Sophie’s tavern was the busiest tavern in our community. Mlungisi Shange was sitting at his favourite corner, drinking and smoking. He didn’t go to work that day. He was sitting there saying, “To hell with this life. What have I done to deserve so much pain?”
Mlungisi was born and raised in the rural area of Danny Dalton, Mpungamhlophe. He was a professional teacher, and was once a pastor before marrying Nelisiwe Ntshangase. He met her in one of his tent crusades at Ulundi. She was a dedicated worshiper and a prayer warrior.
It was the last day of Mlungisi’s crusade at Emabhanoyini, Ulundi. Mlungisi was busy exhorting and encouraging new converts.
“Have faith in the Lord and you will be established!” he shouted.
It was a very hot day. The evocative song of a locust nearby was unbearable. While the cock-a-doodle-doo was a constant reminder that it was midsummer, and the sun had come out to chase away the morning dews and to bring smiles to the flowers. Out there, kids were singing, shouting, dancing, and emulating Mlungisi. Mothers, not too far, were speaking with so much bemusement, “We are going to miss this man. Oh! What a preacher.”
While Mlungisi was busy with the new converts, Nelisiwe entered.
“I am sorry to disturb you, pastor,” Nelisiwe spoke with so much humility, while her face was spreading like a flower that sees the face of the sun. She said this as she was pouring a soft drink for Mlungisi.
“It’s OK woman of God. Thank you. You have been a blessing to me and my team,” Mlungisi smiled and melted like ice that was exposed to the scorching heat of the sun.
It was the third month after the cessation of Mlungisi’s crusade at Ulundi. He was sitting in his classroom during lunch time.
“I wish to see Nelisiwe again. What a pulchritudinous woman…mmmmm! Her smile, her angelic voice, her fear for the Lord, her hospitality, her breath-taking beauty. Oh hhe! She is the complete package,” Mlungisi spoke to himself aloud, as he was watching kids playing outside. His heart was beating faster than a drum in the hands of a Northern African man.
“Wakhuluma wedwa njengohlanya ndodana,” Mrs Mahlase, one of Mlungisi’s colleagues, entered.
“I am thinking of the woman I spoke to you about last Friday,” Mlungisi replied. Love was written all over his face.
“What is stopping you? Go for her. You have attained an HOD (Head of Department) post. You will be able to cover all the expenses that come with marriage. Besides, you are not getting any younger my son. Sebenza kusakhanya ndodana. As a pastor, you need someone who will stand by you,” Mrs Mahlase spoke with much optimism. As expected, Mlungisi took her advice.
A few days after conversing with Mrs Mahlase, Mlungisi approached Nelisiwe’s pastor, Mr Sibiya. It is a common Christian belief that a man shouldn’t approach a woman, if he wants to marry her, without consulting with her pastor first. Accordingly, arrangements were made. Mlungisi was given an opportunity to express himself to Nelisiwe. Instead of giving him an answer, whether she accepted his marriage proposal or not, she asked to be given a chance to converse with the Lord about the issue. Mlungisi was very impressed by Nelisiwe’s spirituality and her commitment to the Lord, which was beyond description.
A few months later, she came back with a positive answer. Mlungisi was thrilled. Happiness was written all over his face. Without any delay, lobola negotiations were made. The Ntshangase family wanted R95 000 for their daughter, who was a doctor at Ngwelezane Hospital.
“We have invested a lot in our daughter. Besides, she is a good woman; a Christian,” uncles insisted during the negotiations. The negotiations were successful and then concluded to prepare for the wedding.
Their wedding, moreover, was magnificent. It was something out of this world. Mlungisi’s motto was: “He who finds a wife, finds what is good.” He went all out for Nelisiwe, he gave her the best honeymoon ever. They went to Zanzibar Island, Tanzania, and enjoyed clear, turquoise-blue waters and shallow sandbars which were perfect for wading. It was a breath-taking experience for both of them.
However, after their perfect honeymoon, they did not stay together. Nelisiwe was a doctor at Ngwelezane Hospital, which is a bit far from Danny Dalton, she stayed in Richard’s Bay. She only visited her husband on weekends. This was not a big problem for them at all.
However, after a few months of being married, things did not go as expected.
Nelisiwe did not want any other woman near her husband. She was very intolerant of other Christians and she did not respect the elders of the church. She spoke to them the way she wanted, she had no manners whatsoever. Then his congregation decided to leave Mlungisi’s church. However, Mlungisi did not take this lying down. He sought for help. He read different books, which empower married people to solve conflicts. He even unleashed the romantic side in him, in an attempt to woo his wife. One day he bought rose petals and scattered them all over their bedroom floor. Then he lit candles and played one of the American RnB singer, Usher’s songs.
However his wife was not in the mood. She insulted his manhood and told him that he was unsatisfying as a sexual partner. After his attempts to do so failed, he decided that he would never make love to her again. He also stopped going to church and focused more on his work. He became a laughing stock in the community. His life became a very bitter pill to swallow. At first he drank as a means to help him sleep at night, but as time went by he drank more and more and eventually became a drunk.
In the midst of Mlungisi’s predicaments, Mrs Mahlase advised him to divorce Nelisiwe, but he didn’t have the guts to do so. “Sit down Madam. You’re the one who advised me to bring the devil in the white dress into my life. Look at me now. Look how miserable I am, while you are happy with your family. This is your mess,” Mlungisi cried.
“Do not cry my son. Awukho umuzi ongashunqi intuthu,” Mrs Mahlase tried to console him.
Sadly, it was too late. Poor Mlungisi was already swimming in a pool of sorrow, pain, resentment, and hopelessness. He cursed the day he met his so-called “spiritual” wife. What killed him the most was the regrets and love he had given her, which was never given back to him in return. He longed and longed for that Nelisiwe he met at eMabhanoyini, Ulundi to return. Sadly, she had disappeared into thin air or, maybe, she never existed.
Sophie’s Tavern then became Mlungisi’s favourite place. Mlungisi was sitting in his favourite corner swearing, “To hell with this life. Shwele!” Mlungisi shouted at the top of voice lungs then he fainted.
Tell us: Do you think Nelisiwe ever loved Mlungisi? Why do you think people fall out of love?