It’s midmorning. MaMhlongo coughs non stop in bed. She craves for just a drop of water. The jug of water Wandile left on her bedside table two days ago ran out early in the morning. Wandile is nowhere to be found. Nonku enters as a MaMhlongo is attacked by an intense bout of coughing.
“Aunty you are all alone?”
MaMhlongo tries to answer but runs out of breath. “Water!” she finally manages to say.
Nonku runs to the kitchen, fills the jug and helps MaMhlongo drink from a glass.
“Where is Wandile, Aunty?”
“I don’t know where she is. She left a few days ago,” tears fill MaMhlongo’s eyes.
“What’s the matter with Wandile? I thought the church women got through to her when they were here.”
“I really don’t know what’s wrong with my daughter. I don’t know why she hates me so much.”
Nonku fixes MaMhlongo porridge so she can take her pills on a full stomach. She helps her eat.
“Aunty I’m going to ask Ma to let me come and stay with you because we cannot count on Wandile to look after you.”
“I’d like that, my child,” MaMhlongo holds on to Nonku’s hand. “I’d be thankful to have someone around to look after me.”
Nonku cleans the house until it is spotless. She cooks a proper meal and washes bed linen from both bedrooms. She bathes MaMhlongo and only leaves to get some of her clothes when she is deep into her afternoon nap.
A car stops at the gate ten minutes after Nonku has left. Two men get out of the car. They open the back door and struggle with helping Wandile to her feet. She is so drunk she has her eyes closed and can hardly walk.
One of the men carries her to her bedroom. She sleeps for hours, only waking up to vomit and return back to sleep. By early evening she is in front of the mirror, putting on make-up, ready for another night of partying.
“Wandile please make me something to eat, my child. I’m hungry, the pills are working overtime today. I’m eating a lot,” says MaMhlongo.
“You mean I must cook? I can’t. You should have told me earlier when I still had time.”
“How was I going to tell you when you were in that state? You were too drunk. I’m not saying cook, Nonku has already cooked. I’m only asking you to dish for me.”
“Oh, I see. Your favourite was here. She cooked for you,” says Wandile mockingly.
“Nonku is a respectful child. She respects her elders and she helps me a lot when you are not around.”
“It’s obvious she’s your favourite because you have never loved me.”
“I love you, Wandile. You are my only child but you never help me!”
“Take your Nonku. Make her your child. See if I care!”
“Wandile, I only asked for you to dish a plate for me yet you insult me non stop! Do you even care if I live or die?”
“I don’t have time for this!” Wandile dishes a plate for her mom, bangs it on the side table next to her bed and gets back to readying herself for a night at the club.
She peeks into her mom’s bedroom. MaMhlongo is fast asleep. Wandile tip toes in and takes her cellphone and some money on the side table.
MaMhlongo suddenly wakes up. “Bring back my cellphone and money! Wandile bring back my cellphone and money!”
MaMhlongo runs out of breath. Wandile runs out of the house. She gets to the gate and calls Nonhle.
“I’m on the road. Meet me at the bus stop in five minutes,” says Wandile.
“Cool. Let me pack some school books in my bag because I told Ma I’m going out to study. She said she wants me back home by ten.”
“Don’t worry we’ll be back by ten.” Wandile has persuaded her friend to come to the club – with the same promises that she will look after her and not let anything bad happen to her. They will just have some fun.
“Cool, I’ll be there just now,” says Nonhle.
True to her word, Nonhle appears a few minutes later. She is carrying her school backpack. The hem of her loose fitting dress is well below the knees.
“I knew you’d wear something crazy like this,” Wandile points at her dress and shakes her head. “That’s why I brought you some of my sexy clothes.”
“What’s wrong with my dress? I love this dress, it’s very comfortable,” says Nonhle defensively.
“We are going to a club, not church. Here, get into this,” Wandile hands Nonhle a short dress and high heels.
“Where am I supposed to change?”
“Behind the tree. It is dark and no one is watching. Besides I’ll be on the lookout. Change. Make it quick!”
Nonhle changes into the short dress and high heels. She looks nervous now and uncomfortable, unsure of whether she wants to go to the club. “This dress is too short. I’m uncomfortable, Wandile.”
“Don’t worry. You look good in it. Sexy! You’ll get used to it. And another thing, don’t act like a novice when we get to the club.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean don’t say no if a guy wants to speak to you or buy you a drink.”
“What? First of all you know that I don’t drink alcohol.”
“I know, but there are non alcoholic drinks in the club.”
“Fine. But let’s agree that when I say I want to leave we will leave.”
They hide Nonhle’s backpack behind a hedge by the road. Two minutes later an Uber stops at the bus stop. They get in and head to Florida Road.
Tell us: What do you think will happen to Nonhle?