When I woke up again, I cried. I don’t think I had ever cried like that in my life. I missed my parents and I wanted to call them so badly, but I knew that I couldn’t. My parents had warned against this marriage but I didn’t listen. And just thinking about what they said brought fresh tears to my face.

“You know, if you walk out of that door with that bag and marry that man, then you are no longer my daughter. When you finally realise what we are talking about when we say this man looks like a snake, don’t come to us for help. You walk out of that door and you are dead to me.”

My father didn’t wait for me to answer, he just went back into his room, leaving me standing there with my mom.

“N’wananga yingisa hina vatswari va wena ha swi tiva leswi hi vulavulaka hi swona, ani ñga tshembhi ku xivuriso xo mibya ya nyekanyeka ndzinga tshuka ndzi xi tirhisile eka wena n’wananga, akuri wena WO TWA ka vana va Mina hinkwavo hiwena WO dyondzeka ka vana va.”

(Mina, don’t do this baby, I will forgive you if you do but you know your father, he will not forgive you. Please, don’t let a man come between you and your family.)

My mother was crying. A part of me hated myself for making my mom cry for the first time. I had never been a reason for mama to cry. I always followed the saying, ‘mihloti ya lava kulu ayi voniwi’, but even that was not reason enough for me to stop myself from dreaming.

“Mom, I love you and dad and I seriously believe that I am meant to do this. If doing this is a mistake then let me learn from my own mistakes. No one is perfect mom, everyone makes mistakes. Instead of saying that I am not welcome if I do this, you should support me and pray for me to make it work.”

Before my mom could answer me, my father did. He had come out again without us noticing.

“What you ask of us is impossible. You want us to let our daughter walk into a fire while we watch and wait for her to return, so that we can soothe the burns? Not in my house. If you walk into a fire while you were warned, then you burn to death before returning home.”

So you can understand my predicament. I had a husband who hated me. No, that’s not right. He didn’t hate me, he just didn’t feel anything at all. I was invisible to him, and unless he wanted something, he never talked to me.

***

Tell us: What do you think Gift should do? What would you do?