Wandile sits huddled on the floor in a corner of her bedroom. She pronounces all the thoughts swirling in her mind.

“I’m not crazy. I’m not mad. Nonku is dead!” she slaps her own face five times.

Since Nonku was killed a week ago Wandile has had no rest. Nhlanhla doesn’t answer calls. He is on the run.  She hasn’t slept for a week and hasn’t eaten in three days. Her eyes have become sunken, her demeanour sullen. She keeps seeing Nonku as if she is right next to her. And worse is that she is right next to her in the state she was in when she died – full of bullet holes and bleeding. The visions she sees gnaw on her brain and she regrets deserting her mom in her time of need and getting her cousin killed.

“I’m sorry I didn’t know what I was doing!” Wandile apologises to the wall. But in her mind she is seeing Nonku just looking at her and bleeding from all six bullet wounds.

“Why did you have me killed, Wandile? I am your cousin. I love you,” says Nonku in Wandile’s mind.

Wandile screams and closes her eyes. She screams until she runs out of breath. There’s a knock on the front door. She drags herself up. She opens the door a tiny bit and wails at the top of her lungs. She is seeing Nonku standing outside the front door.

“What’s the matter, sisi,” asks the broom selling young man who is actually at the front door.

“Leave me alone Nonku! You died! We buried you! Leave me alone! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” Wandile screams.

The young man is startled by Wandile’s ramblings. He takes a few steps back, turns and bolts out of the gate. Wandile closes the door. Flies and all sorts of insects are all over the house. Dirty dishes fill the sink.

In her paranoia she dials Nhlanhla’s number. She knows it was him. But now she needs him.

“I need to see you, Nhlanhla. I’m not feeling well. I need to see you right now!”

“What is wrong with you? Why are you calling me? The police are all over the place asking questions. I am not staying at home…”

“Nonku is haunting me, Nhlanhla. I keep seeing her everywhere. She is right next to me as I speak,” says Wandile.

“What has that got to do with me? What do I have to do with you seeing ghosts?”

“Don’t say that my love. I need you now more than ever. Where are you?”

Nhlanhla has dropped the call. Wandile calls several times but she gets voicemail.

Wandile remains in a state of heightened paranoia for hours on end. She is craving a fix but the thought of going out of the house is daunting. She sips cold water in the kitchen.

Her cellphone buzzes. She doesn’t recognize the number.

“Hello,” she answers.

“You stupid stupid girl!” Nhlanhla barks at the other end.

“Nhlanhla, my love. Where are you?”

“At the police station. Listen to me, and listen to me carefully. I have been arrested because you spilled the beans to the police. Just know I hate you with all my heart! And when I get out I’ll find you and-”

Wandile switches off her cellphone. For the first time in days her state of paranoia subsides and she doses off right there on the kitchen floor.

It’s dark in the house when Wandile wakes up. She sits huddled on the kitchen floor and starts talking to herself and Nonku’s vision that she sees everywhere.

“Nonku, my dear cousin, I didn’t mean to kill you. I didn’t know what I was doing. Please forgive me. I’m begging you, please!” she says to the wall.

“Do you remember, my dear cousin, how we used to get along when we were kids? We were always together,” Wandile smiles at the fond memory. “People used to call us twins. Do you remember?”

Right then she sees a vision of MaMhlongo standing in the kitchen. “Why did you kill Nonku, you evil child?”

Wandile bolts out of the house. The paranoia plus withdrawal symptoms from drugs have turned taken a toll on her appearance. She looks thin and weak as she staggers onto the street. In her mind she is running away from Nonku and MaMhlongo who are chasing after her. In reality she takes a few steps and faints in the middle of the road.

MaMthethwa is on the verandah sipping cold water when she hears the tyres of a taxi violently screeching to a halt. He heart skips a beat when she sees a body in front of the taxi. She runs and finds Wandile crumpled on the road.

“What happened?” MaMthethwa inquires from the shaken taxi driver.

“She just ran in front of the taxi and fainted. She’s lucky I hit the brakes in time!”

The neighbourhood crowd has gathered around the scene. Wandile is motionless on the road.

MaMthethwa kneels and turns her over and shakes her. “Wandile! Wandile!”

It takes a minute for Wandile to come to. Wandile is not physically hurt but MaMthethwa is alarmed by the pain she sees in Wandile’s eyes. She looks like a tortured soul.

“Help me, please,” Wandile says. “I need help.”

MaMthethwa takes out her cell phone and calls an ambulance.


Tell us: What kind of help do you think Wandile needs?