“There he comes,” said a group of girls sitting under a tree.

“Just look at how dirty he is, walking barefoot and hungry,” the laughing voices said. “Finah, he is all yours, go girl.”

Tears started rolling down my face, my heart started pumping with pressure as if it would tear my chest and fall down. I would try to be brave but for how long?

“Hey you, Sibusiso, ain’t you ashamed of yourself? Just look around you, all the learners in the school are smart and beautiful except you. Just look at your clothes, they are torn and dirty, check. That T-shirt of yours is no longer white, it has changed colour due to being washed every day, and is dirty, don’t you have soap? You don’t even have school shoes. Where are your parents? Yoh, if I was you I would kill myself,” Finah said, and her friends started laughing out loud, and throw pieces of bread and paper at me.

Every day of my life it felt like torture when I crossed paths with Finah and her friends, but it was true I had no shoes, so I would combine a lot of bits of plastic and wear them during winter when going to school. I don’t know my father, I was raised by a single parent who always did other people’s laundry so that she could buy food. I learnt not to ask her for anything as long as she gave me love.

My English teacher Mr J used to say, “Dear lad, put more effort into your school work.” The sad thing is that whenever I was in class I wasn’t coping because a lot of things were stressing me, not to mention hunger.

I finished my matric but didn’t pass the way I wanted but I’ve successfully enrolled in college. Mom is happy but I’m still that scared boy. It was a relief to finish high school because Finah and I went different directions. I once bumped into her friend Thabi and she told me that Finah died during a celebration that she hosted after writing the last paper in matric. Apparently she overdosed on drugs. I felt bad for her because I had forgiven her and understood that she didn’t know what she was doing to me and was still young.

Now I’m in college I keep on asking myself if I will make it in life. That’s my biggest fear. Will I get my breakthrough to success? Will God answer my prayers one day? Will I be able to tell my mom to rest because her son will work and provide for her so she can live like a queen?

My wish is to close my eyes at night and wake up to a lavish life but who am I fooling, the struggle continues. It’s said that “acceptance is key”.

Life has taught me to be tough and refuse failure but the pain continues.


Tell us: How have you overcome your struggles?