Mrs Khumalo comes down the stairs in a glittering Versace dress and greets the guests who have started arriving for her 40th wedding anniversary party. By her wholesome smile you’d never guess she has just scanctioned a murder. Noxolo, the girl she prefers to marry Thobani, is in a the corner of the courtyard, clapping with the rest of the crowd as Mrs Khumalo’s makes her grand entrance.
Mrs Khumalo bows to the applause and calls Noxolo over to her. “Noxolo, my beautiful girl! When did you arrive?”
“A few minutes ago, Ma.”
They move to one of the guest bedrooms. Mrs Khumalo’s expression turns serious.
“Listen Noxolo, I don’t want any mistakes. I want to unite our families. Our wealth and your family’s wealth must be united by you getting married to Thobani. This will happen whether Thobani wants to or not. I’ll never let him marry a girl from the shacks.”
She takes out a tiny bottle with a powder inside. “Pour this in Thobani’s drink.”
“Okay, Ma. I won’t let you down. Noxolo doesn’t make mistakes. Go back to your guests. I’ll handle Thobani, I promise.”
Much later, Noxolo finds Thobani looking forlorn in the courtyard. There is still no word about Zelwande, although he visits Senzo and Aphile every day.
“Thobani! Long time no see,” says Noxolo.
“Hi Noxolo. How are you?”
“I’m well. Let’s get a table and catch up,” says Noxolo.
They sit at one of the beautifully set tables in the courtyard.
“Thobani, first I need some water to down headache pills. I’ve been working too much these days. Our company has been riding us hard to close important accounts.”
Thobani gets up to fetch a glass of water. While the crowd claps to a speech Snothile is making, Noxolo empties the powder Mrs Khumalo gave her into Thobani’s whisky.
“Thobani, I heard about what happened with your fiancé. I’m so sorry. I just want you to know you can talk to me. I’m here for you.”
“It’s been … Noxolo …” Thobani downs his whisky. He can’t talk about Zelwande.
“I’m sorry. Break ups are the worst. But sometimes it is better they happen early … before you get too invested emotionally and financially. But take it from another woman, this girl didn’t love you in the first place. But enough of that. Let’s enjoy you parent’s big day.”
“I can’t just forget Zelwande. I can’t go on like I haven’t just lost the love of my life in suspicious circumstances. I love Zelwande.”
Thobani downs his drink, and another, and soon gets dizzy. He starts swaying.
“Thobani let me drive you home. You are in no condition to drive. I’ll drop you off and request an Uber to take me home,” says Noxolo.
“Okay. Thanks, Noxolo. You’ve always been a good friend,” Thobani mumbles.
Mrs Khumalo winks at Noxolo as she helps Thobani into his car. She helps him to the master bedroom in Hilary. She closes the door, takes both their clothes off and gets in bed with him.
Thobani wakes up with a pounding headache. He is shocked when he sees Noxolo naked next to him. He lifts the covers and finds he is also naked.
“Yes, my love,” says Noxolo.
“Noxolo! How did you get here? And why are you – we – naked?”
“That’s not the question I expect after the wonderful night we had? What do you think happened?”
“I don’t know?”
“Stop playing. You gave me the best night of my life. You poured out your heart to me. You told me you loved me and want to marry me. You went down on one knee. And I said yes!”
Thobani’s face folds into a rage. “I may have been drunk and don’t remember much but I know I never asked you to marry me. Stop lying! Get out of my house right now!”
“But you insisted on getting married as soon as possible! Was it all a lie?” Noxolo’s voice breaks.
“If I said those words, and I’m sure that I didn’t, then I was lying,” says Thobani. “Get out right now!”
Tell us:Why do you think Mrs Khumalo and Noxolo simply cannot believe Thobani truly loves Zelwande?