Nomvelo walks slowly to the river. She keeps looking back up the footpath she is walking on, and then forward to where the footpath crosses the river. She is looking for her boyfriend, Sakhile, because this is the time they usually meet.

She has been together with Sakhile since they were very young. Even in their days of innocence, playing house, Sakhile would be the dad and Nomvelo the mom. Today it is unusually quiet on the footpath; Nomvelo doesn’t see anyone else going to fetch water.

“Dudlu ntombi! (Hello Beautiful!)” Sakhile bursts out of the bush.

“Sakhile! You nearly gave me a heart attack!” says Nomvelo.

Nomvelo’s hands fly to her chest. She has dropped the bucket she was carrying and is taking deep, long breaths, trying to steady herself. Sakhile embraces her in a warm enveloping hug.

“I’m sorry, my love, I didn’t mean to startle you. But I must say you are beautiful even when you are frightened.” Sakhile planting a kiss on her cheek.

Nomvelo blushes. “Thank you. I thought you weren’t coming. I kept looking up and down all the footpaths but couldn’t see you.”

“How could I miss our special time? My day isn’t complete if I haven’t seen you.”

“I love you, Sakhile.”

“And I you, Nomvelo. I love you above everything in the world.”

“You love me even more than you love money?” Nomvelo giggles.

“Money has nothing on you, my beautiful love.”

They sit on the grass by the banks of the river and talk for hours. Time does not seem to exist when they are together. They don’t even see that the sun is setting. They only stop gazing into each other’s eyes when they hear MaNgubane, Nomvelo’s mom, calling her.

“Mom’s calling me. I’ll see you tomorrow,” says Nomvelo. She quickly picks up the 20 litre bucket full of water and walks away, carrying it on her head.

Their days are not complete if they don’t see each other. They both daydream about each other. It’s as if they are both crazy because most times they can be found just staring at the walls in their homes, smiling and thinking about each other. Their daydreams lull them to sleep and they wake up itching to see each other. But on this particular morning Nomvelo wakes up with a strained, tired look on her face. She pulls a chair and sits opposite MaNgubane at the kitchen table.

“What’s wrong, Mvelo?” MaNgubane asks.

“I had another dream, Mama. This time I was dressed in full red sangoma attire. My whole body was white with umcako,” says Nomvelo.

“Are your dreams back again?” asks MaNgubane.

“Yes, Mama, the dreams are back. And they are worse this time. The other day I dreamt that a giant green snake swallowed me and disappeared with me into a huge lake!”

“Maye! This story of you and your calling is getting serious again. It means the ancestors want you to be a sangoma. They want you to begin your initiation.”

“Never! I’ll never be a sangoma, Mama! Why would I do that instead of going to look for work in the city?” says Nomvelo.

“Don’t speak like that, Mvelo. The ancestors will strike you with their wrath if you speak like that!”

“I don’t want to be a sangoma, Mama. I want to progress in life. I want to work and further my education. I need to add to my matric certificate so I can get a diploma and a degree because I want to build us a proper house. We need to build a better life, Mama. Being a sangoma is not part of my plans,” says Nomvelo.

“I hear you, Mvelo. I understand you, my child,” says MaNgubane softly.

Nomvelo is not troubled by her dreams for two weeks.

It is evening and Nomvelo is in her rondavel getting ready to sleep. The wind howls outside and she wonders where Sakhile is. Her face brightens when she hears his knock on the door.

“Open up, my love,” Sakhile whispers.

Nomvelo rushes to the door. Sakhile enters quickly.

“It’s freezing outside,” says Sakhile, shivering.

“Come get under the covers with me before you catch the flu,” says Nomvelo.

“I’m so happy to be with you again, my bride,” Sakhile snuggles next to her.

“You came and performed the ceremony to raise the flag here at my home to show the whole community that I am your girlfriend and you have good intentions for me. Mama likes you a lot, that is why she didn’t object when you came to raise the flag. But calling me your bride when you haven’t even started lobola negotiations or brought even a chicklet here to my home is over-reaching,” says Nomvelo.

“One day I will pay lobola for you. I will make you my wife, please trust me,” says Sakhile.

“My dream is to get married after I have built a big, beautiful house for my mother,” says Nomvelo.

“One day your dream will come true, my love,” says Sakhile.

“The problem is there are no jobs in our country,” Nomvelo laments.

Tell us: Why does becoming a sangoma not feature in Nomvelo’s plans? Do you agree with her thinking?