Who’s to lead?

Where do I start…? I wonder if I’ve chosen the right heading . We all start being a follower to someone you believe is a role model, be it a teacher, your best friend or gangster in the neighborhood.  I was once a follower who idolized people that has very little or no common sense. I cringe when I think of it. .I have learned however that is what it is

I come from poverty and hunger and begging. I should maybe have said I come from ” difficulty”..hmm that would be”mincing” words and I don’t want to do that here..This is where I’m baring my soul and say it like it is.

I remember having plants on our stoep, stuffed in coffee tins with soiled sand on the second floor,2 bedroom flat, somewhere in the ghettos. Always a hustle and bustle..my son now refers to it as ” always alive with possibilities”.   How ironic that at the time there was hardly a possibility..It always seemed so hard, so out of reach…

When watering the plants in the morning, I could easily transport myself to a greater world, a world where I was walking through a magnificent garden filled with every possible flower. Seeing how flower buds push their way to full bloom and how everything looks bright and beautiful. But hearing a siren in the background, that fantasy is crushed as quickly and believable as much as how unbelievable it was. Quickly shooing the little girl inside who was enjoying the few minutes of adventure, even though it was only sitting on the stoep, playing with her meagre toys…ended that fantasy. Once you inside the cozy, sparse furniture flat, the lost opportunity is forgotten..You learn to accept, to adapt and know that that will soon passes and not long, rumors will circulate as who the unlucky person was who got locked up in jail,or who’s demise was long time coming.
This is all done in the midst of soaked washing flapping in the centre, desperately trying to dry. Whilst listening to that mindless chatter, of how bad or good the person was, how long jail time is forecasted, how many lives he has taken, and how he has put food on people’s table and yes he was good…. I came to realize that ambition is no where to be found in the ghettos unless you go seek it.
This inspiration I found in books, endless and endless reading I am going to carve it, I’m going to grasp it, I’m going to make it mine.
Having to put food on the table was one of my biggest daily challenges. I have 5 mouths to feed and have no idea how this was going to happen, but my granny always said God helps those who helps themselves. Still what to do? I have two sets of baby eyes looking at me, begging me to feed them. Do I share the last two slices of bread between them now or shall I get dinner sorted, feed them and then at least there will be two slices of bread for breakfast the following morning. Healthy porridge was for the rich and was only one of many dreams.
Dinner can only be organised with the four rand I have or do I go borrow another two rand from the neighbor which means I would be able to buy a half a loaf of bread as well…
Seeing everybody sated makes the humiliation I had to endure all worth it. Silent promises were made, ambition always there…this is all going to change, please God!
I now know why I don’t appreciate crowds in a small space as we never lacked hordes of people in our house. I witnessed many things that a child my age shouldn’t had to. I can’t imagine having my sweet twelve year old daughter exposed to that maze of confusion, the groping, the foul mouths, the smell of alcohol, the music constantly blaring away until the early hours of the morning and picking up the pieces after the last two bodies stumble out the door.
The dawn of a new week is here, all of last week to be repeated, keeping granny comfortable not forgetting her insulin injection, wiping of a continuous running nose, airing out a wet mattress, airing out the chaos, letting in my dreams of making my life a complete opposite of the only life I know…the little girl with the two ponytails and chubby cheeks long forgotten. Rushing through my chores to find the solace I crave, that I need, to keep sane, barely hanging on for dear life, running but not moving to devour the next book, where I will find all of this and where no one else can find me…


15 thoughts on “Who’s to lead?

  1. Neil September 16, 2015 / 9:07 am

    Wow Kamilah. Your journey was laced with emotions. I suppose you had to go through all this to turn out the way you did – A strong woman who knows what she wants and did what she had to. You might have started out as a follower but you certainly turned out to be a leader – Beautifully written Kami


  2. sinsofamother September 16, 2015 / 9:19 am

    Reading your story, is heart wrenching. Not having had such a childhood and so fortunate to have parents who shielded us, but as a grownup I’m experiencing it now. How weird that? Years later people still fight the same battles, some more than others.
    Everyday is a hope and a dream….


  3. Nazeema Thebus September 16, 2015 / 9:26 am

    Moving and poignant. The journey in your words one can envision, smell and feel the experience. Very well written. Looking forward to more.


  4. 212design September 16, 2015 / 9:42 am

    The art of raw! In that short piece i was transported there,i could see it in my minds eye. Absolutely love it! Cant wait to read what follows


  5. Renee Foster September 16, 2015 / 9:47 am

    Wow Kamilah.Your Journey Definitely reminded me of mine. I can however say that your Journey made you the wonderful, strong women I have come to know over the last couple of months. Very moving but at the same time very inspiring. Well Written.


  6. nur September 16, 2015 / 3:43 pm

    Very nyc mother! I knew life was hard for u growing up bt I never truly knew until I read this.I’m lost for words knowing that my mother had to go threw this I wish I was ther to help u lol.the only thing I can think of nw is to say shukran for protecting us from all the evils in the world .I truly wish that I would find a wife like u strong commetited faithfull and honest . I love u mommy with all my heart nd soul .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. nazlia thebus September 16, 2015 / 6:37 pm

    Truely the decisions we make determines our destiny…


  8. Idrees September 16, 2015 / 6:44 pm

    Wow. This was an amazing read. I am so intrigued
    intrigued. You’re quite the artist with words, among many other things. Keep doing great things lady.


  9. Somayah Barnes September 17, 2015 / 8:48 am

    Well done sister, I think I know you a little more than before and can understand more as well. I applaud you for being strong and brave to put pen to paper. Well written.


  10. Leazle de Villiers September 17, 2015 / 9:00 am

    Kamilah, this honestly is very emotional and I would say traumitised and at the same time inspiring to. It must have been an sad, going back to those sad memories in your mind, I know that, and honestly, when you look back to how you have grown up and the positive, ambitious parent/wife/colleage/friend whom you are today , It’s amazing!! You made it to the TOP K!! One thing I admire of you, is to never give up, you can still make your dreams come true. When you go through difficulties such as your childhood, the only thing that one can be grateful is, that ALLAH, carried you through, he is the only person who know’s what you went through in your heart and for that I Salute you Mrs Thebus!! I want to read more please.


  11. Zayd Cassiem September 17, 2015 / 9:45 am

    Brilliant, I could picture & hear everything line! Very emotional but this is the reality of what you experienced, making you the strong, confident & liberated person I have come to know. Without a doubt writing is your forte!


  12. caron September 23, 2015 / 1:20 am

    Well done ……growing up hard and poor is where our strengths come from ,……born to write for sure


  13. stoep gal September 23, 2015 / 9:47 am

    Wow K! most people just give up,not you,you inspire us everyday to be the best that we can be and for that i thank you. so incredibly proud of K very well done cant wait to read more. I LOVE you!!


  14. Colleen Josephs May 16, 2016 / 4:02 pm

    WOW Kamilah! What an inspiring piece of writing. I could relate to so many things in your story. It’s really not how you start but how you finish hey.
    Thanks for being bold enough to tell your story…. I’m so inspired!! Can’t wait to read some more… God bless you my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kami May 16, 2016 / 4:45 pm

      Colleen, this means so much. Just know that you were part of my journey even if you think it was miniscule. And now I found you again after so many years and by pure faith 🙂 and thank you for your kind words 🙂


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