Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Uncle, the monster

My heart sank, my breath soured, I felt bile surge up my throat and I had to fight to keep my lunch in my belly. As the details emerged I lost my battle and rushed to stick my head inside a toilet. Part of me felt I deserved never to leave the germy depths. My life, merely by association, didn’t deserve to continue. I was ashamed.

I would rather be wrong and apologise for not giving him the benefit of the doubt than being proved right and hearing that he raped another child. The person delivering the news was bemused at how “normal” he had been earlier.  No sign that the previous night he had been hidden behind a door, almost caught by the mother of the ten-year-old girl he had returned to rape.

On Saturday, while the little girl was alone with her small brothers no adults about he had preyed on her. Luring her from her room he had masturbated on her thighs in the familiar comfort of her lounge. Will she ever watch TV in that room again without the paralysing fear he instilled in her that day? When he returned on Sunday he had promised he would “put it in slowly”. I can never be grateful enough for the little girl’s bravery that led her to tell her mother instead of believing the lies he said about killing her if she told.

I am sad she wiped the evidence, I am furious her mother didn’t take her to the hospital immediately.  All evidence of his assault has been erased. I can only hope that a previous conviction will be enough to convince the police to take the matter seriously. I will fight for this little girl, because the next child my uncle rapes, will be mine.

*please forgive typos, I am still in shock

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Not my shoes

Wearing another’s shoes is uncomfortable. I mean this literally. Even if you are the same size with the person, they might walk differently to you and therefore their shoes are shaped differently. Sometimes they have fat feet and your skinny feet might loll around in their cavernous step, wishing you would buy your own shoe and wear it.

I imagine living someone else’s vision of your life is much like voluntarily wearing your fat friend’s shoe. How much time do you spend scared you will do it wrong, that you will disappoint someone? How often do you question whether or not you are on the right path; unsure because you aren’t charting your path yourself?

Living in the shadow of expectation is hard.

As a mom, my children expect the very best from me; of everything I have to offer. They trust me to guide them through life, being their compass in the paths they choose and refuge when they are lost. They still expect me to guide them back to the right path but eventually they will resent my help, beaming like a flashlight in the darkness they will undoubtedly roam.  But these are expectations I welcome, these are expectation I have of myself as well.

As a woman in a relationship my partner has expectations, those expectations are often in line with elevating myself to a better me, a me he wants to show off more and be proud of more than he is of his own self. He expects me to love him the same as I first loved him even now three years after we met. He expects me to love him forever. And I will. Because he creates an environment where the first seeds of love he planted continue to flourish, he never rests on his laurels. I welcome fulfilling his expectations.

As a person I am burdened and weighed down by societal expectations. From my children I gain self and teach life to them, from my partner I gain knowledge and the value of sharing as well as a constant drive to be more. What do I gain from society? People demand you to conform and then they hate you for it. When you start your own route some follow while others frown on it and vow it’ll lead you straight to hell. Society should not be your moral compass but rather the people whose opinions you value. What my neighbour holds in high esteem is not necessarily what I would.

Having disappointed so many before it has taken me a while to divest myself of the guilt. The only reason they were disappointed is because I didn’t do what they expected, not because I didn’t do what’s right. I had no reason to write this blog expect to clarify to myself the fine line between my path and the path others carve for me.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mama should have never loved him

There was a time when he roamed the narrow village walkways, a vacant look in his eyes, and often a grin on his blackened mouth. Though clearly harmless, people would give him wide berth as he approached, unsure what he might do.  Children were cautioned; “do not provoke him, uyasangana”.*

But at 15, he was just a boy under the influence of drugs. Yes he became a menace, stealing whatever he could, from where ever he could. He was an enemy; of his own self, of his family, of the community which has raised him. He needed to be saved.

And so his journey began, his mother’s grief and fear of losing a son led her to them; The Saviours. Others had sang their praises; mothers whose sons had been reclaimed from the jaws of Satan, fathers whose daughters has roamed the streets plying that age-old trade in exchange for a sip or two of the Devil’s Juice; others a ringing testament of a support system that rivalled no other. Do not tell us miracles do not happen on Earth they shouted, for we are living proof that with prayer, anything can be overcome.

When he disappeared from the village none mourned his absence. For indeed it had been a long time since one could rest easy they forgot to fasten the back window. He would not be lying in wait for those he saw depart their homes, poised to ransack personal space for a trinket or two to sell. What did it matter where his mother had taken him? He was gone, let us rejoice the community agreed.

His Hell began. Spread beneath the crushing weight of one who had pledged to exorcise him of his drug addiction, he lost his innocence.  Every night the man would come, unheeding of pleas of pain and loss of anal control, he would take his pleasure of the boy and toss him aside with a promise of death should any ever hear of what happened. And when the boy dare soil himself during the ministrations, the man had a had whip to see him right. How dare he fear that which was duty?

There, in the place where many had avowed would save him he learnt important lessons about life. When you erred, when you were a boy who shamed your parents and paid no heed to the warnings of your teachers, you were punished. You were punished cruelly.

When his mother came to visit him, he told her. Mama, he calls me his wife, he makes me do things to him, things I do not want to do. Please take me home, I am afraid. His mother listened with narrowed eyes and a look of fury clouded her eyes. Before he could blink a stinging slap had cracked his cheek and he was left gaping as she stormed away; leaving him in the nightmare. You see they had warned the mother; the drugs would make her boy lie, she ought not to believe a word he said.

He escaped of course. He would not submit any longer. Living in a hovel whereupon others, bound by chains and ropes, others convulsing in startling shudders, had defecated where they lay. He could not stay. Not when sometimes, the kindly reverend’s wife he had always seen at church would bring their meagre rations of food half cooked. They were savages, she would waste no electricity cooking their meals through; they would eat what they were given; half starved, they would swallow the food, not daring to refuse it. Of all the things that had happened there, she was his biggest betrayal - a woman who cooed over babies and fed the hungry by day, so cruel under cloak of night.

He went home but his mother took him back. And this time he joined those who were in chains. He learnt that in order to be treated marginally better he had to pretend. Pretend to repent, pretend to be cured of his addiction, and pretend to love his mother. Pretend.

Because he could not be trusted to keep on the illuminated path, his mother sent him to live there. By the grace of a God who could not possibly be the same as that which his captors praised he passed Matric, perhaps the first miracle to ever come to that dark place. Rejoicing, he saw his freedom approach, who could hold him now, when he had the passage to a future?

The first night home, he says because freedom is a heady drug and he wanted to celebrate it, he smoked his first joint in three years and plunged back to the hole he had pretended to climb out of for three years. His mind undone, a neighbour took him to the hospital where he quite amusingly smashed all he came across, believe inanimate objects to be alive. The doctors agreed he would have to be taken to a mental institution for proper care.

Like a thief, his mother stole him from the only road that could have saved him. Back to The Saviours he would go. Hadn’t he been clean for three years? Was that not PROOF that The Saviours were the angels of God? No hospital would ever cure him she wagered and to the lions she fed his addled carcass.

I came across him wondering along the road, a chain dragging behind him. After a week of no drugs his mind had returned and again he had escaped his prison. He showed me the marks on his back where a whip had lain into him. He showed me the padlock on his chains. He begged me; please help me.

*he is crazy