Little girls are told never to hang around boys because they might cause danger for them in a number of ways. Things are different for me, though. I am Naledi Ndlovu, and the ghost is in my own home. Growing up in an unhappy home made me realise that life is never fair. I hate the thought of love, but mostly love itself.
My parents have been married for over thirty years, but I don’t recall ever seeing them happy before. It’s a hard thing to accept that I never get attention from the people who brought me into this broken and conniving world.
“You’re useless and rebellious!” Naledi’s mother shouted out of rage. She was a broken woman who had surrendered her life to substance abuse and didn’t care who got harmed in the process.
“I may be useless, but at least I’m better than a 24/7 drunkard who’s turned into a joke every day in this township,” Naledi replied.
This heated conversation had started after Naledi had spent hours at the park without telling her parents where she was. Her mother, Sarah, loved her, but she had an anger that led to her carelessly neglecting Naledi’s needs. After a long period of fighting and screaming, Naledi decided to take a bath because doing so always helped her relax and carefully observe her beauty.
Naledi knew she was pretty, but no one cared to remind her of it, or at least acknowledge that fact to her. After taking a bath, she wore a flowered dress and her regular sandals, and decided to take an aimless walk.
“Ubuye njalo (Come back quickly), you need to cook Naledi,” her mother said calmly.
“Olambileyo uyawazi amabotwe ukuthi ahlaphi,” Naledi replied, “So, ningangifaki ezinkingeni zenu! (Anyone who is hungry knows where the pots are, so don’t you make your problems mine!)”
Naledi’s mother kept quiet and stared at her daughter with disappointment in her eyes. As Naledi was taking a walk, she saw her father, Aaron, sitting at a Kota-spot with a girl who looked as young as herself. She stood there staring at them for more than a minute, and, after seeing her father give the girl a couple of hundred rand notes, she decided to walk away without causing a scene.
“We always have tin fish or milk as isishebo, but he does this with a young girl? Hamba phela uyahlola lo baba manje, kodwa uzoyikhotha imbenge yomile! (Go test that man now, but you will regret it!),” Naledi thought while walking away with her thoughts sounding louder than her voice. While she was walking, anger began filling her heart, making it pound heavily. She increased her walking speed, but her old sandal tore in the front-toe area as a result.
“This is totally ridiculous,” Naledi angrily said. “First of all, I don’t know where I’m going, and now this? How can I get you fixed without any cent in my pocket? You are a wicked sandal.”
While walking, Naledi began shaking, and she knew for sure that anger was now brewing in her little heart.
“Hey, I can get that fixed if you don’t mind,” a guy politely offered.
“Hey,” Naldedi responded. “As much as I hate accepting help from strangers, I’d really appreciate that. I hate limping around because of a silly sandal.”
Naledi got help from the mysterious guy who, after they exchanged numbers, eventually became her friend. When she got home, she went straight to her room and started writing her homework, which was something she hardly ever did ever since she started high school. When her father came back, her gut warned her to keep quiet and she obeyed. This was the same day she started being herself again.
“I am tired of wearing make up to cover my scars. You are the only one who makes me melt and feel brand new again.” These were the lyrics of the song she wrote for the mysterious guy.
After two months, everyone noticed a change in Naledi’s behaviour. She had an unusual glow, and a smile that her mother had last seen when she was a toddler. It was a shock to everyone close to her, including her teachers. They saw how well behaved and generous Naledi was becoming, and everyone wanted to know what the secret behind the “new” Naledi was.
Naledi was in grade eleven at the time, and there was such a drastic change in her school marks that even the class genius was beginning to sit uncomfortably in her mighty chair. To be honest, though, Naledi was never dumb, she just never cared about her school work as much as she now did. She was not a bully, but she was a weirdo who’d eat you up if you made jokes or remarks she hated.
“Naledi, can you please make us some tea and come here for a short conversation,” her mom requested.
“Sure, coming right up,” Naledi said.
Her phone screen quickly flashed a dim light. It was a message, and it caught her attention so much that she stared at the screen instead of making tea and, rather, responded to the message quickly.
Hey babe, hope my sunlight is cxxl. I just wanted to tell you that I miss you and the preacher said they need you early for choir practice. I’ll come pick you up at 15h00pm sharp.
She read the message and continued making the tea. After preparing the tea, she joined her parents to hear what their “short convo” was about.
“We called you here to apologise for our behaviour for the past few years,” Naledi’s mother said. “Ever since your father cheated, we couldn’t stop fighting. We never realised how those fights affected you, but after seeing you smile, we were reminded that you were once a happy child. I, as your mother, am deeply sorry for causing you pain and for abusing you, especially verbally.”
Naledi’s father quickly spoke before Naledi could respond. “I have a child who is the same age as you, and, as a result of my cheating, she is my responsibility. I’m forced to give her half of my salary every month, and that is the reason we never have enough money in our home. Your mother and I fight because I do not cover all your needs, and her salary is more of a stipend than it is a salary. I am sorry for using all these drugs, but, honestly, we’ve sought out help and we are willing to be better parents, only to maintain the smile we’ve seen recently.”
Naledi responded with tears flowing down her face. “If only I knew, I wouldn’t have acted the way I did, especially to you mom. What happened to me is a mystery. I found God’s favour in the worst place imaginable, and, through a stranger who is now more than a friend to me, I found myself healing from all the wounds in a house I never imagined ever entering.” She stood from her chair. “Let me go bath. I’ll tell you one dynamic change that exploded in this little body of mine.”
Naledi’s words left her parents both wondering and curios. After taking a bath, she wore a new dress and new pair of shoes. She sat on the sofa, staring at her phone like she was expecting someone to call, and neither of her parents had the guts to ask her what was happening. After a few minutes, her cell-phone rang and the only word she said was, “Yeah Ngena”.
Her parents started wondering who the hell it was that she was inviting in, and, after one minute or so, a young man in his early twenties entered the house and humbly greeting the two people who were totally lost.
“Mom and dad, remember the day I left angrily? Well, I met this guy, we became friend, and now we are thinking of building a future together. He taught me one great thing that none of you has ever taught me, and he gave me one thing that y’all never did. He gave me love and introduced me to God, who taught me that silence is better than arrogance and that I should rely on him for my happiness because the joy that’s in Christ is forever.”
“My grades are improving because I’ve learnt to work hard and to make God the anchor of my life,” Naledi continued. “I forgave you before y’all asked for forgiveness, because I’ve found love that I’m willing to spread in every abandoned garden in order for new flowers to bloom in unexpected seasons.”
These were the words that changed Aaron’s household for the better, and allowed them to embrace their flaws together as one.
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