Ntombi is rushed to the hospital in one neighbour’s car. Nkululeko and Sthembiso are taken in by another neighbour. Word from the hospital is that Ntombi is in surgery, and it is touch and go whether she will live.

Sqiniseko switches the lights off as he drives away. After a few kilometres the gravity of what he has done sets in. He almost chokes as he sees and feels and smells Ntombi’s blood on his hands as he grips the steering wheel. He is suddenly out of breath. He can’t tell where he is. He hits the brakes and continues on foot. He avoids the main road. Going through unfamiliar terrain in the dark, he misses a step, rolls down a gorge and lands at the bottom, knocked unconscious.

The gorge is behind the church of Nobuhle’s refuge – and inside the church, Mrs Nkwanyana is talking to Pastor Luthuli about his daughter.

“She is a good girl, Pastor Luthuli. She has seen the error of her ways,” says Mrs Nkwanyana.

Nobuhle is on her knees in front of her father. She has not seen him in four years. “Baba, please forgive me. I know I have wronged and embarrassed you. You sacrificed everything for me and my brothers to be educated. You sold your last cow for the ceremony to thank me for being a good girl. I know I should have told you then I was already pregnant, that I did not deserve that ceremony. I am sorry, I am begging for your forgiveness. Please you are my fath–”

“Hold it right there, Nobuhle!” Pastor Luthuli takes a step back. “You decided to do what you did, against everything good I taught you. I only have two things to tell you. Firstly you must go back to your man so that you can make a plan on how to repay me all my cows. Secondly, you must know that you don’t have a place in my house. You forfeited that privilege when you ran away with your man. Go back to him. You chose this life, now live it!” he finishes and wipes sweat off his face with a handkerchief.

Nobuhle looks at the ground, ashamed. Her tears fall to the floor where she kneels.

“But Pastor Luthuli, how can she go back to that man? Look at what he did to her?” Mrs Nkwanyana tilts Nobuhle’s face to her father. “Pastor, even the prodigal son begged for forgiveness and received it. The heart of a good Christian always forgives. It is there in the Book we live by.” She points to the Bible in his hand.

Pastor Luthuli loses his temper and takes a step towards Mrs Nkwanyana: “Just because you wear the pants in your house doesn’t mean you can tell me what to do, Mrs Nkwanyana!” He turns to Nobuhle, “You go back to your man because I want all my cows back, Nobuhle. If you don’t do that you can’t set foot in my house. And that is the end of it!” He grabs his coat and leaves.

Sadness and disappointment hush Nobuhle to sleep. Early the next morning she rises to do her chores.


Tell us: Is Nobuhle’s father justified, especially considering he is a pastor? Or is Mrs Nkwanyana’s view that Christians should forgive right?