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.”

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    Susan Dawson
    Susan Dawson(@susan-dawson)
    2 years ago

    A very arresting tale. I assume we are in South Africa. Is it a particular city?

    Reply to  Susan Dawson
    2 years ago

    Yes, David, this is a very powerful story. Thank you, Susan, for bringing this story to my attention. This is a picture of real courage, beautifully written and heartbreaking. Excellent writing, David.

    Katie Limnlowe
    Katie Limnlowe(@katie-limnlowe)
    2 years ago

    Great to read something about these women and this profession which is not often discussed. It must be so devastating to leave your children to care for someone else’s.

    Reply to  Katie Limnlowe
    2 years ago

    I so agree with you, Katie. Stories like this are very important to remind us of people who are often forgotten and under appreciated. David has approached the subject with compassion and caring. By the way, Katie, are you new to Voice.club? If so, welcome.

    Katerina Bizirtsaki
    Katerina Bizirtsaki(@katerina-bizirtsaki)
    2 years ago

    The sentence written in the native language really helps adapt the reader to the story and it makes this world of fiction even more realistic and convincing. Good call on using this technique.

    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    2 years ago

    I like the content, especially those sentences that were written in the native language which help me adapt to the environment of the story. And I salute the character named Yvonne, for her sacrifices for her children. It was not easy to leave her children to care for someone else’s, it was heartbreaking.

    Last edited 2 years ago by Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo
    Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
    Reply to  David Drew
    2 years ago

    You’re welcome, David.

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