Exactly 17 years ago I was born. My parents caught a single glimpse and called me Chloe. A beautiful dark-coloured girl with brown eyes, a small nose and a small mouth. A beautiful girl who not only gave hope to her family but to everyone else as well.

Growing up has been a real voyage, having to distinguish right from wrong and friends from foes. It feels like I bit off more than I could chew. All the physical changes and doubts coupled with confusion did not make life easier for me.

Like any other girl my age, I also have dreams. Maybe the funny part is that I do not dream about being a doctor or a chartered accountant. The only thing I’ve ever wanted to do was to write and sing. Writing was like expressing myself in an artistic way. I found a strange sense of satisfaction just by combining a bunch of words that blended perfectly together, to make one big piece of what seemed like an extract of all the voices that kept on going inside my head. And music? Well, that became more like my oxygen. Each time I opened my mouth to sing I heard my voice reach a place inside of me that just gave out an abundance of peace and joy that completely liberated me from my fears and troubles.

You may wonder what problems a 17 year old could possibly have. At this age I should be partying and doing typical teenage things. I, for one, would love to have a typical teenage life but life had other plans for me. There are two problems to be specific that are killing me right now. No, not dating but family and school.

Let’s start with my family problems…

It’s a family of six. My dad, mom and three other siblings. Things were going well until I turned 12. The picture that I had of a perfect family would become nothing but a memory.

My parents had a fight, a huge fight that marked the end of my childhood. It started with words until it got physical. They were retaliating by hitting each other, it went back and forth, until it finally stopped. When it did, my home was different, glasses everywhere and not a single piece of furniture could be recognised. My mother went to prison and my dad was admitted to hospital. When my mother was released from prison, she went to stay with my grandmother. My siblings went with her. I stayed with my father, because I was old enough.

He was really a good father and he never laid a hand on me. The hardest part was seeing him every day while he sunk himself in alcohol and killed himself with drugs. He would weep like a little baby over what had happened and somehow he managed to make me feel guilty as though I had played a part in the whole thing.

My mother, on the other hand, would not miss a single chance to insult my father and his family. She would tell me how they never loved me and how they would soon just get rid of me. I was only 12 and I had no idea who to believe and, being in the middle of everything, I crumbled. My siblings came to stay with my father every weekend. My mother was constantly working and I had to play the role of a mother to them and honestly, I still needed my mother. That was just too much for me.

Then there are my school problems…

My problems with school are normal problems. I hated school and I still do. The problem was that I couldn’t focus on my schoolwork. I somehow I thought every joke made in class was about me. I thought everyone was just looking at me and making fun of me – the girl who’s always late for school, the girl with no friends. As for my performance, I had performed really well previously but I kept downgrading and it worried me.

At 16 years, six months, a Grade 12 learner like me got an opportunity of a lifetime. I was offered a chance to send my story to a publishing house called Butterflies. I wrote my book and people loved it. They loved me. In two weeks I have sold over 345 copies of this book titled: A Journey Through Life.

People might not understand what is so special about this or what is extraordinary about publishing a book. I honestly don’t expect them to understand. But, to me, this is my 17-year-old dream.


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