Nobody wants to hang around reading whole books on the Internet, so it will be the short(ish) version.
When I met Zak in the middle of 1985, I had been a single mother for ten years. "My first husband left me for an older woman," is the joke I usually make about my first, lonely marriage. Since little-girlhood my ambition had been to be somebody's wife. I became one, pregnant, at age 18, and I un-became one eight years later, at 26.
It was horrible not to be wanted by any man. The first years of non-attachment were spent obsessively hunting for a new attachment, but shortly before I met Zak, I gave up. Somehow, I came to terms with "being alone". A Bible passage became an anchor for my self-worth:
"Fear not, for thou shalt not be ashamed,
neither be thou confounded,
for thou shalt not be put to shame,
for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth,
and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.
For thy Maker is thine husband,
The Lord of hosts is his name."
Lobola is a Zulu word that means bride-price. It is negotiated between the senior male family members. Today, education is an important factor in determining the value of a bride.
When he saw the painting, Fikile, our gardener, quickly reckoned that @ about a thousand Rand a head, Zak had paid a mere ZAR7000.00 for me (about $1000). Since I am a "tiesha", he believed that amount far below my value. It is not even equivalent to the cost of my qualification!
Fikile is very sensitive about the matter of bride-price. He had been unable to get the R4000.00 together that he owed his father-in-law for his (uneducated) wife within what the old gentleman considered to be a reasonable time. So dad had fetched his daughter home (and the twins), until such time as Fikile could cough up the money. And negotiations were being considered with the family of a new suitor...
I met Zak, saw his work, and in conversation afterward half-jokingly commissioned him to make me a painting entitled Lobola vir Erna. The painting was to be of "Wonderbeeste" - how to translate that word? Wondrous Cattle? Anyway, the concept was the wonder of God's love for me in paying my bride price. To make me His, he gave His Son. So the painting was not to be of any old ordinary cattle. Zak was intrigued, and made my painting.