We were born on the same day and month but she was older than me by three years. I remember not having a gift for her one year but I knew that she had saved R5 from her pocket money to give to me, so I found the coin on the table under her Bible. I gave it to her as if I had saved it myself and she was so happy.
My poor sister thought she now had R10 and would surprise me later with the R5 she had saved and still have money for herself but little did she know that there was one coin passing between us.
Balungile was always protective of me and I got comfortable in the knowledge that she’d always be there for me. So when she tested positive for HIV, I felt like everything around me just stopped making sense.
I found myself having to work, come back home, clean, cook and take care of her and her then four-year-old daughter.
I was very scared at first but Balungile’s attitude towards this disease gave me strength. She was depressed at first, as can be expected. But, with time, she started giving talks at the clinic and at church to educate people about the disease.
Her response to being HIV positive and knowing that she was going to die taught me that the attitude I have towards challenges determines just how much they affect me.
Balungile continued to be protective of me and didn’t want me to see her struggling until she couldn’t hide her pain any more. I could say that she actually protected me until the very end. — Zanele Mnguni (43) as told to Mashadi Kekana