Long ago there was a child born by a woman called Ntombesizwe. Ntombesizwe had five children and they were all born in Cape Town. She couldn’t keep them so she gave them to family members to look after them.

They were all given to different family members. Xolelwa and Lungile were sent to Ntombesizwe’s aunt, on a farm called Liso next to Adelaid. Sindiswa went to Ntombesizwe’s grandmother on a farm called Pantele, also nearby Adelaid. Thembi and Xabisa luckily were taken by their father.

Ntombesizwe was married to Xolelwa, Lungile and Sindiswa’s father before, and then later to Thembi and Xabisa’s father. Sindiswa, the child born by Ntombesizwe, was still a little girl and Gogo was not that young.

Sindiswa was six years old when Gogo started getting sick. Gogo had showed her rush on her thighs and Sindiswa had also suffered a sore stomach that day. Days went by and Gogo complained about this sore rush.

Gogo used to stay with one of her grandsons, who then got married, so Sindiswa and Gogo were on their own.

Gogo must have called some of her children because one by one they started arriving and Sindiswa didn’t understand. It was when the family also started to arrive that she learned of her Gogo’s passing. Days went by, and Sindiswa had to say goodbye to Gogo at the funeral.

Being Gogo’s ‘last born’, as everyone knew her, proved to be unkind to Sindiswa. Nobody knew what would happen to her as she was the only grandchild who stayed with Gogo.

After everything, all the visitors left. The next morning Gogo’s kids held a meeting and Sindiswa was called in. The reason for the meeting was to find a solution for Sindiswa. Who is willing to help? The question was posed. And Maggie, the last born, offered. She had six boys and one girl from her other sister.

Maggie was the final option, so they all agreed. The remaining family had to live. After a week, Maggie and Sindiswa also left. They took a train to Ginsburg.

Sindiswa got a very warm welcome from the family. Maggie’s family was big, and soon after they had arrived, they had to move again. They moved to Qongqotha, a location near Zwelitsha.

The whole family rented a room in Zwelitsha, and only the old man, Maggie’s husband, was left at Qongqotha. Every weekend they would go down to Qongqotha.

Maggie went to register them in different schools. Sindiswa was in Nozizwe Primary School. The first day at school was great for her. She got to mix with the other children and not worry about her own life. After school she would go home, and life would start.

Things started to change. They had to share half a loaf of bread among five children. Sindiswa always got the thinner slice as there was no sliced bread back then. Life continued to be bad and she continued to enjoy herself at school. It was the only place she could be happy.

The year ended and Sindiswa had passed. She had no place to go to during the holidays so she endured life at home. During the holidays, they lived with other people who rented the rooms in the house, so as much as it was dull, it was always busy.

One day, her adopted sister, Thuli stole R5 from a suitcase of another bhuti who also shared the house with them. The bhuti loved Sindiswa very much because he saw the way she was treated. He asked around the house and the answer was that Sindiswa did it. But bhuti didn’t buy that. He only said one thing: that not later than that day will the thief be seen.

Around five o’clock, as the kids were watering the garden, bhuti came back from work. When he entered the gate, Thuli cried and her left foot started shrinking. She dropped the bucket she was carrying. No one said anything; yet everyone knew.

Sindiswa was so happy that her name was cleared. She was already told that would not get Christmas clothes because she was a thief.

They started getting help for Thuli. They couldn’t go and ask bhuti because Thuli was their favourite. They tried and tried but all was in vain. The holidays went by and were bitter for all of them.

Then there was a day of the majorettes. Sindiswa was out enjoying the festivities and she got home late. As she entered the door she was in trouble for being out the whole day. They started beating her. When she got the chance she ran away.

It was already late for a child of about nine years old to be out. They looked around, but Sindiswa was hiding. They shouted and called her name, promising that they were not going to beat her, so she should come back. Eventually she did. Life continued as usual.

The next year schools opened and they went back to school. The year wasn’t different for Sindiswa, and the family was suffering more than the previous year.

In the year 1970, as she was under the care of her guardian, Mkhuseli, Maggies’ son, Sindiswa experience the worst trauma of her life.

Mkhuseli started abusing her.

It all started when Maggie got sick and Nolungile, Mkhuseli’s wife, had to go take care of her mother-in-law in Cumakala, leaving Sindiswa with Mkhuseli in Qongqotha.

They lived in a one roomed house, and Sindiswa slept on the floor of the room.

Mkhuseli would creep in under her covers at night, and do what he wanted with her. And then he would always remind her not to say anything, else he would kill her. Sindiswa would suffer at night, and the next day she would go to school.

In all this, she remained strong…

And now, in her old age, the daughter of Ntombesizwe is still strong.

Tell us: Can one draw strength from their misfortune?