English says, “You never know what you have until it’s gone” but I knew what I had before it was gone. I had a father, friend and a protector. A man who carried me around on his shoulders and made me rest on his lap. He would bite and kiss my forehead.

I was six years old when I lost my father in just a snap of a finger. All the affection, security, happiness – all gone! “Why did you give me hope when you knew you would give up?” those were the words I said to the grave that went mute. My mother maybe thought giving me a chance to have a father again would help me heal but it broke me instead.

My second father is a good man who loves to laugh and joke but that’s all in people’s eyes. In mine, I see a greedy monster, abuser and a rapist! Growing up, till my current age of 21, life has never been easy. I was made to cook, clean and wash for a man who never treated me like her daughter. As for my mother, she never cared a bit. She welcomed his punches like tickles, and thorny words like they were honey.

I remember when I was in matric. One morning he came to my room, and aggressively pushed the locked door until it fell on my younger siblings. It was 2am. He never cared of his step-children, I heard the cry of my brother saying, “Papa remove your shoes, you’re hurting me.” This was followed by a kick that made me jump out of bed and push him out of the room.

As I was about to go to bed, I met a hot slap on my face and for a while I thought I was dreaming, I saw flash and stars. He dragged me to his room, pushed me hard that I hit my head on the wall. I did not cry as I was used to this. I waited for him and after he finished, I asked for transport money. He replied, “Go to your mother, nxe!” I knew what this meant so I prepared myself, took my bag and went out.

There I was walking alone in the cold dewy morning at 3:30am, no one cared. No car stopped. A question popped, “Do I call you my father?”


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