“Baba, I heard a rumour,” says Queen MaNdlela. She blushes and casts her eyes to the floor.
“Speak, my wife. What is this rumour that you’ve heard?”
“I heard that Thobile is no longer a virgin.”
“Who told you that? Don’t go around believing everything you hear. People hate Thobile because she is about to be married,” says the king.
“Baba, can you vouch for Thobile when you are not near her every hour of the day?”
“No, my wife.”
“I’m asking you to look into this matter. I am sure that my Thembelihle is still a virgin. I know how to take care of my children, Baba. In fact, Baba, it should be Thembelihle who should be getting married to Bhekani because she is the oldest.”
“MaNdlela, I don’t want to keep saying the same thing to you. I’ll speak to MaNgema to gather all the wives so virginity testing can be done on all my daughters.”
True to the king’s word, all the queens gather in a room with their daughters on the day of virginity testing. Things don’t go according to Queen MaNdlela’s plan. Virginity testing reveals that it is in fact her only her daughter, Princess Thembelihle, who is not a virgin. The king deems her a liar because it comes out that Princess Thobile is still a virgin. He also suspects that it is her bad parenting that has led to Princess Thembelihle losing her virginity.
Queen MaNdlela regrets putting in motion this crooked plan that has come back to bite her. She is livid that Princess Thembelihle has shamed her in the king’s eyes. “You are such a disappointment, Thembelihle! What’s wrong with you?”
“I’m sorry, Mama. But why did you have to lie to Baba about Thobile not being a virgin? Look what has happened now,” says Princess Thembelihle.
“Thembelihle, who was it?”
“Mama, I’m afraid to say. Please don’t be mad at me, I’m begging you,” she pleads.
“Tell me right now!”
“Mama, it’s one of Baba’s messengers,” she sniffles.
“Why do you like to cheapen yourself? You chose to give yourself to a messenger and not a prince to a great kingdom!”
“Mama, that’s not the end of the story. Mama, I’m also pregnant.”
“You father is going to choke the life out of me! What is wrong with you?”
“Mama, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“You can’t have that baby!”
“I’ll take you somewhere to sort this out. Dress yourself in some old clothes, so people won’t recognise us.”
Princess Thembelihle gets ready and they leave. Even though Princess Thembelihle doesn’t want to get rid of the baby growing in her belly she follows her mother. She is afraid of what the king will do to her and her mother if he finds out she is pregnant.
It is a long journey on foot. After some hours, they rest under the shade of a tree for a few minutes. They carry on until they reach their destination. There are a lot of huts in this homestead. The yard is a hive of activity.
They sit on a bench outside one hut. There are other people on the bench all waiting to go into the hut. There’s a girl who looks not a day over fifteen years. She is petite but evidently pregnant. The young man next to the girl looks barely out of his teens. He looks at the young girl with a loving stare that can only mean he is the father of the baby inside the girl’s belly. There girl looks terrified, tears fall freely from her eyes. She is soon called into the hut. She enters with the young man.
Tell us: Do you feel pity for Princess Thembelihle here?