And we move on to the next topic of conversation. Why should it matter if he was black or not? Why are we, who have been so affected by death, discussing this man’s life so casually? It is almost like someone else saying, “I lost a file at work today”. I couldn’t help imagining that detective – the one who took the case and we never heard from again – telling his wife over dinner the next day:
“Two girls were raped last night,” and dishing a second helping.
“Were they white?” she will ask.
“One was,” he will say.
And then he’ll take a big bite of steak.
He will never solve my case but, in his life, I guess that really doesn’t matter all that much. And, seriously, when a woman is raped every three seconds, why should it?
I don’t go to the church service that Sunday. Every Easter Sunday in the past we had attended the sunrise service at the beach. After the service which is held, you guessed it, as the sun is rising, everyone would gather on the beach and watch people getting baptised in the Holy Spirit with braai smell in the air and the butter dripping down your hands as you bite into a crunchy hot cross bun. Crunchy because it’s PE so the wind is most definitely blowing sand which ends up in your food.
That Easter I feel physically sick at the thought of attending a church service.
All those smiling, happy people. Singing and praising the Lord for ‘He is good’. And then asking God to forgive their sins. Thanking Him for dying for them. All those pretend cheerful and happy people. Or worse, the ones that actually are happy.
I think I’m going to have to fight my mom about it but it turns out that she had lost God as well. I guess that’s what happens when your one daughter dies and the other one gets raped. I needed someone to look after my mom after I was raped because I couldn’t. I couldn’t be there for her. But no one did. No one could see past the lonely, angry, scared woman, who had lost so much. No one could reach past her bravado to try and be there for her. She was completely alone and it broke my heart.
She started telling people that she’s an atheist, which led to her being ostracised in the community. She was angrier than I had ever seen anyone be, but her anger came from hurt. She still found it in herself to let strangers who didn’t have homes stay with her.
So, there we are: my mom and I, the condemned. And I would rather be held by my mother with confusion and hurt than be hugged by a Christian with a fake smile.
If this is the life that I am living, I really don’t understand what Jesus died for. Did He really die so that a man could rape me and then go to heaven? Meanwhile, I am left unable to piece myself together again, unable to acknowledge God or His love because I feel so betrayed. Do I then go to hell? But the man who raped me, if he accepts God’s love and asks for forgiveness, he gets to go to heaven?
The only thing that has been great about God’s love in my life has been its absence: a great gaping hole where God’s love was supposed to be.
A few days before the Easter weekend, I had sushi with a friend at Sevruga, a restaurant at the Waterfront in Cape Town. As we gazed over the harbour and manoeuvred giant tempura prawns onto our chopsticks, she said, “After you were raped I was really angry at God, and I couldn’t understand why He would allow that to happen to you.”
“Join the club.”
“I was struggling with it a lot. But then I read this piece in the Bible and I realised I’m not supposed to understand. God spoke to me and I worked through it.”
I felt so betrayed. Beyond betrayed. I go around proclaiming I don’t believe in God anymore and how dare He not prove me wrong? And how dare He help a friend deal with me being raped and not help me, the person who was raped?
I want to believe that God exists. I keep waiting for someone, something, to prove me wrong. But no, I do not want to hear about how much He does for you in your life when He can’t even be bothered to throw a high five in my general direction.