I was just eighteen-years-old, but it felt as if I was sixty. I lived in a squatter camp close to Pretoria, with my grandmother and two younger sisters. The place we lived in was not luxurious. People were always jostling, day and night, looking for a better life. We subsisted on my grandmother’s pension, which was not sufficient for us all.
Every weekend, my grandmother went out to find some plastic materials. She then sold them to be recycled, but this money was still not enough. We lived that way for a long time, until I decided to find a job. I acquired a job as a saleslady. The job helped us, but the money I earned was still not sufficient. In the third month of my new job, I met a guy named James Jackson. He was a good friend to me, and my family adored him. James was always helping us, and he was available whenever we needed him.
On my birthday, he asked me to come over to his place. He wanted to celebrate my day with me. I went to his house as I trusted him, but what happened was not what I had expected. He broke my virginity, and I fell pregnant with his baby. I started to hate him, for he had known that he was about to ejaculate, but he had still chosen to release it in me. I hated him because he knew my background but he still chose to do it.
I didn’t want a baby. I thought about where I came from, and about my future. I didn’t want my children to grow up like I had, or to live in the place where I lived. It hadn’t been a mistake to James. He had done it on purpose. What I detested the most was that he was in love with someone else.
“But how can you do this to me? You have someone in your life. Do you want to ruin my life?” I asked him sharply. “I wanted neither a baby nor a family. You have made my situation in life even worse.”
“I am sorry for coming into your life. I just wanted to make you happy. I didn’t mean to hurt you and I think there is a solution for this,” said James.
“What is the solution?” I asked him.
“I know it’s bad, but it’s the only way to fix things,” James replied. “In this way, you can work for your family and be a good example, and I can be with mine, away from you. I think you should have an abortion. I will pay for it.”
“What?” I shouted at him. “No! Do you know what that would mean! It would mean that I am going to kill my baby!” I shouted at him.
“I know, but it’s the only way,” said James. “We have reasons for doing it, so that we can move on with our lives.”
I didn’t want to have an abortion, but I did it because I didn’t want to end up being a bad mother. In a week’s time, James and I broke up and moved on with our lives.
Two months later, James was married to his new wife, Portia Doyle, and I worked as a sales manager. Life went on like a clock, as if nothing had happened. But I felt lonely with regrets, empty with sores. I didn’t want to do it, but I tried to move on step by step, like a tortoise. With the love in my heart I tried to find a person that I could love. I didn’t want to die with unrequited love. I prayed to God to give me a person to love, somebody who would love me for who I am.
God answered my prayers. Pieter was the one. He introduced me to his family and made my family feel at home. He loved me with a pure love and was committed to me. When I was with him I felt nothing but joy. Everything about him was kind and loving. I didn’t want to hurt him as he never hurt me. I wanted to tell him about my past relationship, but I was afraid that I would lose him. I decided to keep the secret and never hurt anyone.
Two years later, I was still living with my secret. Pieter and I were in a happy relationship, so we decided to get married. He then decided that we should have a family. We tried but we failed. We went to see doctors for help, only to find out that my womb was damaged, and that I wouldn’t be able to bear children. Pieter’s face showed disappointment, and this really hurt me. His eyes were full of tears. He really wanted a family. He wanted to have children. I blamed myself for this. I guessed that I would be able to bear children if I hadn’t had an abortion.
Pieter started to lose weight and focus. He almost lost his job. I saw the pressure he was carrying and the pain in his eyes. I didn’t want to hurt him, but I decided to tell him the truth about my past.
“My love, there is something I want to tell you,” I said to him with a lowered voice.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Before I tell you, may you please forgive me? What I am about to tell you has been a secret to me. I did something in my past. I didn’t do it because I wanted to hurt you or your family. I did it because of my background. I did it because I didn’t want to be a bad example to my sisters and to hurt my grandmother. I did it because life was holding me back, and because I didn’t love him. I want you to know that I love you, and that I will always love you. You may hate me for this, but I will know that I at least told you my secret,” I said to him, crying with a sore heart.
“Stop crying and tell me what’s going on! What is the secret? I’m talking to you! Answer me!” he shouted at me.
I understood why he was shouting. “As I said, please forgive me,” I repeated.
“Forgive you for what? I said tell me!” he said angrily.
I tried to tell him but I couldn’t. The pain was holding me back. I wished that I could turn back the hands of time, but I knew that this was impossible.
“Talk to me and stop crying! I know that we can’t have children. What is it that you want to tell me that is making you cry?” he asked.
“I…I…long time ago, in my past, I did something. I… I…I had an abortion,” I said while crying.
“What?” Pieter replied. “No… No! Tell me that you are just joking! So that is why you can’t bear any children? You have damaged your womb! How dare you! How could you do such a thing? Answer me! I am talking to you!”
Pieter was shouting with anger, and at that moment I was shaking like a volcano that was about to explode. I couldn’t speak.
After a while I said: “As I told you, I was young and I didn’t know that I was destroying myself. I saw a brighter future ahead of me and I didn’t want to destroy it. Please forgive me, please.”
“What? Me forgive you? I will never forgive myself for welcoming you into my life. I have some words for you: I am done with us and there will never be an “us” anymore!” he said sharply. He then left me alone with a sore heart. There was nothing in my mind but pain, nothing but wind blowing me away.
All I had wanted for us was the truth, which is sometimes called integrity. I had wanted harmony. I hope that, some day in the future, Pieter will find it in his heart to forgive me. I hope that some day he will see that I didn’t want to do it. Today I am lonely and lost in the dusty streets, wondering if there is someone out there who can love me. I am wondering if there is someone out there who can accept me the way I am, regardless of my past. I need someone who will understand that my past doesn’t determine my future. Blaming and regretting who I am because of my past will never bring peace and joy. It will only leave soreness. That is the end of loving in my life.
Tell us: Do you think the narrator did the right thing telling Pieter? What would you have done?