It is a few minutes after 6 pm. Zinhle looks out the bedroom window. The sky is full of tar-black clouds. It starts to rain. Puddles form quickly on the ground. The rain pours down with a sound resembling the buzzing of angry bees. Snethemba is asleep. Zandile is in the kitchen cooking supper.
Thoughts buzz in Zinhle’s head too. How am I going to take care of Snethemba all by myself? She’s going to grow up without a father just like me. What was I thinking?
The thud of the rain on the roof becomes too much for Snethemba and she starts crying. Zinhle dashes over to pick her up.
“Shh baby. Everything will be alright. Mommy is here,” says Zinhle, rocking her.
Snethemba keeps crying.
Zinhle takes a prepared milk bottle. She puts it in Snethemba’s mouth. Snethemba pushes it out.
“Come on, Snethemba. Come on baby,” says Zinhle.
Snethemba just keeps crying. Zinhle tries singing to her. She sings a Zulu lullaby.
“Owa mntwana. Owa mntwana. Ubaba akekho. Uyotheng’ isinkwa. Owa mntwana. Owa mntwana. Ubaba akekho. Uyotheng’ isinkwa.”
Snethemba stops crying while Zinhle is singing. Zinhle stops and tries to give her the bottle again. Snethemba wails, her cheeks turning red in seconds. Zinhle also bursts into tears.
“What do you want, Snethemba!?” Zinhle snaps.
Zandile opens the door. “What’s the matter?” she asks. “Have you tried feeding her? Maybe she is hungry.”
“I tried but she doesn’t want the bottle!” says Zinhle.
Zinhle’s face is wrinkly with worry. Her swollen, red eyes are full of tears.
“Okay calm down,” says Zandile. “Let me check her diaper. Maybe it is full.”
“I checked. The diaper is dry.”
Zandile picks up Snethemba and walks around the house holding her. Soon Snethemba is asleep. Zinhle and Zandile sit at the kitchen, a cup of coffee in front of each of them. Zinhle snorts and sobs.
“Hey, Zinhle. What’s wrong now? Snethemba is asleep. Just relax.”
“It’s not that. I just have a lot on my mind. How am going to take care of this baby? She’s my baby and my responsibility,” says Zinhle.
Catherine and Vincent walk into the kitchen and sit at the table. Catherine rubs Zinhle’s back.
“Zinhle, my girl, please hear us out,” says Catherine. “We have come together as a family and decided to help you. Zandile has told me everything about you. We don’t know what you have planned for your future with Snethemba but we are prepared to offer you a place to stay.”
“You have to go back to school, Zinhle. You have to improve your life for you and Snethemba,” says Zandile.
“But who will look after Snethemba while I’m in school? What will I do for money?”
“I can look after Snethemba while you are in school. As for money we will see what we can do. I think with the social grant for Snethemba and what we make as a family, you two can survive with us,” says Catherine.
“And I have spoken with my boss at the supermarket. There is an opening for cashiers on weekends. You can start as soon as you are strong enough,” says Zandile.
“Thank you,” says Zinhle. She looks at Catherine, Zandile and Vincent. “I really mean it. Thank you for everything. For listening to my story and understanding. Thank you for your help and taking me and baby in. I don’t know how I can ever repay you.”
“You can repay us by doing your best to get your life together and going to school and raising Snethemba with love,” says Catherine.
“Repay us by being the best you can be,” says Vincent. “Everyone goes through hardships, my girl. The most important thing in life is what you choose to do after going through those hardships. Do you come out stronger? Or do you let those hardships define who you are? The winners in life are the ones who never let hardships define who they are. We want you, my child, to be a winner.”
“Thank you so much,” says Zinhle. “I have never met anyone who believes in me as much as all of you do.”
They all hug.
Zinhle calls Sphiwe later that night and tells him about her situation. “I have never felt such love, Sphiwe. I know life is tough but I have a good family here.”
“That’s lovely to hear. I was worried about you, my friend,” says Sphiwe. “Hey, how come you didn’t send me Snethemba’s photo?”
“I’m not sending you her photo.”
“I want you to come see her for yourself. You can come visit me with the rest of the crew – Thando, Samke and even Thabo.”
“I’ll try to visit you this weekend,” says Sphiwe.
“I’d like that very much,” says Zinhle.
Tell us: Do you like this ending? Why or why not?