Again it was a Friday. But this time not a happy one. Zombini started crying once we were alone sitting in my shed that evening. It was the first time I had seen her crying and I could not stop her.

We just sat next to each other on my bed. I tried to put my arm around her, but she just moved even further away. She wasn’t angry, just so sad. Finally, she spoke.

“Mbu, I am pregnant.”

“What?” I almost shouted. I was so shocked.

“I am pregnant from you, Mbu.”

“But this is impossible, Zombini. You told me that you…”

She put her hand on my hand. “Please forgive me, Mbu. It was not true. I did not take any precautions.”

I fell silent and just looked at her. She continued. “I have known it for a while already. I already went to the clinic. There is no doubt.”

“How far are you?” I asked rather coldly, as in that moment I felt betrayed.

“I am quite far in the pregnancy, but I’m not 100% sure just how far. I will have to go to the clinic again. Will you join me?”

She looked so desperate that I could not help but take her hand and draw her to me. She was crying even more, but I felt there was nothing else I could do. Did I love her less now? No, I didn’t!

She was still the one woman I loved and wanted to love forever. I did not dare to think about what others would say: her auntie, her father, her mother, Makhulu, my family and the people at the children’s home. Would they kick me out?

* * *

We had to wait until the Monday as our hospital is closed during weekends for outpatients. We both did not go to school, but went to the hospital as early as possible so we would not have to wait for hours and hours. Finally, it was our turn and a nurse attended to Zombini. Then we had to wait again before Zombini was called in to the nurse’s room again.

“Is this your boyfriend?” the nurse asked her, pointing at me.

“It’s the father of the baby,” Zombini responded.

Then she looked at us and said.“You have just started the fourth month of your pregnancy, Zombini. You are otherwise fine, and there is nothing you can do anymore about the pregnancy.”

We did not say a word and walked home the long way from Fish Hoek Hospital to our township community. We walked and walked both deep in our thoughts. When we arrived back in Masiphumelele it was early afternoon but we didn’t want to go to our homes. So we just sat somewhere close to the library on a bench and kept thinking about what we should do next.

Suddenly we heard a car parking close to where we were sitting. It was Doc Lutz who called our names. “Molweni Zombini, noMbu – are you okay?” Of course he saw that we were not okay. I stood up and walked to his old Toyota.

“Can we talk to you later?” I asked him.

It was that afternoon that we told everybody the truth, even Zombini’s mother and auntie. We were only afraid of her father.

None of the adults were happy with the news because they all said that we should have finished school first. Our childcare worker, Simphiwe suggested that we meet with all of Zombini’s family as soon as possible. Doc Lutz agreed to speak to Zombini’s father, man to man. Also Mr Mafrika, the school principal was informed.

In the end, I must admit, all the adults were kind to us. Even Zombini’s father did not beat me or her and just insisted that I would only be allowed to see her again once I had paid the umonakola – the money for the damages done to a virgin. That was not possible for me then, but I promised I would do it as soon as I could. Until then we could only meet secretly.

* * *

I was stressed for a while, because I was not sure whether I could handle everything at the same time: to look after Zombini, to become a father, and to study for school. To tell the truth Zombini was stronger than me in the months to come. She was even better at her school tests, which she still wrote when everybody could see that her baby – our baby – would come soon.

On 29th of September, late in the evening, she went into labour. We tried to get a taxi to the hospital, but we couldn’t. Finally I phoned Doc Lutz who took Zombini, her mother, and myself to the hospital in his old Toyota.

At the hospital the nurse told us. “Sorry, guys, only one person is allowed to stay with the patient!” I did. Zombini’s mother and the doc left late that night.

After they had left it seemed as if there might be problems with the birth, so an ambulance was called and Zombini and I were taken to a maternity clinic in Cape Town. Still, Zombini could not deliver the baby. I was asked to leave her room and go down to the waiting hall, where there was nobody else at that time of the night. I tried to lie down on one of the wooden benches. From time to time I fell asleep, but then I woke up again, hoping for good news.

Finally, when the first early light came through the dusty windows, a nurse came in the hall, calling my name. “Mbu, Mbu, come with me!”

Nervously I followed her through long passages until we finally arrived in a room where in the bed next to the window I could see Zombini – smiling! She had a tiny, tiny bundle close to her breast. Only when I came really close could I see a wrinkled pinky little face. The baby was sleeping happily.

“A boy !” Zombini said and kept smiling.

“How are you, my love?” I asked her.

“I am so happy!” she responded.

“You are crazy…!” I said, but I had to smile too.

That was the third most important day of my life – when my first son was born on 29th September 2012.

* * *

When Zombini came home to stay with her auntie again, I could not wait for the time when we could meet again. I missed both her and the baby so much.

With the help of my older friend Sonwabiso, who I also call my older brother, we finally could negotiate with Zombini’s father a first payment for the umonakalo. I paid the money from half of the money I had finally received from my book royalties. Now we could meet again.

In December 2012 I decided to use the other half of the book money to build a one-room brick house in the yard of Mama Doreen, who runs a crèche not far from HOKISA. Before the end of the year I moved into my first own home where Zombini and her baby could stay with me whenever possible.

I must admit honestly that Zombini was cleverer than I was in school. Despite her pregnancy and later the baby, she passed all her exams and received her Matric. I failed, not only in Maths. But instead of rewriting or continuing to go to school, I decided I have to care for my small family first.

With lots of running up and down I found a job at a local supermarket, nothing special, but at least I earn some money to buy nappies and food and clothing for my child. I don’t want to run away from my duties as a father as so many others do.

I know what it means to grow up without a father and I want my son to be proud one day of his father. I love my son so much. He is cute and is growing fast. Zombini allowed me to decide on his name. We call him Hlomla.

I must admit that I am not sure about the meaning of this name. The reason for this name is that I admire the actor Hlomla Dandala a lot – you might have seen him in the movie “Red Dust”? I want my son to be as clever, kind and strong as Hlomla Dandala one day.

Now you know about the three most important days in my life so far. And I am still young.

The End