Life was difficult since our mother was sick. We were living with her cousins, our aunts and uncles. Uncle Duma lived in Johannesburg and spent most of the time in Gauteng other than coming to KZN. Uncle Zipho lived here at Nyanyadu with us, but most of his time was spent in Durban at work. He was married, unlike uncle Duma, and he often visited home, unlike uncle Duma.
Aunt Zandile is uncle Zipho’s wife and she lived with us. Aunt Xoli and Aunt Sindi lived with us too. I didn’t like Aunt Sindi because she treated us like a piece of a useless thing and Aunt Xoli didn’t like speaking too much. I have three blood sisters. My older sister Thandeka is the daughter of my mother’s older sister Aunt Hloniphile, my second sister Thulisile is my mother’s first born and then my little sister Siphelele. I am Sinothando.
Thandeka sometimes treated us like strangers just to gain the affections of our cousins, uncle and aunts’ children. Thulisile was always being abused for our sake and Aunt Hloniphile worked in Johannesburg.
My mom was sick and it had been two years. Aunt Zandile kept on reminding us that no one would take care of our mother if we didn’t so we had to make sure she got everything she needed on time. One day Mom called us to tell us to take care of each other as blood sisters and the next day I heard Aunt Xoli telling Aunt Sindi that my mom had passed away as they had taken her to hospital the previous night.
We lived in farms and we were still young. They said we should go and visit our cousin because to keep us from the funeral; we were not allowed to be at the funeral. We returned after funeral and we were told that Mom was in Johannesburg. This was to hide from us the truth that we already knew.
A few days after the funeral, Aunt Zandile told us to wash our clothes because nobody was going to be our maid. We did everything as we were told to do. On that day Thandeka shouted at Thuli just to please our cousins but it didn’t just end there, it carried on until Thandeka decided that she couldn’t stand this life. So she went to live with our little grand mother and her grandchildren as her children had all passed away. We didn’t follow her as we were afraid of what might happen if Aunt Zandile came and fetched us.
Life carried on and became worse.
We used to wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning to fetch water from the community taps. It was just me and Thuli by then because Aunt Hloni took our little sister, Siphelele to live with her in Johannesburg. I always cried because my hands would freeze but I was told not to because nobody was going to feel sorry for me. What was even worse was that when we arrived at home, Aunt Zandile’s children would pass nasty words to us. Even at at school we had to look good so that the teachers would not feel shame or pity for us. At the end of the year Thuli got herself a certificate for cleanliness. Even though we lived under pressure we still hated people to feel pity for us.
That year December, Aunt Zandile died. That was when her children respected us as they were also feeling how it was like to live without a mother. Aunt Hloni would deposit money for our food in Aunt Sindi’s bank account. But then it was just a song that we had money because she would spend it all on alcohol. What was even worse was that we had to sell metals for a living to support ourselves. We lived that life until Aunt Hloni decided to take us to Johannesburg.
It was nice to be in Johannesburg and Thuli told Aunt Hloni everything that happened in KZN. She promised to take good care of us so we started calling her Mom because she was our mother’s blood sister. She took good care of us, even taught us what’s wrong and what’s right. Living with her was even greater because she treated us exactly as her children. After seven years of living together, Mom Hloni passed away and told us told us to take care of each other as blood sisters. By then Thandeka was doing Grade 12 only to find out we were all by ourselves.
Tell us what you think: Why do you think families treat each other so horribly?