(It was already dark when Nomathingo arrived at Ugu river. The moon shined brightly. She stood in front of the river tears streaming down her face)
Nomathingo : It's over. What do I do now? Where will I go? Huh? You both died and you left me to suffer. Mama you asked me to let you go and you promised me that you would take care of me. What happened to your promises that you made to me? I took care of you. I held you in my arms until you took your last breath.
( The River was suddenly calm and Nomathingo looked around. Her eyes searched everywhere)
Nomathingo : Mama! Baba! Talk to me I know you can hear me. Show yourselves. What do I do now? Ilanga liyangishonela
Voice : Every princess needs a guardian. Find your guardian
(Nomathingo listened intently and the voice was coming from the river)
Nomathingo : Where do I start? Show me the way… Give me a sign.. Anything
Nomathingo : Please!!!
(The river started flowing again)
(Someone was shouting her name. She turned around to find Cetshwayo standing behind her)
Nomathingo : Nzwakele ngiyaxolisa baba
(Cetshwayo held her hands)
Cetshwayo : You did nothing wrong princess.
Nomathingo : What is wrong with me Baba? Am I ugly? Am I not good enough for those men? Yes maybe that's the problem
(Nomathingo was pacing around with her hands at the back of her neck)
Cetshwayo : No. You are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. Maybe the timing is just not perfect
Nomathingo : Maybe I'm too fat
(She looked at herself. Nomathingo was beautiful in her own way. She was a bit taller She was medium sized. Her skin was dark her eyes were big and beautiful. She had the most beautiful smile)
Nomathingo : Or maybe I'm too skinny
Cetshwayo : Just stop it Princess. Uyindoni yamanzi wena. You are beautiful just like your mother Queen Nandi. When the time is right you will find your prince
Nomathingo : Time? Time? Time is what I don't have Nzwakele Don't you see it?
Cetshwayo : Calm down my princess
Nomathingo : I was right there and prince Sizanani chose Gugulethu. She is only 18 baba and I'm 21. Prince Sizanani saw a wife in the eyes of a young girl and he left me.
Cetshwayo : I know. I was there and I saw everything
Nomathingo : How many times have I attended uMgidi this year only? 10 times but still no one chose me. Go home Nzwakele it's getting late.
Cetshwayo : I can't leave you here.
Nomathingo : You have to Nzwakele. I can't go back to the village. The thought of those women cursing me and throwing me out of the village is just too much for me. I can't stand anymore shame
Cetshwayo : No you are coming with me. Nobody will know you are home. I will lock you inside my late wife's rondavel and nobody will know that you are there.
Nomathingo : You have tried so much to protect me Baba and I appreciate that but there is nothing you can do now. Please go home and don't worry about me because I will find a way to survive
Cetshwayo : No you won't. You are young princess and you can't take care of yourself.
Nomathingo : I will find a way.
Cetshwayo : King Benzangakhona hasn't said anything about you. Akakawubizi umqulo and that's a good sign Right?
Nomathingo : It's too early to say that baba. King Benzangakhona will summon you soon.
Cetshwayo : Until then you are coming home with me. We will figure things out tomorrow as a family. Princess your sister is leaving home tomorrow. Gugulethu needs you to be there for her. She has been crying from the moment we came back from Umgidi and I don't know what to say to her anymore
Nomathingo : She doesn't want to get married to prince Sizanani baba
Cetshwayo : Let's go home Nomathingo. Please
Nomathingo : Kulungile Nzwakele
(They went back to Emalahleni. Nomathingo found Gugulethu crying)
Nomathingo : Dadewethu ka baba
Gugulethu : Why me? Why Noma? I'm only 18. What do I know about being a wife?
Alondwe : You will learn Gugu.
Gugulethu : Just shut up Alondwe!
Nomathingo : Yehlisa umoya Gugu. Alondwe is just trying to help
(Gugulethu jumped out of bed)
Gugulethu : She is trying to help? Then let her marry Sizanani. If Alondwe wants to help me then she must be the one who will marry Sizanani!!
(Gugulethu was angry)
Nomathingo : You are the chosen one dadewethu not Alondwe
Gugulethu : I don't want to be chosen! I hate this tradition! This is abuse Nomathingo. Oh! How I wish my mother was still alive She was going to protect me. She was going to fight for me. Death is not fair
Alondwe : Don't say that Gugu. We want to protect but our hands are tied. Mama would have been so proud of you
Gugulethu : All I ever wanted was to finish school and marry the man of my choice. I do not want Sizanani. I don't want that yellow bone good for nothing man.
Alondwe : He is not that yellow Gugu. He is handsome
Gugulethu : Alondwe if you have nothing to say please keep your mouth shut!
(There was noise outside and Alondwe quickly checked on the window to see where the noise was coming from)
Nomathingo : Who is it?
Alondwe : Sssh! I'm trying to listen
Gugulethu : Is it Sizanani and his father? Are they here to take me?
Alondwe : No. It's King Benzangakhona's retinue
Nomathingo : What? Oh my God! The king sent them to throw me out of this village
Gugulethu : Or maybe they are here to take me to Sizanani. Please tell them I'm not here. I'm going to hide
( There was a knock on the door. Alondwe opened. It was Cetshwayo)
Cetshwayo : King Benzangakhona wants to see us
Nomathingo : At this time?
(Cetshwayo rubbed his eyes)
Cetshwayo : Yes. It must be important and it couldn't wait. Please cover your heads and let's go
Nomathingo : Nzwakele you know what this means Right? I'll start packing my clothes
Cetshwayo : Awuyeke ukuxhamazela Nomathingo and calm down. Stop assuming things!
(Nomathingo was nervous)
Cetshwayo : Please be quick. We can't keep the King waiting
(Cetshwayo walked out. Nomathingo looked at Gugulethu then Alondwe. She shook her head and grabbed her scarf to wrap around her head)
Nomathingo : Let's go
(AT THE ROYAL HOUSE )
(Nomathingo and her sisters sat down on a grass mat with their heads bowed. Cetshwayo was sitting on a chair. He kept cracking his fingers and bouncing his leg. The adrenaline rush was killing him)
(King Benzangakhona walked in and sat down on his chair.)
Cetshwayo : Nkosi yami why are we here?
Benzangakhona : Why is she still here?
(Nomathingo closed her eyes)
Cetshwayo : With all due respect Nkosi yami but my daughter has nowhere else to go.
Benzangakhona : Are you not aware of our tradition? Should we remind you how we do things around here Cetshwayo? Is it the first time something like this happens kulesegodi? Kuqalala ngendodakazi yakho ukudingiswa?
(The king was asking many questions at once which was very frustrating for Cetshwayo)
Cetshwayo : Cha Nkosi yami.
Benzangakhona : Since when do you disobey my rules Cetshwayo?
Cetshwayo : My daughter will leave first tomorrow morning.
(Gugulethu brushed Nomathingo's arm trying to comfort her. That was a difficult moment for Nomathingo)
Benzangakhona : Did I or did I not inform you that you need to take a new wife after your wife's passing?
Cetshwayo : You did Nkosi yami.
Benzangakhona : Where is she?
(Cetshwayo swallowed roughly)
Benzangakhona : Who is the king of Emalahleni Cetshwayo? Is it me or is it you?
Cetshwayo : Uwena Nkosi yami.
Benzangakhona : Then why are you not following my orders? You know very well that every man needs to have a wife around here. Do you want to be accused of rape? Because that's what going to happen Cetshwayo if something happens you will be the prime suspect because you don't have a wife which means you are the one who sleeps with these kids.
(Cetshwayo lifted up his head. He was enraged)
Cetshwayo : Nkosi yami are they accusing ngalamanyala asanda kwenzeka kulesigodi?
Benzangakhona : No. No one is accusing you of anything for now.
Cetshwayo : I understand
Benzangakhona : They brought back Mtolo's daughter. She was no longer pure but she assured everyone that no man has ever touched her
Cetshwayo : So prince Nqobizitha brought her back?
Benzangakhona : He had to. He took back all his cows. Mtolo was so disappointed ihlaze isigodi sonke intombazane yaka Mtolo. Ngisho nami uqobo
Cetshwayo : She lied about being a virgin?
Benzangakhona : She did. Prince Nqobizitha and his father will come back in 4 weeks to choose a new girl. I'm glad King Manqondo still trusts me after all this nonsense.
Cetshwayo : I'm glad too Nkosi yami.
Benzangakhona : I like you Cetshwayo and people respect you around here which is why I'm not going banish your daughter Nomathingo for now. I will give her 2 more chances to participate in Umgidi. Only 2 more chances and if no chooses her then I want her out of my village.
(Nomathingo sighed in relief)
Cetshwayo : Isandla sidlula ikhanda Nkosi yami. Ngiyabonga Mashiyamahle
Benzangakhona : Not so fast Cetshwayo. You need to send izinkomo zelobola ko Zingelwayo. You need to take his wife
(Cetshwayo stood up and sat down quickly. He was fuming but he tried to hide it)
Cetshwayo : Nkosi yami cha. Zingelwayo was buried a week ago and now you are asking me to marry his wife?
Benzangakhona : Are you questioning my decision Cetshwayo?
Cetshwayo : Cha Nkosi yami
Benzangakhona : I expect your men to be kwa Zingelwayo before the end of this week to pay ilobola. Gugulethu?
Gugulethu : Ngiyasabela Nkosi yami
Benzangakhona : Make us proud emagcekeni ako Gcwabe.
Gugulethu : Yebo Nkosi yami.
Cetshwayo : Can we wait for another week before I go and pay ilobola?
Benzangakhona : No
Cetshwayo : Nkosi yami. You are asking me to marry someone who killed his husband and I'm not sure if I want to d…
Benzangakhona : Did you see her killing Zingelwayo? Are you the witness of that? Were you there Cetshwayo?
Cetshwayo : Cha Nkosi yami.
Benzangakhona : Close the door on your way out.
(Cetshwayo walked out with his daughters and they went back home)
Gugulethu : You can't marry her baba. You can't!!!
Cetshwayo : I do not have a choice. Do I?
Gugulethu : She is abusive. She beats up her children
Alondwe : She killed Zingelwayo because he wanted to take another wife. Everyone knows that!
Cetshwayo : Alondwe you can't go around saying such things. They will kill you
Nomathingo : She is right baba. That woman can't come here.
Cetshwayo : How do I stop her? Huh? Nimuzwile u Benzangakhona. He gave me an instruction that I need to follow benikhona nimuzwile!
Gugulethu : Ngiya kanjani kogana ka Mkhize knowing exactly what I'm leaving behind? How do I go and marry Sizanani knowing that there is a woman coming here to abuse my father and my sisters? How do I do that Cetshwayo?
Nomathingo : Dadewethu please don't worry about us. You have a lot going on
Alondwe : No Noma!! She can't leave us. She needs to be here. If Cetshwayo is going to marry that woman then Gugulethu can't go.
Nomathingo : Why?
Cetshwayo : Don't be stupid Alondwe! The Mkhize's are coming tomorrow and Gugu needs to go back with them.
(Gugulethu was weeping)
Gugulethu : I can't do this anymore. I'm going to my room
(Everyone went to bed. It was before midnight when Gugulethu knocked on Nomathingo's door)
Nomathingo : Dadewethu what's going on?
Gugulethu : I'm struggling to sleep
Nomathingo : Are you nervous about tomorrow?
Gugulethu : What do I know about being a wife Noma? What am I going to do when I get there? Those people are going to expect me to wake up at dawn and I won't be able to do that? I can't even cook Noma! You know how lazy I am so how am I going to take care of Sizanani and his family?
Nomathingo : You will learn Gugu. There are other wives there who are going to assist you.
Gugulethu : They will laugh at me. You know what? I hate Sizanani and his father
Nomathingo : Don't speak like that. Sizanani seems like a good man. He loves you Gugu
Gugulethu : Oh please Noma. He doesn't even know me. He just chose me like he had no other choice. Stupid man!! I don't know if I can do this
Nomathingo : You can dadewethu!
Gugulethu : Noma please take care of our father and our young sister. They are going to need you now more than ever
Nomathingo : Of course I will dadewethu.
Gugulethu : Can I sleep here with you?
Nomathingo : Yes. Come
(They got to bed. Nomathingo was tired and as soon as she closed her eyes she fell deep into her sleep. She had a dream about her sister Gugulethu. Gugulethu was standing next to her holding her hand)
Gugulethu : I couldn't do it Nomathingo so I had to go. Ungixolisele ku Cetshwayo
Nomathingo : How can you do this us kodwa Gugu? You left us just like that?
Gugulethu : I'm going to protect you Noma. Every princess needs a guardian around here and I'm going to send one for you
Nomathingo : I don't need a guardian. I want you to come back. U Cetshwayo uyakudinga
Gugulethu : I left you to protect him. I love my father so much and I want you to protect him from that woman. Goodbye dadewethu
(Nomathingo woke up sweating and she searched for Gugu next to her and Gugulethu was not there. She sat up quickly when she saw Gugulethu hanging on the rope with her tongue popped out. Nomathingo rubbed her eyes and took a look again. It was Gugulethu She committed suicide in her room. She screamed and opened the door)
Nomathingo : Cetshwayo!! Cetshwayo!!
(She banged the door)
Nomathingo : Cetshwayo wake up!! Baba Vula!!!
(Cetshwayo opened the door quickly)
Cetshwayo : What happened princess? Why are you crying?
Nomathingo : Gugu.. Gugu.. Is… Gugu is in my room.
Cetshwayo : Take a deep breath Nomathingo and tell me what's going on
Nomathingo : Baba Gugu is in my room
Cetshwayo : Good. I'm sure abaka Mkhize will be here soon. Tell her to start packing
Nomathingo : Baba you don't understand. Come baba! Come you need to save her!
Cetshwayo : Save her from what?
(Nomathingo swallowed hard)
Nomathingo : I think she is dead Cetshwayo
Cetshwayo : Don't be ridiculous Nomathingo.
Nomathingo : Baba u Gugu uzikhunge ngentambo. Uyalenga lapha egumbini la……
(She broke down in tears and slowly went down on her knees)