Sbusiso is sitting on the bench at the back of his mother’s house, his head bowed. His brother, Sthembiso, appears behind him.
“There you are, Sbu. I’ve been looking for you,” says Sthembiso.
“Why have you been looking for me? What’s the matter?” Sbusiso raises his head.
“I’m the one who should be asking you that question. What is the matter with you? Why did you choose to sit by yourself when all the men in the area have come to celebrate with you? I mean, tomorrow you are getting married!”
“Nothing is the matter, brother. I just needed a moment to myself.”
“Why do I get the feeling that you are getting cold feet about this whole thing?” says Sthembiso.
“Not at all, brother. Why would I get cold feet when I’m marrying the love of my life?”
“Maybe you are sad because we won’t be as wild as we were before, staying out late and drinking all night. All of that ends after you get married. I’m going to miss our wild days, but meeting Ntombi has made you a better man. That I can’t dispute.”
“You can say that again, brother. I am nervous. Who wouldn’t be when taking such a big step? But what keeps me happy is that I love the woman I’m going to marry tomorrow.”
“And you have shown your love for her for the whole world to see. She’d be blind if she didn’t see how much you love her. Let’s get back to the rest of the party. We need to wrap things up because tomorrow is your big day. You need to be well rested and fresh.”
Ntombi is sitting on her bed on the morning of her wedding. Her friend, Zama, is sitting on a chair next to the bed. They joke and gossip and laugh. Ntombi is looking down, trying to recover from another bout of laughter, when she feels Zama’s heavy stare on her. She looks up to find Zama looking at her with suddenly serious eyes.
“What’s the matter, Zama? What did I do now for you to look at me like that?”
“You do know that I love you very much, my friend? Don’t you?”
“Yes, I know. Why have you become so serious all of a sudden?”
“Then why are you doing what you are doing, Ntombi?”
Rarely does Zama call Ntombi by her real name. It’s usually “my friend”, “girl” or “scheme”. So Ntombi sees that the matter about to be discussed is serious.
“I asked you a question, Ntombi,” says Zama.
“What was your question?”
“The question is: why are you doing what you are doing?”
“What are you talking about, Zama?”
“What is happening today?”
“Today I’m getting married.”
“Ntombi, why are you getting married to a man you don’t love?”
“Yes, I don’t love Sbu but I don’t see a problem with that.”
“I’ll ask you again, Ntombi. Why are you getting married to a man you don’t love?”
“Stop acting dumb, Zama. You know very well that Sibusiso is loaded, he has money.”
“But are you sure about that?”
“I have seen his payslip. I know what he has in the bank.”
“But marriage is not only about money. You need to be in love because you will encounter tough situations that need the patience and perseverance that comes from truly loving your husband.”
“To tell you the truth, Zama, my friend, I have never received love in my life. My own father didn’t love me. You know the poverty I come from. But things were not always like that, we were not always poor. We used to have a proper home, not the mud huts I call home now,” says Ntombi.
“Really? What happened, my friend?”
“My own father showed me the lies of men. And not just simple white lies but major lies. We didn’t know he had another family — a wife and three children! Those children were older than us. That family chased us and Mom out of our home like dogs.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. I didn’t know.”
“Within a year my father was dead. And that same family didn’t want anything to do with him. It was Ma who buried him. That’s when I told myself that I’d never give my love to a man because men are ruthless.”
“But people are different. Sibusiso has never caused you pain.”
“I know but I can’t change how my heart feels. It just won’t allow me to be hurt by a man,” Ntombi says, as tears flow down her face.
“I pray that you find a good job so that you can stand on your own and build something with Sibusiso. I hope you grow with him and rediscover love,” says Zama.
“Sibusiso is giving me the life I want even if I have not worked for it. So it is hard for me not to take this opportunity. I have never known comfort. I’ll try to learn to love him. I’m tired of working at retail shops, getting paid peanuts. I want to be a housewife.”
“But my friend, you know how men end up taking advantage of you when they know you depend on them for everything.”
“Sibusiso won’t take advantage of me. He hangs on my every word. He does what I want, when I want.”
“Is that so, my friend?”
“Yes. Why do you think everything has happened so quickly? I tell him what I want and he does it. That’s why he paid full lobolo for me after we had been dating for only two months. So don’t worry about me.”
“I understand, Ntombi. I’m sorry for everything you went through.”
“Don’t stress about me. I have everything under control.”
Tell us: Do you believe you should marry for love? Why or why not?