Used and bruised, he would turn away from her while she was on the ground, bruises on her face and lying with a puddle of blood next to her cheek on the floor, pleading in her eyes. She thought this was love and he wanted more. Here is her story: Thando is her name which means “love”.

Sipho was a computer science graduate but he couldn’t find a job so he was working for Mrs. Potgieter as a garden caretaker. As for Thando, she was a classy woman and her family had just moved in to Nelson Street, Tembisa, where Sipho and his family stayed. It was love at first sight. Sipho fell in love the first time he saw Thando.

A few days later, only to find out that they would be church mates, one Sunday the Youth Pastor called a meeting after church to decide what time they should meet up next week for service and rehearsals.

Sipho said: “I won’t be able to make it. I have another commitment.”

The Youth Pastor replied, shocked: “The last time I checked, you didn’t have a wife. Is this that important?”

“I’ll be at Mrs. Potgieter doing her garden; that’s the job I told you about.”

The young people giggled but the Youth Pastor responded: “Don’t laugh, he is our modern Adam…”

Sipho replied, “At least the garden of Eden was not created to impress, unlike man-made gardens. We are more concerned about how the front looks to impress people who pass by and yet the backyard is full of junk. It’s so interesting how beautiful things aren’t always beautiful!”

Thando responded, “Duh! Why would I bother to see the backyard if the front yard already impressed me?” and the meeting ended.

Sipho wasted no time approaching Thando to express his feelings toward her. All Thando could see was a low-class young-man, a garden boy. I remember Thando’s words as if it was yesterday: “I don’t want to sound rude Sipho, but you’re not my type.” Those words left Sipho’s heart torn to shreds.

A new member came onto the scene and David was his name. Handsome, intellectual, a business owner and with a charismatic personality. Immediately, Thando fell in love and David played along. Thando would say: “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams.” She truly fell in love with the guy! That was the problem: she ‘fell’ in love, forgetting that everything that falls breaks into pieces. I still insist that she should have ‘grown’ in love, because everything that grows becomes strong. She fell so fast that within a few months they were married.

Like every couple, they went on honeymoon and everything was good. “What can’t be tested cannot be trusted.” Things started to heat up when David’s business was not in a good financial state. He lost all his possessions except the house. David couldn’t handle the stress; so he started clubbing and drinking every day.

When his fury raged, he would spit out insults to Thando. One day Thando couldn’t go to work for an obvious reason: she had bruises. That day she received mail from the High Court, stating that David had missed three months’ maintenance payments for his two children. Not only did David have children that Thando didn’t know about, but he was married too. Thando confronted David and she got the beating of a lifetime.

On the other hand, Sipho had a breakthrough and found a job as a junior developer and later he was promoted to a senior position. He would visit Mrs. Potgieter once a month and noticed that the front yard was still on point and yet the back yard was still dirty.

“Sipho the house is on the market, that’s why I had to make the front look beautiful so that buyers can fall in love first. By the time they see the back yard, it’s too late” Mrs. Potgieter explained.

Sipho responded: “I’ll buy the house, because I know it better than anyone who never saw the back yard.”

As for Thando, she divorced David so she was single again. She wrote a book titled: “All I could see was a garden boy, not a gift (Sipho in Zulu) from God”.