I’m not sure if that was a real question Sandile just asked me, about our relationship being forever. I think it was just meant to make me feel bad.
Certainly, he doesn’t wait for me to answer. No, he gets out of the car and goes round to the boot to get the bags of groceries he has brought for my family.
So then we’re in the house, and Mama and Papa are all over him, carrying on about what he’s brought, saying how good to them he is, how grateful they are. I can’t blame them, I suppose. We’ve never had much money, and things have got even harder lately, especially towards the end of the month when everything runs out. Since I finished school, my pay from the gym helps a little, but it’s not much. You don’t get city salaries in Numbi.
All the same, it’s – I don’t know – embarrassing? Like, I wish they wouldn’t humble themselves to Sandile like this. Honestly, they’re a ngiyabonga away from falling on their knees.
“It’s my absolute pleasure, Ma,” Sandile is saying, as my brothers come rushing in to see what he’s brought this time. “I’m sorry, I have to go. I’ll message you, Zami.”
“But–” I stare at him.
“I thought you were staying for a meal,” Papa says.
That’s what I thought too. And afterwards we were going to go to Sandile’s place. I was looking forward to that. Instead of tiring me, an evening sparring session at the gym always fills me with this sexy energy.
“I don’t feel able, sir.” Sandile sounds distressed. “Your daughter said something … I need time to … Sorry, I must leave.”
God, his bottom lip is trembling. I feel like a monster.
“Sandile, wait.” I try to stop him as he turns and starts to leave.
“I said I’ll message you.”
And although I run after him, trying to explain why I raised the subject of a pre-marriage contract, he won’t stop and listen. He gets into his car, slamming the door, and I watch him drive away.
What have I done?
When I go back inside, the whole family attacks me.
“What did you say to upset him, Zami?” Mama demands.
I shake my head. “I just tried to talk to him about a pre-marriage agreement. You know, that ‘what’s mine is mine, what’s yours is yours’ thing?”
“You stupid, stupid girl!” Papa shouts. “If you’ve driven him away–”
“Shit, that’s the end of meat for every meal,” Funo predicts.
“And the sweet stuff.” Bandla is only 10 and always greedy for sugary goodies.
“But why would you want to talk about such a thing, my girl?” Mama wants to know.
“Yes, it’s not like you’re Sandile’s equal, with wealth of your own to protect.” Papa’s face is dark and heavy with anger. “We’re nobodies, Zami, and you should be grateful a man of Sandile’s standing even looked at you.”
That gets to me. I fling up my head.
“I am not a nobody! And even if I’m not worth much right now, someday I’m going to be a someone in South African women’s boxing – first as a boxer or maybe a trainer, then as a ring official or even a tournament promoter. I will do it, with or without Sandile.”
Tell us: Why are Zami’s family so angry with her for upsetting Sandile?