forth.
The silence is broken by the words she speaks as she rocks her body. “What have I done that is so bad that I deserve to suffer such pain?” She wipes away her tears.
Nomvelo finds strength from deep within. She stands up and runs like the wind. She runs as fast and as far away from Ndlovu as she possibly can. She runs until she hears water running. She wades through the river and keeps running when she gets on the other side. She runs until she feels her calf muscles cramping. She sees a house with an old woman closing the door. She runs to that house and knocks on the door.
“Hello, Gogo,” says Nomvelo, running out of breath.
The old woman looks at Nomvelo and sees that something is out of place. “What is the matter, my child? Come inside,” she says.
“Thank you, Gogo,” says Nomvelo. She sits on the chair in the kitchen and wipes her tears.
“What are you running from?” inquires the old woman.
“I was raped by Ndlovu! He raped me!”
“Ndlovu? The traditional healer from two hills over?”
“Yes, Gogo. I was one of his initiates and he raped me!”
“Oh my God. I’m sorry, my child.”
“I want to go home, Gogo. I want to go to the police station. I want to go to the police station!”
The old woman holds Nomvelo close to her chest. “Where are you from, my child?”
“Listen, my child. Ndlovu has too much power in this area. Most of the people working in the police station and hospital know him and go to him for help when they want muthi.”
Nomvelo loses all hope.
“A better way to go about this is for you to go to a police station in Eshowe. My daughter is coming from work. She teaches nearby. I’ll get her to drive you home.”
“Thank you, Gogo. God bless you,” says Nomvelo.
Tell us: Ndlovu expects Nomvelo to behave one way after he rapes her. What does he expect? But she does something completely different. How will this change everything, do you think?