When Mrs Zotwana returned from work around midnight, the sight of Thobeka perched on the sofa startled her. “Why are you still up? What’s wrong?” She dropped her bag on the floor and in three long strides, joined Thobeka on the couch. She touched Thobeka’s face, her arms, and ran her eyes over her body. “What’s wrong? Are you okay? Did something happen to you?”

“I read it, Ma.” Thobeka pointed to the envelope on the coffee table. “I read Ubaba’s letter.”

Mrs Zotwana enveloped Thobeka in a hug, stroking her head. When she released her, she cupped her face between her hands. “And how do you feel now?”

“Better. But I still don’t understand how he died.” She searched her mother’s eyes for an answer. “Did he commit suicide like umakhulu said he did?”

Tears formed in Mrs Zotwana’s eyes. “No, no, he didn’t. He was allergic to penicillin and took the wrong tablets.”

Thobeka shook her head. “I don’t understand. How, Ma? How does someone take the wrong tablets by mistake?”

Mrs Zotwana sighed, silent tears streaming down her cheeks. “He was drunk. Said he had a headache.” She rubbed her tear-chained cheeks. “He didn’t wait for me to give them to him – the right tablets.” She grabbed Thobeka into a rib-crushing hug. “He was a good man. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. His alcoholism was an illness ― an escape from the atrocities of war. He’d seen so much evil ― it broke his spirit,” she held Thobeka by the shoulders and gazed into her eyes, “but he was a good man, trying to be the father he said you deserve. That’s why he wrote you the letter ― to make amends. That’s what the alcoholics support group suggested. He was trying.”

After mother and daughter could cry no more, Thobeka went to her room and returned with the competition writing forms Mrs Edwards had given her. “Ma, I have to tell you something.”

Mrs Zotwana peered at Thobeka, her heart throbbing. “Are you … pregnant?”

“Haibo!” Thobeka gaped at her mother. “From what? The books I read?” She guffawed. “Someday when I find my knight in fashionable clothing, I will be.”

“Ndiyabulela Nkosi.” Mrs Zotwana slumped against the couch, her chest heaving. “Don’t scare me like that again.”

Thobeka sighed. “Still … you won’t like my news.”

“Tell me. No matter what, I’m here for you.”

“I’m going to be a writer, Ma.”

“Heh? Since when?” Mrs Zotwana shot upright. “What about your plans for university – studying engineering or something.”

“Oh, Ma, they are your dreams for me. I’m chasing my own dreams, like Ubaba said I should, and I’m choosing to dream in technicolour.”


Tell us what you think: What is it about Thobeka that makes the reader feel that she is likely to succeed as a full time writer?


A note from the author: WRITER BEWARE!

This story is fiction, but ‘vanity presses’ are not. There are predators out there. They scout for people like me, and my fellow aspiring FunDza writers, who are desperate to have our words read by a global audience, and get paid for it, of course!  No honest agent or legitimate publishing house will ask for fees upfront. They accept, edit, proofread, design, print and market your work, and earn money from the sales. They pay you royalties based on the sales.

You can self publish, and may then pay an editor yourself. You might also pay a graphic designer to create your book cover if, like me, the best you can draw are stick figures! 😀 You may then have to also pay a company or agent to market your books.


Publishers pay you –
you don’t pay them.
Never, Ever!