“Are you already thinking about going home, my friend?” I was stunned by hearing Lizo’s voice next to me, and quickly dried my eyes. “Why are you so miserable at my wedding?”

“I have not lost hope yet,” I said after a long pause. “That’s it.”

He replied with the words, “Me too.”

Those words from him left me even more confused. “Do you love this Thobeka?” I asked.

If I kept quiet I would be in the dark as to whether Lizo still loved me or not. Even though those words came out unintentionally, I didnโ€™t regret saying them. “Tell me, so that I can be released from these chains of sleepless nights.”

When he rolled his fists, I thought I was going to leave the wedding with swollen lips.

“Ashes and dust come. But they vanish with strong winds, leaving no trail. Their end is not long.” I could see the veins in his hands swelling, as he clenched his fists tighter and tighter, and I expected the worst. “But I assure you,” Lizo went on, “what we have is grounded on the strongest rock. It can never end, irrespective of circumstances.”

“So, Lizo, you mean nothing has changed?” I asked, not sure whether my ears were tricking me.

“Nothing will ever change.”

I felt myself getting angry, thinking how naive Lizo must think I am. “Lizo, you are married! What the hell are you talking about?” I asked him, fuming with anger.

The prince replied, calmly, as if he was taking no note of my anger. “I didn’t look for a wife. My father did. Therefore, Thobeka is his wife.”

I struggled with jealousy, as I wanted him to choose between his wife and me.

“Don’t be a fool, Thobani,” he said sternly, his voice showing his anger. “My marriage to Thobeka will have a big role to play. No-one will ever suspect you and me. And I will not be insulted for having no girlfriend. You also need to get married.”

“Okay,” I said, coming closer so that I could hold and kiss him.

He stopped me, saying, “No, my friend.” Then he left me confused.

I cursed the day I fell in love with Lizo. This was a difficult and taboo relationship. I went straight to the foot of the Zepe Hill, and cried like a baby. The thoughts of old times flooded in like a river. But I blocked them; thinking that nothing would ever be the same. I washed them down with a bottle of brandy, which was going to be a gift to the bride’s family. I talked to myself, emphasising the words, “It is wrong to protect our love through marriage. He has to choose!”

I left the place at dusk. My way back was going to take me past the wedding. I knew that the crowd had left, but went there because I wanted to fight for my love.

Lizo’s words about making Thobeka an official wife that night were still playing in my mind. His place was so quiet as I entered. Reaching his hut, I started crying, and shouted:

“Lizo! Lizo!”

He did not appear. I banged on the door then eventually I sat down, leaning against it.

“Thobani!” I heard him say angrily. “You are drunk!”

“Tell me, what is love? You promised me heaven…”

Interrupting me, he dragged me away from the door. “You know what, Lizo? It’s better for me to die than to see you with this slut,” I said pointing at the room where Thobeka was. “I’m not like you, my friend. I’m led by my feelings, and I am true to them.”

“Thobani, you are drunk.”

He forcefully dragged me out. There was nothing I could do. But he didnโ€™t leave me there. He carried me home. Now I was no longer drunk, but only filled with regrets.

“I’m sorry Lizo,” I said, when he threw me onto my bed at home.

“I don’t blame you.” His response made me feel guiltier I apologised again, and he gave me the same response.

“Is this the end of it?” I asked.

He stopped in the doorway. “You need to listen with your heart, Thobani, not your ears.”

I heard the slam of the door, and realised that I had lost Lizo; nothing would ever be the same.

But then Lizo had a change of heart and came back inside. He slept next to me, and assured me that everything was still the same. I hopefully thought of the English saying: where there is love there is a way.

* * *

Tell us what you think: Will Lizo leave his wife for Thobani?