“Oh Nhlakanipho! You are God sent. You are a life saver!” says Zine.

“What are you doing here?” Nhlakanipho asks.

“It’s a long story. My life is tough; I was trying to make some money. My daughter is sick.”

“So you still haven’t found a job?”

“No. I’m desperate and at the moment I’m ashamed of the things I’m doing for money,” says Zine, her voice breaking.

“Don’t cry, miss. You know, there is a vacancy at the restaurant. One of the waiters left. You can fill his place. Waiters make a lot of money in the restaurant because it is in a rich area, patrons tip a lot. On top of tips, waiters get paid every Friday.”

“Thank you very much! I had given up on finding a job!” Zine is overjoyed. She wishes she could just undo her seatbelt and hug Nhlakanipho.

“Listen, Zine. I can give you some money to help you with your child’s situation. Children are precious. They are the future so they need to be taken care of.”

“Thank you. I’ll pay you back as soon as I make enough money.”

“I’m feeling hungry. Would you like to join me? You also need something to eat. You need to sit down, eat and have something to drink. I believe you need that to calm down.”

“I’d like that,” says Zine.

“What would you like to eat?”

“Pizza,” says Zine.

“Great. I know a good Italian restaurant not far from here.”

Zine throws her whole being into the waitressing job. She never misses her shift. She is a quick learner and is soon making a constant income. She becomes good friends with Nhlakanipho, but they are professional at work. That is why it is a surprise to Zine when one day, while they are just hanging out after work, Nhlakanipho looks at her with loving eyes. 

“Can we please take our relationship to another level? Please say yes because I love you, Zine,” says Nhlakanipho.

“I have done bad things in my life, Nhlakanipho. I don’t deserve you.”

“I don’t believe there is a crime that is unforgivable, Zine.”

“I was a sex worker. I sold my body for money. That day you picked me up on the road, I was running away from a client who was chasing me with a gun after he paid me with fake money.”

Nhlakanipho is quiet for a few minutes. He is holding Zine’s hand and looking into her eyes. “I love you as you are, Zine. Who am I to judge you for what you did when your life got tough?”

“Really, Nhlakanipho?”

“I just admire your bravery in telling me about your past. Another person would not have told me their deepest secret like you just did.”

“Thank you for accepting me as I am.”

This honest conversation is the start of their romantic relationship. It is the foundation of a new honest love. They move in together after four months.

“My love, I think it is time you meet my family,” says Nhlakanipho.

“Really, my love?”

“Yes, can we go this weekend?”

“I’d like that,” says Zine.

“And I think it is time you introduce me to your children as well. They can come visit us during the school holidays,” says Nhlakanipho.

“Thank you,” says Zine.

The weekend arrives. Zine is nervous. Nhlakanipho arrows his car to his home in Soweto. His family is smitten with Zine. Nhlakanipho’s parents give their blessings to their relationship. 

Zine’s children come to visit during the holidays. They take to Nhlakanipho instantly. Zine is cooking supper and looking at Nhlakanipho joking with her kids. She feels deep love for this man who loves her unconditionally. Zine and Nhlakanipho stay up for a long time after the children have fallen asleep. They talk about their future plans. 

“It must be tough for your children, living so far away from you. I know what I’m talking about because for a long time I lived with my grandparents in Mpumalanga before my parents managed to get settled here in Jozi,” says Nhlakanipho.

“I didn’t know that about you,” says Zine.

“Listen, we need to look for a school for them around this neighbourhood. They need to be with you, my love,” says Nhlakanipho.

“Thank you, Nhlakanipho. As soon as we find them a school here I’ll go to their current school and ask for a transfer letter.” Zine hugs him.

“Oh, and I almost forgot. Our branch in Rosebank is looking for a waitress. Tell your friend Khanya. The job is hers if she wants it,” says Nhlakanipho.

“Thank you. I’ll tell Khanya. I’m sure she will take this chance to change her life.” 

Zine lies on Nhlakanipho’s chest. She falls asleep to his beating heart, thankful for how her life is turning out. 

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