Hope with Gogo
iThemba noGogo

Still, whatever happened, I did not miss a day of school. Every day after school, I changed my clothes and gave Atie my school uniform. Atie then washed and ironed it for me, since I had no place to do it myself. Every morning I picked it up and left my other clothes in a plastic bag with him, so that nobody could see how my real life was.

It was Atie who kept me going: ‘Linda – just wait, Mbu! One day, we’ll live in a real, big house, with a big garden and even a big pool . . .!’

When he saw my skeptical face, he punched me in the stomach and said: ‘And with many, many girls, of course!’ But for now, things got a lot worse.


From time to time, I was still visiting my mother, Anam, Aphelele and Anam’s father. It was always good when Auntie Nompumelelo was also around, as she was never moody and always greeted me kindly. She also was one of the few in the yard who didn’t drink and who looked after her own children properly – and, sometimes, also after Anam and Aphelele.

She once said to me: ‘Mbu – never judge a person from the surface. Nobody is born an alcoholic or a tikkop. Even your mother and Siya have their own story that explains why they are the way they are today …’

‘But why do they have children then, Makazi?’

‘Maybe because they also didn’t ask to be born…’ she answered. I liked her for such wisdom.

As with Yamkela’s mother, she always shared her food with me when I was hungry, even when she herself did not have much.

One afternoon, I went by to see her because school had finished early due to a teacher’s union meeting. My aunt did not welcome me in the usual way. She looked down when I greeted her and I could see that she had been crying.

Makazi – what has happened?’

But she just shook her head and gestured towards my mom’s shack at the back.

Deeply worried, I hurried over there. Inside, I found the whole family: my mother, Anam, Aphelele and even Anam’s father. He had not gone to work as he usually did at this time of day.

When my mom saw me, she stood up and embraced me, as she hadn’t done since I was very small. Then she started crying in a loud, high voice that sent shivers down my spine. ‘Mama, nceda – please, what has happened?’ I still had no clue.

Tell us what you think: What do you think has happened?