I was 18-years-old and living in a squatter camp somewhere in Pretoria but originally from the rural areas in KZN. I had come here to study. I was living with my mother’s cousin and his wife. There was this family friend of theirs who often came to visit. He was like family now. He lived down the road.
One Monday my mother’s cousin who I called uncle sent me to collect money from him during the day since they were going to work. I went there around 11am since I didn’t have classes that day. I knocked on his door and he opened. He was shirtless.
“Come in mshana, please help me with this paperwork,” he said and I went in since I didn’t have classes.
Just as I was about to stand up to leave, he locked the door. Panic hit me so hard but I acted brave.
“I’m done uncle, I want to leave now,” I said but he came closer to me. He pushed me to his bed and I began to shiver with anxiety. I wanted to scream but realised that it’d be pointless since people were at work. He swung my dress up and grabbed and tore my panty. I regretted not wearing tights. You see, he was strong and I was just a thin short thing. I kept fighting but the harder I fought the more painful it became.
“Relax so that it doesn’t hurt,” uncle said but as naïve as I was, I felt like fighting to my last breath. Then he stopped and looked at me with disgust. He unlocked the door and I flew out like a long-prisoned bird finally getting freedom.
I got home, bathed and got to bed. I felt sick. Tears were flowing freely from my eyes. Not because of the physical pain but the one I was feeling inside. I blamed myself for trusting him. I blamed my mother for trusting her cousin. I blamed myself for wearing a dress. If I had worn jeans, perhaps it wouldn’t have been easy for him. I have never spoken of that day but the memory of it is still clear in my mind. The wound is still fresh in my heart. I think about it every day.
Two months later I went home for holidays. I’m naturally introverted so no one noticed anything. One evening my mom called me to her room and asked when last I saw my periods. It was only then when I remembered that I last saw my periods few weeks before the incident. She became angry and left my room. Fear got to me. For a moment, I felt my soul leaving my body. I fell on my bed. Mom came back and started shouting. She was disappointed.
“I trusted you and let you go to school but look at you! You made me a laughing stock. Oh God! My enemies are enjoying my downfall. What did I not do for you, huh? You went and became a prostitute Egoli! Who’s the father? Surely you don’t expect me to look after your bastard,” she shouted at me.
“I don’t know,” was all I could whisper.
“Heee! You don’t even know which one it is! I can’t even look at you right now. You disgust me.” She spat on my face and slammed the door.
I cried so hard, I couldn’t tell her the truth. If my own mother saw me as a prostitute surely no one else would believe my story, I thought. I wanted to abort the child before my mom’s ‘enemies’ could celebrate. I went to clinic for abortion. The nurse cursed and called me all kinds of nasty names. But there was that one nurse who spoke wise words into my life. I told her what happened.
“Open a case and let him pay for his sins!” she advised but I didn’t want to cause unnecessary drama. I went to test for HIV as well, I tested positive. I saw my future fading in front of me; I felt my world crumbling in. I’m not a swimmer but I went to swim. I just wanted to shut everything and everyone out.
I wanted to forget my thoughts. I wanted to focus. Just when I was about to drown, I got rescued. I cursed God for it because I wanted to die. It is true that every cloud has a silver lining. A Good Samaritan gave me a shelter as I couldn’t go home. I knew my mom was better off without me. I gave birth to my precious HIV positive bastard, the only reason why I wake up every morning.
Every time I look at her I see the need to keep pushing. With matric being my only qualification, I am able to provide for my baby. I never got the courage to go see my mom again. I know at some point I will have to forgive her. I couldn’t forgive the father of my child but I’m working on it. For now I’m only focusing on myself and my baby.
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