Nomalunga walked into the lounge and Gugu followed her. She paused to put the baby down in a camp cot set up near the window.
“Tea?” Nomalunga asked, looking towards the kitchen, and vaguely gesturing that way with her hand.
“Okay,” said Gugu and sat down while Nomalunga went alone to the kitchen. She could hear the rattle of the tea cups as Nomalunga made the tea. Gugu had hardly looked at the baby. She could not bring herself to.
How had this happened? This baby? And with Fikile of all people?
Gugu had walked around the cold and grey village of Durham in England in a daze the day she had received the email that Nomalunga had had a baby. The word ‘mistake’ had been used.
Mistake? Not Nomalunga! Nomalunga would never have made that kind of ‘mistake’.
Gugu and Nomalunga had been at university together in Cape Town for three years. After that time together Gugu had thought that she knew Nomalunga almost as well as she knew herself.
And then the bursary had come up.
It had been an opportunity that Gugu just couldn’t let slip by. An opportunity to study in England, at one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. Surely Nomalunga had understood that?
Nomalunga had said that she did. She had congratulated Gugu. Had it all been a lie?
Gugu had always had every intention of coming home again. The bursary had only been for one year, with the possibility of it being extended to two. Now one year had passed.
Gugu was proud of herself. She had done very well. Her marks were excellent. She could take up the option of staying for a second year. Only now she wasn’t sure if she wanted to. Now that she had seen Nomalunga again. Nomalunga and the baby.
The studies overseas had never been the greatest challenge for Gugu. The English weather was a greater challenge. It was awful. Freezing cold most of the time, with hardly any light shining through the clouds. The weather was difficult to live with, but so was the difference in culture, the difference in language and, well, just about everything else.
But, it was the homesickness that had really got to Gugu. She missed everyone so much when she was England. Especially Nomalunga. And now there was a baby! Gugu still couldn’t quite believe it. It had been one thing to see the fact of the baby on screen, in an email. It was quite another thing to see it for real.
Nomalunga came back into the room, carrying a tray which she set down on the table.
“You should have told me you were pregnant months ago,” Gugu blurted out, “and not just informed me of the baby a month before I was due to come home!”
Gugu could not hide the hurt and anger in her voice. Her feelings had been pent up inside her for a month already. It was just about all she could think about! She was amazed that she had been able to complete her studies as well as she had.
Nomalunga looked out of the window, then said, “You might have tried to change my mind about keeping her. About keeping my baby,” she said softly. Then Nomalunga turned towards Gugu, saying, “You might have come home Gugu,” said Nomalunga. “I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to ruin everything for you as well.”
Nomalunga’s voice trailed off. Gugu was silent. She nodded. That was probably precisely what she would have done. Gugu sighed.
“Pour us some tea Nomi,” she said gently. “It’s too late now anyway. The only thing I really don’t understand is Fikile. Why him?”
Nomalunga moved to hand Gugu a cup of tea, and added, “Fikile always knew the truth, didn’t he? So what on earth did the two of you think you were doing?”
“Fikile is on his way over now,” said Nomalunga, not looking at Gugu. “I hope you don’t mind. He comes over every day to see his baby. I think he is going to be a very good father.”
Nomalunga’s voice trailed off and she and Gugu sat in silence, until the front doorbell rang. “There he is now,” said Nomalunga, as she stood up to go and open the door for Fikile.
Tell us what you think: Why is Gugu so confused about the relationship between Nomalunga and Fikile?