Lungile gets worse as the week progresses. She stays in her room and cries all day long. Her room is filthy. Just waking up and bathing feels like an uphill battle.
MaKhumalo sits next to Sibiya on the lounge sofa. She shakes her head and sighs. “I have tried everything with Lungile. We need to take her to a psychiatrist otherwise she will die,” she says softly.
“Lungile is not mad, MaKhumalo.”
“Yes, she is not mad, but she is suffering from depression.”
“Don’t tell me you also believe this depression story.”
“We have tried everything we know to help her but nothing is working. Let’s give a psychiatrist a chance.”
“Do you know anyone else in the area who has depression? I don’t buy that Lungile has this disease. I’ve never met anyone else who has depression.”
“I don’t know anyone else. But Lungile is definitely suffering from it. This is not the Lungile I know. Something is definitely wrong and it is in her mind,” says MaKhumalo.
Sibiya is quiet for a while. He sees the pain and the pleading in MaKhumalo’s eyes. “Fine, let’s try this psychiatrist. But if Lungile doesn’t get better I’ll take her to another sangoma.”
MaKhumalo hugs Sibiya. She makes the appointment with the psychiatrist. She is smiling as she goes to tell Lungile but panics when she finds her door locked.
She can hear that Lungile is sniffling inside.
“Lungile please open the door, I need to speak to you,” MaKhumalo pleads.
“I don’t want to speak to you, Ma.”
“Open the door. I want to help you.”
“There’s nothing you can do to help me, Ma.”
“Your father has agreed to pay for you to see a psychiatrist. I’ve made the appointment for tomorrow.”
“Really, Ma?” Lungile jumps out of bed and opens the door.
“I’m so pleased, Ma. A psychiatrist is my last hope.”
“We’d do anything for you to get better. We want to see you happy.”
* * * * *
It’s busy in Durban city center. Lihle is here to meet with Lungile’s ex-boyfriend, while her parents are taking Lungile to see the psychiatrist. She walks into a packed Nando’s.
“Hi Lihle. I was surprised when I got your message,” says Menzi.
“It was important that I meet with you, Menzi,” says Lihle. “This is about Lungile.”
“You do know that Lungile and I are no longer together, right? She didn’t have time for me,” says Menzi.
“Lungile is not well, Menzi. She needs your support.”
“Lungile is suffering from depression.”
Menzi doesn’t say a word. He looks out the window. It is evident he is in deep thought.
“We were also confused as her family. We thought she was bewitched. We thought she needed to be exorcised. But in the end, it has become obvious that she is suffering from depression, as she said,” says Lihle.
Tears fill her eyes. Menzi hands her a serviette. “I’m sorry to hear that. I didn’t know.”
“All I’m asking is that you don’t desert her in her time of need. She loves you and needs you.”
“It all makes sense now. Lungile would just cry out of the blue. She’d be in a bad mood, have no energy, wouldn’t answer my calls. I now feel like a failure as a man. I should have seen what was happening, and helped her.”
“Don’t blame yourself, Menzi. You didn’t know. It’s a hard thing for a sufferer to reveal.”
“Where is she right now?”
“She’s gone to see a psychiatrist.”
“Please tell her I want to speak with her. Tell her I understand and I want to be there for her.”
“Thank you, Menzi. I’ll do that,” says Lihle.
Tell us: What do you think about Lihle going to see Menzi? Will he be able to help Lungile recover?