“And now, ladies and gentlemen, the award-winning design of the evening …” announces the MC for the Awards.
There is a moment of breathless silence. I am holding onto Karl’s hand so tightly, I hope I’m not hurting him. On my other side, Rosie and Vusi have their eyes fixed on the runway curtains.
Karl whispers, “Tell me. The minute you see it, Tee.”
I’m hoping it will be my aubergine velvet number that appears. But I’m uncertain. Polelo’s red sheath with the shoulder ruches was pretty amazing too.
But here is the strangest thing: I will be overjoyed if my design wins. Of course I will. But if it doesn’t, hey, I won’t be devastated. Not when I have Karl beside me. These past six weeks have been the happiest time in my entire life – despite the hours and hours of extra work.
I have already won! I have won the love of a wonderful man who admires my work and doesn’t expect me to choose one or the other. A man who is as dedicated to his chosen profession as I am to mine. No award on earth could top that!
But the curtains part and out onto the catwalk comes an ultra-tall model wearing my aubergine velvet evening gown. A little girl from Karl’s charity organisation walks beside her, holding her hand tightly. Little seven-year-old Naledi. She too wears an aubergine velvet dress I designed.
“It’s mine, Karl!” I whisper.
“I’m so glad,” he whispers back and kisses my cheek. “I’m so proud of you, my love! My wife-to-be.” Yes, Karl and I are engaged. Before those six weeks were up, we knew we were meant for each other.
On my other side, Rosie and Vusi yell like football fans after a goal.
I chose little Naledi specially for this design. Like Karl, Naledi is blind. So she isn’t able to see the lovely aubergine shade of her dress. But she can feel the texture of the velvet – and there is no other material as plush and luxurious to the touch. Like the coat of a newborn puppy.
And yes, as Naledi steps past us, guided by the model, she smooths her little fingers across the velvety softness. Gently. Over and over. Smiling the sweetest smile.
The after-party is in full swing. Karl is at his charity stall, chatting to donors while they sign cheques made out to CARING. So many donors, so many cheques! I am thrilled for him as well as for myself.
I move through the crowds towards him – to ask if he needs my help with anything. Ebony has been given the night off.
And then I find myself face-to-face with Polelo Jaba.
“Congratulations,” she says through stiff lips. As if that’s the last thing on earth she wants to say.
“Thank you,” I say. “But I must tell you, Polelo: I was blown away by your red number. The ruching around the shoulder was a stunning touch. Stroke of genius!”
She stares at me. “Do you really mean that?”
“Yes,” I answer. Because I do.
“Thank you, Tee! That means a lot.”
And next thing we are hugging. Like the past doesn’t matter at all. Like we aren’t rivals; instead, we are comrades-in-arms, fighting together to design dreams.
“Let me introduce you to my fiancé, Karl Sathekge,” I say. Arm-in-arm we walk across to the charity stall.
Rosie is absolutely right! When you are in love, you want to be kind and sweet to everyone. You want to spread happiness all around you!
Tell us: Will Tee and Karl have a good, lasting marriage?