As we neared our gate, I saw Mama bustling towards us. She looked sick with worry. She grabbed Levi by the arm and shook him. “Why do you make me worry like this?”

“Mama! Let go!” Levi screamed, and the mort threw back its head and moaned.

Mr Cele cleared his throat. “All is fine now, Mrs Nsele,” he said. “But I would keep this one out of sight for now.”

Waving away Mama’s thanks, he left us.

“Mama,” I said. “What are we going to do? We can’t keep it here.”

“I will phone the Collectors, insist they come and get it tomorrow and take it to the camps.”

“But what about tonight?”

She glanced at Levi who was still holding the thing’s hand. “It can stay in the yard with Zizu.”

“Aw, what?”

“Nyameka, what else would you have me do? Just look at you brother. He doesn’t understand what is happening.”

“It’s always about him, isn’t it? What about how I feel?” Turning my back on her, I stormed through the gate, my face still burning with anger and shame.

I woke up feeling worse than I had the night before. I re-read the sms Zanele had sent me late last night:

u seriously got a zombi livin with u meka?

The news had spread faster than I expected. I still hadn’t replied to it.

I heard the sound of a car engine, the slamming of doors, followed by Mama’s voice. The Collectors must be here.

I pulled on my jeans and wandered outside to find Mama standing in the yard, hands on her hips. She was glaring at two guys dressed in filthy blue uniforms. One of them was weaving on his feet as if he was drunk. The other was so fat his bulging stomach peeked through the buttons of his shirt.

“I am telling you, sisi,” the fat one was saying. “Five hundred rand.”

Mama waved her hand at our small house. “Do I look like I have five hundred rand to spare?”

The fat one shrugged. “Give us five hundred rand and we will take it away for you.”

“But it is your job!”

The drunk guy shrugged. “Pay up or we will just leave.”

“So what am I to do with it?”

“Not my problem.”

Mama reached for her broom. They got the message and ran for their van.

“Mama?” I asked. “What’s going on?”

“What does it look like?” she snapped. “The Collectors are corrupt, they want me to pay them to do their job!” She shook her head. “I must go and sort this out. You stay here and look after your brother.”

My mind was reeling. If the Collectors weren’t going to take the mort to the camps, what did that mean? I couldn’t stand the thought of it staying here any longer. What would people say?

I could hear the mort moaning at the back of the house where Mama grew the vegetables. Now seriously irritated, I stalked through the yard to find my brother.

I stopped dead, unable to believe what I was seeing.


What do you think Nyameka sees in the back yard?