Lungile has her makeup kit open on the dressing table, and looks into the mirror. She wants to look good for her boyfriend, Menzi. She stares at her foundation, eye shadow and lipstick, but her depression is so intense these days that the process of applying makeup seems like a chore. She ends up only using her lip gloss.

She has been together with Menzi since Grade 11 in high school. She just felt comfortable around him, since the first day they met, five years ago. They have been together all this time, and are even enrolled at the same university. Menzi is doing his third year in Chemical Engineering; Lungile is third year B Ed.

But their relationship has taken strain since Lungile started suffering from depression. She stays in her bedroom and is in tears most of the time. Her parents assume she is sleeping because of laziness, unaware she is constantly contemplating suicide. Menzi meanwhile, has started having suspicions that Lungile has found a new boyfriend, because his calls often go unanswered. He has no idea that Lungile doesn’t answer his calls because she doesn’t have the energy to even speak when her depression gets its tentacles around her every waking thought.

She looks in the mirror at herself in her body-hugging red dress. She looks beautiful but in her mind she doesn’t feel beautiful. She doesn’t actually even want to look at herself.

“Mama, I’m meeting with my friends from varsity. We are going out for lunch,” Lungile lies.

“Fine, but just make sure you are back before your father returns from work,” says MaKhumalo, standing over a pot of bubbling stew at the stove.

Lungile requests an Uber on her cellphone. The driver is just a few kilometres away. She waits at the gate for a few minutes. Passing taxi drivers hoot when they see her in her sexy dress.

“Hey beautiful! Jump in, I’ll give you a free ride!” says one taxi driver.

“I’d stop drinking alcohol if you were my girlfriend!” shouts another.

Lungile just shakes her head and rolls her eyes. The taxi driver frowns. “I hope that man you are going to meet impregnates you and you give birth to ugly twins!”

At the rude comment Lungile’s mind tumbles into that dark space, that hollowness. But then another taxi driver gives a line that picks her up a bit. “You are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Wow – such beautiful skin! It’s like you bathe in milk!”

Lungile feels a little better at this flattery but still keeps her frown. Catcalling is rampant in this area of Inanda. She knows a smile will encourage the flatterer and he’ll ask for her number. Her Uber arrives.

She is at Devours Eats in Durban 20 minutes later.


Tell us: What do you think of this type of cat-calling? Harmful, or harmless fun? Why?