Later, at the shops, Bantu is surprisingly helpful. Then, while I’m trying to pick out a new outfit he comes over to show me another shirt and says, “Siziwe, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said those things. You know, you are one beautiful homegirl mos.”
I thank him and go back to looking for clothes that’ll give me a new look to go along with my new life. The entire time at the university campus I had observed every girl, to see what she was wearing. That’s so I could buy clothes that would make me fit in, or at least feel like I fit in.
The king has opened a bank account and a clothing account for me, so I can go shopping whenever I feel like it. I had seen girls rocking short pants, skirts – from minis to long skirts, fancy tops. I know what items I am looking for, but I can’t find them yet.
Some girls had beautiful long weaves, or dreadlocks. I also know I want a weave. Not just any weave, but an expensive one, since my cousin from the Cape once told me cheap weaves are gross and a definite no-no. She used to bore me to tears talking about the dos and don’ts of fashion, but now I am finally putting her tips to good use.
I walk around the stores with a bit of a bounce. I am beginning to understand the benefits of ‘retail therapy’.
“Just make sure to buy dignified clothes. You’ll soon be the king’s wife; you can’t be seen wearing these short things, and looking like a loose girl,” the king interrupts my thoughts.
“Surely I can dress however I like now. Once we’re married, I’ll be forced to wear boring, dull and ‘dignified’ clothes. For now, please let me wear whatever I like,” I say, as I grab more clothes.
“Mhmm … how can I say no to you, Sizzly?” the king muses.
“You can’t,” I respond with a smile.
I feel like a completely new person. I have false eyelashes, a long Brazilian weave, French nails, new clothes and a new phone. Not just any phone, but a smartphone. I even have make-up that one of the ladies in the shop helped me pick out.
I reason that the king owes me all this, because he has taken me away from my love. Since I can’t have Lizo it is time to get other things I have always wanted.
“Siz, it seems like you’re starting to warm to the idea of being queen. I’m glad; you deserve to be happy,” Bantu says, as he leans against the walk-in wardrobe’s door, watching me pack my recent purchases into their new home.
“If this is what you call happiness,” I scoff.
“Siz, you could at least show gratitude. The king is trying to make you feel at home and to get you to know and trust him.”
“What do you want from me?” I say impatiently.
“For you to be happy. For you to love him, and take him as your rightful husband.”
“Well, Bantu, that will never happen. You think a shopping spree will make up for what he has done? I am in love, but that is taken away from me. Now you expect me to be grateful? Grateful for what, exactly?”
“I better leave you to your things.” He ignores my question.
“You do that.”
As he walks towards the door my eyes burn with tears. Nothing can ever take Lizo’s place in my heart. I love him. I fall to my knees as my emotions overwhelm me. I know Lizo took the money because of me, but I also know it’s better this way. I try to pull myself together, but I can’t fight it anymore and the tears roll uncontrolled down my face.
“Sizzly, dinner is ready,” the king calls, as he enters and walks towards the wardrobe.
“I’m not hungry,” I answer, trying to hide my face with the clothes.
“Please, I need to tell you something.”
“You can tell me now.”
“I’ll tell you after dinner,” he says, turning to leave.
“OK, give me some time to finish here and I’ll come,” I say, trying to compose myself.
“You can finish tomorrow.”
“Give me a minute. I’ll follow shortly.”
I smooth out the shirt on my lap, trying to gather my strength. My heart aches, but it is what my parents want. I have to go through with it. I can only hope the king might die before marrying him in three years. I look at myself in the mirror, make sure I am ready to join them. I sure see no remaining signs of a village bumpkin. I am what Jozi has to offer me.
“I still have to get used to your new look. Every time you step down, I see true royalty,” Bantu says as I come down the stairs to dinner.
“She is the queen, remember? I must say the new look suits you,” the king compliments as I silently take a seat.
Tell us: What do you think of Siziwe’s new look? What might the King want to talk to her about at dinner?