Gugu awoke with the sound of someone opening her bedroom door.

“Mama?” she said softly.

“No,” said Nomalunga. “It’s me.”

“Nomi!” said Gugu. “Oh Nomi.” Still half asleep, Gugu reached out a hand towards Nomalunga.

But Nomalunga moved away to sit in a chair in the corner of Gugu’s room. Gugu sat up in her bed. Her arm dropped to her side. She stared at Nomalunga in silence.

“I couldn’t bear to see you so upset,” said Nomalunga quietly. “I had to come to you.” Gugu said nothing, and Nomalunga continued: “I know it must be really hard for you. I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you so much.”

Gugu sat in silence, but she nodded her head slowly.

“I was so lonely after you left for England,” began Nomalunga slowly. Gugu nodded again, her eyes never leaving Nomalunga’s face.

Nomalunga continued, “You were right. Fikile was always our friend. But,” here Nomalunga paused, and lightly shrugged her shoulders, “it turns out he was also always in love with me.”

Gugu sat motionless, and then she said, “Go on.”

Nomalunga hesitated, and then continued. “He did know about you and me.” She paused, her eyes flickered towards Gugu on the bed, and then she looked down again. “You know how hard it is,” said Nomalunga, imploringly. “Without you I just couldn’t go on.”

Gugu nodded again. She wanted to go to Nomalunga, to put her arms around her and comfort her, but she stayed where she was, on the bed.

“Of course I never planned to fall pregnant,” said Nomalunga. “I never planned anything. I thought it would help I suppose. I thought it would help me to forget about you.”

The two girls sat in silence. Gugu moved as if to go to Nomalunga, but Nomalunga put her hand up in a gesture that made Gugu stay where she was.

“Please try and understand Gugs,” said Nomalunga. “I can’t go back now. Fikile has a really good job. His future looks bright.” Nomalunga looked down, and linked her hands together in her lap. “He wants to marry me,” she said softly. “He wants to offer me and Naledi a wonderful future with him.”

“You can’t…” the words escaped Gugu’s lips before she could stop them. “Nomi…” Gugu said imploringly.

Nomalunga put her hand up, to stop Gugu from saying any more. “I can,” she said, “and I will. I am going to.” She stood up.

“But what about us?” said Gugu, also standing. “I love you Nomi. I still love you.”

“Please stop,” said Nomalunga, moving to the door. “Please don’t ever say that again. What happened between us was a phase. Just a phase. That’s all in the past now.”

“No!” said Gugu, begging now. “It never was. You know it was real. That’s just what people say. That’s probably what Fikile says. You know it’s not true. Nomi…”

Nomalunga put her hand on the door handle.

“Please never visit me again Gugu,” said Nomalunga. “My family are helping me. Fikile loves me and his baby. My brother would kill me if he knew what there once was between you and me. Please Gugu,” Nomalunga clasped her hands together and added, “I am begging you. Please give me a chance to live a normal life.”

Gugu stood quite still and silent and allowed Nomalunga to open the door. “I must go Gugu,” said Nomalunga. “My mother can only watch Naledi for me for a short time. Just let me go.”

“Go then,” said Gugu softly, and she stood alone in her bedroom and listened to Nomalunga leave the house.

Gugu’s mother came to her then, holding out her arms to embrace her daughter. The two stood together, while Gugu sobbed against her mother’s shoulder, and her mother patted her back, to soothe her.


Tell us what you think: Is Nomalunga doing the right thing by marrying Fikile?