“Here at last! So this is my daughter in law?” Mr Khumalo says joyfully.
“Yes, Dad. This is my Zelwande.”
“Beautiful!” says Mr Khumalo.
“Greetings, Baba,” says Zelwande shyly.
“Hello, my child. Welcome to the Khumalo family!” Mr Khumalo hugs Zelwande and rocks her side to side slightly.
“Thank you, Baba.”
“Come in. Come in! The table has been set. Your mother will be down in a minute. She can’t get enough of her reflection in the mirror.”
“Baba, where is Snothile?” asks Thobani, as they settle at the table in the dining room.
“Your sister called a few minutes ago to say she is on the way, my boy,” says Mr Khumalo.
The clang of high heels puts a stop to conversation. Mrs Khumalo is making her grand entrance. She is smiling when she appears – but her face turns into a scowl of pure disgust when she makes eye contact with Zelwande.
Zelwande is confused. She is smiling – but Mrs Khumalo seems to hate her more by the second. The tension is broken by the arrival of Thobani’s younger sister, Snothile.
Mrs Khumalo’s face turns into complete affection when she looks at Snothile. “My sweet, beautiful last born!”
“Hi everyone. How are you all doing?” says Snothile.
“Long time no see, my baby girl. Is everything going well with studies at university?” says Mr Khumalo.
“Yes, Baba, studies are going well. I should be studying right now for an assignment but I had to come. I couldn’t miss this great occasion.”
“And great occasion it is, my sister!” Thobani smiles. He pulls Zelwande close to him and says, “This is Zelwande: my love, my all.”
Snothile looks at Zelwande with a rude stare and a fake smile. “And what does Zelwande do for a living?”
“At the moment I’m still looking for a job,” says Zelwande.
“When you say, ‘looking for a job’, do you mean you have completed your studies? Have you graduated?”
Zelwande can feel that this conversation is taking a judgemental, condescending turn. But she is proud of who she is. She lifts her head up high.
“No. I dropped out of school in Grade 10 to take care of my brother and sister after my parents died. I had to look for wor–”
“Hold up a minute. So if you are ‘looking for a job’ it means you are currently scrounging off my brother? I can’t believe Thobani is choosing you over an educated woman like Noxolo. You’ve put a spell on Thobani!”
There is a cold, sick, forced smile on both Snothile and Mrs Khumalo.
“Enough Snothile!” says Thobani.
“Snothile has every right to ask. Your sister has to bring this out in the open because it seems you have been duped by this poverty-stricken Jezebel!” Mrs Khumalo juts in.
“Stop it right now! What kind of a mother says such a thing to her son about the woman he loves?” says Mr Khumalo.
“This girl is not it, Thobani,” says Mrs Khumalo coldly. “You need a learned woman as your wife. Why are you disappointing me like this?”
“Mama, Snothile! Stop it right now! It’s not Zelwande’s fault her life turned out like it did!”
“Then she must go marry her own kind,” says Snothile.
Thobani shakes his head. “And you wonder why I no longer visit you Ma? Or call you Snothile? You are just cold, hateful people. Zelwande let’s go.”
Thobani takes Zelwande’s hand and walks out of the mansion he has called home for most of his life.
Tell us: Will Thobani be able to keep resisting the judgement of his sister and mother? Do you think its okay for wealthy person to marry a poor person?