I was watching one of my favourite series Tyler Perry’s The Sistas when I heard a faint knock at the door. It was Sunday evening and I wasn’t expecting anyone. The faint knock came again as I jumped up from the couch and headed for the door. I opened it to see my other older Sister Thuto.
“Hey Sis” Thuto said in her usual sweet voice.
Thuto was four years older than Nolo and eight years older than me but she looked younger. For as long as I could remember my sister had been doing drugs. Started out with an innocent joint here and there while in high school but now at age 38 he had moved to bigger and more effective ways of getting high – you know the ones that make you forget to bath brush your teeth and eat. I looked at my sister with her dirty clothes and gaunt face the picture of an addict. A very beautiful lady but it was getting hard to see it after years of chemical abuse and a lifetime of nights on the streets like a boy even wondered why she like this or maybe it’s because there’s no a boy among us.
I took a deep breath. I wasn't feeling like company right then not to mention the fact that if Thuto was at my doorstep she needed a hot meal a cash or a warm bed to crash in for a while. I gave her a smile to show that I was happy to see her; she returned one to me.
“You want to come in?” I asked as I stepped back to let my sister in. She entered and walked hesitantly over to my burnt orange leather chaise and sat down. I took my spot on the couch waiting for her to talk to tell me what was on her mind. Thuto always looked nervous; she was never comfortable around people outside her so-called “drug family.” She carried the burden of guilt for allowing a drug to take over her life and isolate herself from her family and true friends – although my family come to think of it had actually isolated her. My mother father and my other sister just decided one day that they couldn’t help her anymore.
Maybe they just got tired of trying; I was out of answers.
“So so what's new Sis?” She stammered rubbing her hands together as if it were -4 degrees and he was standing in front of a fire barrel trying to stay warm.
“Nothing much just working on a new project.”
“Well you look good Sisters. Healthy I mean” Thuto said nodding her head. “Picked up some weight too I see. You always were a little thin but now you’re looking like a woman.”
“Thanks” I said thinking that was a backward compliment if I’d ever heard one but I’d take it.
“So how are you Thuto? Like how are you holding up?”
“Ah well not so well
“You lost your job at PikitUp? What happened?” I asked with obvious concern in my voice.
“I came up short so they thought I was pocketing some of the money lost in one of their offices.” Thuto shook her head. You can see how my sister love being a tom boy. “I swear I didn't take nothing;’ they just didn't like me Ntwana because they know I’m taking drugs.”
I looked at her wanting to believe her but knowing deep down inside he had taken that money for her habit. Lying becomes a way of life to an addict; it’s a means of survival on the streets.
“So now I'm I'm a little short on my rent this month you know over at Glenwood. If you’re one day late they’ll kick your ass out no questions asked.” Thuto was trying her best to explain her unfortunate situation in a way that would make her out to be the victim and draw sympathy from me.
The Glenwood apartments was a place over on Extension 4 near a garage not far from Protea mall where hustlers like her can rent an affordable apartment. The place wasn't the cleanest but it was better than sleeping on the streets.
“I don't want to lose my room ntwana. It’s getting cold outside wang thola? Mean you get me.” Thuto said rocking back and forth on the edge of the chair.
“How much do you need?”
“Not much not much at all. I think one thousand five hundred will get me by. I could even buy some groceries you know.”
Groceries to a crack head come in small plastic baggies complete with a glass pipe. Judging by the look of my sister’s 1500 rands frame I guessed she hadn't bought groceries in a long time.
“How about I go over there and pay your rent for you and then I'll take you to the grocery store myself?” I offered sitting up on the couch.
“I I I don't want to take you out of your schedule Sis. I can do it myself don’t stress. I'm a grown girl.”
I heard the desperation in my sister’s voice and wondered if this was going to be her way of life from now till the end. three rehab attempts and a near-death experience hadn't yet shown my sister that there is a better life out there. I know that you have to let an addict decide when they wants help and until that happens she will continue to live a life of self-destruction.
“Let me go get my purse.”
“Thanks baby girl; thank you so much” Thuto said as she wiped the snot off her nose with her sleeve.
I walked to my room wondering what had gone wrong how Nolo and I had turned out okay but our older sister hadn’t quite made it. I stood in the middle of my room and said a little prayer for her as I picked up my purse pulled out 2000 rands I left for emergency and headed back to the living room.
I handed my sister the money and she quickly stuffed it in the pocket of her dirty stained jacket.
“Thanks ntwana I really appreciate this. I’m going to pay you back every cent when I get my new job.”
“That’s ok dear.”
I walked her to the door and opened it for her; she took two steps out into the hallway but quickly turned back around. “How's Mom and Dad?” My heart sunk upon hearing Thuto say those words; I knew how much it hurt her that they didn't want anything to do with her anymore come to remember how my neighbour treated her I mean how could they tell their high society friends that they had a daughter living on the streets strung out on drugs?
“They’re good. I um I'm going to see them next week.”
“Good. Well maybe tell them I said ‘hi’ and that I've been thinking about them.”
Thuto looked deep into my eyes. “One day I'm going to pick myself up ntwana” she said as tears formed in her eyes. She quickly wiped them away before they had a chance to fall down her face.
“I know you will my sister. I know and I believe you.”
She turned and walked down the hallway and into the elevator. Each time she left me I always wondered if that would be the last time I would ever see her alive my older sister.