The Primary Losses..

I think it’s time to tell about some of my escapades, quests or more like I think they were..?

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Wise beyond my years, non or hardly parental guidance, a mini surrogate mom,  I started smoking in standard three. Yes, really it’s definitely not something to be proud of but I saw it as a chill out, as well as I have to do it to fit in. Big mistake of course as I was always involved with sports and a WP netball player both inside and outside of school and played tennis as well. It also didn’t help as I was born asthmatic and it was bad for my endurance levels.

I remember being a scrawny, long legged with pigtails and a day dreamer. Sitting on the field, watching the showers, imagining im sitting somewhere on an exclusive beach, hat on my head, book in my hand watching my six babies running around (well, I wanted six..long before reality struck, of course) abundantly happy and the faceless love of my life,  loving and respecting, caring, supporting me for the rest of my life.
I always have been a giver of love, I wanted to be loved in return because I was almost lost in a dark abyss. I was close to losing the ability to be able to love.
I remember having a crush on a boy in standard 3. He was new to our school. But I soon realized that he had eyes for my best friend only.  And it was because he was an academic and so was she and they spoke the same language. I was devastated, because not only was I prettier than her, I was clever than her too BUT I was too busy wanting to be liked, wanting to be everybody’s friend, wanting to be the centre of attraction, sweating it out on the tennis court, playing my heart out on the netball court, bringing the trophy home was all that mattered, because I knew if I succeeded people will talk about me..notice me, love me.
I had it all wrong of course. With having hardly any parental guidelines, it took me years to come into my own. I thank God that I can give this to my kids to enable them to make the right decisions in life. To not hang onto something that is not good for you, to not let anybody chip away at your self-esteem, at your being. Its toxic, it wastes time, it keeps you from being you, from moving forward.
Well,  because I wanted to be noticed by him, I’ve put some effort into my school work, joined the circle of academics, my grades improved, I was his equal if not better and he said to me one day ” I always knew you you had it in you and I wish you would see how beautiful you are”
It’s changed my mindset, and not because I wanted to but because somebody told me how to be. I don’t believe its an entirely a bad thing but it creates a short coming in one self, it becomes an expectation of needing to be ok for the next person.
It was a wave I surfed for years to come. I couldn’t see my self worth, it has to be someone else telling me my worth.. showing me how to talk, walk, dress, sit and shat..!
And yet I broke that cycle of insecurity many moons ago when I realized I was stronger than most.

Tennis
I met him in standard 4. He had the most amazing,  very white teeth one of the best athletes at school and very very handsome. All the girls went crazy over him and he could have had anyone he wanted. Girls were literally swooning when he passed by in the corridors, strutting well shaped legs,  a gorgeous ass with a killer smile. You could almost hear girls going “aaaaahhhh, oh my god!”
Well well well, I was besotted too but was never going to admit it. I was never going to be number two and never will be.. ( never say never….)
He asked me out on a perfect sunny day, I was laughing and joking with friends at the end of a school day and there he was standing at the school gate, waiting for me. At first I wasn’t sure he was waiting on me as we hardly spoke five words. He tried as much to play hard to get as I was, always surrounded by girls talking about athletics. He was never an academic and with hindsight that made me loose interest very quickly..

Anyway there he was, a more handsome face I have not seen again,  face sculptured to perfection and of course that killer smile. I was just going to pass him and hand him my killer smile, of course, when he gently grabbed my hand and said ” do you have a minute?” Oh I have many minutes for you darling. Ok I didn’t say that out loud. I had to play hard to get. ” are you talking to me?”
” yes, do you mind if I walk you home? There is something I want to ask you.
” ok, but I stay the opposite way of where you stay” eeeek I realized my mistake too late.
” so you know where I stay? ” I am surprised as you normally don’t even look my way..” Shrugging nonchalantly..
” Well I don’t know where exactly but I heard somebody talking about it” I was hoping that my come back and matching so called non interest was enough to redeem myself.
“I want you to be my girlfriend” boom! Just like that!
“I….” I was unable to respond in the cool way I prance about, the way I want many to perceive me.
So I tried again…” I thought you have a girlfriend” ugh, I shouldn’t have said that because now he knows I was keeping tabs on him. Stupid stupid girl!
“No, we not dating anymore”
“Oh…well you don’t even know me or anything about me”
” I know a lot. I know you stay with your granny, I also know where you stay, and I also know you play in the school netball team and that you play netball outside the school and I do know you have a beautiful smile and I’ve seen you at the library a couple of times which means you like reading.”
There was no come back I could think of. At that moment I thought I fell in love and that it will never end!
I said yes of course. We dated for a year. He was a damn good kisser, goodness. He regularly showered me with gifts and thats one of the things I found unsettling. I suppose that is why I don’t believe in gift swopping because it sets a precedent of expectation. I also felt inadequate besides him. He came from a well to do family and even though he looked happy to be with me and at home in our humble abode, I could never say I felt comfortable. Something was missing and realized the feeling became more apparent as the time went on. It was his birthday and he bought me a gift, like really?  A pretty girly pink watch with a matching pen in long thin pink box tied with a pink ribbon. I was supposed to give him a gift and on top of that he dropped a bombshell which scared me to death! He wanted me to meet his parents! So on the 14th of February nineteen something, I broke up with him. I can still see the utter devastation on his face and asking why, why.. I couldn’t answer him of course because I didn’t know myself. All I knew was that I wasn’t ready to meet parents and I couldn’t handle being smothered with gifts. I wanted it more simple and there was nothing I could give back in a materialistic way. And of course there was the elephant in the room…we were from different religions. It never really bothered me but I knew my granny wasn’t happy about it. I told myself I was bored and needed another quest…
It was the seniors school camp, more specifically, the standard five`s. He must have repeated that standard at least twice. He was tall, not dark but handsome with light brown eyes…gorgeous,  and sooo much older than me. I liked him a lot even though I heard nothing nice about him. He’s a Casanova going around breaking hearts etc..hmm I saw it as a challenge. Of course I was ecstatic to hear he is going with on camp. It felt like I had butterflies setting up camp in my stomach. I would get short of breath every time he would look my way or if he spoke to me. He had the perfect casanova drawl. Armed with only two rand to spend on the camp ( in those days it was a lot) we were on our way to PE for ten days. Something else happened to me as well and I’m going to share it in the midst of my happier times. I always suffered from terrible migraines and headaches and started taking pain killers. I thought that every time I took it, my pain would disappear. Oblivious I was to addiction. I couldn’t stand being without a panado, it was my scapegoat from realiy. Of course, what did I know at the time? There was no one I could talk to.
The last Saturday of our tour we were dancing the night away on Eddie Grant`s “do it California style” & blue_sing to Whitney’s ” saving all my love for you”. The night was young and I was dancing with him hoping he would ask me out. He too was a hot contender when it came to girls and luckily I saw that for myself and just in time. He was a good dancer and that was one thing I found damn sexy in a man. Well I got bored and of course a headache. Luckily I told my best friend, I have a headache and going to bed. She couldn’t understand it because she knew I loved dancing,  but reluctantly said she’ll join me soon after. I must’ve taken six panados just to find that spot of oblivion and mercifully the darkness came much quicker than any other time.
Shit, can somebody turn off the water, its loud and I’m getting wet. Did one of the pipes burst at the school we were sleeping in.? I am getting so cold and realize that the water is pouring from the floor above us. I struggled to get out of my sleeping bag but the more I struggled the heavier my bag felt, the more tangled it became. Where is everyone?? By now I am soaking wet trying desperately to get out of my sleeping bag, breathing in water and then desperately trying to get the water out of my lungs! Thankfully I heard somebody calling my name. Oh thank God someone is coming to help me. ” I’m here!” I tried calling back but no one seems to hear me! Again I hear someone calling my name, shaking and slapping me.
What the hell??  At first I thought it was a nightmare and then I thought it was a pipe that burst but as I crawled my way out of the fog, opening my eyes and saw a few worried faces staring back at me, one that of by best friend with tears streaming down her face
I realized something was seriously wrong.
I then became aware of my surroundings. I was on the cold tile floor in the gym toilet, half of my body propped up underneath the tap.
” what happened” I managed to croak out. I remember feeling extremely thirsty and asking for water. Next I know I was wrapped in a blanket and carried away by none other than him. I felt so embarrassed and couldn’t figure out what the hell happened?? Did I walk in my sleep, fell and hit my head? But that didn’t make sense because I don’t walk in my sleep. I talk in my sleep yes..
I was tucked up with every available blanket and was given a glass of water and was told I should get some sleep and that we can talk in the morning. My best friend climbed into my sleeping bag, spooning with me  and used her sleeping bag to cover us both. It was heaven and I felt very safe at that moment, vaguely trying to remember what happened.
We woke up with the sounds of birds chirping and teachers announcing breakfast is ready and soon after we should pack up and reverse the journey home…

maze girl 2

So you wondering what happened?
I only got some clarity a few days later as it was a mystery to many at a time as well as bits from my bestie. I wasn’t also forthcoming and truthful but more scared of what could have been as well as not being informed.
She came downstairs to our dorm fortunately for me, about ten minutes after I took the panados and saw me drenched in sweat, shaking, vomiting and talking incoherently with heavy breathing. She quickly ran to go and find help and because no one knew what’ was wrong with me they thought I had a fit, but also not quite, or an asthma attack or I ate something that wasn’t agreeing with me…that was the theories. Then someone suggested they get me to the shower as I was starting to spike a fever. Well the rest of the story was told..I think after that happened I realized on my own that I overdosed on panados. I did some research much later on it’s proven that panado can be the doctor’s choice but taking too much can be extremely dangerous.
Then of course there was him. I felt nothing for him but he made everyone believed I was his girlfriend. What made it easier for everyone to believe him was, is because he was a “huis kind” ( he was welcome in and out our house) My granny adored him and could see nothing wrong with him. But then again she didn’t know how he felt about me as he always made it look like we were good friends. He was feared by many and that was the only good thing. I was safe everywhere I went and the mere mention of his name was enough to scare many off.
Even I was scared of him at times because he became so controlling of everything I did and everyone I got close to and potential boyfriends would soon see there’s no potential. He too showered me with gifts on a regular basis and I would give it away as soon as he turned his back. I remember an incident where I rushed myself to the day hospital, my granny too frail to accompany me and because I was a chronic patient I was allowed to attend without my guardian, even though I was under age. After having an hour neb and a cortisone injection I was shaking like a leaf and desperately trying to get home. I had to walk through flats and a soccer field to get home and it felt like I walked the Sahara desert, it was very hot and I was hanging on for dear life. As I was halfway on the field, our flat a few hundred meters away, which felt more like a thousand meters I saw this person running towards me. I wasn’t overly concerned as I was close to home. As the person came closer I realized it was him frantically running towards me. I was about to reprimand him for stalking me when he picked me up like I was a feather duster and ran home with me in his arms.
I was done for, and didn’t have the energy to protest and just let my head hang on his shoulder and let him be my knight in shining armour. Well my granny was happy to see me and thought it was the sweetest thing he ever did for me. I let it be and only wanted to get into bed. I slept for hours, which was what normally happened after having an attack and medication and who else to be there when I wake up…?
Unfortunately the stuff he did for me, never made me feel anything for him other than a pain in the ass and constant irritation. With hindsight he was like an annoying big brother. And now many years later, we are the best of buddies and swop stories of our kids wellbeing, our wellbeing and life….

Well camp was great, I was bored with the idea of him and him and him. I got a yellow pair of roller skates,  I’ve knitted a green jersey in standard five and made a floral boob-tube dress. I passed with flying colors and was ready for high school 🙂

 

The Fairytale

Like most things in life, this heading is misleading…
I don’t have much recollection of this part of my journey but the blank spots came straight from many horses mouth. And I don’t know how easy it will be for me to bring this story to life, not because I will struggle with words but because it’s damn near the hardest. I try to detach and look from outside in to capture this part with little feelings but my heart flutters thinking of the magnitude this story had on my life.

Child
“You are forbidden to bring that child in here, her mother said. Another illegitimate child, eighteen months after the first? Take it away as here is no place for it” She did the next best thing, taking it to the father’s sixty year old mother, who has survived two world wars and had her fair share of hardships in life.
Abandoned at two months old, scarcely dressed and struggling to breath, my life in the ghettos started..
Knobby knees, round red cheeks, a plat either side of my head tied with two massive ribbons bigger than the plats I sat legs swinging in the pews, blissfully unaware of who I am. I only have eyes for her. She’s so soft, I don’t believe I’ve felt anything so comforting ever again in my life. I play with her beautiful hands, and kiss her on her full mouth ” I love you mommy”. “And I love you too, sssh now and be quite”
I realized I am alone again, without her, my rock, my comfort, my protector. I’m starting to hyperventilate because I know what’s about to happen next, I am going to be punished for something, but not sure what. I never understood why she hated me so much. I couldn’t have done something so bad in the short time I’ve been on the earth? She tells me how ugly I am and reminds me that  he is not my father…my blood is not the same as his. And all that I’ve done is trying to mess up her life. Why,why, why..she asked while filling the bath to the brim with ice cold water..I stand whimpering in the corner, waiting on my faith..I don’t know what it will be but I know she’s going to punish me for who I am..But who am I?
I struggle to breath, and before I could get enough air in my already struggling lungs, I get plunged to the bottom, pulled up again, pushed down again, sputtering water, lungs burning, silent tears running down my face…what did I do?? I lived? I existed, I was born..and was it for this?.. “You don’t say a word” and I never did…shaking my head furiously, hoping that she spent her anger..until the next time.
Who is this man? , a stranger in my house, patting my head, smiling, handing me sweets but as quickly as it happened it was gone..She couldn’t see that ever, and I realized that after a while. I see his nervousness when she’s around, he doesn’t even look my way. I wanted that smile again, the mirrored image of my granny’s. Who is this man?
I have done something terribly wrong to my stepmother for her to hate me this much.

( it’s the present time and I can’t sleep…I puff up the pillows..maybe I can get in a paragraph or two..)

She reminds me of Goldilocks…she had gold spun hair, fair complexion, a full mouth and apart from the scar running from just above her eye to just below her cheekbone, I think she was the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen. This part of my history is not her fault, she was a child herself seeking to belong.  Many years later I realized that we share the same father, of course I was the ugly duckling and she was the beautiful Swan. And she shared the same hatred and resentment towards me as my stepmother, at the time I had no idea why, and neither did she..
We were both used as puppets and were strung along when and where needed.
I am the center character in the Fairytale we  got to know and love as kids.., Cinderella. But I just wanted to be loved and liked and this was the quest I seek until I reached my forties. By now I don’t want to belong, I do belong. I’ve built my own cocoon of love and stability. I dictate who I want in my life..but the story continues long before I find the peace and contentment I now have.
I have so many invisible scars inflicted by the past that I sometimes don’t believe I’ve ever outlived them, or ever will.
Then there are the visible scars..the mark around my neck of being hung with a scarf, a cigarette burn in the face, I can’t stand my hair being touched as it was pulled and jerked every time I would walk pass them, all because I’ve existed. The injustices however did not define my destiny. I am the one who came out tops, I am the whimpering, scared innocent little girl that survived all of this and I wasn’t the one carrying the burden of guilt. They have inadvertently made me into a protective and caring mother.

Opportunity My biggest regret is that my children was robbed of a grandfather. It took them forty years to say “We are sorry, we were young and made stupid decisions”, a lifetime of lost opportunities trapped in a few meaningless words. Their decisions is what carved my relationship, I could never just think about myself, of what will make me happy, I never had the guts to make a selfish decision to give up, because of them I’ve vowed that my children will never grow up without their parents…no matter what…. the decisions they’ve made sooo many years ago, the lack of thought, the selfishness has ultimately  resonated in my life.
When the most amazing man come into my life, or  should I rather say, when I stumbled into his life I found it extremely difficult to say “daddy”. My father in law knew this and he made this transition so much easier, he showed me how to trust again.

FIL

( The present…every so often I can hardly see what I’m typing, I can only feel, it’s still so hard, it feels like it was yesterday..)
The words I’ve been waiting for all my life, the moment I had envisage in a million different scenarios, the stage I’ve set was nothing to the silence I felt..the emptiness, the lack of emotions..I am detached, and cannot truly say that I have made light of their burden. Many will say you forgive and forget, but do you really….? I couldn’t give them the closure they seek if I was denied entry…

Kamilah

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…