“I don’t know what I’m living for! It’s better to die!” Lungile screams.
“Please don’t cry, Lungile,” MaKhumalo hugs her.
“What is it exactly that you feel, that makes you cry, Lungile?” Sibiya inquires.
“I don’t know, Baba. But I just feel like my life should end. I just want to die because I’m a burden to all of you.”
“You are not a burden to us. You are our daughter and we love you,” says MaKhumalo.
“If you really love me, you’d let me see a psychiatrist, Ma.”
“Lungile! You are not going to see a psychiatrist! You are not mad. The church people have prayed for you and Ndlovu has healed you. You will get better; just give this thing some time,” says Sibiya.
“What else can we do to make you feel better?” Lihle chimes in.
“Nothing, my sister. Just let me die if you won’t let me see a psychiatrist. I’m fed up of this pain.” Lungile tries to break free from her mother’s hug.
“Let’s kneel down and pray,” says MaKhumalo.
Lungile reluctantly kneels with the rest of her family.
“Creator of heaven and earth. We have done everything in our power to heal this child. We ask for your power, Lord. We ask you to heal this child. If she is suffering for my sins please redirect your rage to me. It is said children pay for their parents’ sins. Maybe Lungile is suffering for my sins. Let it be me who suffers, Lord, instead of my child. Please heal her, Lord …” MaKhumalo is unable to say ‘Amen’ at the end, because she starts weeping.
Everyone is weeping now, except Sibiya. He looks on helplessly, not knowing which of his family members he should offer comfort to first.
Lungile is a bit better in the evening. She is still feeling low, but at least she is no longer crying.
“I’ll sleep with you in your room tonight, Lungile,” says MaKhumalo.
“I also want to sleep in Lungile’s room. I’ll get a sponge matress and lay it on the floor,” says Lihle.
“Thank you, Lihle, for your support. We have to support each other in trying times,” says MaKhumalo.
Sibiya burns mphepho. “I’m asking you, Sibiya ancestors, to heal this child!” he says over and over, until the incense turns to ash.
Lungile wakes up at the stroke of midnight. She carefully gets out of bed and tiptoes over Lihle sleeping on the floor. She opens the door and goes to the bathroom. She looks at her reflection in the mirror for 10 long minutes. Her face looks gaunt, her eyes a picture of worry.
She takes a razor blade. Her hands are shaking. Her heart is thumping. Two voices quarrel in her mind. One says stop, the other says go on.
“I’m sorry, Ma and Baba,” she says. Her voice sounds emotionless.
She looks at the razor blade in her hand. She remembers her ambitions, her dream of being a teacher one day. Her dream of being part of building a nation. She thinks of the money her parents have paid for her studies. She thinks of Menzi, because deep down she knows she still loves him.
She weeps silently and crumples to the bathroom floor. Her heart is sore. Depression has sucked out the joy in her life, and is at this moment strangling the life out of her.
“But I still want to live,” she whispers.
She picks up the blade that has fallen to the floor. She brings it to her wrist. Pain throbs on her arm as she starts to press it on her vein.
It’s too painful. The blade has only scraped the skin. There is no blood.
She gives up and puts the razor blade back in the medicine cabinet. She searches for pills but finds none. Her parents have hidden every pill in the house after her suicide attempt.
She heads to the kitchen and opens the fridge. She finds Sibiya’s vodka bottle. She opens the cap and gulps down the vodka. Her body sways. Her head swims. She sees stars. She takes another gulp and slumps on the lounge sofa. She likes this feeling of being drunk. It gives her temporary relief from the clutches of her depression. She quickly falls asleep.
Tell us: Is alcohol a good thing, if it temporarily makes a depressed person feel a bit better? Why or why not?