“I was checking my email when Nadya called. My wedding invitations were ready. She wanted to deliver them personally rather than send them by courier to our ranch in South Africa. I didn’t think… it was necessary for her to make the hour trip from Nelspruit, but she insisted. I knew what to expect: a gold butterfly printed on the left corner of the front page and the text in golden writing on the second page. I chose the butterfly as the special symbol of my wedding, because it perfectly reflected the new beginning of my life. That’s how I felt since finding the love I’d been looking for – transformed.
As soon as Nadya arrived, she showed me the invites. The butterfly was missing.
“What happened to the butterfly?” I smiled nervously. Surely she wouldn’t mix my invitations with someone else’s?
“It’s better than you think,” Nadya said quickly, opening the invitation and pointing to a butterfly floating on the inside. Its wings worked as a clasp by pushing them through a little slit on the front the butterfly could be on either page. I bubbled with smiles.
Just as she was leaving, I thought of a way to show her my gratitude. I rushed to the cellar to fetch a bottle of Cap Classique 1999 J.C. Le Roux bought especially for the wedding. When I gave it to Nadya, the sparkle in her eyes showed it all; she was as pleased as I was.
Back in the house, I had another look at the invitation. On the front were the gold initials J & A. I pushed butterfly wings through the small perforation to unclasp the invitation.
The wedding date looked strangely familiar: Do I know someone who has a birthday or something special on the same date? The telephone rang. It was John. He was calling from his office, which is a hundred meters away from the main entrance, inside the massive free-flying aviary connected to our house.
“Darling, we have visitors. Let’s take them for a game drive. Will you bring the bakkie please, and the cooler box with some drinks?”
Because our ranch was the only place in the world where you might see more than a hundred white rhinos at once, we often had visitors. When John turned fifty he decided to leave Johannesburg, where he’d been a successful property and hotel industry entrepreneur. He planned to semi-retire, and breed rare wild animals while still running his time-share resort business. Putting city life behind him, he’d bought a run-down ranch as well as nine neighbouring overgrazed cattle farms, a total of 7000 hectares. Now, fourteen years later, the ranch was a healthy ecosystem. One that was perfect for John’s new passion – saving the African rhino from extinction.
I drove the pickup truck, known as a ‘bakkie’ in South Africa, to John’s office. The bakkie had been converted especially to take people on game drives. John, along with our three dogs, was already outside greeting our visitors. They were John’s old friends, Carl and his wife, Nadya from the Eastern Cape. We’d seen them a month ago, in April, when we had been there for a reunion with John’s family. Back then, I hadn’t even been engaged.
Nadya and I quickly settled in the rear of the bakkie on one of the soft green benches, while Carl sat inside the cab next to John. As soon as we started moving, I shared with Nadya my excitement about receiving the wedding invitations from the woman who shared her name.
“Is there some other exciting news on the way?” She gently patted my hand.
“There is,” I laughed, watching her wide smile. “But not the news the whole of Malelane is talking about. I’m not pregnant. I proposed to John on our last night in the Cape. We decided to do the wedding in July, when my family from Ukraine come to visit us. Why wait for another year?”
“You proposed to John?” Nadya exclaimed. “My girl, I need to hear that story.”
She didn’t need to ask twice; I was ready to share it with the whole world.” – Misfortune. A.Hume (The release of book-March 2015.)