Short Stories, Tale Africa

The Maiden and The Bear (10)

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By Ayanda Xaba, South Africa:

Today I’m going to town with Makhosazane. We are buying things for my memulo. As usual, Mbongeni is taking us. Makhosi let me in on her family secret yesterday. Apparently during my lobola dilemma week she found out that her father is a Chief and her mother is actually a stepmother. Her father has to go back to some village in Msinga and be Chief. This means Makhosi is truly a princess. It is not just a name. Her father really assisted in getting the King off my family. They wanted my father to pay a fine that I was already given to someone else. Yes, as if I’m some prize. The feud went on for weeks but Makhosi’s father managed to end it peacefully and we didn’t have to pay anything. That man is a born leader, he will make a good chief.

“Is that Xoli?” Makhosi asks as the taxi parks in front of a shop.

It is her. She is wearing a tight, long dress that nicely exposes her body. She has a different weave on and the same make up – she is stunning. I feel so small. I probably look stupid next to her even with my lipstick on. I have African knots as a hairstyle and wearing a dress, just a dress. Makhosi is always looking beautiful. She has braids and a tight dress that flaunts her hips. I need a make over, seriously.

We get out of the car and Xoli walks us into some clothing shop.

First, it is expensive.

Second, did I mention it is expensive?!

Third, all these things are expensive.

I feel so out of place. Xoli and Makhosi are grabbing the dresses like they are 50 cents snacks. They are enjoying all this, their faces lightened up the minute we walked in.

Xoli, “Ntombi this will look absolutely beautiful on you.”

The dress is beautiful, it is amazing! It is white with touches of green on the sleeves and neck area. Green is my favourite colour.

Makhosi, “Wow Xoli! You have good taste, girl. Ntombi, what do you think?”

Before I could even respond, they force me to try it on. I love it – it’s R300. To these girls this dress is cheap, to me it can get food that would last at least two weeks.

“Don’t worry about the money;” Makhosi says softly “Mnqobi will take care of it.”

Xoli, “Never feel bad about spending his money. From now on, his duty is to provide and yours is to spend.”

I laugh. Such golddiggers! Mzuvele will be spending fortunes on this one. We take a lot of unnecessary clothes before starting with what we came for. Mnqobi gave all the money to Makhosi because apparently, ‘I’m too shy to use it’. I don’t even know how much we have. We have sent the stuff with Mbongeni and we are now going to eat. Mbongeni had passengers in the taxi when he came and he announced he just needed to take things from his wife – crazy children.

Xoli, “So how about we eat at spur?”

Makhosi, “Ribs or burgers?”

I don’t know what they are talking about. I hope they won’t make me eat worms or weird leaves. My father says many women eat that in the city. I wish he could go back already, I don’t really enjoy his company. My mother doesn’t seem to be happy either. At least my siblings are, especially my brother, they even enjoy it when he accompanies us to school.

So, we are at the spur to eat ribs – whatever that is. Some woman came and asked us what we want and Makhosi ordered for all of us. She just came back with huge plates full of meat. It’s not the usual meat we eat at the village, even the chicken wings are sweet. There is no pap to eat the meat with, just chips and nicely fried onions. I remember sometimes at home we eat pap and onions only. This food is amazing! Xoli can eat – as small as she is. The best part about this meal is we are using our hands, I was worried I might have to use utensils I’m not even familiar with. We are drinking milkshakes which are filling on their own. We finish eating and Makhosi pays for the food.

Xoli, “Okay; I think we still have time to do something with your hair Ntombi”

Do we still have the money though?

Me, “I don’t really like artificial hair.”

I have a huge afro, which is sometimes difficult to comb.

Xoli, “I know a guy who is good with dreads. You won’t have to put anything artificial.”

They both stare at me like they are begging me to agree. I smile. Dreadlocks aren’t a bad idea. The more I think about them, the more I fall in love with the idea of having them. Dreadlocks it is! We walk a short distance to a salon and my make over begins. I’m sure I look like a little idiot the way I’m so happy right now. I keep smiling to myself. This has got to be the best day of my life!

Makhosi, “I’m thinking of ukuqomela.”

Out of the blue! She wants to officially introduce herself to Mbongeni’s family. Ukuqomela is a small ceremony where the girl sends gifts to the boy’s family and leaves a headwrap that symbolises that the boy has an official girlfriend. This doesn’t mean they will get married, and this is to be hidden from the girl’s family. But why does she want to do this all of a sudden? Xoli asks before I could utter my shock and Makhosi replies;

“If I’m a princess then I will need to marry royalty. I can’t lose Mbongeni.”

Xoli, “Khosi babe, this won’t stop you from your destiny.”

Makhosi, “And if I fall pregnant?”

Me, “Aibo Makhosazane! That is insane.”

What is wrong with this child?

Xoli, “Listen Khosi, we will think of a plan. Maybe we can do ukuqomela?after all and take it from there.”

Mbongeni and Makhosi are inseparable. He does everything for her – anything. If for any reason he feels like he is losing her, he might kill somebody – no jokes.

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