We had been dating for a year when I took Thabisa on a boat ride at the Waterfront. I asked one of the attendants to take photos of us.

“Baby,” I said when the boat had left the docks.

“Yes?” she said.

I knelt down on one knee and took out a small box from my pocket. Thabisa started screaming when she saw the glittering ring.

“Baby, will you marry me?” I said to her.

“Yes! Yes! Baby yes!” she said excitedly.

A month later, I asked Thabisa to move in with me. I was still living in Blue Downs but now I had bought a three-roomed house.

When she was moving her stuff into the house I noticed a suitcase that had a padlock.

“Why is this one padlocked? Does it contain a voodoo doll?” I said jokingly.

“No, it has my snake and it doesn’t like people much,” she joked too.

I knew whatever she had locked in that suitcase was something that she didn’t want me to see. However, I believed she would tell me herself when she was ready.


We were chilling on the sofa the day Thabisa told me about her dream of becoming a nurse.

“Babe, if things were different I would have been a nurse today. I still haven’t given up on my dream though, I am putting away some money from my call centre agent salary,” she said.

I encouraged her to apply and she was admitted at CPUT. She was frustrated when the money she had saved could only pay for her registration.

One evening after work I found her in bed, worrying about how she would pay the fees.

“I have paid your first semester fees, Babe. Stop stressing now,” I said.

“Are you serious ? I have been putting on hold my dream of becoming a nurse for so long I had started doubting that I would ever become one. My father had lost his job before he died and I had to help my mother pay the bills soon after passing Grade 12. Thank you for doing this for me!” Thabisa’s voice rose with excitement.

Supporting Thabisa and her family wasn’t easy but I loved her and she loved me. We had big plans for our future and she had become the second child that my mother never had. She would spend some weekends with my mother when I was working.


The years went by but Thabisa never shared her past with me. She still had a padlock on her suitcase. I almost believed her when she said she had a snake in there.

Until one afternoon when I saw her writing something in a small book when I walked into our bedroom. The suitcase was open and it had clothes in it. She quickly stopped writing and closed the book. She wasn’t expecting me to come home that early.

“Is that what you are hiding? A diary?” I asked.

“Yes, it has a lot of embarrassing stuff that I don’t want you find out about me, Babe,” she said, holding the diary to her chest.

She could tell from the way I was looking at her that I was now extremely interested to find out about the contents of her diary.

“It’s uhm, girl stuff, Babe,” she said trying to erase my interest.

“Well, if you say so,” I said. I left her in the bedroom and I heard her zipping and locking her suitcase.

Thembeka knocked on the door.

“Come in,” I said and called Thabisa, “Thabisa! Thembeka is here.”

Thabisa walked into the sitting room and hugged her sister.

“Yho! Thabisa, you have gained a lot of weight. Simphiwe must be really treating you well, unlike that alcoholic who killed—” Thembeka stopped suddenly without finishing her sentence.

Thabisa must have thought I wasn’t looking because I saw her reprimanding her sister with her eyes and putting her index finger on her lips.

“You don’t know what you are talking about. Anyways, why don’t you tell us when you are coming to visit? I would have cooked something nice for you,” Thabisa said.

“An alcoholic who killed who?” I asked.

“Simphiwe, stop being so interested in gossip, Babe. Thembeka wasn’t talking to you,” Thabisa said, giggling.

Thembeka noticed I was asking seriously. She quickly said, “I was talking about, uhm, the neighbour of ours who, uhm, killed his wife. You know how cruel some men are out there.”

I could tell that Thembeka was making all this up but I let it slide like I did with most of the things that had to do with Thabisa’s past.