Kamvi lifted the gift bag down from the shelf and read the card again.

All the best with the baby.

Love, Cynthia

It didn’t say much but it meant a lot. She took out the stuffed toy animal, a brown bear for her baby. Kamvi didn’t even know if it would be a girl or a boy. Cynthia had bought it for Kamvi as a ‘cheer up’ present when Kamvi was feeling really down.

Back then Kamvi had wished the gift was a pair of jeans that fitted her, because none of hers fitted anymore. She didn’t want a toy that reminded her that there was this thing growing inside of her, making people stare and whisper behind her back. She had really cried at the sight of the soft toy staring up at her.

Now she replaced the animal in the gift bag and put it in her suitcase. She was almost done packing. Then she would go and fetch her Grade 11 report from the school office. She wasn’t looking forward to that. She knew what the results would be even if she didn’t pick it up. She had found it so hard to concentrate on studying, and in the exams she had felt sick with nerves and couldn’t focus. It was like her mind was clouded with thoughts of the baby and stress about her future – their future.

The long summer holiday stretched ahead and filled Kamvi with dread. She wondered what she would do with herself during December. Cynthia had talked about them shopping for the baby. Although she meant well, Kamvi knew that no teenage girl in her right mind, in summer, would rather hang out with a pregnant girl than go to parties with her other friends. Friends who could stay out late, drink, and dance, and have fun.

But Cynthia was the only one who had been kind enough to even offer. Kamvi had no other friends left. Word spread fast, and soon everyone knew about the pregnancy and most of the crowd she used to hang out with either drifted away or didn’t want to be seen with her. Eventually the only friend who had remained was Cynthia. Honestly. Everyone had abandoned her, as if she had some kind of infectious disease. Or it was like she had suddenly begun to smell really bad.

Even Gladys, the slut of the school, had laughed out loud whenever their paths crossed. “Stupid bitch,” was a refrain that followed her wherever she went, hissing on the wind caught in the passages and stairwells of the school.

For the first time in her life she had actually been relieved when the exams finally arrived. Exams meant that she only had to leave the shelter of the hostel to write, and not endure a whole day of gossiping girls in class and at break.

She put the last of her clothes in her suitcase. Her maternity clothes: two pairs of maternity jeans, three smock tops that were cool and billowed around her growing belly, a ‘granny’ nightgown and two dresses. The package had come from her mother by courier. Mrs Mxothwa had ordered her to wear civvies during the exams. Kamvi was pleased because her uniform was now two sizes too small and made her feel uncomfortable.

“Hey, can I help?” Cynthia asked from the doorway of the dorm.

“Naa, I’m done,” Kamvi said, closing up the suitcase.

“I’m gonna miss you,” Cynthia said, hugging Kamvi. “We must WhatsApp each other every day,” she added.

Kamvi knew that Cynthia’s plans didn’t involve sitting at home bored and texting people. But she nodded anyway. Who would want to hang out with a pregnant rhino during their summer holidays? Kamvi thought. I know I wouldn’t.

“Mrs Mxothwa would like to see you in her office, Kamvi,” Sophia, the Head Girl reported from the door. Kamvi and Cynthia exchanged a worried look.

Mrs Mxothwa had been the most difficult, right from the start. She was Head of the Life Orientation Department, and the leading light in the Student Christian Association at the school. She had frowned when she first spoke to Kamvi, after Mrs Jason had informed her that one of her girls was pregnant. She was Kamvi’s Grade head and so the teacher who would guide Kamvi through what remained of her year at school.

She never really smiled at Kamvi again after that. She often said that she would pray for her, but her eyes spoke only judgement and anger.

“Sit,” Mrs Mxothwa ordered.

Kamvi did as she was told but kept her eyes on her shaking hands on her lap.

“Your report is done,” Mrs Mxothwa said, handing Kamvi the card. Kamvi didn’t look at it. She knew she hadn’t done very well, but she had passed. That was all for now. It would just have to be good enough.

“Kamvilihle, you had so much promise, a bright future ahead of you,” Mrs Mxothwa said in that cold tone of hers. Kamvi’s head bowed. She didn’t feel like another lecture. Mrs Mxothwa noticed and changed her tune.

“A bright girl like you should be in school. So when the baby’s born you must return to a school, and get your Matric at least.”

Kamvi only nodded. She noticed Mrs Mxothwa said ‘a school’ and not to ‘this school’. It obviously meant Kamvi was not welcome to return here, but rather to attend any other school that would take her.

Kamvi left the office feeling depressed and hopeless. Her uncle would come to fetch her soon. She couldn’t wait to be away from the stares and the gossip and the fake sympathy.


Tell us what you think: Should pregnant girls be allowed to stay on at school? Why or why not?