“You are so beautiful, your smile can command the sea to stop moving,” I said.

“Thulani! Thulani!” I woke up from my dream that instant hearing my mother’s piercing voice calling my name.

My name is Thulani Mhize, twenty-four years old, from KZN, Umlazi. I couldn’t further my studies after my matric due to financial difficulties. I’m still living with my parents. I am an artist, not by profession but by gift. I tell a lot of stories through my drawing. I don’t know where to begin so the beginning will be best.

Since I finished my matric in 2010, I’ve been dreaming about a girl, a girl I’ve never seen before. It sounds crazy huh? What’s even worse is I was deeply in love with her. Now every time I dream about this girl I try to wake up quickly, take out my sketching tools and try sketching her face. But somehow the picture of her face would just vanish from my memory before I could start sketching it.

But this one time a miracle happened. I managed to wake up in the middle of the dream, while the image of her face was still fresh in my mind. I quickly drew her face; her beauty was out of this world indeed. Her sexy small brown eyes, small pouting pink lips complimented by deep dimples on her cheeks. A beauty absolutely rare to find nowadays.

My lovely mother barged into my bedroom after waking me from my California dream. She looked so excited, telling me that my distant cousin, Vusi, wanted me to come stay with him and his fiancé in Johannesburg. For a second I felt like I was dreaming. I was never given an opportunity to explore the city of Johannesburg before, to smell its air, hear its noises. But I could now.

I’ve heard opportunities are so many in the city of Johannesburg, maybe I could find a sponsor for my art. That’s what I thought as excitement filled my entire body. I felt like jumping but being a shy person that I am, I just smiled and nodded when mother had asked me to pack my clothes in my father’s old brown suitcase.

UMama ironed my blue Sunday shirt and my black jeans that were starting to turn grey while I bathed. I paired my outfit with my buccaneer shoes that I had wiped with my bathing cloth. In no time I was ready to go. UBaba accompanied me to the train station. It took a long time to get there and it was quite dark when I arrived in the city of gold. I looked around but I couldn’t see Vusi.

I took out my old R79 cell phone and called the number I got from uMa. Just when I was about to hang up, realising that Vusi wasn’t planning to pick me up anytime soon, I felt someone patting my shoulder. It had been ages since I’d seen Vusi, but I knew it was him. It confirmed what they said, that people never grow old in the city of gold.

Vusi was only five years older than me but had achieved a lot of things. We drove to his house in his red Mazda 3. It was a bond house, with 2 bedrooms, 1 toilet, a sitting room, kitchen and a double garage. In my eyes it was a mansion compared to where I came from.

When we arrived his wife was not at home but their spotless furniture proved that there was a woman staying there. She had prepared pap, roasted chicken and chakalaka. It had been long since I ate meat, so you can imagine the pace with which I was eating. After dinner I drank cold water, as Vusi dished custard and jelly for us. I had never eaten that before but because I was curious I dug in. I spent the entire night running to the toilet, how embarrassing. That’s what I hated about going to people’s houses.

“Thulani?” The following morning, I was woken up by an angelic voice, calling my name.”

That can’t be mom, I thought, as I turned to see who was standing next to my bed. Soon as I opened my eyes I thought I was dead and had gone to heaven. Wamuhle umuntu ungathi ugeza ngechocolate. She introduced herself as Nthabiseng. Yoh lengane madoda, the sound of her voice alone gave me butterflies in my stomach. But there was something about her that disturbed me. She looked familiar. I felt like I’d known her for few years.

I got out of bed after she told me breakfast was ready. I found Vusi sitting at the kitchen table still in his pyjamas. Nthabiseng joined us and Vusi introduced her as his fiancé. I felt unexplainable jealousy entering my veins as I watched my appetite go.

Later on, Vusi took me to a nearby bar. We were getting along just fine and we spoke about everything, politics, soccer, cars and girls. A very skinny, fair in complexion girl came to join us. She kissed Vusi on his cheek and sat down. Vusi introduced her as Naledi, his makhwapheni. I failed to understand why Vusi would cheat on an angel like Nthabiseng with scrap like Naledi.

Weeks passed, I found a job as a cashier at checkers and Vusi’s cheating got worse. Even though he was a bad fiancé, he was the best cousin. We got along very well and he trusted me with his life, his deep secrets. This one night I heard Nthabiseng sobbing in their bedroom. I didn’t know what to do so I went to comfort her. She told me how she loved Vusi but that night Vusi didn’t sleep at home.

The following afternoon when I arrived from work I found blood all over the house. Nthabiseng was lying on the floor unable to move, crying was the only sign of life she showed.

When I asked her what had happened, she told me that her and Vusi had gotten into an argument after she told him that she was leaving him. He lost it and she became a victim. I was so angry. I had developed strong feelings for Nthabiseng. I called an ambulance and she was admitted immediately. Nthabiseng spent two weeks in the hospital, she told the doctors not to allow Vusi to visit her. But on the day she was getting discharged something I regret doing happened.

I woke up early in the morning and went to the hospital to fetch her. To my surprise, I found Vusi choking Nthabiseng with a pillow. I don’t know how he got in but he was there. I tried pulling him away from her but he was dedicated to killing her. I grabbed a used needle in the dust bin and stabbed him in the neck countless times.

Today I’ve been told that I would be spending twenty years in prison for murder. Last month I dreamed about that girl I’ve been dreaming about, and she’s Nthabiseng.

I heard Nthabiseng is still alive but I doubt I’ll ever see her again, who would wanna marry a murderer? Anyway I’ no longer see her in my dreams, I guess that’s a sign we were never meant to be.

The End