Meet South Africans Nhlovo and Kulani, descendants of the Tsonga people. An artist and scientist, respectively, this couple has just learned they are expecting a baby after many failed attempts.
But, considering what lies in wait for them, they will be soon be faced with a decision regarding the fate of their baby.
These two characters teach us how to be together, how to love one another without condition. They have much to teach the others as well.
It had been eight days since Kulani’s birthday. Eight days since they found that strange birthday card. Eight days since the rain started, odd for this time of year.
And eight days since Nhlovo had expected her monthly reminder they’re family was not yet a trio.
She sat on the edge of the tub in her porcelain bathroom. The walls were painted beige, a single strand of ivy stenciled from ceiling to floor. It was a simple and easy place to sort out the day, from foresight or hindsight.
She stood up again, holding the pregnancy test in her hand, staring at the simple string of ivy, willing her breath to slow down as she counted the leaves from top to bottom. The test was still in the box. Nhlovo read every single bit of writing on the outside, not wanting to miss an instruction or warning. Her hands shook as she opened the flap and pulled out the stick. She dropped the box to the white floor where it slid and stopped against the wall, just at the base of the ivy, one of the leaves seemed to rest on the box’s side. Nhlovo read the tiny pamphlet cover to cover before she began.
Even though she’d been through this before. Twice before.
With a long breath, she removed the stick from its wrapper and while repeating the directions to herself, urinated in the exact spot for the exact amount of time. She perched the stick on the lip of the sink just so, hovering over it for a moment to monitor its balance. With a deep breath, she opened the bathroom door to find Kulani leaning against the opposite wall.
“Well?” He questioned, raising one thin eyebrow.
“We have to wait. Three minutes. You know.” Nhlovo told him, barely a smile on her lips, tension around her eyes.
“What are we doing out here then?” He laughed, trying to lighten the mood, and pushed himself off the wall and through the bathroom door. He stopped where the stick lay, afraid to afford it a glance. He turned back toward Nhlovo whose dark skin had turned ashen.
“Kulani, what if-“
“No, no, no.” He cut her off. “Don’t think like that. Come here.” And he pulled her close, wrapping his protective arms around her, stroking her hair. The time passed for hours it seemed. Hanging there, still and silent. No clock sounds were nearby, nothing to tick-tock the world into moving. They stayed like that awhile longer, breathing in unison, twisting their slivers of hope together.
Nhlovo was the first to break the spell. She gently moved her head and pushed away from Kulani until he was at arm’s length.
“I’ll look. I have to.” She bowed and shook her head as she said it. She took his right hand in her left and turned to the white sink and the stick that lie there, waiting.
It was negative.