Along with the little sense of dignity I had left, I picked my suitcase up and walked away from the spot of shame and embarrassment. I still had people staring at me, but I didn’t care. I walked away like nothing happened. I was so mad. I was actually mad at the fact that I fell for Sibusiso’s lies and charms. “My child” someone said. I had no energy left in me to talk, so I ignored whoever it was and continued walking. “Young lady” the person called out, again. Annoyed, I turned to look at her. It was the old lady who condemned Sibusiso. I thought she was only following me just to judge me for the things I said earlier.

“How can I help you?” I asked. “I just wanted to check if you are okay” she politely said. “Well, I’m fine” I said, turning to walk away. “You know, Jesus Christ can save you from yourself” she called out. I stopped on my tracks and turned to look at her again. “What?” I asked. She repeated her statement. “Well, thanks. I’ve heard a lot about the guy, but I doubt his existence” I said. “My child, Jesus Christ can save you and turn you into a new creature. Just accept Him into your life and the rest will follow” she said. “Ma’am, with all due respect, this whole Jesus Christ theory doesn’t make sense to me. If the guy was there to protect us, where was he when my life was taking a turn for the worst?” I folded my arms. She tried explaining, but I wasn’t willing to listen. To me, it was just a theory, with no accurate facts. Even the bible, I believed that it was written by people who assumed and create stories up.

“Ma’am, I don’t mean to be rude, but I really have to go” I said. “Wait, please open your heart up for the Lord. He will help you and turn your situation into a wonderful testimony” she said. I rolled my eyes and walked away. If Jesus Christ existed, then I was mad at  Him. I was mad at Him for so many reasons. I wasn’t going to stand there and waste my time, while I needed a place to rent. I wanted place close to town, because I didn’t want to use taxis to and from town. I had it all figured out- I was going to look for a place to rent, and go job hunting so I could survive.

I spent that whole day, looking for a place to stay. They all required my I.D and proof of income- things I didn’t have. I walked around, till sunset. I was getting scared, because of all the stories I heard about our town. When it was getting dark, I went to the nearest petrol station. The petrol attendants were standing next to their change room, having a heated ceversation. I got to them and greeted, and they greeted back. “I’m here to ask for a place to sleep. I’m new around here, and it got dark while I was still looking for a place to rent” I said. After discussing it for a few minutes, they finally agreed to let me sleep in their change room. They told me how their boss would hate seeing me there, but they couldn’t let me go and wander around the streets. I thanked them a lot and got into the change room. I wore my tracksuit and slept on their bench. That was the longest night of my life. My body was stiff and painful, but what mattered was my safety.

The following morning, they woke me up at 5am and told me I had to go. I was in disbelief, at 5am? “Where can I go at this time?” I asked the guy who woke me up. “I don’t know” he answered as he signaled that I should get up. I silently got up and fixed my hair. When I was done, I thanked the guys and walked away.

“Where is a beautiful lady like yourself going at this time of the morning?” a man said as he stopped his car next to me. “I’m looking for a place to stay” I said, looking at him. He was in his late 30’s and was dressed in a formal outfit. “Oh, okay. Where exactly are you looking for a place to rent?” he asked again. I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know. I just want a cheap place” I said. He smiled. “Get in the car, I will help you look for a place” he said.

Without thinking twice, I jumped into the car. “I saw you while I was filling petrol at the petrol station, and I was shocked to see you walk away alone” he said. “Oh yeah, I slept there. Those guys helped me” I explained. “What are you doing, walking around with luggage?” he asked. “I moved out from home” I replied. I was in no mood to share the details. “Its a long complicated story” I added. He nodded and remained silent. “Do you know any cheap places to rent?” I asked.

“My friend owns a block of flats, and he’s fair on the price. I can even negotiate on your behalf” he said. I smiled. “That’s great. Thank you so much” I said. We drove around for a while. “I’m Xolile, and you are?” .. I cleared my throat. “I’m Mandiphumle” I replied. “Pleased to meet you. I get sad when I see varsity students, running around like headless chickens, with no place to stay” he said. So he assumed I was a stranded varsity student, and I decided to let him be. “Some of these kids don’t even have rent money. Its sad, really” he added. “Yeah, at least I do have rent money” I  said. “That’s better” Xolile said. He was a very nice guy, sensitive to issues that affected varsity students.

We got to the place, his friend’s place and we were told that there were no available rooms. We didn’t get to see the owner, they told us he was out of town. We went back to the car.. “You can drop me off in town. I don’t want you to be late at work because of me” I said. He smiled. “Don’t worry about me. You’re the one who needs a place to stay” he said. We got into the car and drove off. “I’m glad that you have rent money, you won’t struggle like the others” he said. I nodded. “My friend helped a desperate girl, three years ago. She only had her luggage, hoping that her bursary would cover everything, but it didn’t” he said. “Damn, that’s sad” I said, totally not interested in what he was saying. He shared more stories of young and desperate students that they helped over the years. He was a very good hearted man.

“So, are you from those rich families that give their kids thousands of Rands to blow with friends at varsity?” he jokingly asked. I laughed. “I wish” I said. “What do you mean?” he asked. “I am not from a  rich family, and I don’t have much money on me” I explained. He laughed. “Nobody has ever admitted to being rich” he said, and we laughed about it. “So, how much do you have on you?” he asked. “I have 3000 Rands and its not for entertaining friends” I said. He laughed some more.

“I think you should look for a place in the township, its a lot cheaper there” he suggested. “No, I don’t want a place in the township. I want a place that can able me to walk to and from town. I don’t want to have to deal with taxi fare every morning” I said. He understood and told me that was a great idea. What I liked about Xolile was that he never wasted his breath, lying about loving me or even wanting me. He was just a good hearted man whose heart was set at helping a needy child out.

“Mandiphumle, aren’t you hungry?” he  asked. I nodded. “I’m hungry” I voiced out. “Let’s grab a bite, before continuing with this search” he suggested. I fully agreed with the suggestion. He parked infront of a take-away joint. He then took his wallet out and gave me  R50 note from his wallet. He asked me buy hot chips and some bread for us. As I was about to step out of the car, he held my hand. I turned to look at him. “Be careful, this area has so many criminals” he said. I nodded. “Is your money with you?” he asked. “No, its in my suitcase” I replied. “Okay good, you need to keep it safe” he said as I stepped out of the car and rushed to the store. I bought the items he asked me to buy and went back to the car. When I got to the parking area, the car wasn’t there. I looked around for a while, but the car was nowhere to be found.

My heart sank, as I realized that the man ran off with all my money and clothes. I screamed my heart out. I fell on my knees, crying like a baby who just lost a toy. I was shuttered.