Excerpt for Thabisile The Village Girl by , available in its entirety at Smashwords



Copyright 2017 Lizeka Tshayinyoni
Copyright Publication: Lizeka_writes publishers

All rights reserved, contents and/or cover of this publication may not be reproduced or copied without a written consent from the author.
ISBN 978-0-620-78501-3


This book is a literal dream come true. I have always known that God has given me a gift of writing and I always knew that I desired to be a published author, but I did not know where to even begin. One night I went to sleep with a question of what my book should be about, that night God gave me an answer, I heard a voice say Thabisile. I woke up and wrote it down, the next morning I started writing. King Somnala teaches us that whatever question one has, God answers it in your dreams. This is my dream come true. My greatest appreciation to my King, he who helped me discover my gift. To my loving family, thank you for the support and motivation. Thank you God of Plenty for granting me the desires of my heart.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.


'Hurry up sweetie, we have to gather as much wood as possible because it looks like it's

about to rain. I also do not want you to be late for school'. Mrs Ximbi, Thabisile's

mother instructed Thabisile.

'Okay mom', Thabisile responded.

Gathering wood from the nearby forest, fetching water from the river and making fire in the very early hours of the morning, these

were all the daily chores that Thabisile had to take care of, before she could get ready for school.

Thabisile was a 13 year old girl growing up in the middle of a poverty stricken community of Lubaleko in rural Eastern Cape, in a small town called Mount Ayliff.

Waking up in ungodly hours of the morning, doing some chores, going to school, coming back home hastily before her father came back from work was all the life Thabisile knew. In the midst of all the struggles and poverty they were faced with,Thabisile was a happy little girl. She lived with her loving, caring and gentle mother who would do anything for her daughter.

Thabisile's mother, Mrs Ximbi was the heart and soul of her family, she did not have much to offer her family, but she showered them with the greatest of love. Mrs Ximbi made sure that with the little they had, they received the greatest and she always strived to teach her daughter that happiness was not dependent on material things.

In the crisp, cold winter's morning, Thabisile and her mother crossed the dew covered hills of Mount Ayliff enroute home to start preparing for their day.

'Start making the fire, I will quickly go fetch the water'.Mrs Ximbi instructed as they arrived home. Shethen grabbed her 20L bucket and quickly made her way to the river.

As soon as her mother returned, Thabisile poured some water into the pot and placed it on the fire in an attempt to warm the water so she could take a bath. You see, that was the difference between Mrs Ximbi and all the other women in the village; Mrs Ximbi knew and understood the importance of her daughter's hygiene. She always believed that if she treated her daughter well, Thabisile would also understand that she is an important person and could therefore become someone great one day. She never missed an opportunity to tell her daughter that she is destined for a much better life than what they had at that time.

Mrs Ximbi: Thabisile my child

Thabisile: Oh mom, I know that tone, you are about to give me a speech.

Mrs Ximbi: (smiles)....Yes, I have to make sure that you understand why I am making all these sacrifices

for you.

Thabisile: Yes mom, I know you want me to have a much better life than this, even the teachers at school tell us about this all the time.

Mrs Ximbi: Do not take this lightly my child; education is the only way out of this village. That’s if you are lucky enough to even get an education.

Thabisile: Mom, you know sometimes I wonder why you even bother. Everyday father gives me the same speech about how he will soon be making a lot of money because he will find me a rich man to marry. How is education going to rescue me from my father's plans?

Mrs Ximbi: I do not want you to talk like that or even think like that. You will not turn out like the other girls in this village, you are special. I need you to promise me that you will keep holding on to this, that you will fight for your future as I am fighting.

Thabisile: Mom I honestly do not see the use of all this time consuming fight, it is tiring.

Mrs Ximbi: Those are the words of a quitter and I did not give birth to a quitter.

Thabisile: Okay mom, I will do as you say

Mrs Ximbi: Good, now hurry or you will be late.

Most of the time Thabisile kept fighting for her chance at a better life, just so she could make her mother happy. All the hard work of each day was almost always crushed by her father every afternoon when he shared his plans for his daughter.

Lubaleko village was a place where rights did not dictate their way of living. A person who even dared to have a dream became the laughing stock of the village. Life was very linear; everyone succumbed to the same norms. Girls were set to be trained by their mothers on house work, preparing them for their time when they run their own households. A man with many daughters was considered a very rich man, for he will get all the lobola for his daughters. School, that was something for the privileged, those fortunate enough to have parents who had a very peculiar way of thinking and even then we are talking about boys. Thabisile was the only girl in her class and she was subject to mockery every day from her peers who were boys. This was one of the reasons why she wanted to give up; she could not handle being told every day that she was just wasting her time, for her destiny was not education.

'Hey little girl, where are you going so early in the morning dressed like thatThabisile bumped into Mam Ntozakhe on her way to school. Mam Ntozakhe was one of the oldest members of the community. She was a hardcore believer and enforcer of the way of living in Lubaleko. Most girls received wife training from her when their parents thought they were ready for marriage.

Thabisile: I am going to school granny.

Mam Ntozakhe: Hee hee ( laughs)... School! What do you know about school? School is for boys my dear. You should be home working like every other girl in this village.

Thabisile: My mother says I can do so much better with my life than to just stay at home and do house


Mam Ntozakhe: What is this nonsense she is feeding you? Listen here little girl; you are a girl and you are growing. You should be focusing on your house work so that one day you can be a good wife to your husband, not wasting your time with school.

Thabisile: Well my mother says life does not have to be like that for all of us, we all deserve a chance to try.

Mam Ntozakhe: Oooh mom this, mom that. Hey, your mother is lying to you. If that nonsense was even remotely possible, why is she still here in Lubaleko? Why did she not leave and gotten herself a better life?

Thabisile: (Her eyes filling up with tears)... I do not know granny.

Mam Ntozakhe: Well let me spell it out for you. You see, that is just a dream that never comes true. If you are born in this place, your destiny as a girl is marriage to some man who will leave you to tend to his mother while he goes off to work. If you are lucky enough, he will give you some money from time to time.

Thabisile: (Politely)...Thank you granny, I need to go, I am getting late for school.

Mam Ntozakhe: Late for school, oooh these kids do not listen.

As they parted ways, Thabisile found herself wondering why she was going through all this trouble. With tears

running down her face she made her way to school and became determined to succeed for her loving mother who has risked it all for her to have a better future.

'Thabisile Ximbi, you are late'.The teacher shouted as Thabisile walked into her classroom.

Thabisile: I am sorry teacher.

Teacher: You must try to do better my child; you cannot afford to miss anymore lessons.

Learner 1: Or… she can just stay at home like all the other girls, we do not need her here anyway.

The whole class bursts into laughter.

Learner 2: I feel sorry for her future husband; he will have a wife who cannot do anything because she was busy with school for no reason.

Teacher: That is a very cruel thing to say. Everyone has a right to education, even girls. Thabisile, I am very proud of you my child, you will be someone great one day. You have great potential, you must never give up.

Thabisile: Thank you teacher.

The school of Lubaleko was built by the government against the will of the village residents. Their main concern was that school is going to feed their children all the western nonsense and their children would lose the morals and values that were taught at home. To top it all off; who was going to herd their livestock if their boys had to go to school? Expectedly; only a few children were awarded the chance to attend school and only after they have taken care of their chores at home, so Lubaleko school started later than any normal school. All the school teachers were from other villages because no one in the village had the qualifications or even cared for the wellbeing of the school. The school principal and the teachers had their work cut out for them; from the learners arriving late and tired at school, to some kids dropping out because it was either time to go get married or to go find a job if the child is a boy. It took a lot for the teachers to get the learners into the correct mind-set to receive education.Despite all the challenges the teachers did their best for those kids and any learner that showed the slightest bit of interest kept the teachers motivated.

As the final bell rang; Thabisile was the first person to leave the school premises as she had to rush home before her father returned from work. There was just something cold about Mr Ximbi, poverty and life struggles left him stone hearted and a little bit cruel. If he ever arrived home and Thabisile was not there, he would start a war in his household. Mr Ximbi was always concerned about his daughter's behaviour and how anything she did might give her a bad name and then no man would want to marry her and he would lose out on lobola money. The money he had set his eyes on since she was born. If it gets late and she was not at home, Mr Ximbi panicked and he always assumed that

she was with boys. Every day, Thabisile ran home and quickly changed to her clothes and hid away her uniform and books. Her mother and her teachers had formed a system that allowed her to do her homework at school so she never had a need to do any work at home.

‘’Good afternoon Mr Ximbi, I am so glad to see you'’ Mam Ntozakhe spotted Mr Ximbi on his way home from work.

‘’Oh what does this old lady want now'….Mr Ximbi thought to himself.

Mr Ximbi: Good afternoon

Mam Ntozakhe: Please come closer, there is an urgent matter we have to talk about.

Mr Ximbi: What seems to be the matter Mam Ntozakhe?

Mam Ntozakhe: I want to talk about what is happening in your home. How could you allow such behaviour in your own house, being one of the older members in this community?

Mr Ximbi: You have completely lost me; I have no idea what you are on about.

Mam Ntozakhe: Heeee ( claps)…A man who does not know what is happening in his own home.

Mr Ximbi: (angry)... Well if you called me here to insult me then I am leaving.

Mam Ntozakhe: A girl who is almost ready to fulfil her purpose is busy wasting her time with school instead of focusing on what is important.

Mr Ximbi: If you are talking about my girl, then you are sadly mistaken, Thabisile does not go to school.

Mam Ntozakhe: Haibo! (shouts on top of her lungs)...Are you telling me that the girl I saw this morning wearing school uniform was not Thabisile?

Mr Ximbi: Yes I am telling you that you were seeing someone else.

Mam Ntozakhe: Let me tell you about your own household. Thabisile, your daughter, goes to school everyday; I even spoke to her this morning and she told me that her mother says school is good for her so she can get an education and get a better life.

Mr Ximbi: You see Mam Ntozakhe; gossip will get you into a lot of trouble one day. I will tell you this one last time, Thabisile does not attend school. I forbade her because I know the plans I have for her future.

Mam Ntozakhe: You are a foolish man Mr Ximbi, fooled in your own home.

Mr Ximbi: (Angry)….Leave my family alone or there will be trouble.

Mr Ximbi walked away furious at Mam Ntozakhe and her gossip tendencies. 'This old woman is trying to destroy my family, I will not allow her to do that' Mr Ximbi muttered to himself as he

marched away in anger.

‘’Nokhaya'... Mr Ximbi bellowed as he entered the gates of his

household. 'I swear I am going to do something regrettable to that Ntozakhe woman'.

Nokhaya is Mrs Ximbi's maiden name.

Mrs Ximbi: What has she done now? As she rushed to meet her husband by the door of their hut.

Mr Ximbi: Her gossiping has gone to another level I tell you, she is talking a whole lot of nonsense and I will not take kindly to that.

Mrs Ximbi: Calm down my husband, you know how she is; gossip is her way of living. Come sit down, Thabisile is almost ready with your tea.

You see, Mr Ximbi did not know that his daughter attended school after he left for work. When the school was built, Mrs Ximbi had asked her husband that Thabisile attends school but he gave a strict and stern NO.Thabisile's father believed that his daughter was to follow the traditions of the village like every girl, so school was not an option for her. Besides; Thabisile was his ticket to riches, if her mom trained her well, Mr Ximbi was set to make a fortune in lobola money. Mrs Ximbi defied all of Mr Ximbi's orders in an attempt to get her daughter the tools she needed to get out of that village.

Mrs Ximbi: I am sure you had a really long day my husband; let us prepare bath water for you so you can get some rest.

Mr Ximbi: Okay fine, make it quick.

Mrs Ximbi: Hurry up Thabisile; you do not want to make your father angry.

Thabisile: (in a panic).... Okay mom

No matter how happy Thabisile and her mom got, when Mr Ximbi arrived, the mood changed because he was never happy.

Mr Ximbi: (shouting)... Nokhaya, what do you teach this child all day? How can it take so long to prepare bathing water?

Mrs Ximbi: She is almost finished

Mr Ximbi: If she does not come now, she might as well just not bring the water.

This man was never satisfied with anything, nothing that his family did for him made him happy. All he ever thought of was how unfair life was to have dealt him such a cruel hand of poverty. If it was up to him, he would fast forward time to get Thabisile to the right age for marriage. He believed that the lobola money would give him the happiness he needed in life.

Thabisile: Here is the water father

Mr Ximbi: Finally, put the water over there and get out. I do not know why you are so slow these days; I ought to beat you with my belt.

Thabisile: I am sorry father.

Mr Ximbi: Maybe Mam Ntozakhe was right; maybe you are feeding yourself with all that school nonsense. If I ever find out that you are attending school, it will be over for you little girl. Never forget that you are our way out of this poverty, you owe us that much for giving you life.

Thabisile: Yes father

This statement made by Mr Ximbi had gotten so tired that Thabisile did not even get hurt by it anymore; it had become an everyday statement from her angry father. Thabisile's father always had it in his mind that the world owed him something because he lived in poverty.

'Mom what's wrong?’….asks Thabisile as she finds her mother crying in the kitchen.

Thabisile: Are you sad because of father?

Mrs Ximbi: No my sweet daughter

Thabisile: Then why are you crying?

Mrs Ximbi: You know Thabi; I once had a little brother. He was gentle and loving just like you, you remind me of my brother every day.

Thabisile: What happened to him mommy, did he die?

Mrs Ximbi: My brother Luzuko left home at a very young age, actually he was a child just like you.

Thabisile: Why did he leave? Children do not leave home.

Mrs Ximbi: My father was just like your father. Strict; unloving and never happy. He used to be very abusive to our mother and then one day Luzuko decided that he was old enough to stand up to our father. That day, father beat him so severely and told him to leave his house.

Thabisile: That is so sad, where did he go?

Mrs Ximbi: Last we heard he was seen in Kokstad doing some odd jobs, but that was almost 10 years ago.

Thabisile: Oh mommy, I am so sorry.

Mrs Ximbi: My child, I look at you every day and I see that you are growing more and more tired of your father treating us badly and I fear that you will decide to stand up to him and he might harm you.

Thabisile: At school they teach us about our rights, they say we have a right to a life free of abuse.

Mrs Ximbi: Thabi, your father is a very disturbed man, if you ever tell him that, he might even kill you. Please promise me that you will never try to stand up to him, I cannot lose you like I lost my brother.

Thabisile: Mom I promise you that one day I will take you out of this place and take you to a beautiful place where you will be happy.

Mrs Ximbi: I know my child and I love you for that, for now just please keep your head down.

Thabisile: I will mommy

Mrs Ximbi: Good, now let’s go get some sleep. We have a long day tomorrow.

The year went by successfully for Thabisile and her mother; their secret remained hidden from her father. Even though the gossip of the village, Mam Ntozakhe, tried her best to expose them, they were rescued by Mr Ximbi's trust in his family's ability to take and follow his orders. Thabisile and her mother had a solid system of operation that ensured that their secret stayed hidden from Mr Ximbi. Every day, Thabisile took care of her chores without fail, she made sure that she did all her homework at school and she made it back home before her father returned from work and she hid her uniform and school books pretty well. This was a full proof plan to secure Thabisile's bright future.

One beautiful morning, Thabisile and her mother woke up bright and early and took care of their chores hastily. They were determined to start their very big day. Thabisile woke up very happy and excited as it was the last day of school for the year and she had been doing so well. She was excited to fetch her report and show her mother the product of her hard work. This day was to be the simplest day, just pop in at school to pick up the report and they would return home very early, her father would not know that they even left. She was also hoping not to bump into Mam Ntozakhe. Thabisile and her mom left for school.

The whole way Thabisile could not contain herself, she was jumping up and down with joy and excitement. She could not wait to see her mother's reaction when she saw her report. The great marks she got were proof enough that she was a special little girl who was destined for greater things in her life. As they arrived at school, they were welcomed by Thabisile's teacher who was obviously so proud of Thabisile and very pleased to meet Mrs Ximbi.

Teacher: Welcome Mrs Ximbi, I am so very pleased to meet you.

Mrs Ximbi: Thank you madam, it is very nice to meet you too, Thabisile talks about you all the time.

Teacher: She is such a wonderful student and quite a pleasure to teach, I am very proud of how hard she worked this year.

Mrs Ximbi: Thank you for not giving up on her, with her late coming and all that.

Teacher: Oh I understand your situation, she is very lucky to have a mother like you. Someone who cares for her future, it is very rare to see that in this village.

Mrs Ximbi: We are a very broken society; it breaks my heart to see what becomes of our children, especially our girls. That is why I work so hard to secure Thabisile an education.

Teacher: She is a very intelligent little girl; you do not have to worry about her. Now I see where she gets her resilience from, you have raised a very special girl Mrs Ximbi.

Mrs Ximbi: Thank you madam, we have come to pick up her report.

Teacher: Yes of course, here you are. If you would like for me to go through it with you I would be glad to.

Mrs Ximbi: Please madam.

Teacher: Okay, let’s take a seat over there.

The three of them took a seat around the teacher's table and the teacher went through the report with them. Thabisile had done so well that she was approved to skip a grade and go straight to grade 8. Top of her class, her mother was so very proud of her daughter. Thabisile was the first person in her family to go to school, let alone get to grade 8. As they walked back home, her mom could not contain herself, she cried tears of joy. Her daughter made all that hard work and risks worth it. All the early mornings and pushing to finish the chores in due time, they all came down to that moment. The ridicule and judgement just did not seem to matter anymore; their hard work was paying off really well.

'Mom, who is that standing by our gate?’….Thabisile spotted someone as they approached their home.

Mrs Ximbi: I don’t know, I cannot see clearly. Maybe it is someone who is just walking past the gate.

Thabisile: No mom, that person is pacing up and down by the gate.

Mrs Ximbi: (in fear)...Oh my God, it’s your father. What is he doing here so early?

Thabisile: (in fear)...Oh no mom, he is going to kill us like he always promises.

Mrs Ximbi: (trying to stay calm)…No that will not happen, he looks angry but he will not harm us. Just walk behind me.

Mrs Ximbi pushed Thabisile behind her in an attempt to shield her from her father and she walked straight to her very angry husband. She was ready for almost anything that could happen, but she was also determined to protect her little girl at all costs.

'Husband, you must be really tired after a long day at work. So sorry to keep you waiting’…Mrs Ximbi spoke lovingly to her husband as she opened the gate.

Mr Ximbi: (angry)... Long day? Can you not tell that I am home early today woman?

Mrs Ximbi: Even then my husband, you walked home, that is tiring on its own.

Mr Ximbi: (shouting)... .Nokhaya, I am not a fool! What is happening in my home? Where have you been? Why is this child dressed like this?

Mrs Ximbi: (calm)...Here is some water dear, quench your thirst while Thabisile prepares food for you.

Mr Ximbi: (hits the glass off his wife's hand)... Woman, stop acting crazy and tell me what is happening in my house.

Mrs Ximbi: I am sorry we were not home when you arrived from work; we had gone to school to fetch Thabisile's report.

Mrs Ximbi did not see the point of lying to her husband anymore, she was ready to receive any punishment she would be given.

Mr Ximbi: (slaps his wife)... Nokhaya, did I not forbid you from sending that child to school?

Mrs Ximbi: (holding back tears)...You did forbid me, but I thought it would be great to give her a chance to an education and I was right, she is doing very well at school. Look at what her report says.

Mr Ximbi: I do not care about any report ( he grabs the report and tears it up)...You and that child of yours have defied me and you will pay for this. How could you humiliate me in front of the whole village? Mam Ntozakhe warned me about this and I did not listen to her because I trusted you.

Mrs Ximbi: I am so sorry my husband; I thought it would be a great thing to give her a chance to a better future. She is doing so well; I thought if you saw her good work, you would be proud of her.

Mr Ximbi: (shouting)...How can I be proud of a wife and a daughter that go against my orders in my own home? Come here you little rascal, I ought to beat you to death with this belt.

As Thabisile's father drew out his belt, her mother stepped in front of her and took the beating for her daughter.

'No dad stop, please don't hurt mommy, please stop’….Thabisile cried out to her father.

‘I should throw you out of my house and you go live on the street' …Mr Ximbi shouted angrily as he stormed out of the house. This man could have done greater harm to his family after discovering about the betrayal, but this was the same man who still had hopes about becoming rich through her daughter. He could not hurt Thabisile, because no rich man would want a wounded girl. All the more reason for him beat his wife instead of Thabisile.

'Mom are you okay?’…..Asked Thabisile as she approached her mom.

Mrs Ximbi: (in tears)... Yes my child I am fine, I am glad he did not beat you.

Thabisile: Mom you should not have taken the beating for me, this is all my fault. If you did not try to get me a better life, you would not be hurt like this.

Mrs Ximbi: It is my job to protect you Thabi, do not worry about me. I am fine.

Thabisile: (helps her mom to her feet)...Come mom, sit comfortably and I will make you tea.

Mrs Ximbi: Thank you Thabi, please do not worry about anything. Everything will be fine.

Thabisile: I am worried that father will stop me from going to school.

Mrs Ximbi: I will make sure that you carry on with school.

Thabisile: Mom please let this go, he will hurt you.

Mrs Ximbi: You stay focused on the good things and let me worry about the other stuff. Now where is my tea?

Thabisile: Here you go mommy, enjoy.

Every day, life became more miserable for the Ximbi family. Mr Ximbi finally told his wife the reason why he came back early the day he discovered their secret. Mr Ximbi was fired from work because of his temper and bad attitude. Undoubtedly, life looked quite tragic for them .Mr Ximbi became more and more desperate to provide for his family. He even considered approaching a rich man he knew to marry his daughter. He found a reason to complain more and to hate life even more; he even went as far as taking up Thabisile's training upon himself. Mr Ximbi was determined to get her ready for marriage and get rich in the process. He even lashed out at his wife for only having one child, claiming that if they had more daughters they would not be so poor. He reckoned that one of the daughters would be old enough for marriage by then.

One December morning, Thabisile and her mother were busy taking care of their chores as usual when Mrs Ximbi noticed a group of strange men riding horses past her house.

Mrs Ximbi: Thabisile, come quick, come inside.

Thabisile: What? Whats wrong mommy?

Mrs Ximbi: (fearful)... Did you see those men who just rode past?

Thabisile: Yes, what about them?

Mrs Ximbi: You know that it is December time and this is the time of year when men from neighbouring villages go around other villages looking for young girls.

Thabisile: Looking for young girls to do what?

Mrs Ximbi: They are looking for young girls so they can force them into marriage. They take the girls and put them in their homes. Their mission is to impregnate them on the first night so that they do not see the need to go back home.

Thabisile: How can they do such a sad thing mommy?

Mrs Ximbi: That's how cruel people can be, my child.

Thabisile: When does the little girl get to see her parents?

Mrs Ximbi: They wait for a few days and then they go to her home to report that the girl is with them and they have taken her virginity and so they want to just go ahead and pay lobola for her.

Thabisile: But what if the girl does not want that?

Mrs Ximbi: It is never up to the girl at that point, the parents make that decision.

Thabisile: According to what they teach us at school, that is illegal.

Mrs Ximbi: Yes well some parents do not think like that and believe me your father would not think like that either. I need you to not step out of these gates if I am not with you.

Thabisile: How are we going to do that?

Mrs Ximbi: Does not matter, we will figure it out as we go. Just do not go anywhere without me until this season is over.

Thabisile: Okay mom.

This was a custom to a lot of villagers around Lubaleko. Lubaleko girls were considered as Gold since it was their custom to groom and train their girls for marriage. Every December, men who came home from working in the mines would come ready to take a wife that will be left looking after his mother while he goes away to work and provide for his family. Those who were fortunate enough would get to see their husbands certain times a year and some would only receive money and never see the husband until the following December. Well, some would not see the husband or the money.

December went by smoothly for Thabisile and her mother as they stuck to their plan in order to keep Thabisile from those old men. Thabisile was looking forward to going back to school even though she was not sure if her father would allow her to go back .Mrs Ximbi kept promising her daughter that she will take care of the school issue and Thabisile kept her hopes up as she knew that her mother would do anything for her.


'Good morning Mr Ximbi'

Ever since Mr Ximbi lost his job, he started a hobby of taking walks every morning. He usually took that time to strategize on how to take care of his family and how to make money. That morning while he was taking his daily morning walk and deep in thought, he heard someone greeting him.

Mr Ximbi: (as he looks up)... Good morning. Who might you be sir? How do you know me?

Mr Ximbi was always a cautious man; he was not a friendly person either so he knew that not a lot of people knew him.

Stranger: Hi sir, I am Mr Ntoni. I am from Dundee.

Mr Ximbi: Okay, pleasure to meet you Mr Ntoni.

As much as Mr Ximbi was cruel and cold hearted, he was very polite to people who appeared to be rich. Mr Ntoni was driving a very good looking car.

Mr Ntoni: I must say; you are a hard man to find.

Mr Ximbi: How so? Have you been looking for me? And why? If I may ask.

Mr Ntoni: Sir I do not know if it would be appropriate for me to talk about this here, but since Ive been looking for you all over, I might as well use this opportunity.

Mr Ximbi: Speak please, you are worrying me now.

Mr Ntoni: At least please get inside the car.

Mr Ximbi: Yes okay

Mr Ntoni: Sir, a few days ago while driving around in your village. I saw a nice looking girl and she was going to fetch water from the river, what I loved more was that she was with her mother. To me she appeared as a well behaved girl who is well raised.

Mr Ximbi: Mr Ntoni why are you telling me about this girl? What do I have to do with all of this?

Mr Ntoni: That is because when I did a bit of research I was told that she is your daughter, they said her name is Thabisile.

Mr Ximbi: Who told you all of this?

Mr Ntoni: A woman by the name of Ntozakhe.

Mr Ximbi: (talking to himself)... Who would have thought that this old lady's gossip would come in handy after all? (Smiles to himself)

Mr Ntoni: Sir I will cut to the Chase, I want to marry your daughter.

Mr Ximbi: (excited)... Really, you want to pay lobola and all?

Mr Ntoni: Yes, I wanted to do the right thing and talk to you first instead of just taking her.

Mr Ximbi: Yes that was a good thought son.

Mr Ximbi's prayers were coming true at that moment. He was filled with excitement and if he could, he would stand on the highest mountain and shout so everyone could hear his great news. In all that excitement, he knew that he still had to deal with Thabisile's mom. Nokhaya was not going to agree to this. He was not very concerned about Thabisile, she had no choice.

Mr Ximbi: Listen, I have a few things to deal with first. Let us meet here tomorrow same time.

Mr Ntoni: You have not really given me an answer yet sir.

Mr Ximbi: Oh yes, of course you can definitely marry my daughter, but I will give you the full details tomorrow when we meet. Right now let me go so I can plan.

Mr Ximbi jumped out of the car quickly and almost ran home. To him, poverty was about to become a thing of the past. What made him happier was that Mr Ntoni looked like a well off man who would take very good care of his daughter while they enjoyed the good life spending the lobola money.

Mr Ximbi arrived home very happy; this was very strange for his family. They were used to an angry person who was always complaining about how cruel life has been to him. That day, he was singing on top of his lungs, declaring about how good life is. His plans were coming together smoothly, which man wouldn't be happy about that? His hard work raising a well-mannered girl was paying off at last. Him being fired from work appeared to be a good thing after all, great things were about to happen.

'Mom, what is going on with dad?’...Thabisile asked her mother as they heard Mr Ximbi singing approaching the hut. 'Could dad be drunk?’?

Mrs Ximbi: No Thabisile, do not say that about your father.

Thabisile: Sorry mommy, but he is happy and he is singing out loud. I have never seen that.

Mrs Ximbi: Well let us just appreciate that he is happy today and not accuse him of being drunk.

'Hey, hello my beautiful family'…He shouted as he walked in. 'Hey life is good man!'He exclaimed.

Mrs Ximbi: It’s good to see my husband happy.

Mr Ximbi: Which man would not be happy if his plans were coming together?

Thabisile: Which plans father?

Mr Ximbi: Oh Thabisile, if I was not so happy, I would beat you for speaking while the adults are speaking.

Thabisile: Sorry father, here is your tea.

Mr Ximbi: (with a smile)...Oh thank you Thabi

Mrs Ximbi: Husband do tell; did you find a new job?

Mr Ximbi: Something like that my wife, all you need to know is that we will never be poor ever again.

Mrs Ximbi: That is great news; I have always known that you are a man that can take care of his family.

Mr Ximbi: Yes Nokhaya, I am a real man. My family will never starve while I am still alive. Thabisile take the cups, thank you for the tea my child. I am going to lay down a bit, this walk got me tired.

Fear swept over Thabisile as she tried to figure out what her father was talking about. All her life, her father's plan to get rich was through her marrying a rich man. She knew that things could not have changed so quickly. It came to her that her father might have found a rich man for her to marry.

'Thabi, what is wrong my child?’….Mrs Ximbi questions her as she realises that her daughter has suddenly gone quiet.

Thabisile: Nothing is wrong mother.

Mrs Ximbi: Thabisile, I am your mother. I know you. Talk to me.

Thabisile: Mom, I am scared

Mrs Ximbi: (worried)...What is it, what are you scared of?

Thabisile: Mom, father has never had another get rich plan except for marrying me off to some rich man and he enjoys the lobola money. What if he has found the rich man?

Mrs Ximbi: My child, I understand why you would think like that, but your father did say that he found a new job. He would tell me if that was the case, we would have to prepare for lobola negotiations.

Thabisile: (crying)... Mom what if he is going to do things differently, what if he is going let them take me away without your knowledge?

Mrs Ximbi: Thabi, do not stress yourself like this. According to tradition; I do have a say in all of this. I am sure your father just got a new job and hopefully this new job will make him a happy man and we will live a happy life.

Thabisile: Okay mom, if you say so.

You see, Mr Ximbi's joy reminded his wife of the times they were once happy. A time when they were deeply in love. Mrs Ximbi missed those times and she was very desperate to hold on to that happy moment. She wanted that moment for her husband even more, because she always knew that it could not be healthy to be so angry all the time. She shut down every thought that could even suggest that her husband was happy because he was about to sell his daughter to some stranger. She wanted to hold on to the thought that he was finally becoming a happy man, a happy husband and father. Mrs Ximbi believed that they were about to start a new and happy life as a family.

The day started for the Ximbi family, morning chores were covered and Mr Ximbi took his morning walk. Nothing was usual about this walk. Mr Ximbi was happy; he had a spring in his step and a small whistle. He went to bed early the previous night so that he could have some time to think and map out his plan to get Thabisile to marry Mr Ntoni and not have Thabisile's mother meddle with her emotions. He had a full proof plan; Mrs Ximbi would not see it coming even if she tried. That morning, Mr Ximbi was to meet with Mr Ntoni so they could discuss their plan of action.

Back home, Thabisile was uneasy. Her father's happiness was making her more and more nervous. She found herself missing her angry dad who was always vocal about his plans. The happy Mr Ximbi kept everything to himself, but Thabisile knew that something big was about to happen and it was about to happen to her for the betterment of her father's life. Thabisile could not even focus on her chores that morning, she kept dropping her water bucket and almost broke it and Thabisile's actions angered her mother. Mrs Ximbi did not understand how her daughter could not appreciate such a positive change in their lives. Having her husband so happy led her to believe that her family was moving forward and making progress. Little did Mrs Ximbi know that she was about to lose her daughter, she lost focus on keeping Thabisile safe at all times. She once or twice allowed her to go to the river alone as she was still busy day dreaming about the kiss she got from her husband that morning. Nokhaya was desperate to hold on to the love and joy she once felt before her husband did a total transformation.

Meanwhile, Mr Ximbi had a very successful meeting with Mr Ntoni. Everything was planned and set for the day. Both men parted ways feeling satisfied. Mr Ntoni drove back home with a huge smile on his face and excited to share the news with his mother.

Mr Ntoni was one of those men who were not ashamed of living with their mom at old age. His belief was that it was his responsibility to take care of his mother and part of doing that was him getting a wife who was well raised and well trained who could take care of his mother. He would then go to work so he could provide for his family knowing that his mother was well taken care of. As much as Mr Ntoni was well educated, he still believed in the old way of doing things. His mother always made sure that with all the education, her son would still conform to the morals and values she taught him.

'Mother, where are you?’….Mr Ntoni shouted through the window while he parked his car.

Mam Ntoni: I am here, what’s with all the shouting?

Mr Ntoni: I am sorry mom; it’s just that I am excited about what I have to tell you.

Mam Ntoni: What is it, are you getting a promotion? I have always known that you will be a school principal one day.

Mr Ntoni: Oh mom, calm down. I am not getting a promotion yet. I have much more exciting news.

Mam Ntoni: Zukile (Mr Ntoni's name)...What could be more exciting than getting paid more money?

Mr Ntoni: Not everything is about money. Come let us sit down so we can talk.

Mam Ntoni: Well I need to do some renovations to this house, so yes right now it is all about money. Did you see the neighbour’s house?

Mr Ntoni: (frustrated)... I have found a girl that I am going to marry.

Mam Ntoni: Heeee heeee ( laughs)...Why would you do that?

Mr Ntoni: I am not getting any younger; I need to start a family. You also need someone to help you around the house.

Mam Ntoni: I thought we were a perfect family, just the two of us. Now you want to start another family without me. Besides, I never said I needed anyone to help me in my house.

Mr Ntoni: Mom, you will always be a part of my family. I need to have a wife and children.

Mam Ntoni: (sulking)....Now you are going to take the money for my house renovations to go pay lobola for a girl who is not even good enough for you. You did not even ask me to help you choose.

Mr Ntoni: If everything went according to your plans, I would never get married because you do not think that any girl is good for me.

Mam Ntoni: Fine, tell me about her and I will decide if I like her or not.

Mam Ntoni was just that type of a mother, always wanted her son to herself. Any girl that came close to Zukile was considered a threat and Mam Ntoni found ways to get rid of her. She had already decided that she does not like this new girl. What frustrated her most was that she was going to meet this girl after her son married her and that would be too late forher to get rid of her son’s bride. Mam Ntoni's life was about to change, she was now going to have competition to her son's money and that did not make her happy at all.

A sunny, beautiful morning. Everything was perfect, there were clear skies, the birds were singing. Love was definitely in the air for Mr and Mrs Ximbi. Thabisile was slowly beginning to believe her mother when she said their family was finally becoming happy, she was starting to enjoy the happiness. They had even discussed the issue of school and her father gave her his blessing, saying that he appreciated her hard work and did not want it to go to waste. Mr Ximbi was a proud father, or so he appeared. Not even to mention Mrs Ximbi, she could not ask for a better season for her family. Everything was falling into plan according to her. That morning, Mr Ximbi decided to treat his family to a nice cold drink since it was such a hot morning. Thabisile was sent to the shop to get the cold drink and Mrs Ximbi agreed to let her go alone since she wanted to spend some quality time with her husband.

Thabisile got the money and left for the shop. The whole way she had mixed feelings about everything that was happening in her home. She saw how happy her mother is, how her dad had stopped threatening her and he even allowed her to go back to school. Thabisile still felt uneasy though, her dad did not wake up and go to work but he kept saying that they are going to be rich. Whenever she thought about where the riches were coming from, she became so scared that she considered running away, but she could not hurt her mother like that. Her mom believed that the worst was over and wanted so much for Thabisile to believe the same.

Thabisile reached the shop quickly and bought the cold drink. When she walked out the shop, she was approached by a young man who offered her a lift home. She thought about the offer shortly and decided that it was safe to get into the car since her mom warned her about men on horses and not men in cars. Besides, getting the lift would get her home quicker and that would make her dad happy.

Stranger: Get in miss, be comfortable

Thabisile: Thank you sir

Stranger: I cannot allow a beautiful girl like you to get sun burnt.

Thabisile: Thank you, you are so kind.

Stranger: So, what is your name?

Thabisile: My name is Thabisile sir.

Stranger: Oh stop calling me sir, we are friends now.

Thabisile: Okay sir, I am going this way (she points the direction home)

Stranger: Okay, let me just pick up something from my friend, he lives right around the corner.

Thabisile: Okay.

The stranger with a car drives off and leaves the village of Lubaleko with Thabisile.

Thabisile: (nervous)...No sir you are going the wrong direction.

Stranger: I am sorry Thabisile; I am just doing my job.

Thabisile: (scared)...What job?

Stranger: I have been sent to take you to Dundee; someone is waiting for you there.

Thabisile: (crying)....No, my mother and father are waiting for me at home. Please take me home.

Stranger: I am sorry, I cannot do that.

Thabisile: (Talking to herself).....It is happening, this day that my father has threatened me with for years has finally arrived.

Stranger: What, did you say something?

Thabisile: (still talking to herself)....This is why he has been so happy; he has been planning this for a while now. How could I be so stupid? (tears running down her face)... Dad has never been so generous to buy us cold drinks. Why did not I see through him?

Stranger: Young lady, I cannot hear what you are saying.

Thabisile: Don't mind me; just keep doing your job like you said you are.

Stranger: I am so sorry about this, we will be there soon.

Thabisile: It does not matter how sorry you are sir, this is the beginning of the end for me.

Stranger: No please do not say that, you will be happy with that family, they are rich. The man who sent me owns this car and he is a teacher, you will not have to worry about anything all your life.

Thabisile: For some of us, money and riches is not everything.

Thabisile fell into a deep silence, only her tears rolling down her cheeks. The only thing that made a sound was her pounding heart. The drive seemed like a lifetime and with every move of the car she felt every ounce of fight in her was being drained slowly, she could feel that even her arms were losing power. Finally she felt the car slowing down.They drove into a big yard and Thabisile quickly spotted a man standing on the stoep and she immediately figured that the man was the one she was to be a wife to. Because Thabisile had been prepared for this day by her dad and the rest of the community of Lubaleko, she decided to give in even before she got out of the car. She had never seen any girl return home after they had been taken, why would things be different for her? She decided that there was no point in fighting for freedom. She was taken to a room outside the main house where she was instructed to stay until someone came for her. The little girl agreed to everything she was instructed to do, all the fighting spirit in her was gone. She looked around the room and realised that the room alone was prettier than her whole house back home, but that did not comfort her at all. Thabisile would rather be in her run down home with her loving mother than to be in some beautiful foreign place. She lay on the bed and eventually fell asleep as she was exhausted from all the crying.

From what seemed to be hours of sleep, Thabisile is woken up by a soft touch on her cheek. For a moment there she thought she is at home, because only her mother had ever touched her so lovingly. She jumped off the bed with terror as she realised that it was her husband to be that stroked her so tenderly.

'Shhhhh, relax don't be afraid. I will not harm you'…Said Zukile (Mr Ntoni) as he tried to calm her down.

Thabisile: Who are you and what do you want from me?

Zukile: My name is Zukile Ntoni

Thabisile: (with attitude)... Actually I don't care who you are. I want to go home.

Zukile: Wait; please give me a chance to explain myself.

Thabisile: I am not stupid; you do not need to explain anything. I know what is going on here and I am telling you that I want no part of it. I want to go home.

Zukile: Please Thabisile calm down; I am not trying to harm you in anyway. I am just trying to build my father's legacy.

Thabisile: (Angry)....Forcefully removing me from my home is harm enough. As for your father's legacy, that has nothing to do with me.

Zukile: Thabi, I can see that you are still upset so I will not force this conversation on you right now. I will go get you some food and warm blankets.

Thabisile: (screaming and crying)... I want to go home, please let me go home. I do not want your food or your blankets.

Mr Ntoni disappeared into the main house leaving Thabisile hysterical with anger and grief.

Meanwhile back home, Mrs Ximbi was going crazy with worry. Thabisile had been gone for hours and there was no sign of her anywhere. Mr Ximbi kept dismissing her saying that Thabi could still be playing with her friends, that response made Nokhaya very uncomfortable as she knew that her husband had never been so casual about Thabisile having friends.

'Nokhaya sit down and relax, I am sure Thabisile is on her way back' …Mr Ximbi trying to calm his wife.

Mrs Ximbi: It's unlike her to be away from home for so long.

Mr Ximbi: Well there is nothing we can do except to wait, if it gets dark and she has not returned then we will go look for her.

Mrs Ximbi: (partially shouting)....Why are we waiting for the dark, why are we not searching now?

Mr Ximbi: Do you want the neighbours to laugh at us and call us crazy, which parent have you ever seen going around searching for their child in broad daylight? Kids around play until its dark.

Mrs Ximbi: I do not care about other people; I want to make sure that my daughter is safe.

Mr Ximbi: (calmly)....Well, you are the one who told me not so long ago that Thabisile attends school. I am sure she met up with her friends from school and lost track of time. Just relax and make us some tea.

Mrs Ximbi: Listen here, if you do not want to help search for my daughter, its fine stay and drink your tea. I am going to look for her and make sure that she is safe.

Mrs Ximbi left the house in great panic. She had never spoken to her husband like that in all the years that they have been married, it's only because nothing has ever threatened the safety and wellbeing of her daughter.

Mr Ximbi: (shouting)... Hey Nokhaya, come back this instance.

Frustrated Mrs Ximbi charged down the road towards the shop.She started questioning everyone she met on the road and everyone had the same response; they had not seen Thabisile anywhere. Just as she arrived at the shop, she bumped into Mam Ntozakhe who seemed to have the full story of Thabisile's whereabouts.

Mam Ntozakhe: I warned you and that husband of yours, but you did not listen to me. Look at you now, going crazy about your missing loose canon of a daughter.

Mrs Ximbi: Listen here old lady; I am in no mood for your nonsense. It's either you tell me where my daughter is or you leave me alone.

Mam Ntozakhe: Nokhaya, I told you about this school nonsense you were feeding that Thabisile. Look now, she thinks it's okay to gallivant in stranger’s cars, I am sure she is convinced that it is her right to do that.

Mrs Ximbi :(frustrated)... Mam Ntozakhe, school has not even opened yet, it has nothing to do with this. Please just tell me if you have seen my daughter.

Mam Ntozakhe: Yes I saw her.

Mrs Ximbi: (shouting)....Where is she?

Mam Ntozakhe: She came to the shop, bought cold drink. She did not even greet me, does school teach her to be disrespectful to elders?

Mrs Ximbi: What happened after she bought the cold drink?

Mam Ntozakhe: When she walked out, a young man spoke to her, she got into his car and they left.

Mrs Ximbi: A car! What car? I have not seen a car in this village in a while.

Mam Ntozakhe: Well, there was a car and she got into it and the car drove away from the village.

Mrs Ximbi: (kneels down in despair)....What has happened to you Thabi? Where have they taken you? What am I going to do?

Mam Ntozakhe: Go home Nokhaya, your child is gone.

Mrs Ximbi got up on her feet and walked home in defeat and grief. All she worked for was gone up in an instant. She had done her utmost best ever since Thabi was born to protect her and teach her that her life did not have to end up in the village. She realised that she had been so caught up in the new found love and joy from her husband that she dropped the ball in keeping Thabisile safe. It was all her fault; she might as well have just given her up herself. She did not know where her daughter was and if she was okay or not. She kept wondering if her daughter had any food to eat, as she remembered that when she was abducted for marriage they did not give her food all day long. How could she allow the same thing to happen to her daughter? She walked home with her head hanging in shame.

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