Four months later…

I’m not going to tell you some fairy tale where I’m now rich and perfect. As Shakespeare says, We know what we are, but know not what we may be. And I’m not only working on my future, but still trying to figure out who I am now. But I can say that things don’t feel as hard as they did. I’m not lonely. I have friends and family, people I can count on.

I’ve even met my son. His name is Gabriel and he is the cutest and smartest little boy you’ve ever met. But I’m not living with him. Not right now. He’s got himself a nice stable life with Ma and Tazmin, although I know this hasn’t been easy on either of them. But we’ve decided, as a family, that it’s better I stay in Cape Town. I’ve got myself signed up for classes come January. I’m going to get my matric. Shana and Wonga have already told me to quit my unofficial job at the bar, and that I can keep my room and still train and help out at the dojo.

I bluntly asked them why they’re being so nice to me, as Mrs Makholwa encouraged me to do. (Yes, still seeing her too; Lord only knows who is paying for it.) Wonga just grinned and called me his ‘investment’.

Shana elbowed him and said, “We do think you have a lot of promise and could go far in women’s fighting, sure. And it is true that the more successful fighters we have, the better our business looks. Not going to lie, you are a great story and you could end up making us some money. But most importantly, we like you and care about you, Justine. You’re part of the dojo’s family now. You bring something special to the place and we enjoy having you here.”

Which was nice. Also, I’m relieved they might get something out of this, too. Doesn’t feel right only taking and not giving back. It’s nice to know that if I train hard, I might be able to repay them, while bettering myself.

And Dax and I? We’re being careful. Taking it slow. He’s got a lot in his own life to sort out, too, including picking a degree. But we’re still holding hands. Oh, all right, we’ve been kissing. A lot. Not much more than that, though. One baby is more than I need. So when I am ready, I’m going on the pill and making Dax wear a condom. I trust him, though. He’s not the sort of man that would slip it off when I’m not looking.

He’s a special guy, Dax. Together, he and I are nothing like I’ve experienced before. I mean, the man even came with me to Mossel Bay to meet my son. That’s enough to make most young men run, but he stayed there and played with him and acted like my crazy house covered in Shakespeare quotes was a perfectly normal place to live.

“Hey,” he’d said, “all families got their quirks. This isn’t any weirder than living on top of a dojo.

So I’m doing OK. Fine, really. It’s like Muhammad Ali said, I guess, you really can make something good out of mould.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

That’s gonna be me. It is me. I, Justine, am not a screw up. I’m a daughter, a sister, a mother and a friend. But most of all, I’m a fighter, just like Mister Ali.


Tell us: Are you surprised that Justine’s mother changed her mind about throwing Justine out of the family’s life? What realisation did she come to?


The plays from which the Shakespeare quotes come, in order of their appearance, are:
1. Macbeth
2. Hamlet
3. King Lear
4. Henry V
5. A Midsummer Night’s Dream
6. Measure for Measure
7. Macbeth
8. Hamlet