Every day is day of love for couple who met as teens
For Kuhle Dandala and Mandisa Makhasi, the teenage fantasy of meeting your first love and growing up together has come true.
They met as teenagers in high school and are now young adults engaged to be married.
It was on Valentine's Day nine years ago when Dandala, then a 16-year-old, first professed his love for his lady, who was two years younger. Makhasi, a brand strategist, turned him down at the time.
"I don't have fond memories of the day, back in 2011 when I was in grade 9, I kind of broke his heart as he came to me with gifts and asked if I was in love with him yet? My answer was a big 'no' because I knew nothing about love at the time."
They became friends and a year later started dating and that was beginning of a beautiful relationship for the Durban couple.
They spent a lot of time hanging out at the local park and visiting their favourite ice-cream shop for a treat.
Dandala said their friendship played a huge role in overcoming couple challenges over the years as they are best friends.
"We did not always get it right, I mean people change, especially having been with someone since you were both teenagers," he said.
"However, regardless of our differences and our own personal growths, I knew that she is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with."
However, like most relationships, it was not always smooth sailing for the lovebirds. Their union has survived being apart as they attended different tertiary institutions and both partners cheated on each other.
"We had our challenges as a couple but cheating nearly broke us. We even took a break from each other and it was very hard. It took a lot of communication and understanding each other to start dating again," Makhasi said.
But once the issues were resolved they were even stronger than before.
Last year May - after eight years together - Dandala, a candidate attorney, took his sweetheart to the same park they frequented as teens and proposed.
"It was truly sentimental because we did everything in that park and that is also where we really got to know each other. We laughed and cried together in that park," Makhasi said.
She said she was first attracted to Dandala's cocky and confident side but adds that her fiancé is also a God-fearing man, with a beautiful smile.
"He has a very beautiful heart, a very considerate man and I really love that about him. I also love how self-driven he is when he wants to accomplish something; he does it and he does it well."
Dandala said Makhasi has a huge heart and is super-grounded with an exceptional head on her shoulders.
"She is very passionate about things she loves and she is extremely ambitious and possible the most gorgeous woman I have yet to set my eyes on.
"She is literally the melody to every song I love and I am a huge music lover," he said.
Dandala said they had become very close over the years to the extent that food doesn't taste the same if he is not sharing it with his fiancée.
They both described love as happiness and Dandala said he believes they are soul mates. "We have been through everything together and I somewhat feel connected to her. I don't love her for what I feel she can do for me but I love her because I just do, it's like breathing.
"Love to us is everything associated with happiness."
Asked about today being Valentine's Day, Makhasi said: "To us Valentine's does not mean a thing, every day is our Valentine's day."
Her man described his perfect date as "I am not much of a romantic guy but a perfect date will be spending time with my fiancée".
Next month their families will meet for lobolo negotiations and after that they will set a date for their wedding.