Ntombi looked at the five rand
coin in her hand. “What does she
think I can buy with five rand?”
she thought. One small bag of
chips at the spaza, and a small
packet of sweets, which she’d have
to share with Zinzi. It wouldn’t buy
her what she really needed – just
ten minutes of time with her
mother, when they could sit down
and watch TV together, or talk, like
they used to.
Just then Zinzi came in. She had
been playing soccer in the street
and her knee was grazed and
bleeding. “Where’s Mama?” she
“Guess,” said Ntombi. “It’s not that
“I thought you had singing practice
this evening?’ said Zinzi as she
slumped on the couch and dabbed
at her cut with a tissue.
“Not any more. Mama said I’ve got
to stay home and look after you.”
“I can look after myself.”
“You’re twelve,” said Ntombi,
fetching the Dettol from the
bathroom and dabbing it on Zinzi’s
“Ouch!” Zinzi complained. “Stop it.
You’re hurting me.”
“Don’t act like a baby. You don’t
want it to get worse, do you? Do
you want to go to hospital with an
“Why are you in such a bad
“Wouldn’t you be if you were
missing a chance to go to the
national finals of South Africa’s
Teen Voice Competition?”
“I thought the judges were only
coming next week?”
“They are. But every practice is
really important. Mr Masondo says
that we have to work hard and
make Harmony High proud.
Otherwise he won’t let us
Ntombi had been chosen, along
with ten others at Harmony High,
to perform for a panel of talent
scouts that was travelling around
the country auditioning high
school students for the Teen Voice
singing competition. If she was
chosen out of the ten students
from her school then she would go
on to the national finals in Jozi. The
prize was R10 000 and a recording
contract. Ntombi had promised
herself that she would work as
hard as she could, attend every
practice, and go to the nationals.
Sometimes she even let herself
dream of winning the competition.
It would change her life – she
would work really hard and
produce an album. She’d buy a
proper house for her family, and
make sure her sister finished
school. With the money she could
go to university and study to
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