Over the next two years, before I got the life-changing call, we went through a rough patch. Nhlanhla had stopped working for the SANDF, and yet, we spent less time together.

He had up till now visited me and our child every fortnight without fail. No longer. Of late he had also grown fond of his cellphone, always clutching on it like a prized possession.

Lately, he would call me and say, ‘S’ma, are you home? I am outside.’ At first, I thought nothing about his appearing out of the blue. It seems quite romantic in the beginning.

His sporadic appearances then coincided with a difficult period for me. I was feeling upset after I had miscarried at three months, with what would have been our second child.

It turned out that I was actually under surveillance during my pregnancy. I had concealed it from loved ones because I wasn’t expecting it, or initially happy about it. In fact, I was using contraception at the time I conceived … Well, things happen, I became pregnant. But I wanted to wait until the critical period of three months was up, before revealing anything.

It wasn’t an easy pregnancy, so I made several trips to town, more than usual, to see my doctor.

I now know what started all the trouble the came soon after.

My neighbour, a niece, Lily, had spoken to my sister about my glow. “She has a glow of someone with a new love. And, all these trips to town?”

From that chatter, a rumour was born: a rumour that S’ma was seeing someone else!

The matter came to a head when I informed my loved ones that I had had a miscarriage. Thandeka wanted to know why I hadn’t told the family about the pregnancy, and she didn’t accept my explanation.

Soon, the word ‘miscarriage’ was replaced with ‘abortion’, and the story grew legs. I knew that, despite my attempts to keep them apart, Thandeka had become, amathe nolimi, as close as spittle and tongue, with Nhlanhla.

Hence, she passed on unverified gossip, supposedly to ‘save’ my relationship. The juicy lies landed on fertile ground, as Nhlanhla had his own agenda.

Yes, he was looking for a way out, because he had a new secret love! Therefore, he wanted to believe that I had undergone an abortion, seeing no need to verify or give me the benefit of the doubt.

In his self-serving mind, I didn’t tell him about the pregnancy, allegedly, because the child wasn’t his. I was double-dipping, having a side dish!

Well, it was the beginning of winter when news raced through the community that I, the loving daughter of MamDlamini, was supposedly a whore!

Amid the storm of nasty rumours, one gloomy Saturday morning I got a rare call from Bheki, Nhlanhla’s younger brother and my lobola chief negotiator. He launched into an attack without any pleasantries.

‘S’ma, why did you commit abortion? You’re a murderer, S’ma. This isn’t the first time. We already know that it wasn’t our child. You should be ashamed of yourself. S’febe.’

To be told I am a whore – it felt surreal. I had a miscarriage at three months. Abortion, what abortion?

Before I could answer, Bheki dropped the call. I rushed to the fridge and opened myself my favourite Brutal Fruit to calm my nerves. I sipped it once, and it tasted awful … like spoiled fruit.

I stood there, traumatized, reflecting on the irony of the name. Yes, I was reaping the brutal fruits of my relationship with ‘the love of my life’.


Tell us: What do you think S’ma should do? What could she legally do?