Lungile’s whole body throbs in pain. She can’t catch a wink of sleep. She tosses and turns in bed until she decides to get up and write a poem. Writing poetry has been her refuge for the better part of her life. She writes about anything close to her heart. She takes out her exercise book. As soon as she opens a blank page the words just flow.

What disease is this?

It replaces joy with sorrow
That stays and grows roots
Joy becomes a far-fetched dream.
What did I ever do to suffer like this?

I plan my death day after day
My peers plan money-making schemes
It’s only a matter of time before I take my life
But I’m afraid of death.
What did I ever do to suffer like this?

I want to live carefree like my friends
I also want to see the world
I’m still young
I need to break these chains holding me down
Enough is enough.
What did I ever do to suffer like this? 

She is staring at the words she has written, her mind blank, when her cellphone buzzes. The message is from Menzi.

It’s over between us Lungile.

All the best to you and your new boyfriend.

Lungile blames herself for Menzi coming to this conclusion. She tries calling him several times, but his phone is off. She eventually realises that Menzi has really broken things off.

She weeps and comes to a decision. Tomorrow, after everyone leaves, she will kill herself.

Her mom and dad leave for work in the morning. Lihle, her younger sister leaves for school. Lungile is in bed, unable to move. It’s as if a heavy weight is pressing down on her body, and her mind. She stays immobile like this for an hour before she can finally get up. She looks out of the window. The street is quiet and empty. It is as lonely as she feels inside.

In a split second a rush of energy floods her body. She opens her parent’s bedroom and grabs all the pills she can find in their medicine cabinet. She heads to the kitchen, grinds all the pills and pours the powder and water into a cup. She drinks the mixture quickly.

Her world turns black a few minutes later. She doesn’t have to concern herself with the worries of living anymore.

Later, her parents return to find her on the kitchen floor, unconscious and frothing at the mouth. She is hardly breathing.

“Lungile! Lungile! My baby!” MaKhumalo screams at the top of her lungs.

Sibiya hugs Lungile’s body and feels faint, warm breath on his neck. “She’s still breathing! Let’s get her to the hospital!”

Sibiya, carriying Lungile, runs to his car. “Bring the key! Let’s go, MaKhumalo!”

MaKhumalo comes out of the house sprinting, with the key in hand. Sibiya pushes the accelerator pedal to the floor.

“Please don’t leave me, Lungile. Don’t you dare die on us, my dear child,” MaKhumalo pleads with Lungile’s unconscious body in the backseat.

Sibiya runs through red traffic lights. He drives his car at speeds he has never reached before. He parks the car right at the door of the casualty ward. Nurses and doctors attend to Lungile quickly.

***

Tell us: Will this suicide attempt make Lungile’s parents more understanding of her illness?