The loss of the only parent that we had was not just painful, it became a life wake up call. Deep down I had a feeling that my life was going to take a different trajectory. For me, it was double the trouble because I had a younger sister who was now looking up to me. I had to be strong though I was also grieving.
We had grown up without a father, struggling to make ends meet. Since our only pillar of strength was now gone, how were we supposed to survive? Hearing my aunts discussing how we were going to be taken care of without considering our wishes was salt added to the wound. The eldest had suggested that she is the one who was supposed to take my little sister because she was lonely and wanted someone to stay with and do her chores. Another suggested that I stay with her so that I could help her with school run and help with work at her house. My youngest aunt suggested that I had to go work at their shop so that I will be exposed to the outside world and quickly get married. I was only 18 years old.
I sobbed but couldn’t afford to show any weakness in front of my eleven year old sister, but believe me it was just too much to take in. It is said that everyone has an equal chance in life. In my case, I had been born to a predetermined destiny. An ending to life I had listed under “the things I don’t want” in my diary. To spend my life serving the wishes of other human beings but to explore my womanhood and achieve great things in life. I had dreamt of being a biomedical engineer in the United States in future. However, if wishes were horses, I would ride. Life was not smiling at me. My little sister went to stay in Chegutu with my eldest aunt who had promised to take her to school too. The separation was so painful. I had known and stayed with her for the past eleven years spending every single moment with her. We ate together, bathed and shared the same sleeping bed. Just like any other siblings we did have our differences but I loved her like that.
I went on to stay in Highfields with my aunt where I was supposed to work in a shop. My dream of going to University and becoming a lawyer was slowly going down the drain. I woke up everyday to go to the shop where I was verbally abused and sexually harassed by clients. As if that wasn’t enough, I was only given one meal a day after all the work I did. I had to wake up in the morning and do all the chores, prepare breakfast and bathe my aunt’s two naughty kids. I then had to report to the shop. Things got so hard to the extent that I could not afford pads for my menses for which I resorted to using my old clothes. The only thing I could think of was to leave and start afresh although I had no solid plan.
Another chapter started when my aunt who stayed in another suburb called to request that I come and stay at her house whilst she was in South Africa for God knows how long. I felt so happy that finally I left Highfields and started afresh. Little did I know that what lay ahead was worse. I went to the place, a small bedsitter flat that had a bed on one corner, fitted cupboards on another end and a gas stove close to the door. There was nothing to eat. What was I supposed to feed on? I asked myself, with full knowledge that no one was coming to save me. I had to man up to the task. I felt a poignant stab of regret for agreeing to move from fire to fire but knew there was no going back.
As I lay down on the bed, I felt a huge void in my heart. I had dreams but I was caught up into a cycle of predicaments. Slowly I was losing the will of hope. The cruelty of this world was robbing me off all the energy and enthusiasm I formally had. They always say there is light at the end of the tunnel. What if the light is coming from a train that could potentially hit you?
27 March, 2023