“Do you remember your first year at university before you met Fezile? You used to tell me how all the other girls changed their hairstyles and always dressed to impress. You on the other hand, had short hair and only three pairs of jeans. Yet you carried yourself like those models on Bona Magazine,” she said with a smile.

“Yes but that is all I have known; always to remember where you come from and where you are headed! All I do is give and give some more but I am still rewarded with misery. I drink myself to sleep so I can forget and sometimes I hope not to wake up,” she said with her lips quivering.

“So, Sipho was not the one for you. You are young, intelligent and independent. You are the envy of your peers and any man would be blessed to have you as a wife. You cannot just give up all because of one man,” said her aunt.

Portia could no longer keep the words from flowing out of her mouth. She finally reached the point where she shared with her aunt another dark secret.

“What man would want a 35-year-old divorcee who is also barren?” She said loudly.

The walls in the room echoed her words again. This was the first time she had told anyone about this well-kept secret. She felt her body shake so much and she was crying hysterically. Her aunt felt even guiltier that she had a hand in putting pressure on her to wed.

“Why did you not tell me? How long have you known?” Her aunt asked now also with tears running down her face.

“I did not want you to know because you have your own problems. I did not want to be a burden. This was also one of the reasons why it was so easy to be with Sipho. Since he did not love me, he did not expect me to be the typical wife,” she said gripping her aunt’s hand tightly.

“If Sipho wants to take you your money, then let that dog take it! You can always make even more. What I refuse to hear come out of your mouth again is you referring to yourself as a burden. I am sorry that I have not been there during your struggles as you have been for me,” she said wiping the tears off her face with one hand.

Portia sat there still sobbing and unable to say another word.

“If you put others’ happiness before yours, you shall be in a lifetime of imprisonment. Look at me – what grown woman drags a child into her affairs and plays some dull song every time to ease the pain?” She asked.

“Then why do you stay with him aunt? You are such a beautiful woman and I know you will find someone better,” said Portia now holding her aunt with both hands.

“Fear. I am afraid that the world will laugh at me for leaving him after being with him so such a long time. But Nonhlakanipho, I am old and have no desire to try out new things. You are too young to succumb to such fears,” said her aunt.

Portia listened to the wise words from her aunt without saying a single thing.

“You may not be blessed with the ability to have your own children, but you have been an unconditionally loving mother in this household. You helped raised your sisters and my daughter without a single complaint. Now the time has come for us to take care of you,” she said to her.

Portia felt a weight lifted off her shoulders. In one day she was able to let go of dark secrets that have controlled her. Listening to her aunt speak to her in such a warm and none judgmental manner made her feel was loved.

“Thank you, just for listening to me. If you do not mind I would like to keep this between the two of us. Remember, it is Aphiwe’s birthday next weekend and I do not want to overshadow her special day with these terrible news,” she said to her aunt with a smile.

“Whether you wait till next week or next month it will not change a single thing. You need our support more than ever now and I am sure she will understand. I will be there by your side when you break the news to them. We will not even need Kerry White for that conversation,” she said as they both laughed out loud.

They spent the rest of the day eating dumplings and catching up on the usual neighbourhood gossip. Her father and sisters finally got back home in the late afternoon. She asked to have a family meeting with them in the lounge and told them everything. As promised, her aunt was there by her side holding her hand tightly.

When Portia took an unprompted drive home that morning she just wanted a distraction. As life had it, she ended up getting more than she had anticipated. It was a loveless marriage and her husband’s mistress that allowed her to break down her walls. Although still in those crazy 30s, she was now a changed and lighter woman. Most importantly she realised that she could openly talk to her family and now saved the Merlot only for more blissful occasions.

***

Tell us what you think: Do you think Sipho and Pinky got back together?