From the prologue :
‘It’s urgent. I won’t be long,’ she called over her shoulder to her mother-in-law and hurried down the road to Sipho’s house.
Her thoughts turned to TiNyiko. "Please, God, keep her safe, look after her wherever she is."
Zanele’s steps became faster and faster until she broke into a run. She ignored the stares of young people lounging on plastic chairs and listening to music blaring from the radio and didn’t stop for her usual chat with the hairdresser that was braiding hair under the mango tree. She ignored the whistles from the men waiting for their turn on the barber’s chair. She was oblivious to the greetings of the women sitting patiently on the side of the road by their rickety tables laden with tomatoes, cabbages, beetroot, mangos and bananas. She didn’t even pause to rummage through the pile of second hand dresses strewn on a cloth on the ground.
'At least I’m giving them something to gossip about! she thought and pressed on.
Soon she was passing Gogo Ndlovu’s house. Nancy and Precious, TiNyiko’s sisters, were standing at the gate. ‘Auntie Zanele, why are you running so fast?’ Nancy called out.
Forcing herself to stop, Zanele blurted out a question. ‘Hello, Nancy, have you seen Sipho?’
‘No, he said he was going into Malelane. Why are you running?’
‘I must speak to Sipho. I’m running to see if I can catch him before he goes out,’ she panted.
The front door squeaked open. Zanele froze. A gaunt, old looking man staggered out. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Thoughts tumbled through her mind.
'Is that Jonas, TiNyiko’s uncle? No, it couldn’t be, or could it?'
When she had last seen him just a year ago, Jonas had been overweight and obnoxious. ‘Oh, wow,’ she mouthed, ‘he’s got the ‘disease of the people’.’ Their eyes met. A sliver of fear threw a blanket of cold over her body, now hot from running in the burning sun. Feeling violated, she shuddered and turned her attention back to the girls.
'Walk—don’t run,' she told herself, feeling Jonas’s eyes following her like thorns piercing her back.
‘What’s happening to me?’ The words escaped her as seeds of panic began to take root, goading her on. She looked up and frowned. The sky was spread like a blue canvas canopy over the valley with one or two wispy white clouds floating lazily around—except in one spot. Over in the direction she was heading, a ominous dark cloud was tumbling down the hill.
She was mesmerized as she watched.
It moved with purpose and she shivered as stirrings of wind began to sweep sweat off her arms, leaving behind a film of dread............