I used to sleep in the chicken coop at times and I would pull the t-shirt over my legs to try to stay warm. I remember making horses out of clay with my friends and we would sell them. It was hard for me because when my friends went home I had nowhere to go. Only one young boy knew my situation and he used to steal food from home for me and bring it to me.
Sometimes people used to give me clothes, but my uncle’s wife, Noeloff, used to send her son to find me. He used to beat me and take me back to his mother. She would close the door and beat me and take away the clothes. When I stayed with her in 2007 she used to ask me to boil water at 5 a.m. and I would end up being late for school.
I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I started going to school. I used to go to school even when I was living on the streets. My teacher told me I could attend even though I didn’t have shoes.
The people in the area didn’t want to give me food because they were worried my aunt Noeloff would call them “witches” and curse them. So I used to hunt birds to feed myself. I would take insects from inside the sugar cane and tie cotton around them. The cotton thread would be connected to a trap and when the bird pecked at the insect, the trap would close and snap its neck.
Some days I didn’t catch birds and I would drink water to staunch the hunger. I also sometimes used to work in the corn fields to get some food. I must have been about 6 years old and my job was to take the mielies and place them in the sack.
The neighbours sometimes asked me to look after the sheep on the mountain. They would give me food for that.
I tried to stay with Nomawabo, but Noeloff would arrive and take me away. Nomawabo once bought me a wool jersey, but Noeloff tore it up.
After they got me from the bush they took me to the Chief. The Chief asked me who I wanted to stay with and I said I wanted to stay with Nomawabo, but they said Noeleoff didn’t want me to. The Chief recommended I stay with another uncle in the Eastern Cape. I disagreed. The Chief told me he was going to beat me because the Eastern Cape is not the same as Gauteng or the Western Cape where there are children’s rights. They voted, and Nomawabo’s mother supported me.
We lost and I was sent to the uncle.
The uncle was a politician affiliated to the ANC and his wife had a child named Freedom, who was about 17 years old. I had to make 200 bricks a day and If I didn’t meet the quota I wouldn’t get food or had to sleep outside. Freedom used to help me make the bricks during the holidays. He wasn’t like his parents. I would have to collect mud in the wheelbarrow for the building of the flat. It was too much and I ran away again.
I went to sleep outside again. There was a lady named Nothousand. When she went to pick up wood she would find me playing in the trees and she asked me if she could help me. I sometimes used to sleep at her house and she would feed me. She had donkeys and we would ride them and use them to deliver sand and would take them down to the water.
One day I had a thought. I had this question in my mind and I asked myself: “Do I deserve life? Why am I not like other children? Did my mother love me?”
I wondered if this was God’s plan, as in the Eastern Cape they talked about God a lot. I used to cry and cry, but tried to hide my pain because I didn’t want people to see my pain. I used to lie when people asked me how I was. I used to say I was great or I wouldn’t answer the question and would go to the river to get clay to make clay animals.
Once I made a father and child and played alone. I didn’t make a mother because I never had a mother. I made a farm and I created a lot of cows. I would think about my parents and I got mad and angry and smashed it all. I ran up to the mountain and shouted as loudly as I could.
I went back to the village and asked my friend for a knife. It was large and sharp and I cut saplings off the trees. I was small. My friend brought me screws and I build a hut from the branches and a plastic tarpaulin.
In the Eastern Cape it rains badly, and then it started snowing. The hut collapsed and I ran to hide in the caves. I was hungry. I had thoughts of killing myself but it was hard. I was afraid God would punish me. I bought rat poison in the shops and wanted to eat it. But I was afraid and I threw it away. I thought that maybe there is hope when people tried to encourage me.
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