“Are you ready to leave?” my mother asks, as I walk back into my home. “Everyone is outside. Remember to make the most out of this. We could never afford to send you to university, and with everything – literally everything – catered for,” my mother says, as she fixes my head covering.
“Thank you,” I say as I pick up my heavy suitcase and open the door.
“Sizie!” my mother calls to me. “We love you!”
“I love you too,” I say in return, though I’m not sure I mean it. I’m about to leave everything behind because of them, and I become aware that a sudden hatred of them is brewing inside of me.
I look up at my friends, all lined up to say goodbye. They all look how I feel: miserable.
“So, this is it?” Veli asks, as we exchange hugs and kisses.
“Yep. This is it,” I whisper. “Lizo has left too,” I say, looking around to ensure no-one can hear me.
“Siziwe,” Thabie says, hugging me. From the way she hugs me I know she understands how I feel.
“We will all be alright,” I say, backing up my words with the biggest smile I can muster. “I love you all.” We embrace in a group hug.
“A-hem!” a big voice from behind us interjects, shattering the moment. “She’s not going to die. She will be taken good care of,” the king says, motioning to the car. I slowly walk towards it and turn around to wave. I crawl into the car, knowing I am doing this solely for my parents, and not for me.
As soon as I close my door we’re off. My whole village races past, before my eyes, as I try and take everything in. It feels like it’s the last time I’ll see it all. I will no longer be able to sit by the river bank and look at the beauty of my village and its people. I will no longer hide away with my Lizo for our regular meetings by our tree. This is goodbye. I have no idea where I’m going and what it is going to be like. A new feeling – fear – sets in.
“Oh, Sizzly, you’re going to enjoy Joburg.” the king says, as if he’s read my mind. “It’s busy, but I’m sure a village bumpkin like you won’t get overly excited with city life. I don’t want to end up having married an unruly urban wife,” the king continues, his deep voice rudely distracting me from my thoughts.
“I’m sure,” I respond, only half listening.
He mumbles on about the beautiful place he’s got for his first wife and me. “She’ll be the one to welcome you during holidays. You will get her full attention,” he says.
“During what?” I ask, starting to focus.
“Didn’t your father clarify our arrangement to you? Then that means he is a real man. What he says goes, just like with me.”
“Money is of assistance. If you didn’t have it, chances are, the people wouldn’t do as you say.”
“Siziwe! You are talking to your king, remember that. Don’t blab loosely,” Bantu says sternly, staring at me via the rear-view mirror.
“Don’t worry, Bantu, my boy. She’s going to come right. This is her first encounter with me. I’m sure you’ll teach her a thing or two also. She’ll come right.”
Tell us: Do you think Size’s comment about money was brave, honest, rude or foolish? Why?