So I’m on a plane. Heading for Cape Town and for Joy, the love of my life.

And will she forgive me for these past two years? Will she understand I stayed away out of love for her?

Most of all: will she cancel this wedding of hers?

My friend Tshepo had emailed me: “Daniel, dude, you have finally lost her! She’s getting married this Saturday. Idiot! You’ve only got yourself to blame!”

But surely she does not love this other man, whoever he is? No! Surely it is only from desperation. Because she has given up hope that we will be together. Surely?

I don’t blame her. What Tshepo says is true: this is my fault. But I will put things right. Just as soon as I land in Cape Town.

My friend Tshepo will rush me to Joy’s home. I will take her in my arms and I will say, “Joy, my only love, I am back for good. You cannot marry this other man, whoever he is. Tell him to go. Tell him you belong to me.”

She will agree, surely? And we will be together forever as we are meant to be. And I will never think again about the terrible vision in the fire. The fire of Tshepo’s sangoma.

In fact, this was all Tshepo’s fault to start with. He was the one who insisted we must visit the sangoma out in the rural area.

“Come on, Daniel. She builds this fire. And you can see your future right there in the flames.”

That was two years ago. I shook my head. “Get a life, Tshepo! It’s all nonsense. Totally unscientific. No-one can foretell the future.”

I went on: “Anyway, I already know my future. My future is Joy. As soon as she finishes her degree, we’ll marry and travel the world together. She will write killer articles and I will take killer photographs and we will be famous.”

“Well, just come along for the ride, Daniel. Please! Bring your camera. Maybe your editor would like some rural shots.”

But my editor, John Barnaby, was not into fields and hills. He preferred action. And blood.

Still, Joy was busy studying. I had nothing better to do. So I took the long bus ride with Tshepo. I didn’t take my camera. And I wasn’t too supportive.

“Are you sure you want to do this, Tshepo? Sometimes it is better not to know what the future holds.”

“Well, it can’t be any worse than my boring present life. No wheels, no babe, no job prospects. Hey, everyone needs a dream.”

After the bus ride, there was a dusty path up a steep hill. At the top we found the sangoma and her sagging hut and a huge fire churning up thick smoke.

She held out her hand and Tshepo filled it with his hard-earned cash. I shook my head.

“I don’t want to know my future.”

She laughed at me. “It is not you that chooses the flames. It is the flames that choose you.”

Tshepo and I sat side-by-side on a rickety bench while the sangoma threw herbs into her fire. The flames crackled wildly, spat out small charcoal twigs, and turned from luminous pink to eerie purple.


Tell us what you think: Is Tshepo wise to want to know his future?