Nokubonga drops her bag on the bare concrete floor of the shack. It’s hot in this shack. She goes to the small window and tries to open it. She tries a couple of times before she realises that the window does not open. She is shaking her head at the filthiness inside the shack when Zipho barges in through the door. Nokubonga takes one look at him and realises he is drunk out of his mind.

“My love from the village! You are here at last!” says Zipho.

He comes closer to Nokubonga but trips over a bucket on the floor and falls face first on the bed.

“Zipho? You told me you were at work! Where are you coming from, drunk like this?” Nokubonga fumes. Sweat streams down her face.

Zipho turns to lie on his back on the bed. “Stop shouting at me. I missed you,” he slurs.

“Do you still love me, Zipho?”

“Stop with the questions. Calm down, MaThusi,” says Zipho.

“Who is MaThusi? When did my surname change to Thusi?” Nokubonga sobs.

“It’s an honest mistake. Please don’t cry.”

“Are you cheating on me, Zipho?” Tears have mixed with the sweat on her face.
“No, my love.”
“So who is this MaThusi? Who is she?”

“It was just a slip of the tongue. Stop stressing me,” says Zipho.

Nokubonga can’t believe her ears, and then can’t believe her eyes because Zipho instantly dozes off and snores. She has not eaten or taken a bath. She sits on the chair in the shack and wails. She thinks of calling her mother but decides against it because MaDladla is not well – hearing her only daughter sobbing on the phone may raise her blood pressure and cause her diabetes to play up.

Her cellphone rings. Sphindile is calling. Nokubonga answers quickly.

“Did you get home safely, Bongo?” asks Sphindile playfully.

“I got home safely, MaPhindi,” says Nokubonga.

“I love the sound of that. No one has shortened my name like that. I love it!” says a pleased Sphindile.

“I’m glad to hear that,” says Nokubonga.

“How is it there?” asks Sphindile.

“Not good. It’s not good at all,” says Nokubonga.

She tells Sphindile about everything that has happened in the few hours since she arrived in Jozi. They say their goodbyes.

Nokubonga is confused because she feels that warm feeling of affection flooding her body as she thinks of Sphindile. She realises she is feeling better after speaking to her. She knows this feeling. Again, she realises that she has felt this feeling once before, when she first met Zipho. The happiness, the flooding of affection all over her body. The being completely comfortable when she heard a voice, even on the phone. The disappearance of all worries when she heard that voice. She remembers this is how she felt when she fell in love with Zipho.

But Sphindile is a woman, she thinks. How can I be feeling like this for another woman? No! No! No! I am someone’s bride-to-be! What would Ma say if I told her what I felt? Nokubonga argues with herself.

She falls asleep smiling, thinking of Sphindile.


Tell us: Why do you think Nokubonga is in denial about what is happening with Sphindile?