“You have to leave that good for nothing rascal if you still want to live under my roof!” Mrs Ringetani said very angrily, she even spilt some foam water on the floor from the sink where she was washing dishes.

Florance knew that obeying her mom was the best option when she was acting like that. Besides, her mother loved her so much and she loved her back. But she knew that she had to try to reason with her first when it came to this matter.

“Flora, what did Thomas do to you?” she continued. “He is a nice boy who comes from a very good family but you go and date that good for nothing boy,”

Maar ma, Thabo is good to me and what has he done?”

“Tell me my child where does Thabo work?” Flora looked down as she knew that her mother got her on that one. “Answer me child, where does your precious Thabo work? Or does he have any qualification at all?” She asked looking at Flora with those fiery eyes.

“He doesn’t work, Mama. He is a photographer,” Flora answered with a low voice. “But he is…”

“Okay then, child, you can’t buy a house or a car with photo money! Thomas is a Senior Administrator at the Department of Traffic, he has a car and lives in a mansion. My child, I’m telling you this because I love you and I won’t let
you make this big mistake!”

“But Ma, Thomas beats me up and he doesn’t listen to me,”

“Don’t worry about that, my dear, I will talk to him. He would never lay a hand on you again.”

“Ma, please. I love Thabo because he treats me with respect and love,” she pleaded.

“Dear, love and respect won’t pay bills, and it doesn’t put shelter over your head, got it girlie?”

“Yes, mum, I understand,” she knew she was beaten.

“If you don’t believe me look at you cousin, Gloria. Do you want to live in an RDP house and be surrounded by dirty kids and a useless husband like her?”

“No, Ma.” Florance loved her mother so much and they had always got along, but they did have some minor differences.
Then entered Flora’s elder sister, Silvia.

“Mama, tell her! I asked her if she wanted to be poor forever. This daughter of yours doesn’t listen!” Silvia was a duplicate of her mother in everything, but she was the same age as me. But I don’t think she even knew my name even though I lived five houses from her house. She has a sharp tongue that one, that’s why most poor boys like me stayed far from her. She and Thomas were buddies, Thomas was the village’s cheese-boy.

Cheese boys are those boys that come from wealthy families that don’t need anything. They don’t hang around us abo mapantsula who hustle for everything they have. Silvia was gorgeous and a trend-setter in our village. If she ever set her big soul-searching-eyes on you, then you were a charmed one.

If she uttered a word to you by chance then you would look around to check if there was anyone around and if she was really speaking to you. Most times, our response would be some gibberish when such privileges happened.

On the other hand, Thabo was handsome, tall, dark in complexion and a model-type if one can say. He was a neat person, his clothes were not expensive but always clean. Thabo stayed with his grandmother since his parents divorced.

He didn’t have anyone to send him to tertiary after he finished his high school years. Even though both of his parents were still alive. They remarried and lived far from Tshikutuni village.

So Thabo became a village photographer so that he could save money to send himself to school. His grandmother also opened a savings account so that she could save her pension grant and help him go to school. He was a good photographer and a well-liked one around the village.

It was a shock when Mrs Ringetani didn’t like him but we knew about the pride she had. Her husband Mr Ringetani owned five General Dealers around Limpopo and she didn’t even greet poor people like me. She would look aside and spit if you came across her.

She said we stink and don’t bath at Tshikutuni. The Ringetani family lived in a terracotta painted double-storey house down the street. The house was adorned by a manicured lawn and a brick wall.

Flora texted Thabo to meet her at their usual place. He was astonished because he had told her they would meet later on in the day. Thabo was going to collect money from clients who had not paid yet. He eventually agreed to meet up with her because he adored her so much that he didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

He waited for her at the village park as she approached him.

It wasn’t much of a park though; some Good Samaritan planted a lawn and put five benches with a swing for children. The villagers took care of it and made sure it was clean at all times. Thabo and Flora were sitting on one of the five benches. They were speaking in low voices.

“Thabo, I love you but you will have to let me go. I love you dearly and you know that, but my family disapproves of you,” said Flora with a sad voice.

“Dear, you can’t be serious! I love you,” argued Thabo, pulling a sad face.

“But Thabo, you know my mom. She wants me to go back to Thomas.”

“What do you want Flora? Do you want to go back? Thabo asked.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

“Please make your own informed decision Flora. You are an adult now!”

“Thabo you don’t understand me. I love you but I can’t go against my mom’s wishes. Please let me go before Silvia catches us and tells mama.” Flora moved slightly away.

“Flora please don’t go,” Thabo pleaded while still holding her hand, she tugged her hand away, then he let her go. She stood in front of him for a moment and she smiled her most beautiful smile, then she turned her back and left.

Thabo just stood there until she was out of sight and then went back to the bench they were sitting on and covered his face with his hands.

That was the last time Thabo ever saw Florance Ringetani, the village princess.

He called her a few times but she refused to see him completely. To make things worse, Mrs Ringetani told Thabo’s grandmother that he should stay away from her daughter. Thabo couldn’t go against that so he stopped calling or texting her.

For the following four years Thabo studied Script Writing, Drama and Film Directing at the University of Cape town. Just after a year after Thabo left Tshikutuni he found out that Flora was married with four kids.

He also learnt that she had since gone back home after her marriage with Thomas didn’t work out. Thomas was a loser. He started drinking heavily after he was fired at the Department of Traffic for selling driver’s licenses.

He’d spend most weeks without coming home and beat up Flora for asking him where he had been. He said she should never ask him where he was coming from. Flora was no longer the village girl we knew; her face was splashed with black spots from the beatings she got during her marriage. She had gained weight as well.

He would at times say that he never loved her at the beginning, and her mom gave him a bribe so he could date her. They were tough years for Flora, she heard that Thabo was married to Linda. Linda was a lovely girl who loved people, she came from a humble family.

Flora developed hatred towards her mother and stopped talking to her, entirely. She went back home but her mom had already disowned her but her father came to the rescue and employed her as a cashier in one of his shops. Silvia was somewhere around Tembisa, she rarely came home for a visit.

One day Thabo was at home and he decided to take a walk with his daughter Nonceba. He went to the park and his daughter asked if she could swing with the other kids. He agreed. He sat on one of the benches which had gone up to ten now. He was looking towards the mountains and his mind was far away that he didn’t realise the middle-aged lady who was sitting next to him.

“Thabo is it you?”

“Yeah, I am Thabo Mlambo,” he said looking surprised.

“Do I know you, mam?”

“Yeah, Thabo you really don’t know me? I am Flora,”

“Flora, The Village Princess?”

“Yeah, the one and only. Just that I am no longer the ‘princess’,”she said with a smile.

“Oh, I didn’t recognise you, how are you doing?”

“I am doing okay. I saw you while I was passing and thought I should come to greet you. I have to go now, hope to see you around. Cheers!”

“Me too Flora, it was nice to see you,” he didn’t know what else to say.

She left him there, totally disturbed with questions he had no answers to. Finally he smiled and said aloud to himself.

“God will save you from things you don’t know about and you will hate Him when He’s doing that,” he stood up, still wondering what had happened to “The Village Princess”.
He called Nonceba and they raced to see who would get home first.

When they arrived at home Linda was in the kitchen cooking supper. He went behind her back and wrapped his arms around her waist. He then joined their cheeks and kissed her on the forehead. She turned with a puzzled-smile.

“What was that for, dear?” she asked, pulling a smile.

“This is for thanking God for choosing you as my wife, and also to say that I love you Linda,” he brushed her back and went to the sitting room to watch TV. She looked at him until he sat down then she shook her head and continued wit her chores. She she seemed very pleased.