Boom, Nhlanhla got married. Yes, by the summer of the same year, Nhlanhla got married – except not to me.

I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure. I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him, but he did not answer.’

These verses from the Songs of Solomon kept ringing in my ears as I cried myself to sleep every night.

I was told the new girlfriend – or should we say the new wife – had two-year-old twins, baby girls. This means the twin girls are one year younger than our son, Vusumuzi.

Two-timing bastard. Men are dogs, I tell you. And I am the ‘whore’! Double standards.

Yes, Nhlanhla has a new wife, so the old, ‘me’, is now consigned to the garbage heap of history. The new wife isn’t Miss South Africa. Although I am told, Nhlanhla finds her sexy and whatnot. Yes, she is taller than me, and yes even lighter too.

I am told that she lazes and eats her Chicken Licken wings with relish. She replaces me, a child of MamDlamini, who is a whore. In Nhlanhla’s eyes, I no longer exist. I am nothing but a void.

Knowing what I know now makes my blood boil. Here is the truth. Since Nhlanhla’s family moved to Ulundi a few years after we started dating, he met and ‘fell in love’ with a new girl. I was told this new girl lived in Mandeni, a mere 30 kilometres from my humble home, eStanger. Every time he left home, he said he was coming to visit me. Yes, he did visit me … but after a detour to his new secret love.

As I gloomily relayed this news to Thandeka, she raised her eyebrows in surprised query. “Mandeni? I know Mandeni. For me Mandeni is nothing but a landscape of sin,”

So I enquired: “What does that mean?”

“Oh, my dearest sister, that hell-hole of a town is the epicentre of the HIV/Aids epidemic. Don’t you follow the news?”

I was gobsmacked. “I didn’t know,” I admitted. “Well,” I said, “definitely not a place to harvest for a new wife. But, what do I know? I’ve never been a man.”

She laughed heartily and changed the subject.

***

Tell us: The events of this story are set a few decades back. Do you think HIV/AIDS is still a big problem in our country? If not, what has changed?