“I know how it feels like to lose someone you love..”

She took a huge sigh. I looked at her, as she was sinking deep in the ocean of thoughts.

“Five years ago, I lost my husband, in an armed robbery”

She added. I could feel a sharp spear of sadness piercing through my heart.

“He was a security guard, in one of the local shopping centres, back home”

I nodded, even though she wasn’t looking at me.

“I had just finished reading my bible, just before switching off the lights and doze off. Someone called me, screaming on panic mode, and making it difficult for me to hear him.Shocked, I sat up, and tried listening attentively to what the person was saying. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to hear that it had something to do with my husband. After getting off the phone with the person, I got up and ran to my neighbor, explaining what had happened and requesting to be taken to my husband’s workplace. Without asking any questions, the poor man got out of the comfort of his bed and drove me to my husband’s workplace..”

She leaned over the kitchen counter for balance, grasping for air.

“Aunt.. Aunt Veronica, are you okay?”

I asked. She snapped out of it and smiled.

“I’m fine. Its just that.. talking about him always breaks my heart”

“Its okay, we can talk about something else”

“Or we could just sing”

She suggested, almost giggly while a tear escaped her eye.

“Oh yes, let’s sing”

We sang as I finished up doing the dishes and she was helping me clear up and pack everything away.

“Mmmhm, people are in a good mood”

Ntsiki said, as she walked in..

“We’re trying to cover our wounds”

Aunt Veronica responded.

“Wounds?”

Ntsiki asked, with her smile fading away.

“Yes, wounds. Aunt Veronica and I have been through a lot, so we were just sharing our experiences”

I explained.

“Oh..”

Ntsiki nodded.

“I see. You guys should invite me to such talks, next time. I mean, I’m also a woman and I also need to connect with people on an emotional level”

She said. Aunt Veronica and I nodded.

“We sure will. We promise”

I assured her. She smiled again.

“Thank you.Uhm, I’m off to bed now, guys. Goodnight”

“Goodnight”

Aunt Veronica and I said, in unison as Ntsiki walked away.

“She’s such a sweetheart”

She said.

“She is, isn’t she?”

I smiled.

“I thank God everyday for sending me such a soul”

“You are really lucky to be working for a woman like Ntsiki”

I said. After everything, we said our “goodnights” and went to bed. Thoughts of my situation kept me awake. There were just so many unasnwered questions about some details of my life, like how my mother died, how my mother seperated with her daughter (my sister), how come my mother never saw the need to mention my father to me. The next morning, I woke up, with an eager to take control of my life. I got out of bed and neatly made my bed. When I was done, I went to the bathroom to wash my face and brush my teeth. I then went to the kitchen for breakfast.

“You’re up early”

Ntsiki said, as I walked in.

“Good morning”

I said.

“Good morning, why are you up this early?”

She asked.

“What time is it?”

I asked, as I pulled a chair and sat down.

“Its 6:30”

She replied.

“Wow. Well, uhm.. I was thinking”

She nodded.

“I want to go job hunting”

I said. She pulled a very shocked face.

“Job hunting?”

“Yeah. Job hunting”

“No Mandy, you don’t need a job yet. You are still trying to find your feet and besides, we can take care of you”

“Ntsiki look, uhm, I appreciate you trying to help me and make sure that I’m okay. But, this is something I have to do. I need to keep busy, or I will lose my mind”

“Mandy, why are you up so early?”

Alex asked, walking in.

“She says she wants to go job hunting”

Ntsiki replied.

“Job hunting?”

Alex looked at me, and I looked away.

“I don’t get why she feels she needs a job, all of a sudden”

“Come on guys, I’ve been sitting around and doing nothing for while now. I am going to lose my mind if I continue like this. I need to keep busy”

“Yeah, I understand”

Alex said.

“You understand??”

Ntsiki asked.

“Yes baby, I understand. I’d also go crazy if I would be caged in this house, all day everyday”

Alex replied.

“But, is she ready to go back to the real world? Let’s face it, she needs to be ready for this, because if she falls apart, the world will swallow her up”

Ntsiki said.

“I want to give it a try, at least”

“What if..”

“I will deal with all the what ifs, later. For now, I need to put myself out there, and see if I will cope, or not”

I said.

“And if you don’t cope?”

“Why wouldn’t I cope?”

I asked.

“Baby, if she doesn’t cope, she will take a break from the world again”

“Why wouldn’t I cope?”

I asked again.

“Okay, fine. You guys win. But, if you are not coping, I will force you to quit everything and stay home”

She said, and I nodded.

“So, let me go and prepare for my day”

I got up.

“What does that mean?”

Alex asked.

“I have to go and bath, get dressed and get myself ready for the day”

I looked at him.

“Oh, okay. I won’t be able to drive you around, I’m also off to work”

He said.

“Its okay, I understand”

“Uhm, Mandy..”

Ntsiki called out as I walked away. I stopped on my tracks and turned around to face her.

“Good luck. I will leave your transport fare with Aunt Veronica”

I smiled.

“Thank you”

I walked away. I got to my room and took out an outfit. I wanted to look beautiful, ready to face the day. I got dressed in a little Black dress and a pair of sneakers, and neatly combed my short hair. When I was done, I went to the kitchen. Aunt Veronica was there, preparing Junior’s bottle.

“Good morning, Aunty”

I greeted.

“Morning”

She looked at me.

“You’re looking beautiful”

She said. I blushed.

“Thank you”

“Where are you off to?”

She asked. I cleared my throat.

“I’m off to look for a job”

She pulled this shocked face, just like Ntsiki.

“Aunty, please. I know what I’m doing”

I went to take out a bowl.

“You do? Then tell me, what are you doing?”

“I’m taking control of my life”

I took out a spoon.

“Oh, how exactly are you taking control of your life?”

She asked again, as I walked over to the fridge.

“By getting up and looking for a job”

“With which qualification?”

I looked down.

“Mandy, don’t do this to yourself. Just stay, until you are ready to go back to school, and obtain a qualification”

“I can’t go back to school. I have kids to take care of. I can’t waste my time like that”

“You’d rather waste time by looking for a job which you will never find?”

I sighed.

“I really don’t need this right now”

I took milk out of the fridge.

“Okay, here is your money”

She reached for the top shelf of the cupboard and took out a R100 note and placed it on the kitchen counter.

“Thank you”

“All the best”

I made myself a bowl of cereal and ate in silence. She walked out of the kitchen, leaving me to eat in peace. When I was done,I washed my bowl and took my money. I went to my room and got my handbag and left for my job hunting mission. It was a very hot day, and the going was getting tougher than I expected. On every door I knocked on, they wanted at least a Matric certificate. They told me so, I know, but I needed to do it, for me. Staying at home and doing nothing was not working for me anymore. I was losing my mind, thinking of all the piles of rubbish that my life was made of. I needed to do something. I needed to keep busy. It was getting late, and I still had nothing to write home about. I sat on the street benches and cried. Nothing seemed to be going well, and I was suffocating from the curse of my own existence. How did my life get so complicated?

“Sis, can I join you?”

A deep voice said. I looked up, and was confronted by a very handsome man, a dark skinned man with beard nicely smeared all over his chin.I sniffed.

“Sure, knock yourself out”

I shifted a little, so he could sit.

“How are you? If you don’t mind me asking”

I looked at him, wiping my tears with the back of my hand.

“I’m fine, and you?”

I replied.

“I’m okay. I couldn’t help but notice that you are crying”

I cleared my throat.

“Is everything okay?”

“No, everything is not okay. My life is just a mess. Nothing seems to work”

“I’m really sorry. Do you want to talk about it?”

“I wouldn’t know where to begin, even if I were to talk about it”

“Begin where it hurts the most”

He suggested.I cleared my throat, and told him everything. The whole time, he was nodding and softly moaning, while I went on and on about all my pain.

“Wow. That’s a mouthful”

He mumbled.

“Tell me about it”

I looked away.

“I sometimes just wish I could take my life,and put an end to this misery”

I added.

“That’s the devil, planting leeches on your mind”

He added.

“What do you mean?”

I looked at him.

“Look, there are different types of demons. There are demons that take over the mind, and those that take over the soul..”

Still, I didn’t understand.

“..The devil plants tiny little thoughts in one’s mind, for them to entertain and ponder on, when he sees that the thought has been entertained well, he adds another thought that serves as a build-up to what he wants to accomplish with your life.Before you know it, you will have no control over your thoughts. They will cage you and take over your life, until you see suicide as the only way out”

I nodded, because he was starting to make sense.

“See, demons that affect the mind may be different from those that operate on the soul, but they have a common goal and that is to destroy you. So, when they are done with your mind, they make taking your own soul seem as the solution”

“But Sir, these things happened to me. Its not like I made them up in my head”

I replied.

“Yes, they happened. As a person, you need to be in control of your thoughts, so that your surroundings don’t affect you to the point of you wanting to take your own life. Its never going to be easy for you to free your mind from this, and I am telling you, these thoughts about suicide will give birth to more frustration, and lead you to ending up committing suicide”

“Then how do I free my mind? Because what you are saying is true. I am always caged in thoughts that rip my spirit apart. I try to remain positive, but reality kicks in and I am back to this point again”

I said.

“You know, it pains God to the core to see His children’s mind leeched like that, but what hurts Him the most is knowing that there is nothing He can do to help, until the person is ready to get help.. It should come from here..”

He pointing at the left side of my chest, where the heart is said to be.

“Allow Him to help you and free you from this, before it sends you to hell”