The nausea was building up as I lay on the floor in a corner that I had been given to sleep in by my aunt. This was a room, evidently showing little sign of any renovation done with a ceiling that could come down and crash on me any moment. I had to experience a nomadic sleep pattern during the rainy season so as to make use of the dry parts of the room as the ceiling would always leak. One corner was full of old bicycles and utensils whose dust could induce an anaphylactic reaction had I been suffering from atopy. One window was broken, which made me get a fair share of the August night wind. I should have been grateful for experiencing the breeze. It reminded me of the beach. I had never gotten the opportunity to visit a beach, but I had to convince my mind that this is how it felt so as to endure the misery.
I flipped my blanket, which now had probably been washed over two hundred times, and got into a pair of crocs I had bought for two dollars at the market with money from my secret husband. I quickly dodged out of the way of the two silver pots that had fallen from their pile, reached for the door and burst straight into the toilet which was opposite my room. Without hesitation, I vomited into the chamber of the toilet. Digested milk and sadza from last night’s little meal I could only tolerate due to the lack of appetite. Disgusting right! Just as I was in the process of standing from my kneeling position to rinse my mouth with water, the voice that spoke behind me frightened the hell out of me. “Are you pregnant?”
I had forgotten that my aunt had arrived the previous night from the diaspora. I had been used to staying alone so much that I spent the whole night with a solo mentality as usual. Her coming back was less dramatic than I had anticipated, knowing that she had a habit of always treating everyone around like we are in a police or military academy. At this moment, I remembered how vomiting was a diagnostic of pregnancy in the Nigerian movies. At least this time she was right.
I hesitated before answering, thinking of a proper lie that I could say to save myself from the viper in front of me. Before the clock could even reach the ten second mark, I was blessed with a hard slap! I had not anticipated that she was going to hit me and was not even ready to deploy any defensive mechanisms. The slap was so hard that I saw a bright light in my eyes followed by a continuous ringing sound in the ear. I don’t know why I didn’t bleed from anywhere instantly.
“I said, are you pregnant?” She asked again. It became evident that she was already furious. She looked sternly at me, her risorius muscles not even moving an inch to provide a smile. She was one person I knew to have learnt psychology through social experience. You would be a good one to successfully lie to her. At that instant, I started crying. I felt a rush of emotions to the point that I was even failing to breathe properly. This was the woman who had left me to starve and fend for myself. She had no idea of the struggles I had gone through yet she comes and beats me up like a five year old child.
Not caring about what she would do next, I nodded in response to her question but later regretted that decision. She started to beat me up with the handle of the brush used to clean the chamber. I screamed at the top of my voice, ran to her and pushed her down as I tried to escape.
“Get out of my house and never come back! I can’t have you practicing prostitution here!” She said as I ran outside the house without thinking of getting any of my belongings.
She was very temperamental. I knew she meant it when she shouted that I leave the house. Sticking around would actually be a potential risk for my safety. As I walked with one shoe still on I thought of where to go next. Uncle Tom? No, he would not agree to live with me. Again like before, I found myself in desperation looking for a place to stay. I hope this was the last time I was going through the process. Would I ever see the end of my tunnel of sorrows? Like the Ndebele people, I was looking for EkuPhumuleni my place of rest.
9 October, 2023