Lungile’s eyelashes flutter as she reluctantly opens her eyes. She feels the hollowness in her heart as soon as she wakes up. She has been feeling this deep sadness for a full six months now. Tears just fall endlessly when this emptiness hits her.

“What in the world have I done to feel this sadness?” she whispers to herself.

The toilet paper she has rolled up in her hand is soon wet with her tears. She feels worse as she cries. She eventually gets up from her bed and heads to her stash of pills. They are for no one particular ailment: for headaches, fever and a runny tummy. She gets a cup from the kitchen and half fills it with water. She grinds all the pills into a fine powder and pours it into the cup with water.

She is about to drink the mixture when a thought runs through her mind: I need to write a letter explaining why I decided to commit suicide. She tears out a page from an exam pad and scribbles.

Dear Mom and Dad

You will never understand the pain I feel inside. I constantly think of suicide now. These thoughts have come out of the blue. I feel a constant pain that never lets up. I can no longer live with this pain. Please find it in your hearts to forgive me.


A knock on the bedroom door startles her as she is about to raise the cup to her mouth.

“Wake up, you lazy girl! Get up otherwise the sun will disappear up your bum!” Lungile’s mom, MaKhumalo, shouts as she bangs on the door.

“I’m coming, Ma,” says Lungile.

She crumples her suicide note and throws it into the small bin in the corner of her room. She opens the window and discards the pills and water mix onto the grass outside. She is lethargic as she makes her bed. These days she has no energy at all. Even brushing her teeth is a chore. She just feels like sleeping and crying all day long, every day.

She finds her mom washing dishes in the kitchen.

“Good morning, Ma,” she says softly.

“What time is it, Lungile? Is this a good time for a decent human being to wake up? Your sister has been cleaning the house by herself for hours while you were snoring the whole morning! Stop this laziness right now, Lungile! I can’t stand it!”

“Mama, I’d like to speak to all of you, as my family.”

Her younger sister, Lihle, stops sweeping in the passage way. She looks at Lungile. “Why, are you pregnant?” she asks mockingly.

“Lihle, my girl, go call your father so we can hear what Miss High-and-Mighty wants to tell us.”

“Mama, how many times must I tell you that I don’t like it when you call me Miss High-and-Mighty?”

“I’ll stop calling you by that name when you stop being lazy,” says MaKhumalo.


Tell us: Do you blame the family for being frustrated with Lungile and calling her ‘lazy’?