Princess Thembelihle is startled by a scream coming from inside the hut. It is a terrifying pain-laden scream. She can hear the voice of an older woman chastising the girl.

“Stop wasting my time! I still have a lot of people to see!”

“It hurts! It hurts!” says the girl.

“Stop behaving like a child! Open your legs!”

Princess Thembelihle is sobbing now because she is next.

“Don’t cry, my baby. The pain is only temporary,” says Queen MaNdlela.

The girl screams again. This time even people at the far end of the yard are startled by her screams. They turn to look in the direction of the hut.

“I’m scared, Mama. Just listen at how loud she is screaming.”

“Stop it, Thembelihle. She is just a coward. You saw how she was crying even before she entered.”

“Mama, I can’t do it. I’m scared.”

“Thembelihle! Do you still want to get married to Bhekani?”

“Yes, Mama.”

“Then how will you get married if you have that thing growing in your belly?”

Right then the young man appears at the door of the hut. He is carrying the girl in his arms. There is a look of pure horror in his face as he runs with the girl in his arms. The girl is breathing but seems exhausted.

“Next!” says a voice inside the hut.

Princess Thembelihle enters with Queen MaNdlela. Princess Thembelihle is so afraid she is shaking. There’s a woman holding a pair of scissors standing in the room.

“How many months?” asks the woman impatiently.

“Two,” says Princess Thembelihle.

“That’s good, we won’t have a problem. Drink this and lie on the bed.” The woman hands Princess Thembelihle a cup with a black liquid in it.

She takes a little sip and frowns.

“Stop playing! I said drink all of it and get on the bed!”

She drinks the whole cup and gets on the bed. After a little while, a clear liquid from her private parts starts running down her legs. The woman comes closer to her for inspection. Princess Thembelihle lets out a blood-curdling scream. Blood is now running down her legs.

“Shut up!” says the woman as she examines her further. She is confused as she says, “Why is she bleeding so much. What is wrong?”

“What’s happening, my baby? Thembelihle!?” screams Queen MaNdlela.

Princess Thembelihle’s body has gone limp. She isn’t breathing. They try to resuscitate her but it is to no avail. Her body has gone pale and cold. Queen MaNdlela bolts out of the room and runs without a particular direction in the yard. She crumples into a heap when the shock subsides.

So it is true when they say we are but only on a short journey in this life. It is also true when they say God gives and God takes. No one can argue with that because God has taken Princess Thembelihle.

If pain is etched on the king’s face as Thembelihle is laid to rest, then it is engraved on one of the king’s messengers called Mthandeni. He feels like the world has turned against him. He has lost his secret lover and the baby that was in her belly. And now he is exiled because he touched where he never should have touched.

Queen MaNdlela is also exiled from the Ntuli clan. She watches the funeral of her beloved Thembelihle from a faraway hill. She watches the procession to the graveyard and sobs until her tears run dry.


Tell us: Do you think it is fair that Queen MaNdlela is now exiled?