Courage to Face the Day
Heavy rain beat a deafening tattoo on the precarious roof of a corrugated iron house. Inside, by the flickering light of a paraffin lamp, Yvonne Pityana peeled and sliced three oranges and a banana, placing the juicy pieces onto a pair of plastic plates. Then she poured out two small cups of milk and covered the humble breakfast with a cloth.
“Sala kakhuhle sithandwa sam,” she whispered and kissed two children who slept, side by side, on their small bed. Her voice was drowned out by the noise of the rain. Then she turned, brows knitted and lips pursed, and left. She pushed hard to close the swollen, ill-fitting door and locked it.
“God be with you,” she prayed as she put the key in her pocket. Then she opened her umbrella and began to navigate around large, muddy puddles and brown cataracts which trickled down the dirty street, towards the taxi rank.
It took her fifteen minutes to reach the inevitable chaos. There she braced herself, in her wet shoes and mud-spattered dress, as an icy wind blew raindrops in under the meagre shelter. For an hour she stood, uncomplaining, in long lines with other, courageous women. Women who daily migrated, while their children slept, across a sleeping city to clean another family’s house.
Packed tightly into an overloaded Toyota bus which travelled too fast along wet and treacherous roads, she worried.
Will Mrs Xakane remember to check on the children?
Will Buhle put on her warm coat?
After a wearying journey, stuck between a snoring fat man who smelt of brandy and a thin, bony woman, Yvonne finally reached her destination. From there she walked, in a pale, cold light, briskly down wide, paved streets lined with large, established trees and neat lawns. She came, at length, to a house with a high wall and an imposing wrought-iron gate. She rang the bell.
“Who is it?” came a voice over the intercom.
“It’s Yvonne, Madam.”
“Come in, Yvonne,” said the voice, as the gate swung open. “You’re a bit late.”