I was admitted at the hospital for organ failure; one of my kidneys was not functioning well. It was my third week in hospital since I was admitted. The doctors kept me on dialysis while I was on a waiting list.
No one in my family was a match and those who were a match were not prepared to give their kidney to the problematic child, who “had the black cloud hanging over her”. I did not understand what they meant by that. My parents were really heartbroken but they did all they can, they were always beside me. The doctors said I needed a donor quickly otherwise I wouldn’t survive.
One day, the whole family came to visit me. I was asleep since the doctor gave me a sedative but I could feel their presence. Most of them left but my parents and grandmother stayed. They did not notice that I was awake. I heard my grandmother telling my parents to tell me the truth because my survival depended on that. My mother began to cry.
“I can’t tell her, not when she is like this,” my mother said.
My grandmother told her that I deserved to know the truth. I coughed and they all looked at me.
“Oh honey, you are awake,” my mother said.
I could see they wondered if I had heard them talking and I pretended as if I heard nothing. The whole night I could not sleep, thinking about the truth that I was supposed to be told. I thought maybe my parents were getting a divorce but why would they do that, they were happy. There were so many thoughts racing in my head.
In the morning I asked the nurse to give me my phone and I called my boyfriend, Reabetswe. He was the only one who knew how to make me feel better. We talked over the phone for about three hours; we talked about our future, made a lot of promises to each other. I did not want him to visit me at the hospital because I did not want him to see me like that, it was heart-breaking.
Days went by and I was not getting any better. My father came to visit me and he was talking in riddles. He told me how much he loved me regardless of the situation. Now I was really confused. I called my grandmother immediately after my father left.
“Grandmother, I know that the family is keeping a secret from me so I want to know what it is. The curiosity is killing me,” I said.
My grandmother told me in a calm voice, regardless of the tone I spoke to her with, that my mother should be the one to tell me. My condition deteriorated, I was on the verge of death. One day after my dialysis, my mother came to see me and I could see she was upset. She told me that she needed to tell me something important. We sat on a couch in the doctor’s waiting room.
“Keabetswe, you know that we love you so much. I always wanted to tell you but I couldn’t. This is very painful for me,” my mother said in a very distraught voice. She began to cry.
“Mom, what’s wrong,” I asked her not knowing what to do.
She told me that the man I thought was my father is not my biological father. I asked her if she cheated on my father and where my real father was. She cried until there were no tears left.
“Honey, when I was seventeen years old I was raped,” she said.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing right now. I was a child of rape?
I remembered the time when my aunt said that I was a curse to the family; I’m the one who brings bad luck to their family. So this is what she meant by that. I could feel tears boiling in my eyes. I began to cry, my mother tried to comfort me.
“Don’t you dare touch me,” I yelled at her.
I called the nurse to take me to my room. I asked her to not let anyone into the room. I cried the whole night. I was angry at my mother for not telling me the truth sooner. I also felt sorry for her. She had to go through all that at such a young age. I had all these mixed emotions.
I was facing quite a predicament. I asked the nurse to not let anyone in for the whole week. I only allowed Reabetswe in. I told him everything.
He advised me not to write my family off because they did what they did only to protect me. My mother was also the victim so I should meet her halfway. I understood him very well. I did not know whether to forgive my mother or not but I had to forgive her because she gave me love and support since I was born, even though I was the constant reminder of her pain and suffering. It would be unfair to hold it against her. After a week my parents came to see me and I allowed them in. They talked and talked.
“Guys, Can I please talk? You’ve been talking since you got here,” I said.
“Yes honey, you can talk,” my mother said.
“I know that you love me, you kept this from me because you wanted to protect me. Mom, I know this is hard for you too so I’m not going to prolong your pain. I forgive you for not telling me the truth but please, next time, don’t keep any secrets from me,” I said.
They were so happy that I forgave them. They all hugged me.
I felt much better. I don’t know why but I felt like something was lifted off my shoulders. I asked my mother if the person who did that to her was ever found. She told me that it was her close male friend, the person she trusted and loved. She said that she forgave him. I knew that my mother was kind and forgiving but this was being too kind. Forgiving someone who ruined her life, it was something I would never do.
She explained that forgiving someone was like forgiving yourself, setting yourself free from pain. My Dad said that he heard that he was out of prison and living in the nearby town. So they arranged for me to see him.
I was just lying on my bed when my father came with a strange man.
“Keabetswe, this is your father,” my father said.
“No, he is not my father, you are. He might be my biological father but he is nothing to me,” I replied furiously.
“Keabetswe, you are justified to be angry. I know I hurt you and your mother so bad and I’m sorry. I wish you find it in your heart to forgive me,” the strange guy said humbly. And as a token of my apology I’m willing to donate my kidney to you if you will accept it,” he continued.
“Kea, he is a match!” my father exclaimed.
“Your kidney won’t heal the pain you’ve caused to me and mother. It will only remind me every day that I have a kidney from my rapist father,” I said really upset.
There was silence for a while. My father broke the silence when he said that I should think about it and they left. I did not want to accept the guy’s kidney let alone forgive him.
Later that night he came to see me, alone this time. We talked, well he did all the talking while I listened. He told me that he served his time in jail and all he thought about in prison was me and my mother.
He seemed sincere, like a good guy who just made huge mistakes. I forgave him since my mother taught me a lot about forgiveness. I also accepted his kidney, I didn’t have much of a choice since I was dying.
My life was never the same again.
I mean knowing how I was conceived was heart-breaking. I thought maybe my illness was a blessing in disguise. I learnt the truth about how I was conceived, met my biological father and got a healthy kidney. Instead of feeling sorry for myself because I was a child of rape, I used it to my advantage.
I joined We Are The Survivors, a non-governmental organisation for rape victims and children of rape like me called. We talked about challenges we faced on daily basis as rape victims.
It was how it was meant to be, all according to God’s plan. God will never give us challenges without solutions. It was who I was, the child of rape. I learnt to embrace it by inspiring others and motivating them.
Tell us: Do you believe in forgiveness? Why? Why not?