I spun around. It was my classmate, Pamela! She was standing there smiling at me.

God, if this is your answer to my prayer, you must be kidding me, I thought.

There was no other girl at school who made me hate myself more than Pamela. She was very popular with the other girls. She behaved like a princess and they followed her around excitedly, like her subjects. She knew everything there was to know about make-up, hair extensions and gorgeous nails with different colours. I didn’t like her because she did not like me. She and her group were constantly calling me names like ‘Holy Maria’, or ‘Church Girl’.

“Nothing,” I answered.

“Something is not right, Holy Maria. Let me see your letter,” she said in a sympathetic voice. I was taken off guard, fooled, and gave her the letter I got from Thobekile. “You know, I don’t like seeing you hurt. Who will bless us when you are like this?” she said, as she started reading the letter.

Pamela frowned, and I knew that I should prepare for something mocking and rotten coming out of her mouth.

“Oh my God. Did that guy Thobekile, the one with the beautiful, clear eyes, write this letter? Sweety, I am not blind. I see the way you look at each other. You love him and he loves you too.”

Does he love me? I could not believe it. Was Pamela tricking me?

“I can see you don’t believe me. One of my girls flirted with Thobekile, but Thobz never took any notice of her. When she asked him what was wrong he told her that he was in love with another girl. When he said that, he was looking straight at you.”

“Why the lies, Pamela?” I said with anger.

“What will I get by lying to you, Virgin Mary?” She covered her mouth in shock at what she had just called me. But it was all fake. “Sorry, my mistake. I meant to say Nonkonzo. The dude loves you. Thobekile is not pretending. He is not like other boys. He falls in love with one girl. You will regret it if you don’t go to that tree, and listen to what he wants to say.”

I was confused. My head was spinning. I didn’t know what to do. Pamela’s kindness was not to be trusted. But maybe this was my answer from God.

When the bell rang for the end of school I walked slowly towards the coral tree to hear for myself what Thobekile had to say.

Pamela was right. I loved Thobekile, but had not been able to openly show him. But anyone could observe the love between us. We were connected. You could see it in the way we looked at each other. I became weak when he looked at me. His smile and sparkling eyes together warmed up my heart. I felt like I was in the hands of a living angel.

I walked closer to the tree, praying to God to guide me. But my prayers were lost inside me when I saw Thobekile sitting so quietly and calmly in the shadow of the branches. He was looking down as if in deep thought. Maybe he was thinking of the words that would tie me to him and stop me from rejecting him.

“Hey! You’re here, Nonkonzo?” He stood up. “I thought you weren’t coming.”

“I am here,” I said with a shaky voice, my heart beating so hard you would swear it would pop out of my chest.

He took my hand and looked at me for a long time before he asked me if I would like to sit down. He showed me the place under the tree that he had swept free of dirt. He put his books in a pile for me to sit on so that I wouldn’t get dust on my skirt.

“I apologise for making you sit here on the ground. If I had time I would have brought you a comfortable chair.”

I couldn’t answer. Instead I smiled. I was not aware of the roughness of my seat. I was numb from head to toe.

“You may be asking yourself why I called you here.” He sighed, as if worried. “Can you please listen, Nonkonzo. What you will hear from my mouth comes from my heart. Believe me, it is not easy for me to say these words.”

“Do you love me, Thobekile?” The words just leapt from my mouth. I could not stop them. My mouth was dry I was so nervous.

“I am like an empty box without you,” he answered confidently.

“But…you don’t know me in such a way that you can love me.”

“I loved you the first time I laid eyes on you. I have carried this burden in my heart for many years. Don’t be shocked Nonkonzo – my heart is bursting. I do love you.”


“I am not shy to repeat that ‘I love you’, Nonkonzo.”

On that day I walked back home from school in a daze of love – to find my parents waiting just inside the gate. They were not alone.

There were two men that I had never seen at my home before. I just stared. They were discussing something important, I could see from their faces. When I closed the gate behind me, my parents and the men shook hands. Their faces were relaxed and they smiled warmly at each other.

Of these men, one was highly respected. Even my parents, when they spoke to him, bowed and became submissive. This man was a bishop in the congregation where my father was a Reverend. He was Bishop Magadla. The second man, I did not know.

I found myself shaking, unable to pass them to go inside the house. I was afraid of the Bishop. I greeted them, but there was fear in my voice.

“Bishop, this is my girl, Nonkonzo,” my father said, hugging me closely. “Greet, Nonkonzo.”

“So, you’re Nonkonzo?” Bishop Magadla addressed me without even acknowledging my greetings.

“Yes Father, I am Nonkonzo.”

He showed an excitement at meeting me that left me confused. It was as if he knew me.

“Nonkonzo,” he said again.

Then he told me that our Almighty had a purpose for me because of my name. I knew the meaning of my name. I knew it meant the ‘church woman’. But not for a single day had I imagined becoming a church elder.

The Bishop was clear enough when he now gave a picture about the future of our church, and what the role was that I would play in it.

When the Bishop finished talking my father intervened to prevent further praises, by saying, “Thank you, Nonkonzo. Wait for me in your room.” His voice warned me of trouble looming ahead.


Tell us what you think: What is the trouble looming ahead?