​Bazukile and I uncomfortably sat there, too ashamed to shift apart from each other as we were sitting too close to each other. They greeted, both looking at Bazukile. We greeted back.

“What is going on here?”

Daddy asked, sitting down, with Mommy sitting next to him..

“Uhm, I have brought Mandiphumle home”

Bazukile replied.

“Why?”

Daddy asked again.

“Because she was discharged, and needed to get home”

“Mandiphumle did not NEED to get home. She knew we would go and fetch her first thing in the morning”

“I was only trying to help, Sir”

“Who exactly were you trying to help? Mandiphumle didn’t need your help”

“Mandiphumle called Phila and Phila asked me to go and fetch her”

Bazukile tried explaining again.

“Look, Mandiphumle is my child. I don’t want to see random boys around her. Thank you for bringing her home, you can leave now”

Daddy pointed at the door, signaling that Bazukile should leave.

“Sir, I am not just a random boy”

Bazukile opposed.

“To me, you are a random boy and this discussion ends now. Leave”

“I am actually here to ask for Mandiphumle’s hand in marriage”

Both Mommy and Daddy’s eyes popped out, and they both looked at me. I looked down.

“What??”

Daddy asked, obviously hoping that his mind was playing tricks on him.

“Yes, Sir. I want to take her as my wife”

Daddy got up and paced up and down on panic mode.

“Mandiphumle, could you excuse us for a minute?”

He asked. I jumped off my seat and rushed out.

I went to the kitchen and also did my fair share of pacing up and down. I was imagining all sorts of negative things. A lot could go wrong and my whole life could be over within a blink of an eye.

“She is eighteen! Eighteen!!”

Daddy screamed. I tip toed down the passage to eavesdrop.

“Why would you want to confuse a child like that? Mandiphumle is a child, a child who has been through a lot. She needs to find herself again, she needs to grow and have her mental health stable.

“I know all that. Mandiphumle is the love of my life. I have never loved anyone the way I love her. I know the proper procedure for such talks, but I needed to come to you first and first introduce myself and my intentions with your daughter. I want us to grow together. I am young myself, and I am ready to settle down because I have found the missing piece in my life puzzle”

Bazukile passionately explained. Each word carried warmth.

“She is still a child. She doesn’t even know what she wants or doesn’t want yet. I won’t even mention the fact that she has newborn babies that she is even struggling to bond with. How do you expect her to be someone’s wife at this state? Wouldn’t that destroy her more?”

“My husband is right. Mandiphumle has a lot on her plate. Let us not subject her to failure by expecting her to deal with marriage too”

Mommy supported her husband. I rolled my eyes.

“Mr and Mrs Nkomo, I know Mandiphumle more than you know her. I met her first. By the time you met her, I was already in love with her, but was in no position to ask her out freely because she was living with her ex boyfriend. She explained the situation to me, but because I’m human, it wasn’t easy for me to trust that. I thought she was lying, that she was still with that man but didn’t want to lose me on the side too. I respect her, and she knows it. Her happiness is my first priority. I would climb mountains to protect her, and she knows it”

Thoko walked down the passage and saw me standing there. I placed my finger on my lips, signaling that she should not talk. She tip toed and came to stand next to me.

“And her kids? What about her kids?”

“What is hers is mine. We have already discussed that and we agreed to take them and raise them ourselves, along with my daughter from my previous relationship. We have weighed the possibilities”

“You really did your homework on this one”

Mommy said. Bazukile giggled proudly.

“You didn’t follow the proper channels for this. I am not pleased to be discussing this like this”

“I know, Sir, and I am really sorry about that. As I said earlier, I only wanted to introduce myself before bringing my uncles”

Bazukile confidently replied. Thoko pulled me down the passage to the kitchen. I tried removing her hand from my arm, but I couldn’t. We got to the kitchen.

“:Ouch!”

I exclaimed as she let go of me.

“What is going on here?”

“Bazukile is here to ask for my hand in marriage”

She excitedly jumped up and down, trying so hard not to make noise. I laughed.

“Wow. I am so happy for you sis, you deserve every good thing that comes your way”

I could feel tears welling up in my eyes.

“Thank you”

She sighed.

“I just hope they don’t give him a hard time. He is trying to do the right thing, instead of sneaking around like little brats all your lives”

I nodded.

“But I feel it’s a bit too soon. Maybe if we would wait at least two years before taking this step”

A tear escaped my eye and I quickly wiped it with the back of my hand.

“Ah man, I know how you must be feeling. Don’t worry, its normal to feel that way before a life changing experience”

She held my hand.

“Just enjoy yourself. Okay? Have fun. Bazukile loves you and has chosen you as the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Dude, that’s huge”

“What’s huge?”

Trevor asked, as he walked into the kitchen.

“And why are you guys whispering?”

We both looked at him and signaled that he should also keep it down.

“What?”

He whispered.

“Mandiphumle is getting married. Bazukile is here to tell the folks that he wants to marry her”

“What??”

“Sssssshhhhh!!”

Thoko and I shut him up in unison. He shrugged his shoulders.

“Keep it down. Look, you need to act calm, okay? Lets wait for them to tell you, when they are ready”

I said, almost panicking because they were excited and that meant things could go right.

“I’m happy for you man, that guy is so cool. He’ll be a very cool bro in-law”

Trevor said, proudly patting my shoulder. Mommy walked into the kitchen.

“Mandiphumle, come and join us in the living room”

She ordered, turning and walking away. I followed.

“Sit down”

Daddy said, as I walked in. I sat down.

“This boy says you have agreed to get married, and is here to formally introduce himself”

Daddy addressed me. I nodded.

“I tried talking him out of it, but it seems like you two have discussed everything in depth. I am now going to let the family know what this boy says he wants. All I am going to ask from the both of you is to respect me. I will not see this boy in my house, ever. Mandiphumle will not sleep over at your place or spend time with you. She is still my child and I want to make sure that you do things by the book”

Wasn’t it a little too late for that? Anyway, Bazukile and I nodded repeatedly as Daddy explained everything.

“My boy, from now onwards, we do things by the book. Okay? No more surprises”

“Thank you Sir, I will keep that in mind”

“You can go now. We are done”

Bazukile got up.

“I will see you soon. Thank you so much for your time”

He walked out. They both looked at me.

“Start talking”

Daddy said. My voice failed me. I didn’t know what to say or how to say it. My heart was pounding out. I was expected to sound happy and confident about something I didn’t even believe in. I had no energy to smile and act all jolly..