A TEST OF LOVE
Zinhle is heartbroken by Sipho’s change of behaviour, but there’s a catch
IREFUSE to be Sipho’s doormat,” Zinhle muttered to herself as she stared at her reflection in the bedroom mirror. She was fuming – her boyfriend was at it again. Recently he’d started doing these disappearing acts that were becoming more and more regular, almost every week now. He’d come over to see her the night before with a sweet gift in hand – their usual Friday date – and they’d spent what she thought was a lovely night together. He’d left late, promising to pick her up the following afternoon so they could go out again then stay over at his place.
But it was becoming clear he wasn’t coming back. His phone just rang until it went to voicemail, and she’d left several of those already.
Sipho was Zinhle’s first boyfriend. He was a cousin of her best friend, Tandiwe, and they’d met three years ago when he’d come to visit his relatives.
Their love had seemed perfect so she couldn’t understand his change of behaviour. There was always a different excuse, but none of them seemed to make any sense.
“This is the last time,” she told herself firmly. “I won’t let him hurt me like this anymore. He must just go and be with whoever is taking up his Saturdays now.”
ZINHLE and Tandiwe had been friends since primary school. They were chalk and cheese but their bond grew stronger as they progressed through school. Tandiwe was the tough, no-nonsense side to the inseparable duo, and Zinhle was the soft, forgiving one.
Even their appearances set them apart. Zinhle’s frame was tall and slender, her skin dark and smooth, and her beautiful bright eyes sparkled as she spoke. Tandiwe was also pretty, but in a sexy, curvy way. Her flawless skin was many shades paler and her dimples gave her an irresistible charm.
When Sipho walked through the door, it was love at first sight. Zinhle was mesmerised by the tall, athletic body wrapped in Tandiwe’s beige-tinted skin, and finished off with dreamy, deep brown eyes.
Zinhle found herself spending more and more time at her friend’s house during the winter holidays. And it turned out Sipho was equally smitten.
He secretly started to apply to local law firms to do his articles after his final year of study. He was a bright student, and in no time many offers came his way.
It had been the best three years of her life, and now he’d just been offered a fulltime position at Hans & Dube Attorneys, and his career was set.
What should’ve been such a happy time for them had suddenly changed into a life of misery and mistrust.
SHE was woken up by the neighbour’s dogs barking – it was Sunday morning and she was still dressed for her night out with Sipho. She showered and changed and got ready for her usual Sunday morning church service. Perhaps God could help her feel better.
A glance at her phone told her Sipho hadn’t bothered to reply. There was only one message from her mother asking her to come and see her after church. She said she was going to prepare a nice lunch for the family.
Zinhle’s mood lifted slightly. A family meal would be nice then she’d return home to study. She was in her fifth year of medicine so burying herself in her books was essential and might even help her forget her pain.
She looked in the mirror on her way out and was satisfied – the mess going on inside her head and heart didn’t show. A bit of singing and worship was a good decision – she felt lighter as she left the church.
“Zinhle, ima lapho mntanami (Zinhle, wait for me, my child),” Tandiwe’s mom called after her.
“Hi, Mama, how are you?” Zinhle managed a smile.
“I’m fine, my child, but why are you alone? Where is Sipho?”
“I decided to come alone. Sipho and I aren’t twins,
phela.” She tried to laugh and make a joke of things rather than face an inquisition.
“Oh. I’m just so used to seeing you together I thought something must be wrong.”
“Hayi, everything is fine,” Zinhle assured her. “Look, Ma, I have to rush. Please give my regards to Bab’Themba.”
INSIDE her car Zinhle relaxed a little. She was glad to be going home. She needed some quality time with her parents. But as she approached the house she was surprised to see a lot of cars outside the gate. One of them was Sipho’s, and she could feel her stress returning. What was he doing here?
She looked at the other vehicles and recognised Tandiwe’s car, Bab’Themba’s and Sipho’s father’s car. Almost everyone close to her was parked outside her parents’ home, and she feared something was horribly wrong.
She rushed through the gate and saw the double garage doors were open. She cautiously put her head around the door to see what was going on.
The normally dull, grey space had been beautifully decorated and transformed so the owners of the cars were all comfortably seated around elegant tables.
Sipho came forward to greet her with a huge smile on his face.
He took her hand and led her to the front. She was so confused she felt like she was going to faint.
“My love, I’m so sorry for the stress I’ve caused you in the past weeks,” Sipho soothed her.
“When I met you I was sure I’d found my soulmate – it was like I’d only just started living. You became my something to live for, my joy, my everything.
“You’ve given me the best three years of my life and I’ve known from the beginning that you were the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
“But I had one problem – our relationship has always been so perfect. So the past few weeks have been a test I needed to put you through to see how you’d react when in future we do have difficulties in our relationship – because, unfortunately, that’s how life is.
“Forgive me, my love, for the heartache I’ve caused you but you’ve passed with flying colours. When the going got tough, you turned to God and your family and that’s the kind of woman any man would want by his side.”
Zinhle didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She felt a little annoyed he’d subjected her to this, but also hugely relieved and proud she’d behaved so well in the midst of her anger and misery. Sipho squeezed her hands a little tighter as he continued his speech.
“I contacted our friends and family to help me organise this lunch because I have something I want to ask you. Zinhle, love of my life, will you do me the great honour of becoming my wife?”
She gazed at her man, who was now down on one knee and holding a little box out towards her. She couldn’t bring herself to speak, but firmly nodded her reply as he slipped the ring onto her finger.
This was one test she was delighted to have passed – and it was one she never wanted to sit again.
‘I decided to come alone. Sipho and I aren’t twins’