“The morning after” by Tebogo Bore


I opened my eyes suddenly at the sound of knocking at the door. My heart was racing, and I was breathing heavily. As my eyes scanned the unfamiliar surroundings, my heart beat intensified. Where am I? Why do my legs feel as if I just finished a marathon? Most importantly, why is my afro tightly tied together into a bun preventing me from thinking clearly?

As I turn on my side, I notice the outline of another body left beside me on the bed. I grab the pillow next to me and cover my face in the hope that I will either wake up from this rather bizarre dream, or take my last breath before death visits me. As I lay in bed trying to figure out what’s going on, I see him standing by the door with a nervous smile on his face.

That smile drew me to him. There were times when I craved for it and knew that once I saw it, I could be again.

“Morning Mrs Modise,” he says coyly.

Then it dawns on me… Last night was my wedding night.

“What are you doing here? Did we? Here? In your parents’ house?”

My head is spinning trying to figure out exactly how he got here because I’m supposed to be fulfilling my makoti duties. I remember coming with Mamogolo Kedibone as my in-laws are teaching me their ways and welcoming me into their family today. Throughout the negotiations no one mentioned anything about me waking up next to my husband on the first night of our marriage. As soon as this thought comes to mind, I realise how silly it sounds. While I’m trying to gather my thoughts, he just stands in front of me smiling as if he had a legendary night.

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One of the characters from my favourite show was right all those years ago, nothing good happens after 2am. I’m standing in front of her smiling at the realisation that I’m a married man. The bachelor days of turning up are no more, and after today I will forever, unless death decides otherwise, be waking up next to her.

The dancing and ululation died down around midnight when my family welcomed their new daughter and I expected to hit the sack soon thereafter. I was hopelessly mistaken. Malome had had a jug of umqombothi glued to his hands the entire day and decided it was the ideal time to share the nuances of marriage with me.

“Monna, lenyalo ga se papadi. It’s an adventure that doesn’t end. And women! One day they are like this and then kamoso they are like that. Wena my boy, just remember these wise words from Malome: her love is unconditional, your union blessed and even after many, many, many years of marriage, every situation blossoms into an entertaining story!”

Once his soliloquy was done, his guffaw could be heard two houses away until his wife appeared. Mmamalome smiles at me while simultaneously reprimanding Malome for trying to wake the whole neighbourhood, and completely disregards my explanation that Malome was advising me about married life. As Malome was escorted away he managed to whisper to me,

“An entertaining story indeed,” and slowly staggered away. I repeated what he said as I walked into one of the backrooms to sleep.

It was 2:05am and I was exhausted. I had been tossing and turning for a short eternity until I decided to take action and follow Malome’s wise words. I grabbed my car keys and snuck through my parents’ house until I reached my first destination of the evening… the room my wife was sleeping in. Her serene expression made me think twice about what I was going to do, but Malome’s words encouraged me to execute my plan. I gently tugged her from her dreams and convinced her to get dressed because we had to leave right away. She resisted whispering how she wanted to sleep a little longer until I smiled and she agreed. She was clumsy on her feet and I decided to carry her in my arms to ensure a successful escape. We reached the car and our adventure began.

She slept most of the way and was awakened by a kiss on the cheek when I whispered that we had arrived. After rubbing her eyes and having a sip of water, our adventure began. To my dismay she made me question taking Malome’s advice seriously when she started shouting, “Sechaba Modise, what are we doing at the Johannesburg Library at who knows what time? Did I sacrifice my rest to help you look for yet another book you have been raving about?”

Before I could gather my thoughts to respond, two security guards appeared and we were instantly under the spotlight of their blinding torches. I left her in the spotlight and approached the security guards. I explained to them that exactly five years ago, I met Naledi in this library and now I planned to propose to her at the desk we met. As I held my breath, one of the guards began, “Men of today! Doing all these crazy things for what? i-Romance?”

He was interrupted by his colleague’s sudden laughter before he continued.

“In my time, you didn’t go down on one knee and ask her to marry you. You just told her you are going to marry her and she would dutifully say ‘yebo baba’. Men of today! I’m giving you 10 minutes inside and no more,” he sternly concluded.

I froze for a moment until I realised that my plan had worked. I thanked the guards and turned around to convince my wife to join me on this adventure.  

“Naledi in the next ten minutes we need to be in and out of the library. I know this is the last thing you expected and trust me I still can’t believe we are doing this but, YOLO!”

Before I could carry on the guards shouted, “EIGHT MINUTES Ndoda!”, and I grabbed her arm and we ran towards the library. As we ran past the guards I grabbed one of their torches and thanked them in passing. The library hadn’t changed much in the last 5 years and I effortlessly navigated us to the African Literature section. I asked her to hold the torch for me as I frantically searched for Mashile’s In a Ribbon of Rhythm. As I grabbed it from the shelf, I asked her to take a seat with me on the floor.

She was hesitating and I emphasized that time was running out. She sat down as I was turning the pages trying to find the poem she was reading the night I bumped into her in between these shelves. I found it and instinctively grabbed the torch from her and held it so I could both read and see her face. As I begun reading “You and I”, she held her breath and just as I thought she was going to cry, her infectious smile encouraged me to recreate the scene from five years ago… 

“You and I      

“Push the boundary of reason                                                                                                                              

“You and I                                                                                                                                                                         

“Plot the mystery of seasons                                                                                                                                    

“You and I                                                                                                                                                                          

“We are keepers of dreams.”

We recited the rest of it in unison and then sat in silence.

“Naledi, I’m looking forward to the rest of this adventure with you. First day of marriage and we already have an epic story to tell!”

We burst out laughing and she reminded me that we better get going before the guards came to find us. As we ran out the library and handed the guard his torch, she shouted an ecstatic thank you, and we headed home.

We kissed goodnight and she headed into the house as I went to the back room. My alarm rang at 6am and I lay in bed for some time as the events of this morning flashed in my head. I thought about Malome’s advice again and I decided to go into the main house and grab a cup of coffee. The house was completely silent and to my amazement everyone was still asleep. Only a wedding makes my family sleep in, I thought to myself. I was waiting for the kettle to boil when an idea came to mind and I knew I had to make the most it.

I entered the room my wife was sleeping in and I put the cup of tea down on the dressing table on top of the note I had written. As I was walking towards the door I decided to lie next to her and surprise her. Within minutes I heard Mmamalome singing a wedding song from the day before. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. No matter which way I tried to escape this room she would find me and she would be livid. Not only at me but also at Malome who she would automatically assume planted the idea into my head last night. So, I quickly got up and stood next to the door waiting for Naledi to wake up so we could figure out how to handle the situation.

“Ko ko. Tsoga mosadi!”

Mmamalome’s knocking awoke Naledi and she looked at me. At first she was puzzled and suddenly started panicking when she heard Mmamalome asking to come in.

“Just a minute Mmamalome,” Naledi said.

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I turned my attention to my husband who was smiling at me while I was trying to figure out how to get out of this situation. He always does this I thought. He has a plan and follows through on it without thinking about the consequences. Well, we are married now and this is the perfect opportunity to teach him to think on his feet!

“Tsena Mmamalome,” I shouted.

As these words came out of my mouth, the smile on Sechaba’s face vanished and panic ensued. Mmamalome walked into the room and screamed the minute she saw him.

“Bathong ba modimo! Sechaba, what are you doing here?”

“You know Mmamalome I woke up and found him standing there, speechless,” I explained.

Mmamalome went on a rant that woke the whole house up and next thing I knew Malome was standing in the doorway.

Mmamalome asked my husband again what he was doing in my room and at last he answered,

“I wanted to be a good husband and bring my wife tea in bed on the first day of our marriage. Bona, I was even going to leave her a note,” Sechaba pleaded.

Mmamalome read the note and starting laughing hysterically. No one knew what to do so everyone followed suit. When the laughter died down, Malome looked at Sechaba and said,

“Lenyalo ga se papadi!”


Tebogo Bore is a creative dreamer currently studying towards her Post-Graduate Diploma in Accounting at the University of Cape Town. She finds comfort in 26 letters and believes everyone is on a quest to find their green light. 

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