Rare gritof an HIV victim

Dear Editor is the original story by Deuteronomy Bhekinkosi "DBZ" Ntuli, which was first published in an anthology of isiZulu short stories, titled Isibhakabhaka .

Dear Editor is the original story by Deuteronomy Bhekinkosi "DBZ" Ntuli, which was first published in an anthology of isiZulu short stories, titled Isibhakabhaka .

This is the first translation, which is carried in Band of Troubadours.

It contains samples of the work of 43 emerging and established writers who were honoured through the yearly South African Literary Awards, which is sponsored and organised by the Department of Arts and Culture, Sowetan, Nutrend Publishers and the SABC.

Dear Editor,

It has taken me long before finally deciding to send this letter to you.

I am not one who likes writing to newspapers. I just hope that you will bear with me and publish this letter. I also hope those to whom it is directed read it.

Please pardon me for the short story I will tell as an introduction to the gist of my letter. It was not my intention to stand alone, being a woman, on a road and hitchhike for a lift from strangers.

I am well aware that, lately, people are reluctant to help those who ask for a lift because of the high levels of crime. One may try to help what looks like a desperate person, only to discover that it would be inviting trouble.

On that particular day, when I realised that the sun was setting and the cars were going past me as if I emitted a strong stench, panic hit me. I would be in serious trouble if darkness fell while I was still standing there alone.

And then car lights appeared. I was optimistic. The car went past. Then it stopped. It reversed. They asked me what was wrong and where I was going. I explained. They said they would help me.

There were three inside. When the car was in motion, I discovered that they were drinking. They asked me to take a sip. I apologised and said that I would not drink. I felt so uncomfortable that I asked them to let me get out of the car.

That made them furious. Then they laughed at me. It became obvious that I was going to experience what some women had already gone through. Editor, even now my head spins when I recall that ordeal. I had never imagined that such a thing would happen to me.

But, I am not writing this letter to ask for your sympathy. I'm writing to inform those people who couldn't stomach the truth when I told them I was already infected. I got the virus through blood transfusion, before this disease was wellknown.

That is why I had decided to stay single for the last days of my life. It would not help, dear editor, to go to the police station because some of the officials there simply make a victim a laughing stock and dismiss her story as a fabrication.

As for my attackers, I don't have much detail. What I do remember is that it was a red kombi. I was unable to take down its registration number. Some of the names they called each other by were "Mandla" and "Joe".

Some time ago I was tempted to keep quiet about this because I thought those people, in fact, received the punishment they deserved.

But, later on, it dawned on me that it is not right for me to keep quiet while many innocent individuals eventually lose their lives.

This is an honest appeal to those brothers to dig into their consciences and not bring death to innocent people. I'm certain that they still vividly remember Saturday, March 5 this year, between Mhloshana and Sibambo.

I will be relieved, Editor, to see this letter is published.

The Worried One

Dear Reader,

This letter has been abridged because of lack of space, but we believe that everything in it is clear. We thank you, "Worried One", for your courage and humaneness, which is rare to find.

We plead with those "Good Samaritans" to be considerate so that they may not carry the responsibility for the deaths of innocent people.

The Editor

lThe winners for 2008 will be announced in December.