My first most significant change in life was in December. I was doing Grade 9 and my younger brother was in Grade 6. We were coming from school, so excited to share the news that we were going to the next classes to our aunts. I also recall that moment when my science teacher handed the report card to me saying, “Sandakahle, only if you can change your life, all the best for the future.” Those words brought triumph to my life at that time.

Immediately after we crossed a stream, there was a sudden big storm and darkness was all over. We started crying because we couldn’t see each other and we were still far from home. We were still far from the village houses and electrical cables fell all over, but we kept on running and crying.

Eventually, we reached home and the storm stopped. The storm had already ripped roofs off and my little sisters were terrified, crying. All that excitement we felt earlier just vanished.

People from the village gathered but no one was willing to take us in. Until a 69 year-old villager, whom we always brought Christmas for, came to our rescue.

“You can collect some stuff, you will be staying with me until your home is rebuilt,” she said.

That day was a life changing moment. We didn’t even tell the good news we had until the following day when my aunt asked.

“Sandakahle nawe Siseko, ziphi i-report zenu, (Sandakahle and Siseko where are your reports cards)?”

We showed her and she was so happy for us. We started the new year and our home was built and we went back home.

I’m now doing my matric and I received a phone call from my sister.

“I need to see you, our little brother is in hospital.”

I skipped the lessons and went to the hospital. When I arrived I passed a small room and my eyes quickly spotted some familiar clothes, but my mind said no, those could not be my brother who’s laying there.

I asked my aunt and she just said my brother was fine. The doctor then comes and said, “Sandakahle, please wait for me inside that room,” and he came in with a glass of water.

“Your brother has passed away,” he broke the news to me.

I kept quiet for some time.

I was reminiscing about all the great memories we had together. I remember a week before he came to hospital and we were fixing the kraal and just laughing at our silly jokes. Then reality kicked in and I just cried and cried till I almost lost my mind.

I ask God why all the people I love always die. First it was our mother who passed away at home while sitting under the tree. And still, no one knows what happened. We cried on that day too, trying to wake her up.

When I go home on weekends I always have memories of me and Siseko and tears just roll down.

“Thula Sanda kuzolunga, nguThixo uvumileyo kwenzeke yonke into, (Keep still Sanda, it’s God who allowed everything to happen).

There’s a four year-old back home who loved Siseko a lot. She always asks me, “Uphi uSiseko bhuti, (Where is Siseko, brother?) No one told her the truth that he’s no more, people just say he is with me and I always keep that lie as well. That always gets to me cos I know he’s never coming back again.

Now I dream of becoming a doctor and to save people’s lives. I believe the doctors could have done more to save my brother. There were few doctors available, hence no one checked what was going on with him. Now I am working towards my dream and my science teacher’s words echo, “Only if I can change my life and saves lives.”

Whoever’s had the privilege to read my unforgettable life changing tragedy, I say to you now, thank you, and know that optimism is the faith that leads to great achievements.


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