Sleeping on a comfortable bed, after days of sleeping in great discomfort was enough to get me on relax mode. It was almost as if, I had little to no worry in the world. As a result, I took an early flight to dream-land. Upon my arrival, I was the most confused creature to ever set a foot there. I was in a farm, in the middle of nowhere. There were old buildings, with broken windows and cracked doors. Also, there were so many people, walking up and down, and I assumed that they were the farmer’s employees. I walked around, trying to familiarize myself with the environment.

“Mandiphumle!” someone called out. The voice sounded familiar, like it belonged to someone closest and dearest to me. I turned around and looked at who just called my name. She was dressed in rags, and her skin was covered in grease. Her hair, her hair was so dry and so untidy, like it hadn’t been touched in years. Yes, years. “Ma..Mama?” I finally located my voice, and called out. Without a word, she ran up to me and gave me this tightest of hugs. After what seemed like forever, we broke the hug. “Mama, where have you been? Why did you leave me?” I asked. She cupped my face in her hands and stared at me in the eye. “Please, take care of Enkosi for me” she said. “What? You disappeared on me for years mama, years. And when you come back, you ask me to take care of Enkosi?” I exploded, removing her hands from my face. “Do you know how much that hurts me, mama? You’ve been away from me, without even telling me where you were going. My life changed. I had to quit school, mama. I had to be a parent to your son” I said. She came closer to me, but I backed away. “No, stay away from me. Stay away from me!” I screamed. The sound of my voice meeting my ear was enough to make me cringe – I was too loud. Before she could say a word, I turned around and faced away.

“Don’t be selfish, Mandiphumle” she said. In disbelief, I turned and faced her again. “Selfish? I’m being selfish by not being able to cope with the pain?” I asked. “I died, Mandiphumle. I died” she said, putting emphasis on each word. “He killed me in cold blood” she added, fiddling with her fingers. “I tried crying for help. I.. I even begged him to stop hurting me” she said. My heart sank.

I could see tears, glittering down her cheeks as she was still looking down. “I’m sorry, mama” I said. She lifted her head up and looked at me, with her face covered I’m tears. She shook her head, wiping her tears away. “I didn’t know where you went. I thought you had abandoned us” I apologized. She lifted her hand up in the air, stopping me from talking. “Mama..” I called out, trying to move closer to her, but I couldn’t. No matter how hard I tried to get closer to her, she seemed like she was moving away. Steps forward felt like steps backwards. What was going on? Why was it hard for me to get close to my mother? I screamed, trying to get her to come closer, but she shifted further away.

“Mandi!!” someone called out, shaking me- and that was my brutal return to planet earth. My eyes shot open, and I saw Chukwudi, standing next to my bed like he had just seen a ghost. “Where is she?” I asked. “Who?” Chukwudi asked. “My mother, where is she?” I asked again. “Your mother? What are you.. Mandi, you just had a bad dream” he mumbled. “Dammit, Chukwudi, my mother was here. Where is she?” I asked again. This time, my voice was shaky and my knees were trembling as I got out of bed. “Mandi, please calm down. Your…” I couldn’t wait for him to finish his statement. “Don’t tell me to calm down. My mother was here. She talked to me. She held me” I said. He held me and I struggled out of his embrace. “Let go of me, I want my mother” I screamed, but he held me tight. “Mandi, please calm down” he said. I wasn’t going to calm down. My mother had just disappeared on me, again. She had just put me through the same pain, twice.

After moments of crying helplessly on his shoulder, Zizo walked in. “Baby, thank God you’re here” Chukwudi said, with a voice that carried so much relief. “Why? What’s going on?” Zizo asked. “Its Mandi, I think she had a dream about her mother, or something. She’s been crying ever since she woke up.

It was only then that I realized that I had a terrible dream. ” Mandiphumle, are you okay?” asked Zizo. I sniffed. “I’m fine” I said, removing my head from Chukwudi’s shoulder. “Can I get you anything to drink? You’re all sweaty” she said. I shook my head, trying to put up a brave face. “I’m fine, Zizo, really” I said. “I think we need to take her to the doctor” Chukwudi suggested. I giggled nervously. “What? Don’t be silly man, I’m fine” I said, with the coolest of tones. “O-kay. Uhm, I only came here to tell you that Zizo and I are leaving for work” Chukwudi said. “Oh, right. Let me quickly get dressed then” I said, trying to get myself all dressed up. “What.. Where are you going?” he asked. I stopped to look at him.

“Don’t worry about me, I will make a plan” I replied. Zizo and Chukwudi looked at each other. “Zizo, I hope you won’t mind borrowing me your coat. I can’t exactly walk down the streets naked now, can I?” I said, still giggling. “Mandiphumle, are you okay?” Zizo asked. I laughed. “What’s going on? You guys look so confused” I asked. “You’re talking like you’re leaving, that’s why we’re confused” Chukwudi explained. “And we’re not kicking you out. You can stay here while we’re at work. As a matter of fact, you can stay here for as long as you want” Zizo added. My heart smiled in gratitude.

“Thank you so much, guys. That really means a lot to me” I said. Chukwudi still felt the need to take me to a doctor, but I refused. I managed to convince him that I was okay.

They said their goodbyes and left. I sat on my bed and looked at my reflection through the mirror. I was appreciative of what Chukwudi was doing for me, but the South African in me came creeping out. We, as South Africans, have a lot to say about foreigners. We even build and create our own theories about them. We, as South Africans, see nothing but a bunch of criminals when we’re looking at them. Its like, we see flames of danger when we’re looking into their eyes. I was scared, imagining worst case scenarios. I was scared that Chukwudi would kill me and sell my body parts to traditional healers, or better yet, sell me to an old twisted man in some forsaken dump, for him to use my body to satisfy his sexual pleasures. It just hit me, that I was in danger as much as I seemed safe….

*Hey guys. I know you think I’ve abandoned you. My site is experiencing technical glitches, and it seems to be taking far more than I expected to get it fixed. I decided to drop an insert here in the meantime. When the site is ready, I’ll copy and paste inserts from this page to the site. Please, be a little patient. The following inserts will be posted here, until the site is good and ready.*

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