On the 12th of December 2021, my friends and I were involved in a traumatic event that involved shooting. Living in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, we hear gunshots every day from breakfast to supper. Even so, none of us, before that day, had ever been close to a shooting – let alone having the bullets directed at us. But on this day, both occurred. Three of my friends got hit by the bullets; thankfully none of them were fatally injured. The bullet wounds and broken bones have healed; our emotions haven’t – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is what we’re dealing with now.
A few days after the incident I went home, to the Eastern Cape – a much slower place. I was busy in the Eastern Cape, but at an easy pace. No gunshots meant the life is much more relaxing! The air is fresh, it rained a lot and the smell of the wet soil after the rain took me back to my childhood. I was nostalgic for the peace I associate with that time. I was distracted from my trauma and that led me to believing I had healed. Things changed when I got back to the Cape.
January 2022, and I was back to the sound of gunshots as my daily bread. Every time I’d hear shots, I’d be scared, and my mind would go back to December 12, the day I saw my life flash before my eyes. My anxiety was at an all-time high. The tipping point was this one day – I was working with my doors open and playing loud music as usual when I work. My neighbour’s kid, who is fond of me, came to see me. I didn’t hear his footsteps over the loud music. He’s 4 and tiny. He came in and noticing that I hadn’t seen him, playfully tried to scare me. He had a toy gun and pointed it at me. I caught the gun at the corner of my eye and didn’t see who was holding it. My mind went back to December 12, as it usually does, and I thought: “This is it, you’re gone.” I closed my eyes and braced myself and then I heard his cute little laughter: “Haha! Ndikothusile – I scared you.” I was so relieved but my heart was still pounding.
I began keeping my doors closed and not wanting people over. A couple of days after the scare with my neighbour’s child, I told my friends about it. I told them on a Friday before I went to bed. The following morning they all came to my house. They bought drinks; we drank, played loud music, and sang at the top of our lungs. We talked. One of them said, “We’re all not okay, but siyapusha – we are pushing.” I knew then I was not alone.
I have always known these are not my friends – they’re my brothers. Little moments like those ones make everyone put things into perspective. My friends don’t say “I love you” often, but with their actions you see the love.
I haven’t healed from the trauma; I’m still paranoid. My anxiety is still there and this has turned me to a very emotional being. I am taking the right steps to my healing and I also know that I am not alone: ndim nezinja zam. EKasi there’s this tsotsitaal we use to refer to a friend – “Mfethu”. It’s from the word “Mfowethu” and it means brother. I live it every day. Abafowethu – brotherhood.
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Tell us: Do you also have a group of friends like the author’s that make you able to go on when life gets tough?