It came as a shock – Lerato Morotolo

The sun shines for everyone and the rains pours to every household, it does not choose. The same goes for life, when happiness comes, it comes to everyone and sorrow always invades and invites itself into peoples homes.

Tsakane is such a happy child, living life like there is no tomorrow, she believes in that, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by moments that takes our breath away.” Every morning she wakes up at around 5am in the morning, goes to her parents’ bedroom to greet her mother who is a housewife to check how she is doing before she prepares for school. Tsakane’s mother enjoys staying at home, cleaning, cooking and doing laundry, she actually prefers being a house wife. “Working is not for me watseba, I don’t think women were created to wake up every morning gore ba tsamaye ba yo sebetsa,” she says. Tsakane always laughs at her mother because all she wants is to be an independent woman.

“Mama, o ka thabela tea?” Tsakane asks.

“Eya ngwanaka, watseba a ka robala sentle, I have this sharp pain on my breast, I told your father last night he just said I should stop working a lot in the house and rest, but the pain e gana go tsamaya.”

You can tell by their conversations that they are really close and they share everything. That mother and daughter love is on some levels.

“Mama o ska dira bjalo hleng, you know gore you’ve been complaining ka this pain for days, I am starting to get worried. Wake up, let me go with you to the doctor, I will go to school late, they will understand.”

“Hah ah Tsaki, eya skolong, you know very well that I don’t want you to miss school.”

Tsakane prepares herself for school, makes tea for her mother and off she goes.

“This pain doesn’t want to go, I cannot stop feeling such tenderness on my breasts, and I cannot take this anymore. I must go see a doctor,” Tsakanes mother says to herself.

Tsakane walks with her friend, Ntsako, from school, “Friend, I don’t know where to start watseba? Kere Thapelo is so hot, he has this thing that I cannot explain and he has invited me to his house this weekend. I don’t know gore ko botsa mama kere keya kae. And you know my mother, she is forever paranoid,” says Tsakane with a giggle.

“But friend, you and Thapelo just started your relationship, why are you in a hurry to go to his house mara? Nna I don’t understand him. He looks too good to be true. He is forever looking at girls and flirting with them” says Ntsako.

“Don’t be jealous friend, he is mine now. Did you see him at school today? And he was all over me, even those girls were jealous. Kere bona, my name was written all over his face. I can’t wait for the weekend to be with him, just the two of us. I already feel like I am there. Heaven I tell you my friend. Heaven.”

Tsakanes mood changes as she remembers the conversation she had with her mother earlier, she becomes silent.

“Hawu friend, and now?” Ntsako asks.

“Watseba I am worried about my mother, she has been complaining about this pain on her breast. A re sometimes she feel likes her breast is numb. I told her to go see her a doctor, a ke tsebe hey,” Tsakane says, trying to keep the worry out of her voice, but Ntsako is her best friend, she picks up the worry in Tsakanes voice and says,

“It sounds serious friend, force her hleng. Phela these days we easily get diseases hey. You might think it’s something small but ke ntho e serious.”

“You are right. Let me leave. I will see you tomorrow,” she says as she turns the opposite direction to go home.

“Mme, mme, I am back. Mme, mme, I am back,” Tsakane shouts as she enters through the kitchen, but there is no answer. She goes to her mother bedroom to check but her mother is not there. She suppresses the panic she is starting to feel by picking up her cellphone to call her mother but her mother doesn’t pick up.

“This is so weird, it doesn’t feel right, and I wonder she is,” Tsakane says to herself.

She goes into her bedroom to change from her school uniform and ends up sleeping, she is woken up by her mother, “Tsakane, Tsakane?”

“Hello mama, I have been worried sick about you. Where have you been?”

“I went to see a doctor, it took forever watseba. I did so many tests, I am so tired and weak. I just want to sleep now. Kopa o apae dijo tsa mantsiboa please my child. Your father is about to come back from work right now, I don’t want him gore a rase.”

“Okay mother, I am on it.”

Tsakanes mother doesn’t look good at all, she looks weak, and she cannot stand on her own feet without balancing on the kitchen chair or the sofa or whatever is close to her. Tsakane wonders what the doctor said, she wants to go and talk to her but she decides to give her a chance to breathe as she gets on with cooking supper.

Once the supper is cooked, Tsakane takes out her school books to get on with her homework, but she can’t concentrate, all she can think of is her weak mother and Ntsakos words about the popularity of sicknesses these days. After a long staring contest between her and the books, she decides to call her dad, who is unusually late today but his dad doesn’t answer. Tsakane looks at the pots on top of stove and looks at the clock hanging on the wall and she realizes that supper time has long passed, her father was supposed to be home over an hour ago. Before panic does the most with her, her mother comes into the kitchen.

“Tsakane, where is your father? It’s after 9 kanti isn’t he supposed to be back ka nako ee. I am worried.” Tsakane’s mother asks as she drags herself into the kitchen and takes a seat next to Tsakane. Her voice is low and she is struggling to breathe. After she’s settled down, she asks Tsakane to call her father.

“I’ve tried calling him, his phone goes to voicemail.” Now that Tsakanes mother is close to her, she can see that her skin is pale and grey. Her eyes have sunken deep and her collarbone is sticking out. Only now does she see how much weight her mother has really lost.

“Call your father please. I need him here. He must know what the doctor said. He needs to know,” her mother struggles to say.

The panic that she has been trying to suppress all day rises to the surface but before she breaks down, she takes her phone and calls Ntsako.

“Hello friend, can you please tell your parents to come to my house. My mother is struggling to breathe and my father is not home yet. She doesn’t want me to call the ambulance, all she wants is my father. Please friend,” she says while sobbing silently.

“Okay friend, we are on the way. Don’t cry, everything will be okay,” Ntsako says.

When Ntsakos parents arrive at Tsakanes home, her mother goes straight to the bedroom while her father calls the ambulance. As they are sitting waiting for the ambulance to arrive there is a knock on the door. Even though she didn’t hear the car their garage door open, and the knock sounds so unfamiliar, Tsakane rushed to the door hoping that it’s her father.

She opens the door and two men are standing in front of her, they show their badges and one asks, “Good evening, is this the Gumede household?”

“Yes it is,” she answers as the tears start to roll down her cheeks.

“Bagolo ba t eng? We have some important things to discuss.”

“No sir. Yes sir. We are waiting for the ambulance to come take my mother to hospital, she is not feeling well, she is struggling to breathe,”

“That is so sad my child, how long have you been waiting for the ambulance? Where is your mother? We must rush her to hospital,” one of the men says.

“Its fine, she is strong, we are waiting for my father then we will go. Sir, you said you are from South African Police Service, what brings you here so late?”

“Can we get inside my child?”

“Yes please come in. This is Ntsako and her parents. They are here to help me since we are waiting for my father to come and the ambulance”.

They hear a siren approaching. “That must be the ambulance” says Ntsako’s father.

The paramedics rush inside, they take Tsakane’s mother and rush her to the ambulance. Ntsako’s mother leaves with the ambulance.

Everyone is calm now, Tsakane’s mother is in safe hands but they are wondering what the SAPS people are doing there. In most cases its always bad news. But what exactly is going on. Why are they at Tsakane’s house? Is this about Tsakane’s father? What might be so urgent?

So many questions are rolling in Tsakane’s head. She can’t concentrate on one thing. She is eager to know what exactly is going on. The police don’t want to say anything. They are beating about the bush.

“Tea anyone?” asks Ntsako.

“No,” the men answer. “We will come back when your mother is feeling better.” The police men say and offer to drop Tsakane off at the hospital. She says no, she’ll wait for her father to come back and they’ll go together. The two men turn to look at each other and Tsakane knows that that could only mean that something has happened to her father.

She finally lets out the big cry she has been holding in. The police men leave without saying anything.

Ntsako prepares tea while Tsakane is on the couch, curled up and crying.

Photo: Hazel Fasaha Tobo








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